After seeing Tiger Woods win AP Athlete of the Decade in light of his recent controversy and seeing Serena Williams win the AP Female Athlete of the Year with images of her berating a line judge still fresh in our minds, I thought to myself, why not have my own awards ceremony. After all, my selections seem just as credible as those of any other sports organization.
So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I proudly present…. The 2009 McChumpies! Tuxedo not included.
Guns don’t kill people, stupidity kills people. Stupidity apparently kills careers too. For some reason, a handful of professional athletes still feel the need to carry around heavy artillery in order to defend themselves. Insert Delonte West reference here. In Plaxico Burress’s case, someone should have protected him from himself. In August, the former New York Giants wide receiver was sentenced to two years in prison for criminal possession of a weapon in a state that does not look kindly upon such activity. No word about whether Plax will star in the The Longest Yard III or better yet, a remake of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 1994 The Foot Shooting Party.
At the end of the college football season, the University of Kansas parted ways with the architect of their modern football program amid allegations that he verbally and physically abused some of his players. Mangino’s 1-7 conference record didn’t help his cause. Two years ago, Kansas went 12-1 and played in a BCS bowl but Mangino had difficulties sustaining that success which ultimately led to his demise. Buffalo’s Turner Gill has been named as his replacement. Considering the circumstances amid Mangino’s departure, it’s unlikely fans will see him on the sidelines of a major program any time soon.
Sports journalists have never been known for their couth. Questions are often asked that have absolutely no relevance to the game itself. That was evidenced in a pre-season press conference when one reporter asked Tim Tebow if he was “saving himself for marriage.” So much for a person’s right to privacy. No player’s sexual activity, or inactivity, should be fodder for public consumption… unless of course, he crashes his car into a fire hydrant Thanksgiving night. Tebow fielded the question with class, admitting that yes, he was in fact saving himself for marriage, as opposed to Tiger Woods who’s marriage seems unsavable.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII on a last second, end zone catch by Santonio Holmes. Soon afterwards, he was awarded Super Bowl MVP. In week 15, on the tail end of a five-game losing streak and their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Mike Wallace caught a Ben Roethlisberger pass as time expired to best the Green Bay Packers. The Wallace grab might not go down as the biggest catch in Steelers history but it may have saved their season, keep their playoffs hopes alive for one more week.
Sometimes we’re unaware when we’re watching greatness. As sports fans, we’re skeptical of proclaiming anyone the best, yet most of us knew when the Colts drafted Peyton Manning with the first pick in 1998, they were getting a sure thing. Even at number one, sure things are hard to come by these days. Not so in Peyton’s case. Not only has he been to more Pro Bowls (9) than any top draft pick other than Bruce Smith (11) and John Elway (10), Peyton appears to be just hitting his stride. Will he go down as the greatest QB to ever play the game? He might not have the rings of a Montana or a Bradshaw… yet. He doesn’t have the records of a Marino or an Elway… yet. But as Herm Edwards once said “That’s the great thing about sports.” It’s up for the fans to decide who’s the best and many of us think he already is. If he’s not the best to ever play the game, he’s definitely in the conversation.
Many boxing fans (those that still exist, that is) blame Don King for the demise of modern pugilism. The man, perceived by many as greedy and self-serving, essentially became a parody of himself. The sport is in shambles, now challenged for its dominance by mixed martial arts. Once again, we fans are left wanting more. On the verge of a fight that could bring millions of fans, and dollars, back to the sport, the most anticipated event of the past two decades, Pacquiao vs, Mayweather, once on, is now reportedly off. With this, they don’t know how to kill the bunny. Like the baseball strike of 1994, when a group of millionaires could not agree on how to divide a billion dollar pie, the Pacquiao and Mayweather camps are at an impasse. If this fight fails to take place, fans will be robbed of the opportunity to watch one of the greatest fights to ever happen. Will the last boxing fan please turn off the lights on their way out.
This year’s award could have gone to multiple winners: The UConn woman’s basketball team who ran the table, Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox for throwing only the 18th perfect game in major league history or the Indianapolis Colts who are still in pursuit of a perfect season. But what Penn State’s woman’s volleyball has done is unprecedented in major college athletics. They have won three straight national titles, 102 consecutive matches and have not lost since September 2007. Unfortunately, the Penn State girls don’t play in the NFL to drown out the incessant rapping of Mr. Morris. Hopefully I didn’t give the Penn State coach any ideas about starting a career in hip-hop.
