The following is part 2 of the Pino911 Comically Overdue Year in Review, in which you’ll find the best viral videos of 2011, the depressing findings of Google Zeitgeist and a heartwarming tale about bath salts. To view part I, which highlights the year in riots, politics and facial hair, click here.
Eagles 34, Redskins 10- If you ask Philly fans who the most prolific sports figure of the 2000s was, you will get a multitude of answers. Some will be remembered for their incredible talent, others for the championship they brought to the city, and still others for their grit, determination, or leadership. Then there is the subset that will be remembered as polarizing, the ones who had lots of success but never truly won anything, the ones who lingered too long and became a villain after years of playing hero. One member of that group even got his team to a championship. For over a decade he was the franchise, love him or hate him. And hate him we did. We hated his arrogance, hated his stubbornness, hated his ego, but most of all we grew to hate the fact that he wasn’t the person he used to be, or maybe never the person we believed he was. We finally realized, after years of adoration and support, the inconvenient truth that maybe this guy just…can’t…win it all. Ultimately, even the many faithful fans who loved him turned against him. But he won’t be remembered for his exit; rather, he’ll be remembered for his success, his controversy and his divisiveness. He’ll be remembered as Allen Iverson.
Iverson left Philly unceremoniously after feuding with coaches and wearing out of his welcome on and off the court, shipped to Denver for Andre Miller and a grab bag of mediocrity. For over a decade, Iverson was the Sixers. He always had his haters, but they were far outweighed by the adoring faithful who packed the CoreStates/First Union/Wachovia center each time he stepped out on the floor. But like Reid, his decisions on and off the court made him a polarizing figure, and as one disappointing season snowballed into two, then three, the compass slowly flipped against him. His departure was appropriately controversial and sad, but it was the right thing to do. No one ever denied that he was a great player, or at least had been, but Iverson’s inability to bring the city a championship began as a creeping doubt and became a frustrating fact. And so it was time to go.
And that’s where Philly fans find themselves today with Reid. Reid’s 13 seasons have been a whirlwind of excitement and ego, fun and frustration. He’s the most successful coach in Eagles history, and he worked wonders to surgically repair the scars left on the fan-base by Ray Rhodes and Rich Kotite. But like Iverson, the tacit suspicions about his ability to bring home a championship have become dogmatic truth for most Philly faithful. It’s time for Reid to go. His failures this season have been well-documented and don’t need to be reheated again here. The man who brought the Eagles to the brink of a Lombardi trophy has kept fans on the brink of a meltdown for years and thus, it is time for a change.
In all probability, a new coach would likely have less success than Reid did. He’d likely lose some games to the Cowboys and Giants and probably wouldn’t lead the team to a Super Bowl. And he’d surely keep the phone lines lit up at WIP with his questionable play-calls and debatable roster moves. But the mistakes, the losses and the debatable coaching philosophy would be new. The frustration in South Philly right now stems largely from the fact that Andy Reid imparts the same ethos year after year and expects different results. The disappointment is expected, there’s nothing that can surprise Eagles fans anymore, and that’s the most frustrating aspect of it all. A new voice is needed at the podium, even if it’s not any less frustrating than the one speaking there now.
Almost three years to the day after Iverson was sent to the Nuggets, he donned a Sixers uniform once more. It was part of Iverson’s ill-fated attempt to stay in the NBA, a short-lived effort fueled only by nostalgia and one last roaring ovation. The first night Iverson took the court in Philadelphia was filled with both. He was introduced to thunderous applause in front of a sell-out crowd, one of the first since he left for Denver. The ovation for the man who once embodied the team carried on all night and spiked whenever he scored one of his 11 points or displayed his signature cross-over, albeit a version far less explosive than the last time he wore a Sixers uniform. It wasn’t that Iverson had been absolved of the sins that sent him out of town and it wasn’t selective memory. It was that after all the excitement, the controversy, the success and the aggravation, Sixers fans subconsciously knew that his time in Philadelphia was well worth it. And so was his exit. And that’s okay.
