2008 Started off horribly for me as a sports fan. The Dolphins were coming off a 1-15 season that saw more turnover, the Heat were the worst team in the NBA, and the Cubs are the Cubs, we'll get to October in a little bit.
However, it turned out to be a great year. The Heat got Beasley in the draft, which has worked out very well. He has shown progress in every game this year, and looks to be the Pippen to Wade's Jordan (fingers crossed). On top of that, no one seems to be noticing that Erik Spolestra is a great coach. Last summer when Pat Riley stepped down, people outside of South Florida were shocked that he would go with the 37 year old rookie head coach over a more proven name such as former Celtics coach Jim O'Brien, former Bulls coach Scott Skiles, or even Jeff Van Gundy. However, not one of them stops to think that the reason that all of these coaches have the title "former" precede there names is because, well, they just aren't that good. That's not always the case, (sometimes politics plays into the firing of a head coach in any sport), but in those cases its abundantly clear. Jim O'Brien really had one magical season with Boston before he showed that he's better as an assistant, Scott Skiles has been shown the door after a couple of successful seasons with young players and one horrible one mainly because his schtick tends to wear thin after 3 or 4 years, and Jeff Van Gundy, well, he is good, but when his heart is not into it, you can really tell (see the 2000-2001 Knicks, or the 2006-07 Rockets.) So when those are your options, why not take a chance on someone that has been with the organization for a decade, and already has the trust of your superstar who happens to become a free agane in 2010 and will be sought after by any of the other 29 teams that fail to sign LeBron?
Speaking of taking a chance, that's what the Dolphins had to do on so many aspects this season. First it was taking a chance on Tony Sparano (pass), then on Chad Pennington (emphatically pass), Ricky Willilams (pass) and on an innovative yet old school formation we know today as the Wildcat (pass, unless the opponent is the Baltimore Ravens). All of these risks led to an improbable as late as my birthday (on October 21st in case you're interested) 11-5 season that included our first AFC East Championship since Bill Clinton was in office. (Don't tell me Bush was President at the time, we won the AFC east in 2000, when Clinton was still in office, and were eliminated about a week before Bush took the oath, therefore, I'm correct.) Yes we were eliminated against the Ravens, and yes, that elimination was a humiliation, an abomination, and disgrace to Dolphins fan-nation (sorry for sounding like Jesse Jackson) but, we got there, something we as Dolphins fans could never have imagined. Of course thanks are in order, and I hope that Brett Favre is enjoying that lovely fruit basket I sent him. Brett, remember, if you want to come back, you're more than welcome to, just make sure its with the Jets! And to Bernard Pollack of the Kansas City Chiefs, thank you for playing football, and to Lil Wayne, thanks for performing a concert in the New England area that got Kevin Faulk suspended because apparently he wasn't allowed to go.
Now before I get to the Cubs, I'm going to take a minute and discuss pro-wrestling...sorry Vince McMahon hates that term and since he's so egotistical he'll read anything with his name in it odds are he's probably reading this right now so by pro-wrestling I meant "sports entertainment." (Whats the use for that term? Isn't all sports, both real and fake technically entertainment when you really think about it? What other reason, besides gambling, is there to watch sports if its not to be entertained?)
Right now as it stands, John Cena is the World Heavyweight Champion (puke), and Edge is the WWE Champion. Technically there the same thing, but they're not, whatever. Meanwhile, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy are apparently enemies now, and Shawn Michaels is working for JBL. Eddie Guerrero's wife has a problem with Triple-H, and black wrestlers still don't succeed even though the two guys in the WWE that have the most talent and best in-ring personalities are African-American. (Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston). Now not to sound like Keith Olbermann but, if we have an African American president, don't you think its time that African Americans can succeed in pro wrestling/"sports entertainment" as well? Well not to the WWE, instead they'd rather give us John "I stole my act from Marky Mark" Cena and Adam "I stole my ring name from the guitarist from U2" Copeland as champions, while their number one contenders are a guy that works for Fox News, a guy who's married to the boss's daughter and has already won the damn thing so many times that people who think its real are starting to think its fixed, the underrated Randy Orton and the always entertaining when he has his head straight but that's always an enigma Jeff Hardy. (If you wonder where Jeff Hardy gets his nickname "The Charismatic Enigma" well look up his wikipedia page and you'll see why.) Meanwhile Shelton Benjamin holds a downright meaningless title (The United States Championship) while Kofi is seen more as an entertaining dude.
(Turns to the next camera a la Olbermann)
The blatant Racism that has been shown by the WWE is something that I'd really like to see changed, however thats probably not going to happen until VKM finally meets his maker. You may love Triple-H or hate him (I actually like him which doesn't exactly make me a lot of friends amongst the Internet smark community) but I've always given him credit for making his opponent look good when he loses, always trying to be entertaining despite the fact that in reality he lost his fastball when he dropped the title to Batista, and because, lets face it, between him, Shawn Michaels, Kane and The Undertaker, they're all we have left of the "Attitude Era" which was probably the best era in pro wrestling/"sports entertainment" history. Well, odds are when VKM does die, it won't be Shane or even Stephanie that takes control of the company, it will be Triple-H, and, I think he's actually going to do more for that company behind the scenes then he could as a "superstar". I'm Thomas Galicia, good night, and good lu-
Oh yea thats right, I almost forgot about the Chicago Cubs. Last year they were the best team in the National League, and were the favorites of many to win the World Series. If you blinked you missed their playoff appearance though, getting swept by the Dodgers. This year again they will be the favorites in the National League Central, despite the fact that the team got worse, not better.
First, they let go of Kerry Wood. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, he was shaky towards the end of the year, but, its a blow because of what he meant to the team. He's been through it all, and is the only Cubs player in history to go to the post season four times with the Cubs. (1998, 2003, 2007, 2008.) Then they traded DeRosa, even though he was their most consistent clutch hitter. Now he may not get the publicity that Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, or even Fukudome do, but without him, they're not in the playoffs last year.
Instead they trade for Kevin Gregg. Now my cousin is a huge Marlins fan, upon hearing the trade he laughed. Never a good sign. Then, instead of thinking "maybe we should move Fukudome to Center or trade him then sign Manny" they instead sign Milton Bradley, who's great when he has his head straight, but has massive problems controlling his temper and when that's not an issue, injuries are. Oh and by the way they're paying him $10 million a year for the next two years, money that would be put to better use had they just brought back last year's squad.
They're probably going to win the NL Central, and probably by about 5 to 10 games. Every team has either stayed the same (St. Louis, Houston) or gotten weaker (Milwaukee). As for the Reds, well I really can't take them seriously, they have a great young team, but a manager that doesn't know how to utilize young talent the way you should, oh and his name is Dusty Baker, meaning if we're getting into a one game playoff for the NL Central crown with Cincinnati, we're probably going to win because Dusty really seems to have problems in those circumstances unless his charges are playing the Atlanta Braves. Then the Pirates are the Pirates so we can just move on.
Its in October where I'm worried. The Phillies are the team to beat in their division, and if the Dodgers re-sign Manny like they should then their going to be a force. Plus the NL will probably have this year's surprise good team that could sneak into the playoffs and cause trouble. (I'm down to two candidates right now, the Giants and the Marlins, and I'm leaning towards the Giants, although if they sign Manny then it wouldn't be a surprise.) It is October where everything really comes together, unless you're the Cubs, then October is where everything falls apart, so I have this to say to my beloved team from the North side of Chi...If you win 100 games, I don't care, if you win 85 games, I don't care, if you just get in, I don't care, because like many other Cubs fan, what matters to me is to win 11 in the month of October.