Let’s just cut to the chase here…everybody else does some sort of “Year End” list, here’s our obligatory ramble on what we consider to be the 15 most significant sporting occurrances in 2010.
Honorable mention: The Vuvuzela
What began as a seemingly harmless noisemaker instead became a symbol of what happens when you hold a world-class sporting event in some third-world toilet. I don’t care if it isn’t “politically correct” to say it, but the fact is South Africa is a crime-ridden shithole and holding the Wold Cup there was a complete disaster. Not only is the country a blight by even “poor nation” standards, but it is a ten-hour flight away from the nearest civilized place. Lets’ be even more honest; the reason why South Africa sucks is because it is inhabited by a bunch of low-rent trashballs ; its like every other country on earth rounded up their “Cousin Eddies” and dropped them in South Africa. This is why they had no problem at all ruining every World Cup telecast with the Vuvuzela, a two-dollar plastic horn which when pressed to the lips of a South African emits a droning cacophony similar to a cat stuffed in a bagpipe caught in a washing machine. It speaks volumes about a country that can make one of the world’s great sporting events almost completely unwatchable.
15) All The (Vi)King’s Men Couldn’t Put The HumptyDome Together Again
What else can you say? Combine a stadium built on the cheap, go even cheaper on the maintenance, and add three decades of Minnesota winters, and who could be surprised when this happens? Just be prepared to see this collapse as a precursor to your new Los Angeles Vikings.
14) Connecticut Almost Convinces Us Women’s Basketball Is A Real Sport
But only almost…thankfully, that winning streak finally ended at 90 games last night. Granted, winning that many games in a row in anything is impressive, even if the sport isn’t particularly so. Think anybody cares about women’s basketball? Then tell me how you did in your women’s basketball bracket at the office last year?
13) The World Shuns America At Its Own Expense
It seems nobody wants to play here, given the failure of US World Cup and Olympic Bids. Honestly, I get the Olympic failure since Obama made himself the face of the Chicago bid, and since nobody internationally has nay respect for him and since Chicago is America’s answer to that third-world shithole known as South Africa. But putting the World Cup in Qatar? Seriously?
So, we’d rather have matches played in an atmosphere of possible sudden-death political instability and 200-degree temperatures rather than to be in a country that would pony up top-dollar for this event? I understand there is some sort of Euro-Chic in hating on Uncle Sam now, but before you get to involved in such behavior, you may want to stop to check how many of those hated American dollars flow into such events, then imagine what those events might look like without any American investment.
12) The So-Called Demise of Tiger Woods
I really have a hard time with calling what happened to Tiger Woods a “demise,” which places me in direct contrast with “mainstream sports media.” I understand the guy went through a huge personal drama, and likely got majorly skinned in his divorce, but calling his drop from the #1 golfer in the world to #2 a “demise” is ludicrous. From Merriam-Webster:
Demise: intransitive verb2: to pass by descent or bequest <the property has demised to the king’s heirs>
So, Tiger Woods didn’t win a tournament this year. Boo-fucking-hoo. Phil Mickelson has made a career out of not winning tournaments. How do I become so “dead” that I still earn $1.3 million dollars? How do I become so “dead” that I likely will be the top golfer in the world again within 1 year?
11) Brett Favre Pisses Away His Legacy
How appropriate is it that the last image of King Brett I as a football player we will have is him splayed out on the deck, knocked cold slap 0ut? As sports fans, we may not have seen such a mythic figure bow out so disgracefully since Muhammad Ali…except “The Greatest of All-Time” didn’t sully his reputation with allegations of texting pictures of his weiner to some bimbo. However, in terms of a great athlete just not knowing when to go away, Favre’s huge career, his folk status, and a big chunk of his legacy with a purple arm and pictures of his “purple-headed warrior” all gets flushed simply because he couldn’t realize when the party was over.
Sure the Canadian hockey team won Gold; if they hadn’t, all of the Great White North may have collectively taken their final luge run. Face it, you really couldn’t have a much worse start to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Hours before the Opening Ceremonies, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died after crashing during a training run. The lack of padding and protection on the dangerously fast Whistler sliding track was just the most consequential of problems plaguing these games; a mechanical torch malfunctioned during the opening ceremonies, an ice-resurfacing machine broke down at the speedskating venue, and snow had to flown in for the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events.
But once the media stopped fixating on what some dubbed the “Glitch Games,” there was some real drama. Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette used her long program to clinch a bronze medal. What could be more dramatic than rallying from behind to save the dignity of a nation? Rallying from behind to save the dignity of a nation AND have a freshly-dead mother. ?Two days before the start of the short program, Rochette’s immediate female antecedent suffered a fatal heart attack. Rochette decided to compete anyway, uttering the nearly-standard dead-parent cliche “I know what it’s what my (insert parental reference here) would have wanted me to do.” After skating through her visible grief in the short program, the Canadian fans gave her a rousing ovation.
