Between the economy, various wars and dealing with the GOP primary, 2011 hasn't been a great year for most of us. Every day it seems there's another unpleasant story grabbing headlines to the point where we're just trying to ignore it all and hope it goes away.
Unfortunately, sports hasn't been much of a respite from the misery either. Unless you're living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, your favorite teams, athletes and even sports leagues have probably endured their share of ups and downs this year.
A sad, select few have only endured downs...and further downs.
Here are the 50 most disappointing performances in sports from 2011.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman had a breakout season in 2010-2011. He had a completion rate of 61.4 percent and threw for 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Bucs didn't make the playoffs, but with a 10-6 finish, many assumed they'd seriously contend for the division in 2011-2012.
Well, 10 games into this season, Freeman and his Bucs are down from last season—way down.
Freeman's completion percentage is slightly up, but his yards per pass are down, and his 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions leave something to be desired. At 4-6 the Bucs aren't technically out of the playoff hunt, but they'd have to run the table to even match their mark from last season.
After being named the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2010, the Braves' Jason Heyward didn't exactly have an encore performance in 2011.
Heyward was mired by nagging injuries, and his statistics sunk across the board; his 50 runs, 42 RBI, 14 home runs and .227 batting average all declined substantially from his rookie season.
Add Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams to the list of players who are not helping Chicago's Matt Forte's case for a new contract.
Despite an injury-plagued 2011 season, the Panthers signed Williams in July 2011 to a five-year contract worth $43 million with $21 million guaranteed.
So far he hasn't impressed; through 10 games this season, Williams has just 93 carries for 471 yards and one touchdown. It's not all Williams' fault though—rookie quarterback Cam Newton has taken on nearly 50 percent of the rushing duties for the Panthers, leaving Williams and Jonathan Stewart to split the rest.
American tennis player Andy Roddick has been a disappointment every year since achieving the No. 1 ranking in 2003—the year he won his only Grand Slam title.
Usually Roddick disappoints quietly, but during the US Open in August 2011 he lashed out at "tennis analysts" during an interview with Chris Fowler.
Roddick appeared unhinged during the interview and, after an impressive start, was ultimately annihilated by Rafael Nadal.
Coming out of college, one of the biggest questions facing former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was his durability. Prior to being drafted, Bradford had already dealt with concussion issues and suffered a severe AC joint sprain, and a re-injured shoulder kept him from participating in the NFL combine.
The Rams still drafted Bradford first overall, and he temporarily silenced the doubters by starting all 16 games of the 2010 season and leading the Rams to their best finish in almost a decade. He was also named the NFL Rookie of the Year.
Unfortunately for the Rams—and Bradford—the 2011 season hasn't gone as well. The team is now 2-8, and Bradford has already missed three games due to injury and has declined in most statistical categories.
It's way too early to count Bradford out, but this season has been an unmitigated disaster thus far.
Where is Roy Roundtree? The Michigan Wolverines might be 9-2, but their standout receiver from 2010, Roy Roundtree, is nowhere to be found.
In 2010, Roundtree pulled in 72 receptions for 935 yards and seven touchdowns. That made him the leading receiver on the team by far, and outside of quarterback Denard Robinson, only running back Vincent Smith tallied more touchdowns.
In 2011, Roundtree's stats have sharply declined; through 11 games he has only 15 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge doesn't deserve all the blame for Rajon Rondo's inconsistent play, but his inexplicable trading of Rondo's "big brother" Kendrick Perkins to OKC certainly didn't help.
Rondo started off the 2010-2011 season on fire, but by March he was in a full-on slump and never returned to form after the Perkins trade. Rondo and his Celtics were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat in five games.
When the Patriots signed loser-at-life Albert Haynesworth, it was called a "low-risk, high-reward" scenario.
Well, for the very few people who expected this leopard to change his spots, Haynesworth (as usual) disappointed.
Haynesworth was a useless stump in Washington, a useless stump in New England and will be a useless stump in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers' recent claiming of Haynesworth is an ill-advised move of desperation aimed at saving their dwindling playoff hopes. Considering his workload is already "limited" in Tampa, it seems Haynesworth will get the unique opportunity to disappoint two teams in one season.
This will probably be the last season quarterback Donovan McNabb disappoints anyone, mainly because everyone is done expecting anything from him. Even McNabb's most fervent supporters must recognize that No. 5 just doesn't have it anymore.
After a disappointing end in Philadelphia, McNabb has since lost starting jobs to Rex Grossman and rookie Christian Ponder. It's unlikely we're going to see him in a starting role again.