Ravens 24, Bengals 16: 2011 was the year of the earthquake. Of course we all sadly remember the tragic quake that crippled Japan…but the REAL STORY was the Great East Coast Quake, which literally rocked previously unstable objects to the brink of destruction, before subsiding just before the devastation could manifest. Scientists said late last year that the 12 different $1 billion natural disasters are a sign of things to come thanks to global warming and other man-made developments. I know that their prediction is supposed to scare people and impact global environmental changes but uh, I’m not impressed. In fact, I’m excited. Generally speaking, natural disasters are little more than an excuse for ignorant day drinking and getting out of work, so bring it on Mother Nature. (Note: This only applies if you live in America. If you don’t, you can disregard this and pretty much every other sentence I’ve ever written on this blog). The East Coast Earthquake was little more than a spontaneous free amusement park ride and an opportunity to have a mutually-interested conversation with coworkers for the first time ever.
Side note, after changing my underwear and apologizing to my boss for screaming “THIS IS THE END, SEE YOU FUCKERS IN HELL” in the middle of my office during the earthquake, I checked Twitter to see if anyone outside my office felt the quake because I’m narcissistic and assumed that I was the only person affected. Literally five minutes after the shaking stopped, I was telling coworkers that it was a 5.8 magnitude quake with an epicenter in Mineral, Virginia and it was felt as far away as Boston. They looked at me like I was some kind of sorcerer (or thought I was blatantly making up facts, as I am wont to do). I know the Arab Spring and Occupy movement and 10,000 other events have already proven the amazing tool that Twitter is, but this was my first experience (again with the narcissism) in a major breaking-news event and the near-instantaneous connection to important information and anecdotal stories blew my mind. When the zombie apocalypse happens the too-cool-for-Twitter simpletons are going to be the first to have their brains eaten, as they should be.
The East Coast Quake wasn’t the only natural disaster to affect me and me alone this year, Hurricane Irene caused some flooding and power outages, but generally led to 80%* of the Mid-Atlantic batting down the hatches then proceeding to get black out drunk. (*all numbers are approximate and based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence). Irene also had the decency to arrive on a Saturday, which was unbelievably considerate of everyone’s work/social schedules. Besides that, the East Coast got hit with a few snow storms and a couple heat waves, but really, my contention is that natural disasters do far more good than harm in the long run, and I think they get a bad wrap. So embrace our new weather patterns, my friends. They may be extreme, but they’re extreme in the Travis Pastrana or Mountain Dew Code Red sense of the word. And besides, the leading cause of death from Americans under 80 during natural disasters is liver failure*, so how bad can it be? (*again, not a real statistic).
In other science news of 2011, the Higgs-Boson “God” particle was created by CERN using the Large Hadron Collider. Well, sort of. Okay maybe not. It depends on who you ask. So far the only thing CERN has collided are insanely high expectations with unbelievably underwhelming results. They’ve yet to convince the general population that the Large Hadron Collider is anything more than a great band name or a nerdy euphemism for one’s genitalia.
Hundreds of new species of animals were discovered in 2011, which is exciting to some people. The highlights include-
Self-cloning lizard! Psychodelic Gecko! (another great band name), and the snubby monkey, which, based on the picture, was discovered in an illustrated children’s book, or spotted while committing a crime then re-drawn by a police sketch artist. The most terrifying new species has to be the HYBRID SHARK. Part Great White, part fuel-efficient death machine sent to do Satan’s bidding…or it’s just the product of two different kinds of black-tip sharks mating. Either way, IT’S JAWS MEETS THAT FIRE-THING FROM FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Drain the oceans and kill it NOW.
