It’s already December 31, 2010. Where does the time go? 2010 was a turbulent year for the world, marred by a recession and an oil spill. But for me, 2010 was a downright banner year. Here’s my personal “best of” list.
Best Night Out: July 22
Dishes shattering in the driveway. German beer on tap and bratwurst on the grill. Kaulsdorf’s best band playing under the stars. My friend Ellen’s pre-wedding polterabend was the best night out of 2010. Described to me as a tradition when dishes are broken for good luck, the polterabend turned out to be one hell of a party. Instead of separate bachelor and bachelorette parties, everyone united for a casual backyard barbecue, German-style. But with Ellen marrying the mayor’s son, the polterabend was no small affair. We broke dishes, we drank beer, we danced in the rain with a hundred new friends.
Best Day Off: April 13
If I had written a 2009 review, it would have been filled with highlights of the Yankees’ championship season. On April 13, 2010, I made the season’s first pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium to see the team receive their World Series rings. The loudest applause was reserved for a visiting player. Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP who had signed with the Angels in the offseason, received his ring last. When his teammates surrounded him in an impromptu mob hug, I doubt there was a dry eye in the House That George Built.
Best Career Achievement: January 26
On January 26, I walked into 30 Rockefeller Center, signed in with NBC security, and auditioned for 30 Rock. It was an audition that I had secured all by myself, by catching the eye of the director while working on set the month before. It was one of those moments when I had to marvel at how far I’d come from a boring marketing job in a windowless room in Queens. I auditioned for 30 Rock. Me. That’s right. And I’ll be back.
Best Example of Right Place, Right Time: October 2
I rose long before the sun that day to help my friend Karen with an event in Central Park. Handing out flyers wasn’t glamorous, but hey, I got paid in cash, saw my friend, and enjoyed a beautiful autumn day. Then I recognized a former colleague who said his company could use freelance help. So that’s how a few hours of fun grunt work turned into a month-long stint at Newsweek.
Best Use of $80: November 9
Best New Obsession: July 11
When I first began dating my boyfriend, he told me he’d be out of commission during the World Cup. Since I wouldn’t be able to pry him from a TV during those four weeks, I joined him and gained a new sporting obsession. Even though Spain was ranked number one at the start of the tournament, John was pessimistic after years of disappointment by his native team. But La Furia Roja (literally, “The Red Fury”) just kept winning games. He told me was excited as I had been for the Yankees last year, except more so, because in all his life, Spain had never made it far in the World Cup. If they won, he wouldn’t know what to do with that level of joy. On July 11, we watched nervously as Spain defeated the Netherlands in the final minutes of regulation. I still don’t think John has processed that Spain actually won the World Cup.
Best Tribute: April 10
This year, my family lost our patriarch. My grandfather was one of the last surviving veterans of World War II. He fought in North Africa and Europe, including the Anzio beach landing. He raised six children and guided five grandchildren. He found true love the second time around, marrying the love of his life at age 55 and staying by her side until he was 92. On April 10, with an Army bugler playing Taps and a Champagne toast, we bade farewell to this great man.
Those are just some of the highlights of an amazing year. I can only hope that 2011 will bring you as much prosperity and happiness.
Living in New York has taught me one thing above all else. When it’s sixty degrees in November, SEIZE THE DAY. Go outside and enjoy that warm sunshine, because this day could be last balmy day for five months. This Sunday was one such day, too warm to spend inside. Sandwiched on NewYorkology.com between walking tours and string quartets, one listing stood out: free Quidditch World Cup.
Dude, I am so there.
Despite having read (and re-read) all of the Harry Potter books, I didn’t know quite what to expect from live quidditch. Two blocks away, I heard cheering. Though the atmosphere was jovial, I quickly realized that these quidditch players weren’t joking around. Even though they ran around on brooms and often in capes, these players want to win as much as any other athletes.
Quidditch could best be described as a cross between soccer, dodge ball, and basketball. With three referees, one snitch runner, seven balls and fourteen players running around on brooms, quidditch is organized chaos. On each team, three chasers take the quaffle and score ten points by throwing it through the opposing team’s hoops. Two beaters throw bludgers (dodge balls) at opposing players, who must retreat to their end of the field when hit. Each team has a keeper defending the hoops. Players wear colored bandannas to denote their positions, as only the seeker can chase the snitch.
