2015 Tank Awards
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The Tank Awards are a sole property of The Sports E-cyclopedia, and are the opinions of Frank Fleming, and are not an official award. Tank award image designed by Liam Scanlan.
Choke of the Year:
Los Angeles Clippers
The star crossed Clippers were closing in on a trip to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, leading the Houston Rockets 89-70 late in the third quarter of Game 6 of the Western Semifinals. The Clippers began trying to milk down the clock instead of making shots, as the Rockets began to find the range. Houston would outscore the Clippers 49-18 over the game's final 15 minutes winning 119-107. The Rockets would go on to win the series in seven games.
Gordan Gecko Award:
Nobody epitomizes the phrase "Greed is Good" more than the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell has sold out the integrity of the league time and again. He looked the other way when the Patriots committed spy gate and try to make it up with a suspension of Tom Brady. The suspension turned into a fiasco and was overturned once again embarrassing Goodell but keeping the league in the news in the off-season so it was win-win for the $44 million dollar a year Goodell, who has signed off on garish uniforms to sell more merchandise under color rush.
Flip Off Award:
With Game 5 of the ALDS between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers tied 3-3 in the seventh inning, Jose Bautista delivered one of the most dramatic moments of the postseason and added an exclamation point. Bautista hit a majestic three run blast off Sam Dyson to give Toronto a 6-3 win, as the ball soared Bautista stood at home plate and admired the shot, tossing his bat in the most epic bat flip in the history of baseball much to the ire of the Texas Rangers.
Worst Team of the Year:
For the second straight season, the 76ers are the worst of the worst. Just how bad are things for the Sixers? The NBA has tabbed Jerry Colangelo and clean up the mess. Tanking games and stockpiling picks may be the long term strategy but the team just can't compete and is an embarrassment to professional sports. After finishing 18-64 last season, the Sixers are off to a 1-30 start in 2015/16. Losing the last ten games last year, the 76ers tied a record losing their first 18 games this season, and have won just one of 41 games since March 25th, a half season worth of game.
Overrated Player of the Year:
Physically there is no better defensive lineman in the NFL besides Ndamukong Suh, who has all the tools to be one of the best in the NFL. A highly sought after free agent, Suh signed a six-year deal worth more than $114 million with the Dolphins. However, Ndamukong Suh has never helped any of his teams win as the Lions always struggled to reach the playoffs, while his first year in Miami was nothing short of a disaster. At one point during the season Ndamukong Suh yelled at his teammates, "None of ya'll could play with me." Advise to Ndamukong Suh look in the mirror the next time you want to shout blame.
Bust of the Year:
After winning the offensive player of the year and leading the NFL in rushing with the Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray cashed in during the off-season signing a five-year deal worth $42 million. The deal has been nothing short of a disaster for all involved, as the Cowboys sorely miss Murray's ability to run the ball 20-30 times a game. The Eagles have not used DeMarco Murray correctly as he has rushed for just 606 yards in 13 games, the worst output of his career. The Eagles are already looking to rid themselves of Murray who wants to go back to Dallas.
Rising Stars Award:
Move over Tiger and Phil the new star of the golf world is Jordan Spieth. The 2015 PGA season belonged to Jordan Spieth as he captured the Masters and U.S. Open before celebrating his 22nd birthday in July. Spieth was on the leaderboard on the final day of all four majors, finishing fourth at the Open and second in the PGA Championship. With Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth the young guns have arrived in the world of golf.
2015 Sports E-Cylopedia Star of the Year
For the first time in nearly 40 years a horse did what some began to think was impossible, win the Triple Crown. American Pharoah not only won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont he captured the hearts of every one. The three-year-old colt did not come from a classic bloodline, but ended up in the right stables with owner Ahmed Zayat from New Jersey. Zayat hired Bob Bafferet to train the horse, giving the legendary trainer his greatest champion. All that was needed to complete the puzzle was an experienced jockey and that is where Victor Espinoza came in. Espionza had come close to the crown in 2014 aboard California Chrome but fell short in the Belmont. After claiming the Triple Crown, Pharoah was not done, winning the Haskell and Breeders Cup classic, while placing second in the Travers before retiring to stud.