Giants 31, Cowboys 14: Good lord it was a terrible year to be a Philly sports fan: The Dream Team developed into a legendary collection of dysfunctional underperformers, falling short of expectations by, oh, 6 wins or so. The Phillies too underwhelmed their fans by losing in the divisional round of the playoffs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ryan Howard tore his Achilles on the final at-bat of the season, which could keep him out of action for the first half of next season. The Sixers continued to be the Sixers. The Flyers got swept by the Bruins in the playoffs. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were sent packing. Chris Pronger got concussed and ruled out for the entire ’11-’12 season. Villanova and their much-acclaimed senior class lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to George Mason. Joe Frazier died. Bill Conlin turned out to be a far bigger scumbag than we thought. Even McNabb got cut TWICE! 2012 is the year things turn around though, I mean, it has to after such a terrible 2011 right? Well so far 2012 has brought a Winter Classic loss to the Rangers and Jeffrey Lurie’s announcement that Andy Reid would be retained so uh, let’s go Temple basketball I guess?
Apparently there are news-worthy events in the sports world that aren’t related to Philadelphia so here’s some of the biggest stories of the year by sport:
NHL: The Hot Goalie is the great equalizer in hockey, and the Bruins rode Tim Thomas all the way to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Few things in sports are more exciting than a Game 7 in the hockey playoffs, and the B’s won three of ‘em, over the Canadiens, the Lightning, and finally, the Canucks in the finals. That prompted the city of Vancouver to simultaneously betray and underscore national stereotypes by erupting in unprecedented violent riots, causing millions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of injuries and arrests. While the rest of the world rose up in the face of corruption, tyranny and economic inequality, Vancouver rioted because of Roberto Luongo, which is just perfect. Stereotypes are real and they are awesome.
College Football: The year started with the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, a game that featured Urban Meyer’s last game with Florida before retirement against Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions. One year later, both schools’ states of affairs are exactly the same.
Remember when the nation lost its collective mind over the “lack of institutional control” at Ohio State? Terrell Pryor and other Buckeyes got free tattoos, sold team equipment and possibly got free cars and it ultimately cost Jim Tressell his job. Even more shocking, a massive investigative report revealed that dozens of former Miami players had gotten special treatment while playing in South Beach. Scorned booster-turned-whistle-blower Nevin Shapiro revealed to Yahoo! that bounties were routinely offered for big hits, free VIP nights out at popular clubs were common and cash, yacht-trips and jewelry were given to players by boosters on a weekly basis. The scandals at the U and THE Ohio State revealed the dark side of big time college football and brought on an unprecedented level of public outrage and calls for justice. Boy do I miss those fucking days.
College Basketball: This was one of those crazy years where your success in your office’s NCAA tournament pool was directly proportional to the amount of Twilight novels you read. The Butler Bulldogs, an 8 seed, nearly lost in their opening game against Old Dominion but narrowly pulled it out then ran through Pitt, Wisconsin and Florida to reach the Final Four. The real surprise, however, was Virginia Commonwealth. VCU was in the play-in game (heretofore mercifully known as the First Four) but morphed into their superhero alter-ego Team Swag, and dominated the Southwest Bracket. Head coach/lunatic Shaka Smart led his team to wins over USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and #1 Kansas before falling to Butler in the Final Four. But in a tournament filled with improbable Cinderella stories, Kemba Walker took the narrative to an unprecedented level.
On March 8th, the UConn Huskies had lost four of their last five games, gone .500 in the Big East, and were seeded ninth in their own conference tournament, then Kemba happened. First, the New York native scored 130 points over a legendary five-day stretch at Madison Square Garden, winning the conference tournament nearly single-handedly. Walker and the Huskies then went 6-0 in the NCAA tournament and beat Butler in the championship game to cap off one of the greatest Marches in the history of Madness.
Baseball: It was a dramatic year for Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera broke the saves record and Derek Jeter got hit #3,000 via a homerun at Yankee stadium. Justin Verlander went 22-5, won the AL Triple Crown, and became the first pitcher to take home the Cy Young and MVP trophies since 1986. The Dodgers went broke and the Mets somehow went broker. The Braves blew a 10 ½ game wild card lead on the final day of the season and the Red Sox collapsed all because of a Ludacris album, or something.
