Top Five Sports Moments of 2013
"Well, that was fast."
Like the first time you hooked up with a girl in the back of your parents Buick (I'm just assuming), the 2013 sports year was epic, exciting, and well, too short-lived. And before you could slow down and savor the experience, it was over.
Not to say it wasn't worth every second. There were some moments in sports this year that can never be duplicated, plays that you sat on your couch and just gaped at the television, and situations that occurred that you'll never forget.
These are the top five sports moments of 2013.
It was a farewell tour for the ages. In Mariano Rivera's last season, every time hestood on a pitcher's mound, or tipped his hat to a crowd, it sent chills down your spine. You were watching the best ever. And not just the best closer ever. The class, the talent, his ability to dominate with one pitch for his entire career while others struggled with four or five was just magical.
Simply put, Mo exemplified the qualities that make major league baseball worth watching, and a competitiveness that was unmatched and should be appreciated. The 2013 season was FOR Mariano Rivera in a lot of ways. There were montages, speeches, and silly gifts (the broken bat chair from the Twins was my personal favorite).
When Mo stood on that Yankees stadium mound for the final time, got two quick outs, and then was greeted and embraced by long-time teammates and friends Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. And there shouldn't have been. Baseball is an emotional game, and it doesn't matter if you're the biggest Yankee hater in the world, if you love and appreciate the game of baseball, that was a special moment for you too.
Like Derek Jeter said when he reached the mound that final time to take Mo out of the game to thunderous applause.
"It's time to go."
He will be missed.
To watch Mariano Rivera's final moment at Yankee stadium, click here.
A spectacular play that almost blew up Twitter, Alabama attempted a 57-yard-field goal in a 28-28 game with one second left on the clock. The attempt was short, and Auburn's Chris Davis returned the kick 109 yards for a touchdown to pull off the upset of #1 Alabama and end their reign as national champions.
It's considered by most the craziest finish in the history of college football.
Now set to face-off against Florida State in the national championship game, it's the signature moment of Auburn's improbable run to the title game, and a play not just Auburn fans--but college football fans--will never forget.
To watch the exciting finish, click here.
When Ray Lewis announced that he would retire near the end of last year's regular season, not many people expected a storybook ending for the former Super Bowl MVP--myself included. Not that he isn't an endearing character, the Ravens simply weren't good enough, and Lewis wasn't playing particular well and he was coming off a torn triceps injury
It wasn't exactly a recipe for success.
But after Lewis made his announcement, the Ravens started to pick up steam, and inexplicably, the ball started to bounce their way time and time again with every memorable Ray Lewis dance.
And when the word "destiny" started flying around, well, we've seen this movie before.His well-choreographed retirement plans gave his Ravens teammates a cause to rally around, and they seized it. They wanted to take him out a winner, and he wanted to share with them the feeling of winning it all.
And they did.
Like John Elway, Jerome Bettis, and Michael Strahan before him, Ray Lewis finished his career on top, and what a moment it was.
Let's face it: this team was special. Quite possibly the most endearing, passionate, and lovable Red Sox squad of a generation. Veteran leadership, chemistry, and personality were evident all season long, from the opening pitch to the last beard pull.
No one saw this coming, but the right ingredients were put in place to make a refreshing change from the last two seasons that could be summed up in four words: Chicken, Beer, and Bobby Valentine (and chicken and beer are meant to be capitalized). For that, John Farrell and Ben Cherington deserve a ton of credit and--oddly enough--I think Cherington deserves the most of all.
In 2004, the Red Sox were built on the same blueprint, a bunch of fun charismatic guys like Kevin Millar and Johnny Damon ("Idiots," if you may), and Cherington payed attention, signing clubhouse favorites like Shane Victorino, David Ross, and Jonny Gomes. They provided the value that went past the stats, past WAR, and past hundreds of other silly metrics. They provided exactly what the Red Sox needed to win the 2013 World Series.
In 2004, the Red Sox fell behind the Yankees 3-0 in the ALCS, but they prevailed because of the character they possessed. In Game 3 of the 2013 World Series after a devastating loss that finished with--of all things--an obstruction call, we got the same outcome. This team just plain had no quit in them.
This isn't to say the Sox didn't have any talent. The led MLB in runs scored by a margin of almost 60, led the AL in wins, and were lucky enough to have the most dominant reliever in baseball in 2013 (although I'm sure they weren't expecting it). Needless to say, they had the firepower to win a championship.
But they've had the weapons before, tons of big-time talent, and marquee free-agents, only to fall flat on their face. The 2012 roster was littered with All-Stars, but they managed a measly 69 wins. They weren't fun to watch, and god forbid they crack a smile. That's what you get for trying to fit a round peg into a square hole (I'm looking at you Bobby V).
To go through all that adversity, and what this team meant to a city trying to recover, that's what makes this run a top five sports moment in 2013.
I could have chose the Heat winning yet another NBA Title, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, or the Blackhawks showing the city of Chicago that they can win championships again, but I think those all pale in comparison to what Jack Hoffman accomplished.
Hoffman--diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer at age five--needed a special surgery to remove tumors on his brain. The seven-year-old got a chance to walk-on with his favorite football team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and he didn't disappoint. In the Spring Game, Hoffman sliced through defenders for a 69-yard rushing touchdown.
Hoffman's cancer is currently in remission.
To watch his memorable run, click here.