As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 is ushered in, it's time to look back at the 365 days gone by. For the last 3 years, I've sent the year off with awards to honor the accomplishments of the year past... this is what I would say if I wasn't as cynical as I am. So, this means the year end awards have returned with a bang, and hopefully a rise in prestige (I asked for it last year and didn't get it, but a guy can dream, right?) They didn't try to win them, they're not getting dressed up to receive them: I present the 2014 year-end awards.
The "Wait, he's not actually dead"Award: Brazil's XI against Germany
The scene could not be more perfect. Brazil against Germany in Belo Horizonte for the right to go to the World Cup Final. But one key member of the Seleccao was missing: Neymar. To honor their fallen comrade, during the national anthem the Brazilian players held up Neymar's jersey to honor his tragic loss... wait, he's still alive, right? *Checks twitter*... Yeah, he's still alive, he's in the stands watching. So if the Brazilian team thinks he's basically dead... then that means they're toast right? 90 minutes later, Brazil loses 7-1 to Germany at home in what was possibly the most stunning sports result of the 21st century to date. So next time your best player gets injured and misses an incredibly important game, hold up his jersey during the national anthem. I dare you.
The "Lemon Meringue Tastes Better" Award: Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog
Here's a lesson for the world to take heed of: Never bet a mascot with a pie in the face as a punishment. Sure it might have worked for Nickelodeon in a 1992 game show, but in 2014 it can only end in shame, disappointment, and a bloody nose. Unfortunately, my good friend Wysh didn't remember that (and episodes of "What Would You Do?" it turns out) and bet Bailey, the LA Kings mascot, that the Sharks would win their playoff series against the Kings with the punishment being the loser gets some pies in the face. The Sharks of course blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings as they went on to win the Cup. And so it ended up, with Wysh being pied in the face by not only Bailey, but Bob Miller, the voice of the Kings, and Wil Wheaton of X-Files fame. I guess that's better than being pied by Marc Summers, right? It'll be a helluva story to tell during a game of canasta at the retirement home though.
The "All of your eggs don't belong in one basket" Award: The Big XII
The college football playoff was a new experience for everyone, especially the Big XII, who had two teams in the hunt all season. Baylor and TCU were class articles all season, and one of them seemed destined to make the 4 team dance. But Bob Bowlsby thought, "Hey, we could get both of 'em in right now!" And so he tried to make it happen, but it became apparent that unless absolute chaos happened in front of his beloved Bears and Horned Frogs, getting 1 in was going to be hard enough. So he sold Baylor down the river and tried his hardest to push for TCU to get in, seeing as they had a better shot (seemingly), but then Ohio State's 3rd string QB pasted Wisconsin into a wall in the B1G Championship Game. Then, he was left with no one to cling to when the Big XII was left out of the new Big Dance, and currently his conference is 0-3 in bowl games. Now, he's trying to get a conference championship for his 10 team league, or a 13th game in the feeble attempt to cover his own blood up. Next time, just keep it quiet, maybe the committee will take your teams on their merits alone and not stumping. That means you too, Art Briles.
The "I was one card away" Award: Jerry Jones
The story is almost ubiquitous now. Jerry Jones had the card in his hand that would have blown the world up: Johnny Manziel to the Cowboys. His son, however told him to trash that card and hand in the one he eventually did, that had Zack Martin on it. Martin went on to receive OROY votes and become one of the best young O-Lineman in the league, and Johnny Football hasn't yet realized that partying the night before meetings and travel to a game is probably a bad idea. The Browns are just as big of a mess as ever, and the Cowboys have just had their best season in 5 years. That one card man...
The "At Least I didn't bite his Ear" Award: Luis Suarez
As of this moment, he hasn't chomped on any La Liga player while at Barcelona, which is progress, possibly? He had his taste of both Serbian and Italian cuisine in the past 2 years, and both surprisingly didn't taste all that amazing. Gordon Ramsey would have probably said the food he ate was raw, twice over. These cooking metaphors are not going very well, so let's simply say this for Suarez: at least he didn't bite someone's ear off (honorable mention to Claude Giroux who hasn't yet learned that sweaty hockey sweater tastes like sweaty hockey sweater).
The "Why did we blow that up again?" Award: The Oakland Athletics
Just when you think the A's have found a core of players that could finally get them past the ALDS for the first time in... it feels like forever now, the team gets blown up and scattered across the majors in a fire-sale that makes Jeffrey Loria envious. Billy Beane has always done some strange things as A's GM, but this offseason has been a particularly strange one, especially after he traded for big name pitching in the regular season seeing as this may be his last roll of the dice. Maybe after 2015 the A's will do the same thing again, or there will just be seeping regret... like the sewage at the Coliseum that never stays where it should.
The "What's Tanking" Award: the Philadelphia 76ers, Buffalo Sabres, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 76ers and Sabres have made no bones about professing their love for the art of tanking completely and totally. The 76ers are trying to be their best at it in order to build their team slowly and methodically, but there might not be a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Buffalo Sabres went as far as to schedule games featuring Connor McDavid's Erie Otters and Jack Eichel's BU Terriers at the First Niagara Center, just in case you weren't sure what Tim Murray's plans were. But now, the Sabres are actually playing decent hockey and winning games! Maybe the price for Tyler Myers will be lower now. But a late entrant into this award, making it a 3 way tie: The Tampa Bay Bucs! They were winning handsomely over the New Orleans Saints, until Lovie Smith conspicuously pulled his starters as the Saints made a nice comeback. Was it a threatening phone call from GM Jason Licht, or a subconscious devil on Lovie Smith's shoulder that told him "tanking is good, tanking saves souls"? Maybe we'll find it out in Chicago in April when Marcus Mariota is holding up a Bucs jersey.
The "Wagging Finger of Shame" Award: Twitter
I love twitter. It's a necessary evil in our current time. But damn it had a horrible year in 2014. From jumping the gun on stories, to fake stories, to elements of stories that weren't true and yet thousands of people believed, to creepy men trying hit on women on twitter but only end up being abusive pieces of garbage, from people just flat saying horrible things to each other on twitter because it's twitter, to an obsession with disappearing planes, discussions on politics that only end up in crap flinging matches... and there's probably more that I missed but good God this year was awful in 140 characters. Twitter... you need to get better in 2015. Or at least take who I block and report for spam seriously. Although props to Michelle Beadle for directly calling out one of her abuses as a registered sex offender. Bravo.
I'll make sure to have the $10 trophies in the mail and on your respective doorsteps by January 2nd.