The year in review

Here are my non-Rutgers athletics thoughts to cap off the year, sports-related and otherwise. Recapping the RU stuff would be kind of redundant, and basically one long, overbearing love letter to Tim Pernetti. Behind the jump, as some material may be objectionable to certain readers.

  • At least defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan likely won't be with the Giants for too much longer. They need an infusion of youth on both lines, and to hope that safety Kenny Phillips returns in one piece. Very quietly though, it was a pretty good year for Eli Manning and his young receiving corps, including my whipping boy Hakeem Nicks.
  • Crazily enough, if they lose to the Vikings, it's conceivable that they could trade up for Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. He's not Suh, but might be a better pure pass rusher. That's who I want come April.
  • North/Central Jersey may have the World Series, but it sure looks like the Eagles are going to be playing the Chargers in the Super Bowl right now. At least it's not Dallas. I'm vacillating between Philly antipathy and wanting to see Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid succeed.
  • The New York Yankees are back on top of Major League Baseball. Yep, they handed out a trio of three monster contracts over the last offseason, but what should really make the rest of baseball nervous is that GM Brian Cashman is combining that payroll with a savvy understanding of advanced analysis (re: adding Swisher, Granderson, Vasquez, and Nick Johnson.) This ain't your father's Yankees, with George Steinbrenner making panic trades, and signing mediocre veterans. They'll be upgraded on offense, far improved on defense (unless they foolishly re-sign Johnny Damon), added the best pitcher in baseball by xFIP last year, and the payroll will probably go down slightly. Best of all, no one can dare criticize the great Alex Rodriguez any longer.
  • I am saddened though that my favorite player, Chien-Ming Wang, is probably finished in pinstripes. As great as the Vasquez addition was, it will be absolutely awful to see Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain wasted in the bullpen this year.
  • If anyone thinks that Jack Morris and Jim Rice are Hall of Famers, and Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines are not, I sure do hope that they aren't a voting member of the BBWAA.
  • Biggest development in baseball analysis this year was widespread adoption of defensive metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating and Plus/Minus. It was just in time for Derek Jeter to actually make at an effort at playing defense for once.
  • In a year where the headlines from the media business got so bad that I eventually tuned out entirely, one positive development was Sports Illustrated hiring Joe Posnanski, who's hands down the best columnist in America. Well done.
  • And those Devils, wow. Jacques Lemaire came home, and now he's winning with a well-rounded game. I thought some of the younger guys would improve, but it's amazing the contributions that they've gotten from players that no one expected to contribute. Helps when you have the greatest of all-time in net.
  • Nets owner Bruce Ratner has accomplished the impossible, in becoming a figure that I revile more than Jerry Jones and Jim Dolan. It's sad for New Jersey fans who have been through so much, and sad for good men like Rod Thorn and Lawrence Frank who deserved far better. Mostly though, you have to empathize with the Atlantic Yards residents, who are watching their homes being stolen in a plot that's basically out of a Dickens novel. If there is any justice, the arena will join George Zoffinger's Xanadu disaster in history's dustbin.
  • Unfortunately, Notre Dame (grudgingly) made a great hire in Brian Kelly. He'll turn them around in a flash.
  • Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy are the two best shows on TV, and a lot of people have written better than I could about how all the specialization and fragmentation of the network audience has actually done wonders for the quality of serialized drama on cable. Rent Kings if you ever get a chance. Sorry Mad Men; I now know more about the Drapers than I ever cared to find out. However, Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency was a nice dose of black comedy.

  • How does the Italian-American group UNICO protest Jersey Shore, and not the continued existance of the Olive Garden?
  • My favorite album of the year was Exploding Head by A Place to Bury Strangers. It's a record that shamelessly wears its influences on its sleeve, but in a fun way. Runners up: Art Brut vs. Satan, The Hazards of Love. There wasn't quite anything I liked as much as Do You Like Rock Music? or Twelve Angry Months from '08.
  • I've been out on the loop on gaming for a while, but Arkham Asylum and Brutal Legend look so good that I'm jonesing for both.
  • Is there any rhyme or reason to how I-287 is setup? The only conceivable explanation I could come up with was to spur interest in future NJ Transit rail development.
  • Be wary of commercial real estate. Option ARMs and Alt-A loans are going to blow up in a bad way by summer.
  • In retrospect, even taking into account all of the considerable problems, TARP did stop the world from ending. Stopped the bleeding, but there's still plenty of misery to go around.
  • It's criminal how much better policy Wyden-Bennett is than the Baucus health care bill, and it can't even break out of committee because it crosses so many political sacred cows.
  • No year in review retrospective is ever quite complete without one last look back at the defining image of 2008. That's right, Barack Obama nude on a unicorn. I love it.
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