Major League Baseball rode a two-month stretch that rivaled any in league history, with the dramatic conclusion to the regular season followed by one of the best World Series in decades. However, just weeks later Pujols left St. Louis for Anaheim, the Miami Marlins snatched up half the good free agents and MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for steroids, proving that Major League Baseball can fuck up absolutely any amount of success.
NBA: Not to be outdone by baseball’s incompetence, David Stern became the first league commissioner to actively try to ruin his own sport. The NBA had its most entertaining season since Michael Jordan left Chicago and saw Dirk Nowitzki play protagonist in the NBA Finals against the vilified, self-proclaimed “Heatles”. It had all the drama you could ask for in the Finals, all the way down to LeBron and Wade fully embracing their role as villains by mocking Dirk Nowitzki’s flu early in the series before the 7-foot Bavarian denied them of their first of eight championships. How did the NBA capitalize on its best season in years? By spending the summer arguing about money, cancelling the first third of the season then vetoing trades and subverting its own dwindling reputation. David Stern somehow turned into some drunk Mussolini-like caricature of himself during the lockout and nearly irreparably damaged his own league.
NFL: While the NBA and MLB watched their leagues’ success crumble in the offseason, the NFL raised the prices on their TV affiliates…by a lot. NBC was already paying $600 million per season just for the Sunday Night Football games. With the new deal that was struck, they’ll be playing $950 million a year for the next 10 years. The league will bring in $6 BILLION per season between its renegotiated deals with NBC, FOX, CBS and ESPN, and that doesn’t include the revenue earned from radio broadcast rights, NFL Mobile or DirectTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. To put that in perspective, the NFL made $6 billion from ALL revenue just seven years ago, now they stand to double or triple that amount at some point over the next 10 years. In an unrelated story, David Stern just vetoed two more trades and sent a league-wide memo asking all employees to provide their own creamer for the office coffee.
Boxing: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but in 2011, we learned that Floyd Mayweather is a scumbag, Manny Pacquiao is dominant and neither man seems particularly motivated to fight the other. Great. You had to dig a bit deeper for captivating stories in boxing this year, but they were certainly there- Miguel Cotto’s awesome revenge on Antonio Margarito, Victor Ortiz’s fantastic fight with Andre Berto, Bernard Hopkins’ domination of Jean Pascal to win the light heavyweight title at age 46 and Andre Ward’s Super Six victories. Believe it or not, boxing has some really compelling fighters and divisions right now, but those narratives were all overshadowed for the fourth year in a row by the won’t-they-or-won’t-they non-drama of the two biggest names.
Packers 45, Lions 41:
Here are your top five plays of 2011 according to my totally arbitrary ranking system:
5. Michigan State vs. Wisconsin Hail Mary
4. Abby Wambach header against Brazil
3. Bobby Ryan’s playoff goal against Nashville
2. Wayne Rooney bicycle kick to beat Man City
1. Jerome Simpson TD and it’s not close:
This had to be the single best touchdown ever scored. With no context taken into account, this really has to be right? The only other touchdown that even comes close was Vick’s walk-off scramble against the Vikings back in his Atlanta days, but seeing as that one had a noticeable lack of FRONT FLIPS I still give Simpson’s play the edge. Jerome Simpson is a NINJA.
And here are the best sports .GIFs of the year:
THE BOTTLE IS ON THE FIELD
Andy Dalton made many great plays in 2011. This was not one of them.
Terrified Punter- the man has ice-water running through his pants
Oh it’s the TNT pre-game cr-GAHHH!
You’re doin it wrong, bro:
Phillip Rivers season encapsulated in a 2 second clip
49ers 34, Rams 27: And here are the eight greatest sports-related viral videos of the year:
8. Nick Novak peed on the sidelines
7. University of Memphis won the cheerleading title, or a dance team championship, or something. Whatever it was, it apparently warranted this incredible reaction.
Bonus cheerleading video! I’m not gymnast, but I’m pretty sure that if you’re going complete a successful back handspring, your feet have to leave the ground at some point.
