In St. Louis, the decade started with the Greatest Show on Turf, our Rams were on top of the NFL world, and they had made the Gateway to the West, the Gateway to the Best. Sadly the show came to an end in 2004, but that was just in time for other sports to play catch up.
The Cardinals were contenders all through the decade, bringing home 7 Division titles, 2 NL pennants and 1 World Series Championship. Redbird faithful were treated to the offensive explosions of Albert Pujols, the pitching performances of Matt Morris, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and so many more.
The Blues saw their consecutive postseason streak grow to 24 years before ending. After hitting rock bottom, the franchise has turned around and Blues fans have much to look forward to in the next decade.
Lets not forget about other events that have taken place here in St. Louis. The 2005 Men’s Final Four came to Scottrade. We saw the North Carolina Tarheels take home another National Title, after the Fighting Illini put on a show in a historic comeback win over Arizona.
The Women’s Final Four also came to St. Louis. We saw perfection with the UConn Huskies and head coach Gene Auriemma. A true dynasty in Women’s hoops took home the National Title under the arch.
The decade has had its shares of ups and downs. From the triumph of championship victory to the admissions of performance enhancing drugs. Last minute upsets that made it clear we need a playoff in college football to utter dominance in individual sports. This decade had it all
But I digress and will now bring focus back to the title of this note… Athlete of the Decade. Who was the best of the best? Can you compare them? Below I will list my top 15, I will give reasons and you can post in agreement or make a case for what you think I should change….
First, all of those who didnt quite make the top 15:
Serena Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Usain Bolt, Annkia Sorenstam, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jeff Gordon, Michael Schumaker, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariano Rivera, Manny Ramirez, Brett Favre, Shaquille O’Neil, LeBron James
15. Ben Roethlisberger
Won more rings than any quarterback not named Brady while throwing for more than 19,000 yards.
14. Jimmie Johnson
Won 4 consecutive Sprint Cup Titles
13. Niklas Lidstrom
6-time Defensemen of the Year, 2 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy
Stats: 105 Goals, 407 assists
12. Champ Bailey
Eight pro bowls this decade. In 2006, he didn’t give up a TD all season. In that same year, he was only thrown at just 35 times in 16 games (2.1 times per game) and guess how many passes were completed over him? Four!
11. Martin Broduer
4 Vezina Trophies (top goaltender), 2 Stanley Cups, 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Stats: 334-182-40 record, .601 winning %
10. Kobe Bryant
4 NBA titles, 2 MVP’s, 10-time All-Star, 1 Olympic Gold Medal
Stats: 19,380 pts, 4,693 assists.
3 Superbowl Titles, 1 MVP, 4 Pro Bowls, set records for most passing yards in a season, passing TD’s in regular season, largest TD-INT difference in a season.
Stats: 30,346 yds, 226 TD’s
8. Tim Duncan
3 NBA titles, 2 MVP’s, 10-time All-Star,Stats: 14,556 pts, 8,017 rebs
7. Alex Rodgriguez
1 World Series title, 3 MVP’s, 9 Time All-Star, 4-time AL Runs leader, 2-time AL RBI leader
Stats: .303 avg, 437 HR, 1,245 RBI
6. Peyton Manning
1 Super Bowl title, 3 MVP’s, 8 Pro Bowls, holds records for most consecutive 4,000 yd seasons, most consecutive 25 TD seasons, highest completion percentage in a month
Stats: 45, 448 yds, 432 TD’s
5. Lance Armstrong
Won 6 consecutive Tour de France
4. Michael Phelps
Won 16 Olympic medals (14 gold), 6-time swimmer of the year, set 37 world records
3. Tiger Woods
Won 12 of his 14 major championships, ranked #1 for 264 consecutive weeks
2. Roger Federer
Won 15 Grand Slam Titles, reached semi-finals in 22 consecutive tournaments; finals in 10 consecutive, ranked #1 for 237 weeks
1. Albert Pujols
1 World Series Title, 3 MVP’s, 8-time All-Star, 1 NL Batting title, 1 NL HR title, 4th player to win decade triple crown. Finished in the top 5 in MVP voting in 8 of 9 years.
Stats: .334 avg. 366 HR, 1.112 RBI
Surely this topic is debatable and no one will ever be 100 right. The only thing that is certain is this: we have seen a great decade and we have another great decade of sports to look forward to in the 2010’s!! So here’s to another great sports decade!!