Wow. I never realized what a pessimist I am. I like to think I have a sunny disposition and a positive outlook on life, but looking back at previous years, it seems like I've always written about how bad they've been. So, even with that admission, and a public chance right here to promise to be better, I have to tell you that I can't remember being so excited for a year to end than I have been for this past one. Good bye 2019. For me anyway, you will not be missed.
Truly, one of the reasons I keep writing this silly little column week after week, is because at the end of the year, I can look back and remember what happened. Most of my recollections of the year that had just concluded were not favorable. The very first year of doing this weekly charade, I called 2011 “strange”. I was complimentary of 2012 (I got a job), but the positive adjectives seemed to end there. I used “strange” again in 2014, focused on baseball for 2015, described 2016 as “crazy go nuts (the Billy Crystal phrase from Fernando's Hideaway”, and wrote that 2017 “sucked” (my uncle died). I caught on to this trend in 2018 and refused to sum up the year in one word. I won't do that for 2019 either. I just wish the whole year had never happened.
A year ago this week (Thursday), my mother died. If that wasn't bad enough, earlier that same day, Bruce Hickert passed away. He was my neighbor across the street. I had known him all my life, and like almost all of the parents on my street, was like a father figure. If you're counting, that's two deaths in about twelve hours, and two funerals in five days.
Six months later, July wasn't all that much better. After a nice Fourth of July at my cousin Gayle's, and a drive down to SoCal where I felt the second of the two major earthquakes to strike Ridgecrest (I was in Santa Barbara County), I learned that a cousin, Cameron Boyce, who was only 20, died suddenly of an epileptic seizure. I didn't know Cameron well, but saw him in 2017, and had dinner with his mom in January shortly after my mother's funeral. Three weeks later, Kelly Keigwin, who was the closest thing I ever had to a sister (she introduced ne to her wife and friends as her “brother from another mother”, which I'm not sure I deserved but was honored that she thought that), lost her battle with cancer just days shy of her 52nd birthday. I never called her to say goodbye, thinking she was going to make it, but attended the celebration of her life in Vancouver, Washington.
But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? (A twisted but appropriate transitional expression). This past year had nothing else in it that seems extra special. It seems kind of dumb to transition to sports, but that's what I mostly write about. The Dodgers got bounced early in the playoffs, none of the southern California teams had good seasons, and a brand new football league, the Alliance of American Football, lasted only six weeks. Bill Buckner, who was my first favorite baseball player and a man I got to meet a few years ago, died at the age of 69. Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died suddenly during the season. It was later determined that it was from a combination of opioids and alcohol. On a much lighter note, the high school football team that I broadcast in Grass Valley, won its first league game in seven years and even made the playoffs. That team had a recent tragedy of their own a couple of years ago—losing two players in a car crash.
A couple of fun things. I went to a Dodger game in person for the first time in several years. Clayton Kershaw lost to the Yankees, but that now seems appropriate. My mom's care giver Ana, who has been legally married for 20 years, always wanted a wedding in a Catholic church, and did that in June. She and her husband Victor and their two boys were kind enough to invite me to the ceremony in Palmdalem which was a lot of fun.
Yes, there's a lot to forget about 2019, but let's not be a Debbie Downer any longer. As happy as I am that 2019 is gone, I have as much excitement about 2020. Instead of funerals to attend, I have at least two weddings to go to. My cousin Felicia Hong is getting married in March—the first of that generation to tie the knot. Another cousin, Payton Small, is getting married in May. It's exciting, and I know Felicia is feeling some pressure because she's the first one, but it will be great.
Even in the sports world, there's a rainbow on the horizon. The Dodgers haven't really made any moves yet, but still figure to be good. The All-Star game will be at Dodger Stadium in July, the colossal new football stadium for the Rams and Chargers opens in August, and suddenly the Lakers and Clippers are both really good. The Las Vegas Raiders wil make their debut, and so will the XFL—another attempt at spring football. This is also an Olympic year, with the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
It's a new decade, and a new time, and I welcome it like the Whos down in Whoville welcomed the Grinch when he returned the presents. Roast Beast for everyone! The two thousand teens may have been strange, crazy, and even had a couple of years that sucked. I won't forget the ones I lost in 2019, but the heck with the rest of it . You know how they say 50 is the new 30, or something like that? Well, 2020 can be the new 2000. Let's get started.
Sports shorts: If sports can be any indication (it can't really, but play along), 2020 is off to a great start. The Rose Bowl was epic. Oregon defeated Wisconsin 28-27 in a game that saw one time and six lead changes. All four NFL playoff games this weekend were good, with the road team winning three of them. Tom Brady's New England Patriots were one of them, and Brady, now 42, is a free agent and his future is uncertain.
Golden Globes: One shot can completely summarize NBC's telecast of the first awards show of the year last night. It was the uncomfortable reaction from Tom Hanks after one of Ricky Gervais' jokes. Gervais had some good ones, and Hanks was honored with the Cecille B. DeMille Award. Taylor Swift seemed to be wearing the drapes from her living room and Reese Witherspoon looked good wrapped in a shower curtain, but the highlight was Ellen Degeneres being honored with the second Carol Burnett Award. Actually, the memorable part was Kate McKinnon's presentation of Ellen—a moving tribute. Many of the acceptance speeches were political, which Gervais warned against in his opening monologue, and the one time I was actually looking forward to an 'In Memoriam' segment, they didn't do one. I was hoping Cameron would be in there. It would have been nice.