Boston fans have been spoiled in recent years. 2012 didn’t bring any championships for any of the local teams. What the heck?!? Most of my top ten moments of 2012 were memorable for the wrong reasons. Here goes:
10. URI Rams hire Danny Hurley as their basketball coach. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if Hurley is any good of a coach. I do know he comes with an impressive family pedigree. His father, Bob Hurley, is a Hall of Fame high school coach. Danny’s older brother is former Duke standout point guard, Bobby Hurley. Bobby joined Danny as an assistant coach at URI.
9. Celtics make a surprising late season run. Everyone expected the aging Celtics squad to fall apart late in the season when the compacted schedule was going to be replete with back-to-back games against many of the tougher teams in the league, including three games against the Miami Heat. Well, the Celtics won all three of those games against the Heat. They only lost five of their last nineteen games and finished first in the Atlantic Division. Kevin Garnett was reinvigorated after switching to center and began playing like a 22-year-old. The Big Three came up one victory short of making the NBA Finals, blowing a three games to two lead against the eventual champion Miami Heat. We all had a feeling it was the last we would see of the Big Three, and, indeed it was.
8. Providence College Friars and coach Ed Cooley bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. In fact, CBSSports.com ranked it the fifth best in the nation. Friars’ fans were excited for the future. Kris Dunn, Ricky Ledo, and Josh Fortune raised expectations for what had become a moribund program. Toss in news that 6-foot-9 power forward Sidiki Johnson decided to transfer from Arizona to Providence and watch out. The icing on the cake would have been if top recruit, Nerlens Noel, would have shocked everyone by choosing Providence. For a while, it looked like he might.
7. Bobby Valentine’s interviews on WEEI. While these weekly interviews were must-listen, the most memorable moment came in September. It was great radio. Valentine was his typical smug self and, on this occasion, seemed to be under the influence of something. When host Glenn Ordway asked Valentine, point blank, if he had “checked out” on the season, Valentine responded, “You know, if I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth.” He followed the statement with a comic book, demented laugh. In the same interview, Valentine bristled when Ordway mentioned Valentine’s late arrival to the ballpark for a game. Valentine responded, “That pisses me off.” Well, Bobby, you know what pissed off Red Sox fans? It was your team only winning 69 games this season.
6. Cody Ross’ game-winning three-run home run on July 19 in a 3-1 victory against the White Sox at Fenway. It marked the highlight moment of the season for the Red Sox. It was the third three-run home run for Ross in two days. It had many writing and saying that it could be the moment that turned the season around for the Red Sox. Alas, it was only an aberration. Oh yeah, and the Red Sox elected to sign Jonny Gomes and let Ross walk in the offseason.
5. Rhode Island native Elizabeth Beisel wins two medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Beisel graduated from North Kingstown High School and currently attends the University of Florida. It’s pretty cool knowing that one of the best swimmers in the world was born and raised in the tiniest state in the country.
4. The demise of the Big East Conference. I’m just glad Dave Gavitt is no longer here to see this. Gavitt helped form the Big East in 1979. Sadly, Gavitt passed away in 2011. Since then, the Big East has seen team after team desert the conference. Earlier this month, the seven Catholic schools that don’t play football, including original members Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s, and Seton Hall, agreed to leave to form their own conference.
3. Ray Allen leaves Boston and signs with (anybody but them) Miami. Nobody expected the Big Three Era to last forever. It would have been nice to see Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Allen all retire as Celtics. But, if they had to leave, go anywhere but play for the Lakers or the Heat. That’s exactly what Ray Allen did. To add insult to injury, Allen turned down substantially more money from Boston to sign to play with LeBron, D-Wade, and the Heat. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. Sadly, it’s tarnished Allen’s legacy in Boston.
2. The Red Sox trade Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers in August. Speaking of this is not being the way it was supposed to end. If you would have told me in December 2010 that Gonzalez and Crawford would not be with Boston a year and a half later I would have thought you were crazy. Gonzalez, in particular, was going to be the Red Sox first baseman for the better part of the next decade. Crawford was going to be a spark at the top of the lineup at least for the first few years of his mega-contract. Now the Red Sox are looking at Shane Victorino and, maybe, Mike Napoli filling their shoes. It’s an abrupt about-face for the franchise.
1. Did Wes Welker drop the ball or did Tom Brady make a bad throw? Welker’s drop in Super Bowl XLVI in February prevented the Patriots from securing their elusive fourth Super Bowl win. It will be talked about and remembered for a very long time around these parts. It will rank a slight notch below the David Tyree catch. Maybe it was a sign of the way things were going to be in 2012 on the Boston sports scene. Hopefully, the Patriots will change that in 2013. At least the Giants won’t be waiting for them in the Super Bowl.
Honorable mention to Cranston, Rhode Island’s Olivia Culpo for winning Miss Universe. Can a beauty pageant be considered a sport?
And, no, I didn’t forget the Pawtucket Red Sox won the International League championship. It just won’t be one of those things I’ll remember ten years from now.