The Best, Worst and Weirdest in Sports, 2013: Part 3

Sports
The best moments of the year, taken two months at a time. Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Part 1 - January/February
Part 2 - March/April

MAY

O! Susannah!

CSN Chicago reporter Susannah Collins, filing a live report outside the Chicago Blackhawks locker room before the first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs, says, “Despite the fact that they’ve had such a tremendous amount of sex during the reg— .” Collins had intended to say “success.” The network fires her.

Humb and Humber

Houston Astro pitcher Phil Humber, 13 months after becoming just the 21st pitcher in Major League history to toss a perfect game, starts the season 0-8 with a 9.59 ERA and loses his spot in the rotation.

May Weather and Mayweather

Rain fell steadily on Churchill Downs through the morning and into the afternoon of the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. Running in cold and sloppy conditions, the favorite, Orb, won by 2 ½ lengths. That night in Las Vegas, and in more clement conditions, Floyd Mayweather retained his WBC Welterweight title and improved his career record to 44-0 with a 12-round decision over Robert Guerrero.

Boston Strong

The Boston Bruins, trailing 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 of a first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, score three goals in the final 11:41 and then win in overtime. Meanwhile, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s hit streak extends to 27 games before his bat is at last silenced.

Act of Grace

After the final out of a three-game series in which his Dodgers were swept in San Francisco, Los Angeles outfielder Matt Kemp locates a terminally ill teenager in the first row of the stands. Kemp signs a baseball for the stunned youth, Joshua Jones, then hands over his Dodger jersey, shoes and cap. Jones would die three months later.

A Classic

It was only Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semis, but it was a thriller. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili sank a three-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining in double overtime to give the Spurs a 129-127 victory over frisky Golden State. The inexperienced Warriors blew a 16-point lead with 4:20 left in regulation.

Death In San Francisco Bay

During training for the America’s Cup that will commence in July in San Francisco Bay, the vessel Artemis capsizes and British sailor Andrew Simpson drowns. It is the second sports-related death of the spring in the bay, as a 46 year-old triathlete, Ross Ehlinger, died during the swim portion of the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon –the first fatality in the event’s 33-year history—two months earlier.

Octogenarian Overachievers

Yuichiro Miura, an 80 year-old Japanese climber, becomes the oldest person to summit Mount Everest. One week later, Miura’s longtime rival, Min Bahadur Sherchan, 81, who had previously held the record when he summited Everest at age 76, fails in an attempt to reclaim the title.

Uber Alles

In an all-German Champions League final from London’s Wembley Stadium, Bayern Munich defeats Borussia Dortmund on Arjen Robben’s game-winner in the 89th minute. Bayern had lost two of the previous three Champions League final matches.

Yankee Doodles (A Continuing Tale of Misery)

Before the first game of their Big Apple rivalry series, the New York Mets honor retiring New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera by having him throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Later that night, in his 700th career appearance (all of them in relief), “Mo” fails to record a single out for the first time in his career, blowing the save –his first of the season-- and getting the loss.

JUNE

Cuban Phenom

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a moribund 23-32 when on June 3 they call up Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, a rookie who had hit almost .500 in spring training. In his first four games Puig, 22, hits three home runs, one of which is a grand slam and all of which are followed by curtain calls.

More, Please

Game 1 of a highly anticipated NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs, who have won three NBA championships this century, and the Miami Heat, who are seeking to win their second straight. Spur guard Tony Parker dribbles the ball off his leg, falls down, and then somehow finds a way to unfurl a jumper with the world’s best player, LeBron James, draped all over him—as the shot clock expires. Basket, and Game 1, to the Spurs.

This Will NOT Be The Most Newsworthy Patriots Item in June

New England signs free agent quarterback Tim Tebow.

Clutch!

The Miami Heat trail three games to two and by three points in the waning seconds of Game 6 when LeBron James attempts a three-pointer with less than :11 remaining. James’ shot is errant, but Chris Bosh grabs the rebound and shuttles it to Ray Allen, who hits the game-tying shot with just seconds to spare. The Heat win Game 6 and later the series.

Death at LeMans

In slick and “treacherous” conditions, Danish driver Allan Simonsen suffers a fatal crash on the fourth lap of the famed 24 Hours of LeMans. It was the first fatality at the French motor sports event since 1997.

Wimble-done

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who between them have won nine of the previous 10 Wimbledon, ahem, “Gentlemen’s Singles” titles, fall in the first and second rounds, respectively. Nadal lost to unranked Belgian Steve Darcis, who added injury to insult by withdrawing before his next match due to a bum shoulder.

The Max Factor

The Detroit Tigers made a cash splash just before opening day by signing their 30 year-old ace, Justin Verlander, to a seven-year, $180 million contract. So, of course, three months into the season it is another Tiger hurler, Max Scherzer, who is 12-0 and leading the American League in strikeouts and WHIP. Verlander is a decent 8-4.

A Memorable Stanley Cup

Three of the first four games in the Stanley Cup finals pitting two of the NHL’s “Original Six,” the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, were decided in overtime. In Game 6, Chicago trailed 2-1 with less than 90 seconds remaining, then scored two goals in 17 seconds to win the Cup. The Blackhawks then presumably went home to have tremendous sex.

Tom Brady’s Favorite Targets Wear Orange Uniforms

Two months earlier, Wes Welker, Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite receiver, signed with the Denver Broncos. Then Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez is led from his home in handcuffs and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. The case has yet to go to trial.

Yankee Doodles (The Gloves Come Off)

Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez has yet to play while he recovers from hip surgery. Meanwhile, baseball is investigating him as the central figure of the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal. Then A-Rod tweets, “Dr. Kelly…gave me the best news—the green light to play games again!” Yankee GM Brian Cashman, when informed of the tweet, says, “Alex should just shut the f&%* up.”

“The truth keeps changing”

It was Bill Simmons versus Doc Rivers during ESPN’s coverage of the NBA draft. Rivers, the outgoing Boston Celtics coach, accuses Simmons of “not knowing the truth” about his departure and says, “I would like to call him an idiot, but I have too much class for that.” Rather than back down, Simmons retorts, “When he sticks to a story, I’ll believe the truth.” Great theater, and in that moment, Simmons became a TV star. Oh, by the way, the Cleveland Cavaliers made UNLV’s Anthony Bennett the No. 1 overall pick and no one has heard from him since. Few had heard of him before.

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