Lots of things became clear to us sports fans last year. Some were positive and encouraging, others were bittersweet, if not depressing. Here are 10 of them.
1. Jim Harbaugh is no wizard. Good, opportunistic, smart, tough football coach, but no wizard. Even with all his swagger and iconoclasm, his 49'ers couldn't even make the playoffs.
2. Unless those sports panel shows shift gears and now want someone in the Steven Wright tradition, Bill Belichick will never be hired as a TV analyst. What those shows admire are zany, high energy braying jackasses who like to goof with each other. Coach Belichick ain't one of those guys.
3. Phil Jackson is no wizard. Despite his charisma and Zen Buddhism mystique, his Knicks were atrocious. They were ugly. Knick ownership could have gotten the same results by paying some weekend sports fan $80,000 a year instead of Phil's what -- $10 million?
4. Tiger Woods will never win another major. He'll still show the occasional brilliance, still have a good round or two, but he will never be on top at the end of 72 holes. Too many young up and coming guys to challenge him. Also, Tiger is getting older by the hour.
5. The SEC is the most overrated football conference in the country. Yeah, they're good, but not as good as they (or many of us) thought. The first year an SEC team actually had to "play" their way into the tournament, and they get beaten by a "slow" and "stodgy" Big Ten team with a third-string QB, no less. Plus, Ohio State actually looked faster and more athletic than Alabama. The bubble burst.
6. On his worse day, Los Angeles Dodger announcer Vin Scully is better than any other announcer on his best day. Yeah, he occasionally forgets names, gets the count wrong occasionally, and repeats himself, but he's still a genius. His pacing and obvious knowledge of the game dwarf everything else.
7. Marshawn Lynch will pay $500,000 in fines before he's finished playing. For a bright (a UC Berkeley alumnus) and otherwise engaging fellow (not to mention a gifted running back), he has to be one of the most densely stubborn players in NFL history.
8. LeBron James is maybe the classiest NBA player in the history of the game. Great with the media, great with his teammates, doesn't disrespect the refs, and isn't the egocentric, pre-eminent ball hog that so many other (no names) great players were. A class act all the way.
9. The Seattle Seahawk's Pete Carroll is the best college-to-pro football coach in history. National championships at USC, followed by a Super Bowl championship at Seattle, followed (and preceded) by some very competitive NFL football. The players love him, the fans love him. Chip Kelley, eat your heart out.
10. Whether it's next season or the season after, Kobe Bryant's "farewell tour" will be epic. Every goodbye at every arena in the country will wring out more drama than the death scene in "Madame Butterfly."
David Macaray is a playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor," 2nd edition)