THE SPORTS DOCTOR- 2009: Lance, Tiger, A-Rod made it memorable
Another year has come and gone, and we are all a little older and hopefully a bit wiser. At any rate, I've assembled a list of my top-10 stories of 2009. Some were covered in columns and some weren't, but it should be entertaining to stroll down memory lane. (Listed in no particular order.)
1. The Steelers defeat the Cardinals in the Super Bowl– Considering how Pittsburgh and Arizona are performing this season, it's difficult to believe both teams faced off in the Super Bowl last winter. Lest we forget, the Steelers won 27-23, and wide receiver Santonio Holmes was the MVP.
2. Federer wins French– After years and years of trying, Roger Federer finally won the French Open. So what if Rafael Nadal was nowhere to be found? And let's not forget that epic Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick– 4 hours and 16 minutes of some of the best tennis ever played.
3. A-Rod comes clean (almost)– Haven't we always know Alex Rodriguez was juicing? Last February, A-Rod admitted to taking steroids– well, to allowing a relative to inject him in 2003. How convenient. It was almost anticlimactic. The Yankees have made a habit of having players ‘fess up just before or during spring training (Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte). Who will it be in 2010? Certainly not Nick Swisher!
4. Mark Buehrle pitches a perfect game– Though he didn't do it alone, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched MLB's first perfect game since Randy Johnson in 2004 and the first in the American League since Dave Cone in 1999. You don't see the big deal? In 134 years of Major League Baseball, only 17 other people have accomplished this feat. No runs. No hits. No walks. No errors: 27 up, 27 down.
5. Tom Watson loses– I'm still not counting golf as a sport, but even I have to condone the hullabaloo when Tom Watson lost the playoff to Stewart Cink at this year's British Open. The 59-year-old was about to become the oldest winner of a major championship, but a missed putt on the final hole put the kibosh on that. Nevertheless, it was one of the greatest feel-good stories of the year.
6. The Eagles hire Michael Vick– Finally we all get to move on.
7. Manny Ramirez is suspended for 50 games– A mere nine months after signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Ramirez became the most famous baseball player to be suspended under baseball's new drug policy (it's a good thing Darryl Strawberry is retired). Manny tested positive for a female fertility drug, known to restore testosterone in steroid users. It cost him 50 games and $7.7 million of his $25 million salary. Of course, Ramirez blamed it on his doctor.
8. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather agree to fight– After what seemed a decade of trash talk and evasion, Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. lived up to his nickname and agreed to fight Manny Pacquiao, probably the best boxer in the world. The proposed date is March 13, and the bout is set at welterweight lever (about 147 lbs). The fight is projected to garner over three million PPV buys– so potentially lucrative that Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones is lobbying hard to have it take place in his new stadium.
9. Tiger Woods and his "accident"– I think I'm done with this.
10. Thierry Henry plays handball– While soccer doesn't hold the same fascination for Americans as it does for the rest of the world, even we know that no one can use hands except the goalie. When France's striker admitted that he deliberately used his hands in a play that cost Ireland a World Cup berth, it was the shot heard round the world. Only FIFA is considered a bigger villain for not allowing a rematch.
There were so many significant sports moments this year– Randy Johnson's 300th win, Nick Adenhart's death, Usain Bolt's new records, Michael Phelps' bong, Plaxico Burress' jail cell, the extra step in basketball, Eric Bruntlett's unassisted triple play, Lance Armstrong's comeback. Just because they aren't in the top 10 doesn't mean they aren't important.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Juanita Giles lives in Keysville where she makes videos and updates her Sports Doctor site.