As 2013 winds to a close (really?!), it is time again to honor the best – and most definitely the worst – of the year in sports.
Firstly, an amazing year in sports as four teams I detest won major championships (Man U, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Ravens) while only one team I cheer for managed to come out with a title (Miami). In other news, my beloved hockey team traded coaches with the New York Rangers and Chelsea continues to sign past their prime strikers while good players languish on the bench. Hooray!
Coach of the Year – Erik Spolestra does not get the acclaim he deserves. The Heat won 27 straight games, won a title and he managed to make the best player in the world maximize his potential. What else can the man do to win a Coach of the Year Award? Keep in mind he also went to bat for the Philippines after the devastating typhoon. A true class act.
Player of the Year – LeBron James continues to astound, amaze and remind us all we are seeing one of the greatest basketball players in history in his absolute prime. So, way to go LeBron! Just felt you could use some more accolades.
Team of the Year – Boston Red Sox. Moving on (through gritted teeth).
Game of the Year – All year, I was dead set on Game Six of the NBA Finals in this slot. How could anything, ever, top Ray Allen hitting a ridiculous three to tie the game with the Championship on the line? Well…Auburn went to the house with no time left on the clock against Alabama and it was in the most unlikely way possible. Keep in mind this game featured a 99 yard touchdown pass, a last second touchdown and then a 109 yard touchdown return on a missed field goal. Nick Saban really, really wishes he did not have that second left on the clock. Honorable mentions to Game Six of the Finals as well as Brady v. Manning 2013.
SI Sportsman of the Year Opinion – OId Manning is a good choice, he does a lot for charity and is having a potential historic season…that will conclude in 2014. In 2013 he did not win a Superbowl in Denver. Nor did he win the MVP Award. This is not a lifetime achievement award, rather it is about the specific year in question. I understand the backlash of not giving it to LeBron again, but what about
(alleged) PED USER (alleged) David Ortiz? Or even the Red Sox as a collective (group of alleged PED USERS) , another possibility was the 21 game winning Chicago Blackhawks led by Jonathon Toews (also deserving!) and Pat Kane (not deserving even a little bit). Giving Manning the Award would be like giving it to Sidney Crosby – last time I checked it was not done on stats alone.
Sports Books to Read
The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian / Scoreboard, Baby by Ken Armstrong / Muck City by Bryan Mealer – Each explores football in a different way. Benedict and Keteyian work to uncover every aspect of College Football in a broad, total way. Armstrong’s book is a horrifying look at the 2000 Washington Huskies, and won awards as both a sports and true crime book. Mealer writes a cross between the Wire and Friday Night Lights, exploring the rough world surrounding Everglades football and a potential championship team. Run to get these books, they are incredible.
Sports Book to Avoid
RG3 : The Promise by Dave Shenin – When I picked up this book I thought maybe it would be different than I expected. Perhaps it was an in depth look at life in the NFL as a hyped rookie. Perhaps it would touch on the darker corners of the sport. Ultimately, it was exactly what I expected it to be – 330 pages of an RG3 love fest. Horrible. Calling him “the perfect QB” and “a sure fire Hall of Famer” after one season is not the way to go. Avoid this book.
Podcasts of the Year
The Starters / The Basketball Jones – Brilliant basketball analysis, hilariously off topic and very, very funny. Unfortunately slightly tamed down with the end of the Jones era (no drops / swearing) but still entertaining work from the boys.
Men in Blazers – This has been like a Championship season for the Blazers, as they have peaked at the perfect time. Their last two months of Pods have been consistently great and easily among their best work. Mixing analysis with off kilter hilarity (and great interviews!) the Blazers have finally moved into their own, well deserved ITunes feed. Keep it up Rog and Davo, and keep the live shows going.
grantland.com – Still the best, consistent and really well written. Grantland is good for two or three good articles a day, and three great articles each week. Great job Bill Simmons.
mmqb.com – Trying to capitalize on Bill Simmons success, Peter King started his own site and while the content has been very good, the only major draw for me has always been his own mmqb column. The rest I could take or leave.
Jason Whitlock – still waiting for his move from FOX Sports to pay off in some way other than his self congratulatory self banter.
Sportie Man of the Year
LeBron James – Really, did you expect anyone else? LeBron finally approached his ridiculous ceiling this year, his team won 27 straight games, he captured the MVP and Finals MVP and when it mattered most he put his team on his back and literally dragged them to a title. The best athlete in the world, period and one of the greatest of all time at his absolute peak.