This year has certainly brought its share of surprises. I don’t know if they did the same to you, but here are ten things that caught me off-guard.
Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins: Okay, am I dreaming or what? Neither of these teams could do anything right over the last decade or so and now the Blackhawks are in the playoff hunt and the Bruins are at the top of their division! Got to love long time AHL goalie Tim Thomas who made it to the bigs just a few seasons ago with the Bruins. He’s one guy who has gotten better with age.
Boston Celtics: I was not surprised that they made the playoffs last season because even a few teams with losing records make it to the post-season in the NBA. But in 2007- 2008, they did not have a losing season. In fact, they dominated the Eastern Conference and then reestablished a thing called “Celtic Pride” by taking the whole ball of wax. I was also surprised that GM Danny Ainge actually pulled off the deals he did to make the team into a contender. It was a thing of beauty for Celtics fans.
New York Yankees: I’m surprised that GM Wayne Cashman still has a job. Sorry, but the Yanks have not made it to the post-season since 2000. Since 2001, the New York Yankees have spent over $2.2 billion in player salaries and have not only not won the World Series, they didn’t even make it into the post-season in 2008! During the hot-stove season, they’ve beefed up the pitching but I’m wondering about that chemistry thing? Actually, I’m wondering about that Alex Rodriguez thing? Remember “The Curse of the Bambino?” I’m thinking there’s some new kind of force at work here—“The Bad Karma of A-Rod.”
Olympic Hosts: I was surprised that China cheated in gymnastics. Okay, no I wasn’t. But I was surprised they got caught. And I was equally surprised that they weren’t punished for being caught. Can we make a rule that host countries automatically get a bye on cheating? At least that would be semi-fair.
Baseball Writers Association: I was surprised and elated that they elected Jim Ed Rice to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility. No one dominated the decade of the 80s more than Rice. But he had various problems with the media when he was a player. He could be downright surly and cold and it’s the Baseball Writers Association that decides who gets into the Hall. But time softened Rice’s demeanor, and he even became part of the electronic media. Plus, I imagine, by this time many of the writers who voted never knew Rice back in his playing days. Of course Ricky Henderson, who was elected on his first try, was a shoe-in. If you’re betting on which player has the most colorful induction speech, I’d going with the improvisatorial Henderson. According to his friends, Henderson has his own language—“Ricky Speak.” It should be a neat day in Cooperstown.
Arizona Cardinals: Simply put—I am now a believer. Paint me stupid and naïve if they don’t win outright on Sunday. But I think they are going to do it. I thought Dallas, New Orleans, Tampa Bay or the New York Football Giants would be there. Not the Cards.
Finally, I’m surprised that I ended the title of this piece with a preposition! What’s that about? (Man, I did it again!) Enjoy the Super Bowl. Bet wisely.