Sunday, December 11, 2011

Albert Pujols Joins Shaq, Kobe, Tebow In Scoring For The Ages

Suddenly 2012 screams Angel scarlet. After 2011's Cardinal red.

Who maintains the color for the new year?

Albert Pujols.

The superstud turned from Redbird to Halo at the drop of a $25 million annual check.

So now Sir Albert plays first base for Los Angeles. Baseball mania is back in the Land of Disney. Ten years after the Angels won their only world title, they're ready to ride Pujols to the peak again.

So watch Angel Stadium sell out nightly in 2012. That's the one downside. No more easy tickets.

The upside? Homers into the rocks. Winning. Hysteria. Locked in to the key to it all: Albert Pujols.

So here we are in December 2011, celebrating a dandy dozen of years for And counting.

So many games. Athletes. Championships.

What was the site’s first full year of 2000 like again?

Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers won the first of three straight NBA titles.

Derek Jeter and Mo Rivera’ Yankees captured their third straight World Series.

Three horses — Fusaichi Pegasus, Red Bullet, Commendable — won each of the Triple Crown races.

Really doesn’t seem that long ago. Who's been keeping us mesmerized all this time?

2000. Shaq. This was really his one megayear. MVP of the regular season and NBA Finals. And a Blazer-banishing dunk for highlight heaven.

2001. Andre Agassi. He was perpetual youth. Won the Aussie Open again. Simply the biggest reason to watch tennis at this point.

2002. Troy Glaus. Classic power in a classic World Series. When the seven games and Frisco were done, Glaus and the Angels were giants of baseball.

2003. Eric Gagne. He was on the greatest relief-pitcher run in baseball history. When he came on, the Dodger scoreboard flashed his goggled face and Game Over. Because it was.

2004. Roger Federer. The Swiss Swatter couldn't miss. Certainly not in the U.S. Open, his ultimate display of tennis brilliance.

2005. Kim Clijsters. The Belgian Belter had shown grand tennis for years, but never at a Slam. Until now. In the U.S. Open she bounced back against Maria Sharapova in the semis and polished off Mary Pierce in the title match.

2006. Manny Pacquiao. I'm married to a Filipina, so when the Filipino Fist fights, Saturday turns into PacMan Partytime, decked with serious grub from the Philippines. And at middecade, Manny was in the thick of his title bulge.

2007. Tom Brady. He beat 'em all. Even the Giants, who would avenge that game and turn his Pats' perfection into 18-1 by the end of the Super Bowl. Still, when Brady passed this season, you had to catches his act.

2008. Brett Favre. Finally my Jets had a Dude at quarterback. He was the talk of the country after his marathon exit from Green Bay. And staying with that color, he had New York soaring into contention — until a dud landing.

2009. Kobe. Now he had his own championship with the Lakers. Shed of Shaq and sharing the ball with Pau Gasol, Bryant blew by Orlando in the NBA Finals.

2010. Aaron Rodgers. His wizardry with Green Bay sent every other NFL team Packing. And let every radio host forget Favre.

2011. Tim Tebow. Name one other Bronco. Thank you. Denver is so close to a Mile High because of the Florida lefty. Every week he runs and guns the orange and blue to nut-cuttin triumphs. Like on Dec. 4 in Minnesota. As I sat at the sports book in Primm Valley, between L.A. and Vegas, multiple screens offered NFL games. I felt myself glued to one quarterback: Tebow. His direction past the Vikings was worth the hypnotism.

Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.