Ok, so its December 31, and we are about to wave good bye to 2008 and hello to 2009. So before people get bent and put on those funny hats and 2009 glasses (you, where the two 0's are the eye pieces), let's go over the top 10 Sports Moments of 2008- Award Show style.
"HOW THE **** ARE THEY WINNING?!?!" award
10. Tampa Bay Rays- perennial losers shock the baseball world by winning 97 games and making it to Game 5 of the World Series? Thats a great story in my book. Manager Joe Maddon took a group of talented, but young, players who were hungry to disrupt the order of the American League East- and they succeeded. They were the first team not named Boston or New York to win the AL East since the 1997 Orioles. And in 2009 I would not count the Rays out- even with the Yanks spending almost half a billion dollars.
"180 degrees" award
9. Miami Dolphins- 1-15 in 2007 under Cam Cameron, 11-5 and AFC East champs in 2008 under Tony Sporano (who has got it on lock to be the new Mike Ditka. Say it with me "Fins..Fins...Spor-ahno"). Anyway, Ditka Jr and Bill Parcells showed you that sometimes all it takes is a new voice- a plan- o and the Jets handing you Chad Pennington on a silver platter. Which brings me to #8....
"REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD" award
8. Chad Pennington, Michael Turner and Matt Cassell- alright heres how this one went: Pennington got back at the Jets for cutting him, Turner ran for 1,700 yds while LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,110. Matt Cassel was supposed to submarine New England's season after Tom Brady went out for the year- yet Cassell threw for over 3,000 yds, 20TDs and led the Pats to an 11-5 record. If only some tie breakers went their way they'd be in over Baltimore. Still, all 3 proved people wrong, thus they tie the award.
"IS THAT DOMINIQUE AGAINST BIRD?" award
7. NBA Eastern Conference Semis, Game 7- Boston and Cleveland. LeBron James and Paul Pierce bring out a classic game in the final game of their 2nd round series. LeBron, mostly on his own, scores 45 points but Paul Pierce (and his better cast) scores 41 to lead the Celtics to a 97-92 win. It would seem only fair that it came 20 yrs after the famous Dominique Wilkins- Larry Bird shootout in the 1988 Eastern semis where despite Dominique's 47, Bird's 34 won out.
"WAIT THE RACE IS OVER?" award
6. Usain Bolt racing himself in the Olympics- the 100m and 200m Gold Medals in the Beijing Games. 2 world records. More importantly- he's fast. Bolt's records came as he either showboated or cruised down the stretch of the races, if he tried he might have set times that will never be approached ever. Even now, his times will take a super-human race to break. 9.39 seconds in the 100m, and 19.30 in the 200m. Oh and if that isnt enough, he was on the Jamaican 4X100 relay team that set a world record at 37.10 seconds- the first man to win all three in record fashion at a single Games in Olympic history.
"HEY LOOK- ITS HOCKEY...AND ITS EXCITING!" award
5. Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Penguins and Red Wings- Triple OT, amazing saves left and right by both Mac-Andre Fleury of PIttsburgh and Chris Osgood of the Red Wings. Finally Petr Sykora won it for the Penguins in the 3rd OT with a slap shot past Osgood that gave Pitt its 2nd win of the series. Although Detroit won Game 6, even that came down to the final seconds and a Marian Hossa shot crossing through the goal mouth was all that stood from more OT- even after that historic Game 5.
"BASKETBALL ROYALTY TAKES ITS THRONE AGAIN" award
4. The Celtics win the 2008 NBA title- Boston in 2007 was one of the worst teams in the league, and in the offseason GM Danny Ainge made some moves to save his job- and bring a championship back to Boston for the first time since 1986. Even better was that they defeated their hated rivals the LA Lakers. I know Laker fan and WCWP staffer Matt Soldano wont enjoy reading this, but the Celtics not only came back from a 24 point deficit to win game 4, but the Celtics also beat Los Angeles by 39 points in Game 6 to clinch. All in all, 66 wins and a title later, kudos to Danny Ainge.
"BRING BACK WHATS RIGHTFULLY OURS" award
3. The Redeem team wins Gold in men's basketball- After winning the Bronze in 2004 in Athens and not winning the world championships in 2006, the USA basketball program was in severe disarray. Other countries like Argentina and Spain had taken over the US in terms of winning international basketball. So the States turned to Jerry Colangelo to run the organization, and he hired Mike Krzyzewski to run the team. Colangelo and Coach K put together a team led by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade- but also got major efforts from Chris Bosh, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. The team dominated pool play and, in a great Gold medal game, defeated Spain to win the first Gold Medal for USA Basketball since the 2000 Sidney games.
2. Michael Phelps and his 8 Gold Medals- Phelps came into the Games with the intense media circus and pressure to break Mark Spitz' Olympic record of 7 Gold Medals at a single Games. Well, Phelps got 7 and one better as he recorded his 8 medals, including winning the 100m butterfly but 1/100 of a second. Phelps' 5 individual medals tied an Olympic Record, and his 14 career Gold Medals is an Olympic Record. Phelps also set 7 world records and 1 olympic record in the 2008 games- not a bad month of August for Mr. Phelps.
AND THE #1 AWARD FOR 2008...ENVELOP PLEASE....*DRUMROLL*
1. NY Giants beat New England Patriots 17-14 to win Super Bowl 42- The Giants came into the game 10-6 in the regular season, but beat the top 2 seeds in the NFC playoffs on the road to get to Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots came into the game 16-0 in the regular season, the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to go undefeated in a regular season. Add in their 2 playoff games and the Pats were a Super Bowl win away from 19-0- the most wins ever by a team. However, thanks to Eli Manning, David Tyree and Plaxico Burress, the Giants upset the Pats 17-14 and left New England at 18-1...and leaves the '72 Dolphins as the only team to go thru the WHOLE SEASON undefeated (super bowl title included).
So there you go, the top 10 moments of 2008- as only yours truly can do. Here's to hoping 2009 gives us just as many memorable moments. Have a safe and happy new year everyone.