At 37, Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar has long been defying his age. He's one of the NHL's all-time defensive scoring leaders and excelled over 15 solid seasons.
Unfortunately for the Senators, they signed Gonchar to a three-year contract worth $16.5 million in his 16th season.
Gonchar's 2010-2011 season was statistically one of the worst of his career, even dropping dramatically from the season prior. In just one season Gonchar's point total dropped 50 percent, and his plus/minus ranking dropped from minus-four to minus-15.
Maybe the 37-year-old defenseman will rebound this season—or maybe this is a sign of things to come.
The Buffalo Bills surprised everyone when they picked Clemson running back C.J. Spiller ninth overall in the 2010 NFL draft despite having a very capable starter in Fred Jackson.
The Bills' recent fall to earth after an impressive 5-2 start is a stark reminder of their long-term deficiencies. By wasting a pick on Spiller, who is thus far a major bust, the Bills passed up Maurkice Pouncey, Dez Bryant, Jahvid Best, Bryan Bulaga and Jason Pierre-Paul—all impressive starters picked in the first round after Spiller.
In 23 games with the Bills, Spiller has just 396 total yards on 92 attempts with one touchdown and three fumbles.
With Jackson having the best season of his career and improving each year since 2007, you have to wonder what the Bills were thinking when they drafted Spiller.
To be fair, most of Danica Patrick's racing career has been a monster disappointment, and 2011 is no different.
In 17 races with the IZOD IndyCar Series, Patrick finished with zero wins, zero pole positions, zero podiums and zero fastest laps.
In 11 races with the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Patrick finished with zero wins, zero pole positions, zero podiums and zero fastest laps.
Her career winning percentage now stands at 0.53 percent.
When the Colts were bounced in the first round of the 2010-2011 playoffs by the Jets after accruing their most regular season losses in a decade, spoiled Colts fans probably thought things couldn't get much worse.
Well, it seems they could.
With starting quarterback Peyton Manning lost (essentially) for the season, the Colts now stand at 0-10 and have only two realistic chances to avoid going 0-16. Nobody underestimates the value of Manning, but nobody would have ever guessed he was the only thing standing between a 10-6 season and an 0-16 season.
Peyton Manning gets my (symbolic) vote (because I don't have a real one) for this year's MVP.
Shoulder surgery ended Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez's season...mercifully.
Miami finished last in the NL East, and Ramirez finished with the worst season of his career.
He finished the season with 55 runs (112 was his career average before 2011), 45 RBI (81 was his career average before 2011), 10 home runs (25 was his career average before 2011) and a .243 batting average (.313 was his career average before 2011).
Is it any wonder that just 347 fans showed up to watch a game in late August?
The acquisition of wide receiver Braylon Edwards from the Jets might be the only disappointment in San Francisco this season. Edwards signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with the 49ers, but injury has kept him out of all but five games this season.
Through five games Edwards has managed a paltry 13 catches for 167 yards and zero touchdowns. Unless things turn around drastically down the stretch, don't expect head coach Jim Harbaugh to bring back the 28-year-old receiver.
For being the best player in the world, Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin sure doesn't have a lot to show for it.
His Caps are known as playoff choke artists who rarely make it beyond the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and like his team, Ovechkin saves his best performances for the regular season.
Well, at least he used to...
Ovechkin's stats declined in all major categories in the 2010-2011 season. His 32 goals were a career low, his assists dropped from 59 to 53 and his plus/minus ranking dropped from plus-45 to plus-24.
The Caps and Ovechkin got off to a strong start this season but have lost six of their last eight games.
Since being drafted by the Jets in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft, running back Shonn Greene has played 39 games.
Over those three seasons Greene has tallied just six touchdowns and six fumbles on 441 attempts.
Before being injured in a game against the Broncos, Greene had only surpassed 100 yards in one game this season. He has shown marginal improvement this year, but he's got a long way to go before convincing Rex Ryan that he is a No. 1 back.
The Lakers were bounced from the 2011 NBA Playoffs in the second round, swept by the Mavericks in four games.
The Lakers needed shooters down the stretch, and if Artest was ever a shooter, those days seem to be behind him. The 2010-2011 season was statistically the worst season of his career, and his 8.9 points per game average was under half that of most of the Lakers' starters.
Though still one of the most talented defenders in the league, Artest's offensive output has been on the decline since 2005 and suffered an even sharper decline the last two seasons with the Lakers.
After showing substantial improvement over each of his first three seasons, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been hovering in the bottom 25 percent most of the 2011 season. Not good for a quarterback trying to state his case for a lucrative new contract.
