No local teams rode the duck boats in 2012. Still, Boston sports was once again at the forefront of the national scene. A local gymnast won our hearts and the Pats and Celtics came up just short in quests for titles.
A look at the top 10 storylines of the year:
10. FARRELL RETURNS: A year after Terry Francona was fired, the Red Sox dipped back into the Tito-era with the hiring of former pitching coach Farrell. Boston gave away shortstop Mike Aviles to Toronto for compensation for the former Jays skipper.
9. CUP DEFENSE ENDS: Metro’s 2011 Year in Review featured Bruins, Bruins and more Bruins due to the team bringing home Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time since 1972. The B’s were in position to make another run as the No. 2 seed in the East but were stunned by the Capitals at the Garden in Game 7 of their quarterfinals series. The image of Joel Ward burying the OT game-winner will be burned in the minds of B’s fans for quite awhile.
8. RAY?BOLTS TOWN: Ray Allen was always the third wheel in the Celtics’ second “Big 3” era. He could have gone anywhere he wanted as a free agent, but by choosing the Heat, he immediately became “Hoops Enemy No. 1” in Boston.
7. TIMMY IS LOCO: Tim Thomas was well on his way to being a sports God in this town. That is until he snubbed President Obama’s White House invitation back in January – not exactly the smartest move to make as a representative of one of the most liberal areas in the U.S. – and then decided to quit playing hockey altogether. Here’s a hunch: this story is far from over.
6. THE BOBBY V. ERROR: The Red Sox thought that Bobby Valentine wouldn’t create a daily circus … he created a daily circus. Beginning in April with his criticism of Kevin Youkilis, to the trading of Youkilis, to him embarrasing Will Middlebrooks in the dugout, to him threatening to punch a sports radio talk show host in the face, things were interesting on Yawkey Way all year long when it came to the manager at least. Oh, and that 69-93 record didn’t help matters.
5.PATS EDGE RAVENS: It has already gone down as one of the greatest AFC championship games of all-time as the Patriots edged the Ravens for the right to go to Super Bowl XLVI. The Pats certainly lucked out in this one as they won despite Tom Brady having a subpar game. Baltimore would have been the one representing the AFC had Ravens WR Lee Evans not allowed Sterling Moore to strip the ball at the last second in the end zone. Kicker Billy Cundiff will be known as the goat in this one, however as he missed a 32-yarder that would have sent the game to OT.
4. CELTICS MAKE A RUN: Things lined up perfectly for the Celtics in the East when Bulls point guard Derrick Rose went down with a season-ending injury. Boston immediately became the favorite to reach the Eastern Conference Finals and make a serious run at the Heat — and that’s exactly what happened. The Celtics ripped off three wins in a row against the hated Heat, highlighted by Paul Pierce’s dagger of a 3-pointer in LeBron James’ face in Miami in Game 5. James would get the last laugh, however, with an epic Game 6 in Boston. It paved the way to his first NBA title.
3. MASS. EXODUS: Never has a Red Sox season had so much tumult. Two of the faces of the 2007 World Series championship squad, Kevin Youkilis and Josh Beckett were shipped off. Shockingly, the majority of the fan base thought both players had worn out their welcome. When Beckett was dealt to Los Angeles along with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in August, it was one of the biggest money swaps in MLB history. With the move, the Red Sox front office effectively turned the page to an entirely new era of Boston baseball.
2. PATS A PLAY AWAY: The Patriots were up 17-15 against the Giants with 4:06 left in Super Bowl XLVI when Wes Welker dropped a high pass from Tom Brady. On the final play of the game, a beaten-up Rob Gronkowski nearly pulled off a miracle when he nearly hauled in a Hail Mary throw from Brady that was tipped in the air. Instead, the ball dropped to the ground and the Patriots had suffered their second Super Bowl defeat to the Giants in four years.
1. ALY’S ASCENT: Nancy Kerrigan had long been Boston’s Olympic sweetheart … that is until Aly Raisman hit the scene. The Needham native was the captain of the gold medal winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 summer games in London and became a household name seemingly overnight. Team honors gave way to individual triumphs as Raisman captured the bronze medal in the balance beam final and then became the first American woman to win the gold medal in the floor exercises.