Pyrotechnician of the Year:
Jason Pierre Paul
The future looked bright for Jason Pierre Paul as he was negotiating a multiyear deal with the New York Giants when he decided to play with firecrackers on the 4th of July. JPP had one of the fireworks go off in his hand, badly damaging his right hand. The Giants would pull the $60 million offer, as the pass rusher refused to allow team doctors to examine the hand. Jason Pierre Paul had the $15 franchise tag but did not sign until October when he settled for a contract worth a potential $8.75 as he had to prove he could still play football at a high level with one hand.
Inspirational Athlete of the Year:
One year ago Eric Berry's future was in doubt as he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Berry not only beat cancer, he kicked its ass, making the Pro-Bowl. Eric Berry has once again proven he is one of the best safeties in the NFL as he has the Chiefs in position to make the playoffs, playing a key role in their turnaround from 1-5 to playoff contenders.
Criminal Mastermind Award:
While Roger Goodell has sold out the NFL integrity, FIFA has long been without any scruples at all. From match fixing to taking bribes to had the 2022 hosting duties to Qatar the governing body that controls International Soccer has been rife with corruption. That all came to light this year as the Federal Government unsealed indictments that went all the way to the top. While FIFA President Sepp Baltter the man with the name of a Bond villain escaped, eventually it would catch up to him leading to his resignation.
Best Team of the Year:
Golden State Warriors
It was a basketball revival in the bay area, as the Golden State Warriors after struggling much of the last 40 years, won their first championship since 1975, outlasting the LeBrons in the NBA Finals. Anyone thinking the Warriors were a fluke had another thing coming when the new season started, as the Warriors set a record by winning their first 24 games, as Stephen Curry has gotten off to one of the best starts in NBA history, playing even better than when he won the MVP last year. Heading into a Christmas rematch with the Cavaliers the Warriors are an incredible 27-1.
Game of the Year:
Game 7 Clippers vs Spurs
No team is better in the postseason than the San Antonio Spurs, and to beat them you need to give it your all. The Los Angeles Clippers were the team that dethroned the Spurs with a classic Game 7 win in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The game featured 31 lead changes and 19 ties, before the Clippers won 111-109 with Chris Paul fighting a hamstring injury scoring the game winner with one second left.
Rocky Balboa Award:
LeBron James was already the best player in the NBA, but many still did not respect his game. He had won two rings and made the finals four times in Miami. However, returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron showed more in losing to the Golden State Warriors than he ever did winning with the Heat. With the Cavs undergoing a rash of injuries, LeBron James carried the Cavs in the NBA Finals and nearly won all by himself with super human efforts that should have landed him Finals MVP regardless of the series result.
Jeff Gordon's final season on the Spring Cup Series was more than just a victory lap as he was a serious contender for a fifth championship going into his final race at Homestead Raceway in South Florida. Gordon managed to finish third in the race for the finish but was first in the hearts of the fans, ending a 25-year career that will rank among NASCAR's best ever with three Daytona titles and five wins at the Brickyard.
Money for Nothing Award:
When the Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton before the 2013 season they had to overpay to get him, signing the former MVP to a five-year deal worth $125 million. Hamilton made just as big of mistake leaving his comfort zone in Texas. After two disappointing seasons and a relapse, Hamilton was persona non grata in Anaheim, and the Angels needed to get rid of him. So back to the Rangers Josh Hamilton would go with the Angels still paying him $68 million as he is on a division rival.