Aside from two wins over division nemesis Pittsburgh, Flacco and his Ravens have been inconsistent at best, playing up to their competition with wins over the Steelers, Texans and Jets and down to their competition with losses to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks.
Flacco is in a tight spot with a team that doesn't value quarterback play; it's the fault of his offense if they lose and doing of the Ray Lewis-led defense if they win. If the Ravens somehow miss the playoffs, Flacco may never get that new contract.
Baltimore pitcher Brian Matusz would have placed much higher on this list if the Orioles didn't routinely finish in last place between 20 and 30 games behind the division leaders in the AL East.
However, at 69-93 in 2011, the Orioles did have their best finish in five years.
Matusz's ERA average over his first two seasons (2009-2010) with the Orioles was 4.46. In his third season (2011) his ERA skyrocketed to an epic 10.69.
An ERA of 10.69 isn't just bad—it's the highest ERA for a single season ever.
Hope Solo and the U.S. Women's National Team lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan on penalty kicks. It was a disappointment, but their overall performance was impressive.
Solo's moves on Dancing with the Stars definitely left something to be desired, but her fourth-place finish left her just one week short of the finale—not bad.
It was her behavior after her elimination from ABC's dance contest, though, that landed her a spot on this list. After her elimination was announced, Solo complained about the judging and dropped the F-bomb while waiting on her second set of scores.
She eventually broke down in tears and refused to address the media after her ouster. Solo should be embarrassed.
The Rex Sox's signing of free-agent pitcher John Lackey in 2010 became a noose around their collective neck in 2011.
Lackey pitched 55 fewer innings in 2011 than in 2010, and his ERA climbed from 4.40 in 2010 to a tragically bad 6.41 in 2011.
Lackey's 6.41 ERA is the highest in Red Sox history for someone who pitched more than 150 innings; prior to Lackey's performance, the franchise record for awfulness in pitching stood at a 6.00 ERA.
In the summer of 2011, Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the NFL's most coveted free agents. There was widespread speculation about where the star corner would land, and everyone was stunned when the Eagles announced they had signed Asomugha to a five-year contract worth a hefty $60 million.
What looked like genius in July now looks nonsensical in November. On a team filled with disappointments, Asomugha stands out as the biggest nightmare on what was once the "Dream Team."
Redskins fans finally had reason for hope when their inept billionaire finally dumped Jim Zorn and personal stooge Vinny Cerrato in favor of Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen.
Unfortunately, it's almost two seasons later, and not much has changed in terms of their overall record. After starting the 2011 season 3-1, the Redskins have lost six straight. Now at 3-7, they find themselves out of playoff contention well before Thanksgiving.
Cleaning up Dan Snyder's mess would have been impossible in two seasons, but if Shanahan doesn't right the ship in his third season, don't expect Snyder to keep him around for a fourth.
The Oklahoma Sooners were the preseason No. 1 and obviously a favorite to make it to the BCS championship game.
The Sooners seemed out of the hunt after losing to Texas Tech on Oct. 22, but after a number of unexpected losses, they were back in the discussion—at least for a few hours.
Oklahoma State, Oregon and Clemson all lost unexpectedly in Week 12 of the season, but so did Oklahoma, falling to No. 22 Baylor.
When the Nationals signed former Phillie Jayson Werth to a $126 million contract in the offseason, he was coming off a three-year career-high in 2010 and one of the best seasons of his career.
Perhaps he was bound for a fall—and fall he did.
Werth's runs dropped from 106 to 69, his home runs dropped from 27 to 20, his RBI dropped from 85 to 58 and his batting average plummeted from .296 (the absolute peak of his career) to .232.
Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is a bigger disappointment than Albert Haynesworth because the general consensus was that Ocho could still play.
At the very least, nobody questioned his work ethic and his desire.
Unfortunately, his work ethic isn't translating into on-field production in New England. Unless something changes, Ocho is on pace for the worst season of his career, including his rookie season in which he totaled just 329 yards and one touchdown in 12 games played.
Caroline Wozniacki is ranked No. 1 in the world by the WTA despite having never won a Grand Slam.
Wozniacki's relationship with Irish golfer Rory McIlroy and her ribbing of Rafael Nadal at the US Open this year made far more headlines than her play on the court.
Just three months ago Jurgen Klinsmann was named the head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team, but with a record of 1-4-1 (prior to defeating Slovenia), it's safe to say the honeymoon is over.
More troubling than its overall record is the fact that the team has scored just two goals in those six games. Klinsmann's strategy, lineup decisions and ability to adjust have all been questioned.
Overall, U.S. men's soccer is 6-8-3 on the year; let's just hope that means it has nowhere to go but up.
