I’ve been trying to figure out how we’ll remember 2012 in sports. And really, we probably won’t all that much. The most important event of the year (at least as far as the storyline of sports history is concerned) was LeBron James winning an NBA Championship, an event no one really wanted him to do and now no one really cares about him, basically running LeBron’s entire mystique. Now he’s just a dude who makes commercials where he laughs a lot and we’re totally cool with that.
Around the rest of sport, the Super Bowl was won by a non-descript Giants team, the Stanley Cup was won by an even more non-descript Kings team, and the World Series was won by a bad Giants team. Not exactly a Golden Age of sports.
The Olympics came and went, with the biggest outcome being Ryan Lochte having rocks on his cell phone and McKala not being very impressed. Maybe that was really the best image of sports this year. Just not very impressive.
We basically lost out minds over two guys who aren’t really very good at sports. Tim Tebow ruled headlines for somehow winning a bunch of games despite having no skills required of being a quarterback while simultaneously really loving God a lot. Whether you like him or not, you were going to hear about him and the camps were divided between ‘hey he likes God – sweet!’ and ‘why is this happening please stop it ESPN.’ Almost fittingly to the year, he was traded to the media center of the country and couldn’t get off the bench, finally reportedly refusing to enter a game.
The other media darling was a creation of the same New York media. Jeremy Lin took over sports for a month when he came out of nowhere. He was a much less annoying story than Tebow, mostly because he actually played well while liking God and going to Harvard. But he ended up getting hurt and then even worse, being traded to the Rockets as he faded from the spotlight yet again.
But perhaps that’s what sports in a Twitter world is – brief flashes of intrigue until the next newer story can be found and the process is repeated over and over.
My favorite story of the year was R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball dominating the National League against all sorts of odds as I’ve written about repeatedly. There was no downside to his story (unless you were the Mets and were bent on paying him way less than he deserved) and he might actually be able to stick around.
And those were the good stories. The year wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the horrible Penn State story and its fallout or the increasing concerns over concussions and the potential link to athlete suicide.
And then there was the trend of leagues arguing over money. It started with the NBA playing a shortened season following a lockout, one that potentially led to the major knee injury of Derrick Rose. The NFL decided they were bigger than the sport and thought they could make it through the year without paying for real referees to incredibly hilarious results.
And then there’s the NHL. The NHL has lagged so far behind the other three sports for years following the cancellation of the 2004 season that they decided the best thing to do would be to go on another strike as the league was finally gaining traction and now shows no end of ending. They killed their own sport, and as Red Wings coach Mike Babcock compared it to bowling you had to stop and wonder if that is truly its future.
But in general sports (other than hockey and not an active sport anymore) has never been stronger. The Dodgers spent a Romneyesque amount of money while baseball is drawing record crowds (outside of Yankee Stadium and Marlins Park). The NBA has more legitimate superstars than any other time in history. Talent is at an all-time high with Kobe and LeBron still playing at legendary levels. The NFL is the NFL and probably the strongest asset America has.
Without further ado, here are the 2012 Man Crush and Douchebag of the Year.
2012 Man Crush of the Year – R.A. Dickey
2012 Douchebag of the Year – Gary Bettman
As much as Tim Tebow, Penn State, replacement refs and LeBron James in general tried, only Gary Bettman was capable of completely destroying an entire league.
Follow Scott Bolohan on Twitter: @scottbolohan