January 15, 2013
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.
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.
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 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 29, 2012
Today we’ll be debuting a new feature – ‘The Week in Sports.’ That’s hopefully a temporary name until we can come up with something a little more catchy (patience is required since that might be a while). Here’s a brief look at what happened in the world of sports in the past week.
Giants sweep Tigers in World Series – A little thing called the ‘World Series’ kicked off … and ended. The Giants soundly defeated the Tigers in a four-game sweep over the weekend and the Series seemed like it was over before it even began. It was San Francisco’s second championship in only three years and all of a sudden, Bruce Bochy has become one of the hottest managers in all of baseball.
James Harden traded to Rockets – The Oklahoma City Thunder traded a big piece of their team, the NBA’s best sixth man, James Harden. He was sent to the Houston Rockets along with a few minor players in exchange for scoring guard Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, and three draft picks (including two first-rounders). My initial reaction when the Thunder moved Harden was that it was foolish. But when I saw how much they got in return, it was hard to argue with the move. Martin is an all-star caliber guard, Lamb was the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, and two potentially high picks is a lot to get back. That said, the Rockets are getting maybe the best beard in the NBA in return … so there’s that.
Is London ready for the NFL? – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said this week that London is ready to have an NFL team after hosting a few games. They may have the fan-base for it, but logistically it could be a bit of a headache to get eight teams to make that trip out there every year. In addition, will the team’s players really want to play in an entirely different country and live so far from family and friends? I’m not sure a franchise in London is all that feasible.
Marcus Lattimore injury – South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a gruesome injury over the weekend in their game against Tennessee. If you saw it, it was ugly. If you didn’t and want a glimpse (despite my highest recommendations against it), here you go. The good news is that head coach Steve Spurrier said it’s an injury from which he can come back and the hopes are that he’ll be playing again. Lattimore’s been a big part of the team’s success this year.
Atlanta Falcons still undefeated – I’m not sure if the 1972 Miami Dolphins are getting antsy yet, but the Falcons stayed unbeaten with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Now, Atlanta’s played well, but they don’t have that superhuman look that other recent teams have had. They’re 7-0, but four of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The verdict? Don’t expect them to finish the season without a blemish.
Frankenstorm is coming – No, it’s not sports-related, but working ‘Frankenstorm’ into this column was a must.
Astros’ new logo leaked – With the Houston Astros’ move to the American League next season, the franchise planned to release a new logo this week. Unfortunately, the MLB offices didn’t get the memo and advertised the logo on products online. #Oops
Updated BCS standings – After No. 2 Florida was upset by Georgia on Saturday, Notre Dame and Kansas State moved up in the latest BCS rankings. The Irish leapfrogged Oregon, who remained at No. 4. With top-ranked Alabama in the mix, the top four teams all play in different conferences (including Notre Dame, who’s independent, of course). That means all four could theoretically go undefeated causing a major logjam near the top. College football’s proposed playoff can’t come soon enough.
October 24, 2012
First and foremost, MLB diehards are in for a treat as two iconic teams square off for the first time in the World Series. This matchup seems quite fitting for fans of all ages as history will write itself over the next week.
Secondly, it is well known that the winning side of the MLB All Star Game gets home-field advantage and this year the National League has the honors. As you may remember, Tigers ace Justin Verlander started the 2012 MLB All Star Game for the American League and was roughed up by the National League’s best, notably the members of the Giants. Don’t expect that to happen in Game 1 when Verlander takes the hill in San Francisco. To put it simple, he’s a Jedi with the ball in his hand—in the All Star Game he was a young Luke Skywalker before he learned how to harness the force. Judging by his display during the Tigers playoff run, he’s reverted back to being Yoda.
Starting Pitching: Advantage Detroit
This is not a surprise, but the fact that the Giants Matt Cain had to pitch Game 7 of the NLCS puts them at a disadvantage. They’ll send veteran Barry Zito, who has become unpredictable, to the mound for Game 1.
A most exciting matchup to watch is to see if the Giants’ Buster Posey and Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera can go blow-for-blow throughout the series. Cabrera did the merely unthinkable during the regular season when he took in the Triple Crown, but Posey was the only player in baseball to have a better batting average than Cabrera this season. It will be imperative for both players to produce because without them, their team could be doomed.
Which Star Has a Better Series: Stalemate
Both these guys are too good to be shut down and will reach base early and often.
The playoffs aren’t as much about the stars as it is the unsung heroes. Every year a small-time role player emerges to look like the Incredible Hulk and power his team to the World Series.
Who will it be this year?
Only time will tell, but history has told us that it’s bound to expect the unexpected. The Tigers have Delmon Young, who is postseason gold while the Giants have guys like youngster Brandon Belt and outfielder Angel Pagan who could be the hero.
