Top Ten Sports Stories of 2012

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It has been an incredible year for sports in 2012 with more than enough stories to look to and more than enough great accomplishments. The world of sports never ceases to impress and give us something that we have not seen before. Champions were crowned in all of the major sports after teams had slugged through long demanding season. Athletes were recognized for their great accomplishments through the season. Of course 2012 also played host to the Olympic Games in London providing more stories than other years. Then there were the amazing personal stories like that of RA Dickey or Oscar Pistorius that brought to light conversations in the larger world. Not everything was great though as 2012 also held a number of stories that shocked the sports world. Reports of steroids continued to surface and stars fell from grace. Not only did this happen but a number of tragic events came to light shocking everyone and continuing conversations that seem to never have a solution. It was another year in sports and was a great example of what makes sports so great and so addictive. There were ups and downs and surprises that kept every fan on their seats. It was another year of unpredictability that drove some fans nuts and sent others into the streets in celebration. As 2012 closes out the only question left to ask is what can 2013 have in store for all sports fans. More champions and more great stories are sure to follow but who, what, where, and when remain to be seen as we head into another year that is sure to be full of surprises. As for now let’s all remind ourselves just how great 2012 was by looking at the best sports stories of 2012.

 

10. The Peyton Saga

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This NFL offseason the NFL saw one of its greatest players go through something that was never thought to be possible. Peyton Manning is widely considered one of the best QBs in NFL history with the numbers and the accomplishments to back it up. He would start his great career when he was drafted out of Tennessee by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. After a rough rookie season where he broke the rookie record for most interceptions he quickly began proving his worth. After 13 seasons with the Colts Manning was a perennial Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl MVP but he was starting to break down. At the end of the 2010-11 season Manning would undergo surgery to repair damage in his neck. As a result his return to the Colts was questionable and after multiple surgeries and attempts to repair the damage it looked as though Manning would not make his return for the 2011-12 season. Without Manning the Colts would become the worst team in the NFL exposing them as a one player team and putting them into the top spot for the 2012 NFL Draft. So a decision was made as the Colts parted ways with the best QB they had ever known to take their chances on a young superstar. Due to Manning’s neck injury the Colts decided that they would rather cut him and draft Andrew Luck out of Stanford with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. It meant that one of the best QBs to step onto the NFL field would be a free agent and would go to the highest bidder. After plane trips and constant media scrutiny Manning would choose the Denver Broncos who would say goodbye to Tim Tebow and Tebowmania. Manning was a bit of an unknown with many questions about his health and his age and whether or not he could be as effective as he was in Indianapolis. So far Manning has proven everyone wrong coming out to a possible MVP season ending his long 2012 on a high note taking the Broncos to the playoffs.

 

9. History in the MLB

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Baseball has always been a game that loves to focus on history and it has plenty of just that as the oldest league in North America. Throughout the history of the MLB records have been broken and players have gotten better. There are some records and achievements that are still extremely tough to reach. One of these has always been the Triple Crown as it has become something almost of myth in the MLB. The Triple Crown is one of the toughest things to achieve in sports as it exhibits true offensive dominance in the MLB. The Triple Crown is when one player leads the league in home runs, average, and RBIs. It is a true expression of one player being the most feared hitter in baseball. Leading the league in HRs and RBIs is not an extremely rare feat as with HRs comes RBIs and in the right situation a batter can hit many HRs and bat people in through the process of a season. What makes this feat more difficult is that HR hitters tend not to have the best averages in baseball. That is mainly because HR hitters have an all or nothing type of attitude at the plate as they swing for the fences every at bat. That means that these hitter tend to strikeout a lot and do not get contact on the ball enough to earn a good average. This is why the last time that anyone got the Triple Crown was in 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski earned the award. Since then there has been no player who has been able to get the Triple Crown although many have come close. That all changed this year though as Miguel Cabrera would march towards the achievement in the season of his career. It would come down to the last game for Cabrera who would finish the season with 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, and a .330 batting average. All would lead the league as Cabrera became the first player since 1967 to win the Triple Crown.

