Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Sports Year in Review

As 2010 wraps up, I decided to take a look back at the year for me personally in the world of sports. With a trip to the World Series, College World Series, MLS All-Star game and two trips to the NCAA Tournament, this was easily my best year in sports yet. I managed to cross five items off my list of 100 things to do in sports.

Here is just a quick rundown of some of the things I got to do this past year: Game 5 of the World Series, first eight games of the College World Series, MLS All-Star Game, NCAA Basketball first round, NCAA Basketball Regional, Shell Houston Open and Monday Night Football. I went to six Major League baseball games in three different ballparks, four NFL games, the Shell Houston Open and a minor league baseball game.

The Games

It is hard to pinpoint the highlight of the year, but going to Rosenblatt Stadium and the College World Series was an amazing trip. The College World Series has always been a dream trip for me. Adding the fact that this was the final year at Rosenblatt Stadium makes it just that much more special.

Also, I got the chance to see Manchester United play against the MLS All-Stars. Two of my other favorite teams, Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Braves, are much easier to pick up on a yearly basis and Penn State has been to two bowl games in Texas in the last 10 years. I can get in a car and drive to see any of these teams play. Man U is a different story, though. You can’t just jump in the car and drive to Manchester, England. So when I got the chance to see the Red Devils in action at Reliant Stadium, it was an amazing experience. Add to that I got to see Macheda and Chicharito score goals, it was a day I’ll never forget.

Any other year, a World Series clinching game would be at the top of my list, but Game 5 between the Giants and Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington actually ranks third. The experience was great and the seats were awesome, but it is hard to beat the College World Series and Manchester United.

The Miles

Also, the past year, I didn’t fly anywhere, so all of my travelling was done by car. Not counting Sam Houston State events with the exception of the NCAA Tournament in New Orleans, I spent a total of 6,621 miles in the car. Add in my trips with the Bearkats and that number is easily more than 10,000 miles.

The Teams

In college we had a guy working at SHSU who had seen every NCAA men’s Division I team play. I think at the time it was 307 teams. By no means I am actively pursuing that, but that doesn’t mean I’m not keeping track. I added seven new teams this year including a pair of legendary programs, Kentucky and Duke. I also saw Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, Old Dominion, Cleveland State and Purdue.

I picked up two new NFL teams, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. I added three new ballparks to my list, Rosenblatt Stadium, Turner Field and Dr. Pepper Park.

The Players

Homeruns (11) – Brian McCann 2 (Grand Slam), Jason Heyward 2, Alex Gonzalez (Walk-off), Kevin Cash, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee 2, Clint Barmes, Nelson Cruz and Edgar Renteria.

Touchdowns – Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason 2, Andre Johnson 2, Jacoby Jones 2, Josh Wilson (OT pick 6), Marion Barber, Roy Williams 2, Kevin Walter, Corey Lynch, Arrelious Benn, Arian Foster and Kevin Ogletree.

Scorers (goals, big point outings) – Soccer - Federico Macheda 2, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverly, Darron Gibson, Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario, College BasketballAnatoly Bose, Nicholls, 40; Nolan Smith, Duke, 29; Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky, 29.
The List

In my list of 100ish things to do in sports, here are the five items crossed off in the last 365 days:
3. Watch Manchester United play
7. See the Braves play in Atlanta
37. Watch a college baseball game at Rosenblatt Stadium.
44. Go to the World Series
51. Go to the College World Series.

The Top 5

ESPN is running its top games of 2010, so I am going to run my top 5 games of 2010 that I was in attendance for. There were some big games that I went to this year, like SHSU beating SFA for the Southland Championship, but that game was never really in doubt. These five games al had the drama you want when you go to a sporting event.

5. Southland Conference Semifinal, SHSU vs. Southeastern Louisiana – This game was the ultimate nail-biter. A trip to the SLC finals against SFA was on the line and the Lions weren’t going to make it easy. In a tight game all the way, Lance Pevehouse hit a 3 with 1:06 left to give the Kats the lead 85-83. With the game tied at 85 and 11 seconds left to play, Ashton Mitchell hit a jumper in the paint to give the Kats the win. I paced the Merrell Center the entire game, watching the final minutes from the top row.

4. Dallas at Houston – A few weeks after meeting in the preseason, the Cowboys and Texans meet in week 3 of the regular season. The Texans were 2-0 and on an emotional high. The Cowboys were 0-2 and in desperate need of a win. Regardless of how the rest of the season played out, on Sunday afternoon, this was a huge win for the Cowboys and a thrill to be there to see it in person.  

3. Monday Night Football, Baltimore at Houston – It was the football equivalent of a walk-off homer. In overtime, Josh Wilson intercepted a Matt Schaub pass and returned it for a touchdown to win the game for Baltimore. It capped off a night that the Texans thought they were pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history. They rallied from 15 down in the fourth quarter to tie the game on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 21-seconds left to play. Top that off with a big sack on Baltimore’s first possession in OT and it looked like Houston had the win in the bag until Schaub’s interception. It was another crushing loss for the Texans and thoroughly fun to watch as it unfolded. It was the first time in five years a game has ended with a pick-6 in overtime.

2. World Series Game 5, San Francisco at Texas – What more needs to be said about this. Game 5 of the World Series and a chance to win it for the Giants. The Rangers got on the board first on a homer from Nelson Cruz, but with two outs in the top of the seventh, Edgar Renteria hit a three-run shot that held up to give the Giants the win. In the Bottom of the ninth, Brian Wilson mowed through Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz to close out the game.

1. Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis – My first trip to Atlanta to see the Braves. I have seen them play more than 30 times in Houston and once in Arlington, but never at Turner Field. It was a Saturday afternoon Fox game in September and the Braves were in a pennant race. The last thing I wanted was to drive 900 miles to see the Braves lose. With the game tied at two in the seventh, Jason Heyward hit a solo shot to give the Braves the lead. The Cards answered right back and tied the game in the 8th on a fielder’s choice by Albert Pujols. The game went extra innings until Alex Gonzalez hit a three-run walk-off homer to give the Braves the win.

Looking ahead to 2011

While there is little doubt it will be hard to top 2010, there are already a couple of events in 2011 I am looking forward to. It won’t take long to scratch another item off the list when I go work the FCS National Championship game in Frisco on Jan. 7. I will also work my second Final Four in April. Then in June, the Gold Cup semifinals will be held at Reliant Stadium where I am hoping I’ll get the chance to see the US Men’s National Team play.

Just like this past year, we will just have to see how the rest of 2011 plays out. The Braves trip didn’t come together until about two weeks before the game and the World Series didn’t happen until I got a text message at 11:30 the night before. All I know is I am looking forward to seeing what is in store. 

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