A few thoughts and wishes in 2009:
Tiger Woods — A better spin doctor. Woods’ fall from grace is remarkable, and he’s not helping himself out. He’s hiding behind statements on his Web site, and even those seem to wear thin in no time. After admitting infidelity, he said he wanted to work on his family and marriage rather than play golf. But soon after, reports indicated his wife was planning a divorce. So things look as disheveled as ever there. No matter what, an in-person appearance would help.
Atlanta Braves — More money. The team rebuilt its pitching staff well in 2009, but still lost such top talent as A.J. Burnett to the deep pockets of the New York Yankees. Now the Braves have added veteran closer Billy Wagner, but first baseman Adam LaRoche remains unsigned. Perhaps the Braves are waiting to see what they can get for one of the starting pitchers they can afford to trade. In any event, there won’t be another title run like the ’90s as long as they do not have Ted Turner’s large bankroll.
Atlanta Falcons — Better DNA. This is one of the most snakebitten franchises ever. After a 4-1 start, the team is at .500 (as of 12/20/09) and has a chance to become the first Falcons team to post consecutive winning seasons. Injuries have hurt, but it does not say much for the team’s depth that no one really has stepped up. Also, some winnable games got away before the injuries piled up, indicating a lack of killer instinct. Attitude is a very big part of winning. The Alabama teams under Bear Bryant won because they expected to win.
Georgia coach Mark Richt — Some good luck. The Bulldogs’ program is at a critical stage and needs a big year in 2010 to regain fans’ confidence. Richt is having trouble filling his defensive coordinator spot, with one candidate staying at Virginia Tech and another choosing Illinois. This indicates either that the program or the job aren’t regarded as plums in the coaching world. As a UGA alum, I hope that changes. But the SEC is unforgiving. Won’t be easy.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson — Tougher opposition. Let’s face it, the ACC is a basketball-first conference. Says something that both teams in the ACC football title game lost to unranked SEC opponents the week before. This will always be a handicap to the ACC in national rankings.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — A pat on the back. The Golden State is having some tough economic problems now, as the real estate collapse hit harder there than it did in many other states. This former Golden State resident really remembers how Schwarzenegger turned things around there six years ago. When he came into office, the all-Democratic regime was heaping tax after tax on working people, and businesses were leaving the state in droves because of an outmoded worker compensation system. But his forceful leadership and, yes, movie star charisma turned much of it around and showed that both parties matter. And by the way, he never took a salary for doing so. Next year will bring an election and new governor in California. As with George W. Bush, early achievements got forgotten. But I’ll always have a favorable opinion of The Governator. Hasta la vista. You did good.