Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking Back on 2011

As we wrap up the year, we truly understand what a monumental year 2011 was in sports. We saw Auburn, led by future #1 overall pick Cam Newton, win their second NCAA National Championship. Then we watched as one of the most historic teams in NFL history brought the Lombardi trophy right back to its hometown, Green Bay. The Bruins won the Stanley Cups finals, defeating the Vancouver Canucks and sparking riots in the streets of Vancouver. The Mavericks beat the "Dream Team" Miami Heat to claim their NBA championship, and the world was introduced to the backyard-style play of PG JJ Barea. Then, we endured a summer of NFL and NBA labor disputes, both of which were eventually resolved: the NFL's before the season and the NBA's just in time for Christmas. Among these labor messes, the St.Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series over the repeat AL-Champion Texas Rangers behind the heroics of breakout star David Freese, just before Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols took his talents to the City of Angels. The NFL season took an interesting turn, highlighted by the success of the most famous man in sports, Tim Tebow. The playoff picture is wrapping up in time for 2012. College football had its Game of the Century - #1 LSU vs #2 Alabama - and they will meet again for the national championship. Finally, the NBA season goes underway on Christmas and everyone's eyes are in LA, ....on the Clippers.

Now it's time for some annual awards - across all four major North American sports and college football:

Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
This man was a phenomenal closer, breaking Neftali Feliz's save record and anchoring a strong Braves' bullpen.

Headscratcher of the Year: The Cardinals' Bullpen Mixup in Game 5 of the World Series
When Lance Lynn came into the game, threw an intentional walk, and then exited, everyone was left scratching their heads until it was later explained that the bullpen manager heard the wrogn commands from La Russa.

Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Since entering the league as the #1 overall pick in 2005, Smith has fallen way below expectations. That is, until this year. Under a coach who once was an NFL QB, Smith has the 49ers into the playoffs and possible earning a 1st round bye.

Play of the Year: Derek Jeter's 2000th hit (a HR) against the Tampa Bay Rays
This play capped a 5-for-5 night for Jeter and cemented his place in the Hall of Fame and baseball history.

Regular Season Game of the Year: USC vs Stanford, 08/29/2011
This triple overtime game featured two top-10 caliber teams in down-to-the-wire pressure situations. Andrew Luck, Stanford's star, overcame a late interception and kept its championship hopes alive.

Postseason Game of the Year: Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowls are always memorable, and this one is no different. Aaron Rodgers cemented his place as one of the NFL's top quarterbacks.

Team of the Year: Green Bay Packers
They won the 2011 Super Bowl, and then followed that up by winning the first 13 games of the following season.

Athlete of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
This one is almost indisputable. No one did more for their team this year.

MVP of the Year: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
He is so valuable to his team that when he misses a season, his team can only win 1 game.

Coach of the Year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State football
His team accomplished numerous things they were never supposed to: 2nd place in the Big 12, #8 in the final BCS rankings, a berth in the Cotton Bowl. They could've gotten into a BCS bowl as well.

Sports Person of the Year: Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
Indisputably, he was and is the most polarizing figure in all of sports. He makes people want to watch games. And on top of it all, he just wins.

Happy holidays everyone! We hope you enjoy the rest of 2011 and all the sports world has to offer. It has been a great year in sports and I'm sure 2012 will be the same.

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