Each member of our staff (and a former intern) picked their favorite moment from 2012. There’s nothing else you need to know, except that this list is absolutely impeccable. Happy New Year, y’all.
Jeremy Lin’s game-winner against the Raptors.
Dan Fogarty, editor-in-chief: I once read a book called The Way of the Superior Man. It’s one of those self-help deals designed to help today’s castrated, geeky wimpymen rediscover their inner male, and it’s a weird book. Really weird. If the book were a person, it would be a personal trainer who’s always doing squat thrusts and grunting things at you. Creepy things. Things like, “You are totally turned on by the feminine. You love to take your woman sexually, to ravish her, but not in some old-style macho fashion. Rather, you want to ravish her with so much love that she is vanished, you both vanish, in the fullness of love itself.”
You know, ravishment. The fullness of love. Dude stuff.
Anyway, in the introduction of The Way of the Superior Man, there’s a bit about sports, and why guys like watching it. And for as weird and challenging as the book is (I give author David Deida credit for pretty much saying “You will be freaked out by my weird book” in its first few pages) this bit about sports rings true. It’s written by someone who doesn’t actually sound like he watches sports because he’s too busy having a continuous looping orgasm… but it rings true.
Sports are all about freedom, such as by breaking free of your opponent’s tackle or barrage of punches, and about succeeding at your mission, by carrying the ball into the end zone or remaining standing after 10 rounds. For the masculine, mission, competition, and putting it all on the line (indeed, facing death) are all forms of ecstasy.
Feel the musk? Good. Because for as icky as that sounded, Deida’s right: The reason we watch sports is because we enjoy watching someone put everything out there. They either win, or are (symbolically) slaughtered. If we were Romans, they’d actually be slaughtered, but nowadays you just get your photo put on the backpage of the Post with a really mean headline. So, it’s almost like you’re getting slaughtered.
There are three YouTube videos that, to me, perfectly highlight this confrontation with (symbolic) death. I watch them when I’m bored at work, and they make me want to ravish everything in site with the fullness of my love.
The second is an extension of the first, a compilation of pregame speeches from around the NFL. Brian Dawkins + The violin-powered intro to “Throw It Up” by Lil Jon = Animal Noises.
Then there is this, from a February 14th game between the Raptors and the Knicks. We are so far away from this moment that it’s hard to believe it happened in 2012. Pay special attention to the camerawork at the 9-second mark, and nifty little bit of magic from TSN’s crew that syncs up perfectly with the slow-forming buzz enveloping the Air Canada Centre. It was Asian Heritage Night, and the crowd — which, up to that point, had been alternating between booing Lin and cheering for him — knew who was taking the last shot. We all did.
After Lin looks back at Mike D’Antoni to make sure his coach is okay with an isolation play, all Lin has left to do is wait. There is pressure in the air; tangible, present pressure. That pressure is rising just as the fans in attendance are, and it’s the type of pressure that would choke you or I or even Jeremy Lin if he stopped for a second to take a look at what he was doing, what was being asked of him, what he meant, and what pretty much every book, movie, TV show, and song told him he should be up to that point. All that was left as the seconds dwindled was for Lin to break free of those constraints, or die trying.
2. Anything Involving Les Miles, Basically.
Glenn Davis, senior editor: Coaches, frighteningly competitive, insanely hard-working folks that they are, often have a tendency to take themselves rather seriously. Take Nick Saban, who occasionally can’t resist lecturing assembled media like a group of misbehaving toddlers. Therefore, whenever a coach breaks that stodgy mold (think Mike Leach, who himself is given to fits of any-old-coach-dom), that coach is celebrated. And no high-profile coach broke that mold more often – or was more successful doing it – in 2012 than LSU’s Les Miles.
