Top Ten Sports Stories in 2014
It has been quite an eventful year in sports in 2014; it was filled by both great feel-good stories and pretty disturbing news. Here are the ten biggest sports stories in 2014:
10. Michael Sam- After having a great 2013 season as a Senior with Missouri, and winning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam came out as the first openly gay football player. While many pundits didn't feel Sam would garner a draft selection, due more to being considered too small for defensive end and too slow to play linebacker, the St. Louis Rams made quite a splash in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by selecting Sam a mere seven picks before the final pick of the draft. Even though Sam was among the final cuts the Rams made in the preseason, Sam was signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad-- where he spent the majority of the season, before being released. He is currently a free agent, available to sign with any team that's interested.
9. A pair of all-time greats in their respective sports called it a career in 2014. The Captain himself, Derek Jeter, ended his 20-year New York Yankee career atop the Yankees hit list and sixth all-time among all major leaguers. After being the final cut to the United States Men's National Team 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Landon Donovan announced 2014 would be his final year of playing soccer. Donovan would finish with a record six MLS Cup titles (four with the Los Angeles Galaxy), the all-time goals leader in the MLS with 136 goals, the all-time leader in both goals and assists in US Men's National Team history with 57 goals and 58 assists. Along with Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride, Donovan is only the third American to score a goal in multiple World Cups.
8. Speaking of soccer (futbol to the truest of fans), both the US national and Mexico national team brought plenty of excitement to this region of the world by advancing to the Round of Sixteen of 2014 FIFA World Cup. Team USA defeated Ghana, who had eliminated US the previous two World Cups, almost defeated Portugal before drawing 2-2, and gave the eventual champion Germany a run for their money before losing 1-0; but still finished second in the "Group of Death" to advance into the Knockout Stage. Mexico began their World Cup with 1-0 defeat of Cameroon, played inspired soccer in 0-0 draw with host Brazil, and dominated Croatia 3-1 to advance. Mexico led the Netherlands 1-0 for the majority of their Round of Sixteen match before the Dutch came back to score the 2-1 victory.
7. After spending virtually all of April on the road, the El Paso Chihuahuas debuted at Southwest University Park on April 28, 2014. Behind great crowds and several fan favorites, the Chihuahuas played to an even .500 record. The success of the Chihuahuas, especially at the box office, led Southwest University Park to be named host of the 2015 AAA National Championship game that pits the Pacific Coast League champs and the International League champs.
6. After missing out on postseason play for 29 years, the Kansas City Royals-- led by a great bullpen, strong defense, and amazing speed-- made a run all the way to the 2014 World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. The Giants were led by Madison Bumgarner, who had a historic 2014 postseason run where he posted a World Series- record earned run average of 0.25 and won the World Series Most Valuable Player award, to win their third World Series in five years.
5. Beginning in February 2014, when a video of Ray Rice dragging his then-fiance from an elevator, the National Football League (and Comissioner Roger Goodell in particular) took a public in their handling-- or mishandling-- of domestic violence issues. First, Goodell suspended Rice for only two games before he changed the punishment to indefinite after video from inside the elevator was released by TMZ. Then, both the Carolina Panthers and the NFL, allowed Greg Hardy to play even after he was convicted by a North Carolina judge for both domestic violence and threatening to kill his girlfriend. Hardy was placed on the Exempt List, allowing him to earn his normal game checks while he awaits a jury trial in appeal of his conviction. After being charged with negligent abuse of his four-year old and pleading No-Contest as part of a plea bargain while on the Exempt List, Adrian Peterson was suspended for the remainder of the 2014 season to not be reinstated until April 2015-- an attempt by Goodell to correct his past mistakes in punishment for domestic violence. Rice was then reinstated by an arbitrator for being punished twice for the same crime, another negative hit against Goodell and the NFL.
4. After posting a 2-10 record during a tough 2013 season, the UTEP Miners football team posted a 7-6 record in Sean Kugler's second season as head coach in 2014. The Miners were invited to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, where they lost to the Utah State Aggies 21-6. The Miners posted a 5-3 record in Conference USA play this season.
3. Three El Paso-area teams advance to Regional Round of the 2014 5A Texas state playoffs. The Del Valle Conquistadores played tough before losing 37-21 to the # 1-ranked Aledo Bearcats, finishing their season with an 11-2 record. Eastlake lost to Everman 31-20, giving up 21 fourth quarter points to end the game. The Falcons ended 2014 at 9-4. The Canutillo Eagles defeated the Azle Hornets 17-10 to continue their historic run in the 2014 state playoffs.
2. While this story comes in at number two, it is really 1A. The UTEP Women's Basketball team made a historic run in the 2014 Women's National Invitation Tournament, reaching the final. Behind the support of several sold out crowds at the Don Haskins Center, the Miners reached the final against usual powerhouse Rutgers Scarlet Knights Women's Basketball team. They made a great second half, nearly pulling off the upset in front of 12,222 at the Don before losing 56-54.
1. Speaking of historic runs, the Canutillo Eagles football went further than any other El Paso-area team has ever gone. After beginning their 2014 season by losing to El Paso 6A power Franklin 24-13, the Eagles went on a thirteen game winning streak and dominated District 1-5A play (their first in the district). They shut out three of their district opponents. In the playoffs, the Eagles beat Ysleta 63-28, San Angelo Lake View 27-10, Azle 17-10, and Everman 17-14. In the semifinals, their historic run came to an end as they lost to the eventual state champion Ennis Lions. They finished with a 13-2 record.