This year was so packed with gigantic stories that we had to add a whopping 13 honorable mentions. And believe us, those had to be narrowed down, too.
Without further ado, here’s what got us all talking in the Tri-State Area in 2013 (in no particular order):
Biogenesis Suspensions And A-Rod Versus The World
Alex Rodriguez’s year began with hip surgery on Jan. 16. Thirteen days later, A-Rod was named in a Miami New Times report linking him and other MLB players to Biogenesis, a shuttered anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of peddling performance-enhancing drugs. What followed was months of bombshells, denials, snippy statements, lawsuits and a war of words between A-Rod and the league. (Don’t forget Rodriguez vs. the Yankees, a showdown that featured the infamous F-bomb from the team’s GM.) A-Rod was suspended 211 games on Aug. 5, a punishment that he’s currently appealing. The dramatics rose to a new level on Nov. 20, when the third baseman made a surprise in-studio appearance with WFAN’s Mike Francesa after storming out of his grievance hearing. Now he’s reportedly planning a tell-all book about the whole ordeal. That’ll be fun.
Lights Go Out At Super Bowl XLVII
The Super Bowl always makes big headlines for, well, being the Super Bowl. But nobody will ever forget this year’s big game in New Orleans due to a partial blackout that put a halt to Ravens-Niners for more than 30 minutes. Was Beyonce’s halftime show to blame? Some say yes. Was it a conspiracy cooked up by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? Believe it or not, at least one member of the championship Baltimore team thinks so. All we know is it better not happen at MetLife Stadium less than two months from now — or heads will roll!
Tim Tebow Can’t Find A Job
Tim Tebow ended his miserable 2012 season with the Jets knowing he’d be released. Heck, we all knew it was coming. But we waited. GM Mike Tannenbaum was fired, and in came John Idzik. We waited some more. Mercifully, finally, the Jets pulled the plug on Tebow Time after drafting quarterback Geno Smith in April. Then came a wave of interest in the quarterback – from teams he’d be crazy to consider. There was even a CPIFL (what, you’ve never heard of it?) team, Omaha Beef, willing to shell out a whopping $75 per game for a cut of the Heisman winner. Jacksonville Jaguars fans wanted him, unsuccessfully petitioning the White House to force the team’s hand. Eventually he’d land with the New England Patriots, but that didn’t last long and predictably came a second wave of weird contract offers (not to mention more begging from Jags fans). That’s a lot of action for a guy who hasn’t thrown a single pass in a game that matters since Dec. 17, 2012.
Darrelle Revis Traded To Bucs
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Jets fans were put through the ringer to begin 2013 when it was revealed that the team’s best player, Darrelle Revis, was on the trading block. While the fan base navigated through the stages of grief, Revis had a few emotions of his own. (Mostly anger, though, as the cornerback popped off in various forms of media about the team’s treatment of him.) In April, he was shipped to Tampa Bay for draft picks and signed a huge new contract. The Buccaneers lost Week 1 to the Jets and have gone 4-10 so far this season. The Jets probably won’t make the playoffs but have exceeded the expectations of many an expert. Still, with piles of cash in his pocket, Revis wouldn’t change a thing.
Baseball Writers Pitch Hall Of Fame Shutout
Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America denied entry to everyone eligible for Cooperstown when the annual Hall of Fame voting was announced on Jan. 9. It wasn’t just a rejection of PED-tainted players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All players from the Steroid Era were left out, including guys like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, who have no concrete ties to any funny business. A statement was made: Nobody is above suspicion. That’s expected to change in 2014 with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine on the ballot. And maybe some holdovers will get their due, too.
Aaron Hernandez Charged With First-Degree Murder
Who wasn’t hanging on every development in this case? An investigation into the death of a semi-pro football player outside of Boston had everyone’s attention once police searched the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Soon, everyone was talking about Odin Lloyd, North Attleboro and Hernandez’s rocky past. Hernandez would be arrested on murder and gun charges and was released from the team with lightning speed. He maintains his innocence.
Baseball Says Goodbye To Mo Rivera
Mariano Rivera promised to let us all in on his plans during spring training, and he stayed true to his word. Baseball’s all-time saves leader announced his intentions to walk away following the season, held a press conference and then tended to business. He added 44 more saves to his record in 2013, all the while being honored in every ballpark on the Yankees’ schedule. The Bombers retired Rivera’s No. 42 in September. Days later, with longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte walking out to deliver the hook, the legendary closer broke down on the mound while saying farewell to the only fan base he’s ever known. Epilogue: The block of River Avenue outside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is being renamed Rivera Ave. — a fitting honor for the greatest of all time.