But how to replicate the snitch? In Harry Potter’s world, the snitch was a flying ball with a mind of its own. In the world of muggles, the snitch is a quick, agile runner dressed in gold, with a ball dangling from the back of his waistband. One “snatches the snitch” for thirty points by taking the ball away from the snitch. Easier said than done.
The snitch can fight back without being called for a foul. I witnessed snitches running out of the park, running through other matches, and generally taunting their seekers. One particularly entertaining snitch–the first snitch, ever–repeatedly took down seekers who were a foot taller and forty pounds heavier. According to the Savannah Quidditch League, an ideal snitch is a “cross country running ex-wrestler who loves quidditch.” Bonus points if they’ve taken clown classes.
Quidditch is a surprisingly brutal sport. Chasers with quaffles in hand were frequently tackled. These tackles were not the flag-football variety, but full-contact tackles where someone ate astroturf. All teams were co-ed, and women tackled and were tackled just as roughly as men. No player ever stopped running.
Unlike the fictional version, live quidditch matches usually only last about twenty minutes. Teams line up in front of their hoops. The announcer commands to the teams, “heads down, eyes closed.” The snitch runs and hides, to appear later in the game. At “brooms up,” the teams are off and running. Each quaffle goal is worth ten points, and snatching the snitch is worth thirty points and ends the game. If the teams are tied after the snitch is caught, a three-minute overtime decides the winner. The game moves quickly, and could change in an instant.
I’m hooked. As a spectator, that is. I’d get run over on that field.
Leave it to a generation that grew up with Harry Potter to bring this game to life. Never did I think I would see quidditch played live, outside of some show at the Harry Potter amusement park. To quote the poster of the Quidditch World Cup, “We hold no illusions about magic, yet consider that anything is possible.”
Since 2002, I have attended forty or so Yankee home games. Dad and I were there for game 2 of the World Series in 2003, when Andy Pettitte nearly pitched a complete game shutout and the crowd serenaded Bernie Williams, whose days in pinstripes were numbered. In 2007, I attended not one, but two games when Alex Rodriguez’s home run count sat at 499, and saw Joba Chamberlain hit 100mph as a reliever. This August, my parents and I witnessed a fifteen-inning marathon victory against the Red Sox. On September 9, my friend Laura and I cheered as Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the Yankees all-time hit record.
That is why I am here, writing a new post for the first time in months. I want to remember this one. I want to remember what it was like to watch from the left-field bleachers on that surprisingly pleasant October night.
Anything can happen in these short division series, so there was a palpable sense of unease in the stands as Twins’ pitcher Nick Blackburn took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. A.J. Burnett pitched well for the Yankees, but lived on the edge, hitting two batters and walking five more. The Minnesota Twins got on the board in the sixth, but Alex Rodriguez tied it up with a single in the next inning. But when the Twins took a 3-1 lead in the eighth, the new stadium became deathly quiet. The Yankees would lose this one, ending their 8-0 winning streak against the Twins and 15-0 run when tied after seven innings.
Or would they?
In every sport, there are an infinite number of subplots, backstories surrounding every player. Tonight, two of those subplots took surprising new turns.
Since 2004, Alex Rodriguez developed a reputation as a high-priced player who couldn’t hit in the playoffs. Coming in to the bottom of the ninth inning, he had already hit 3 RBI singles in the 2009 ALDS. Mark Teixeira, an expensive acquisition, was 0 for 6 in the ALDS until he singled to get on base in the ninth. Then A-Rod came to the plate, waited for his pitch, and sent it flying into the Yankees’ bullpen.
And the crowd roared. The bleachers shook. My friend Lenny and I high-fived each other and any stranger in striking distance. I felt like I’d had a heart attack. We were all stunned, delirious with disbelief. The game had been over, done, the series tied at one. Suddenly, the game was not over. Suddenly, A-Rod was the most clutch hitter in playoff baseball.
Mark Teixeira’s home run flew so quickly that we didn’t know what happened. The ball landed just to the left of us, in left field seats. Was it foul? Was it fair? It was gone! Another heart attack for me. Another walk-off win for the 2009 Yankees.
All 50,006 people in the crowd stood and applauded for a good five minutes. We screamed, we yelled, we high-fived, we hugged, we tried to fathom that yes, that actually did happen. We chanted “MVP” for Teixeira, even though Minnesota’s Joe Mauer has that prize sealed. We all stood in our seats and sang along to Sinatra. “I want to wake up, in a city, that never sleeps….” Do you know what it’s like, to hear 50,000 people ecstatically sing that song at the top of their lungs? It’s a little bit of heaven.