While the debate rages on over whether Kobe Bryant or LeBron James is the best player in the game, one thing can not be denied. Kobe has the hardware, Bron Bron doesn’t. This year, Kobe’s more assassin-like than ever. He’s averaging 30-5-5 but most importantly, he’s shooting a career high in field goal percentage at 49%. His more refined shot selection is a big reason the Lakers are a whopping 23-5. Kobe has always lived in the shadow of Michael’s six rings, but at 31 and with a solid Lakers nucleus in place, passing Michael now seems attainable for the man who calls himself the Black Mamba. As sacrilegious as this might sound, if Kobe ends his career with more rings than Michael, Kobe-lovers might actually have a case when they argue he’s the greatest player ever. Plus Kobe never knocked out Steve Kerr.
In a year where some of the most storied franchises in sports all won championships (Lakers-NBA; Steelers-NFL), the New York Yankees once again reminded the Boss who’s boss. After what appeared to be a troubled spring training with A-Rod steroid allegations hogging the headlines, the Yankee clubhouse rallied around their superstar and proved to be the best team in baseball by besting the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. A Yankees title is bad news for the rest of the league who already can’t compete with the Yankees payroll. Now they might not be able to keep up with the pinstripes win total either.
In a sports world measured by only wins and losses, we often lose sight of true success. USC running back Stafon Johnson proved to be one of the year’s toughest and most courageous athletes. During a routine midseason workout, Johnson had a weight bar fall on his throat, crushing his larynx and ending his season. Since then, his recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. He’s even been talking lately. He’s served as an inspiration to his Trojan teammates who had their string of six consecutive Pac-10 championships end this season. Whoops, there we go again, measuring sport in wins and losses. Johnson’s full recovery would be the greatest Trojan success of all.
Most major sporting outlets agree the story of the decade was the steroid scandal that marred Major League Baseball, yet Commissioner Bud Selig still wants us to believe that his has the most stringent drug testing in professional sports. Odd considering a professional basketball player being busted for steroids is about as common as the Cubs winning the World Series. Time will tell how baseball will remember Selig’s reign but it’s safe to say he won’t be mentioned in the same breath as either Pete Rozelle or David Stern.
Speaking of drugs in baseball, at the beginning of the season, Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy. Andro? No. PEDs? Tampoco. Manny was reprimanded for having traces of a female fertility drug in his system. In yet another black eye for the sport, Manny’s failed drug test gave baseball fans another lady-like reason to chuckle.
I’ve always contended that garlic is an aphrodisiac. Apparently Rick Pitino and his lady friend agree. Earlier this year, we found out that the Louisville basketball coach had a one night fling in a local restaurant after hours. I know Brenda and Eddie were the popular steady, but I don’t think this is what Billy Joel sang about in his Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. The news of this event slowly died down as basketball season started and as Tiger Woods’ infidelity made Pitino’s one night stand look like a peck on the cheek.
Like Pete Rose before him, Rush Limbaugh was denied entry into a sport he once analyzed. The conservative radio shock jock was part of a consortium that wanted to buy the St Louis Rams. Rush was disallowed, largely because of the shockwaves that still ripple from his comments about Donovan McNabb. In his now famous ESPN broadcast, Limbaugh suggested the liberal media wanted McNabb to succeed because he’s black. He was summarily dismissed from the network. Upon denying Limbaugh’s desire to become an NFL owner, Commissioner Roger Goodell said he strongly disagreed with Limbaugh’s ‘divisive’ comments and preferred such statements not come from anyone in a position of power in the NFL.
If you’re not yet convinced that this man is one of the greatest minds in the game, then you haven’t been watching football over the past thirty years. Parcells took a Miami Dolphins franchise with only one win in 2007 and immediately made them contenders once again. The Dolphins went 11-5 last season and won the AFC East, a division which has recently been dominated by the New England Patriots. This year, even after losing their starting quarterback to injury, the Fish are once again competing for a playoff spot. While so many other franchises take years to turn things around, if they even do, the Fish got the job done by letting a Big Tuna shop for their groceries. Perhaps we should nominate Coach Parcells as the next baseball commissioner.
With so many bad teams out there, who could narrow the dreadfulness down to just one? We hereby award the We Stink Out Loud McChumpy to the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets who are a combined 16-99 this season. They have 99 problems and win ain’t one. In simple math, these six teams have combined to win a woeful 13% of their games. While we graciously give the We Stink McChumpy to six of the worst teams in professional sports, we concurrently give their fans The Glutton For Punishment McChumpy for still attending the games and believing their teams need just one more season to turn things around. Nobody spoil their Christmas by telling them it ain’t gonna happen.
For my NASCAR readers, how can sportschump host a year in review ceremony without mentioning a stock car driver who is revolutionizing the sport. And no, I’m not talking about Danica Patrick. Not only was Jimmie Johnson the man this year, he became the first driver ever to win the AP Male Athlete of the Year, which I’m sure pales in importance to his McChumpy. Not that people can actually sit and watch NASCAR anyway (just kidding, guys), Johnson made a mockery of the sport this year, the points race essentially a foregone conclusion for much of the season.