The Most Significant Sporting Events of 2009

Sebastian Lena and Andrew Otovik

1). Tiger Woods’ Roller Coaster of a Year

After missing eight months after knee surgery, the world’s number one golfer finally made his return in 2009. In only a month, Woods found himself back in the winners circle. He overcame a 5 stroke 4th round deficit to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the second year in a row.

Woods continued his success by finishing the year with six victories on his way to capturing his second FedEx Cup. For an encore, he helped the US squad capture the Presidents Cup. Woods was dominating, becoming only the third golfer ever to go 5-0 in the event’s history.

However, there were some low points as well. For starters, Woods finished the year without a major for the first time since 2004. He had his best chance at the PGA championship. Going into the final round, Woods held a two shot lead. It was the 14th time Woods had held a lead in a major after three rounds. He never lost. Y.E. Yang changed all that as he came from behind to beat Woods and capture the PGA Championship.

It would only get worse for Woods. A car accident on November 27 left Woods’ body slightly bruise. However, his image would take a more violent blow. Shortly after, allegations that Woods had cheated on his wife, Ellen Nordegren, with multiple women surfaced. Woods soon released an apology expressing his regret for “trangressions”.

Woods has gained a reputation for being clutch when it’s mattered most. He’ll have an opportunity once again to prove it as he tries to save what’s left of his once squeaky clean image. (Lena)

2) Thierry Henry Single-handedly Cheats Irish Out of World Cup

An event that was supposed to bring countries together did everything but that when France and Ireland met up for a World Cup qualifying match last month. After two matches, the two squads needed extra time to decide a winner. In the 103rd minute France’s Thierry Henry flicked a pass towards teammate William Gallas who headed in the eventual game winner. However, TV replays showed Henry actually touched the ball with his hand. Despite much protest from the Ireland players, the goal stood and with it went the Irish’s World Cup dreams. (Lena)

3) Roddick and Federer Put on Show for the Ages

After last year’s epic Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, nobody gave this year’s final a chance. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer had played 18 times before, with Federer winning 16 of them. This included a 3-0 advantage towards Federer in grandslam finals. Apparently, nobody reminded Roddick about these facts.

After taking the first set, Roddick found himself with a 6-2 advantage in the second set tie-break. However, he lost the next 6 points on his way to losing the set. After dropping the third set, Roddick rebounded to take the 4th set. This would set up a historical 5th set.

Neither player budged in the set, until Roddick served at 15-14. Yes, 15-14. After holding serve for 37 consecutive games, Roddick was finally broken. With that Roger Federer claimed his record breaking 15th Wimbledon title 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. (Lena)

4). Steroids Continue to be a Thorn on the Side of Major League Baseball

What a sad season 2009 was for Major League Baseball in terms of off the field issues. Three of the game’s biggest stars in Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez were all linked to using performance-enhancing drugs. All this did was put yet another dent on the image of baseball. Instead of leaking out names every three months, Bud Selig just needs to have all the names come out at once. He should just let baseball take a huge hit for three months and then move on. It’s real sad when it’s all said and done, the top two HR hitters of all time, (Rodriguez and Bonds), one of the greatest pure hitters of all time, (Manny Ramirez) and the greatest DH of all time in Ortiz will have such a negative story attached to their illustrious careers. (Octovic)

5). Usain “Lightning” Bolt Strikes Again

After coming onto the scene last summer at the 2008 Olympics, Bolt made sure this summer would bring more of the same. During the Track and Field World Championships in Berlin, Bolt set new records in both the 100m and 200m with amazing times of 9.58 and 19.9 respectively. Bolt has already proven he’s a dominant force on the track, and at 23, he should only get better. (Lena)

6). Farve and Vick Prove We All Deserve Second Chances

What a story both of these guys were this past summer. The ageless wonder that Brett Favre has become made yet another pit stop. This time it was in Minneapolis. So far, Favre has proven all his critics wrong as he’s thrown 26 touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 10-2.

Vick on the other hand has not seen a lot of playing time with the Eagles but he did score two TD’s against his old team Atlanta on Dec. 6. After being released from prison over the summer, Vick is just happy to be back in the NFL. This year was all about getting back up to speed and he should make a much bigger impact next year. (Otovic)

7). Crosby-Ovechkin Rivalry Grows

As much trouble as the NHL was in and may still be in, what Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin did in the conference quarterfinals in last year’s play-offs was one for the ages. Both played exceptionally well and in what was probably one of the best 7 game series of hockey that has ever been played. In Game 2, both players had a hat trick. In Game 4, Crosby had a goal and an assist, while in Game 6, Ovechkin had 3 assists. This all led to a Game 7.

As any athlete will tell you, this is where the players come out. This is where stars really show what they have. In this case, Crosby and the Penguins came out on top and Crosby did not disappoint. Crosby had 3 points including two goals in a 6-2 victory, in Washington, by the way. These two players are the faces of the NHL and are both under 25. The only way that this rivalry would be better is if one of them was in the Western Conference so they could meet for a chance at Lord Stanley’s Cup. (Otovic)

8). Is There Really Other NASCAR drivers out there?

Jimmie Johnson is simply something from another planet. Since the 2004 season, when the NASCAR Cup championship was called “Sprint Cup Series Championship”, Johnson has won the chase four times. By the way, those are all consecutive, not to mention, the streak is still alive. At 34 years old, Johnson is the face of the sport. He is a very personable guy who loves the spotlight. In nine professional seasons, Johnson has 47 wins in 291 starts. Winning 16% of the time, especially in today’s game, is not so bad. Currently at 13th in all time in wins, maybe Johnson can move up to third place or even second. (Otovic)

9). NBA Play-offs to Remember

It all began with the opening round match-up of the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics. The 7 game series saw 4 overtime games, including a 3 OT game 6, in what many call one of the best play-off series ever. It was just as good in the second round. Both last year’s NBA finals contestants, the Celtics and the Lakers, found themselves playing a game 7. The Celtics fell to the Magic while the Lakers crushed the Rockets.

The conference finals would prove to be a showcase of 4 of the biggest stars in the NBA. In the Eastern Conference, Dwight Howard and the Magic faced off with Lebron James and the Cavaliers. In the Western Conference, it was Kobe Bryant and the Lakers against Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets. Both series provided dramatic games day in and day out. The Magic would eventually prevail in 5 while the Lakers fought off the Nuggets to win in 6.

The finals led to two possibilities. Either Dwight Howard leads the Magic to a championship and starts his journey towards being recognized as the best big man in NBA history or Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers to the title to win his fourth NBA ring and stake his claim as one of the best players in NBA history. In the end, after a hard fought series, the Lakers prevailed in 5. (Lena)

10). Best College Basketball Game Ever?

First off, let me say what a game this was. Six, count them all out, six overtimes. The game alone took almost 4 hours to play and was a total of 70 minutes of running time. There were some pretty alarming facts from this game. Eight players fouled out of this game and Syracuse was 23-26 from the free throw line in the 6 OT while only shooting 17-25 before that. The most alarming fact of all was Syracuse never led in any of the overtimes until the sixth one. This game was huge with Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf from Syracuse and AJ Price from UCONN all playing over 60 minutes. Did I mention that Syracuse was on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and needed this win to play another day? I’ve seen a lot of college games in my day, but March 12, 2009 will always stick out in my memory. (Otovic)