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.

October 27, 2010

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Giant Problem

By: Bull

 

Fathead Teammate - San Francisco Giants Logo

 

The San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers square off Wednesday in San Francisco to start the 2010 World Series. It’s expected to pull in some of the lowest television ratings in the history of the Fall Classic, but you wouldn’t know it around these parts. The Bay Area is atwitter about the Giants and whether or not their pitching can shut down a Rangers offense that includes Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Michael Young.  And even more chatty about how the average ticket to the series ticket is fetching $800.

When I moved to San Francisco in the year 2000,  I had every intention of following the Giants. As a Detroit Tigers fan, it made perfect sense to me. The Giants were in the National League, which would avoid any conflict of interest (except for a potential World Series match-up that would certainly be played on an icy field in hell). And the Giants had just moved into a spectacular new stadium down the street from my new job. However, that plan disappeared faster than an 85 mph fastball from Kirk Reuter to Kevin Elster .

It’s true that the stadium is beautiful, but the diehard fans had been priced out of it. Corporations and soon-to-be bankrupt dot-coms controlled the bulk of the season tickets. The couple of times I was floated tickets from the construction company I worked for, I was surrounded by “fans” who were only vaguely aware that there was a baseball game happening. It was a constant parade of people moving through the row to the concession stands for garlic fries. Or the guy on the cell phone, who, just as the pitcher goes into the wind up, pops up, turns around, and waves his arms so his friend can spot him. Where’s Harry Callaghan when you really need him? That stuff alone was enough to stop going to the new park, but mix in an aging team built around Barry Bonds and I was definitely not interested.

I never would’ve guessed it beforehand, but I found myself regularly driving over the Bay Bridge to Oakland for the exact opposite experience. The Oakland A’s were a scrappy team that seemed to genuinely enjoy playing together. Most of the games were sparsely attended (and they still are). But the people were there for a ballgame, not to be seen and definitely not to impress clients. The shared feeling inside the Oakland Coliseum was essentially “Sure, it might be a dump, but it’s our dump.” Yes, the luxury boxes added in 1996 to entice the Raiders to return from Los Angeles, had destroyed any sort of baseball ambiance that existed, but let’s be honest… it wasn’t that good to begin with. But tickets were cheap and you could basically choose your own adventure once you got inside. Hey, you wanna slide past an usher and sit in the good seats near the dugout? No problem. You feel like getting rowdy and mixing it up with the bleacher creatures? Go right ahead. Heck, if you felt like having a quiet night out with your lady, it was usually wasn’t difficult to find an empty section or two in the third deck that could function as a romantic hideaway. If only I could’ve figured out to a way to recreate John Candy’s picnic with Ally Sheedy in Only the Lonely during an A’s game, I could die happy.

Fast forward 10 years later and things have substantially changed for both franchises. The A’s closed off the Coliseum’s upper deck and have been in a holding pattern of mediocrity for the last few years. Meanwhile, the Giants have produced exciting young players like Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval , and Buster Posey to help propel them to the World Series. The corporate grip on AT&T Park also seems to have loosened a bit. If only Brian Wilson weren’t so obnoxious, I might’ve considered jumping on the Giants bandwagon for the playoffs. Instead, I’ll be pulling for the Rangers and their manager Ron Washington who was an Oakland fan favorite during his time as a coach for the A’s.