Leaving apart the fact that something could happen in the next couple of days (like the Darts World Title) that could have won one of these awards, I’m prepared to give out my first ever Annual Awards for my favourite things* of 2013.
Best Female Tennis Performance
While the Men’s Tennis scene has become more boring than watching tennis over the last few years, Women’s tennis has been a bit more of a mixed bag where rallies still take place and the winner of a major tournament isn’t decided prior to the tournament even beginning. In the last 8 years only 5 men have won the 32 Grand Slam tournaments played, while the women have had 8 different winners in just the last 3 years (12 tournaments). In January, Victoria Azarenka** became the first person not named Williams to defend the Australian Open crown since Jennifer Capriati early in the millennium. Overcame a toe injury and fought off the tag of being a One Slam Wonder, the world’s most famous Belarusian solidified herself as my favourite female Tennis player since Martina Hingis.
Honourable Mention: Sam Stosur for not making it past the 3rd round in any major. Really sticking it to all those people who thought you were more than a one hit wonder…
Best Nickname – Team or Duo
The 2013 NBA Playoffs were expected to be a straightforward affair with the teams from the Western Conference making up the numbers til either the Spurs or Thunder played Miami for the title, and on the surface that is what happened. But when you get into the nitty gritty, a little team that weren’t expected to do much had a breakout star who lifted his team to a new level that has seen them touted as serious contenders for the 2014 title. The major reason for this is the emergence of possibly the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game – The Splash Brothers. Named after the infinitely better Bash Brothers – Portman and Reed of Team USA Hockey at the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games – Klay Thompson and Steph Curry set the NBA world alight with a universe of 3 pointers that destroyed the heavily favoured Nuggets and pushed the almost World Champion Spurs like no other team in the West could even come close to.
Honourable Mention: Zach Lowe’s admirable attempt to get people to call the New Orleans Pelican’s the Pellies. Stick with it Zach. The people will come around eventually.
Best New TV Show
This one isn’t even close. Orange Is The New Black is easily the best new show of this year for mine. One of the VERY few shows of the last 10 years to have three dimensional female characters that are actually interesting and don’t revolve their entire lives around what men think of them, what they can do to get a man, or what they should do with their lives now that their man has left them alone, and therefore an empty shell of a human. In short, it passes the Bechdel Test. Most shows don’t. Of course men are involved in their lives because they are humans after all, and this isn’t a feminist rant, but the show has developed female characters that aren’t simply there as window dressing, and they actually have something to say occasionally. It’s well made, well written, compelling television that doesn’t come along often enough in circumstances where men are the main protagonists and it’s refreshing to see women getting a go for a change.
Honourable Mention: The Jeselnik Offensive. It’s Offensive, it’s Jeselnikian, and it is most definitely The.
The ongoing hatred between Sydney FC coach Frank Farina and the majority of Sydney’s fans has been a fascinating rivalry to watch. Portions of the fan base didn’t want him signed at all when he got the job in late 2012, but many could see the sense in a short term appointment. When his contract was extended in spite of Farina failing to meet the frankly low ‘minimum requirements’ of his stated job description (make the 2013 finals) many more fans were put further offside. After starting off with ‘results first’ football, Farina promised to bring style and goals to Allianz Stadium. After a full pre-season to get the improvements in place, Sydney lost 3 of their first 4 games scoring only 2 goals in the process and never looking in control of any games, as well as being comfortably taken care of in all pre-season fixtures against A-League opposition. This is where he seemed to lose most of the fans and the twitter hashtag #FarinaOut gained some momentum. Farina responded to this by lashing out at the fans and the relationship has been lost since then. Sydneys results have improved (a little) but the style of play promised*** has not eventuated and even the matches that Sydney have won have not been entirely convincing, against some of the worst teams in the league. After the battering the Sky Blues took on Boxing Day, at the hands of a team playing the style of football Farina promised, it appears that this rivalry may not last to the end of 2014 to defend its crown with Franks job looking less and less secure.
Honourable Mentions: First, Wanderers really want Sydney to have the biggest rivalry with them, but they’ve no chance with the way Sydney can turn on itself. Second, Ronda Rousey v Miesha Tate. These two hate each other and are going to try to beat the shit out of each other on 29/12 (Sydney time anyway). I can’t wait.