Why does such syrupy, cliche, quasi-bullshit make the list of such a hard-edged blog like Dubsism? Because after the emotional competition, Rochette pumped 21 words worth of pure truth into the moment when she endearingly eulogized her mother with the quip “even though she is not here any more, I’m not afraid to say sometimes she was a pain in the ass.”
America’s chances for a repeat win in the Ryder Cup looked slimmer than an Ethiopian on P90X, as the Yanks trailed by by three points going into the last day of this year’s prestigious team golf event. But during the singles matches, the Americans mounted a furious comeback against the Europeans. Even Tiger Woods, who was awful iafter his “demise,” throttled his Euro-pponent. The U.S. tied the tournament at 13 ½, with only American Hunter Mahan and Graeme McDowell left on the course. On the 16th hole McDowell was up 1 hole on Mahan. McDowell only needed to cup a 15-foot birdie putt to prevent an epic European collapse. He drained it, and Mahan blew the next hole, which forced him to concede the match.
8 ) The New Orleans Saints Win
Let’s not lie about anything here, if you wanted to define “shitty” in the history of a sports franchise, the New Orleans Saints would be in that conversation. However, they took a step away from that legacy last February’s Super Bowl XLIV. Funny to think how one gamble could payoff so big for a city that really doesn’t deserve it.
At the start of the second half, the New Orleans Saints trailed the Indianapolis Colts 10-6, and the Colts were set to receive the ball to begin the 2nd half. were set to kick-off. But the Saints pulled off an on-side kick; a maneuver that had it back-fired would have given the Colts excellent field position and a chance to put the game out of reach. However, the gamble paid off, the Saints recovered the kick, and the game’s momentum shifted in an instant. New Orleans marched 58 yards downfield for a touchdown, and went on to win the game 31-17.
“Four years ago who ever thought this would be happening when 85 percent of the city was under water from (Hurricane) Katrina,” said New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, the game’s MVP, who completed 32 of 39 passes, for 289 yards, and threw two touchdown passes for a team that had been a perennial loser for most of its 43 seasons in the league. “Most people not knowing if New Orleans would ever come back or if the organization and the team would come back. … This is the culmination of that belief and that faith.”
Fuck all that Katrina shit. Fuck it with a nuclear-powered, reciprocating fuck stick. I’m so tired of hearing about what a tragedy Katrina was. The real tragedy of Katrina was that there was anything left of that absolute shithole afterward. New Orleans is the rectum of North America, and anybody who says they love that city should be forced to live there. When I was a kid, my dad’s job got transferred to the “Big Shitty” and it took no time at all for him to want to get out of that sleaze pit. The average mope who shows up to get drunk in the French Quarter for a weekend would recoil in horror of their surrounding if they had to get their mail there; most of them would be gone within six months.
If you doubt that, ask yourself a question. Look at all the sports franchises that have relocated in the past 40 years and ask yourself why nobody except for the NBA went to New Orleans. Granted, the NFL was already there. But baseball never went to New Orleans; baseball never even considered the “Big Shitty.” When hockey teams flooded the south, nobody went to New Orleans. Even the aforementioned NBA deserted the city in 1979 when the Jazz decided five years was enough, and the current Hornets franchise has taken seven years to end up being owned by the league and destined to relocate. Not to mention the Saints had to be given a deal to keep from leaving until 2025, although that deal is rumored to be chock full of escape clauses which make it entirely possible they depart for another city in the next five years.
The most memorable moment of the World Cup tournament came from the Uruguay/Ghana match. Near the end of extra time in their quarterfinal match with the game tied 1-1, the safe bet was the teams were headed for penalty kicks. Yet Ghana had one last chance to score, on a free kick, and the set piece was a beauty. The ball was delivered towards the goal box, then headed across four Uruguay defenders before the Uruguay keeper batted it down. On the rebound, a Ghanian had a clear shot at the goal, but Uruguay forward Luis Suarez positioned himself perfectly in front of the net to knock this flick off his leg. This rebound floated to the head of Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah, who quickly batted it back towards the net. This time, Suarez had no defense but his hand. This intentional foul gave Ghana a penalty kick, and what looked like an improbable win. A World Cup’s worth of suspense and improbability unfolded over these ten seconds in South Africa.
Then things got even more unreal. Ghana’s best player, Asamoah Gyan, shanked the penalty kick that would have sent an African nation to its first World Cup semifinal, breaking a continent’s heart. Uruguay eventually won on penalty kicks, turning Gyan into the World Cup equivalent of Scott Norwood.
The only, and I mean only reason this gets on this list is timing. Blown calls happen all the time, but this one happened to be out #27 of what should have been a perfect game. When Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga crossed first base with the ball in his glove in the top of the ninth against the Cleveland Indians on June 2 everyone knew he had just completed a perfect game. Everyone, that is, except the umpire.
