We’re back at it again. I’ve recruited my cousin to do a year-end list, consisting of the best moments in professional sports this past year. While we had a “Top 10″ list last year, this year’s list took a different route. So instead, you’ll see a “highlight reel” of sorts – namely a month by month breakdown of what some of the memorable moments were from 2011.
As always follow thevhb on twitter to keep up with his latest musings.
-grizzly & thevhb
Marshawn Lynch upsets the New Orleans Saints
The hashtag “#beastmode” blew twitter up during the Wild Card playoff game between the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks and the defending champion New Orleans Saints. The run capped an amazing game where a true underdog defied all odds against a superior team. Even better was this historic viral video. Grab a bag of skittles and enjoy.
BCS Championship Game: Auburn defeats Oregon
Surrounded by controversy the entire year, Cam Newton leads the Auburn Tigers to an undefeated season, capping off with a down-to-the-wire win over the Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game. And how about those Ducks uniforms?!
The management of the Green Bay Packers suffered a lot of backlash from fans after letting the beloved Brett Favre leave a few years back, for this first round draft pick, Aaron Rodgers. Was he up to the challenge? Would he ever bring the Packers back to the promise land? In a short sentence: Yes, he would. His first Superbowl, he would lead a depleted Packers team to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. Rodgers would get the MVP and the discount double check will be in our hearts forever.
2011 NBA Slam Dunk Competition
We finally got to experience an exciting Slam Dunk Competition, with great participants. Blake Griffin was able to step up to the challenge and show his true creativity, unlike a few superstars who promised they would participate and never did. Also if you bought a KIA because you were promised that Blake Griffin would jump over it, you were not alone. Well, maybe you were.
Ray Allen becomes the NBA’s all time 3-point Leader
Jesus Shuttleworth passed Reggie Miller in career 3-point field goals made after hitting his 2,561st 3-pointer. Reggie Miller was calling the game where history happened, and Ray Allen did the respectful thing and hugged it out.
2011 NCAA Tournament
It seems like every year the NCAA Tournament finds a new way to surprise us and this year was no different. In the Sweet Sixteen, one region held a 1 seed, 10 seed, 11 seed, and 12 seed. There were super powers, and then there were the Cinderella stories. It seemed like before the elite 8, most people’s brackets were hanging on by a nylon thread (if you’re in the market for puns).
MLB Opening Day
Opening day is a time for all of their fans to welcome the baseball season, and often times, friendly competition gets taken to a whole new level. A story that often goes unnoticed, Brian Stow was a San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten to a vegetable by two LA Dodgers fans. What’s worse is that it happened on stadium grounds and fan safety in all sports venues became a pressing issue.
UConn wins the NCAA Tournament
Butler once again does the improbable and makes the NCAA Championship Game for the second year in a row. In a game that lacked offense, the Kemba Walker-led Connecticut Huskies were able to overcome the offensive struggles to claim the title as National Champs.
The Ohio State University Booster Controversy
The Ohio State University is in deep water for tattoo gate and everything that surrounded it. Covering up for something that shouldn’t have been led this storied program in a big hole. The Jim Tressel era officially ended in Columbus, Ohio after a hasty resignation. There are still a few things that need to be fixed, but they are heading in the right direction.
The NBA Finals
The Miami Heat started off slowly in the regular season, but they managed to get to the NBA Finals and looked to knock off the red-hot Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki became Mr. Clutch during the NBA Finals, while many of the Lebron haters got exactly what they wanted: Miami losing and Lebron being the main reason for it. For some reason, Lebron got in his own head which led to his lack of appearance in the Finals. Not taking any credit away from the Mavericks, who just about used their home court advantage and had different players show up when it mattered most. The best team won the NBA Finals, which seems to be a trend for any champion.
2011 Stanley Cup/Vancouver Riots
The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games to claim the Stanley Cup. The hard fought and hard hitting series was overshadowed due to the controversy and stupidity of the city of Vancouver following Game 7. Stealing headlines by starting riots and putting others in danger just went to show how ridiculous some people can actually be.
Derek Jeter Joins the 3000 Hit Club
Love him or hate him, he joined the exclusive 3000th hit club after hitting a homerun on July 9th.
USA Women’s World Cup
When a USA team is doing well, everyone starts sporting their Red, White, and Blue, even if the sport hasn’t reached its popularity potential here. The game had a great finale where USA fell short in a shoot-out after extra time. Even though they were the better team on the field, sometimes the underdog plays their hearts out, which is exactly what Japan did. P.S. USA! USA! USA!
Controversy at The ‘U’
Another major program that underwent a huge violation was The University of Miami. Nevin Shapiro (a booster) released many names of people he gave money to. Punishment and further details have yet to be uncovered, but nonetheless, many big names and players during Miami’s dominant era were directly involved.
The streak of 227 games started in a row ended. While Colts fans remained optimistic about Peyton’s injury, everyone else knew it was going to be season-ending. Huge news going into the season, the question that everyone had was “How will the Colts do without Manning?” As everyone would soon learn, Peyton Manning apparently played both sides of the ball. Colts are still winless, and now talks have started to heat about about Manning vs. Andrew Luck.
The Last Day of the MLB Season
This was probably one of my favorite sports moments of 2011. So many playoff races went down to the wire. The Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were battling for a AL Wild Card, while the Braves and Cardinals were battling for the NL Wild Card. I found a clip that will show how crazy the day actually was. It’s easier to watch than to attempt to summarize. Trust me.
2011 MLB World Series
The St. Louis Cardinals needed the last day of the regular season and some miracles to get in, and once they got in it was all about being the last team standing. The Texas Rangers once again represented the AL, but fell short. Game 3, we saw just how dominant one man could be, as Albert Pujols hit 3 homeruns in one game. If that wasn’t enough, we also witnessed one of the greatest World Series games – game 6. On the verge of elimination, Cardinals entered the bottom of the ninth down 2, down to their last strike and possibly last out. David Freese hits a two-run triple to tie the game and force it into extra innings. In extra innings, the Rangers go up 2 again, only to find the Cardinals claw themselves back in. Freese’s night would only get better when he hits a walk-off homerun in the 11th to force a game 7.
Coach K Reaches 903 Wins
Coach Krzyzewski becomes the all-time leader in wins by a coach with 903, surpassing Coach Bobby Knight after a victory against Michigan State. He will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time, and rightfully so. Ron Swanson is going to have to re-do his office.
Penn State University Sex Abuse Scandal
Probably the biggest news of the year – and for years to come. A program built on tradition, honor, and legacy suddenly goes through a shitstorm of controversy and scandal. Jerry Sandusky is no longer a name that symbolizes great defense, but an inhumane act. His alleged actions were disgusting and will never be forgotten. Joe Paterno? Fired. Now, Penn State University faces a huge uphill battle trying to recover its soiled reputation.
Just weeks after the Penn State scandal blew up, Bernie Fine, a Syracuse basketball coach went under similar scrutiny. Hope for the best for all of the victims is just about all we can do.
Ryan Braun PED Controversy
After winning the NL MVP award, Ryan Braun tests positive for performance enhancing drugs and faces a 50-game suspension next year. An unprecedented and unfortunate turn of events to a sport that is trying to get away from the steroid image. Furthermore, what will this say about him being crowned the MVP?
That’s all, folks!
Sports will always provide an avenue for all of us to escape to. We found out this year that there are a few things that can’t even escape sports. Here’s hoping to a 2012 filled with great sports memories. Here’s a toast to 2012 providing that. Cheers!