by Larry Ham
2014 was another great year for sports fans, with plenty of highlights and heartaches to go around. First we’ll take a look at the national highlights of 2014, and then the local highlights.
As far as what went on nationally on the field of play, the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series title in five years. The “Dynasty” word got thrown around a lot, and three titles in five years is a great accomplishment in the age of free agency, but I am not quite ready to call the Giants a dynasty just yet. Maybe if they win it again in 2015. And if they do win it again in 2015, I may have to move to Siberia to get away from all the Giants fans around here who have made life for this Dodger fan so miserable in the past half-decade.
The Los Angeles Kings won their second Stanley Cup in three years in 2014. All of us long suffering Kings fans had to wait 45 years for our first Cup, and now we get two in three years.
The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, behind Quarterback Russell Wilson, and a terrific defense. I enjoyed seeing Wilson succeed, after so many “experts” didn’t think he had the skills to be an effective NFL Quarterback.
The other NFL story that was big around this area was Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr being drafted by the Raiders. He is a terrific player, and a terrific person – the kind of guy everyone roots for, so it’s an interesting experience for me to actually root for the Raiders (sorry Raiders fans). Carr had a pretty good rookie season, and improved as the year progressed. If the GM can get him some receivers who can actually catch the ball, he is in for a very good career.
I have no idea who won the NBA title, and I don’t care. The NBA isn’t even basketball anymore.
Hmmmmm.. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle. All west coast teams. The east coast biased national sports media may still be crying in their overpriced soup over that!
Maybe that’s why the national media spent so much time obsessing over Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Michael Sam.
Rice and Peterson are NFL running backs accused of abusing a fiancée and a child, respectively. No one condones that kind of activity, but the media couldn’t stop talking about it, and shamed the NFL into making a whole bunch of laughable public service announcements to show how sensitive they suddenly are.
Michael Sam was a mediocre defense player coming out of college, who announced he is a homosexual right before the draft. At the rookie combines, where potential draft picks show their skills to NFL scouts, Sam was worse than mediocre, and was drafted by the Rams in a late round. He didn’t make the team, he was cut from the practice squad, and disappeared. Personally, I really don’t care about an athlete’s sexual preferences, but apparently the national media do.
OK, now on to the local scene.
Locally, Immanuel High School reemerged as a power sports school, with terrific basketball teams (boys and girls), and very good football team that fell one game short of a valley title. Dinuba and Kingsburg continued to produce very good teams as well. Reedley High’s boys water polo team took the valley D3 title, Selma High’s girls basketball were valley D3 runners up, Immanuel’s boys and girls both won the valley D5 title in basketball, and the Eagles baseball team fell one win short of a valley title, losing to Exeter in the finals.
The biggest local story for me, however, was the incredible up and down season for the Reedley College football team. They finished 4-6, but in five of their losses, they led late in the fourth quarter, only to give up a late TD. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and I’ve never seen a combination click like Tiger quarterback Joshua Allen and wide receiver Raphael Aroujo-Lopes. They were, by far, the best passer/receiver combo the Tigers have had in my twenty years covering the team. They were both freshmen, and it’s a shame they won’t get to repeat their show next season. Joshua Allen has received a well deserved scholarship to Wyoming, so we’ll be watching him against the Mountain West next season, including Fresno State. Our best wishes to Joshua Allen.
And one final local note. Doug Hoagland is retiring as Editor of the Reedley Exponent. I have had my disagreements with Doug over the lack of coverage for certain sports teams over the years, but Doug has always been a gentleman, and a superb writer. He really cares about Reedley, and tried to produce the best paper he could, every week. I can only hope the next editor has the opportunity to do something about the abysmal coverage of Reedley College sports. The Exponent sports section hasn’t been the same since the days of Will Goldbeck, Rob Fujimoto and George Villagrana. Reedley College athletics, and our local youth sports teams, both deserve more coverage than they are getting.
My thanks, as always, to my friend and broadcast partner Will Goldbeck for his help with the local year in review.