2016 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:
Oklahoma City Thunder
2016 was the year of the 3-1 comeback with the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after falling behind and the Chicago Cubs beating the Cleveland Indians in the World Series after trailing 3-1. However, it was the Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals 3-1 collapse that was the most inexcusable as they had a fourth quarter lead in Game 6 at home before nerves hit and the Warriors stormed back to win the game and take the series in seven games.
Dirty Water Award:
Rio Greeen Diving Pool
Prior to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro there were worries over the water quality in the open water events and drinking supply due to poor sewage treatment facilities. However, it was the diving pool that manifested the worst of Brazil's water when it turned green due to the number of people using it and the addition of hydrogen peroxide which neutralized the chlorine.
Top of the Mountain Award:
Like him or not, there is no denying Jimmie Johnson's spot on the Mount Rushmore of Stock Car Racing, after winning his seventh career NASCAR season championship. Johnson who won a record five Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2010, adding a sixth in 2013. The seven NASCAR championships ties him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the most ever in on the premiere racing circuit.
Worst Team of the Year:
While fans in Northern Ohio celebrated a NBA Championship and watched the Cleveland Indians come within one win of winning the World Series. However, their football team the Cleveland Browns would like to just win one game as they stand at 0-14 with two games left and a high likelihood of becoming the second team to go winless in a 16-game season. The 2016 Browns were a glorified expansion team using three different starting quarterbacks and a defense that is among the worst in the NFL.
Overrated Player of the Year:
He may be one of the biggest names in the NBA, but Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks has never made any of the players that surround him better. While he puts up big numbers and continues to make the All-Star team he likely never will be able to lead his team to a championship. Making matters worse there are times he creates more problems than he solves as he seems to be a magnet to controversy.
Bust of the Year:
The Houston Texans are experiencing buyer's remorse over their big free agent acquisition as Quarterback Brock Osweiler has struggled in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. Things got so bad that the Texans benched Osweiler after he was booed for throwing two interceptions in Week 15.
Rising Stars Award:
After winning Rookie of the Year in 2015, Kris Bryant was named National League MVP in 2016 as he became the central part of their lineup that dominated the National League. Bryant was a key factor in the Cubs World Championship as he hit .387 with three home runs and eight RBI in the postseason before fielding the final out.
2016 Sports E-Cylopedia Star of the Year
In his second season, back in Cleveland, LeBron James delivered on his promise to bring a championship to Northern Ohio as the Cavaliers rallied from down 3-1 to beat the Golden State Warriors in seven games. LeBron's NBA Finals performance was the stuff of legends as he registered back-to-back 41-point games just to get the Cavaliers to a seventh game. In Game 7, LeBron James recorded a triple double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. It was the third time in the history of the NBA Finals that a player recorded a triple double in Game 7. However, it was his block to on Andre Iguodala with 1:50 left that kept the game tied 89-89 that was perhaps the biggest play as the Cavaliers became the first team in the history of the NBA Finals to win after trailing the series three games to one. LeBron James heroics cements him as one of the NBA's top players of all-time and the 2016 star of the year.
The strategy to stockpile draft picks and barely compete continues to be a black eye for the NBA as the Philadelphia 76ers continue to be non-competitive. After completing a 10-72 season, the Sixers thought they were going to get their payoff with the selection of Ben Simmons with the first overall pick. However, like Joel Embiid who missed his first two seasons, Simmons was injured before the season began and has yet to make his NBA debut.
Inspirational Athlete of the Year:
Born to a drug addicted mother and raised by her grandparents, Simone Biles could have been another statistic. However, she had a natural gift and became the most decorated American gymnast of all-time. Biles was the centerpiece of the American Women's Gymnastics team that dominated and won Gold. She would late win Gold in the individual all-around along with the vault and floor exercise with a move named in her honor.
Easy Ryder Award:
US Ryder Cup
The Americans won the Ryder Cup for the first time in eight years, beating Europe 17-11 at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. Perhaps helping to inspire Team USA was the passing of Arnold Palmer a legend at the Ryder Cup who had his golf bag placed at the opening hole, as the American Ryder Cup team had its best effort in years.
Best Team of the Year:
For the first time in 108 years the Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. The Cubs seemed destined for greatness from the start of the season as they led the National League Central Division and had their first 100-win season in 81 years. The Cubs would then advance to their first World Series since 1945 beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. The World Series would be their biggest test as they trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1. However, the Cubs rallied to win the series in seven games taking the Game 7 in extra innings 8-7.
Game of the Year:
NCAA Championship Game
March madness had a finale to remember as Villanova battled North Carolina for the National Championship in Houston. The game was close throughout as no team had a larger lead than five points in the first half. After trailing 39-34 at the half Villanova surged in the second half taking a 67-57 lead. Carolina battled back and tied the game with 4.7 seconds left. However, Kris Jenkins sunk a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Villanova its second NCAA Basketball Championship.
