There are some years when New Year's Eve can't come quickly enough. You have had years like that, right? Some tough days on the job. Some hard times at home. Some difficult trips to the doctor. Some years are better than other years. Some years are worse than other years.
For New York sports fans, it has been a hell of a slog. Which doesn't mean there weren't some moments -- and some mementoes -- that we won't be remembering. Here are a few plaques to commemorate the noted and the notable of the year.
ATHLETE: MARIANO RIVERA
As bad as things got for New York sports in 2014, there was always this helpful qualifier: At Least We Have Mo. Rivera's final season wasn't only a rousing success on the field (44 saves, a 2.11 ERA) but provided an extraordinary number of touching moments thanks to his farewell tour around visiting cities, his bring-down-the-house appearance in the All-Star Game at Citi Field and his not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house farewell in the Yankee Stadium finale.
COACH/MANAGER: JOE GIRARDI
This isn't even a process-of-elimination pick, though by Dec. 31 he may well be the only boss to have led his team to a winning record. In many ways Girardi did his finest work this year, keeping the Yankees in contention despite a remarkable number of player games lost, and he kept the clubhouse from turning chaotic once Alex Rodriguez returned in August with all of his daily dramas alongside him.
COMEBACK PLAYER: MARLON BYRD
Certainly you could nominate Rivera for this award, too, since his penultimate season had been shortened by a devastating knee injury. But when you consider where Byrd was in 2012 -- and, admittedly, much of that was self-inflicted, thanks to a PED suspension -- and where he started 2013 -- just hoping to make the Mets out of Port St. Lucie -- then his .848 OPS and 21-homer contribution to the Mets belong in the out-of-nowhere category for sure.
MOMENT: GOOD-BYE, MO
The old rule is that there's no crying in baseball but on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 26, that old notion was blown to smithereens when Mariano entered a lost game against the Rays in the eighth inning and departed in the ninth when a weeping Girardi sent Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte to retrieve him and Rivera sobbed uncontrollably on Pettitte's shoulder before leaving the Stadium for the final time. A forever moment to end forever moments.
Play: We could insult you and talk about the late hit on Geno Smith that won the Jets their opener. Or maybe some play from sometime after the Giants fell into that 0-6 sinkhole, or something Alfonso Soriano did upon his brilliant return to The Bronx. But this has been a year devoid of unforgettable plays in New York. So let's just borrow the most unforgettable play of this (and many other a) year from our Southern cousins and pick the play that ended the Iron Bowl. That'll do the trick.
GAME: ISLANDERS-PENGUINS GAME 4
Again, everything we do this year is judged on a curve because there is so much darkness covering so many of our teams. So maybe in a usual year the Islanders' 6-4 win over Pittsburgh that tied the NHL's Eastern Conference quarters at 2-2 might have been overlooked. But in 2013, it was a magical return to what the Nassau Coliseum used to sound like and what a big Islanders game used to look like, and it provided, however fleetingly, some genuine hope in a long-dormant fan base.
QUOTE: "I'M THE WRONG GUY TO BE ASKING ABOUT SUSPENSIONS. HOLY MACKEREL."
That was Alex Rodriguez early in the morning of Aug. 19, just after he had clobbered a Ryan Dempster pitch far over the Green Monster, a splendid bit of old-school payback. Boston's Jonny Gomes and John Lackey had criticized A-Rod before the series, and Dempster had plunked him earlier in the game, which is why Rodriguez was asked if Dempster should be suspended (a few days later he was for five games).
ROOKIE: SHELDON RICHARDSON
If any of the area's eight non-Yankees franchises has a right to feel better than their record, it's probably the Jets. Picked as a consensus bottom-feeder, they still have a chance to finish .500 with a win Sunday and have built a formidable front seven, one of the anchors being Richardson, the defensive lineman selected with the pick received in return for Darrelle Revis. Richardson's impact was immediate and he has teamed with Mo Wilkerson for a dynamite 1-2 punch.
ACQUISITION: PAUL PIERCE, KEVIN GARNETT AND JASON TERRY
Well, nobody said these all have to be good awards, just impactful. And using that standard there is nothing to compare with the trade the Nets pulled off in July to bring Pierce, Garnett and Terry to Brooklyn. Bold, brassy, and altogether in keeping with the mood owner Mikhail Prokhorov has instilled in the club's culture, it has indeed been spectacular -- a spectacular calamity, at least through the season's first 29 games. They don't deserve all the blame. But it is their presence that began all the talk in the first place.
WORST PLAY: J.R. SMITH
Smith became something of a crowd favorite in earning the NBA's Sixth Man Award in 2012-13, but he may have single-handedly sabotaged the Knicks' best hopes for playoff success when he elbowed Terry in the jaw long after Game 3 in Boston was decided. His suspension hamstrung the Knicks in Game 4, which they lost, and he was dreadful in Game 5 (a home loss), which required Game 6 (another near-fiasco). All of this clearly impacted the Knicks in a Game 1 loss against the Pacers, one they never could make up. And all of the downward spiral began with one senseless elbow.
COACHING BLUNDER: SNOOPY BOWL FIASCO
There's no telling what the Jets might have accomplished if they hadn't had to rush Geno Smith into a starter's job he hadn't earned. But that was what happened when Mark Sanchez was injured in the Jets-Giants exhibition game, long after every other significant player had been sent to the bench by both sides. Marvin Austin crunched Sanchez, hurting his shoulder, eventually sending him to season-ending injured reserve, all because coach Rex Ryan said he wanted to do his very best to win the Snoopy Trophy in an utterly meaningless game.