Adieu, my troubled year, adieu.
It’s time for the annual Thorns and Roses presentations. We seek to leave the year on an up note, so the Thorns first.
5. NBA referee Tim Donaghy crossed all the lines this year when he became part of the gambling/fix a game mess. If the games are not real, there are no games. Replace your whistle with this thorn.
4. Some professional baseball scouts were discovered to be taking kickbacks when signing young players from the Dominican. For many of these kids a baseball deal is they’re way out of wretched conditions. For scouts to have exploited this stinks. Take this thorn and sit on it.
3. Game 5 of the World Series never should have started in conditions that were unplayable and dangerous to the players. At least the game was suspended and completed, not cancelled. This prick of the thorn is a reminder that the game deserves better than this.
2. Roger Clemens’ insistence that he speak before Congress proved to be a disaster. The lawsuits go on and the game’s black eye stays fresh in the public mind. Hold this thorn between the thumb and forefinger. When you want to speak again, poke yourself.
1. LPGA head Carol Bivens instituted an English proficiency rule for the tour, reportedly because sponsors were complaining they couldn’t hold conversations with golfers from Korea. Suspensions were to be the punishments.
The rule went away in short order under a barrage of public attacks.
Roses, bring on the roses!
5. The Tampa Rays in the World Series. Preposterous! They were and they are and the game is better for it. This yellow rose is for all the fun you brought to fans.
4. The Celtics are back. An NBA championship and a grand tradition of Celtic power returned in 2008. Sprinkle these green rose petals over the parquet.
3. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the peak on Mt. Everest, passed this year. He brought dignity to his hobby of mountain climbing, and schools and hospitals to the people he loved who lived at the mountain’s base. This white rose bouquet is in your memory.
2. The NCAA Division II softball playoff featured Western Oregon and Central Washington University. Sara Nicholsky of Western hit her first college homer in the game. She injured her leg rounding first and could not walk. The umpires said her teammates could not help her round the bases, later to be found as a misreading of the rules.
Mallory Hoffman, the home run star of Central and perhaps their best player ever, said she and her teammates would carry Sara around the bases so she could touch them and be credited with the homer. They did. These 24 long-stem beauties look a lot like you, Mallory.
1. Dale Tallon is the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks. His Dad passed away in Canada recently. The current Blackhawks were playing in Canada at the time. When they finished their game they were due to board a plane for a day off in the next city on the road trip.
Instead, they boarded a bus for a two-hour ride to the funeral of their GM’s Dad.
These magnificent black roses are for Dale’s Dad and his son’s players.
May 2009 be roses for you. Happy New Year.