As the year draws to a close, I wanted to take a look back at the last year in sports and sports betting. Instead of just doing a general look back at the things you’ll be able to read everywhere, though, I wanted tolook back at the things that mattered to me over the year. Over the next two days, then, I’ll look at ten of the events that I will remember when I look back at 2008 years from now.
Curlin’s win in the Dubai World Cup – I was a big fan of this horse since before the Kentucky Derby. His 2008 season didn’t work out entirely perfectly, but it certainly had its high points. The World Cup was, in my view, Curlin’s best win. He was totally and completely dominant, and proved that he was the best horse in the world at that time. Given the soap opera involving the horse’s ownership, it was refreshing to see how just-plain-good he was when he was in his element. I’ve watched every Dubai World Cup, and I am not convinced that there has been a champ who would have beat Curlin on that day.
Memphis blowing the final – I’ve been a big John Calipari fan since his UMass days, so I was very much bought into Memphis from the start. I also really don’t like Kansas. I was absolutely convinced that Memphis was going to win the big game. I was absolutely gutted, then, when everything went to hell in the final seconds of the game. Crushing. At least Derrick Rose has bounced back well from it all. Coach Cal still didn’t learn the big lesson – his team is still lousy from the free throw line.
Big Brown blowing the Belmont – If the Memphis thing was crushing, then this one deeply wounded my soul. I was not quite three years old when the last Triple Crown was won. Since I became aware of what that meant I have been obsessed with seeing another one. I am always convinced that it is going to happen, but I have never been more sure than I was this year. It seemed like everything was aligning, and it was meant to be. But then the most perplexing, mystifying, incomprehensible thing I have ever witnessed happened. Seven months have passed, yet I still don’t have a theory I believe to explain why he misfired so badly. It was almost enough to turn me off of the Triple Crown entirely. Or at least that’s what I thought until the big two year olds started running later in the summer.
Israel Vasquez vs Rafael Marquez III – I’m not a huge boxing guy, but I happened to catch the second fight between these two junior featherweights, and it was so good that this third and likely final meeting became mandatory viewing. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was perhaps the best fight I have seen. It was absolutely brutal. You wouldn’t think that guys that small would pack a punch, but each guy just unleashed a thousand furies time and time again. It was relentless, vicious, and thoroughly entertaining. Vasquez won by a split decision, and I’ll never forget it.
Atlanta taking Boston to game seven – I’m a sucker for the underdog, so I was rooting for the impossibly outmatched Hawks over the Celtics. It seemed so unlikely that it was ridiculous, but Atlanta almost pulled it off. They got all the way to game seven, and that game was a close one for a while, too. In the end, it was the best thing that ever happened to the Celtics – it woke them up and made them more careful, and they were all but unbeatable the rest of the way. For a brief while, though, it seemed like the ultimate Cinderella story was being written. The Hawks’ franchise sure deserves a break.