MLB Baseball Column: Michael Emmett's Annual Year-End Review
Here Are Your Top 45 Stories of 2012
The most dramatic moment of the 2012 Olympics occurred on the soccer pitch in a battle between the United States and Canada. The match at Old Trafford was the best women’s football game in memory. Canada lost 4-3 in added time. The key player - Norwegian referee - Christina Pedersen, unfortunately. She was brutal and a disgrace to the game itself. Canada took the lead three separate times on goals by Christine Sinclair. But after that it was one bad call after another – everybody who witnessed the debacle could only shake their head in disgust. “We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us,” Sinclair said. “It’s a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started.”
#2 -Canada Gutted as Olympic 4X100-Metre Runners Disqualified
Canadians of all stripes felt like they had been kicked in the teeth when the men's 4x100-metre relay track team had an initial bronze medal result reversed at the London Summer Olympics. Relay runner Jared Connaughton had stepped out of his lane – by a millimeter, and the rest was history. The fact that the Canadians were celebrating an historic moment only to have it taken away mere moments later adds to the broken hearts most Canadians felt on this gloomy Saturday afternoon. To look up on the giant scoreboard and see your country in third place was a momentous moment for sure – one that would define these games. Then seconds later – in big block letters we witnessed the dreaded ‘DQ’ which spelled disaster for these emotional athletes. All in all, a horrible job by the folks in charge of posting these all important results – wait a few minutes (until the results are official) so that the pain inflicted is minimal.
#3 - Blue Jays Make Megatrade with Marlins
The Blue Jays and Marlins executed a staggering 12-player trade that sent five starting players from the 2012 Marlins -- shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and multi-position speedster Emilio Bonifacio -- to Toronto in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, backup catcher Jeff Mathis and four prospects. The deal finds the Blue Jays assuming $167.75 million worth of contracts, led by those of Reyes ($96 million over the next five years plus a 2018 option) and Buehrle ($52 million over the next three years) who were just signed by the Marlins last offseason.
#4 – R.A. Dickey Completes Jays Pitching Rotation
Dickey will join a formidable Toronto rotation that also is projected to include newcomers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle via the much-talked-about trade (No.3 above) with Miami earlier in the off-season, as well as Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. Dickey will become the fourth reigning Cy Young winner to be traded before the start of the next season, joining David Cone, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clements. Dickey was a 20-game winner with the New York Mets last season.
#5 - Lance Armstrong Stripped of Titles
On August 23 the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his record-seven Tour de France titles and barred him for life from the sport after concluding he used banned substances.
#6 - NHL Lockout Continues
After three months of talks between team owners and the NHLPA, the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement expired more than 100 days ago. It is the fourth work stoppage since 1992. All games have been cancelled until the middle of January.
#7a - Bolt Pulls Off Olympic Repeat
After winning the 200-meter final in enough time to ease up the last few strides (19.32 seconds), Bolt became the first person in history to win a gold medal in the 100m and 200m in back-to-back Olympics. Earlier in the London Games, Bolt won the 100 with a time of 9.63, the second-fastest time in history, behind only his own record of 9.58.
#7b - Phelps Becomes Most Decorated Olympian
With a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history with 19 medals. The 4x200 was Phelps' first gold medal of the 2012 games after he won eight in Beijing four years ago. He moved past Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who got her 18 in 1956, 1960 and 1964.
#8 – The Gold Medal
Dubbed "Bronzilla" for its third-place-heavy medal count at the London Olympics (12 out of 18), Canada's spirits were lifted with a gold medal from an unexpected source. As more highly touted veterans stumbled, gymnast Rosie MacLennan bounced her way to Canada's only Olympic gold on the trampoline.
#9- Pacquiao – Marquez IV
After three close bouts, Juan Manuel Marquez dealt Manny Pacquiao the knockout punch that the rivalry needed. The devastating punch from the 39-year-old came in the sixth round, left Pacquiao lying face-first in the ring for two minutes, and left some wondering if Pacquiao -- who had until recently been seen as unstoppable -- should retire.
#10 - NCAA Hammers Penn State Football
Penn State University was hit with $60 million in fines and sanctions on football scholarships and bowl game appearances in July in connection with former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child-sex abuse scandal. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.
#11 - Spain Defeats Italy in Euro 2012 Final
Spain overpowered Italy with a 4-0 victory in the Euro 2012 finals in Kiev, giving it three major international titles in a row: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. Striker Fernando Torres scored one of the four goals, making him the first player to score in two European finals.
