2007 in review: 10 to remember from the wide world of sports

It was come and go time for sports stars, coaches and of course, a whole team.
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It was come and go time for sports stars, coaches and of course, a whole team.

"We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here (to Oklahoma). We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even we'd be thrilled." --Seattle SuperSonics minority partner Aubrey McClendon, Aug. 12, 2007 McClendon was quoted in an Oklahoma newspaper. A week later the National basketball Association fined McClendon $250,000. Two and a half months later principal owner Clay Bennett announced his intention to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City. Team ownership and the City of Seattle are engaged in a legal battle to see whether Bennett's group must honor a contract to keep the Sonics playing at KeyArena through the 2009-'10 season. "I don't expect people to understand it, I really don't, because at times I don't understand it myself." --Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove, July 1, 2007 The M's skipper abruptly resigned at midseason. Citing baseball ennui, he piled into a red pickup truck with wife Sharon and headed to California to begin what he insisted would be at least a temporary retirement from the game. John McLaren took over the team, which finished 88-74. ". . .the message that our students hear, that our coaches hear, that our leadership hears from the general run-of-the-mill fan is that the only thing we really care about is how many games they win. And I have to look at that after 32 years of doing this and say: â'ꂬ˜Wow, is that really what we are all about? Have I been that naive all this period of time? I have been spending all my time on the student-athlete experience and trying to create better lives for people and the proper place in higher education when all I should have been worrying about is how many games we've won.' Why didn't I go to the N.F.L. if that's all it's about?''' --University of Washington Athletic Director Todd Turner, Dec. 11 Turner resigned days after Mark Emmert, the UW president, announced that football coach Tyrone Willingham would be retained for the fourth season of his five-year contract, despite a 4-9 record that riled many Husky-football boosters. The athletic director's departure date is Jan. 31, 2008; no word yet as to whether he's found work in the National Football League. "Never could I imagine that it would be like this coming back. I spent 11 years here, 11 wonderful years here. I met my beautiful wife here, two of my three kids were born here. This place will be home." --Ken Griffey Jr., June 22, 2007 It was Griffey's first Seattle appearance playing for the Cincinnati Reds, his team since 2000. A Safeco Field crowd of 46,340 (sixth-largest ever) gave the oft-called savior of local major-league baseball a sustained three-minute ovation prior to his pre-game comments, soon to be followed by more love when Junior singled during the first inning. Fans rhapsodized about the prospect of Griffey returning to finish his career in Seattle as a designated hitter, but such talk has subsided. "[June Daugherty] has no long-term issues; she did not have heart damage that we can tell, there are no blockage issues and recovery should be complete. She should be back on the job, but we don't have a time frame at this point.'' --Rod Commons, Washington State University, May 23, 2007 The W.S.U. sports-information director was referring to the former 11-year Husky women's basketball coach, who had suffered a heart irregularity the day before. She had been fired in March by the Huskies and was quickly hired to lead the Cougar women. Daugherty's charges were 3-8 while the Tia Jackson-led Huskies were 5-7 going into conference play Dec. 28. "After meeting with everyone, getting all the appropriate feedback and going through the entire evaluative process, I made a decision I believe is the best for my future and that is to remain eligible for the N.B.A. draft. The decision to further my career in the N.B.A. at this point in time was difficult. Every day I had different feelings about it. But at the end of the game, I have to be realistic and trust my instincts.'' --Spencer Hawes, former Husky basketball player, July 1, 2007 The seven-foot-tall center who had starred at Seattle Preparatory School played through injury and illness his freshman year as a Husky. Then he announced he would enter the National Basketball Association draft, being selected 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings. The nephew of Husky hoops legend and 10-year N.B.A. vet Steve Hawes has been getting increasing playing time with his pro team. "We don't usually run play fakes out of the shot gun. We ran one and they bit down pretty hard on a bubble (screen) by Michael Bumpus and Brandon just got over the top and I was able to make a good throw." --Alex Brink, Washington State quarterback, Nov. 24, 2007 The Cougar senior referred to a late-game pass play that secured his team's 42-35 victory over the University of Washington in the 100th version of what has become the Apple Cup. Brink passed for 399 yards, none more important than the 35-yard toss to Brandon Gibson with 31 seconds left. The QB thus became the only Cougar to lead his team to three wins against the Huskies. "I've given every ounce inside of me to football. I felt like I gave every ounce I had. So I have no regrets." Mack Strong, Seattle Seahawks, Oct. 8, 2007 The eminently popular, 36-year-old fullback was in his 14th season with the Hawks when a spinal-cord condition abruptly prompted him to heed the advice of doctors and call it quits. The team's running game has since been a big problem, not just because of the absence of Strong's rushing ability but the blocking that got him picked for the Pro Bowl in 2005 and '06. "We are so very pleased how everything turned out, with great local press coverage and a chance to have great PGA-tour-level golf in the Northwest. And we are hoping this is really just the beginning of something much bigger going into the future." --Ryan Moore, professional golfer, Oct. 10, 2007 He was referring to a charity event he hosted at the new, highly touted Tacoma course Chambers Bay. Many believe the 25-year-old Puyallup-reared Moore will be the best pro golfer from the region since Fred Couples. For the two-day event he lured P.G.A.-tour buddies Aaron Baddeley, Bubba Watson and Michael Putnam, the quartet raising thousands of dollars for various causes. Moore seemed to have healed from a nagging wrist injury during the 2007 tour, finishing 59th in earnings. "All right, let's everybody get off Jeff Weaver's back for just a darned minute. Yes, as of the Thursday, May 10, 7-3 loss to Detroit, the reeling righty is 0-6 this season, with an earned-run average hovering in the range of the vice president's approval rating. But look at it another way: If the Seattle Mariners had just scored an average of 15 runs during each of Weaver's starts, he might actually be 6-0 right now and a cinch to make the all-star team. OK, darned minute's up." --Crosscut, May 10, 2007 Such was typical of the media and blogosphere ridicule sustained by the M's fifth starter and early-season Worst Fantasy League Pick Ever. He would soon take some needed time off, returning to put up - if not great - OK numbers, finishing the season 7-13 with a 6.20 earned-run average. He's no longer on the club's active roster, but the M's still have '07 fourth starter, Horacio Ramirez, he of the 7.16 E.R.A.


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