Well a new year is upon us. 2014 is now here and the usual refrain of optimism and resolutions fill the air as the anticipation of the calendar turning over is always fuelled with change. However, before we can look forward, we must look back at the year that was. Yes, 2013 was an interesting year to say the least. So interesting in fact that for the first time, this blog will is having its first annual awards show. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2013 Gratton Awards!
Now, before we get started on the actual awards, an explanation is needed on a few subjects. Firstly, the Gratton Awards are named after former New York Rangers goaltender Gilles Gratton, who is famous for refusing to take his place between the pipes because ” the moon was in the wrong part of the sky, thereby not lined up with Jupiter.” Gratton also believed he was reincarnated and was a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition in a previous life. On top of that, Gratton also believed he was an executioner who had stoned people to death, thus doomed to be a goalie as punishment. Finally, Gratton had the greatest goalie mask in NHL history, a growling lion believed to be inspired by his astrological sign, Leo. No wonder his nickname was Gratoony the Loony. For all those reason, the awards are named after him.
Now, most are wondering how are these awards decided? A few very intelligent human beings get together in a secret location and debate the merits of each category, before determining the winner. Oh who am I kidding, its me with some whiskey and free time on my hands that makes things up on the fly. So with that in mind, here are the first annual Gratton Awards.
Walter White Breaking Bad Award: (tie) Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
With Breaking Bad ending its incredible 5 year run as the best show on television, how fitting that the first award of the 2013 Grattons is named after the drug kingpin Walter White. There were some worthy candidates. Lance Armstrong for his lying about his use of PEDs during his seven-year run as Tour De France winner. Von Miller received consideration for being suspended again by the NFL for steroids. Nelson Cruz was suspended for 50 games for a positive drug test. But no athletes displayed more brazen acts of drug use and denial quite like A-Rod and Braun. While Braun finally admitted to his transgressions, A-Roid is “fighting to protect his legacy” against the big evil that is Major League Baseball, denying any wrongdoing whatsoever, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. I think A-Roid’s career will end the same way as Walter White’s career as a meth dealer ended. It won’t be pretty.
Ron Burgundy Stay Classy Award: Jeff O’Neill
Jeff O’Neill was a decent hockey player at one point. From 1995 with the Hartford Whalers, (remember them?) to a Stanley Cup Final run with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002, to an inglorious end with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2007, O’Neill did notch 237 goals in 821 games in his career. O’Neill now works as an analyst for TSN radio in Toronto, while doing some part-time work on the main TSN network on a national level. O’Neill wasn’t kind to the city of Winnipeg, (my hometown) when he uttered: “Nobody wants to stay there, nobody wants to sign there.” I admit, it is a debatable point, but it upset many Winnipeg Jets fans. Where O’Neill went way wrong was on Twitter during this exchange with a fan.
It is one thing to express an unpopular opinion. I don’t agree with O’Neill’s assumption that players don’t want to sign in Winnipeg. After all, the Jets did lock up long-term deals with Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane. As well, young stars such as Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele will be signing long-term deals in the near future. So O’Neill’s argument is weak on that part. Granted, players such as Zach Parise, David Clarkson and Ryan Suter did spurn the Jets, even though their services were inquired about, when they became available. On that note, O’Neill does have a point. But you never, EVER, go after a fan on social media and resort to name calling because they don’t like your opinion. O’Neill looked like a jackass for that tweet and is taking major heat from Jets fans for that. Stay classy Jeff O’Neill.