#12- Miguel Cabrera Wins Triple Crown
Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win baseball's Triple Crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and just the 15th player ever, joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. Cabrera topped the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
#13 - Matt Cain Throws a Perfect Game
It took a 125-pitch performance for Matt Cain to throw the 22nd perfect game in MLB history. The 27-year-old tied a perfect game record by striking out 14 batters over the nine innings, as the Giants won 10-0 over the Houston Astros. If this wasn't remarkable enough already, he became the first Giants pitcher to accomplish the feat in the 130-year history of the franchise.
#14 - Phil Humber Throws a Perfect Game
Philip Humber threw the first perfect game in almost two years, striking out nine for his first win of the season. It was the third perfecto in White Sox history, joining Mark Buehrle (Tampa Bay in 2009) and Charles Robertson (Detroit in 1922). Humber, a former first-round draft pick of the Mets who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005, needed only 96 pitches to complete the gem.
#15 - Felix Hernandez Throws a Perfect Game
Hernandez pitched the Seattle Mariners' first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory. The Mariners' ace and former AL Cy Young Award winner has long talked of his desire to achieve pitching perfection. He finally accomplished it against the Rays, striking out the side twice and finishing with 12 strikeouts. It was the third perfect game in the 2012 MLB season.
#16 – Argos Win First Cup Since 2004
The Toronto Argonauts won the 100th Grey Cup on November 25th: beating the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 in front of a boisterous crowd of more than 53,000 in downtown Toronto. Considering the Argos needed to win their past two regular season games to reach the .500 mark it makes the win that much more improbable.
#17 - Kings Win Stanley Cup
Ending 45 years of futility, the Los Angeles Kings raised the franchise's first Stanley Cup, defeating the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 to win the series, four games to two. In their second Finals appearance, the Kings made history as the first to win the championship as a No. 8 seed.
#18 - Miami Heat Win NBA Title
LeBron James finally got that elusive NBA title, registering a triple double in Game 5 as the Miami Heat disposed of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
#19 – Federer Finally Wins Another Slam
Once the Centre Court roof was closed, nothing could stop Roger Federer from winning his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title. The 30-year-old Federer finally equaled Pete Sampras' record at the All England Club, and won his 17th Grand Slam title overall, by beating Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.
#20 - Nadal Wins Record 7th French Open
Rafael Nadal won a record-seventh French Open title with a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 decision against Novak Djokovic, who was seeking to win a fourth consecutive major. Nadal – with 11 Slams to his name - is now tied for third all-time with Borg and Laver.
#21 - Triple Crown Drought Continues
‘I'll Have Another's’ bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years ended the day before the Belmont, when the horse was scratched from the race with an injury.
#22 – The Sarah Burke Tragedy
B.C.'s Sarah Burke was the golden girl of freestyle skiing, widely considered a favourite for Olympic gold in 2014, when she crashed and died in January. Burke was only 29 when she had what looked like an innocuous fall in Park City, Utah, during a halfpipe training run. It ruptured an artery that carries blood to the brain and renewed calls to look at safety in the sport.
#23 – The Canadian Cyclist
In a year when cycling suffered its biggest black eye ever with the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, there was one shining story for Canadian cyclists - Ryder Hesjedal's win at the Giro d'Italia. In May, the Victoria native became the first Canadian ever to win one of cycling's three Grand Tour events.
#24 - Bubba Watson Wins Masters
Sixteen different individuals had won the last 16 major championships heading into the 2012 Masters – Bubba Watson made it 17. Watson hit an unbelievable shot from the woods on the second playoff hole at Augusta, setting him up for a simple par and a win over Louis Oosthuizen in the year’s first major. Watson made four straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 4-under 68 to tie for the lead. Oosthuizen's round included a rare double-eagle on the par-5 third hole.
#25 - Tiger Woods Ends PGA Winless Streak
Ending a drought that stretched back to the 2009 BMW Championships in Chicago, Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitation on March 25 in convincing fashion, restoring some order to the golf world. Woods went 728 days without a victory and some wondered if he would ever win again. Woods went on to win two more titles in 2012 and showed signs of being the best golfer in the world. If not for a late charge by Rory McIlroy to win the FEDEX Cup, Woods would have been the 2012 player of the year.
#26 - Djokovic Beats Nadal in Record-Breaking Aussie Open Final
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won his third straight major in dramatic fashion, beating Rafael Nadal in a five-hour, 53 minute five-setter that broke the Open era record for longest Grand Slam singles final. It was the third consecutive major final in which Djokovic beat Nadal.
#27- Manning Picks Broncos
Less than two weeks after he was let go by the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning revealed on March 19 that his new team would be the Denver Broncos. As a result, the Broncos have won the AFC WEST with ease and will be a force come playoff time in a few weeks.