 

8. Spanish Soccer on Top of the World

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The sporting events of 2012 would not stop with the Olympics as one of the major championships in soccer would also get underway. The Euro Cup is second only to the World Cup as the best international teams in Europe face off for bragging rights. Many times this tournament can serve as a preview to the upcoming World Cups, in two years, as the best teams in Europe get to take on top talent on an international stage. As soccer fans around the world watched the best teams all looked to unseat one country from the top of the soccer world. The Spanish national team was always in the top-tier of the World Cup and the Euro Cup but they had only won the Euro Cup once in 1964 and had never won the World Cup. It was always a strange sight to see a team that many had always thought to be a promising team, continue to fall short of winning the championship. Then came 2008 when the Spanish team would win their first Euro Cup since the ’64 win. It was a great result for the Spanish who would take their momentum into the World Cup in 2010. Many believed that it wouldn’t matter too much that they won the Europe as they had always struggled in the World Cup never winning a championship. Then the Spanish would go two for two in major soccer championships winning their first World Cup. Then came the 2012 Euro Cup where they were not favorites to win it all and proved to everyone that they were the best team for another year. That would make it three for three in major championships as they would enter the history books in many aspects. They would become the first team to win three consecutive titles, the first team to win their continental championship and World Cup three times in a row, and matched Germany with three Euro Cup titles for the most ever. It was a cap on a very successful era for the Spanish as they became arguably the best International Soccer team to ever take the pitch.

 

7. Phelps makes history

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The Olympics were full of plenty of great stories as it usually does every two years as the world focuses in for two weeks on the best amateur athletes in the world. As is usual with every Olympic Games heroes are made and the impossible is conquered. One of these heroes is Michael Phelps who has become a sports superstar throughout the world. The main reason for this is his sheer dominance in the pool whenever the Olympics come around. Phelps first burst on to the scene in the 2004 Athens Olympics. With a schedule that would make anyone tired just looking at it Phelps would race in 8 events including many that would race back to back. It wouldn’t deter him though as he would win 8 medals including 6 Gold Medals which would be only one medal less than US Olympic great Mark Spitz. He had put the entire swimming world on notice though as he quickly became one of the best swimmers in the world as a teenager. In his second go at the Olympics Phelps would again participate in 8 events and would look for his second medal record. In 2004 he became only the second swimmer to win more than two individual medals and in 2008 he would break one more winning 8 gold medals. He would now own the record for most medals in one Olympic Games passing Mark Spitz. It would be the peak of his dominance but it would not be the end of his career. He would return for one more Olympics in 2012 as he went for one of the biggest records in the Olympics. With another long schedule Phelps would be in perfect position to break the record for most Olympic Medals by any Olympian. In his fourth event of the games Phelps would win his 18th Olympic Medal tying Larisa Latynina for the most Olympic Medals. In the same day he would win his 19th medal becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete in history. He would finish the 2012 games with 22 total medals over his three Olympic Games.

 

6. The Return of the Knuckleballer

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The MLB had a great year this year as they would change things around and the era of the pitcher continued. In the era of the pitcher there have been a few pitchers who have stood out as some of the best pitchers of the generation. Pitchers like Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia have become the dominant pitchers of the era. Even with these pitchers dominating the headlines for the majority of the last few years the new era has made room for new pitchers to make their mark. In 2012 one of these new pitchers did exactly that and with an extremely sad and triumphant story behind him the MLB world fell in love. RA Dickey had spent most of his baseball life in the minor leagues as a power pitcher. He could never gain any traction though as he was a typical pitcher with nothing special to make him a starting pitcher. As a member of the Texas Rangers he would speak with the coaching staff about his forkball that looked very close to a hard knuckleball. After consulting with the coaching staff he began to change his forkball into a real knuckleball. As he worked on the pitch he would consult with the top knuckleballers in the MLB including Tim Wakefield. As he worked on his knuckleball he would continue to struggle as he changed teams regularly. In 2010 he would find a home with the New York Mets and continue to improve on his knuckleball.  In 2012 everything would change for Dickey as he would take his knuckleball and run through the entire league. He would end the year with a 2.73 ERA and a 20-6 record. With this performance Dickey would win the Cy young Award as the best pitcher in the National League. All of this would come in the same year where Dickey would reveal a long-held secret in his autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up, telling the world of the abuse he suffered as a child. It was an amazing story from a great man who had the year he deserved in 2012.

