Since the year is winding down, we can look over the past year and put certain things in context. Some teams were supposed to have monumental years, but fell short. Some teams have better excuses for their lack of success. Injuries, arrests, or suspensions can lead to a team not fulfilling their potential, the following teams didn’t have any of those reasons for not living up to their hype by failing to win a championship.
6. 2008 New York Yankees – With a payroll of over $200 million dollars, this Yankess team was supposed to make the playoffs, if not win a championship. They were so cocky about their chances of have a good team, that they didn’t pull the trigger on a deal that would have landed them Johan Santana. The Minnesota Twins wanted either or both of the Yankees top pitching prospects, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. The Yankees wanted to keep their young guns and it ended up hurting them in the end. Johan Santana had a Cy Young caliber season and the Kennedy/Hughes tandem struggled to stay in the Majors. The Yankees didn’t win the AL East and failed to win the Wild Card, making this the first season many of the Yankees players didn’t see a pitch in the post-season.
5. 2007-2008 NBA Western Conference – The Western Conference was the superior conference in the NBA last season. The Western Conference owned the Eastern Conference in head-to-head competition and looked like they would come out with the NBA Championship at season’s end. The only team that stood in their way was a team from Boston. The Lakers, Suns, Rockets, Hornets, Mavericks, San Antonio, and Utah had great seasons and looked like championship teams. After a long season of beating on each other, the Western Conference team that would make the Finals, had a long run. The Lakers finally won the Western Conference, but lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics. A few calls here and there would have changed the outcome, but the Western Conference definitely fell short of expectations in the end.
4. 2008 Detroit Tigers – With the move that brought Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers and getting Edgar Renteria in another deal, Detroit was a lock for a World Series ring. The addition of Cabrera and Willis would have added to the depth of talent Detroit already had on their team. Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Verlander, and Gary Sheffield were already leaders on the team and could only perform better with the addition of more All-Stars. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as expected in Motown. Verlander’s ERA rose to around 6.00, Renteria couldn’t handle AL pitching, and Willis ended up in A-ball and struggled with command. The Tigers ended the season under .500 and started blowing up the team by trading Rodriguez mid-season.
3. 2007-2008 UCLA Men’s Basketball – After making the Final Four in the two previous seasons, the UCLA Bruins had their eyes on an NCAA Championship. Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, and Josh Shipp were all coming back and they would add top recruit, Kevin Love, to an already great team. UCLA coasted into the NCAA tournament with a top seed and made another Final Four. The other teams in the Final Four were some of the best teams in the country, but UCLA was the only team with players who had Final Four experience. UCLA lost in the National Semi-Final game to a much younger Memphis squad.
2. 2008 Chicago Cubs – The Chicago Cubs have a history of letting their fans down, but 2008 seemed different. They had the pitching and offense to finally end the curse and win a championship. The Cubs didn’t stand pat and even improved their team by adding Rich Harden in a deadline trade. They had a great season and won the NL Central in a close race. The finished the regular season with the best record in the National League and faced the NL West champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the first round of the playoffs. The Dodgers were red hot going into the post-season and beat the Cubs in three games. The Cubs pitching and lack of left-handed bats were too much to overcome. This may have been one of the most disappointing ends to a Cubs season since 1984.
1. 2007-2008 New England Patriots – The New England Patriots played like they had something to prove during the 2007-2008 season. They won every game during the regular season very easily. The Vegas odds makers even started to fall for the Patriots dominance by throwing up point spreads in the 20s, something usually only seen in college games. New England used their 16-0 momentum by winning both the divisional game and AFC championship game and punching their ticket to the Super Bowl. The NFC champion, the New York Giants, was a team that barely made the playoffs and had to win on the road three times to just make the Super Bowl. Even though the Giants nearly beat New England in the final game of the season, no one gave them a shot at winning the Super Bowl. New England had trouble with the Giants from the start of the game to the finish. The Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, had the perfect gameplan, he blitzed Tom Brady and caused chaos for the New England offense. The New York Giants, thanks to an insane catch by David Tyree, ended up ruining the Patriots perfect season. 18-1 is usually as good as it gets in the NFL, but 19-0 was so close, but the Patriots couldn’t finish.