I’d never seen any of that before in my forty games at either Yankee Stadium. Never had I seen a crowd that was so united at the end of the game, that just didn’t want to leave. You won’t read about that in any of the official recaps. But I was there, at the House that George Built. It was spectacular.
The following post originally appeared on Neighborbee on December 29, 2008.
Happy new year, everybody! As 2008 draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking of New Year’s resolutions for 2009. Burn off those Christmas cookies. Climb out of debt. Get a better job. All those resolutions sound like hard work! Let’s add some fun stuff to the 2009 to-do list.
Here at TrailerSpy, we generally write about movies, but if there is a good trailer for a TV show, then we’ll post it. And the trailer for the ESPN miniseries The Bronx is Burning definitely qualifies.
Back in 1977, New York City was not quite the nice, safe place it is now. The city was battling a serial killer, bankruptcy, and mass looting during a summer blackout. The New York Yankees were one of the few bright spots that summer, but the team was in turmoil too. New owner George Steinbrenner had gotten to the World Series and lost, so he went out and did what he does best–he bought a star in Reggie Jackson. In addition to Jackson, the ’77 Yankees boasted Thurman Munson, Bucky F’in Dent, and managers Yogi Berra and Billy Martin. Together, their challenge was to bring the championship back to the Bronx for the first time in 16 years.
For every baseball fan, The Bronx is Burning is one big SEE IT. This bit of Yankee history happened before I was born, and I can’t wait to catch up. The Bronx is Burning is an eight-week miniseries starting July 9 on ESPN. (official site)
I joke that I have been a Miami Dolphins fan since I was in the womb.It’s a possibility—my Dad is a die-hard fan, and I know way too much about the 1972 perfect season for someone who was born in 1978.(I can just picture grainy footage of Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Nick Buoniconti, and the rest of the No-Name Defense.)But to be a Dolphins fan is to know dashed hopes and disappointment, year after year.Imagine my excitement this morning when the lead story on SI.com was that Dolphins were the team to beat in the AFC East.Could this year be different?Could this year be there year that the Dolphins are actually consistently good?
My earliest memories of the Dolphins date from 1984.Led by a very young Dan Marino, the team went 14-2 and eventually lost to Joe Montana and the 49ers in Super Bowl 19.Unfortunately for me, that’s as good as they’ve been in my lifetime.
The franchise’s Wikipedia profile is littered with phrases like “struggled with defensive injuries,” “stumbled late [in the season]”, and “disastrous year.”In the 1990s, the team developed a nasty habit of playing only their first 8 games.When they actually made the playoffs, the Dolphins were often sent home in humiliating early defeats, such as losing to Buffalo in the first round in ‘95, or even worse, losing 62-7 to the Jaguars in ‘99.
I hold Dan Marino responsible for many of those difficult times, particularly in the late ‘90s.Marino was one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game, but he was also injury-plagued in the last two-thirds of his career.Instead of chasing the elusive championship title until he was 38, Marino should have retired years before he did.
The millennium has seen instability in the coach and quarterback slots, and now it looks like the front office may finally have figured out those problems.Former LSU coach Nick Saban went 9-7 in his first season in the pros, including a six-game winning to end the year.(We fans are used to those winning streaks happening at the beginning of the year, not the end!)In the offseason, the Dolphins acquired injured quarterback Daunte Culpepper from the Vikings, bringing a marquis player to the position for the first time since Marino’s departure.
So come on Fins.Let this be the year.Let this be the year I go back to my parents’ house and dig out my ancient Horrible Hankie from 1985.Let this be the year I wear my vintage Dolphins winter hat with pride in Jets territory.Let this be the year that your corny fight song actually tells the truth.
UPDATE: It turns out that 2006 was just another typical year for the Dolphins. They finished with a losing record, and Nick Saban is persona non grata in Miami. He’s much more successful in college football.
I write this update on December 27, 2008. After going 1-15 in 2007, the Dolphins finished this regular season 11-5 and as AFC East Champions. That the final victory came against the hated Jets made it even sweeter.
I took a stab at live-blogging an NBA playoff game, from start to finish.
