Well, here we are, within two minutes and taking a knee, being fouled and hitting our foul shots, and signaling for Mariano Rivera to shut the door on 2009. And with Rivera, we know that it is indeed over! 2009, like every year, has brought more happenings, tragedy, history, and personal change to us all. And although a much more difficult year than most of us have experienced, 2009 brought life in a special way that will help shape us for 2010. So before the buzzer sounds and the final out is recorded, let's look back on the year that closed out this decade.
The Pondy Awards
Crucial Moment of the Year: US Airline Terrorist Attack Foiled
Although it happened at the very end of this 2009 campaign, the failed attempt of a terrorist attack on a U.S. Airline bound for Detroit on Christmas day is evident that the evil in this world does not rest. With events such as the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas, and this latest attempt by Al Qaeda of using Nigerians is evident that this war has grown beyond the boundaries of any traditional war in the past. I never thought I’d say this, but maybe Newt Gingrich was on to something when he stated that the past administration underestimated the war on terror, and this administration looks to be carrying on the same attitude
Honorable Mention – Fort Hood Attack and Afghanistan Bombing on US Base.
World Affairs Issue of the Year: Michael Jackson’s Death
Few deaths have rocked the world the way Michael Jackson did this past June. Jackson, beloved around the world for his musical talents and ability to transform culture and entertainment was mourned around the world for his vision and support of humanity.
Honorable Mention – Swine-Flu Pandemic
Inspirational Story of the Year: President Obama’s Inauguration
Many voyaged to Washington D.C. embracing frigid temperatures and packed around television sets to witness history – the first president of color. Obama’s inauguration presented hope, inspiration, and most importantly, progress, for a nation whose past (and ugly) history in race relations has kept it in the doldrums of ignorance. The most heartwarming thought is that little boys and girls of color across this nation that have dreams of becoming the leader of the free world will no longer be viewed as naive.
Random Story of the Year: Somali Pirates Take Hostage of U.S. Ships
So often we think of pirates of being a concept of ancient times with patches and wooden legs. However, Pirates are still around, with well-equipped and technologically advanced ships. In April, Somali Pirates held a U.S. ship hostage, more specifically the ship’s captain in an attempt to raid of U.S. food and aid cargo scheduled to be delivered to Somalia. Not long after, Pirates once again robbed a Cruise ship traveling through the same seas.
Honorable Mention – Craigslist Sex Rings, Erin Andrews Privacy Invasion Saga, and Steve McNair’s death.
Most Controversial Story of the Year: United States Healthcare Reform
Despite the bill being passed on Christmas day, the issue still raises questions and debate amongst everyone. From governmental inclusion on such private decisions to the reduction of some plans, to the cost of public policies, and to those who still wonder why Canada has universal healthcare and we still can’t seem to get it right; this issue is far from going away.
Most Overrated Story of the Year: Bret Favre’s “comeback”
I’ll be remised if I didn’t put the blame on this fiasco square on the shoulders of the “mother ship” of sports, otherwise known and self-acclaimed “Worldwide leader in sports”. ESPN followed Favre as if he were some sort of figure that would change and evolve the world as we know it. Breaking updates. Constant polls. Coverage of him working out. And yes, yes, a helicopter view of him arriving at Viking headquarters. Really? It still baffles me today. He came back…again like we all knew he would. Overrated indeed
Honorable Mention – Nadya Suleman aka Octomom and Balloon Boy
Invention of the Year: Twitter
Want to follow the on-goings of your friends and celebrities? Well, now you can. Twitter has become the latest form of freedom of speech and expression without the articulation, form, art, grammar and the rest of that stuff we learn in English class. Twitter found a way to take a basic AOL IM “Away Message” and turn it into a million-dollar phenomenon. God Bless America. Oh yeah, by the way, follow Dome Pondering via Twitter on the right side of the site via “Minor Ponderings”. And yes, that was a very cheap plug.
Comeback of the Year: Alex Rodriguez
It’s amazing that this is A-Rod’s second time earning this very award (Earned it as well in 2007). However, A-Rod shockingly found himself in the greatest of depths in his career at the beginning of 2009. From his personal issues, a big hip injury, constant image conflicts, his fading relationship with the fans and media, and finally the huge saga with him admitting to performance-enhancing drugs, A-Rod’s career seemed destined for the dumps. However, after hitting the first pitch, sparking the Yankees, ditching his postseason woes, and earning a World Series title, A-Rod had quite the comeback story that even the most critical Yankee fans have to be impressed by. After all, who would've guessed that A-Rod would be more appreciated than Tiger Woods at the end of 2009?