 

5. Another NHL Lockout

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The NHL is one of the biggest leagues in North America as a part of the big four leagues including the MLB, NBA, and NFL. It had even become a much more successful league in the past few years as they would earn $3.3 billion in the 2011-12 season. Many would consider that a successful business but that wasn’t the though from inside of the NHL offices. A number of teams in the southern USA were struggling and for the NHL this was a major problem and they needed to fix it. So the NHL owners decided not to renew the Collective Bargaining Agreement forcing another round of negotiations to hammer out a deal. A is usual with CBA negotiations nothing was done until the end of the season leaving only a few weeks for a deal to be created before the current agreement expired. A new agreement was never created as the CBA expired leading to another lockout. In 2004-05 the NHL was in the same situation when the owners locked out the players largely to get a salary cap and the season was lost before both sides could come to an agreement. Now the NHL season has come to the half way point with no hockey being played as both teams are locked in a dispute that has put the season on hold. This year the arguments seem that much more ridiculous this year. After earning a record amount of money the owners decided that they would like to reduce the player’s share of hockey revenue forcing the players to essentially pay for the struggling franchises. When that was solves, both sides have already agreed on a 50/50 split, smaller issues held up the process. Essentially the owners are looking to capitalize on record-breaking numbers in order to earn more while their main argument falls dreadfully short. As owners apparently fight for smaller market teams that are struggling the only teams who are truly hurting from the layoff are the smaller market teams. It was yet another year where NHL looked at business before the fans as another NHL season fell to the wayside.

 

4. Armstrong Falls from Grace

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2012 was also a year where an international hero fell from grace in one of the quickest turnarounds in sports history. Before Lance Armstrong North America did not pay close attention to the Tour de France besides the few cycling buffs. Lance Armstrong changed that when he began flying up the international rankings becoming the Road Racing World Champion. Then in 1996 Armstrong was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer that had spread to his lungs and his brain essentially ending his year on a bike. Only one year later he would return as he overcame all of the chemotherapy and treatment for cancer to return to cycling. Only three years after his diagnosis Armstrong would win his first Tour de France putting the cycling world on the North American sports map. Armstrong wouldn’t slow down there though as he would go on to win the next 5 Tour de France races becoming the greatest cycler of all time. After a short retirement Armstrong would win his unprecedented 7th Tour de France in 2005. Through it all Armstrong would become a sporting hero as a man who achieved what was thought to be impossible all after recovering from Cancer. He would not be without controversy though as through his 7 titles accusations of steroid use surrounded him. Even with the accusations Armstrong would remain steadfast in his innocence and everyone would believe him especially with no failed drug tests throughout his career. 2012 was not his year though as the US Anti Doping Agency would launch a full investigation into new accusations about Armstrong blood doping and using PEDs throughout his career. The USADA would conduct the most in-depth investigation into Lance Armstrong ever and would find numerous former teammates to testify against Armstrong. It would only take a few weeks to destroy what Armstrong had built as he refused to fight the new allegations leading to the vacating of all of his Tour de France Titles. Armstrong would also leave his Livestrong foundation as he was exposed as one of the biggest liars in sports history after fooling everyone into thinking and defending him for years.

 

3. Bolt wins the Olympics

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In the first week of the Olympics one athlete took complete focus from all those watching as Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete ever. In the second week the other star of the Olympic Games would take centre stage in what is the premier event of any Summer Olympics. Sprinting has been the highlight of every summer Olympics as everyone tunes in to see who the fastest man alive is for another four years. Still with such a short event every sports fan tunes in to see it and the winner of that race instantly becomes a sports superstar. In 2008 this man was Usain Bolt who won the 100m sprint, 200m sprint, and the 4x100m relay as a part of the Jamaican team. What made Bolt special though was how he won these Gold medals as he did it in a way only he could do. Sprinters are naturally cocky athletes but Bolt was the cockiest of them all especially when he let up 5 metres before the finish line to celebrate in the 100m sprint final. Bolt was a unique athlete who dominated the competition and he knew he could as he spring with confidence in every race. As 2012 approached many would wonder if Bolt could win again especially with a young Yohan Blake beating him in the Jamaican Olympic Trials just before the Olympics. It would be one of the toughest challenges in Bolt’s career as no sprinter had defended his crown since Carl Lewis did it in 1988. As the track and field events started Bolt was in his true form beating everyone easily in both the 100m and 200m qualification rounds. In a way only Bolt could pull off he would entertain the crowd with dances before the race and his joking around with volunteers. Bolt would win three gold medals again in the 200m, 100m, and 4x100m relay. He would be the talk of the Olympics for his amazing achievements and his elongated victory laps as he became one of the biggest stories of the 2012 games.

