January 15, 2013

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What I Will Remember About 2012 – Part 2

By: Joe Williams

Every year we see things we never thought we would and things we never want to see again. We see everything from the incredible to the inspiring to the sad and hilarious. Here’s what I will remember about 2012.

To read part one, click here.

July 23 – Penn State became the first school to receive NCAA sanctions because of criminal matters that did not directly deal with breaking NCAA rules. The penalties included a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a reduction of scholarships for the next four years and the vacating of all victories from 1998-2011.

July 31 – Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic medal, making him the most decorated Olympian ever.

July 31 – The Fierce Five, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, won gold at the London Olympic Games.

August 2 – Gabby Douglas became the first African-American woman to win the individual all-around competition.

August 5 – Andy Murray bounces back from losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final to beat Federer and win the gold medal in front of his home country. He broke through again a month later, winning his first major title at the U.S. Open.

Miguel Cabrera winning baseball's Triple Crown is one of the biggest stories of 2012.

August 9 – Usain Bolt made his claim as the greatest sprinter ever by becoming the first man ever to defend his golds in both the 100m and 200m races.

August 9 – Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and the U.S. women’s soccer team won Olympic gold after a controversial semifinal against Canada and then getting revenge against Japan in the final after the shootout that ended the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

August 10 – The “Dwightmare” finally came to an end when Dwight Howard was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers after months and months of indecision about where he wanted to play and who he wanted to play with.

August 12 – Rory McIlroy wins the PGA Championship. He would follow that with two more wins heading into the Tour Championship and cement himself as the top player in the game.

August 15 – Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Rays and the Mariners won 1-0.

September 7 – In the midst of a pennant race and against his wishes, the Washington Nationals shut down their superstar pitcher Stephan Strasburg after 159 1/3 innings. The Nationals would go on to win the NL East and then lose in the NLDS in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

September 15 – The NHL labor dispute officially becomes a lockout.

September 24 – The Replacement refs fiasco came to a head on the final play of the Green Bay/Seattle Monday Night Football game. When the officials turned what sure looked to be an interception and a Green Bay win into a touchdown and a Seattle win, the NFL had no choice to settle the dispute with the regular officials.

September 30 – Team U.S.A. chokes the Ryder Cup away, blowing a 10-6 lead on the final day at Medinah. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter led the charge for Europe while Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk dropped critical 1-Up matches. The comeback almost didn’t happen when Rory McIlroy looked at his tee time in Eastern Time instead of Central time and needed a police escort to arrive at the course with just 10 minutes to spare.

October 3 – Miguel Cabrera goes 0-2 in the Detroit Tigers’ 1-0 win over Kansas City in the regular season finale but still manages to be the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, finishing the season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He would be name the American League MVP.

October 10 – New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulls Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. Raul Ibanez took A-Rod’s place and homered to send the game to extra innings. Ibanez did it again in the 12th inning, giving the Yankees the win.

October 13 – Notre Dame comes up with a goal-line stand, stopping Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor on fourth-and-goal and then survives a controversial replay review to beat Stanford 20-13 in overtime to remain undefeated.

October 13 – The St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals and advance to the NLCS.

October 15 – Trailing 24-0 at halftime in San Diego and staring a 2-4 record in the face, the Denver Broncos score 35 unanswered second-half points to beat the Chargers 35-24 and improve to 3-3. They would not lose again in the regular season and finish with the best record in the AFC.

October 25 – Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series on his way to earning the World Series MVP award.

October 28 – The San Francisco Giants completed an improbable run to a second World Series win in two years and did it after trailing 2-0 in a best-of-5 series against Cincinnati and then falling behind 3-1 to St. Louis in the NLCS

November 10 – Texas A&M upsets No. 1 Alabama 29-24, led by its redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. It was a springboard for Manziel as he led the Aggies to an 11-2 record in their first season in the SEC, a win in the Cotton Bowl and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

November 17 – Undefeated Kansas State and Oregon both go down and lose their shot to play for the BCS National Championship. Baylor beat the Wildcats 52-24 and Stanford knocked off the Ducks 17-14 in overtime.

November 21 – Jack Taylor, guard at Grinnell College (Division III), scored an NCAA-record 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible College.

November 22 – Two words…Butt Fumble.

December 1 – Georgia came up five yards short of scoring the game-winning touchdown against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama hung on for a 32-28 win and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

December 8 – Appalachian State’s Brian Okam quickly became known for the worst free throw ever after a video of his miss went viral.