Honorable Mention – Whitney Houston
“Wishing Well” Award of the Year: Employment/Rebounding Economy
If you’re not employed, it is a given that you know of someone that is not employed via lay-off. That in it’s essence describes the recent downturn and hard times we have been facing. Job prospectus is as low as it has ever been, and job creation is the number one issue facing our government today.
“Just Go Away” Award of the Year: Jon and Kate Gosselin
I get it. You became popular because of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. However, I didn’t watch your reality television show, and those who did, are probably sick and tired of you taking up valuable news time with your selfish and ridiculous divorce. You had your 15 minutes of fame, now go away
Honorable Mention – Carrie Prejean and Nadye Sulemon aka Octomom
“Largest Fortitude” Award of the Year: Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg
Anyone that has the ability to stay calm and think clearly while having the guts to lead over 200 people out of a plane in danger of going underwater is definitely a lock for this award.
Honorable Mention – Usain Bolt
“We Will Miss You” Award of the Year: Michael Jackson
As stated above, a death that shocked the entire world. Few can do that. Then again, few were able to do what Michael Jackson did.
Honorable Mention – Ted Kennedy and Patrick Swayze
“What Were You Thinking?” Award of the Year: Kanye West
Kanye West has always been questioned about his character. He is very good as an artist, and one of the best of all time as a producer. However, running up on stage intoxicated and interrupting America’s latest sweetheart in Taylor Swift, ummm yeah very dumb decision.
Honorable Mention – Philadelphia Woman that offered Sex For a Pair of World Series Tickets and Tiger Woods.
“What a Shame” Award of the Year: Taconic Parkway Crash
A sad, horrific, and senseless tragedy that will never ever be solved. A woman transporting several children was high and intoxicated while traveling the wrong way at high speeds on the Taconic Parkway (NY). In the midst of her rage, she collided head on with another vehicle killing all but one child. Did the father, who received a phone call from the mother know? I think he did (He Had To Know). However, no one will ever know what that woman was thinking that caused her to end so many lives in such a senseless way.
Honorable Mention – Tiger Woods, The Story of Derrion Albert (Why did Derrion Albert Have To Die) (Why Did Derrion Albert Have To Die Part II), and the Fort Hood Attack.
“Welcome to The Scene” Award of the Year: Taylor Swift
Swift was well known by die-hard country fans for years now dating back to when the breakout artist was just a mere sixteen years of age. However, at such a young age, Swift has been able to do what many great country artist were unable to, and that’s crossover into pop. Yes, Swift had her country tunes heard throughout out the nation, even in the channels of urban areas where even inner-city girls related to her lyrics. Swift dominated the VMA’s (with help from Mr. West), AMA’s, and CMA’s. The sky is the limit for Taylor Swift.
Honorable Mention – Susan Boyle, Cliff Lee, Stereotypical Guido-Italians, and Lady Gaga.
“This Should Have Been Done Before” Award of the Year: Public Outcry Against The MTA
For those that are not in the New York City-Tri-State area, this award may not be completely understood. For a better understanding read: A New Yorker’s Note To The MTA. For an organization that has been mismanaged despite having an operation with no competition is inexcusable. Now the MTA is cutting service and taking other actions such as taking away student passes for children. There isn’t much the public can do about such changes because of the MTA’s power (and the public’s need for transportation), however, with more protests and damage to their image, hopefully, a dent can be made.
“The Incredibles” Award of the Year: Usain Bolt
As if being the fastest man in the world wasn’t enough, Bolt continued his hobby of shattering world records with two more records falling to the Jamaican superstar. He is definitely making the Caribbean natives proud.
“We Need To Fix This” Award of the Year: Global Economy
Two years in a row. Winning something back-to-back is normally praised, but with this issue, I pray it doesn’t three-peat.
Honorable Mention – Lack of Quality Men and Leaders
Biggest Letdown of the Year: Dominican Republic National Baseball Team
Often regarded as one of the major powerhouses in the world for baseball, the Dominican Republic was eliminated by the upstart Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Idiot of the Year: Bernie Madoff
At first, it seemed like Kanye West was going to take this award after his VMA stunt. Then Tiger Woods had his life spill over and splashed onto the front pages of our newspapers. However, how do you steal billions of dollars and get off without a trace, and well…decide to continue? Despite stealing millions with his Ponzi scheme, he ruined just as many lives. And for his greedy ways, and thoughtless acts, he is this year’s biggest idiot.
Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Chesley B. Sullenberg III
Also, winner of this year’s “Largest Fortitude” award, Sully’s heroics on the Hudson River showed great leadership, instincts, and poise. Responsible for over 200 lives in a situation where his was in jeopardy, Sully managed to effectively lead all passengers and staff out of the aircraft without any severe damage and had one great story to tell.
Pay-Per-View Event of the Year: TNA Turning Point
After spending most of the year presenting subpar events, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) delivered after numerous front-office changes on a very solid card and two amazing match of the year contenders.
Honorable Mention – UFC 100, WWE Summerslam, and Dragon Gate Dead or Alive
Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels (TNA Turning Point)
Although beating out ‘Taker/Michaels from Wrestlemania 25 by a smidge, this was clearly the best bout of 2009. The second time these three met in the main event on pay-per-view wasn’t as good as their first one, but it definitely delivered. A must-watch recommendation for wrestling fans.
Honorable Mention – Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania 25) and Kurt Angle vs. Desmond Wolfe (TNA Turning Point).
Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: Beer Money Inc. (TNA)
Beer!…Money! Without a doubt the best tag team in 2009. From their title reign to their road to reclaiming the gold, Beer Money is compromised of the two best individual wrestlers to form a tag team in professional wrestling today.
Honorable Mention – American Wolves (ROH), Chris Jericho and The Big Show (WWE), and The British Invasion (TNA).
Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Awesome Kong
A new award here at the DP, it was time to give the women some props for their hard work. Women’s wrestling is slowly being treated with more respect (mainly due to TNA’s knockouts division), and that respect should be represented in honoring the industry’s top performer. And with that, this year’s award goes to Awesome Kong, who is far and above the best female wrestler today.
Honorable Mention – Angelina Love (TNA)
Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: Randy Orton
If there were a wrestler of the decade here at the DP, it would obviously go to Kurt Angle, who is clearly the best wrestler in the past ten years. His work is consistently impressive, which continues to raise the bar for himself, yet, is always detrimental in annual talks for wrestler of the year. While Angle was, well Kurt “Freakin’ Angle again this year, Randy Orton raised his game to another level which earned him the award this year. The Legend Killer became one of the biggest names and most entertaining wrestlers on Monday nights. And let’s be honest, Monday Night Raw was brutal this year. Orton’s long-standing feud with John Cena culminated in a great one-hour, iron man match which was one of many highlights for him throughout the year.
Honorable Mention – Kurt Angle (TNA), AJ Styles (TNA), Jeff Hardy (WWE), and John Cena (WWE).
Sports Event of the Year: Super Bowl XLIII - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals
While many thought that Super Bowl XLII between the Giants and the Patriots would be difficult to top, this game went out and did just that. From the great interception return before the half, to a big comeback by the Cardinals capped by Fitzgerald’s Catch, to the unbelievable catch by Santonio Holmes to seal the game, Super Bowl XLIII was a game that even non-football enthusiasts enjoyed.
Honorable Mention – Bulls vs. Celtics First Round Playoff Series, Twins vs. Tigers 163rd Game, and The World Series – New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies.
Coach of the Year: Joe Girardi
In the world of sports, there is no position like the manager of the New York Yankees. No matter what some media outlets like to say, it is unmatched, period. Not Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, or even Manchester United. In New York, you are expected to win. No ifs, ands, or buts. And that's what Joe Girardi did in 2009. Coming off of the Torre years, Girardi gave the green light on many changes which came with heavy scrutiny. From taking days off in Spring Training to work on team development, to allowing Nick Swisher to blast music in the clubhouse, to go with a three-man rotation throughout the playoffs, Girardi was scrutinized in every way possible, but he held his own. He believed in his ways and won the whole thing. To be expected to win and criticized every day, and still get it done, that’s enough to win the Coach of the Year here at the DP.
Team of the Year: New York Yankees
Well everything that is said about Joe Girardi, is ditto for the Yankees here. Best Team in baseball during the season, and finishes by winning its unprecedented twenty-seventh world championship.
Honorable Mention – Los Angeles Lakers and North Carolina Tar Heels.
Dome Pondering Sportsman of the Year: Mariano Rivera
I understand that Derek Jeter received the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. And while I was very inclined to agree with SI, I found myself arguing a case for Mo, and as you can see, the DP part of me defeated the SI part of me. While Jeter had an amazing season which included setting the mark for all-time hits for a shortstop, breaking the historic (and I mean historic) record of the Yankees' all-time hits record formerly held by Lou Gehrig, and yes, completing the task of putting a ring on one hand, Mariano Rivera is too often overlooked for such awards.
