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TOMMYS STATE CASE, WHETHER GOOD OR BAD


TOMMYS STATE CASE, WHETHER GOOD OR BAD
In a year when the state's sports teams blew leads, lost close games and, for the most part, suffered disappointing seasons, it would be easy to declare the past 12 months a disaster and quickly move on.

But the annual Tommy Awards - Wisconsin's version of the ESPYs as selected by yours truly - must proceed, if only to provide closure for state fans.

The envelopes please.

Most unforgettable moment: Eighth inning, score tied, final game of the season. Win and the Milwaukee Brewers break a 26-year playoff drought, lose and they go home. They win 3-1 when Ryan Braun launches a two-run home run off the Chicago Cubs' Bob Howry.

Most forgettable moment: Brett Favre's 11th-hour unretirement and subsequent trade polarized the state and, worse, the Green Bay Packers' locker room.

Best makeover: General manager Doug Melvin acquired pitcher C.C. Sabathia in July, a bold stroke that put the Brewers over the top. Melvin would also get kudos for dumping uptight manager Ned Yost with 12 games left in the season - except that move had the fingerprints of owner George Steinbr, oops, owner Mark Attanasio all over it.

Coach of the year: It took place in relative obscurity, but Mark Johnson and the University of Wisconsin women's hockey team won their third NCAA title in four years. Special mention goes to Scott Skiles, who did something previously thought impossible by getting the Milwaukee Bucks to occasionally play defense.

Worst coaching job, season: So many candidates, so little space. Still, going from the NFC Championship Game to 6-10 is a steep fall, one that must be pinned on Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

Worst coaching job, game: Bret Bielema's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to UW's loss at Michigan State just can't happen.

Best play, individual: His team trailing by one point in overtime, Trevon Hughes banked in a twisting layup over two Florida State defenders with 2 seconds left, giving UW a victory in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Best play, team: Matt Kenseth didn't have the best car at the Daytona 500 - heck, he didn't even have his primary car - but he and first-year crew chief Drew Blickensderfer made all the right moves at the end of the rain-shortened race to give Kenseth his first victory in NASCAR's biggest event.

Best season, individual: From the day he pitched his first game in Milwaukee to the end of the season, Sabathia led the National League in wins (11), ERA (1.65), complete games (seven), shutouts (three) and innings pitched (130 2 3 ).

Best season, team: The Brewers made the playoffs for the first time since 1982, drew more than three million fans and helped the state get over its Favre hangover.

Best debut: With the Favre controversy still swirling, Aaron Rodgers went 18-for-22 and led the Packers to a 24-19 victory over Minnesota on national television in the season opener at Lambeau Field.

Most improved: In his first three seasons at Marquette, Wesley Matthews never averaged more than 12.6 points. But he blossomed in the motion offense of rookie coach Buzz Williams, putting up 18.3 points per game and getting to the free throw line more often than Shaquille O'Neal.

Best comeback: In Week 2, the Packers trailed Detroit by two points in fourth quarter, then scored 24 points in the final 5 minutes, 17 seconds to win going away. Honorable mention goes to the UW football team, which erased a 21-7 halftime deficit to beat Minnesota.

Worst blown lead: The Badgers held a 19-0 halftime lead over Michigan at the Big House, then watched the Wolverines score 27 unanswered points in a 27-25 loss. Dishonorable mention goes to the UW men's basketball and men's hockey teams, both of which coughed up too many late leads to count.

Biggest disappointment, individual: Jeff Suppan was given a $42 million contract because he was a big-game pitcher. But with the Brewers' season on the line in Game 4 of the NLDS against Philadelphia, Suppan gave up five runs in three innings and Milwaukee was done.

Biggest disappointment, team: The scoreboard said UW beat Cal Poly 36-35 in overtime, but anyone who saw the game - and fortunately there weren't many at Camp Randall Stadium that day - knows differently. If the lower-division Mustangs had bothered to bring a kicker, the Badgers' faces would have been redder than their uniforms.

Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com or 608-252-6172.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 21, 2009

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