What's your favorite sports moment from 2011?
Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss the year's best moments in sports. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the conversation by adding a comment of your own.
Jeff Otterbein, Hartford Courant
Well, there is no way to get Penn State and Bernie Fine out of one’s head when thinking about 2011. The worst of 2011, yes. Horrible.
This question depends on how you want to define memorable; we’re going with good memories.
And when we think memorable in these parts, we have to stay local, even though it is a national story, too. The UConn men’s basketball team’s improbable run to an NCAA title.
As the Courant’s Mike Anthony wrote when UConn beat Butler for the title: Somewhere along the line, disbelief was met by something that felt like design, and so in the minutes before midnight Monday at Reliant Stadium, Kemba Walker strolled across the court, kicking up streamers that had fallen from high above, and offered the perfect irony to sum up this remarkable journey.
"We shocked the world," he said. "We were destined."
That they were. How else to explain losing seven of 11 to close out the regular season and then winning 11 in a row. The Huskies won five games in five days at the Big East tournament. In the NCAA tournament, they beat Bucknell, Cincinnati, San Diego State, Arizona, Kentucky and Butler.
UConn 53, Butler 41. UConn shot 34.5%. Butler shot 18.8%. Some saw it as ugly. Not here.
We’re taught at an early age is to never give up -- no matter what.
The late Jim Valvano so eloquently reminded us of this in his famous speech.
And yet, almost always, when things look real bad they end bad.
Except it didn’t for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
It looked bad for them when they lost ace Adam Wainwright in spring training. And when they trailed the Braves by 10½ games in the wild-card chase in late August. And when they trailed Cliff Lee and the Phillies 4-0 after two innings of NLDS Game 2, and especially when they were down to their last strike three times in Game 6 of the World Series.
Never give up. The 2011 Cardinals showed us all why.
Photo: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jason Motte rides in the World Series victory parade Oct. 30. Credit: Chris Lee / McClatchy Tribune