Underrated Player of the Year:
Given a showcase Daniel Murphy shined in the playoffs, hitting seven home runs, including a record six straight game with a home run helping the New York Mets sweep their way to the World Series against the Chicago Cubs. While Murphy's home run barrage was a statistical abnormality, he has been a solid hitter for several years. The only weakness in Daniel Murphy's game is he has always been a man without a position as he is below average in the field as seen in the World Series. That aside Daniel Murphy is one of the most reliable hitters in baseball and should be a bargain pick up for some team.
Surprise Team of the Year:
With injuries to their top two quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett the Ohio State Buckeyes were viewed as a longshot when they faced Alabama in the Sugar Bowl with a chance to earn a trip to the first ever true National Championship Game. However, the Buckeye not only beat Bama 42-35, before stunning Oregon 42-20 in the National Championship Game in Texas, as third stringer Cardale Jones was named the game's MVP.
Los Angeles Clippers
Not that the Clippers had good uniforms in the past, but their new rags need to go as soon as possible. Not only does the logo look like something off a video game, their uniforms have the same design quality of sixth grade recreational league. Generic lettering, especially on the road, and the alternates are just an eye sore that should not be seen again any time soon.
They may have been worn for just one game, but the helmets that the Naval Academy wore in the annual Army-Navy Game were beyond awesome. Each helmet featured a ship in the U.S. Naval fleet which was hand painted with blue sky above and the ocean below. One can only hope that these helmets are seen again and again, as they matched nicely with the blue, gold and grey uniforms.
Comeback of the Year:
In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey showed why he is considered to be the best young pitcher in baseball as he helped the New York Mets make the World Series for the first time since 2000. The Dark Night was on the rise in 2015, posting a record of 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts. Harvey was also solid in the postseason and getting his arm strength up, shows he could be even better in 2016.
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Star of the Year
2002 Lance Armstrong
2003 Roger Clemens
2004 Boston Red Sox
2005 Peyton Manning
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson
2007 Tom Brady
2008 Michael Phelps
2009 Jimmie Johnson
2010 Drew Brees
2011 Dirk Nowitzki
2012 Usain Bolt
2013 Peyton Manning
2014 Gregg Popovich
2015 American Pharoah
Ryan Leaf Award:
Some people just don't get it and Johnny Manziel clearly shows he is one of them. After his first season in the NFL was a disaster the Cleveland Browns quarterback checked into rehab looking to turn his life around. However, Manziel has continued to demonstrate he has a drinking problem when photos him drinking champagne on an inflated swan surfaced, costing him his starting job with the Browns as he continues to follow the career path of Ryan Leaf.
Mascot of the Year:
No mascot had more fun in 2015 than the spaceman who thrills fans of the Houston Astros. Orbit made highlights dancing, throwing and clowning around at Minute Made Park, even if sometimes he is the butt of the joke, when he had a wardrobe malfunction.
Worst Addition at a Trade Deadline:
Looking to hold off the hard charging Mets in the National League East, the Washington Nationals acquired Closer Jonathan Paplebon from the Phillies at the trade deadline. The deal would be a disaster for the Nats, as Paplebon struggled, and the rest of the pen crumbled. Making matters worse Paplebon made enemies in the clubhouse and choked MVP Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Red White and Blue Award:
Team USA Soccer
The United States Women's National went up north to Canada and conquered, winning the World Cup for the third time. Avenging their defeat in the 2011 Women's World Cup Final, Team USA crushed Japan 5-2 in the championship game. The Americans controlled the game from the start, scoring four goals in the first 16 minutes, with Cari Lloyd netting a hat trick as she was named the tournament's best player.
Deflating Moment of the Year:
Super Bowl XLIX
The New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl holding off the Seattle Seahawks 28-24. The Seahawks had a chance to win their second straight Super Bowl, but with the ball second and goal at the one decided to attempt a pass over the middle, which was intercepted by Malcolm Butler. The Patriots had reached the Super Bowl under the cloud of defelategate after using balls that were deflated illegally in the AFC Championship.
