As the old saying goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This certainly applies to local sports in 2012. Since you’re holding OC METRO’s annual Best & Worst issue (our cover story is on page 52), here are a few of this year’s highlights and lowlights in Orange County’s athletic arena:
Maybe next year, Albert ...
Best: The Angels sign Albert Pujols (pictured) and C.J. Wilson; Mike Trout emerges as a superstar – Last January, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed first baseman Pujols (pictured above), a three-time National League MVP and future Hall of Famer, to a 10-year, $254 million contract. The Halos also signed pitcher and Newport Beach native C.J. Wilson to a 6-year, $77 million deal. In addition, young phenom Mike Trout was named the American League Rookie of the Year. He came in second to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers for American League MVP honors.
Best: Anteaters VB team wins national title – For the third year out of the last six, UC Irvine’s Men’s Volleyball Team won the NCAA’s Division One championship, knocking off the USC Trojans. They also captured NCAA titles in 2007 and 2009. Senior Carson Clark and junior Kevin Tille were named First Team All-Americans.
Best: O.C. strikes gold – Orange County produced an impressive number of athletes who competed in the 2012 Summer Games. Among the 79 in London were gymnasts Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney; beach volleyball player Misty May Treanor; and women’s water polo players Courtney Mathewson, Annika Dries and Tumua Anae. A little side note: All of these competitors won Gold Medals. And these are just a few of the O.C. women …
Worst: Anaheim Ducks sidelined by “fowl” NHL lockout – It’s a gross understatement to say that the season is not what it was quacked up to be, thanks to the NHL’s ongoing labor dispute, which continued at press time. Still, the team has positively affect the community, thanks to outreach groups such as the Anaheim Ducks Foundation.
Worst: UCI’s John Speraw heads to Westwood – During his decade-long tenure as coach of the UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball Team, Speraw led his squad to NCAA Championships three times. He was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 2006. Two years later, he served as assistant coach on the Goal Medal-winning U.S. Olympic team. Speraw has replaced Al Scates, who retired after 50 years as the Bruins’ head coach.
Worst: The Angels strike out – Local baseball fans weren’t exactly thrilled when, despite the acquisition of first baseman Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Halos ended up missing the playoffs, coming in fourth place (out of five teams) in the American League West Division, with an 89-73 record. And the team lost Torii Hunter, who inked a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers on Nov. 14.