2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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The softer side of George Steinbrenner

July 12, 2010 - Bronx, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - epa02247395 A sign commemorating the death of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is seen outside of Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, New York, USA, on 13 July 2010. Steinbrenner died of a heart attack this morning in Tampa, Florida at the age of 80.

Whether you love or hate the Yankees, or whether you came to respect or loathe George Steinbrenner, it’s hard not to appreciate the kind of man he was after you read the story below from the New York Daily News.

According to the paper, Steinbrenner once donated $13,000 to the family of a second-grader named Lorraine Blakely (now 40), who almost died after a freak accident in 1977. Steinbrenner only had one condition if he were to help: That the family could not discuss what he had gave them.

“It just shows what a good man he was,” Blakely said Wednesday at her Lake Ronkonkoma, L.I., home. “He didn’t want any notoriety for it. He was just doing it out of the goodness of his heart.”

Steinbrenner, despite a deserved reputation for bluster and bullying, often hid his softer side and philanthropic works: helping the kids of slain cops, funding hospitals, aiding terminally ill children.

And rescuing 7-year-old Lorraine after her skull was fractured by a flying chunk of wood in a botched Fire Department demonstration on Oct. 12, 1977.

Three hours of emergency surgery saved her life, but a chunk of the bone protecting her brain was gone – forcing her to don a hockey helmet around the clock.

A delicate four-hour operation was needed to implant a plastic plate across her skull.

That’s when Steinbrenner stepped to the plate, sending a limousine to bring the little girl and her parents to a meeting, where he handed over the check.

“It was a bit of an intimidating situation for me,” she recalled. “But when I got there he was so kind – one of the nicest people you could ever meet.”

The May 1978 surgery was a success, the Steinbrenner money helped pay the bills and the little girl grew up with her secret – a promise held so tightly that she never even called The Boss to say thank you.

But she never forgot his generosity or gentle demeanor.

“It gave me a chance in life,” she said. “It means a lot. Especially now, as a mother with children, to know what that must mean.”

Some people often say that wealthy athletes or people in sports don’t do enough for the underprivileged. But here’s a perfect example that there are a lot of good people in this world who are willing and able to do something out of the kindness of their hearts. Steinbrenner clearly didn’t want any notoriety for this and he couldn’t have known that after he died, Blakely was going to share her secret.

He may have pissed you off when the Yankees signed a free agent that your team was going after, or you may always root against the Bombers because they “buy all of their players.” But sports mean nothing in the grand scheme of things and when you push baseball and the Yankees to the side for a moment, George Steinbrenner was a good person.

And stories like the one above are what he should be remembered for.

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