10 we loved to hate in 2009

2009 was quite a year in Philadelphia sports, filled with many good memories and some, well, not so good memories.

Philly sports fans will always remember the exciting march the Phillies made back to the World Series, and will forever be haunted by images of the painful defeat to the New York Yankees.

Many will fondly recall the Eagles' exciting road victory over the Giants in the divisional playoff round, but won't exactly cherish the memory of the Birds once again coming up short in the NFC Championship Game, this time against the Cardinals.

And who could forget Scottie Reynolds' last second lay-up to propel Villanova over Pitt and into the Final Four? Unfortunately, the Wildcats fell short of winning their first national title since 1985.

Everyone remembers the good times. Here at Pattison Ave., we wanted to look past the heroes of 2009 and spew some year-end venom at the athletes, coaches and owners who gave the City of Brotherly Love headaches, heartache and sorrow in 2009.

So here they are, the 10 folks we loved to hate in 2009:

10. Theo Scott (Ohio vs. Temple)

Who’s Theo Scott? All you have to do is ask Al Golden. The Temple head coach can explain -- in detail -- how Scott put a damper on the Owls' dream season.

The Ohio quarterback had a career day against Temple on a cold November afternoon, almost singe-handedly squashing Temple's hopes of winning the MAC title. Scott threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-17 romp over the Owls, and rushed for 69 yards and two more scores.

The loss snapped Temple's winning streak at nine games, while Ohio advanced to the conference championship game.


9. Francisco Rodriguez (New York Mets)

Right after Rodriguez agreed to a three-year, $37 million contract last offseason with the Mets, he claimed New York was the team to beat.

"Of course, we're going to try to win the division. Of course, we're going to be the front-runner. Of course, we're going to be the team to beat," he said.

Hey K-Rod, how did that work out?

While his team didn't live up to the hype, Rodriguez backed up his talk on the mound. He dominated the Phillies during the season, victimizing the Phils for six of his 35 saves. In K-Rod's seven appearances against Philadelphia in 2009, Phillies hitters struck out a combined eight times in eight innings while failing to score a run.

With each save, Phillies fans were forced to endure the closer's excessively animated celebrations. Rodriquez drew the ire of Philly fans after one especially over-the-top display early in the season, earning him a place among Philly's most hated Mets before the month of May was out.


8. Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State)

Temple made their second consecutive return to the NCAA tournament in 2009, and once again it came to an abrupt end.  The Owls' postseason perished at the hands of Arizona State's Pendergraph. The Sun Devils' forward dominated every facet of the game, finishing with 22 points and seven rebounds as Arizona handed Temple a 66-57 loss.

Temple didn’t even have time to put their baggage down before Pendergraph was ushering them back on a plane to Philadelphia.

The loss was the Owls' second straight in the first round of the tournament, and it put an end to Dionte Christmas’ impressive career at Temple.


7. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys)

Jones could make this list ever year. The proud owner of one of the most hated teams in Philly history always finds his way into the limelight, and always finds a way to rub Eagles fans the wrong way. After this Dallas Cowboys beat the Eagles earlier this season, Philly fans (as usual) were subjected to the site of Jones’ smiling face all over their television screens as he cheered from his suite.

And let's not forget about the opening of the new (and obscenely indulgent) Cowboys Stadium this year, a venue that cost $1.2 billion to build. How convenient of Jones to build a billion dollar complex during one the worst economic downturns in this country’s history.


6. Manny Ramirez (2009 NLCS)

Ramirez was an easy target for Philadelphia fans during this year’s National League Championship Series. While he didn’t put up the numbers he did when the Phillies played Los Angeles in the 2008 NLCS, he was still as dangerous at the plate as anyone in a Dodgers uniform.

But it was Manny's off-the-field antics that drew the most attention during that series, and added to Philly's already considerable distaste for the dreadlocked slugger. After being pulled midway through Game 4, Manny didn't stick around to see how things turned out, relaxing with a hot shower while his team blew a late-inning lead and lost.

Good thing Ramirez plays in laid-back LA because "Manny being Manny" would never fly in an unforgiving sports town like Philadelphia.


5. Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina Tarheels)

Tyler Hansbrough made quick work of Villanova in the 2009 Final Four on his way to leading North Carolina to its second national championship this decade. The Wildcats didn’t have an answer for the All-American forward, as he finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Tarheels' 83-69 victory.

The Wildcats made an impressive run to the Final Four, with victories over Duke in the Sweet 16 and Pitt in the Elite Eight. However, 'Nova could not match the size of Hansbrough and the Tarheels in the paint.

Psycho-T was at his finest during the win – facial expressions and all.


4. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Crosby was a nightmare for the Flyers during the 2009 playoffs. The Penguins captain led his squad to a 4-2 series victory over the Flyers in the Conference Quarterfinals. Sid the Kid provided plenty of offense for the Pens, finishing the series with four goals and three assists.

The Penguins would go on to beat the Hurricanes in the East Finals before ousting the Red Wings to lay claim to the Stanley Cup. It was the second year in a row Crosby and Co. bounced the Flyers from the playoffs. But last season's series loss obviously didn't sit well with the Flyers front office. The team made some big changes in the offseason with the hopes of closing the talent gap with Pittsburgh to bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia for the first time since 1975.

But so far this season, those changes haven't exactly had the desired effect.


3. Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)

The Sixers put up an impressive fight in the first round of the 209 NBA playoffs against the No. 3 seeded Orlando Magic, but Dwight Howard proved to be too much in the end. Howard dominated the series at both ends of the floor.

Howard’s most impressive performance came in Game 5, when he scored 24 points and grabbed a playoff career-best 24 rebounds as he led Orlando to 91-78 victory and a 3-2 series lead. In the same game, Howard threw an elbow at Sixers' center Samuel Dalembert which earned him a one-game suspension - and didn't exactly endear him to Sixers fans.


2. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)

Fitzgerald burned the Eagles’ defense in January's NFC Championship Game. The Pro Bowl receiver had perhaps the finest game of his career, with nine catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns on his way to leading the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance.

Fitzgerald helped put an end to an impressive playoff run by the Eagles, which included victories over Minnesota in the wildcard round and the Giants in the divisional round. The Eagles would make a late run in the second half, but the damage inflicted by Fitzgerald proved to be too much to overcome.

Do you still have nightmares of Fitzgerald burning the Eagles’ secondary? Those images probably shake more than one Eagles defensive back awake on occasion.


1. Hideki Matsui (New York Yankees)

Matsui was the difference maker in Game 6 of the World Series. His six RBIs, a single-game World Series record, powered the Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Phillies that clinched the Bronx Bombers' 27th World Series title.

Matsui became the first Japanese-born player to win the World Series MVP. The 35-year-old abused Pedro Martinez and the Phillies bullpen in Game 6, smashing his third homer of the season, and adding a double and a single. For the Series, Matsui hit .615 with eight RBIs.

Talk about a Philly killer.


Honorable Mention:

London Fletcher (Redskins) – Fletcher gave the Eagles’ offense headaches in both meetings with the Redskins this season, but the biggest headache he caused was the one he gave Brian Westbrook. The 'Skins linebacker caught Westbrook with a knee to the head in the teams' first game, sending No. 36 to the sideline with a concussion that proved to be a lingering problem.

TBS Broadcast team (MLB Playoffs) – This was a terrible performance all around, but Chip Caray was the ring leader. They did a poor job covering the Phillies in this year’s playoffs, and drove pretty much every baseball fan crazy.

Stan Van Gundy – (Orlando Magic) – This man can drive anyone up the wall with his nagging and complaining. But he took it to another level during last year’s playoff series against the Sixers.