ESPYS 20 Preview, Picks, and Predictions

Well in the weeks since I have written my last article, part of my series “Grading the Games” (look for the next installment later this week), I’ve had a bit of a computer renaissance, as I constructed a highly successful zoo in Zoo Tycoon 2 and I dusted off Madden 08 (the last good Madden) and started building a contending franchise as the Carolina Panthers. Computer games are good fun, I say, even though I get way too worked up about throwing interceptions in Madden (seriously, cornerbacks intercept EVERYTHING when you play on the hardest difficulty). However, those games distracted me from writing this blog, and now the ESPYS, the second-best award show out there, is upon us! After a nice session of pick-up ball tonight, I plan on watching every minute of the sports award show. So, just a matter of hours before the pre-show show, here are my picks and predictions for this years ESPYS.

Ten things you are sure to see

1. An unpredictably funny comedian appearance. Every year “funny” actors and members of SNL contribute to add some laughs to the show. Sometimes they work out, and sometimes, in the case of Will Ferrell’s vuvuzela skit, they flop worse than a European soccer player.

2. A bold style statement. Eric Maynor’s shoes.

3. A video montage with Run this Town. Not many songs go better with sports montages (NFL Awards MVP, 2010 ESPYS Best Team), with the possible exception of Cinderella Man for the category of Best Upset. My guess is it gets one more year of use tonight.

4. A mildly funny opening monologue. I’ve never heard of Rob Riggle. Am I alone? He just doesn’t strike me as being really funny. We’ll see.

5. A Peyton Manning skit. He’s been largely out of the spotlight since his injury. I expect him to have a successful return.

6. An endearing acceptance speech. I like when the “dumb jocks” surprise us with a thoughtful speech.

7. A goofy acceptance speech. Maybe it will be speechless and inarticulate, maybe it will be pure Terrell Suggs humor, or perhaps it will be totally fake and disingenuous.

8. A hot girl with no name. Sure, Maria Sharapova and some of the usual suspects may take up some camera time, but there’s always that girl who gives out an award who creates a dialogue like this: “Who is that? What movie has she been in?” “Dude, who cares. She’s fine.”

9. A great story. The Arthur Ashe Award and the new Jimmy Valvano Award both bring the waterworks every year.

10. A lame musical host. You know, the group that plays into and out of commercial breaks? Not been a fan of the recent choices.

Picks for Awards

Best Male Athlete: LeBron James. Aaron Rodgers had (arguably) the best season a quarterback who didn’t win the Super Bowl ever had. Justin Verlander won the MVP as a starting pitcher. Novak Djokovic battled two of tennis’ all-time greats to stake his claim to the tennis throne. But LeBron James had one of the best regular season in history and one of the greatest playoff runs as well en route to two MVP awards. Book it.

Best Female Athlete. I’m not sure who is going to win, although I think Sharapova has a good chance. But who should win is Lindsey Vonn. She dominates skiing, and she set a record for World Cup points this year, winning the event for the fourth year in a row.

Best Championship Performance:This is probably the most closely contested category. We know what LBJ did (with the help of Mario and Mike) but we can’t forget Davide Freese’s Game 6 homers or Jonathan Quick’s lights out goaltending. I think LeBron wins, but my vote goes to David Freese.

Best Breakthrough Athlete: Another close category, but I think there’s a clear favorite. Hint: his breakthrough has it’s own special name. Jeremy Lin will win because of the craze of Linsanity, and he gets my vote over RG3 and Anthony Davis because he did it on the professional level instead of in college.

Best Record-Breaking Performance: Coaching wins records are tough because they depend so much on the length of career. In addition, Coach K is always guaranteed a good team. Drew Brees will probably win, but he achieved his feat in a year when several quarterbacks surpassed 5,000 yards. My vote goes to Mariano Rivera.

Best Upset: Another good group of nominees, and while I think the LA Kings will win, I think Norfolk State is more deserving for their defeat of Missouri. It was the first time Norfolk State had EVER played in the March tournament.

Best Game: A fairly weak category, World Series Game 6 wins.

Best Moment: I suppose it’s Tebow to Thomas to defeat the Steelers, because in a way it justified Tebow’s season. Even though New England destroyed them the next week, winning that game provided a nice ending to the Tebow story…. in Denver.

Best Coach: Daryl Sutter, LA Kings. He must have done something right to take an 8-seed to a championship, like hooking Jonathan Quick up to the Matrix and giving him the skill sets of Dominik Hasek.

Then there are few easy ones.

Comeback Athlete: Matthew Stafford.

NFL Player: Aaron Rodgers.

NBA Player: LeBron.

MLB Player: Justin Verlander

NHL Player: Jonathan Quick.

Best team will be interesting, but I’m in favor of (and I think the nation is too) the Kentucky Wildcats.

Best play should have been Ben Revere’s catch, but he didn’t make it into the top four. The Arkansas punt return by Joe Adams gets my vote, but any of them could win.

It’s a great awards show and I’m looking forward to it. It was, once again, a great year in sports, if you can look past the elephant on growth hormone in the room named the Penn State scandal….

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