Monday, July 12, 2010

Alright... I've taken a few months off. For the millions of you out there... I'm sorry.
So, here is what's happened in those ten months that is worth a sports fans' time.

10) Oh, What Could Have Been...

Many say the game of golf is at a low point in it's history. The one complaint that has been argued over the last five years is that the game's greatest advocate,Tiger Woods, is also it's greatest foe. Wrong. These fans are looking for a consistent rival for Tiger. Note to you traditionalists out there: If you're waiting for an Arnold Palmer to continually challenge Tiger each as he did Jack Nickalaus some decades ago you're wasting your time... it's not gunna happen.
Woods has become so consistently dominant over the last decade that many border-line golf fans are turned off by the lack of competition that Woods has in front of him each week. Fortunately, for those cynics out there the 2009 season should have put most of those arguments to rest.
Four championships-three first time major winners in 2009.

One could argue that 2009 showed that the PGA Tour offers the most parody of any sport in the world. Yet the 2009 season will not be remembered for who won golf's four major championships but for who lost them. Go ahead, try and name all four winners... kind of tough to do huh?

I am all for the underdog, but in these cases, the final result was more of a letdown than the Cinderella story. So here is a look back on what could have been a very special year in golf history.

The Masters 4/11/09: I watched from the 10th fairway at Augusta National as Kenny Perry lost his three shot lead on that Sunday afternoon in April, as Angel Cabrera sank a par putt to win his first green jacket.

The U.S. Open 6/1/09: A fairy-tale finish turned boring when Phil Mickelson missed two par putts over the last four holes...David Duval, out of nowhere. Winless in eight years, he ran off three straight birdies on the back nine to tie for the lead as the No. 882 player in the world tried to show why he was No. 1 a decade ago.

His hopes ended with a 5-foot par putt on the 17th that spun 180 degrees out of the cup, and his silver medal was no consolation...Ricky Barnes was the long shot who didn't last very long with the 54-hole lead. He shot 40 on the front nine to turn control over to Glover, and wound up shooting a 76 to join Mickelson and Duval in a tie for second.

Lucas Glover didn't have a compelling storyline, just the kind of golf that wins a U.S. Open in any conditions.

The British Open 6/22/09: 60 year-old Tom Watson comes within one stroke of becoming the oldest Major winner in golf's history. Watson was the ultimate underdog story but it was meant to be. Stewart Cink became the villain that day beating Watson in four-hole playoff.

The PGA Championship 8/8/09:

I sat on the 18th green at Haleztine and watched in disbelief as Tiger Woods' second shot was offline. This was the second shot that had to be perfect in order to force a playoff with Korean, Y.E. Yang. Yang became the first to beat Tiger after Woods had held the lead in a Major. History was made but it just most of all it just capped off a year that was a very forgettable one in Major championships.

9)Yankees Win 27th Title

Yankees Suck...

8) Saints Shock The World

25:1... Those were the odds of the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2009. Well they proved a lot of people wrong this year. Drew Brees was the best player in the league,Reggie Bush found his niche in the NFL and Sean Payton became the new "best young head coach in the league." Personally, I was a little upset that these Saints beat Brett Favre and the Vikings in the NFC Championship (See #6) but that sports I guess... Anyway, the Saints not only rolled through the regular season/playoffs but they showed that they indeed had the best TEAM.
It was pretty surreal to watch Drew Brees go head to head with our generation's greatest quarterback( Peyton Manning). I loved the matchup and it just goes to show how special Brees is a leader. Sorry Peyton maybe next year.

7) Cowboys Make the Playoffs, Lose to Vikings

I was wrong. This article is for David Broom and all of those Cowboys fans (beside myself) that had them going 19-0 and winning the Super Bowl. I misread the Cowboys talent and the division that they played in. It was a much weaker division than I had envisioned but the Cowboys did earn it. By beating the Saints, Chargers and Eagles in big time games this season they gained my respect.
I went to the Chargers and Eagles games this season and took in Cowboys Stadium which was amazing. There is nothing like it and it makes going to game there for any sport worth the price of admission.

6) Brett Favre Is The Man

There have been handful of quarterbacks that have been considered the greatest of all-time. Jonny Unitas, Joe Montana, John Elway and Peyton Manning come to my mind. But after watching Brett Favre play last season for the Vikings I have to say he is the best the game has ever seen.

He has everything you would want in a QB. Favre is a leader, who has thrown the most TD passes of all-time (as well as the most interceptions), played 17 seasons without missing a game, thrives under pressure and has a Super Bowl ring.

This guy is the ultimate gunslinger. He led the Vikings to NFC Championship game in 2009 and threw an interception in overtime to lift the Saints over his Vikings. Many people have pointed to his key interceptions in big situations such as this one and 2008 against the Giants but the bottom-line is those teams wouldn't have been in those moments if it weren't for Favre. He's a game-changer.

Favre threw for 4200 yards and 33 TD's in 2009 which was second only to Drew Brees.
Most QB's are lucky if they have a season like in their prime which usually comes from ages 27-31 in the NFL. At 40, maybe Favre is in his prime... Don't hang em up yet Brett.

5) March Madness 2010

David vs. Goliath. USA vs. Russia. Marlins vs. Yankees. Giants vs. Patriots. Each featured a favored juggernaut against a considerable underdog. In each case the underdog took down the juggernaut for a historic victory. 2010 gave us Duke vs. Butler. But in this case the juggernaut (Duke) held off the underdog (Butler) to win its fourth national championship in school history. All this you know...