Dangerous Danny Davis Award: (Worst Referee) Jeff Triplette
To put it mildly, there were plenty of candidates to choose from. The NHL had the likes of Tim Peel, Stephen Walkom, Don Van Massenhoven and Dan O’Halloran butchering calls. Major League Baseball suffers through Angel Hernandez not knowing the strike zone. The NBA has Joey Crawford, who is senile as hell. The NFL has numerous issues with officials as the likes of Jerome Boger, Ed Hochuli, Walt Coleman and Ron Winter who either don’t know the rules, or are paid off by loan sharks and gamblers to fix games. But Triplette gets the award here for general ineptitude and complete lack of awareness on what’s going on during the game. He also gets the award for having the eyes of a coke addict. There was no better (or worse) example of Triplette’s blundering ways than during a national televised game between the New York Giants and Washington. Late in the game with Washington trailing 24-17, Robert Griffin III completed a pass to Pierre Garcon who was tackled at the 41 yard line. The Redskins could not stop the clock as they were out of timeouts. Triplette signalled it was third and one but the chain crew thought it was a first down and moved the chains. Major confusion ensued while the clock was still running. The Redskins failed to convert on fourth down, the Giants took over on downs and ran out the clock. Washington coach Mike Shanahan asked for a measurement but was denied by Triplette. NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were extremely critical of Triplette and his crew. The NFL admitted the next day that Triplette made a mistake and should have stopped the clock to clear up the confusion. Alas, it cannot be undone. Here’s hoping Triplette is gone from the NFL next season.
Harold Ballard Award: (Worst Owner) Daniel Snyder
Jerry Jones tried very hard to win this award but Snyder gets the nod here. Whether it is suing season ticket holders, charging fees for training camp workouts, or his feud with Mike Shanahan, Snyder is the main reason why the Washington Redskins will never win a Super Bowl under his ownership. We could go into the controversy into the Redskins name, but that’s another blog post for another day. But it was Snyder’s handling of how he fired Shanahan that took the cake. Done under a cloak of secrecy behind closed doors at the Redskins practice facility, with numerous black cars coming and going with no idea who was in which car. Media was not allowed inside the news conference room to hear the announcement. No interviews were allowed. The police were called in. All this happened after everyone knew Shanahan was going to be fired at the end of the season. Daniel Snyder needs to go away forever.
Corey Hart Award: (Stuck in 1985) Chicago Bears
It was a close race as the Edmonton Oilers did their best to reference their glorious past by ignoring their putrid present. But the Chicago Bears win this award, (while wearing their Sunglasses at Night) for once again reminding us on how great their 1985 team is, while choking away a division title because their defense is as woeful as Corey Hart’s current “singing career.” Yes Chicago, we get it. The 1985 Bears were a great team. But that was 28 years ago. Most Bear players weren’t even alive when the Bears last reached the summit. If you want to relive that old glory, perhaps you should find a better secondary that doesn’t let Randall Cobb wide open on a 4th and 8 with the division on the line. Oh, and don’t get swept by the Detroit Lions either. That would help your cause.
Game of the Year: Iron Bowl
Before we get to the classic on the Plains of Alabama, a tip of the hat to some honourable mentions. Game 7 between the Leafs and Bruins produced a comeback that will forever be remembered in Boston, while people in Toronto want to forget it as quickly as possible. Game 6 of the NBA Finals between San Antonio and Miami was riveting stuff that shook the basketball world. Game 2 of the ALCS when David Ortiz’s grand slam gave us a police officer holding up traffic. Portugal and Sweden had a memorable fixture as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic dueled to see who would go to Brazil in 2014. But the Iron Bowl wins out for a variety of reasons. The rivalry between Alabama and Auburn is one of the most intense in sport. A spot in the SEC and National Championship game was on the line. Alabama’s vaunted defense being shredded by Auburn’s running attack. And that finish. That wild and crazy finish. Chris Davis will never have to buy a drink on the Auburn campus again. He also is barred in Tuscaloosa for life.
Team Of The Year: Bayern Munich
Never an easy choice. The Chicago Blackhawks, Miami Heat, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Ravens could all make a case. But Bayern wins out for simply dominating the best domestic soccer league on the planet. (Yes, the Bundesliga is better than the English Premier League but that’s another story.) They also won the best annual soccer competition on the planet, the UEFA Champions League. They won the German Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Club Cup. In other words 5 trophies for Die Roten in one calendar year! This team was exemplary in every competition against whatever was thrown at them. Bayern handled everyone with aplomb and deserve all the accolades. They were the best team in sports in 2013.
Happy New Year everyone!
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