Healing Begins After Boston Marathon Bombings
We’ll focus here on the healing — and the part that sports played — after the deadly April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon by the Tsarnaev brothers, who were identified and brought to justice less than a week later. Nothing captured the essence of “Boston Strong” better than on April 17, when a packed house at TD Garden sang the national anthem as one prior to the Bruins’ first game after the bombings. The Yankees showed their support for Boston by playing Neil Diamond’s Fenway Park favorite “Sweet Caroline” at Yankee Stadium. In November, Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes placed baseball’s World Series trophy on the marathon finish line during the team’s championship parade. That same weekend, the New York City Marathon paid tribute to the victims by adding a yellow line next to the finish line of the event, aside the traditional blue line which guides runners through the race. Yellow and blue are the colors of the Boston Athletic Association.
Rutgers Abuse Mess & Aftermath
There are controversies, and then there are Controversies. Rutgers University found itself under the national microscope when ESPN aired footage of basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his players. Rice was fired. Tim Pernetti was the next to go, resigning as athletic director. But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine after that for the school and embattled president Robert Barchi. It turned out that new basketball coach Eddie Jordan never graduated from Rutgers despite everyone thinking otherwise. Pernetti’s replacement, Julie Hermann, became embroiled in her own player-abuse controversy. Rutgers is still battling issues — former football player Jevon Tyree has accused defensive coordinator Dave Cohen of bullying.
Manti Te’o’s “Girlfriend” Doesn’t Exist
Some already knew the definition of “Catfishing.” The rest of the world found out when Deadspin reported that Manti Te’o’s deceased girlfriend, a source of inspiration for the Notre Dame star, wasn’t real — and therefore never died. Everyone had an opinion on Te’o and the perils of online relationships. Te’o said he was the victim of a hoax that one-time friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo took credit for. Emotional interviews, Katie Couric, Dr. Phil — this story had it all. Te’o was drafted by the Chargers, is playing with little distraction in beautiful San Diego and the talking heads have moved on to the next big thing. He’s lucky he didn’t land in New York…
Jason Collins Comes Out
There was lots of talk about acceptance in professional sports and the possibility of a player coming out, but until April, most of it was focused on the NFL. Then former Nets center Jason Collins changed the game with a first-person account in Sports Illustrated, making history as the first openly gay player in the four major American pro sports. Collins, who remains a free agent, marched in Boston’s gay pride parade in June and was recently named one of GQ’s Men of the Year.
Matt Harvey Dazzles, Gets Injured
After impressing in 10 starts in 2012, Matt Harvey took his game to a whole new level for the Mets in 2013, bursting onto the scene as one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball. The 24-year-old’s starts became appointment television as the season progressed. He flirted with no-hitters several times and finished the season 9-5 — receiving minimal run support — with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts to just 31 walks. The right-hander’s brilliant first half led to him being named the National League starter at the All-Star Game at Citi Field. He was also named the NL Pitcher of the Month for April. It all came crashing down, however, on Aug. 26, when the pitcher was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. After some hand-wringing, Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery and is guaranteed NOT to be a top story in 2014.
Jonathan Martin Bullying Saga
Some national stories are too big and too important to ignore. Such was the case in Miami, rocked by controversy after offensive lineman Jonathan Martin departed the club in late October due to alleged bullying by teammate Richie Incognito in the Dolphins’ locker room. The case sparked an intense debate about locker-room culture not only in football, but other leagues — professional and amateur alike.
13 Honorable Mentions:
— Don’tcha know? Yankees lose Robbie in free agency
— Kevin Ware suffers gruesome injury during NCAA Tournament
— Lance Armstrong comes clean on doping to Oprah
— Drop that puck! NHL lockout ends
— Rex Ryan pictured with tattoo of wife wearing Sanchez jersey
— Nets hire Jason Kidd as coach, trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce
— Rangers fire Tortorella, hire Vigneault
— Knicks win division, shake up front office, get off to stinky start
— Giants start 0-6, miss playoffs
— Islanders make playoffs for first time since 2007