2016: Going, Going, Gone
December 26, 2016

It's difficult to think 'year in review' thoughts when it's the night after Christmas, but this is the final Monday of the year, and thus, the final column in this space for 2016. I've looked at previous year-end columns on this website, and noticed that I have classified most of the years as 'strange'. If those years were strange, this one was crazy-go-nuts (as the Billy Crystal character 'Fernando' might say).

I saw a picture on Twitter the other day that maybe sums up 2016 much better than I can. The picture seemed to be the mug shot of a drunk Mel Gibson, and the caption read “If 2016 was a person”. There's a lot you can read into that, but it all just kind of adds up to crazy.

Speaking (or in this case, writing) of Mel Gibson, remember this year's Golden Globe Awards back in January? NBC, or the Hollywood Foreign Press, or whoever, had the audacity to bring him out on stage as a presenter. Ricky Gervais softly said something in his ear which was bleeped, but you know the host was calling out Gibson on his previous behavior. As for the other awards shows, you remember Chris Rock hosting the 'all-white' Oscars, a several-part mini-series over 20 years after the O.J. Simpson verdict cleaning up at the Emmys, and a depressing ESPY awards with Craig Sager essentially giving a farewell speech—dying from cancer and passing away just this month.

Sports is generally the theme on this site, and nationally, the number one sports story of the year was the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series after their last championship 108 years ago. Although we mentioned here that the sport would probably be better off for keeping the 'lovable losers' streak in tact, you had to feel nothing but smiles and happiness for those who have rooted for the Cubs their entire lives, and in many cases, the entire lives of their parents and grandparents before them. The Cubs also had the best record in baseball, and it's actually rare these days that the best team in a regular season wins a title anymore, especially in baseball.

Our number one story, though, is the retirement of broadcasting legend Vin Scully. The author, here, may have gotten carried away a little, but Scully's final home broadcast after 67 seasons in the booth, was storybook, with the Dodgers clinching the division on a Charlie Culberson home run. Scully didn't do the playoffs, but ended his career in San Francisco, 80 years to the day he says, after seeing a poster in a New York laundry window, of the Giants getting clobbered in a World Series game. The Dodgers would beat the Nationals in the playoffs before losing to the Cubs. The Giants got in as a wild card, won the one-game playoff against the Mets, then lost to the Cubs a round earlier than the Dodgers did. Other Dodger moments include rookie Ross Stripling being pulled in the eighth inning while pitching a no-hitter, and veteran but injured lefty tossing seven perfect innings only to be yanked from the game. Dave Roberts, though, was National League Manager of the Year. Go figure.

This year is one for the books for the Marysville Gold Sox. Local history will some day tell us whether it was the dawn of a new era, or the beginning of the end. The team, which had scheduled almost all home games and won three-quarters of them in the past, joined a new league, got off to a blistering 15-2 start, and then hung on to finish above .500 at 29-28. Road games, and weeknight home games (something standard everywhere else) were new to Sox fans, who stayed away a little bit. The league had several integrity issues as well, like one team not having a home stadium, the number of playoff teams cut in half with only two weeks to go because players were leaving to go back to school, and a a game called in the seventh inning because an ejected manager didn't leave right away.

Elsewhere in sports, LeBron James finally brought an NBA championship to Cleveland by coming from 3-1 down against the Warriors, the San Jose Sharks got to the Stanley Cup Finals (I almost forgot this already) before losing to Pittsburgh, 'Old Man' Peyton Manning went out on top with a Super Bowl win over Carolina, the Rams moved back to Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant dropped 60 in his final game, and the Olympics were held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil where people should have been more worried about the out-of-the-pool behavior of some American swimmers than the Zika virus. We'll choose to remember Usain Bolt, Katie Ladecky, Simone Biles, and the career finale of Michael Phelps—a lot of moments to fill two-and-a-half weeks.

Musically, we lost Prince at age 57. You may not know or remember this, but singer Vanity also died this year at the same age. Vanity was the real singer (changed and played by Apollonia) in the mostly autobiographical Purple Rain. David Bowie died at age 69, and on Christmas Day, George Michael died of an apparent heart attack at 53.

For many of us, though (pardon my left wing acting up a little), the saddest thing about 2016 was the Presidential election. It was fun at first, especially with a fogy like Bernie Sanders engaging all the young people out there. While we (middle aged white folks) knew he didn't really have a chance, the same was thought about Donald Trump. Democrats didn't take him seriously, and middle America did, and now he's three-and-a-half weeks away from officially becoming the President of the United States. While it didn't really intend to come out that way while writing, the column here compared voting for Trump to a dog that got into the garbage. There's a lot of blame to go around, but it still happened. If it wasn't for the fact that Americans care about what happens to this county, the next four years would be pretty entertaining. The one thing that seems to be different this time than when Barack Obama was first elected eight years ago, is that it seems Trump will be given a fair chance, instead of the other side promising to do whatever it took for the new guy to fail.

Who knows? It may not be that bad, and somehow, maybe, possibly, they'll come up with a better health care system. Optimism needs to be the key as 2016 fades away, and the new year arrives. There's also almost a full week remaining before Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin and Ryan Seacrest show up on your TVs.

Personal highlight of the year? My mom turning 90. She hit the milestone back in April, but is actually healthier now almost eight months later. While some may be cringing, crossing their fingers, or even dreading the turn of the calendar, here's hoping that 2017 is better for you than this year was.

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