Some year huh? The Cubs win the World Series, the Oilers choose fourth in the amateur draft lottery, the Seahawks jack up ticket prices, the Blue Jays make the playoffs and UFC 957 sells out.
Locally, it was a year of extreme sad ness and sorrow as we lost several beautiful people far too soon. I attended numerous celebrations of life services and will sorely miss those who left us.
My golf game actually improved after I broke my arm in a hockey mishap last March. I used to think an open clubface was a hot turkey sandwich and that bump and run was a premarital encounter.
It wouldn’t be my 96th annual Christmas column without mentioning the late John Baldwin, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2006. He was the sole surviving member of the Keller Club in Minnesota.
He was quoted by the St. Paul Pioneer Press as saying he wasn’t playing much golf because he had a sore back.
“When you get to 100, you get some problems,” he said.
His secret to a long life?
“Moderation in everything. I quit smoking when I was 82.”
Wish I had met Johnny especially now that I’m playing the back nine.
It is now time to present the best-of-the-year list. Before doing so, I have to thank my wonderful family and friends for reading my stuff. Including Vernon Esso hockey great John (Wire) Price, who quit hockey and took up curling this year, my readership total has reached a staggering 49.
We are all blessed with decent health and happiness in the Mitchell family.
My wonderful folks are going strong at 80-something, my daughter Kristi is a children’s psychologist in Calgary and just married a pretty nice lawyer, my oldest son, Max, is working hard and my youngest son, Nick, is finally headache-free after a series of concusions and is back dangling and sniping on the ice.
Here, then, are the best of 2016…
Gone But Not Forgotten: Brian Joe, Norm Amiel, Mike Lloyd, Neil McPhie, Tom Frame, Shelley Budgen, Gordie Howe, Muhammad Ali, Arnie Palmer, Ron Kolman, Nick Turik, Gary (The Captain) Francks, Don (Jakey) Jakes, Peter Catt, Ted Luciuk, Bob Holmes, Reg Main, Fred Burke, Darrell Wapple, Ron (Sully) Sullivan, Jordan Siegmueller, Craig Sager, Aaron Pryor, Jose Fernandez, Dennis Green, Buddy Ryan, Kimbo Slice, Rick MacLeish, Ed Snider, John Brophy, Milt Pappas, Joe Garagiola, Andy Bathgate, Bud Collins, Lawrence Phillips, Dan Dally, Tony Phillips.
Viper of the Year: Riley Brandt.
Best TV Sportscasters: James Duthie, Squire Barnes, Jim Hughson, Gregg Zaun, Ines Sainz, Evanka Osmak.
Canuck of the Year: Bo Horvat
Rising Stars: Jimmy Lambert, Steven Jandric, Ty Taylor, Michael Ufberg, Brett Stapely, Thomas Love, Brooke Henderson, Jordyn Cullum, Danny Aspenlieder, Cayleigh Graham, Zac Benn, Meredith Levorson, Tyler Galenzoski, Ryan Vest, Mitchell Bradbury, Hannah Bennison, Ben Hladik, Bradley Hladik, Levi Nicholas, Zac Hyer, Jagger Williamson, Matt Kowalski, Powell Connor, Jenna Fletcher, Conner Kozak, Connie Kapak, Connor Glennon.
Best Steak: Blackened New York at Earls.
Best soup: Broccoli & Bacon at Kelly O’Bryans.
Best Pizza: Uncle Dave’s.
Best Cheerleaders: Tennessee Titans.
Busts: Kate Upton, Heidi Klum, Noureen Dewulf (Canuck G Ryan Miller’s wife), Ryan Lochte, Colin Kaepernick, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Twins
Best Team Names: Onion Lake Border Chiefs, Frog Lake T-Birds, Fargo Force, Brampton Beast, Wheeling Nailers, Syracuse Crunch, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Biloxi Shuckers, Akron Rubberducks, Sioux City Musketeers, Bonnyville Pontiacs, Elmira Jackals, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Indy Fuel, Missouri Mavericks. Macon Mayhem.
Sparrow of the Year: Oliver.
Best Wings: The Longhorn. Honourable mention: Wings.
Best onion rings: Winfield Arena.
Best creampuffs: My mom’s. Honourable mention: Okanagan Bakehouse.
Best Names in Sports: Brooke Pancake, Griffen Outhouse, Christian Cakebread, Dick Trickle, Jack Skille, Matt Moulson, Sam Steel, Cameron Kuhl, Ben Fanjoy, Ethan Bear, Nii Noi Tetteh, Boone Jenner, Nolan Zweep, Chris Klack, Brendan Budy, Ben Lovejoy, Rob Klinkhammer, Bastian Scheinsteiger, Lincoln Lane, Rusty Ryal, Coco Crisp, Homer Bailey, Burke Badenhop, Chapperon Chillihitzia, Golden Tate, Bo Horvat, Cal Clutterbuck, Emre Can, Martin Montoya, Wacey Rabbit, Madison Bowey, Max Unger, Ricardo Lockette, Preston Sparklingeyes, Darnell Nurse, Mitch Meek.
Best Smiles: Curtis Lazar, Stacy Pavlov, Roger Hodgson, Lukas Graham, Taylor Swift, Drake, Kevin Bieksa, Meghan Mikkelson, Mary-Louise Parker, Natasha Staniszewski, Missy Peregrym, Hannah Storm, Jennifer Hedger, Jennifer Garner, Marion Mitchell, Alyssa Racine, Brooklyn Decker, Anneke VanderVelde, Amanda Bedard, Paul Rush, Tori Feser, Scott Simpson, Andrea Pow, Craig Ferguson, Stana Katic, Karlie Kloss, Anita Black, Miranda Kerr, Zach Agar, Zayne Hanke, Makenna Hoffman, Lawrie Skolrood, Jesse Crowe.
Best Legs: Niko Karamanis, Usain Bolt, Jay Henry, Kevin Cleland, Ian Jensen, Rick Danyluk, Dan Ondzik, Christine Sinclair, Marie-Philip Poulin, Mia Hamm, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hope Solo, Bob Powls, Wayne Hoover, Rob Bauml, Dale McAllister, Kevin Cleland, Gerry Geisbrecht, (Lean) Lena Dean, Natalie Gulbis, Wayne Brown, Leryn Franco, Darrell Spencer, Ray Michelin, Gerry Giesbrecht, Edeen Ramsey, Cal Halasz, Rod Faust
Worst Legs: Glenn Jespersen, Gene Anderson, Steve Fitzpatrick, Chris Fleming, Peter Francis, Russ Parr, Darin Mundy, Erwin Schuur, Dave (Spyder) Specht, Kevin Manke, Jeff Parker, Mike Kakoske, Lloyd Mitchell, Dave Hampton, Tony Cheshire.