always made little sense to me why the ESPYs are held in the middle of summer (when, like, no one is watching TV) and not at the end of the year…when reflection on who did what over a given period of time is at its peak. Having said that, here’s who will be taking home hardware in my world this holiday season:
Story of the Year: Boston Red Sox win the World Series for a resilient city
Normally, at least these days, the Fall Classic isn’t the place to find the top story in the world of sports. But the Sox are the obvious exception for two reasons: (1) They won a championship for a city rocked by twin bombings at its signature event just six months prior and (2) Absolutely nobody expected Boston to compete in even the AL East this year, as more than a few experts picked them to finish behind the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.
But the Red Sox endured to win their third championship in nine years over a feisty Cardinals squad in a rematch of the 2004 Series that broke Boston’s legendary curse. David Ortiz—the guy who was supposed to be washed up—took home MVP honors as the team finally won a decisive game in front of its home fans.
Team of the Year: Louisville Cardinals
A rare occasion where the #1 overall seed actually comes through to capture March Madness (in April), Rick Pitino’s Cards won 35 games overall, the most in the school’s storied history. They also won the final Big East Tournament Championship by outscoring Syracuse 56-26 in the second half to easily overcome a 13-point deficit.
The NCAA Tourney Championship was easily the college game of the year, as Michigan and Louisville battled in a dizzying shooting display where the teams nearly shot 50 percent from three-point range (16-of-34). The Cards trailed by double digits again (12 points) only to ride a huge second half (again) to outlast the Wolverines.
Most Over-Covered Story of the Year: The Washington Redskins nickname “controversy”
One of the rare times when political correctness hasn’t won out, as demands by white sports writers and commentators suddenly experiencing white guilt over a team name that has been in existence for 86 years to change the Redskins’ name has been met with a collective shrug by fans and the owner of the team.
In short, until mass protests start happening outside of Redskin home games (hasn’t happened and won’t happen) and until fan start voting with their wallets by not buying tickets or merchandise, the team owner will not be compelled to change the name. Period. Good for him.
Worst Team of the year: Miami Marlins
Sure, the Astros were technically worse (111 losses vs. 100 losses), but at least Houston didn’t give its fans hope by signing big free agents before the 2012 season such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle in an effort to draw fans to its new $600 million ballpark.
But after the team’s underwhelming 2012 campaign, the Marlins decided (again) to purge itself of every huge contract on its roster in the offseason. Call it the ultimate bait-and-switch. The result has been disastrous on several fronts: The park has saddled Miami-Dade County with $2.4 billion in debt alone, while the team is still last in the National League in attendance. A complete mess with no solution in sight…
Weirdest Story of the Year: Putin’s interception
Good to see the old Evil Empire is alive and kicking thanks to former KGB boss turned Russia President Vladimir Putin. For awhile, the world’s biggest country had become tame: Russia was no longer our biggest enemy, no longer Communist, no longer operating behind an iron curtain. But Putin is bringing Soviet back, whether it be one-upping the President on Syrian chemical weapon negotiations or performing sinister acts like stealing Bob Kraft’s Super Bowl ring (while claiming he thought it was a “gift of friendship”). Now if we can just get Drago and Rocky to square off in “Grudge Match 2”… we’ll truly be on our way.
Biggest Villain: Alex Rodriguez
Baseball’s highest paid star (if not hitting over .300 the past five seasons while experiencing drastically falling power numbers in the process still makes one a “star”) is now suing Major League Baseball, as A-Rod claims Bud Selig is “out to destroy him.” Because with Alex, it’s never his fault…
Is a 211-game suspension too much considering others of his ilk were offered 50 games? Of course. But this can likely be settled outside of a courtroom and the circus that goes along with it. In the meantime, Rodriguez’s strategy of taking the entire baseball ship down with him in an ugly legal battle—even after the court of public opinion has safely put him in the same sentence as McGuire, Sosa and Bonds—is one that stems from a guy who knows no shame.
He’s been caught once, he got caught again. Instead of taking his medicine in some capacity, A-Rod appeals and makes a mockery of the sport’s justice system by playing the final 44 games of the season last year. He will do so again this winter. And even if he somehow does prevail, it’s not like we’ll ever see the drug-enabled star he once was. Not that we’d want to.
So 2013 comes to an end. The ESPYs are still seven months away (thankfully).
We had a little bit of everything. And despite all the negatives that seem to grow each year, one thing is absolutely for certain:
We always, always come back for more.
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