Bonehead Play of the Year:
On the verge of their first playoff win in 25 years, the Cincinnati Bengals once again snatched defeat from the clutches of victory as they went on a meltdown in the final seconds against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With time running out, Vontaze Burfict delivered an unnecessary blow to the head of Antonio Brown, giving the Steelers a first down and 15 yards. They would get into field goal range seconds later as Adam Jones got an unsportsmanlike call for arguing with the officials.
In what his final Olympics, American Michael Phelps cemented his legend as the greatest Olympic Athlete of all time, winning five more gold medals and a silver medal to bring his grand to 23 gold and 32 overall Olympic Medals. To put that in perspective. Phelps career medal count is larger than most of the 205 nations competing in the games.
Money for Nothing Award:
In the second year of a five-year deal worth $90 million, Pablo Sandoval had no hits in six at bats for the Boston Red Sox. Affectionally called Kung Fu Panda, Sandoval followed up a disappointing first season in Boston by showing up out of shape in spring training. The Sox would shut him down fast with a sore shoulder as Brock Holt took over at third base.
Underrated Player of the Year:
Andrew McCutchen may get all the attention, but it is Starling Marte who truly helps the Pittsburgh Pirates stay in playoff contention. Year in and year out Marte puts up solid numbers at the top of the lineup while being one of the top fielders in the National League. Starling Marte made his first All-Star Game in 2016. The Pirates second half struggles coincided with Marte's back issues which limited him to 129 games.
Surprise Team of the Year:
A mid-major from the Big South Conference, Coastal Carolina won the College World Series in their first ever trip to Omaha. It was the first time in 60 years that a team won the College World Series in their first trip to the College Baseball final eight double elimination tournament.
NFL Color Rush
The NFL has become a league of hypocrites, fining players for wearing sneakers that are not approved even though it pays tribute to a worthwhile cause. Meanwhile the league has turned Thursday Night into a technicolor eye sore with monochromatic eye sore that are sold on NFL.com. The Thursday Night eye sores included the Seahawks looking like a giant highlighter in neon green.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ahead of their centennial season, the Toronto Maple Leafs turned back the clock and returned to their classic look detailed leaf look. Though not regularly worn in 50 years the logo is the first thing you see when you think Maple Leafs hockey. Compared to the simplified Leaf they worn since the 1960's it is the logo that made Toronto famous.
Comeback of the Year:
2015 was a lost season for Cameron Wake and the Miami Dolphins, as the team suffered through a disappointing 6-10 season, while their leading pass rusher suffered and Achilles' injury. Cameron Wake returned to the field in 2016 and has not missed a step once again becoming one of the NFL's top pass rushers as the Dolphins battle for a playoff spot in the final two weeks of the regular season.
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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
2016 LeBron James
Out With a Bang Award:
The glory days of the Los Angeles Lakers were just a memory as they set a franchise record for losses in the second straight season. The only thing fans had to look forward to is the farewell tour of Kobe Bryant. The farewell tour culminated in his final game, where Kobe Bryant scored a NBA season best 60 points against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.
Mascot of the Year:
It was a year to remember for the NBA's northern most franchise, as the Toronto Raptors hosted the first All-Star Game outside the United States. The Raptors then went on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Helping to keep their fans entertained was the meanest mascot in the land, The Raptor who has been known to try and nipple on fans who get to close.
Leave them Wanting More Award:
It was the final season for David Ortiz, as the Boston Red Sox Designated Hitter announced before the season he would retire. However, Big Papi looked like he had plenty left in the tank as he led the American League in RBI with 127 and doubles with 48 while hitting .315 with 38 home runs as he won the American League's Hank Aaron Award at the age of 40.
Red White and Blue Award:
Team USA Olympics
It was a highly successful games for Team USA as the dominated the Rio Olympics, taking home 121 overall medals, which was 51 better than any other competing nation. Among the haul was 46 Gold Medals, which was 19 more than any other country. It was third best overall haul for Team USA and the best ever games for the Americans in an Olympics not held the United States.
Heel Turn of the Year:
After nearly leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to an upset of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA All-Star joined the Warriors creating a super team, and ending OKC's chances of a title in the near future. At the same time the price of his sneakers doubled to which Durant responded I am no longer an $80 player. It is as if he hit a chair on the head of the Thunder fans and raised his fist to defiant boos.
Coach of the Year:
When Mike Sullivan took over behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench in December the team was scuffling in the middle of the pack. The Penguins were the strongest team in the NHL in the second half and continued the momentum into the playoffs where they would win the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Way to Go Ohio Award:
The Cleveland Cavaliers ended 52 years of frustration for Northern Ohio, beating the Golden State Warriors in seven games to win their first NBA Championship.
Out a Winner Award:
His best days were clearly behind him as he suffered through his worst season. However, after spending part of the season on the bench Peyton Manning regained the starting job and helped lead the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. While the Broncos defense was the key to victory, Manning became just the second quarterback to win a Lombardi Trophy in his final game. The other was John Elway with Broncos 17 years earlier.