6. Dude you’re getting Ga-zelle! (Sorry, but that pun would have KILLED back in 2002)
5. Michael Boley scored a touchdown on Monday Night Football, and used it as an opportunity to remind the world that interns serve no purpose but to be degraded and embarrassed by their superiors-
4. Best Boxing Intro/Worst Boxer Ever
3. Shaka Smart is a raving lunatic
2. When golf carts attack! December 13, 2011: The day modern technology became self-aware and the revolution began.
1. Move over Dennis Green, there’s a new coach press conference champion
Here are the five best viral videos of the year, thankfully none of which involve a drunk guy living under an underpass who happens to be able to do good voiceovers:
5. Waving Bear:
4. Chuck Testa: Taxadermist for hire, mostly for the amazing meme’s it spawned
2. India is officially the most hardcore place on earth, even their talent shows are insane. Suck it, Susan Boyle.
1. Most Illegal Wrestling Move Ever
Patriots 49, Bills 21: Google Zeitgeist is amazing. You can go back and see what the top trending Google searches were throughout the year by month. I highly recommend wasting an hour going through all the lists they compiled, but here is the abridged version of Zeitgeist’s findings:
Your top 10 fastest rising Google searches in the United States in 2011:
10. Steve Jobs: Visionary, icon, this seems about right
9. Osama bin Laden: LOL. Your 15 minutes are up, dog.
8. Adele: (zzzzzzz)
7. Casey Anthony: Just wondering, who Googles something that’s already getting 24/7 coverage from every news outlet and website in the country?
6. iPhone 5
5. Ryan Dunn
4. Pinterest: I had never heard of this site up until I saw this list. If the America needs one thing, it’s another social networking site.
3. Hurricane Irene: AWESOME
2. Google Plus: Oh perfect, more social networking, although I’m fully convinced that no one actually uses Google+, everyone just signed up for it then realized it’s a complete waste of time and never checked it again.
1. Rebecca Black: Yep. The number one trending search in America in 2011 was Rebecca fucking Black. Congratulations America.
Other highlights from Google Zeitgeist:
-The top trending news search on Youtube was President Obama. Makes sense. Number 2? Selena Gomez. This was NEWS searches, not entertainment. God I hate America sometimes.
-Pizza Hut, Dominoes and Papa Johns were the top 3 trending restaurants of the year, which I guess makes sense. But McDonalds (5) both made the list, which is just depressing. The only scenarios for going to McDonalds is if you either pass one while driving or if there’s one in your neighborhood and you have no other quick options. That’s it. But Googling it means that you are legitimately craving McDonalds to the point that you will do actual research to get it. That is so, so sad.
-Another search term that I can’t believe anyone would actually Google is “Math”, which was the number one search in the science category. That is the most general search term I’ve ever seen, and somehow MILLIONS of people are Googling it every month.
-The top searches for “What is…” are just ridiculous: Number is “What is Love?”, and if you’re Googling “love”, the only time you’re going to be “feelin lucky” anytime soon is on Google. “What is twitter” was third, for those incredibly late to the party I guess. “What is planking” and “What is dubstep” were up there as well, which I back because I still don’t actually know what dubtep is, even after Googling it. Numbers 7, 8 and 9 were Autism and Lupus respectively. So learning about Autism is important to Americans, but not as important as learning about planking apparently.
Saints 45, Panthers 17: The past year has been filled with endless weird events and inexplicable trends. Here are the most bizarre stories of 2011:
-LMFAO released single after single of music that is basically unlistenable sober, but amazing, poignant and culturally-transcendent when drunk. On top of that, they put out the video of the year (and coincidentally the only video I’ve seen this year. It also inspired the commercial of the year, marching band performance of the year, and Christmas light display of the year.