#28 – Josh Hamilton Picks Angels
Has there ever been a more potent one-two punch in the middle of a lineup than Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton? In my opinion – NO! Hamilton joins the Angels signing a massive $125 Million dollar contract and makes the Halos the team to beat in the American League. Offensively, the Angels have it all. Add Mike Trout to the mix and it may be one of the best offensive lineups ever.
#29 - Giants Win Super Bowl XLVI
Eli Manning and the Giants upset the Tom Brady-led Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years, getting a late touchdown from running back Ahmad Bradshaw to beat New England 21-17.
#30 – Junior Seau Commits Suicide
Junior Seau, a homegrown superstar who was the fist-pumping, emotional leader of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years, committed suicide at the tender young age of 43.
#31 - Joe Paterno Dies
Joe Paterno, the longtime Penn State coach who won the most games in Division I college football history before being fired in November 2011 amid a child sex abuse scandal, died of lung cancer on Jan. 22. He was 85.
#32 - Giants Sweep Tigers in World Series
The San Francisco Giants have won two World Series titles in the last three years. Their sweep of the Detroit Tigers, completed Sunday night with a 4-3, 10-inning win, was historic. No National League team had swept a World Series since the 1990 Cincinnati Reds.
#33 – Johnny Football Wins Heisman
It was the award that had eluded every freshman in college football history. But the Heisman voters could not deny that Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was worthy. After finishing the regular season with 4,600 total yards, Manziel received 53 percent of the first-place votes and earned a space in college football history. Manziel was the second Aggie to win the award – John David Crowe was the first.
#34- Belcher Murder - Suicide Shocks Nation
This has been a rough year for the NFL, but nothing shocked the league, and the nation, more than December 1st news that Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide.
#35- Cowboys Car Crash
The news just gets worse as far as the NFL is concerned. Dallas defensive end Jerry Brown died in a car accident on Dec. 8. The driver, Brown's teammate Josh Brent has since been charged with intoxicated manslaughter and could face up to 20 years in prison.
#36 - Augusta National Adds First Female Members
For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members. The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October. Both women accepted.
#37 – The Summer of Serena Williams
After winning Wimbledon in July, Serena Williams punctuated her Olympic gold medal in the women's singles competition with a truly memorable victory dance. She went on to win her fourth U.S. Open title in September.
#38 – Europeans Shock Americans with Huge Sunday Ryder Cup Comeback
Europe retained the Ryder Cup with an epic 13 1/2 - 14 1/2 victory over America, following an enthralling comeback during Sunday's singles at Medinah. Trailing 10-6 going into the final day, Europe required a comeback akin to the USA's resurgence at Brookline in 1999, with Jose Maria Olazabel's side requiring eight points from the day's 12 singles matches. But after Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood all claimed victories, Martin Kaymer holed brilliantly on the 18th to claim the decisive 14th point.
#39 – Czech Republic Wins Davis Cup
In one of the greatest upsets in the events history – the unheralded Czech Republic stunned the tennis world with an electric fifth rubber victory over heavily favored Spain. The Czech Republic won the Davis Cup for the first time in its history with a 3-2 defeat of Spain in November, sparked by the fifth match heroics of veteran Radek Stepanek.
#40 –NFL Replacement Refs Embarrass League
The months-long NFL referee lockout was resolved in September after replacement refs botched a game-deciding call in a match- up between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks in September. Fueled by public outcry, the official refs were back on the field days later.
#41 - College Football Playoff Approved
After years of appeals from the fans over the largely unpopular BCS system currently in place, the board of 12 university presidents met and approved a four-team NCAA football playoff. Beginning with the 2014 season, a selection committee will choose the top four teams and the semifinals will be played at the current bowl sites, with the national championship game staged at the site of the highest bidder. An undisputed college football champion can finally be crowned. It’s about time!!
#42 – Saints Get Caught for Bounty Program
In March, the NFL released findings proving the New Orleans Saints had engaged in an illegal pay-per-hit program targeting their opponents between the 2009 and 2011 seasons, spurring the suspensions of head coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and several players. Payton is still negotiating his contract to return next season.
#43 - Lakers Land Howard and Nash
Even though it has been a brutal start for the Lakers they sure did make headlines in the off –season by acquiring two superstars. The Lakers acquired two-time league MVP Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade. And they didn’t stop there. For the second time in franchise history, the Orlando Magic lost an All-Star center, this time with Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers in a four-team deal involving 12 players and five draft picks.
#44 – Gabby Douglas’ Golden Moment
At 16, U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, at the London Olympics in August, became the first African-American to win gold in the all-around competition.
#45 – Murray Wins Olympic Gold on Home Turf
Andy Murray captured the biggest title of his career with victory over Roger Federer in the Olympic men's singles final at Wimbledon. He would later win the US Open in New York beating Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-setter.
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