These guys are why we watch. They represent the dream in millions of children and give hope to everyone that anything is possible with grit and determination.
So, who has the ultimate advantage?
Well, the Tigers steam rolled the New York Yankees in the ALCS while the Giants simply refuse to lose. They seem to be channeling the magic that occurred in 2010 when they won the World Series. One thing is for sure, fans have a doozy on their hands. We couldn’t ask for much more.
Bold Prediction: Tigers in 6
This team seems so focused on the prize. They may not have had the best regular season, but it’s not about who’s the best during the regular season, it’s who gets hot at the right time. The Giants have a stellar ball club and a winner in place for years to come, but having played the maximum amount of games and the emotions that come with it mean that the tank is running on fumes right now.
World Series MVP: Prince Fielder
The slugger, who was brought to Detroit to win championships, will revel in playing in his first World Series. He’ll go 9-for-21 with three homers, eight RBI and three walks.
October 11, 2012
Major League Baseball has had many surprises this year; Mike Trout’s rookie season, the Washington Nationals winning the NL East, Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown, and of course, the prolific Oakland Athletics.
Not only did the A’s shock the world and come from 13 games back to steal the AL West from the Texas Rangers on the final day of the season, they have a massive amount of swagger right now.
Originally two games down in their American League Divisional Series, the Athletics used a ninth inning rally in Game 4 to tie the series and send it to Game 5. Although they face Tigers ace Justin Verlander, they look like they can conquer anything right now.
Just how do they do it? It’s no secret GM Billy Beane is a mad scientist in his formulaic Moneyball approach to baseball. To put this in short; it doesn’t matter what your name is, if you can play a lick of baseball, Beane will find you, make you a member of the A’s and get the most out of you.
The A’s have one up-and-coming star in youngster Yoenis Cespedes and a cast of characters to fill the roster. They win with pitching and defense. They don’t win pretty, but they “just win baby.”
Their enthusiastic fans deserve credit for cheering with a fervor that is unmatched in baseball. If one were to simply listen, you may think you were at a soccer match rather than a baseball game. Their fans have fun and give baseball a vivacious feel where other parks may seem like libraries.
So, just how far can the Athletics go this season? They’ve proved that they can do anything and don’t put it past them to ride the lightning all the way to a World Series title. The have the most momentum of any team right now and the truth is, they believe.
The United States of America loves an underdog and on October 11, everyone in the country outside of Detroit will be rooting for them
September 26, 2012
As the 2012 MLB season begins to wind down and the playoff picture begins to take shape, realistic expectations are realized for postseason play. MLB baseball is reaching a fever pitch heading into the post season. Once almost forgotten about because of the start of the 2012 NFL season, America’s true favorite pastime couldn’t be more exciting right now.
This season adds another Wild Card contender into the mix, which was once frowned upon by diehard baseball fans, but is now quite exciting as the added slot has put many teams in the running.
The Nationals have finally had success after struggling since moving to the nation’s capital in 2005. With a plethora of young talent and a Cy Young contender in pitcher Gio Gonzalez, the Nats will be in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately for the up-and-coming squad, 2012 won’t be their year to win it all, but the future is bright.
In terms of the Braves, they get redemption for faltering down the stretch and missing the postseason last year.
As for the Reds, the team is a fine blend of pitching and hitting and they have a good shot of reaching the World Series. Led by slugger Joey Votto and a lethal bullpen to shutdown games, the team is feared. Don’t be surprised when the Reds end up in the World Series.
If the Reds are to win the NL pennant, they will have to defeat the Giants, who have the necessary experience to win it all. Considering they reached the ultimate goal in 2010, the Giants are primed to make another run.
The American League has some tight races at the top of the East and Central divisions as the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles are neck-and-neck along with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.
Both of these battles are great for baseball as the Yankees and Tigers were the preseason favorites while the Orioles and White Sox were somewhat of an afterthought. Neither team expected to reach the magnitude of success they’ve enjoyed this season.
No team has yet to clinch in the AL, but the races sure are enticing.
The Wild Card picture is what’s best in baseball right now. There are currently five teams within five games of the four Wild Card spots.
The current leaders are the Orioles and Oakland Athletics in the AL and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL. Within striking distance of the current leaders are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers/White Sox in the AL and the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies in the NL.
So, who has a legitimate shot? Historically, the season’s best record or the highest payroll doesn’t guarantee a World Series ring. Like the St. Louis Cardinals of last season, many times it’s the team that gets red hot and rides the lightning that goes down in history.
Right now, the Giants and Reds looks like they’ll compete for the pennant in the NL and the Texas Rangers and the winner of the Central will duel in the AL.