The Snow Classico
I had the amazing opportunity to be at this one. The US was was coming off a loss in Honduras and a Sporting News story had just broke in that there was discord within the ranks, and starting GK Tim Howard was out with an Injury. As the teams took the field in Commerce City, CO, the snow was just starting to collect on the field. After 90 minutes, the ball would barely move the snow was so thick. The US won the game 1-0 but under ideal conditions it could have easily been 2 or 3 nil US. The USA had responded to the adversity of this game. The USA built on the momentum of this game to go on a record win streak.
Kings of CONCACAF
Building off the previous story, building off the win in the snow classico over Costa Rica, the USA Men's National Team rattled off a series of wins over the next few months and not only won the Concacaf Gold Cup with primarily a "B" team. The US also dominated World Cup Qualifying by finishing first in World Cup qualifying.
Pacers get within a game on NBA Championship
The Pacers pushed the Heat in the 2012 playoffs and it was a real statement that the Pacers were a good young team. 2013 showed the world the Pacers were for real. Despite the loss of Granger for essentially the entire season, the Pacers turned in a better season than the year prior and met the Heat again in the playoffs, this year a trip to the finals on the line. From game 1 on, it was clear this series was going to be a classic. Big shot after big shot was hit. Paul George showed the world what many in Indiana had already know... he was for real. After 6 games it seemed the Pacers were definitely the Heats equal, but game 7 was a train wreck for the Pacers and the Heat were on to the Finals. This pushed the Pacers are pushing hard this year to get home court advantage come April or May this year.
Cardinals make the World Series
The Cardinals have a very rich baseball tradition, but the last 3 years for the Cardinals have been a very impressive stretch. 2011 was one of the most exciting World Series in recent years. 2012 saw the Cardinals fall just 1 game short after blowing a 3 - 1 lead. 2013 saw the Cards make it back to fall short to the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals, over the course of 2 years, lost a number of star players to injury and free agency, but 2013 showed the quality of the Cardinals organization of a whole. The Cardinals brought up young player after young player and rather than dropping off, the Cardinals got better with each new young arm that came up.
Auburn beats Bama
Auburn was coming off a really down year and not a single person thought they had a real shot in the SEC and no one thought they would be able to hang with rival Bama. The Bama Auburn game turned out to be a slugfest between 2 heavy weights, and the 109 yard FG miss return to win it may have been one of the greatest highlights of 2013.
Going back to the St. Louis Cardinals, as I said above, the Cardinals were carried by young arms that kept coming up from the Memphis Redbirds. The Rookie Michael Wacha made the most news with his efforts. Wacha came up late in the season and but together a stretch of 4 starts, including playoffs, where he was near unhittable.
From the suspension of Braun, A-Rod and others for going to a guy down in Miami (who was smart/dumb enough to keep records with the players real names mind you) to the admission of Lance Armstrong to P.E.D. use, many high profile guys were doomed to the penalties that come with it. What is bigger than the suspensions themselves is that the guys who were found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs were that the big names that were caught (Braun, A-Rod, and Armstrong) were some of the athletes who were most ruthless to individuals who even would suggest that they may have used P.E.D.'s.
The 2 major Indy teams both made big moves in 2013 to pick up key components to their season. For the Gold Menace (Pacers) added veteran big man Luis Scola who has made the GM Pritchard look like a genius. Scola has provided much needed scoring and rebounding off the bench. He is allowing Vogel to rest West a little more and he has been even used to spell Hibbert at times. In the NFL, the Colts traded a future first round pick to pick up Trent Richardson. While Richardson has been a disappointment thus far, I see Richardson as a potential big time back for the Colts. Richardson was added midseason which is tough in a sport like football because you don't have the familiarity with the team, but Richardson has been very successful in the passing game and has gotten better over the last few weeks giving Colts fan hope that he will be better next year and may contribute in the playoffs.
The Last 42
The last story I will highlight in 2013 is the retirement of Mariano Rivera. Rivera was the epitome of the new age MLB closer. Rivera went out there everyday and would shut teams down. He won several championships with the Yankees who he spent his whole career with. Rivera was not only a great pitcher, he was a class act. He always played the game the right way, and was very involved in the community making a difference in many peoples lives. In his last ever game at Yankee stadium he had the honor of getting a curtain call after being pulled by none other than long term teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Petit. Rivera will be the last man to ever wear 42 for an entire season in the MLB and I could not think of a better guy to have that honor.
Hope you all had a great new year,
T.O. signing out.