Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review: Top 13 Moments of 2013

Happy New Year's everyone! Hard to believe another year has come and gone, but 2014 is now hours away.

From a personal standpoint 2013 was a pretty good year. I received the opportunity to pursue my long held ambition of becoming a sportscaster, when I was tapped to do play-by-play for the New Jersey Jackals minor league baseball team. It was a spectacular season capped off by a late second half surge that sent the Jackals to the Can-Am League Championship series. The Jackals would push that series to seven games before falling to Quebec.

In addition, the Open Mike program moved into its third year on MTRradio.com, this time with broadcasts every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. The new time slot has enabled me to preview the NFL on a weekly basis, hours before kickoff.

What does 2014 hold? The future is not for one to see, but, hopefully it will be better than the past year.

In the meantime I am combining some national moments, some local NY moments and personal favorites as my 13 moments from '13.

13) Ravens beat Broncos in triple OT thriller: Ok, this is not a NY moment, but it was a pretty amazing moment nonetheless. While this game technically counts as part of the 2012 season, this game did happen in 2013 in the divisional playoffs. The Ravens entered the game as a monster underdog to the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, yet Baltimore would not be deterred.

Both teams interchanged scores throughout the evening, but midway through the fourth quarter Denver took a 35-28 lead on a Manning TD pass to Demarious Thomas. Then the Ravens had the play of the year when Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones from 70 yards out to tie it and force OT. The Ravens pushed the Broncos to triple overtime, where they won it on a Justin Tucker field goal. The Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl.

12) Man'te Teo Mess Hits the Web: Ever been cat-fished? Cat-fishing became the phrase of the year after it was revealed that the former Notre Dame football star's girlfriend was in fact ... made up. Yeah, it was a monster scandal that exploded all over the internet with meme's galore. As for Teo, he was drafted by the Chargers and disappeared in San Diego, probably the best thing for him.

11) Knicks finally win a playoff series: I know things are so depressing with the Knicks right now nobody wants to talk about anything positive. But in 2013 the Knicks finally won a playoff series for the first time since 2000 when they beat the Celtics in six games. The Knicks would get slapped by the Pacers in the next round.

10) Newark Bears go bust: A major story in the New Jersey sports world became final in late October when word got out that the Newark Bears and their unscrupulous owner Danielle Dronet were going under. Dronet ran the franchise into the ground with falling attendance, a revolving door of employees, and gimmicks like the faux Justin Bieber at Stadium of Screams night. Having seen that circus first hand, it was delightful news for myself and the people who worked there to hear the Bears were bust.

9) Wacha! Wacha!: Unless you were under a rock, you know what "Wacha, Wacha" refers to. St. Louis Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha became a super star for the Cards down the stretch of the 2013 season and into the postseason. After posting a 4-1 record in the regular season, he was even better in the playoffs. Wacha went 4-1 in the playoffs with a 2.64 ERA including pitching in clinching games against Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

8) Pirates Make Playoffs, Heat Win NBA, etc, etc: Nationally there were a lot of big stories that grabbed ink. The Pittsburgh Pirates made the playoffs for the first time since 1991, ending more than two decades of complete ineptitude. Meanwhile in the NBA the Heat won their second consecutive title with LeBron James earning another MVP award in the process. The Ravens won the Super Bowl, even with a blackout at the Superdome, and Tony Romo still sucked in the clutch.

7) Giants 0-6 start dooms season: A season that opened up with the hope the Giants would become the first team to ever host the Super Bowl in their own stadium was dashed by a horrific 0-6 start to the year. Heck, you could argue the season went out the window when New York dropped a 38-0 decision to Carolina in week 3. The Giants never recovered from that start. Change is coming to Big Blue with hopes for a better 2014.

6) #KeepRex becomes phenomenon: Twitter has become famous for its trend of hash-tags that dominate the net; but in the last two weeks of the year it was the hash-tag #KeepRex that became the rallying cry of most NY Jets fans wanting to keep embattled coach Rex Ryan. Keep in mind this catch phrase only got hot after it was revealed that Ryan told his players that he expected to be fired before the team took on the Browns.  Apparently Woody Johnson got the message as he and GM John Idzik will indeed bring Ryan back for 2014.

5) Matt Harvey starts All Star Game: There wasn't much to get excited about with the Mets, but Matt Harvey getting a chance to start the All Star game at Citi Field was the lone highlight of another lost season in Metland. Harvey was great that night, pitching two shutout innings and plunking then-Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

4) Losing sucks: NY Sports was depressing: Ok, let's be honest 2013 was not a good year for sports in the New York area. Everyone pretty much sucked this year. The Yankees missed the playoffs with a beaten up and aging roster; the Mets are still the Mets, finishing with 73 wins this past year. The Knicks and Nets are both busts so far in the 2013-14 season. Believe it or not they both still have a shot to make the playoffs this year. The Rangers, Devils and Islanders have all underachieved this season. And the Giants (7-9) and Jets (8-8) each had underwhelming seasons. Can 2014 bring better results in New York? We shall soon know.

3) Alex Rodriguez Fiasco: Let's face it A-Rod was by far and away the biggest mess of the year. He was suspended by MLB for 211 for his involvement in Bio-Genesis, but the third baseman has been fighting it ever since. Rodriguez didn't win any sympathizers, well ... except for Mike Francesa! A-Roid is trying to make the case that MLB has made him into a scapegoat, but most aren't amused. A-Rod walked out of his own hearing in November, and lord knows what will happen if Rodriguez's people take the case to federal court. The Rodriguez case will be a major story of early 2014.

2) Comeback Jackals: Again my time with the Jackals during the 2013 season was truly one I will never forget. The team was made up of some gritty, never-say-die ball players. The team became known for making incredible comebacks, non bigger than the coming out of a deficit in the standings to get into the playoffs.

Game highlights included New Jersey's rally from 6-4 down in a game at Quebec in July to win 7-6 in 11 innings, and their exciting comeback in Game 2 of the LCS. The Jackals were down 7-2 before rallying for 13 runs in the final two innings of that game to even the series. What a year it was. All the moments are flooding back to me as I type this.

1) Mariano Rivera says Good Bye: Nobody did it better in New York than number 42, Mariano Rivera. Rivera called it quits in 2013, but not before giving the fans a few more moments of brilliance. He recorded 44 saves with a 2.11 ERA. The guy could have continued to pitch, that is how good this guy was. He was showered with praise all over Major League Baseball -- even getting tokens of appreciation from Boston and the Mets! Rivera was the greatest closer of all time, and will be missed.

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