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Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Top 10 of '10

I can't just sit idly by and read a Top 10 of 2010 list that doesn't include the USA-Canada Gold Medal Hockey game. It was like watching Mighty Ducks 4 filmed live on ice.

Thus, here is MY Top 10 Memorable sports moments of 2010. 

10.  The World Cup
Anyone who knows me knows my thoughts on soccer. I understand that it's the most popular game in the world and that it takes an incredible amount of stamina and precision to play it well. But to me, it's hockey's red-headed step-child. Hockey is faster, more exciting and more challenging. Put Sidney Crosby on a soccer pitch and I'll almost guarantee he could play soccer. Probably nowhere near championship level, but he could run, pass and kick the ball. I'd like to see Ronaldo/Ronaldinho (turns out they're NOT the same guy??) put on skates, grab a stick and try and take a hit from Matt Cooke. And no, play won't stop for 15 minutes while you're carted off the ice, only to jog over to the bench.

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, I do acknowledge that the World Cup is a huge event that will most certainly be remembered. The reason I only have it at #10 is because in 20 years, I doubt more than 15% of Americans will be able to tell you A. how far the U.S. went, B. who we beat and C. who won the whole thing. It's like a really great county or state fair – everyone gets dressed up, screams and hollers, drinks a lot, has a great time and then it's over. The ONLY time it's on your mind is when it's happening, unlike other sports which you're attached to year-round. There just isn't enough attention given to U.S. soccer for the three years in between World Cups for the majority of the country to establish any genuine attachment to it. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

9. NBA Finals: Lakers and Celtics
Part of me wonders why this wasn't a bigger deal as it was happening. I'm not a fan of either team, but a seven game series between the two most storied franchises in the league is significant. The last few minutes of Game 7 alone were enough to register on the scale. Just another lasting installment in one of the great rivalries in sports.

8. Michael Vick
I'm not a Vick fan or hater, but I do think it was pretty compelling how swift a comeback he made this season. When the season started, no one had any reason to assume he was anything other than the washed-up Wild-cat option he was the year before. But down goes Kolb and the Eagles "QB of the future" became the QB of the bench. While Vick didn't take the Eagles all the way, he made some simply jaw-dropping plays throughout the season. And to think of how far he'd fallen, it was a stunning re-birth. I love dogs and think Vick is a sick bastard for what he did, but his comeback was a big story. We'll see whether or not his durability issues allow him to climb even higher next year.

7.  Butler v. Duke
Eric pretty much said it all. It was literally inches from being one of the greatest games ever played in the history of American sports. For the underdog Butler to slay the mighty Duke on a half-court shot at the buzzer to win it all? People would be talking about it for decades. As it was, it was still a great game. And sometimes basking in the amazement of how close we were to seeing something great is just as stunning.

6. LeBron James' Decision
Obviously this wasn't something that happened in the field of play, so I considered leaving it out. But when history looks back on sports in 2010, I have a hard time imagining many things ranking above this. EVERYone watched. And if they didn't watch, they asked what happened. I was standing around a TV at work with at least 50 people. Other than the Super Bowl, most championships tend to attract fans of the two teams playing, serious sports fans and few others. How many non-sports fans will remember who won the 2010 NBA Finals or even the 2010 World Series (outside the Bay)? Almost everyone will remember LeBron taking his talents to South Beach. And yes, that has become my new way of excusing myself to use the restroom.

5. Winter Olympics Gold Medal Hockey Game: USA-Canada
If the World Cup got to use its international significance, hockey can too. But even those who can never seem to follow the puck have to admit how awesome this game was. Especially after the U.S. laid it on the Canadians earlier in the tournament.

I think to truly understand the magnitude of this game, we need to realize how big a part hockey plays in Canada's collective identity. Now I'm obviously not Canadian, but all you have to do is look at how many of the NHL's best players are Canadian. They own this sport.

I'm not sure if there is anything comparable in the U.S. Football I suppose, but they don't really play that anywhere else. We're such a diverse geographical and cultural country that there isn't really one activity that binds us all together the way hockey does Canada. And if Canada had to see their annoying neighbor America who's bigger and better than them at EVERYTHING take the one thing they call their own in their house – I don't even want to know what would have happened. Probably nothing.