Disorginzation of the Year Award:
Los Angeles Rams
The honeymoon in Hollywood did not last long for the Los Angeles Rams, who returned after a 21-year stay in St. Louis. After playing well early the Rams struggled in their homecoming. Despite the struggles and heavy criticism Coach Jeff Fisher was given a contract extension in December. However, after an ugly loss to the Atlanta Falcons at home Fisher was fired just a week later. Making the move all the more bewildering it was done on a week they played on Thursday Night giving the new staff no time to prepare for the game.
Cheech and Chong Award:
Projected by some to be the top player in the draft, Ole Miss Laremy Tunsil watched his draft stock plunge after video of him using a gas mask bong to smoke marijuana surfaced. Tunsil's fall would last until the 13th pick when the Miami Dolphins made their pick. So far, the Dolphins have benefited as Tunsil has had a solid season in a rebuilt offensive line in South Florida.
Top Dog Award:
UConn Women's Team
The Connecticut Huskies remained the dominant force in women's basketball, winning their fourth straight National Championship and 11th overall while completing another unbeaten season at 38-0. With such a machine in place it is hard to imagine anybody knocking off UConn any time soon.
Lightning Striking Again Award:
While Michael Phelps ruled the pool, Usain Bolt of Jamaica blazed the track, winning the top three sprinting medals for the three straight games. Bolt again won individual Gold Medals in the 100m and 200m, while leading Jamaica to a Gold Medal in the 4x100m relay.
Douche of the Year:
With worries over kidnapping and crime outside of the Rio Olympics, American swimmer Ryan Lochte created a panic when he reported that he was held up along with several teammates at gunpoint. As his story fell apart, several members of the US Swim team were prevented from leaving, though Lochte took an earlier flight as it was determined that he filed a false report.
Edward Scissorhands Award:
Chris Sale the Chicago White Sox ace turned fashion critic when he went through the clubhouse with a scissor cutting up the White Sox throwback "leisure suit" uniforms over objections to wearing it on a game he was going to pitch. Sale would be suspended by the White Sox who were forced to wear their 1983 throwbacks instead.
It don't mean a thing if you dont get the ring award:
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors put up maximum effort in the regular season to win a record 73 games. However, when the playoffs arrived it appear to take its toll as Stephen Curry missed much of the first two rounds. Then after rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, thus spoiling the 73-9 season.
Play of the Year:
LeBron Stuffs Andre Iguodala
Game 7 of the NBA Finals came down to the final minutes with the game tied 89-89 with 4:53 left. Over the next three minutes no team could break the tie, but with 1:50 left Andre Iguodala was on his way to giving Golden State the lead on a breakaway, but LeBron James chased him down and blocked his layup attempt to keep the game tied. Kyrie Irving finally gave Cleveland the lead with 53 seconds left as the Cavaliers won the game 93-89.
Rolling Tide Award:
The Alabama Crimson Tide won the second College Football Playoff and are in position to win another after finishing the season ranked #1 with a record of 13-0. Making the Tide's season even more impressive is the ease in which they dispatch their biggest opponents, winning most games by at least 20 points.
Fool's Gold Award:
A few seasons ago it appeared that Colin Kaepernick was on the verge of being one of the league's top quarterbacks as he helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII and to the NFC Championship Game a year later. However, since Kaepernick has been on a steady decline. In 2016 Colin Kaepernick started a movement by kneeling during the national anthem and forgot that he is paid to win games, as the Niners went into Christmas with a 13-game losing streak with rumors of his time in San Francisco coming to an end following the season.
Unlikeliest All-Star Award:
John Scott a NHL journeyman enforcer became the All-Star the NHL never wanted as a viral internet campaign got him elected captain of the Pacific Division All-Stars. In an attempt to block his appearance, he was traded by the Arizona Coyotes and sent down to the minors by the Montreal Canadiens. However, Scott was allowed to participate and scored two goals to be named the All-Star MVP in Nashville.
Blind Squirrel Award:
It may have been the most unlikely home run in the history of baseball when the New York Mets rotund pitcher Bartolo Colon pulled one down the leftfield line a Petco Park. Colon at the age of 42, was the oldest player to hit his first career home run. For most of his career Bartolo Colon's swing brought guffaws and chuckles as he swung wildly and lost his helmet.
Game Face of the Year:
While preparing for a race at the Rio Olympics South African Swimmer Chad le Clos tried to psych out Michael Phelps by dancing and gyrating. However, Phelps just stared straight ahead and did his talking into the pool winning the Gold Medal in the 100m breaststroke.
Ray FInkle Award:
The Blair Walsh project came to an end in Minnesota as the Vikings kicker was cut after his struggles continued following a missed chip shot Field Goal that would have beaten the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round.
Patriots Game Award:
Fort Bragg Baseball
On July 3rd the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins played ball before some of America's biggest heroes at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The stadium was quickly built by the US Army on an unused Golf Course perhaps opening the door for more special events on the military base.
Fullest House Award:
Bristol Motor Speedway
The historic racetrack played host to a record crowd as 156,990 were in attendance to see Tennessee take on Virginia Tech in football. While many of the seats were a long way from the field, the game was deemed a huge success as the Volunteers won 45-24.