Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Thanks—Sports Edition

Before all the year-end lists start popping up, here are some notes on 2012 in sports thus far.

The Mets
Dickey, scaling great heights of all kinds.

  • RA Dickey won the 2012 Cy Young! An epic year for an everyman, climbing Kilimanjaro, publishing a well-written and honest memoir, and being the highlight of a drab Mets' second half after a promising first half of the season.
  • The Mets finished ahead of the Marlins. Like I said, ain't much to brag about Mets-wise, but seeing José Reyes bid farewell to Queens and head for the bright, shiny carnivalesque Marlins Stadium with freakin' FISH TANKS as backstops was sad, not gonna lie. No one more fun to watch play, and his spirit is so winning. But the Marlins imploded, far more quickly than I could have expected, and the team was hastily disassembled via a big trade with Toronto. Now Reyes will be in a different dome, in a cold climate, with turf, and far away from his native tongue. Still, some sadistically pleasant Schadenfreude in all that, even if I do wish happiness for Reyes.
  • David Wright managed to hit .306, five points above his career average, after decimating the first half of the season despite a broken finger. He remains the backbone of the team, its veritable captain.
  • The commentating team of Gary, Keith, Ron, and Kevin. Gary's got a cello of a voice, is incredibly smart and level headed, and he's a huge fan. Keith, among my all-time favorite players, speaks from authority, and is hilarious and frank, especially about his eating habits.


The New York Giants

  • Current swoon aside, they unexpectedly won the Superbowl and started off this season impressively. Good thing they piled up a good record because they're gonna need it.
  • They're becoming known for making kings of prior plebes, like Victor Cruz and Andre Brown. 
  • They tend to keep their mouths shut and keep their egos tamped down, although the Jets make this look like a snap. Thanks, Jets.


Cycling

  • Ugh, do I have to talk about it? The upside of monumental sports icon Lance Armstrong getting taken down is that some serious soul-searching is underway in this sport that demands superhuman performances. The tumbling house of cards also shows how pervasive doping has been, putting Armstrong's travesties in perspective. Still, it hurts.
  • One of the most un-steroidal looking riders, Bradley Wiggins, won the Tour de France this year. Literally a stick figure, with a Monty Pythonesque head, he brought some groundedness back to this beautiful, sometimes terrible sport.
  • The emergence of a new generation, including Yanks Teejay Van Garderen and Tyler Farrar, and Slovakian Peter Sagan, respectively sunny, unlucky, and terrifying.


Formula One
The podium at Austin. Yeehaw!

  • The new Austin, TX race was a huge success, and the championship will be decided at the season finale next weekend in Brazil. Plus, Texas does have a sense of humor: the podium hats were ten-gallon Stetsons. The downside: Rick Perry is still governor there.
  • Ferrari did not suck this season! Alonso drove the bejeezus out of his car (he's currently 2nd in the championship race with a chance to win) which actually turned out better than forecast at the season's start. And Massa keeps his job, despite being consistently behind Alonso, although he improved as the races accrued.
  • Lewis Hamilton never looked happier than on the top step of the podium at Austin, winning perhaps his final race with McLaren before moving on to Mercedes next season. Not an easy guy to like, snapping at his team over the radio, but seriously talented. And his teammate Jenson Button was competitive all year in his super smooth, charming way.
  • Mark Webber kept up with his jackrabbit teammate and championship leader, Sebastian Vettel. One of the veterans of the sport, Weber has been emerging as a strong voice and conscience of the sport.
  • The rebirth of Kimi Raikonnen, whose churlishness on his radio only seems to make people like him more, in contrast to Hammie. His motto, "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing" was imprinted on t-shirts. Awesome. Plus, he actually contended, and won a race. Unbelievable, given Lotus' situation.
NBA
  • I have to admit, I'm not a big NBA fan, but the sheer energy and buzz around the Nets' relocation to the BK (my place of work) is pretty exciting. Now if I could just figure out who Deron and Brook are...
  • And yet, the ancient, currently despicable Knicks (if only for not resigning Jeremy Lin) are atop the league. Sports: ya never know.


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