The Miami Heat created some unrealistic expectations for themselves when the biggest mouth of the Big Three predicted they'd win eight championships during their tenure together.
No other team in the NBA could realistically consider losing to Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks in Game 6 of the Finals a disappointing season.
But of course, no other team has predicted eight championships.
This season quarterback Kevin Kolb is at the bottom of the pack amongst NFL passers, lagging well behind rookies Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, as well as largely unimpressive Matt Moore, Colt McCoy and Mark Sanchez.
Kolb's completion rate of 56.8 percent is abysmal; only Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert, Sam Bradford and Joe Flacco have a lower percentage. Now an injury has kept Kolb out of three straight games.
Obviously, this is not what the Cardinals hoped for when Kolb was acquired via trade from the Eagles. At 3-7 the Cardinals have long been out of the playoff race and have some big questions to address in the offseason; Kolb's future will be chief among them.
The Devils' future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur is one of the best ever, but at 39 it seems his age might finally be catching up to him.
Brodeur played 15 seasons with the Devils before suffering a torn distal biceps tendon in 2008—the first major injury of his career. He rebounded in the 2009-2010 season, but injuries in subsequent seasons and a decline in on-ice play have many wondering if it's time for Brodeur to hang up his skates.
This season Brodeur has played in only eight of the Devils' first 18 games, but his goals-against average is the highest of his career, and his save percentage is the lowest of his career. Brodeur is another example of an athlete overstaying his welcome by two seasons and tarnishing an otherwise stellar career.
After a tumultuous end to 2009, Tiger Woods—mired in personal scandal and health problems—had one heckuva bad 2010. It was the first winless season of his illustrious career.
Many assumed he'd rebound in 2011, but the first 10 months of the year were much of the same. Woods finally showed some signs of life in November: He placed third at the Emirates Australian Open, his best finish in nearly two years.
Who didn't disappoint at Fenway in 2011?
Free-agent acquisition Carl Crawford is just one of many on a team that suffered one of the greatest collapses in the history of baseball.
Crawford missed a number of games with injuries, but when he was playing he was putting up the worst stats of his career. Crawford's 65 runs, 56 RBI and .255 batting average were all worse than any season-long performance he's had in a decade.
When the Eagles traded away Donovan McNabb and then Kevin Kolb, the pressure on starting quarterback Michael Vick mounted.
Vick's performance last season was very impressive, but this season his completion percentage, average yards per pass and touchdowns are down and his interceptions are way up.
Vick's durability has been of concern his entire career, and that trend has continued in 2011. If Vick and the Eagles miss the playoffs, the decision to build the franchise around him could be the closing chapter of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia.
2011 has been the most disappointing of 44-year-old Jeff Burton's career.
Burton placed 20th in the standings and finished the season with zero wins, one top-five finish and five top-10 finishes.
He didn't even really get close to a win; throughout the season Burton led in just seven races and only twice for more than eight laps.
When the National Basketball Players Association rejected the league's "ultimatum" offer in early November, most people could see the writing on the wall.
If NBA owners keep their promise and the rejected offer was in fact their best, there's almost no chance a deal will be made in time to save the 2011-2012 season.
With both sides having firmly dug in their heels, even the 2012-2013 season is in doubt at this point.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has never impressed with flashy regular season statistics; he finished 27th overall in 2010 and 28th overall in 2009.
Sanchez has been serviceable during the regular season, but it's his performance in the playoffs, leading the Jets to two consecutive AFC championship games, that has distinguished him.
That only works though if the Jets make the playoffs, and at 5-5—coming off two particularly ugly losses—it's becoming increasingly unlikely that will happen. If Sanchez doesn't have the opportunity to redeem himself in the playoffs, he's going to be under a mountain of pressure next season—assuming he's the starter in 2012.
For years now, the Pitt Panthers have been the collective Mr. September of NCAA hoops. The Panthers have made the NCAA tournament every year since 2002.
Qualifying for the tournament seems to be enough for the generally high-seeded Panthers because they're usually bounced by the Sweet 16.
Their best performance came in 2009 when No. 1 seed Pitt lost to No. 3 seed Villanova 78-76 in the Elite Eight.
Their worst performance came in 2011 when No. 1 seed Pitt lost to No. 8 seed Butler 71-70 in the second round.
The Chargers have their problems every year, but this is the first year since earning the starting job that quarterback Philip Rivers has been one of them.
Since 2006, Rivers' completion percentage, total passing yards, yards per play and total touchdowns have (for the most part) steadily climbed.
This season, he's declined in every category except fumbles and interceptions—he's already exceeded his 2010 totals in both.
