There were a number of great choices for WNST’s fifth annual “Local Sportsperson of the Year” in 2012.
Let me remind you that there are only a few qualifications for the honor.
First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.
Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.
And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.
If you’ve forgotten, 2012 is the fifth year we’ve given the honor, with our past winners being Michael Phelps (2008), Todd Bozeman (2009), Greivis Vasquez (2010) and Rob Ambrose (2011).
There were a handful of candidates whose 2012 accomplishments would make them easy winners almost any year.
-Loyola basketball coach Jimmy Patsos lead the school back to the NCAA Tournament after inheriting a program that could only be described as “in the doldrums.” The sweat equity Patsos put into building a MAAC Championship program is perhaps unmatched, as the coach spent almost as much time shaking hands and kissing babies as he did running drills until finally reaching the ultimate goal for a low-to-mid major program.
-Even with the success Patsos had, perhaps he wouldn’t even be deemed the most qualified candidate as his own school. Charley Toomey lead the Greyhounds to one of the most improbable National Championship runs in recent lacrosse history. The Hounds came into the season unranked, but ran off 12 straight wins to open the season and finished the campaign with only one loss-a one goal defeat and the hands of Johns Hopkins. The Hounds posted a dominant national title victory over Maryland to deliver the first national championship in school history (any sport) at the D1 level.
-Adam Jones wasn’t just the Baltimore Orioles’ MVP, an All-Star and a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012. He was the anchor of a team that finally snapped a decade-and-a-half long playoff drought and perhaps most importantly endeared himself to Baltimore baseball fans forever by inking a six year contract extension to ensure fans he wouldn’t be breaking their hearts by donning pinstripes in the next few years.
-Ray Rice is likely headed to another Baltimore Ravens Team MVP honor and also warmed the hearts of purple & black fans by signing a five year contract extension of his own. Rice picked up his third Pro Bowl nod while being the rock for an offense poised to break the franchise record for most points scored in a season and helping to claim a second consecutive AFC North title for the first time in team history.
Like I said, there were plenty of great candidates.
But when it came to picking a winner, Baltimore fans were right. It actually was quite easy.
Buck Showalter actually came just ONE POINT shy of winning this honor before. The 34-23 finish he guided the Orioles to in 2010 nearly nabbed him the award, and the contentiousness of the fighting between contributors here at WNST actually lead to a change in how we selected our recipient.
In a way, Showalter has essentially owned this town ever since his first game as skipper in orange and black. Fans swooned when he famously proclaimed “I know the save rule and, quite frankly, it doesn’t carry much weight with me. I like the win rule a little bit better” following his late inning handling of Mike Gonzalez and Alfredo Simon in a win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Perhaps even more admirably, Showalter showed immense class each and every time he was asked about the seeming reluctance for Orioles fans to return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in droves after the misery that had experienced in rooting for an organization that seemed disinterested in returning a quality product to Baltimore. Even as the Orioles were in the mix for the AL East crown in late August in front of small crowds during a series against the Chicago White Sox, Showalter continued to say things like ”it would be pretty presumptuous on anybody’s part to think that they’re going to trust us that quickly”. He didn’t just save baseball in this town, he remained as classy as possible in the process.
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