I work in sports media and read and think about sports A LOT. So the task of boiling the year in sportswriting down to some kind of best-of list is daunting indeed, and I won’t do it. Nor am I going to name my favorite sportswriter or piece of sportswriting in general, because I’m sure to overlook someone or something and probably offend my employer (USA Today Sports Media Group!), and I’m unwilling to do that.
But I will tell you my favorite athlete in 2012 was Robert Griffin III, who is suddenly playing quarterback at an extraterrestrial level for my favorite team, the Redskins. Of all the words spilled over RGIII’s emergence, none struck a chord in me like those in Charles P. Pierce’s piece for Grantland, “The Head and the Heart.” It touches on the phenomenon of this young athlete, the burden of great expectations met by even greater talent and the horrific brain injures caused by pro football. The last line will linger for a long, long time.
My favorite team in 2012 was the Orioles. The longtime doormat of Major League Baseball’s AL East, they somehow pieced together a playoff run for the ages, banding together like grown-up Bad News Bears before falling to the mighty Yankees in October. Before all of that, though, Tom Scocca wrote “‘Motherfuckin’ Shit! Take Your Ass Home!’ Or, Why the Baltimore Orioles Matter” for Deadspin, predicting it all, sort of. I thought then that it was a beautiful sentiment wonderfully expressed but also kind of sad to hold out for a team so hopeless. I was wrong, though, because anything can happen, and eventually does.