But the stage was set for a classic, and it blew all expectations away. With Canada trying to protect a one goal lead late, the U.S. came with a frenetic attack in the final minute and scored the equalizer with 30 seconds left.

When the Messiah Sidney Crosby scored his OT goal you have to think the entire country went absolutely insane. There's really nothing like an OT goal to end a game. In soccer, more often than not, everyone ends up just sort of milling around on the field until the referee decides to blow his whistle. THEN all hell breaks loose. But the end a game and a championship in such a sudden, stunning way was something very special.

Call me anti-American, but I was rooting for Canada all the way. I love Sidney Crosby too much. I want him to succeed at everything he does. Plus I knew that while people in the U.S. would be excited over winning a gold medal, it'd likely become second-monkey to American Idol in a week's time. In Canada that win literally made peoples' lives. It was a story-book ending. A Golden Goal by Canada's Golden Boy. And regardless of who you root for, witnessing those "script-like" moments unfold before our eyes is the reason we love sports.

In the words of Mike Lange, Sid beat him like a rented mule (2:11).

4. The New NFL
Eric pretty much covered this one. Roger Goodell is an evil dictator and there is absolutely no understanding of what is legal and illegal in the NFL. I don't blame the referee's. They have as little clue as any of us in terms of what should or shouldn't be penalized. And our jobs don't depend on it. Goodell just implanted sweeping changes before considering all the gray area. And all of the hypocritical calls and fines proved it. The good news is, he may have a while to formulate a new plan. Say, oh I don't know, the entire time that would have been the 2011 NFL season…

3. Armando Galarraga

As Eric can attest to, I could not stop talking about Galarraga for almost a week straight. I remember it very clearly. I was in the lobby of the Marriott waiting for my LSAT prep course to start when my dad texted me. I got to the TV in the hotel bar just in time for the 9th. As I was watching, I though Austin Jackson's catch for the first out was going to be the big play that everyone talked about.

Off the bat, I knew that last out would be tough to make. Cabrera had to range far to his right. When Jim Joyce first called him safe, I believed it. But as everyone saw, the replay showed us otherwise.

Some people may say this is ranked too high. But in terms of the most memorable moments of the year, this is absolutely in the Top 3. No one with even a cursory knowledge of baseball will forget this game. And Galarraga's name is going to be remembered by a lot more people than Dallas Braden's. Sorry, Eric.

20 people have thrown a Perfect Game. But that game, because of its imperfection, will never be duplicated and thus never forgotten.

2. Saints with the Super Bowl
It was a great story and great team. I'd have bet a lot of money that Manning was going to lead the Colts on that last drive. But Tracy Porter had other ideas (that is, until Marshawn Lynch literally stiff-armed the ability to form ideas out of Porter's brain).

And yes, the Steelers Super Bowl against Arizona was a better game. The Saints' onside kick was ballsy, but Ben to Santonio was, in my opinion, the greatest throw and catch in Super Bowl History. And no, David Tyree's catch wasn't for a touchdown, but good try.

But Eric is right. The story of the Saints was better. Brees put a city on his back and led them to the promised land.

That said, Six-burgh.


This one deserves its own post.

I don't care if everyone outside Northern California and Dallas already forgot who won the 2010 World Series. I will never be truly upset over sports ever again in my life.


It will never be topped.


  1. Well Frank, mine was a top ten sports events for me in 2010.

    I can't believe you didn't include your Bears. you traitor. I also tried to not include the decision, as all it did was make me not want to watch Sportscenter.

    I do acknowledge my omission of the NBA finals and the USA-Canada hockey game, but, again, stories that I personally did not care for.

  2. Fair enough, amigo. I just tried to rank them as the 10 sports events most people will remember when they look back on 2010 in 20 years. Except in the case of the Giants being #1. That was just selfish.

    For the Bears, as sad as it is to say it, I'm pretty sure most people forgot about that 20 days after it happened.

    The Decision is tricky. While it was an abomination, it might have been the single biggest sports story of the year. And not just because of the over-blown media coverage. With just a few words, Lebron went from one of the most adored athletes on Earth to public enemy No. 1. I suppose it depends on how the rest of his career plays out, but he significantly altered the direction of the NBA and sports in Cleveland.

  3. I'll never forget. That's what matters.

    Sure, but it still made me not want to watch Sportscenter, just like I didn't include Favre or Vick.