Beyonce announced her pregnancy at the VMAs. It was cool and all, but it’s tough for your big announcement to have the cultural gravitas you’re hoping for when it’s preceded by something called a Tyler the Creator yelling nonsense half-naked on the same stage. That would be like Bill Belichick announcing his retirement in the middle of a TV timeout during the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
Jay-Z and Kanye released “Watch the Throne”, apparently in an attempt to set the Guinness world record for self-aggrandizing narcissism on one album. Did you know Jay and Kanye are rich and lead extravagant lifestyles? You did? Oh….well anyway, they’re gonna go ahead and make 9,000 references to their wealth on this album just to fully demonstrate the point. Kanye actually took a break from fellating himself to visit the Occupy Wall Street camp. No word on whether he pulled up in his Benz, or his other Benz, or his other, OTHER Benz, but no matter which one he settled on, I can’t imagine it was well received as it paralleled parked between a shopping cart and a pogo stick. Hey Kanye, you can’t rap about spilling Ace of Spades on your Jordans then claim to support the 99%. You just can’t.
Apropos of nothing, Wendell Pierce aka Bunk from the Wire ETHER’D Jared Allen for calling New Orleans a Third World Country. Allen never responded to Pierce’s chiding, which is probably smart since everyone knows Bunk’s just a humble motherfucker with a big ass dick.
-Planking was the big social media trend of the year. Tebowing appropriately had a great fourth quarter of the year, but it was basically a nonfactor for the first three quarters, as opposed to Planking’s refusal to go away. Planking was so ubiquitous that even 200-year old Hugh Hefner was doing it. Well, that or Hef died…either way that picture is hilarious.
-In October an 8 foot tall Lego piece awoke from a 5,000 year slumber and mysteriously emerged from the ocean and began terrorizing a beachfront Florida town. Okay only part of that story is true but for all intents and purposes GAHHHH! THE LEGO INVASION HAS BEGUN.
-An intruder broke into the home of Chicago White Sox G.M. Ken Williams and did the unthinkable. He DEFROSTED HIS LOBSTER. Wayne Field III was arrested after police say he entered the home, tried on Williams’ clothes and jewelry, then ate his leftover pizza, drank his beer then pulled a lobster from the freezer, apparently in hopes of enjoying some fine dining as part of his criminal effort to be king for a day. This wasn’t exactly the perfect crime seeing as it takes NINE HOURS to defrost a lobster so unless Chicago police travel via glacier Danny Ocean and his frozen crustacean victim were probably never going to see the fountains at the Bellagio.
-Mahatma Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in world”, so Ron Artest took that quote in its most literal form and legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. As if he wasn’t fully convinced that the world knew he was a crazy person, he thought that the appropriate response to a question about his name change was to give a 90-second speech lesson on how baby teeth factor into God’s plan:
-Bath Salts! The most docile-sounding hardcore drug of all time, bath salts debuted with a bang in 2011, with each new cautionary tale filled with anecdotes normally reserved for Darren Aronofsky movies. Take this one from Alum Creek, West Virginia: 19-year old Mark Thompson got all kinds of high and stole his neighbor’s pet pygmy goat at 3:15 am. Now if this was a story involving weed or alcohol, this is where our tale would end. But no, with bath salts, it’s just the beginning. The neighbor, Lisa Powers, and her two friends suspected that Thompson was responsible for the disappearance, so they went to his house in search of the goat, which was a gift for her 4-year old grandson. That’s when things took a very bath saltsy turn:
“The three entered the house and made their way to Thompson’s bedroom door when Thompson spoke to them, Powers said. “He told them, ‘Don’t come in, I’m naked,'” Powers said. “But they opened the door and he was standing there with his pants down. He had on women’s clothing and the goat was dead and there was blood everywhere. It was just a scene.”
Wow. When police arrived, they found fresh blood throughout the house and discovered the slaughtered goat next to a pornographic magazine. Thompson was apprehended after he fled into nearby woods and he admitted that he had been taking bath salts for the past three days.
Finally behold, the best headline of 2011, or any other year for that matter:
There it is, you 2011 year in review. I want to sincerely thank each of you for reading this year. I don’t know what’s in store for the blog in 2012, in particular when football season ends, but I know it will be GROUNDBREAKING. If you like what you read here, my only request is that you tell a friend, preferably a friend who runs a major newspaper or website, but any friend will do. Thanks again y’all.