By Doug Halberstadt
This is the time of year when sports writers love to take a look back at the last 12 months and review some of the events that grabbed the headlines. I’m no exception. Some of the things that came to my mind were of national importance, and some only made news locally. I hope you enjoy the trip down “2010 Memory Lane.”
Last January, Alabama claimed the national championship in college football by defeating Texas 37-21 in the Rose Bowl. Later that month, the New Orleans Saints claimed their first-ever Super Bowl with a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Drew Brees was named the MVP.
The month of February featured the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. On Valentine’s Day, a crowd of 108,713, the largest in the sport’s history, watched the East beat the West in the NBA All-Star game. The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade picked up the MVP honors in that game. Later that month, Jamie McMurray took the checked flag in the Daytona 500.
In March Madness, the Duke Blue Devils won their fourth national title with a 61-59 win over the Butler Bulldogs. Freeport’s Willie Veasley was significant in getting the Bulldogs to the championship game. On the ladies’ side, the Connecticut Huskies beat Stanford to win their seventh national title.
Phil “Lefty” Mickelson won his third green jacket at the 74th Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., April 11.
Major League Baseball (MLB) witnessed two perfect games in the month of May. May 9, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched the 19th perfect game in history in a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Less than three weeks later, on May 29, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in MLB history in a 1-0 win over the Florida Marlins. This marked the first time in the modern era two perfect games have been thrown in the same MLB season.
Ironically, less than a week later (June 2), Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers lost out on a perfect game when the 27th batter, the Cleveland Indians’ Jason Donald, was called safe on an infield grounder. Immediately after the game, umpire Jim Joyce admitted he had blown the call. (The Tigers won 3-0.)
June 9, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime of game six to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years. Jonathan Toews was named the MVP. June 17, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in game seven of the NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant earned his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award.
The 81st Major League All-Star Game saw the National League win for the first time since 1996. On that same day, July 13, George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, died of a heart attack.
In August, the Boylan Titans football team won the first game of their state title season with a 41-7 win over the Harlem Huskies. That same week, the Boylan Titans soccer team started their state championship run with a 0-0 tie against Cary Grove Aug. 25.
In September, Reggie Bush became the first player ever to forfeit his Heisman Trophy, which he won in 2005. Bush returned the award to the NCAA after admitting his involvement with marketing agents while playing at USC.
Oct. 22, the Texas Rangers defeated the New York Yankees in the ALCS to advance to their first-ever World Series. One day later, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS to advance to their fourth World Series since relocating to San Francisco.
The month of November began with the Giants defeating the Rangers to win the World Series. Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief, former Rockford resident Chad Knaus, won their unprecedented fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season title. Boylan High School brought home state championship titles in soccer and football to close out the month.
Earlier this month, Cubs fans lost one of their favorites with the passing of Ron Santo. Dec. 15, Brett Favre’s consecutive games started streak came to an end at 297. It was the first time in his 20-year career he did not start a game. The Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North Division championship in the same month.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of the biggest or most memorable happenings in the world of sports this past year. It just happens to be a few of the things that stand out in my mind. I apologize if I missed one of your favorite sports memories of 2010. I resolve to try to do better in 2011.
From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2011 issue