10 Best Sporting Moments of 2012
Ten best sporting occasions of 2012
Yesterday (or the day before yesterday, depending on the reader's time zone) was the last day of 2012 and with no major events scheduled (in sport anyway, I think there were a few minor and unrelated events going on places such as Sydney and parts of New York City) it is time to look back on the best and worst of 2012. It's important to point out at the start that any such analysis is inherently going to be a very subjective matter. Sport is a zero-sum affair; that which brings ecstasy for one person will always bring agony for another. Even beyond that, two people who support the same set of teams will likely put more emphasis on one event than another. So with that in mind, this is my list.
It has been a very mixed year for my teams. Whilst it has been an annus mirabilis for English sport in general, my individual teams (the Kansas City Royals, Lancashire, Bath, Liverpool and England cricket, football and rugby) have all had at best average years if not outright poor ones. That's not to say there have not been bright spots, of course, there have been. But I do not think that I shall look back on 2012 in as positive a light as many others will.
These are the ten bright spots, however. They are listed inversely by degree rather than chronologically; the single best sporting moment of the year is at the end. Not only do I not expect universal agreement, I do not expect even a single person to agree on all ten. But I would be happy to hear alternative lists as well.
10 - MCC v Lancashire
Lancashire, as defending Champions, faced the MCC in the traditional curtain raiser to the County Championship played in the decidedly non-traditional location of Abu Dhabi. It was a glorious reminder of what the previous year had brought and Lancs won by six wickets on the third day. Unfortunately, the year went rather downhill from there.
9 - Manchester City winning the title
I have no great love of Manchester City, but the last day of the Premier League season was incredible to watch. Furthermore, the oh-so-late winner for City kept Manchester United from winning the title instead. From a Liverpool perspective, that was the most important aspect.
8 - Royals v White Sox
One would not expect a 72-90 team to dominate anyone, especially not a team who were only eliminated from contention on the 160th game of the season. And yet that is what the Royals did to the Chicago White Sox in 2012. The teams played each other 18 times this year and in 12 of those games the Royals came out winners.
7 - Triple Crown
To have a Triple Crown winner in baseball is quite special, but to see it happen is even more so. This year Miguel Cabrera sealed his Triple Crown in front of more than 30,000 at Kauffman Stadium and got a standing ovation even from the opposing crowd.
6 - Wembley wins
Liverpool's success in the League Cup saw a first ever trip to the new Wembley Stadium in February and the Reds lifted the cup after beating Cardiff City on penalties. Six weeks later the Merseyside Derby came to London with Liverpool meeting Everton in the FA Cup semi-final and coming from behind to win 2-1. Liverpool did go to Wembley one more time, losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
5 - Olympics
It's fair to say that the London Games went well. The off-the-field side of hosting went brilliantly and for good measure Britain finished third in the medal table with 29 gold medals. It's hard to pick out a single best moment; Andy Murray winning gold on centre court was certainly special, but my I think my favourite part was watching the Australians on Twitter go from very smug after the first couple of days to watching their athletes be thrashed at all and sundry for a week.
4 - England 38-21 New Zealand
England were not supposed to beat New Zealand in this year's autumn internationals and especially not after losing to South Africa and Australia going into the match. But England actually took the early lead and had a 15-0 advantage just after halftime. When the All Blacks scored and converted two quick tries it looked like reality was going to return, but England's response was magnificent as they scored three tries themselves and only a 75th minute consolation try saved the Kiwis from their heaviest ever defat. The match ended New Zealand's 20 Test unbeaten run and was England's first win over the All Blacks since 2003.
3 - Home Run Derby
The entire All-Star week was a good one for the Royals, but the high point was surely the Home Run Derby. It started a week before when Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees snubbed Billy Butler for a spot on the AL team. This was not a wise move. Cano was booed during batting practice. He was booed when he stepped to the plate and then every time he failed to hit a home run it was lustily cheered. Cano was clearly rattled and after stepping out a few times he ultimately failed to hit a single home run, much to the delight of the Royals fans. You cannot tell me Butler would not have done at least as much!
2 - US Open
It had been a long time since a British male has won a major. Murray had come close many times and did so at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year before finally ending both his own wait and the wait of a nation when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open. It took five sets and nearly five hours before Murray could triumph, but triumph he did in a final that will go down as a classic.
1 - India 1-2 England
It was a long and mostly disappointing year for England, but they ended it on the highest of high notes. In his first series as captain Alastair Cook led the team to India, where England had not won a series in 28 years. England fought back well after losing the first Test and beat India heavily at Mumbai and Calcutta. India seemed to rapidly lose the plot as the series progressed and the last Test was played on a dead pitch. England needed to only bat out a draw to record their history making win and they did so with ease. The series also saw Captain Cook set the English record for most career centuries. It was a perfect way to end the sporting year and surely bodes very well for the back-to-back Ashes of 2013.