If the 2010 decade in sports were an amusement park, the cost of admission--whatever it were--would be well worth it. You'd find clowns (ahem, Mr. Ochocinco, ahem Michael Yormark) and freaks (ahem Birdman, ahem Hong-Man Choi).
You'd find some of those tames rides that go around and around but don't give up a big rush (ahem, Baltimore Ravens, ahem Washington Capitals) and some free fall type rides that soar up and then crash down (ahem, Buffalo Bills).
But the attraction that you'd find more of than any other? Corkscrewing-loop-de-looping-peaking-and-plummeting roller coasters.
So take your ticket and click on to spin the turnstile. Time to ride some coasters.
The Sabres beefed themselves up quite significantly before the season began. They (over)paid for star forward Ville Leino and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
Heading into the 2011-2012 season, they looked to be a powerhouse. And they backed that up, going 5-1 at the start of the season.
But injuries led to mediocrity, then downright awfulness.
Between mid December and late January, they lost 16 out of 20 games and tumbled to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Even die hard fans sighed and looked ahead to next year.
But then Ryan Miller--who'd had a terribly inconsistent season--started channeling Dominik "The Dominator" Hašek. His save percentage soared.
The Sabres started winning and are in the running for a playoff spot.
Michael Terrill of Rants Sports says this about the Bucks: "Once again, when everyone is preparing for the Milwaukee Brewers season to start and the Milwaukee Bucks seem irrelevant, they play a great game and defeat a quality team."
They've crept up in Marc Stein's weekly power ranking to #21 (as of this writing).
In early March they had a 15-24 record, then went on a 6-game winning streak before losing to the Celtics on March 22.
Playoff buzz abounds among hopefuls.
After a week of successful training, the US men's skeleton team had medals on the mind. But the World Cup in Whistler Canada proved a major disappointment.
Veteran medalist Matt Antoine was the top U.S. finisher... in 14th place overall. Oof.
Hopes were raised again later in the month at the FIBT World Championship in Lake Placid.
Medals were raining down on the other US Teams:
*Gold in the 2-man bobsled.
*Bronze in the 2-woman bobsled.
*Gold in the women's skeleton.
Momentum for Team USA was high.
Antoine would have medaled in Whistler--he was in the midst of a good run when he mistimed a turn late in the course. Now was his chance for redemption.
Antoine, again the top US finisher, nabbed a lackluster 5th place.
Kyle "The Bottle" Orton started off the ride by guiding the Broncos coaster into a deep dip. Fans groaned and hollered for Tebow.
Head coach John Fox listened and let Double T take the driver's seat.
Under Tebow, the Broncos beat Miami in Miami for the first time in franchise history.
By early December 2011, fans had regained hope. St. Tebow had led the team on a 6-game winning streak. It was a good time to be a Broncos fan.
Then Brady and his Pats did some serious Bronco taming in Week 15. And the following week, the ailing Buffalo Bills finished off the humiliation.
Well, not quite. The Chiefs (with Kyle Orton) rubbed a bit of salt in after that and nearly dashed playoff hopes.
Then a wild card win over the mighty Steelers.
Tebow mania ensued.
But an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillete Stadium in Foxboro derailed the 2011 Bronco coaster.
A team loaded with talent. Early in the season, they were close to the top of their division.
Then came a plummet so sheer, so profound, that if you were on the coaster, your stomach (and kidneys and liver and lungs) were left hanging in midair as the rest of you disappeared into the abyss.
A nine-game losing streak in which the Blackhawks were outscored 17 to 38.
According to NHL analyst of NBC & NBC sports analyst Eddie Olczyk: "[The Blackhawks] had given themselves such a great cushion with an unbelievable first 35 or 38 games, and, you know, I don't want to say you can afford to go on a nine-game losing streak, but to not have fallen out of the playoffs is something to take a positive out of..."
After snapping the losing streak, the Blackhawks won an additional 3 consecutive games and now seem to be riding a steadier track into the end of the season.
Scroll down and take a gander at this coaster track:
W L W L W
W L W L W L W L W L W
W L W
W L W
W L W L W L W
L W L W L W
L W L W
L W L W
L W L
Motion sick yet?
The 2011 Real Salt Lake squad gave fans a ride on the kiddie coaster: consistent undulations, none peaking too high, none dipping too low, but enough thrill to get the young'uns squealing.
Began the season with 4 wins (after all, a coaster has to go up before it can go down, right?). Then starting at the end of April, the RSL coaster tracks leveled out for a while (L-W-D-D-L-W-L-D-D, etc.).
The climax of the ride was a 5-game winning streak from the end of August to late September followed by a 6-game win less streak.
They finished third in Western Conference, and went on to (get ready for some hardcore alliteration) slay second-seeded Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the Major League Soccer playoffs.
Sounders came back and blanked RSL in the next game, but RSL was still able to advance.
Then LA Galaxy slammed on the brakes of the RSL coaster and the kiddies all had to get off the ride.
Another year, another losing Knicks season.
Fans ho-hummed and reminisced about the almost-glory days when the Ewing-led Knicks dominated all but Jordan and his Bulls.
But wait, stop the press! Suddenly the Knicks weren't looking so lincompetent. Linconceivably, they were winning. And winning and winning. They were lindomitable.
Oh wait, no they weren't.
But hey, kill off Mike D'Antoni and see what happens.
Put that safety bar back down. This ride isn't over.
"The 2011 Red Sox Will Challenge the 1927 Yankees for Title of Greatest Team in Major League History."
- Eric Ortiz, Sunday, January 2, 2011
But just to keep it suspenseful, the Sox lost their first 6 games in a row.
Fast forward to September 4. The Sox had a nine-game lead in the American League wild card race. Just 4 games left to play.
Naysayers, skeptics, haters (read: Yankees fans) be humbled; the Sox really might be all that.
Statistician Clay Davenport calculated the Red Sox had a 99.78% chance of making the playoffs.
Hold on to your hat, because as you know, this coaster ride finishes off with a physics-defying sheer drop.
Game 1 of the Packers 2010 season was a coaster unto itself. Losing to the Eagles in the first quarter, coming back in the second (with a 49 and 56 yard field goals), losing again briefly in the third quarter and then barely holding their lead in the fourth.
So went the rest of the season. The Packs' longest 2010 regular season winning streak was just 4 games. Not bad, sure. But not the record you'd expect of soon-to-be super champs.
Then the No. 6-seeded team spent the whole post season on the road and had to beat out the No. 1-seeded Falcons and then the No. 2-seeded Bears.
The ride ended in cheese-headed glory as A-Rod (the NFL one) and his meat packers took down Big Ben and his steel workers in Super Bowl Ex El Vee.