Best Album That I Bought
I don’t listen to A LOT of new music. I purchase even less of it. Most of the music I listen to is a long way from popular, I probably buy as many albums at gigs off local bands as I do on iTunes and I often find a band a get into their back catalogue, and may discover my favourite album from 2013 when I hear it in 2017. So this is most definitely not a definitive selection by any means as there are only so many albums that I bought that actually came out this year. Having said all of that, at the moment my favourite album of 2013 is The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer. It continues on the bands slow trajectory of mixing their tech-math-core-whatever-you -want-to-call-it with pop rock sensibilities that accentuate the insanity of their heavy side. A well rounded album that I could listen to for days. Watch this video.
Honourable Mentions: First is …Like Clockwork by Queens Of The Stone Age. I didn’t like it at first, but it has grown on me and My God Is The Sun is great track. Second is the debut full length album by Iron Reagan called Worse Than Dead. Not a song over 2 minutes and all 19 tracks beat the shit out of you.
Dishonourable Mentions: Jay Z’s album as a whole wasn’t bad, but it needs to mentioned that F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt is literally^ the worst song I’ve ever heard in my life.
Best Feel-Good Story
Surprisingly, given the horror year (or decade really) that Rugby League has had off the field, my favourite story of the year was seeing the USA Tomahawks defy all odds by getting out of their group at the Rugby League World Cup and take on the heavyweights of Rugby League in the Quarter Finals. The inevitable mauling that the Kangaroos gave them notwithstanding, the Tomahawks had a great tournament beating both The Cook Islands, as well as the traditionally strong Wales. Making the achievements even more spectacular is the fact that coach Terry Matterson only took over the team a month prior to the World Cup after Brian Smith quit as coach amid controversy over his methods and selections. Smith himself had only taken over from Matthew Elliott at the start of the year once Elliott stepped down after guiding the team through qualifications. Such a lack of continuity would derail a fully professional teams campaign let alone a squad made up at least partially of amateurs^^ and their achievement was the only interesting part of a mostly redundant World Cup. The tournament result, coupled with the pre-tournament win against number 4 ranked France has seen the USA move into the top 10 rankings ahead of the likes of Scotland, Italy and Tonga.
Honourable Mention: The budding bromance between Ricky Stuart and Josh Papalii. After Papalii changed his mind on signing with Parramatta and stayed in the nations capital, Stuart was so desperate to coach him that he left the Eels behind to take the job at the Raiders.
WORST THING OF THE YEAR
The NRL continued their tradition of having hateable teams in the Grand Final. The leagues most hated teams in some order are Manly, Roosters, Bulldogs, Melbourne, and Brisbane. 11 of the last 12 Grand Finals have been contested between one or in some cases 2 of these teams, and they’ve won 8 of the last 10 competitions. 2005 was the last time there were two likeable teams in the Grand Final and as a Rugby League fan, I’m kind of getting sick of it. Not really anyone’s fault in particular, but it needs to stop soon or Grand Final Day will lose ALL of its fun. It’s already lost most of it.
BEST THING OF THE YEAR
The ending of what will surely go down as one of history’s greatest television programs^^^ has already been given plenty of accolades and is sure to get plenty more, but in my humble little opinion, while the final season had its flaws, the sum of the work this show put into making greatness culminated in as satisfying a way as any show has ever done. That’s right Dexter has always nailed the monster of the week and the season long arc in perfect balance and trololololol, lolol lolol. Of course I’m actually talking about Breaking Bad and the wonderful performance of Bryan Cranston in his career defining role as Walter White. We’ve been blessed in the last decade or so with the TV revolution and it may be a while until we see a show of this consistent quality hit our screens again. Soak it up while you can people.
And that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blog this year and that you will continue to do so into the future.
Please come back for more at regular intervals, and let me know your thoughts below!
*That is deliberately broad because I’m going to try and cover as much as possible here.
**I have no idea what it is about her, but she has something that I like.
***To be fair, every manager in the world says that they are going to make the team play an attractive brand of football.
^Yes, I do mean literally. Not the way that people over use that word these days.
^^They had 5 players from their domestic league in the squad, which considering the quality is actually quite good if you ask me.
^^^I have it third all time.