In honor of my best/worst sports moments of the year entry coming later this month, I am posting my annual recaps from 2009-2012. Here is my 2009 entry:
To say it bluntly, 2009 has been a very bad sports year for me. I’d actually go out on a limb and say that it’s my worst since I began following sports in 1991. There were very few historic upsets/Cinderellas, and all of my favorite teams lost while most of my least favorites won. In fact, it was so bad that I had to alter my plan of giving you my 10 best moments of the year alongside my 10 worst moments. I could only come up with five positive sporting occurrences from the past year, so that will have to suffice. Please note that unlike the next column I plan to write these are given from a purely subjective viewpoint. When I say “best/worst moments” I’m not talking about great or horrible sporting events. I’m talking about moments that affected me the most positively or negatively.
1. Alabama wins SEC Football Championship (December 5, 2009)-I don’t know which was more satisfying here: seeing the Tide win its first conference championship in over a decade or seeing Tebow cry like a baby after getting shut down for four quarters. Either way, this was a truly gratifying experience. If only Bama could now play the opponent that deserves to be there (TCU) in the game undeservedly called the BCS National Championship Game.
2. Prairie View A & M wins SWAC Football Championship (December 12, 2009)– Another football conference championship game that had a deep personal significance to me. Prairie View was arguably the root of my sports sentimentalism in the 1990s. I followed this team from week-to-week as they tried to end their record losing streak. Finally after 80 losses, they beat Langston 14-12 giving me a new dream that maybe one day they could come back and win a championship. That dream was finally realized a few weeks ago.
3. South Carolina beats Clemson (November 28, 2009)– Always great to see one of your football teams get a rare win over their archrival. I was there the last time it happened at Williams-Brice in 2001, and I was fortunate enough to be there for it this year as well.
4. Wake Forest basketball beats UNC/Duke (January 11/28, 2009)- While I’ll always be the first to acknowledge that the college basketball regular season is largely overrated, I had to dig deep here to fill up this list. I therefore thought by combing these two home wins over top 3 teams the result would be significant enough to deserve inclusion in these rankings. I also got to personally storm the court in both of these games which is always a plus.
5. George Mason beats Towson in Colonial Bball Tourney Semifinal (February 28, 2009) – I know you probably just read that and laughed, but this was the game that finally brought me to the magical $20.00 mark on CentSports.
1. Tom Watson loses British Open in playoff (July 19, 2009)-It’s time to bring back the many painful memories from the past 365 days, and there was no doubt in my mind which moment would be crowned the absolute worst. This one still hurts me. Most golf fans are probably over this and have moved on with their lives, but I haven’t. In fact, if I end up making bad grades this semester in law school, then I’m blaming it on the post traumatic stress from this nightmarish event. We were within minutes of the most unbelievable sporting upset of my lifetime. In fact, this was likely going to rival the Miracle on Ice as the most amazing Cinderella story of all-time. A man born in the 1940′s was about to win a major championship in 2009! It defied human logic. It was going to be God’s gift to the sporting world. Then after a painful meltdown on the 72nd hole, Watson was smoked by Stewart Cink in a playoff. Let’s not forget that Cink had to make a lengthy birdie putt on 18 to even have a chance to capitalize from Watson’s collapse. It was if the Soviets scored a goal in the final seconds of their 1980 hockey game with the Americans and then blasted them in OT. This moment along with the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game and my # 2 moment below stand out as the worst losses in my lifetime.
2. Kenny Perry loses The Masters in a playoff (April 12, 2009)- I also thought that this golfing miracle was going to happen. Unlike Watson, Kenny Perry had two holes to nail down a single par for the championship. Unfortunately, back-to-back bogeys setup a three-way playoff won by Angel Cabrera (the worst golfer ever to win two majors). This loss actually felt a lot like the 1992 UK-Duke game just because of Perry’s Kentucky connection, which was the main reason why he was one of my favorite golfers. The Watson-Perry losses prove that golf is by far the cruelest of all games, and while I believe that God has an active influence in creating most games/sports we play today, I’m not sure if Satan didn’t have his hand in creating the game of golf. Who else would come up with a “sport” that fools people into thinking they are exercising while at the same time allows for a 12-time adulterer to dominate the game for over a decade. Anyway, enough with the rambling. The only positive takeaway here is that, unlike Watson, Perry may still have a chance to win a major championship somewhere down the line.
