With just hours to go in 2013, close to a million people are getting ready to assemble in New York's chilly Times Square to see a ball drop. Hundreds of thousands more are lining the streets of Pasadena in balmy weather to see a parade and/or a football game. Many of you are likely doing neither, but have your own special plans to ring in a new year. While Kathy Griffin rehearses the many ways she'll embarrass Anderson Cooper, and Ryan Seacrest has yet another night on television with little talent himself, but lots around him, let's take a look at the 2013 we're leaving behind.
Since I mostly write about sports, let's cover that aspect of the year first. In football, Alabama routed Notre Dame for the Crimson Tide's third college championship in four years. Brothers coached against each other in the Super Bowl. John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens beat Jim's San Francisco 49ers 34-31. Beyonce performed at halftime, and the much-hyped Super Bowl commercials were so-so. There was also the 'bullying' incident surrounding two Miami Dolphins. If what Richie Incognito was accused of is true, it's terrible, but I wish they wouldn't use that word. It's not like they're defenseless children. I did get to broadcast high school football this year, but the team I covered (Nevada Union) was 0-10. It was still a lot of fun, though.
Basketball wasn't very good this year, and I've just about completely given up on the NBA. The Lakers barely made the playoffs, but the Kings are staying in Sacramento. Louisville won the NCAA title, beating Michigan State, but UCLA got bounced early in the tournament and coach Ben Howland was fired.
The hockey season didn't start until January because of a lockout, then the Chicago Black Hawks ended up with the Stanley Cup. You might remember that the LA Kings won it last year.
That brings us to baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers, infused with a 200-million dollar payroll, were all but defused six weeks into the season. Rumors were running rampant that the firing of manager Don Mattingly was imminent, and the team had fallen 9˝ games out of first place. But with a healed Hanley Ramirez, a rookie named Yasiel Puig, and pitching by Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and sidekicks Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and later Ricky Nolasco, the Dodgers soared into first place, won 42 of 50 games at one point, and ran away with the division. They won their first playoff series against the Atlanta Braves before fizzling against the St. Louis Cardinals. Kershaw got clobbered in Game Six, the Dodgers lost 9-0, and the season was over. Not bad, though, for the first full year of new ownership. The Boston Red Sox wrote their own dramatic story, and won the World Series after finishing in last place in 2012. They also carried their city after the Boston Marathon bombing in April.
If you thought baseball's steroid era is over, you are mistaken. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun was suspended in July, and missed the rest of the season. Other well-known guys like Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta were given 50-game suspensions, and returned to participate in the post-season. The commissioner is trying to suspend Alex Rodriguez for a year and a half, but A-Rod still got to play while launching an appeal. Cruz is a free agent, and drug history aside, will still likely make millions of dollars next year.
And finishing with more baseball, the local Marysville Gold Sox saw not one, but two of its former players get called up to the major leagues. Curtis “The Redhead from Merced” Partch made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds in June, and Max Stassi joined the Houston Astros in August. Stassi got hit in the face with a pitch in his second game, and missed several weeks. Former Gold Sox pitcher Anthony Bass was just traded earlier this month. He joins Stassi in Houston after pitching three seasons for the San Diego Padres. On the field, the Gold Sox didn't have a great year by their standards. They still won 70 percent of their games, but finished second in their division, and saw a modest drop in attendance.
Of course there was more than just sports to talk about in 2013. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globe Awards and will do so again in 2014. Seth MacFarlane was an odd choice to host the Oscars, but was very entertaining. Ellen Degeneres will host in February, so I hope you like to watch her dance. Kate Middleton had a baby. Prince George Alexander Louis was born in July. My favorite news from the world of entertainment came in March. Dana Carvey performed in Grass Valley at the Veteran's Auditorium (or the 'Vet Gym' as he called it). Hilarious night.
On the much more serious note, the fiscal cliff, sequester, and government shutdown topped the news. So did Obamacare and the website fiasco. The 50th anniverasary of the death of JFK was just last month. Remember the manhunt in Big Bear for Christopher Dorner, the Carnival Cruise ship from hell, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, and an asteroid that just missed us, but 'coincidentally' a meteorite crashing in Russia, injuring a thousand people? All of those things happened in February, and so did Marco Rubio's 'drink of water' incident during his speech in response to the State of the Union address. February 1 also marked the tenth anniversary of the shuttle Columbia explosion. That's just in one month—between the Super Bowl and the Oscars.
On a personal note, I had a job all year, and this is the first time I can say that in quite awhile. Here's hoping your 2013 wasn't all that bad, and your 2014 is a heck of a lot better.
Note: I wrote this last year, but with this column, I have now completed three straight years without missing a Monday. That's 157 straight weeks that I have written here. This started as a New Year's resolution in 2011, but that was only supposed to be for one year. I am still uncertain if I will continue to post something every week, but admittedly, the streak of not missing a week has kept me going. I could go to something monthly or maybe just do something else. I'll let you know next week (#158).