To the amazement of everyone watching, Jim Joyce ruled that Cleveland’s Jason Donald had actually just beaten Galarraga to the bag after hitting a grounder to the right of Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. You didn’t need the replay except as validation, it was simply a blown call made at the end of a game. How many perfect games got snuffed by a bad call in the third inning? Nobody knows because nobody pays attention to such an event until the seventh.
Rarely has a half-court heave carried the vanquished hopes of so many underdogs. With 3.6 seconds left in the men’s college basketball championship between perennial power and heavy favorite Duke, and small-school underdog Butler playing in front of hometown fans in Indianapolis — it was a script straight out of the movie Hoosiers — Duke clung to a two-point lead. On a second free throw, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski ordered Brian Zoubek to miss , since Butler had no timeouts left, and thus wouldn’t be able to set up a last second-play.
Coach K is a bonafide Hall of Famer, but that strategy was atrocious. The intentional miss gave Butler a chance to win, and the Bulldogs took full advantage. Butler’s Gordon Hayward pulled down the rebound, and dribbled toward half-court: teammate Matt Howard delivered a brutal screen on Duke’s Kyle Singler, giving Hayward a clean look at the hoop. Hayward’s running half-court shot seemed to hang in the air forever. When it finally came down, right on line, many a fan’s gut feeling had it going in. But it bounced off the backboard, and jetted past the rim, and Kryzyzewski won his fourth national title on one of the worst decision is his career.
This is an issue that defines the term “double-edged sword.” On one side, you have a definite need to protect players in an era where we are discovering the long-term physical and mental damage caused by football violence. On the other, you have a sports that actively markets such violence. Rather than continue to walk the tightrope, the NFL acted aggressively, telling players that the league would increase fines and issue suspensions for those who violated safety rules which have actually been in place for several years. The problem is that in the process, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell showed himself to be both a hypocrite and an authoritarian, autocratic leader. This change was brought about by complete executive fiat; there was no warning, there was no consideration of the impact, there was just “do it or else.” This led to a lot of cry-babyism from defensive players, however the larger issue is this has proven to be a wedge issue between the players and the league at a time when the league finds itself perilously close to a work stoppage. Making the matter even worse is that these punishments are being levied in the name of player safety, a claim that rings hollow with players as the league threateend to eliminate health coverage for player as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Certain sports milestones seem simply unreachable; Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. In cricket, it’s the one-day double-hundred; no man had ever produced 200 runs for his team during a one-day international match. However, in February, India’s Sachin Tendulkar hit the magic milestone against a powerful South African squad. Tendulkar smacked three “sixes” — the cricket equivalent of a home run — during his epic performance. When he reached 199, the home crowd in Gwalior waved Indian flags, and roared, knowing they were about to witness history. The diminutive Tendulkar, dubbed “The Little Master,” slapped a single past the South African fielders. The world’s 1.5 billion cricket fans had a moment they’d never forget. Tendulkar removed his helmet and raised his arms toward the sky. “Take a bow, master,” said television commentator Ravi Shastri, himself a former cricket star for India. “Aw, you little champion,” his partner, former New Zealand cricketeer Danny Morrison chimed in. “If there was ever one deserving to break this milestone, this Everest, it is certainly Sachin Tendulkar.”
You’ll never a tennis score like it again: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68. At Wimbledon this June, American John Isner and Nicholas Mahut of France played a fifth set headed for infinity, thanks to Wimbledon’s shunning of fifth-set tiebreakers. In all, their historic first-round match lasted a record 11 hours and five minutes, and had to be played over the course of three days. It was the longest match in tennis history, and during the 138th game of the fifth set, Isner stroked a backhand winner down the line to finally break Mahut’s serve, ending the match.
It says something about Americans’ priorities that one evening in July, some 10 million people tuned into ESPN, dying to know what color uniform a guy would wear next year. As absurd as the spectacle seemed, it was simply the culmination of a year in which the NBA buzzed loudest off the court, as the summer free-agent frenzy sparked endless speculation about where stars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire would land. The homegrown Cleveland Cavalier superstar chose to announce his intention to join buddies Wade and Bosh in Miami on a nationally-televised ESPN special, pompously dubbed “The Decision.” James said he was doing the cable special for charity, donating the show’s advertising revenue to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
But after James dumped the Cavs on national television in front of an in-studio audience of kids from the Greenwich, CT Boys and Girls Club, with the now-infamous words “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach,” his popularity took a hefty hit. The backlash was quite stunning, especially since James had made few, if any, public relations errors in his wildly successful career. He did, however, win some sympathy when Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, within hours of James’ announcement that he was signing with the Heat, released an invective-filled letter to Cavs fans (some of whom were burning LeBron jerseys in the streets), in which he called James “narcissistic” and accused him of “cowardly betrayal.”
For a guy looking to win a championship or two, bailing on the Cavs was probably smart. But LeBron’s “Decision” was a public-relations disaster.