8:20pm: 19-12, Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki, the shaggy blonde guy for the Mavericks, gets psyched up by listening to David Hasselhoff. No joke.
8:25pm: Keith Van Horn came off the bench in the first quarter. In 1997, Van Horn was #2 in the draft, and Tim Duncan was #1. Nine years, later Van Horn has moved from team to team every few years, and Duncan is a two-time league MVP, and a three-time finals MVP. But Van Horn just sank a pretty 3-pointer. 26-17, Dallas.
8:35pm: End of the first quarter, 37-27, Mavericks. It’s been all Dallas, even though the game is being played in San Antonio. The Mavericks have made 15 of 17 in first quarter shots but the Spurs’ Tony Parker scored 12 points in the first.
8:52pm: 52-36 Mavericks. It’s still early guys, you can do it.
9:00pm: It’s so strange to see Avery Johnson as a head coach, much less for the Mavericks. I still remember him sinking some clutch shots during Spurs first championship in 1999.He’s 5’11” and looks about half that size on TV, but he played over 1,000 games in 16 seasons in the NBA.He even won Coach of the Year this year.Good for him, but I’m still rooting for the Spurs. 58-40 Mavericks.
9:06pm: Beautiful 3-pointer by Michael Finley. Maybe this is the beginning of a Spurs run. 60-44, Mavericks.
9:13pm: Halftime, 64-50, Mavericks. The TNT commentators are starting to talk like this game is already over, but the Spurs sank 5 of their last 6 shots. The Finley 3-pointer was a turning point and provided the team with some good momentum to close out the half. Don’t count the Spurs out just yet. This is the same team that has won 3 championships over the last 6 years. They are the defending champions and the #1 seed in the West, and they are playing at home.
9:25pm: Still halftime. How often do 3 of the 4 conference semi-final series go down to game 7? Last night the Pistons sent LeBron James home for the season. After the Mavericks/Spurs game is decided, the Clippers will battle the Suns for a spot in the Western conference finals. I’m rooting for Cinderella, aka the Clippers, in that matchup.
9:30pm: End of halftime. Marv Albert’s hairpiece is way too obvious.
9:48pm: 74-67, Mavericks. The crowd in San Antonio finally has something to cheer about and they are getting loud. Four Mavericks have 4 or more fouls; Tony Parker is the only Spur with at least 3 fouls.
9:50pm: 74-70, Mavericks. Spurs fans are chanting MVP for Tim Duncan, who just hit his free throw. I love the Spurs because Tim Duncan’s senior season at Wake Forest was my freshman year, and I’ve got some great photos to prove it. He actually graduated and even had a psychology paper published, and he’s always represented Wake well.
9:58pm: 84-74, Mavericks. Keith Van Horn just sank his third 3-pointer. Somebody stop that guy. Oh good, he missed one.
10:00pm: 84-78, Mavericks, end of the 3rd quarter. Seen in the audience in the 3rd quarter: Mike Modano, captain of the Dallas Stars hockey team, there to support his basketball colleagues.
10:17pm: Manu Ginobli hits a 3-pointer. 93-87, Mavericks. The Spurs have been within two but have yet to lead. I have faith, guys, I have faith.
10:24pm: 94-89, Mavericks. In what I hope will be my last Dallas-centric post of the evening, I must point out that Josh Howard, Wake Forest class of 2002, started for the Mavericks and has scored 13 points so far. (Thanks Will for the tidbit.)
4:11 left in the 4th: I am sending all my energy through the TV to the Spurs. This helps, I know it does. 96-92, Mavericks.
1:40 left in the 4th: Finley hits another 3-pointer to put the Spurs within one and I scream. 101-100, Mavericks.
32 seconds left in the 4th: Duncan hit a foul shot and Ginobli sank a huge 3-pointer to give the Spurs the LEAD! 104-101 SPURS! Mark Cuban is not happy, but I am! Go Spurs go!
End of regulation: Tied at 104. My neighbors must think I’ve gone off the deep end.
22 seconds left in OT: 115-110. Jerry Stackhouse is 1 of 2 at the free throw line. Robert Horry, aka “Big Shot Bob,” checks in for San Antonio, supposedly just for rebounding. Come on, Big Shot Bob is the ultimate clutch player. Give him the ball!
End of overtime: 118-111 Mavericks. DARN IT.
This post was made possible with tidbits from TNT commentators and stats from the NBA and si.com.