But why should we consider this a quality NCAA Tournament? Yes, it had a a David vs. Goliath matchup which is what every national final craves for. But what other memorable moments did it gives us? Not many.
This was supposed to be the tournament where we watched John Wall/Evan Turner cement their names next to Carmelo Anthony, Chris Webber and Michael Jordan as great freshmen to get to The Final Four. Nope. OSU Sweet 16.... Kentucky Elite 8.
Perennial favorite, Kansas, loses to Northern Iowa in the second round.

No. 2 seed, Villanova, loses to St. Marys in the second round... St. Mary's would go on to lose to Baylor by 30 in the Sweet 16.

WVU, Duke, Butler and Michigan State make up The Final Four in Indianapolis. Who had that on March 15?
But this mediocre tournament did provide even more of a case to stay in school to win. Look at each of the last four teams. All were led by juniors and seniors who had stayed together instead of going to the NBA.

If the NCAA doesn't make players stay for at least two years then how can we expect someone like John Wall to win a national title. Individual players are entertaining but it is almost impossible for them to carry a team as a freshman. Teams win national championships and the best team (Duke) won it in 2009 because they stayed together.

I predicted last year on this blog that the 2009 BCS Championship would feature Florida and USC. I almost got one right... The 2009 season was setting up to be the greatest the sport had to offer in a long time. The SEC and Big 12 were set to be king and would be in the end but not without a lot of drama first. The projected Heisman finalist were Tebow, McCoy and Bradford. Close but no cigar. This season would be one to remember but just not the way we all thought we would remember it.

Sam Bradford lasted two quarters before injuring himself for the season. Goodbye OU.

Colt McCoy gave an effort for the first 8 games but never eclipsed 300 yards.

Tim Tebow struggled to find his form from the year before but still was deemed "The Greatest Leader" in the sport.

Little did we know a Sophomore RB from Flint, Michigan (Mark Ingram) would beat them all for the Heisman.

Who? That's right... Mark Ingram became household name as he ran all over the SEC and led Alabama to a perfect season.

But just for a second let's go back and look at another wild college football season.

My team the Michigan Wolverines started off a perfect 4-0.... but only one more game the rest of the season. Of course, our season ended with another loss to arch rival Ohio State. Get rid of Rich Rod.

Florida lost. This was just plain sad. I'm a big Tebow fan but even if you're not you have to respect him. We will NEVER see another player like him in our lifetime.

I was disappointed Florida blew it against Alabama but most of all I was disappointed Tebow had to go out that way.

Cincinnati,TCU and Boise State all went undefeated in their regular season games. Which raised the question again of whether or not college football needed a playoff system. The answer is yes they do.

This year is the proof more than any other year of why the 16 best teams should have an equal opportunity to play each for a national championship. But instead we have five teams go undefeated and only one will go home champs.

In the end it didn't really matter because Boise (14-0) and TCU both played a mediocre Fiesta Bowl, Cincinnati got taken behind the woodshed by Florida and Alabama (13-0) beat Texas for the National Title.

We need a playoff system...

3) Rangers Fade in 2009, Look to 2010 as "The Year"

This is my team. The 2009 Rangers did what they always do: Win until August and then fade down the stretch. It wasn't anything new but the expectations for 2010 were new.
No more expectations of a .500 record. No more talk of the future. The future is now for this team.

With the addition of Vlad Guerrero from the hated Angels and the maturation of Neftali Felliz, Derek Holland and Elvis Andrus to name a few; the Rangers are ready to contend in the American League. Josh Hamilton predicted 96 wins... I'll take 92.

2) Phil Wins The Masters

The story of the week had been the return of Tiger Woods but this Sunday belonged to golf's good guy, Phil Mickelson.

Lefty battled Lee Westwood (who was considered as the best player never to win a major)all weekend for the lead. I sat in the 12th tower with CBS analyst Ian Baker-Finch as we watched Phil sink a 10-foot putt on the 12th green in front of us.
My view the entire week was one that most people only dream of. I had a beautiful panoramic look at the par 4 11th and the par 3 12th; two of the most historic holes in golf. As Tiger faded down the stretch, Phil and Westwood heated up to provide us with a front row seat to Lefty's second green jacket.
As Phil walked off the 18th green I decided to use join the patrons along the rope line and congratulated him with a high five to end a memorable week in Augusta.

1) Heros to Villians...

Number one is a toss up. Most calendar years have some wonderfully poetic story-lines that define that respective year in sports... Not 2010.
These two stories garnered more media attention than any other in sports history. 1a) Tiger Wood's dramatic fall from super stardom after his personal life was torn apart after admitting he been having multiple affairs over the last few years. 1b) Lebron James's free-agent frenzy culminating in a made-for-television one hour special in which he announced that he would leave his home in Cleveland and join the Miami Heat with Wade and Bosh in South Beach.
Both of these stories produced such dramatic 24 hour coverage that these two heroic figures transformed in villainous characters in sports nation.

Here's the deal: Tiger and Lebron have both been dragged through the mud in 2010 but the sad truth is that it's still all about winning. It doesn't matter what either one of these guys does off the court if they win they will be revered one again. It's all about "what have you done for me lately?" in today's media world and if they succeed all will be forgiven.

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