Best of the Best in 10: 2012 in Review

When the Holidays approach and the new year is upon us all, it’s time to look back and reflect on the sports year that was 2012. Too summarize it all up, it was the year of the woman, the year of LeBron and also the year of the Freshman and rookie dominance. Not too many upsets but there were a few, but plenty of great moments to look back on. Here are your 10 best moments/games/performances of the year in sports:

10. Ryder Cup

Don’t call it a comeback. For the first three days of the Event (held by Medinah Country Club in nearby Chicago) the Americans totally dominated the field. Only needing 4 and 1/2 points to win, while the Europeans needed 8 and 1/2. On Sunday the team from across the pond woke up and put on a memorable show. Luke Donald beat Watson, Poulter beat Simpson, Mcllroy beat an fuego Keegan Bradley and all of a sudden the Euro’s morning burst fueled the fire for a Martin Kaymer 5 footer that but the spectators in hysteria as they had witnessed a comeback for the record books.

9. Bayren Munich vs. Chelsea “The Miracle in Munich”

Odds are, if you aren’t a soccer or football fan, than you probably didn’t watch this game which was nationally televised on FOX. The Champions League match had all the intangibles of a historic setting. Beautiful Allianz Arena, Favorites and hometown team Bayren Munich against Chelsea a team whose improbable run throughout the tournament secured them as a team of destiny. Why was Destiny on their side? For one they beat FC Barcelona, the world’s top club as of now and two Mr. Didier Drogba. In what would be his final match apart of Chelsea he went out with a bang. With 2 minutes left and all of Munich preparing to celebrate, Drogba headed home a corner that sent the match into 30 minutes of extra time in which no one would score. Level at four penalty kicks, the 34-year old Drogba slipped in his penalty and gave Chelsea its first Champions League title and locking in his legacy as a one of the Chelsea greats.

8. Matt Cain, Philip Humber and Felix Hernandez

Perfection is what wall athletes of all sports thrive for. It is why they work so hard 24/7, 365 days a year, so they can be perfect. Cain, Humber and Hernandez all had their perfect moments. A perfect game in baseball is historic, it has only happened 23 times in baseball’s 100-plus year history. No men on base, no hits, no nothing. The odds of this are as good as me becoming a Miami Heat or Chicago Bears fan, it just doesn’t happen. Matt Cain’s is most memorable because of the soon-to-be World Champs San Francisco Giants unbelievable defensive play to go along with Cain’s 14 strikeouts which preserved the perfect game and his place in history.

7. Indiana vs. Kentucky

The Hoosiers weren’t too relevant before this game. In fact, the once storied and top-tier programs was becoming a joke of sorts. That set the stage for the return of Hoosier Basketball. Big bad #1 Kentucky came into town with 5 first rounders starting, who are all playing in the NBA right now. A close game throughout would end in the most dramatic way possible. Christian Watford would raise up from the left-wing, beyond the arc and would drain the three. One of those shots you saw happen in slow motion. Assembly hall went insane moments after. The court was stormed and Indiana Basketball was back on the map just like that. Today Tom Crean has this team in the top 5 once again and its title chances are better than ever.

6. Johnny Football against the Tide

Bama was supposed to show these guys what SEC was all about. Johnny Manziel told the Bama defense to “Catch me if you can.” One of the most entertaining College football games all year, Johnny Manziel better known for his alter ego Johnny Football took center stage against then number one ranked Alabama. For Manziel, “no moment is too big for him” said his coach Kevin Sumlin. The high-flying, decked out in all white Aggies exploded on offense against the best defense in the SEC, meaning the best D in the country. But nothing fazed the soon to be Heisman. This play right here was the beginning of Johnny Football and the upset over Bama. Oh yeah, he is still getting to know Texas A&M, because he is only a Freshman.

