Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

December 31, 2013

A look back at ‘13 and a glance ahead to sports in 2014

BLUEFIELD — Another year has arrived.                     Call me crazy, but I have never quite understood why so many people gather to watch a ball, lemon or the temperatures drop just to welcome in a new year or say goodbye to the last one.

Oh well, do what you want, but I will be inside warm ready to start my resolutions that usually last for a day or two.

Lose weight, exercise, stop smoking (oops, never started that one), make new friends, keep the old, save money, play more golf, get rid of all the clutter in my very cluttered apartment and the list goes on and on.

How long will it last in 2014?

Hopefully the weight part will happen. These pounds have to go.

How was 2013 for you?

It started great for me, with Alabama winning the national championship in football, but it all fell apart on June 24.

I took my beloved feline, Sneezer, to the vet for what I thought would be a simple visit for shots. He had a bad reaction to the vaccine and died right there in the room.

Believe me, I have cried and cried, but did get another cat.

If you are looking for a cat, why not check out Second Chance for Cats. That is what I did and I found Sabika, a Siamese Snowshoe kitten, who is growing like a weed, loves to run, play and eat and has become a new best friend, although I still miss my Sneezer.

There was also the meeting with a deer that I had on the way home from Tazewell earlier this month. One moment all was good, the next I was sitting on the side of the road, having rammed into the side of Bambi.

No more deer, no more car. I will start the 2014 with a new car, and a lower payment, so it wasn’t all bad.

One lesson learned: Insurance is a necessity. I have long complained about paying for something that never gets used. Believe me, insurance saved me in this case. It was worth every penny. Just be glad Obamacare doesn’t apply to car insurance, don’t give him any ideas.

There was also Alabama losing to Auburn, which cost the Crimson Tide a shot at a third straight national championship. Oh well, I was able to see my niece Lauren get married as that game was being played.

Which wedding will be more memorable? That one, in which I had to get the bad news through the constant updating of a cell phone, or more than 30 years ago when as an usher, I fainted in the middle of my brother’s wedding.

At least I didn’t have to be carried out of Lauren’s wedding. I am a (lot) heavier than I was way back then.

What awaits in 2014?

Here are a few national predictions for what lies ahead.

•The SEC’s seven-year run of national championships will end. Florida State will defeat Auburn on Monday. War Eagle has used up its miracles.

••Bonus pick: Nick Saban will stay at Alabama. The rumors will begin again late in 2014 as the Crimson Tide prepares to take part in the much-needed four-team playoff to determine a national champion.

•Greg Maddux will be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame when the inductees are announced on Wednesday. Frank Thomas will join him, Tom Glavine and Craig Biggio (again) will fall short of the required 75 percent.

•Super Bowl matchup: I would like to pick my Chargers since they were able to sneak into the playoffs — sorry Steelers fans _ but don’t count on it. Instead, go with New England — yes, Peyton Manning falls short again — and, believe it or not, Philadelphia.

••Bonus pick: Snow, and lots of it will be part of Super Bowl XLVIII. Football was meant to be played outdoors with weather as a factor. All those ‘suits’ at the Meadowlands might want to dress warm.

•Tiger Woods will go another year without winning a major. He still needs to win four major championships to catch Jack Nicklaus. It is not going to happen, even though every golf story written will mention Woods even if he is not playing in that week’s tournament.  

••Bonus pick: Who are Scott Stallings, Ted Potter, Jr., and Jonas Blixt? They are the last three winners of the Greenbrier Classic. If that event is really going to be one of the elite on the PGA Tour, it needs a few ‘names’ to claim the top prize.

•Only Virginia will have a chance to earn an NCAA tournament berth from the four regional teams in March. West Virginia could get into the NIT, but Virginia Tech and Marshall will sit at home.

••Not predicting a winner for the men, but Connecticut will win the NCAA women’s national title. Not exactly going out on a limb with that one.

•Enough with beards or red birds. Let’s go with the Blue Jays in the World Series, or at least the playoffs. Toronto hasn’t been to the postseason since 1993. It’s time for Cincinnati to take that next step in the National League.

••Blue Jays-Reds was my pick last year. Hopefully I was a season too soon.

•Jimmie Johnson wins a seventh NASCAR championship. That is almost as easy as picking UConn.

•Miami Heat wins a third NBA title in a row. I will be cheering on whoever they play, which will be the Spurs or Thunder. Here is hoping at least four of the East Division team that make the playoffs will have above .500 records.

•Jadeveon Clowney will be the top pick in the NFL Draft. Let’s hope he takes a cab to the ceremony. Hey, maybe he could drive it. Brace yourself, the draft isn’t until mid-May this year, meaning another entire month will be dedicated to constant speculation and thousands of mock drafts.

•Here is hoping Tim Tebow gets another chance to play in the NFL. Tebow is now going to work for ESPN, and the SEC Network. I would love to be in the room when Tebow confronts Trent Difler and others at ESPN who bashed him constantly for two years.

••Attention DirecTV: Please make sure the SEC Network is available for all.

•The Winter Olympics are not my thing. Just hoping it the Games can be held in peace.

•The United States will not advance out of their pool when the World Cup is held this summer.

How about a few local picks:

•The Bluefield Beavers will win a second straight Class AA state basketball title. No pressure here, but the lone question will be if they will lose a game along the way.

••The Graham boys and PikeView and Richlands girls made state tournament appearances last season. All could be there again. The Summers County girls will be back in Charleston, mark it down.

•PikeView came, oh so close, to the Class AA state baseball tournament last season. The Panthers might not miss in 2014.

•Can’t wait for the Appalachian League to return. That means warm weather, sun, cool clothes and, best of all, baseball.

•Marshall will win the Conference USA football title in 2014. Their prize will be a trip to the Liberty Bowl.

•Virginia Tech will struggle without Logan Thomas, but will reach a bowl game.

•West Virginia will finish .500 and play in the postseason, but will lose to Alabama to start the season.

•Virginia will still be sitting at home come next December.

That is enough for now. I could do more, but one of my other resolutions is to make deadlines,

I try, I really do.

Enjoy the year ahead. You have 365 days. Make the most of them.

Now that is a New Year’s resolution we should all try to achieve.

—Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He can be contacted at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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