So enter Sandman…
Without being too lengthy, Rivera is similar to how Kurt Angle was described above – so good you forget to appreciate how great he is. Always consistent. Always above the rest. Rivera, who earned his 500th save (and yes Met fans, his first career RBI as well) put up another stellar season for the New York Yankees. In a post-season where all closers blew at least one save, Rivera, once again remained flawless. Heck, one can go as far as saying that without Rivera, the Yankees would be searching for their first World Series since 1978! Imagine that?
Rivera is very charitable, a great teacher and leader, and most of all, the most humble athlete you will ever find. Does anyone remember him saying that Trevor Hoffman was better than him?
Here is to you Mo. You deserve it. And of course, in fitting style, closing out the Dome Pondering Annual Awards for 2009.
Honorable Mention – Derek Jeter
The Final Countdown…
2009 has been a year that seems to have had a dim (not dark) cloud hung over it. There is no sugarcoating or attempting to accentuate things. 2009 was marred with struggle, employment issues, and self-searching for a lot of individuals. There were many (too many)who fell into that category that had an opportunity to find out who they were. Either by picking themselves up against various pressures or by time to rationalize aspects in their lives.
This past year, I was one of those people. I became one of those people that had an opportunity to find out exactly what they were made of when things continue to get rough. I was also one of those people that had the chance to put things in perspective, and shine the headlights back on the road I needed to be on.
One year ago, in the 2008 Year in Review, I discussed my ability to bypass the evolution that caused individuals to become selfish, to become centered on what was needed to be to get ahead. I vowed to stay true to my upbringing, my morals, and most importantly my faith.
And in doing so, things still didn't seem complete. There was a part of me that still didn’t seem to be at peace.
After searching and praying, that part came to be: a burning desire, a passion, and a drive that was no longer there.
Being let go from a job can take its toll on your psyche. Despite it not being your fault, it leaves you feeling useless, unqualified, directionless, and dare I say, like a failure. Even though there was nothing you could do about it, and you knew it was coming, it just seeps in. The doubt. The negative thoughts. The what if’s.
Combine that with those who are lucky enough to be employed and are not able to sympathize, and it makes you feel like you are in a different world. I’ve experienced it, and I've seen it happen to people I know, and even those you read about every day in your local newspaper.
All the questions slowly get balled up into: When will I get a break?
And if you’re reading this and you’re in that position - I understand.
Everyone has been there.
However, it all comes down to self-confidence. I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with that. I’ve never had the ability to be 100 percent confident in myself. And I still don’t. In fact, I’ve always valued humility in a person more so than confidence. With that said, in the past year, even dating back to part of 2008, I’ve noticed that I’ve lost more confidence in myself than ever before in my life. It’s not an issue of depression, just an issue of finding where one belongs in this world at the same time as attempting to not get caught up in it. That is no easy feat.
And that’s where that vital component of desire, passion, and drive comes back.
As a kid, I’ve always taken the competition seriously. From academics to athletics. Especially, athletics because of my natural-born physical inabilities. However, not once have I ever used my inabilities as a reason to not compete. The nay-sayers, and the well, let's just call them for what they are, haters, will always be there. I had people and friends like that. And to be quite honest, I still do. Using them is what fueled me. And I am very sure they have lit a certain fire in most of you at one point as well.
Somewhere between my senior year of college and the present time, that desire burned out. Whether it be my lack of faith (A huge part of it), severe physical injuries (incapable of doing what you were able to do), or just burnout, it just didn’t seem to click.
However, as always, God tests each and every one of us. He gives us things we can handle, and will always place things in front of us that will cause us to grow stronger. In a year where struggle, worry, and heavy concern fill the hearts of many, the souls of the weary have increased with burden and anxiety.
That’s where the desire, passion and drive to become a better person (Physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually) and to seek God more every day fits in.
The question every day should be: What have you done today to get better?
As we head into 2010, and the race that we call life continues, I’ve learned a lot about desire, passion, and about the drive from 2009. Failure and negativity are always there. And it is easy to succumb once you allow those qualities to go on cruise control. It’s even easier to lose faith in yourself.
I’ve always been a big believer that failure is the best teacher. And an even bigger believer that God’s judgment is the only one that matters.
As we head into 2010, find those that are true that support you and wish to see your happiness, while using those who “hate” to fuel you. And most importantly, understand that God will continue to introduce himself to you, and you to yourself.
As we close 2009, I can honestly say I am renewed, healthy, and at peace for the first time in a long time.
2010 is full of new beginnings and possibilities, and God has new trails for us to embark on.
Let’s ditch our selfish ways, our negative thoughts, and our lack of confidence.
And let’s rediscover that desire, that passion, and that drive.
In 2010, how will you respond?
Happy New Year!