5. USA vs. Canada (Women’s Soccer)

In all honestly I love the women’s game. There hardly is any flopping, no offsides (no one is really fast enough to be) but most of all it is entertaining. Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Han, I mean Hope Solo  and Megan Rapinoe. You might know these women because THEY GOT GAME. Who can forget Rapinoe’s unreal pass to Wambach who headed it home against Brazil in the Semi’s of the Women’s World Cup last summer. This Semi-final game was no different. Actually, it was better. The Messi of Women’s Soccer, Christine Sinclair was unstoppable. In the 22nd minute she weaved in and out of traffic beautifully and but one past Hope Solo to go up 1-0. in the 54th minute, on a corner, Megan Rapinoe dropped her kick somehow in between the Canadian keeper and the defenders to even the score at one each. 13 minutes later Sinclair did it again this time by the way of her head. Directing the ball to the right hand corner passed solo. 2-1.  But Rapinoe would answer in a flash. Just 3 minutes later Rapinoe sent a laser beam to the net past the Canadian goalkeeper and just like that it was 2-2. Relentless Canada and Sinclair were not done. Another 3 minutes passed and she struck back. From a corner kick, Sinclair headed another home in the exact same place, even though US put another defender in the same area expecting the same shot. 2-3. A series of near-miss shots by the US led to a handball in the box by a Canadian defender. That would set up the GOAT of US Women’s Soccer Abby Wambach who would nail home the penalty shot. 3-3. The drama and intensity would only increase as the game went into overtime. In stoppage time, the match about to go into penalties, one of America’s newest sweetheart’s, who hadn’t scored since she did twice against France in the opening match, Alex Morgan would be the ultimate hero. Dropping a beautiful header over the hands of the Canadian Goalkeeper. US Women would go on to win the Gold and win over the hearts of many little girls in which the Women inspired.

4. Fierce Five

One summer night in August Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross took the hearts of many young girls as they made their mark on the Olympics and throughout the world. Winning the Gold is only half of their stardom these days, appearing on Letterman, Colbert, Leno and so many more. But their performance was the foundation of their everlasting popularity. Scoring 183.596 5 points better than Silver medalist Russia, setting off the debate was this the Best US Gymnastics team of all time? Maroney on Vault, Wieber on all-around, Raisman on Floor, Douglas on Beam and Ross on Bars all contributed to their gold medal run. The real question is, will they be back? No matter what, they have truly inspired a generation.

3. #1

LeBron James was getting sick and tired of losing in the playoffs. All the talk about how he couldn’t win one. Well in 2012 he certainly shut every single person up. Winning the MVP, a Gold medal and for good measure his first Championship. The road started in Game 4 against Indiana. Down two to one, losing this game meant another season without a ring. But LeBron responded to the pressure scoring 40 points, grabbing 18 boards and 9 ast. Once again on the brink of elimination, (Boston Game 6) LeBron had that stare, a stare that showed that he was about to do everything humanly possible to win this game. And well, he did. He put up 45 with ease and grabbed 15 boards as well. Leading Miami past the Celtics and the Thunder to win his first NBA title and Finals MVP. When asking LeBron about his first Championship, “It’s ‘bought damn time.”

2. Man City Takes the Title

In the most unimaginable way possible, taking a league title from the grasps of your hated inner-city rival in a matter of 90 or so minutes? Priceless. Manchester United beat Sunderland 1-0 earlier in the day and all they needed was a win from QPR and the Barclay’s Premier title was their’s to celebrate. Down to QPR 2-1, City needed two goals in stoppage time to win the title, nearly an impossible feat in soccer. But nothing is an impossible for a club and its fans that have suffered for so long. Surely City could do the unthinkable. Edin Dzeko gave Manchester City a lifeline with a header off a corner kick to equalize at 2-2 in the 92nd minute. Then in the 94th minute, Aguero and Ballotelli found each other at the top of the box where Super Mario dribbled over to Aguero who dribbled left of a defender and put it through the net. The kick heard round’ the world. City won the title and stunned their crosstown counterparts rivals in the process. How could United fans bear the past summer is beyond me but Manchester City are champions of the greatest league in the world.

1. The Champions of them all

Michael Phelps does not play football, basketball, baseball or any mainstream sport that gets all the attention. Instead he swims, and he is really, really good at it. and for the past 3 Olympics he has simply dominated the aqua centers in Athens, Beijing and London. 22 all time medals puts him as the greatest, most decorated Olympian of them all. What is next? no one knows, but Phelps has certainly has made it clear that jumping back into that cold pool is not for him.  Meanwhile while you think about how fast Usain Bolt is, he will have already ran a 100 meter dash. With another pair of Golds in the 100m and 200m his acclaimed as the fastest man ever. Or in his words “The greatest athlete the Earth has seen.” Pretty humble guy. But they should brag, They may be the two of the greatest Olympians of all time and did it in the same generation. Time will put these two to the test, but some records, just won’t be broken.

2012, thank you. You were a good year in Sports, world records, improbable comebacks and legendary performances. Dear 2013, hopefully you bring a full healthy Derrick Rose back to the Bulls. And other things.


Stats courtesy of ESPN.

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