Rivers is definitely down, but he's certainly not out. Considering the five seasons he logged prior to 2011, the media's sudden assertion that he's no longer an "elite" quarterback feels a bit premature.
For years, the Washington Capitals have been among the NHL's best regular season teams, winning their division every season since 2007-2008.
In 2010-2011, the Capitals finished second to only the Vancouver Canucks in overall points.
The Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to a bruising Bruins team in seven games. After beating the eighth-seeded Rangers in the first round, the Capitals were swept by the Lightning in the conference semifinals.
That was just another in a long line of playoff disappointments in Washington; if it happens again in 2011-2012, head coach Bruce Boudreau will not get another shot.
The historic late-season collapse of the Red Sox and Braves was just that—historic.
On Aug. 26, the Braves were up 10.5 games on the Cardinals and had a 98.99 percent chance of making the playoffs.
On Sept. 4, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race and had a 99.78 chance of making the playoffs.
According to Sports Illustrated, only four teams in baseball history had a higher chance of reaching the postseason than the Braves—and one of them was the Red Sox.
Statistically their collapses rank as the third- and fifth-worst in the history of baseball.
You might not believe in the Madden Curse, but Peyton Hillis probably does now.
Browns running back Hillis surprised everyone in 2010, rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He has surprised everyone again in 2011—thus far playing in just four games, rushing for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Hillis has been dissatisfied with his current contract, but his performance this season hasn't done much to increase his bargaining power. Don't expect to see him in brown and orange next season.
Former Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia's time in Columbia was, to put it mildly, rocky. Garcia was suspended by the school five times and had to be convinced by teammates to even return for the 2011 season.
The Garcia-led Gamecocks were supposedly the best team in the university's history and were the preseason favorite to win the SEC East for the second consecutive year.
Unfortunately, Garcia's play started off bad and just got worse from there. He became a one-man turnover machine and ultimately lost his starting job to Connor Shaw. Three days after losing his starting job, Garcia was dismissed from the team for allegedly failing a drug test.
Prior to the start of the 2011 season, White Sox slugger Adam Dunn signed a four-year deal worth $56 million.
Seems like a good deal for a player who had averaged 40 home runs and 100 RBI over his previous seven seasons, right?
Dunn's production plummeted in his first season with the Sox; he finished the season with 11 home runs, 42 RBI and a shameful .159 batting average.
DeSean Jackson was one of the most dynamic offensive threats in the NFL coming into the 2011 season.
What a difference a contract makes, huh?
Dissatisfied with his rookie contract, Jackson threatened the Eagles with a holdout and showed up late to training camp after the lockout was settled.
When he finally did show up, he played like a guy who was dissatisfied with his contract and was temporarily deactivated midseason for his disgruntled behavior.
In July 2010, the Devils signed forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year contract that was nothing short of ridiculous. In total, the contract is worth $102 million over 17 years and is the most lucrative in the history of the NHL.
It was next to impossible for Kovalchuk to live up to the expectations that came with his contract, but it's safe to say the Devils weren't thrilled with his 48th-place finish in the scoring race in 2010-2011.
Thus far through the 2011-2012 season, Kovalchuk is in a 15-way tie for 161st place in scoring. After missing the playoffs last year and currently sitting in fourth place in their division, it's safe to assume the Devils have some amount of buyer's remorse with Kovalchuk.
In 2011, the Chicago Cubs' payroll was one of the highest in MLB at $125,047,329. Their division "rival" Pittsburgh Pirates' was, as always, one of the lowest in MLB at $45,047,000.
That means there is no plausible excuse for the Cubs finishing one game behind the fourth-place Pirates in their division.
The only bright side to the Cubs placing behind the perennial bottom-dwelling Pirates is that they were forced to clean house. They have brought in former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein in hopes that he can break the curse in Chicago like he did in Boston.
Proving you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, the Titans gave their disgruntled offensive star a monster contract, and he's performed like a guy with nothing left to prove.
Johnson is on pace for the worst season of his career by far; it would take a miracle to reach 1,000 yards at this point. If his performance doesn't improve in the final games of the season, don't be surprised to see the Titans cut him during the offseason.
Nobody came up shorter when it counted in 2011 than LeBron James. In the NBA Finals, Lebron's Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games thanks in large part to his penchant to phone it in during the fourth quarter.
In the wake of that performance, even some of his most vocal supporters—like ESPN's Stephen A. Smith—were starting to publicly question whether or not James had the desire (not the ability) to be one of the NBA's all-time greats.
Thanks to the NBA lockout, we might have to wait a full 18 months (or more!) to see how James responds to those critics on the court.