December 16 – Tom Brady leads the Patriots on a furious rally after falling behind 31-3 against the 49ers. After the game was tied at 34, San Francisco retook the lead and won 41-34.

December 30 – Adrian Peterson runs for 199 yards against the Green Bay Packers after already eclipsing 200 yards twice this season, but he came up a mere nine yards short of the single-season rushing record.

July 27, 2012

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US Women’s Soccer: Good as Gold

By: Tyler Vespa

When the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team began play in the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was actually on the field before the opening ceremony. The soccer tournaments begin early in the Olympics so they can play a full tournament.

Coming in to these Olympics as the favorite to win the gold, the women’s national team began with a shocking start, as they found themselves behind 2-0 in the first 15 minutes as France got goals from Gaetane Thiney in the 12th minute and Marie-Laure Delie in the 14th minute.

These two goals were followed immediately by an American huddle headed by veteran forward Abby Wambach. Whatever Wambach said worked, as the U.S. came back with goals from Wambach in the 19th minute, and young star Alex Morgan in the 32nd minute to go into halftime tied at 2.

The US Women's National Team started off the Olympics with a win.

The second half was all U.S., as midfielder Carli Lloyd scored in the 56th minute to make it 3-2 U.S. And then it was Morgan again in the 66th minute to make it 4-2 and give the U.S. the lead in Group G.

To me, this comeback win proved why the U.S. Women’s National Team will win the gold. Not only did they show indomitable Olympic spirit in the comeback, but they also beat a France team that was ranked 6th in the FIFA Women’s Rankings.

The most significant part was how easy they made it look. After going down 2-0, goaltender Hope Solo and the rest of the team played the rest of the game as if the awful start never materialized.

In other words, if this team plays the rest of the tournament like this game, they will not lose.

The U.S. women will continue their quest for the gold with a matchup Saturday against Columbia at 12 ET.

July 24, 2012

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2012 Olympic Preview

By: Joe Williams

It’s hard to believe four years have passed since we saw Michael Phelps win eight gold medals and 16-year-old Shawn Johnson became America’s sweetheart. We are just a couple days away from the Olympic opening ceremonies in London. In the next few weeks, we will watch events we haven’t seen in four years and very few of the competitors will be names that we recognize. But it doesn’t matter. We will watch anyway. Here’s what I’ll be watching:

Can anybody beat Michael Phelps?

He won eight gold medals in ’08 and will compete in seven events this time around. It’s a safe bet he will get the three medals he needs to become the most decorated Olympian of all time. The real question is how many of them will be gold and will rival and fellow American Ryan Lochte be able to beat him?

Ryan Lochte will be a main focus at the Olympic Games in London.

Fastest man on the planet

The men’s 100 meters is always one of the most talked about events. Usain Bolt won the 100 and 200 meters in ’08 and holds the world record in both events. But another Jamaican (Yohan Blake) beat him in both races at the Olympic trials. Nobody has won both races in back-to-back Olympic games.

Women’s all-around

Nastia Liukin is not on Team USA to defend her title. Now we have Jordyn Wieber (the reigning world champ) and Gabby Douglas (winner at the U.S. Trials) that will look for a third straight all-around gold for Team USA. The U.S. team should also contend for the gold medal.

The Dream Team?

Kobe Bryant claimed that the 2012 squad could beat the original ’92 Dream Team. No way. But they won’t have to do that to win gold. Will they be able to defend the gold medal Team USA won in ’08 after losing several top players to injury? Oh and the women should continue to dominate. They have won 33 straight games and the last four gold medals.

Women’s soccer

Hope Solo and company will be aiming for a fourth gold medal in five Olympics for Team USA. They lost in last year’s World Cup Final against Japan in penalty kicks. Hopefully we get to see a rematch for the gold medal. And hopefully that leads to more appearances for Alex Morgan in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Blade Runner

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius (nicknamed “Blade Runner” because of the carbon-fiber prosthetics that he runs on) will be the first amputee ever to compete in an Olympic track and field event (the 400 meters and the 4X400 relay).

Others:

- Missy Franklin could be the first American woman to win seven medals at one Olympic games…and she’s just 17.

- Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will try to capture a third straight gold medal in beach volleyball.

- Lolo Jones seeks redemption after a stumble in ’08 cost the gold medal.

- Men’s tennis dropped down to this part of the list when Rafael Nadal dropped out, but we could still get a Djokovic-Federer showdown and don’t forget about Andy Murray playing in front of his own nation.