 

2. Bountygate

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The NFL had a rough offseason in 2012 when the commissioner, Roger Goodell, took a massive hit to his reputation. There was the referee strike and the concussion lawsuit filed by former players and family of former players. One of the biggest issues that hurt Goodell and the NFL’s reputation was the Bounty Scandal. In March 2012 the NFL revealed that they had been investigating the New Orleans Saints since 2010. The investigation surrounded Gregg Williams and the Saints’ coaching staff who had reportedly been offering pay for play incentives. The defensive coaching staff had offered money for players to earn sacks or interceptions in games. More important though was the apparent offer of money to hurt opposing players, namely Brett Favre in the 2009 playoffs. After an investigation into the manner the league was ready to make their decisions. Before the 2012 season would begin the NFL and Roger Goodell would hand out the largest suspensions in the history of the NFL. Some players received small suspensions as Will Smith was suspended four games, Anthony Hargrove was suspended eight games, and Scott Fujita was suspended three games. One of the main leaders of the pay for play system on the player side, Jonathan Vilma would be suspended for the entire season. Meanwhile the management took massive hits as Joe Vitt was suspended by six games for his involvement. General Manager Mickey Loomis would be suspended half of a season while head coach Sean Payton would be suspended for the entire season. It was a heavy toll for the illegal act but it did not end there as Vilma would lead a long appeal process claiming that they did nothing wrong and that the NFL did not have enough proof to justify the suspensions. The debate would go through the entire season as Vilma continued to fight to end the suspensions. In the end it would be former commissioner Paul Tagliabue who would overturn the suspensions on the players proving that Goodell had jumped to conclusions in the matter. It was the biggest part of the rough offseason for the commissioner of the NFL.

 

1. London Olympics

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There were a lot of stories throughout the two weeks of the 2012 London Olympics and some have been listed here already. The main story though is simply the games themselves that took the focus of the sports world for two weeks in 2012. The Games always take the focus of the sports world but all have many different reasons for talking focus. This year the London Olympics were simply a good clean affair. There were controversies including the boxing judging and the few other questionable decisions in the referees. Overall though the London Olympics were a refreshing take on the Olympic Games. The focus was not on the negative but instead on the positive aspects of the games. There were record breakers like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps who only launched their stars further into the stratosphere. There were inspirational performances like Kayla Harrison who overcame a horrific act to win a gold medal. The greatest thing to see though was the effect that the games had on a nation as Britain followed closely with what Vancouver did for Canada. The British team won more medals than ever before in the Olympics as they dominated some events. No more was this true than in the Velodrome where the British team mopped up the competition. It would bring to light the British pride that had been waiting until now to show itself. It was yet another great Olympics with plenty of stories that will go down in the long history of the games. Every two years the Olympics takes the focus of the sports world because it has the ability to unite nations together to cheer for one goal. It also has the perfect setting for amazing stories of triumph over everything else. There are tears of joy and tears of pain and everything in between that make all sports fans watch with anticipation and excitement. 2012 was marked with plenty to watch but the Olympics are always a great way to fill a summer with another two weeks of amazing sports memories.

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One Response to “Top Ten Sports Stories of 2012”
  1. cflsteve says:

    The NHL lockout will most likely speed up the move for a team like Phoenix to make the move to Quebec City. Many of the US teams that were already struggling may be looking north of the border as what little fan base they had will have forgotten about them already and have moved onto other interests and will not be back. Hockey much like the CFL expansion to big cities in the souther US has proven to be disastrous and if Hamilton is looking to have a team or the new Hockey Arena anting to get built in the Toronto area would be in a much better position to get a team to move and the NHL looking to save some face would be wise to look to these markets where hockey fans have wanted a team for years now

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