BEST of 2006?
Vince Young was setting
records for Texas in
his college days.
Young was fab as both
amateur and pro in 2006
By BUCKY FOX
Vince Young won me a bet a few weeks ago in Vegas.
That clinches it. Hes my Sportsman of the Year for 2006.
So the pot didnt even add up to 10 bucks. My winning at the sportsbook is as rare as a lotto jackpot.
And when Young sprinted 39 yards to the end zone in overtime to give Tennessee a Titanic triumph over Houston, I joined the other lucky bettors in making like Super Bowl partyers.
The Young Man is thus ending 2006 the way he started it: Winning big. Here are two monthly reasons hes the best quarterback on the globe:
* January: Young was still in college--a master among bachelors. His blooming Rose Bowl act gave Texas the national championship. He rushed for 200 yards, passed for 267. And capped the works with an eight-yard touchdown dash with 19 seconds left for a 41-38 victory over USC. As my buddy Ken Anthony gushed, Youngs Rose feat was the greatest single gamer in history.
* December: Now Youngs a pro, and theres nothing "anti" about him. All he does is orchestrate wins in Nashville: six straight heading into the final week of the regular season. The Titans finally lost to miss the playoffs, but the Youngster was still the coolest quarterback on one hot NFL team.
Between those months, Youngs competition for Sportsman of the Year came from these 10:
* February: Shizuka Arakawa. The Japanese figure skater won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. She continued a run of upset victories in the shiniest winter event following Sarah Hughes in 2002, Tara Lipinski in 1998 and Oksana Baiul in 1994.
* March: Dallas McPherson. The Angels slugger jacked the most soaring shot I saw at spring training in Arizona. If he powered up the summer that way, L.A. would have won the division. Alas, Dallas doddered with his patented injuries. Just dont give up on this guy. Hes an All-Star third baseman waiting to happen.
*April: Kobe Bryant. One scorching season. NBA scoring champion. Games of 62 and 81 points. And this month he carried the Lakers into the NBA playoffs. Kobe gave them a seeming upset of Phoenix in the first round with a mega corner shot in Game 6, but thats where L.A.s season peaked.
* May: Orlando Cabrera. The Angels shortstop keeps trying to one-up his predecessor, David Eckstein, in Orange County. The incumbent does have the perfect initials, O.C., and this summer he rode a serious streak: 63 straight games of reaching base by hit, walk or hit by pitch. It was the longest such ray in half a century. No threat to Ted Williams record of 84 straight in 1949, but O.C. sure secured his spot at Angel Stadium.
* June: Dwayne Wade. You must admire a basketball player who inspires this call: No way? Wade! His airstrikes showed Dirk Nowitzki its prime time, not lame time. Which is why the Miami Heat froze the NBA title.
* July: Fabio Grosso. His goal in the shootout shot Italy past France in the World Cup title match. It came after my horrid prediction--that America would finally rise to claim the worlds top trophy. We couldnt even wake up against Ghana.
* August: Frankie Rodriguez. Another Angel? Its the team I watch. In this case, K-Rod ran off amazing scoreless-inning and save streaks. The relief pitcher was a mound machine, going on to amass 47 saves and a 1.73 earned-run average. Yet at Cy Young voting time, he landed five votes to award winner Johann Santanas 140. Five for a dominator vs. 140 for a routine 19-game winner for the Minnesota Twins? Please check those voting machines.
* September: Roger Federer. Really the greatest tennis player of our time. Three Grand Slam titles this year, including this months U.S. Open. That adds up to nine for his career. Soon hell pass Pete Sampras 14. Only Federers loss to Rafael Nadal in the French final kept the Swiss from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to sweep the fourth slams in one year.
* October: David Eckstein. He was a rock, all right. The little shortstop whose German name means "cornerstone" solidified the St. Louis Cardinals crown with a World Series MVP performance. This came four years after he hustled the Angels to their only world championship. Think Southern California fans forgot? Eckstein signed his Have Heart book recently at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, and Angel loyalists jammed the place as if it were Game 7. It wouldve taken me five hours to reach the Eckstein table. So, after meandering to the video room to hear Nixon pontificate on de Gaulle, I tried the Eckstein line again and did something he never does: gave up.
* November: Manny Pacquiao. Last year the niftiest nickname was iPod, or Scott Podsednik, hero of the champion White Sox. Now its Pacman, the computer devourer that describes Pacquiao, the super featherweight champion and Filipino Force. His third-round chomping of Erik Morales clinched it: Pacman is simply the best boxer on the planet. And certainly the best thing to come out of the Philippines since the Thrilla in Manila.
©2007 by Bucky Fox. This column first posted Jan. 1, 2007.
You can visit Bucky Fox's website at www.BuckyFox.com
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