Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 games of 2010

Another year and another top 10 games list. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept I present to you to the top 10 games that where I was in attendance. Unfortunately this year's list isn't as impressive as 2009's top 10 games, but there were still some memorable games. Below are the top 10 games:

10. Warriors at Timberwolves - Warriors won 116-107. The last spot on this list goes to a game that was so bad it was good. The Timberwolves only had 4 more games to go (all losses) on a dreadful season (even for them) and a below-average team like the Warriors wasn't one of those teams that really inspired much passion. It wasn't that exciting of a matchup despite my top-10 reasons why I was excited for the game. The national news story associated with the game was that that the Warriors coach Don Nelson became the NBA's all time winningest coach with this win. However, the reason that this game sticks in my mind was that I witnessed the laziest performances by any NBA player I have ever seen. Ronny Turiaf made $4,140,000 last year, which means that in that game alone he was paid $50K to jog around the court a few times and make little effort to actually play basketball. Below is a picture of Turiaf warming up....keep in mind it is a little tough to shoot, rebound or pass the ball with both hands in your pockets.

Turiaf played 22 minutes and in that time he was 1-2 from the field and had zero rebounds. You have to really try not to try to play 22 minutes as a 6-10 center and not get a single rebound. It really overshadowed great games by Anthony Tolliver and Stephen Curry.

9. Twins at Royals. Twins won 9-7 in 12 innings. The night of my bachelor party in Kansas City featured a game that went back and forth as both teams tried to give the other a chance to win the game. It looked like a Royals win until Justin Morneau hit a 431 foot dead center field 2 run home run in the 7th inning. The Royals were a sacrifice fly away from winning in the 10th, but being the Royals (and being Yuniesky Betancourt) they couldn't manage that. Then the Twins looked to win in the 11th, before the Royals tied it in the bottom of the inning. By the 12th inning of a long, rainy game the Twins finally pulled away with a 2 run victory. The final out though was clearly a blown call by the umpire (Greg Gibson), who according to the sports talk radio hosts was "just trying to go home." In fact that was the real highlight of the evening. It was 17 games into the season and the Royals fans who called into the sports show sounded like they needed to be talked off the ledge. There was the memorable caller who talked about how Mitch Maier "can't run, can't hit, can't field..." It was nice seeing that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

8. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs at Columbus Clippers - Clippers won 4-3 in 11 innings. What an incredible ballpark. The game like most minor league games was secondary to the experience and I came away incredibly impressed by Huntington Park on a nice end of May day. I even wrote a blog post reviewing the field and finished up by giving it an A-. The fact that the game ended on a walkoff single from one of my favorite former Twins players Brian Bushcer was just the cherry on top.

7. Jazz at Cavs - Jazz won 101-90. In college I lived with three guys from Cleveland, who would talk incessantly about the Cavs, Browns and Indians. I didn't particularly want to hear about Kelly Holcumb vs. Tim Couch or whether or not the Cavs were going to get Michael Redd in the off-season. From that genesis started the roommate rivalry games between my favorite teams vs. the Cleveland teams. There would always be bragging rights on the line when teams like the Cavs and the Jazz player each other. Well just a week ago my old roommate DG and I traveled from Columbus to Cleveland to see the Cavs vs. Jazz. The game itself wasn't the best, and I don't think many fans of either team will remember it when looking back on the season. However, we scalped great seats for little money and had a fun time watching the first roommate rivalry game in person.

6. Athletics at Twins - Twins won 4-2. Manager Ron Gardenhire can do a lot of things that frustrate Twins fans. Giving Nick Punto 536 at bats in 2007 as an example. However, in this game I completely agreed with his decision to pull Kevin Slowey after 7 innings and no hits allowed. He had pitched 106 pitches (a lot from someone coming off an injury) and hadn't look sharp in the previous inning. Gardy did the right thing. I don't blame him or Slowey for the fact that the bullpen blew what might have been my best chance of seeing a *no-hitter. I blame the bullpen and specifically Jon Rauch for giving up the first hit. Still it was a great game and a good win for the Twins. However, it will always stick out in my mind as the game that could have been.

*This would be #1 on the list if the Twins could have gotten 5 more outs without giving up a hit.

5. LA Clippers at Timberwolves - Twolves won 113-111. Ever since I moved up to Minnesota the Timberwolves have been on the decline. In consecutive years they won 33, 32, 22, 24 and 15 wins. It really is pretty amazing that the Cavs last year won as many games at the Timberwolves won the previous three years combined. One of the teams that has traditionally been the worst NBA franchise are the LA Clippers. The good news to watching too terrible teams (besides the cheap scalping prices) is that they normally have high lottery picks on their rosters. In the case of the Clippers and Timberwolves M and I were able to watch Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Both were as good as advertised and Griffin's athleticism alone was worth the small price of admission. The fact that the game was high scoring and came down to a last second winning jump shot from Michael Beasley made it one of the best games I saw all year. Maybe two wrongs do make a right?

4. Ohio State at Wisconsin - Wisconsin won 31-18. It was a beautiful day in Madison that consisted of great food (State Street Brats) and a long, leisurely day of drinking before the night game between #1 Ohio State and #18 Wisconsin. Just like last year I ended up seeing the game that decided the Big Ten title. While last year it ended well for the Buckeyes as they beat Iowa, this year's deciding game did not end well. Wisconsin was clearly the better team and deserved to beat Ohio State that night. From the opening kickoff (which they returned for a TD in the end zone where our seats were) to the dominating rush attack to the final Pryor interception it was a game that showed the Big Ten that Wisconsin was the best team in the league. I wish I had pictures to show of the game, but the unfortunately I left my camera at Camp Randall stadium as the Ohio State fans I went with rushed out of the stadium once the final outcome was determined. It could have been a better night (with Ohio State losing and me forgetting my camera), but still it was a pretty great game to attend.

3. Dolphins at Packers - Dolphins won 23-20. The day after Ohio State lost to Wisconsin I went with my friends to see what I thought would be another road team lose in Green Bay. It turned out the Dolphins put together one of their better games of the year and won in overtime thanks to a Dan Carpenter's 44 yard field goal. Cameron Wake really played well in the game as he sacked Aaron Rodgers 3 times. It was a great road win and one of the rare highlights on otherwise depressing Dolphins season.

2.Tigers at Twins - Twins won 2-1. Something about the Twins-Tigers in September/October just seems right. The game was a low scoring game that ended with Danny Valencia singling in the winning run. It wasn't game 163, but to have the Twins beat the Tigers at home by one run was a close as I was going to get in the 2010 season.

1. Dolphins at Vikings - The Dolphins won 14-10. The second week of the season I went to go see the Dolphins-Vikings game at the Metrodome with three friends (one Dolphins fan and two Vikings fans). I didn't realize at the time that this would be the pinnacle of the Dolphins season or that it might be the last game I saw at the Metrodome. At the time I just enjoyed the Dolphins creating 4 turnovers by Brett Favre and stopping AP on a goalline stand to preserve a 14-10 victory. I wasn't worried about the Jets or the Patriots games coming up while singing the Dolphins fight song from the upper deck. I wasn't even worried about another terrible performance by the offense. That day my focus was on positive thoughts like the great defense and the fact that they had won their first two games on the road. It looked like an impressive win at the time for a team that was headed towards the playoffs. It takes home the number one spot in my top 10 games ranking of 2010.

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