Coach of the Year:
Mr. Personality he is not, honest he is not, but Bill Belichick knows how to get the best out of his players. Once again the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and could be heading for another with a quarterback that is still winning at an age when most are slowing down. The Pats still are a team of bit parts as anyone who leaves is replaced and they never seem to skip a beat.
Myth Busters Award:
Kansas City Royals
The Royals ended the belief that a small market team cannot compete in baseball by beating the Mets in the World Series. The Royals who had not won the World Series in 30 years ended their drought by building their team smartly and playing sound fundamental baseball. Proving that if you pick the right players and play the game right any team can win.
Modern Dynasty Award:
In a day of rapid player movements, free agency and salary caps having long dynasties are a thing of the past. However, when a team does not win consecutive titles but instead wins three of five championships is it not worthy of the title dynasty. Maybe in the old days when teams like the Canadiens won multiple titles it was not a dynasty but in today's age it is.
Mark Cuban thought he had his prize free agent wrapped up and under the tree, when he reached an agreement with Center DeAndre Jordan for a four-year deal worth $80 million. However, before the contract could be officially signed, Jordan's Clippers teammates did a full court press to get him to change his mind. As the signing period approached members of the Clippers visited DeAndre Jordan at his off-season home in Houston to prevent him from talking the Mavericks owner as he agreed to remain with the Clippers.
A Team of Me Award:
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has never been known as a great teammate as he has long had a reputation as a selfish player on the court. In 2015 Melo hit a new low, when he put off knee surgery as the Knicks struggled to a franchise worst 17-65 season just to play in the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Never mind the fact, that Carmelo Anthony could have done more damage to his knee, the fact he would risk his career to play in the All-Star Game showed how shallow he is as star in the NBA.
Best Addition at a Trade Deadline:
Looking to catch the Nationals, the New York Mets woke up their slumbering offense by acquiring Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. Cespedes was just what the Mets needed as they turned the worst offense in baseball to one of the best. The Mets already had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and with Cespeds hitting 17 homers in the final two months the Mets went to the World Series.
She Still Got it Award:
At the age of 33 when most tennis players are in the twilight of their careers Serena Williams had one of the greatest seasons in the history of women's tennis. Serena dominated all year, winning the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, counting last year's U.S. Open she had won four straight Grand Slam titles and appeared to be in position to win the calendar grand slam before falling to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals ending a 33 match winning streak in tennis' four majors.
Family Reunion Trade:
After being dealt by the St. Louis Blues to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jordan Leopold was missed by his family who relocated to their off-season home in Minnesota. As the trade deadline approached, Leopold's 11-year-old daughter Jordyn wrote the Minnesota Wild asking them to acquire her father so they could be together. Needing a defenseman any way the Wild obliged.
Man of Few Words Award:
Marshawn Lynch may go into beast mode on the field, but when he is in front of the press he rather go into shutdown mode, as he has made his feelings about speaking to the press known time and again. At media day, the Seahawks Running Back took things to a new level by answering each question with "I'm just here because I am contractedly obligated." One must wonder if fear of him not talking influenced Pete Carroll's call for a pass on the goal line. Imagine the commercial, Lynch saying "I'm going to Disney World because I'm contractedly obligated."
It don't mean a thing if you dont get the ring award:
The Wildcats were in line to be one of the greatest teams of all time. Sitting at 38-0, the University of Kentucky basketball team was two wins from immortality as they entered the Final Four in Indianapolis. However, after winning 38 straight Kentucky finally met their match in the semifinals losing to Wisconsin 71-64, leaving them nothing to show for their great season.
Play of the Year:
Down 23-21, Michigan State needed a miracle to remain unbeaten against rival Michigan. With the ball near midfield all the Wolverines need was to get the punt off to win with ten seconds left. However, Blake O'Neil fumbled the punt and failed to cover it leaving Jalen Watts-Jackson a chance to scoop it up and score as time expired to give the Spartans a dramatic 27-23 win. As Sparty partied Watts-Jackson was in pain, dislocating his hip when his jubilant team mates jumped on him in the end zone.