Miles was well-loved by most college football fans before 2012 began. His grass-eating and dog-fist-bumping (in chicken joint billboard ads) made sure of that. And thankfully, this year provided no signs that persona is letting up anytime soon. He’s been Les-ing out especially hard lately in advance of LSU’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl matchup against Clemson, from the most intense game of air hockey in children’s hospital history to staring down a cow to becoming the subject of a chicken endorsement controversy, but don’t sleep on some of his earlier work, like this bit of avant-garde hashtag usage.
This isn’t to say I’ve loved everything Miles has done this year. When quarterback Gunner Kiel backed out of his LSU commitment to attent Notre Dame instead, Miles trash-talked him (not specifically by name, thankfully, but made no secret of wh he was talking about) at a fan gathering celebrating the newly-signed recruiting class, a completely below-the-belt potshot. And when Miles gave an already-famous press conference following his team’s win over Ole Miss in November – a presser that was, for the most part, brilliant and classic Miles – his “give ’em a big kiss on the mouth if you’re a girl” line was a bit “OH YEAH THIS IS FOOTBALL AND WE GOTTA BE REAL SUPER STRAIGHT” for my taste.
But it was also a classic example of Miles getting carried away. In a world full of coaches whose desire to reveal any of themselves in public is about equal to their desire to be placed on a medieval torture rack, Miles’ conduct serves a constant reminder that high-profile coaches need not be crushingly boring. And best of all, his approach is validated by his success: if Miles’ LSU team wins that aforementioned Chick-Fil-A Bowl, it’ll finish ranked in the Top 10 for a third straight year – and the sixth time in Miles’ eight seasons in Baton Rouge. If it happens, I promise I’ll fist bump a dog in Miles’ honor.
3. Jerry Jones, Master of the Universe.
Dylan Murphy, associate editor: That Jerry Jones’ son-in-law bows down to his father’s Cowboys fortune isn’t particularly newsworthy, or year-worthy. It was a blip on Dallas’ haywire radar, and we all moved on and Tony Romo threw another interception. But how ’bout them Cowboys, right? One win from the playoffs, this very weekend, over Robert Griffin III. Who Jones detests, by the way.
The glasses wipe could be a metaphor for something, or it could just be one of those things the internet likes with internet jokes. But when I think back on 2012, the Olympics and the Miami Heat and whoever won the World Series, I can’t stop thinking of Jerry, or really his glasses, and the ever-so-careful handoff to avoid a smudge. Because sometimes a man just wants him some glory hole, or something.
Anyway, review at will.
4. Mike Trout is an important person, these days.
Evan Sporer, former intern: The Angels were – by the high expectations they had set for themselves entering the 2012 season – reeling.
It was April 2nd, and the Angels were on the road at Progressive Field to play the first of three games against the Indians. But this Angels team, having just added the likes of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson into the mix, stood at a lowly 6-13 and was looking for answers. After 174 minutes of baseball, a two-run lead blown after the seventh inning, including a walk-off single for the Indians in the ninth, the Angels were dealt yet another loss. It was time to shake things up. Shortly after the game, sitting eight games below .500, the team released veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu and called up a minor league prospect who was bating over .400 in AAA ball.
Enter Mike Trout.
When the Angels announced the call-up on April 27th, GM Jerry Dipoto said, “We want to add a little energy, add a little spice.” Instead, Trout burst onto the scene, posting not only the best offensive season for a rookie, but one of the best offensive seasons ever, for any player. His glove matched his bat, as Trout flew around the outfield like Jim Edmonds or Ken Griffey Jr. But he was a beacon of controversy as well, the center of an MVP debate pitting nerdy nerds against Baseball Men. The Men won, the old guard clinging to the obsolete validation of MVP votes. But Mike Trout won too, on paper but not on paper.
More than that, Trout merged the intellectual with the emotional – that a baseball player could be exciting, statistically and visually. He’ll go on to have a great career, possibly winning some deserved MVPs. But he’s a new hope for the seemingly dying popularity of baseball, and we could one day look back at this non-moment, this non-MVP, as everything baseball needed.