Top Ten Lessons Learned in 2008
by Nigel Chiwaya
Dec 30, 2008 | 2889 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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With the year 2009 having yet to unveil its twists and turns, we thought we’d look back at the lessons we learned from this past year in the New York sports world. 2008 was a topsy-turvy year, one that saw the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays change positions, the Mets and Jets suffer epic late season collapses, and the Giants pull off a giant upset. With all of that said, here are the top lessons from the past year.

10. The Little Things Will Kill You

So this technically didn’t take place in New York or involve New York teams, but every basketball coach in the areas has to look at Memphis’ meltdown in April’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game as a reason to stress the basics. The Tigers, on the verge of knocking off the Kansas Jayhawks for the national title, missed three of five free throws in the final seconds. Then, up by 3, the Tigers failed to foul Mario Chalmers before he hit a game tying three pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation. If fouled, Chalmers would have shot two free throws. Kansas went on the win the title, and coaches everywhere made their players shoot 600 free throws everyday in practice until the end of time.

9. No Isiah, No Problem

Honestly, we have no idea what took the Knicks so long to remove Isiah Thomas, but the team has shown marked improvement under the leadership of Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh. Perhaps the biggest compliment the Knicks have received is their lack of nationally broadcasted games this season. The Knicks under Thomas were a train wreck, but a train wreck you absolutely had to watch. Under D’Antoni, they’re just a step above bad. Now if only they can solve that Stephon Marbury situation.

8. A Helmet is as good as a hand.

We know that coach always told you to catch the football with both hands, but if you’re in a pinch, your helmet will do just fine. It worked out well enough for David Tyree of the Giants, whose one-handed miracle catch led the G-Men to a Super Bowl victory and will live on forever in sports lore as perhaps the greatest catch ever.

7. Don’t Judge a Noodle by its arm strength

Going into the start of the football season, Jets fans everywhere where happy to swap Chad Pennington for Brett Favre. “Good Riddance to the noodle,” Jets fans said of the weak-armed Pennington. Tired of Pennington, the Jets welcomed the cannon-arm of Favre. However, as 2009 rolls around, Pennington looks like a stud on a division champion, and Favre (and his league-leading 22 interceptions) just looks tired.

6. Pitching, Pitching, Pitching

Both of New York’s baseball teams were guilty of ignoring their pitching problems last season. The Mets did land Johan Santana, but did nothing to address their bullpen (or lack thereof.) The Yankees meanwhile thought that the diaper brigade of Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain would take them where they wanted to go. The end result is that both teams watched the playoffs from their sofas.

5. Home is where the heart is

Sometimes nothing can replace the sweet pleasures of being at home. The Yankees sure hammered that point home this year, shoving Yankee stadium’s final season down our throats all year long. The Giants, on the other hand, were right at home on the road during the NFL playoffs, traveling all the way to the Super Bowl championship.

4. Lightning can strike in the same place twice

Heading into the season, Mets fans were sure that Johan Santana would keep them for repeating 2007’s horrid collapse. When things got tough, the Mets dumped Willie Randolph, a move that many thought would fix the team’s ails. However, like we mentioned earlier, the Mets’ bullpen was the problem, and Johan, Jerry Manuel, and Willie Randolph could only watch in horror (or in Willie’s case, probably glee), as the Mets blew game after game in September.

3. Pre-Game Ceremonies are for Before the Game

The Yankees were smart in holding their Yankee stadium finale ceremony before the final game. Why? Because how much of a downer would it be if the team lost the game? Unfortunately for Mets fans (we use that sentence far too often for our tastes), the Amazins chose to hold their ceremony after the Shea finale. Confident that they wouldn’t lose, the Mets then had to hope Mets fans wouldn’t storm the field looking for blood after the team lost their finale to the Marlins.

2. If at first you don’t succeed, spend, spend spend

The advantage to playing in the New York market is that you have tons and tons of money to spend. So when things go wrong, throw some money at your holes every once and while. The Mets and Yankees both took that phrase to heart in the offseason. Showering money at guys like C.C. Sabathia, Francisco Rodriguez, J.J. Putz, and Mark Texiera. And with two new stadiums opening this year, the mint will remain open for years to come.

1. It’s Not How You Start

The Giants opened the 2007 season 0-2. The Patriots entered Super Bowl XLII at 18-0. The Jets started the 2008 season 8-3. Guess which of those three teams is happy with how things played out? Our bet is that Tom Brady and Brett Favre are very jealous of Eli Manning. Further proof that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

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