3. Cleveland State upsets Wake Forest (March 20, 2009)-This actually might have been # 1 or 2 if it hadn’t of been such a blowout. Midway through the second half this thing was over. As a person whose existence revolves around the first round NCAA tournament upsets, it’s my worst nightmare to have my Alma Mater be the only high seed to lose in the first round, which begs the question of why does my school have to be by far the worst NCAA tournament team of all-time? I honestly hope they never earn a # 1 seed because I’m pretty sure they’d become the first to lose to a 16.
4. Andy Murray loses to Andy Roddick in Wimbledon semifinal (July 3, 2009)-The Queen was set to come to Centre Court for the first-time in 30 years. A Brit finally had a very good chance to win Wimbledon and was at the very least set to become the first British finalist since Fred Perry. Then Andy Roddick’s big serve proved too much for Murray and another upset of one of my favorite players/teams was realized. The worst part about it all is that Roddick almost beat Federer two days later, which leads me to believe that Murray had a real shot to win the title. Oh well, Andy will hopefully have several more chances to help me accomplish my # 4 goal in life, which is to see a Brit win Wimbledon.
5. North Carolina wins NCAA basketball national championship (April 6, 2009)- This was pretty much a foregone conclusion before last year’s basketball season started, but several regular season losses gave me a glimmer of hope that this squad wouldn’t win another national title. Unfortunately, the Heels cruised through the Big Dance in what was probably the worst NCAA tourney of my lifetime.
6. Kentucky hires John Calipari as head basketball coach (March 31, 2009)-I brought up my church analogy then, and I’ll use it again now. Kentucky basketball is considered by many as a religion. So therefore what do you do when the church you’ve loved for 20 years hires a crook as its preacher. This is the dilemma I’ve been faced with ever since this hiring was announced. I’m not sure who I was most upset with about this hiring: Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart for single-handedly trying to drive the Kentucky basketball program in the ground or the hardcore Kentucky fans who set aside their moral values and embraced a “win it all costs” mentality that I had never seen in Lexington before. Yes, the Cats are off to a great start this year, and they probably aren’t quite as thug looking/acting as I expected, but until Coach Cal wins a final four that isn’t vacated, then I’ll be a consistent skeptic. Also, notice how my # 2, # 5, and # 6 events all took place within a 2 week span. Talk about a horrible fortnight.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl (February 1, 2009)- In what has become a consistent theme in my sports world, this was yet another example of my most hated team in a particular sport winning a championship against a great underdog opponent. Yuck!
8. Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA Championship (June 14, 2009)- See description above.
9. Kentucky football loses to Tennessee… again (November 28, 2009)-The reason this isn’t higher on the list is because by this time of the year, I had come to the realization that any close game that I had a deep, personal interest in was going to end up as a loss. Therefore, this overtime defeat wasn’t nearly as devastating as others, since I had already come to grips the ultimate outcome. Still, this was Kentucky’s best chance to beat Tennessee in several years, and they might not have another shot like it for a while. Their 25-game losing streak isn’t going to end in Neyland next year, and Tennessee’s program seems to be on the rise while Kentucky’s has assuredly reached its ceiling.
10. Florida beats Oklahoma in BCS Title Game (January 8, 2009)- The only reason this isn’t higher is that I didn’t really want Oklahoma to win the national title either. I was hoping for a game that was so ugly that Utah could garner enough support to earn a split championship. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen and we were all forced to watch Tebow and Meyer celebrate another national championship together.