Winners & Losers Of 2009 (Part Three)

Winner:  New York Yankees
It had been almost a decade since the greatest franchise in baseball history won the big championship.  Despite routinely qualifying for the post-season in the subsequent years following their triumph over The New York Mets in 2000, The Bronx Bombers were in a World Series slump.  (The Arizona Diamondbacks beat them in seven in 2001 and The Florida Marlins snatched the trophy from them in six in 2003.)  In 2008, under the leadership of new manager Joe Giraldi, The Yanks didn’t even make the playoffs.  But this year, their first in the new Yankee Stadium, would see their fortunes reversed.
Five months into the season, despite a somewhat shaky start in April and the absence of slugger Alex Rodriguez for several weeks (not to mention the revelation of his steroid use during his Texas Rangers days and ex-manager Joe Torre’s scathing criticism of him in his book, The Yankee Years), their first place ranking in the American League East would never be seriously threatened for the rest of 2009.   Winning more than 60% of their games altogether, they earned over 100 wins.  Soon thereafter, they went 7-2 in the first two rounds of the post-season sweeping the Minnesota Twins in three and ousting The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in six.
All that stood in their way of their 27th championship were The Philadelphia Phillies who were defeated by The Toronto Blue Jays during their last World Series appearance sixteen years earlier.  All eyes were on Alex Rodriguez, notorious for choking in October.  After a typically disappointing start, A-Rod came to life during a pivotal moment in game three.  He appeared to have hit a double after a long drive hit the lense of a TV camera high up in the stands.  But after being reviewed by the umpires (a first for Major League Baseball), the ruling was changed to a 2-run home run (there was a man on first at the time).  Had the camera not been there, the ball would’ve cleared the fence.  All in all, A-Rod batted over 400, hit two more home runs and had six RBIs for the series.
In game six, The Phillies were down by six runs in the fifth inning.  Despite a two-run homer in the sixth, the road team couldn’t muster any more offense.  With a final score of 7-3, The Yankees sealed the deal in their new stadium.  Hideki Matsui won the MVP trophy.
Loser:  The Osbournes Reloaded
In 2002, they had a very entertaining MTV reality show that was alternately funny and sweet.  It ran for three seasons.  Seven years later, they completely misfired with a meanspirited and disasterously unfunny prank show on Fox.  Originally scheduled for a six-episode run, the pilot was so awful the show never returned after its first airing.  Among the lowlights:  little kids dressed as Ozzy and Sharon go on a movie date and proceed to insult every single person they encounter; Ozzy and middle daughter Kelly work the Drive-In at a fast food restaurant cursing out customers and hurling their orders at them; an unsuspecting boyfriend is forced to make a decision about marriage by his incredibly pushy girlfriend.
Longtime Washington Post TV Critic Tom Shales, among the many who panned the program, said it best when he dismissed the show as “Must-Flee TV”.  Exactly nine months after it aired, neither the pilot nor any of the five unaired episodes have been released in any shape or form.  May they remain unseen forever.
Winner:  The Beatles
It was a September to remember for one of the most successful bands in rock and roll history.  Honouring the late John Lennon’s lifelong fascination with the number nine, two major releases helped maintain The Fab Four’s ageless legacy in 2009 when they hit the street on the ninth day of the ninth month.  A year after it was announced, The Beatles Rock Band video game, which features dozens of original songs you can play along to, was released to overwhelmingly good reviews.  The sensational graphics and the opportunity to download even more Beatles tracks not part of the original game certainly added to the critical acclaim.  Over half a million copies were sold in its first month of release.
But that was nothing compared to the praise bestowed on the band’s remastered studio catalogue.  Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, “The White Album”, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be, plus Past Masters (the two-disc collection of non-album A-Sides, B-Sides and rarities), not only received tremendous reviews from publications like Rolling Stone and Mojo Magazine but also became hot sellers all over again.  In fact, a number of these titles were outselling current releases on the album chart.  (As a result, Billboard Magazine is changing its rules of eligibility.)
As someone who always liked the sound quality of the original CDs, I never understood those who advocated a complete overhaul of the catalogue.  It seemed unnecessary to me.  That being said, the new versions sound great and not overproduced.  (Unlike numerous reissues lately, you don’t have to turn them down to save your ear drums.)  The liner notes have been expanded to include historical and recording information, and feature original artwork, photography and album notes.  Finally, with the exception of Past Masters, early pressings are enhanced with video only viewable with a computer that is equipped with QuickTime and Windows 2000 or higher.
All in all, not a bad year for a band that broke up almost 40 years ago.
Loser:  Jim Balsillie
In 2006, he couldn’t purchase The Pittsburgh Penguins.  In 2007, he failed to become the new owner of The Nashville Predators.  This year, he made a bid on the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes.  Would the third time be the charm?
In a word?  No.  After announcing his intentions in early May, the 48-year-old Ontario businessman spent the next five months fighting off the executives of The National Hockey League who adamantly oppose Balsillie’s plan to have a franchise relocated to Hamilton.  Despite securing the rights to Copps Coliseum for potential home games and lining up a couple of corporate supporters, his efforts were once again all for naught.
By September, a court rejected Balsillie’s final attempt to have his bid honoured legally.  Since he won’t appeal this latest setback, the dream of another professional hockey team in Southern Ontario remains unfulfilled.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 31, 2009
2:54 p.m. 
Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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