The 2011 sporting year had its share of blunders, from head coaches who didn't know how to work the phone to golfers who couldn't connect with a tee shot. Yahoo! Sports Blogs counts down the best of these mistakes in our list of the top 10 gaffes of 2011.
10. Roscoe Smith's buzzer beater with 11 seconds left
Every now and then you'll see a basketball player release a buzzer beater with too much time left on the clock and you'll say to yourself, "if that were me, I'd have taken three more steps and shot closer to the basket," because it's much easier to keep track of time when you're sitting on your couch and watching the clock than it is while playing in the actual game. Point is, it's hard to know exactly when to release a potential game-winner with the clock running down to zeroes. It's not this hard though, as Connecticut freshman Roscoe Smith embarrassingly found out last spring during the Huskies run to college basketball's national title:
9. Christina Aguilera forgets the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl
If I still know all the lyrics to "Genie in a Bottle," surely it shouldn't be so hard for Christina to remember the words to the national anthem.
8. Injuries of the year
Rafael Nadal burned his hand on a hot plate at a Japanese steakhouse. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman required stitches after the recoil from shooting a gun at a gun range cut his throwing thumb. Tennessee's blue-tick hound mascot missed some time with a torn ACL. And the coup de grace: Stacy Lewis' mom broke her leg while jumping into a pond after her daughter won the Nabisco Championship.
7. Norv Turner
The San Diego Chargers coach is a walking gaffe, so picking one of his dozens of mistakes from 2011 is difficult. Our favorite was the time he took a timeout late in a game against the Chicago Bears and then challenged the previous play after said timeout. Why didn't he challenge it before taking the timeout? Only Norv knows. He lost that challenge and Norv was in the same exact spot, only with two fewer timeouts.
6. Nasir Robinson fouls
The greatest college basketball game of the year had one of the craziest finishes in NCAA tournament history. Pittsburgh and Butler traded leads multiple times in the final 2.2 seconds of their second-round game. After some circus shots, one other mind-boggling foul and a free throw miss, the game was tied and looked to be headed to overtime when Butler's Matt Howard came down with a rebound 85 feet from his own basket with 0.8 seconds left. Then Nasir Robinson of Pittsburgh inexplicably fouled the Butler big man. Howard hit a free throw and Butler had stolen a win from the top-seeded Panthers.
5. Athletes are mostly angry when it rains
Rain can't be avoided. Making decisions to resume sporting events after rain can be, a fact Andy Roddick and IndyCar driver Will Power know all too well. Both got into it with officials this year after being forced to restart their respective events in unsafe conditions. Roddick threw a temper tantrum at US Open official Brian Early because of an air bubble on his US Open court, eventually getting his fourth-round match moved to tiny Court 13 (capacity: 534). Power took a more subtle approach, flipping the bird to a race official after being forced to restart in the rain.
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4. Craig Smith blows empty netter
3. Kevin Na whiffs on a tee shot
American Kevin Na is an excellent golfer. He won one tournament in 2011, finished in the top 10 of five more and and earned $2.3 million for the season. It all looked good for Na at a tournament in Las Vegas earlier this year when he stepped to the 14th tee as the co-leader. He took out his massive driver and stood over the ball, ready to tattoo it down the fairway. And then this happened:
On my best day, I'm barely a mediocre golfer and I can't remember the last time I whiffed on a tee shot. It didn't matter much to Na though; he went on to win the tournament. Single-hole blow-ups are part of Na's routine. Later in the year, he carded a 16 on a par-4.
2. St. Louis Cardinals World Series
In the 108 year history of the World Series, few moments were ever as bizarre as the one that took place in Game 5 of this year's Fall Classic. Tony La Russa called down to the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen and asked for Jason Motte to warm up. Like he's done a thousand times in the past, La Russa picked up the dugout phone, called down to the bullpen and asked for a reliever, this time, Motte, to start warming. Yet when La Russa went to the mound, Lance Lynn was standing there instead. Apparently the bullpen hadn't heard La Russa's request properly over the phone and garbled the request. Lynn intentionally walked the batter because Motte wasn't ready and then was replaced by Motte, the reliever La Russa wanted in the first place, all because of a bad phone connection. The manager was the subject of mockery for 48 hours after the game but got the last laugh: His Cardinals won the World Series and he retired, riding off into his baseball sunset as a champion.
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1. Vince Young's "dream team"
Every other incident on this list was brought upon by extenuating circumstances, whether it be rain, a momentary lapse in hand-eye coordination or a mental slip. Each were provoked by something else. And then there's Vince Young. When asked about what sort of talent his new team, the Philadelphia Eagles, had brought in during the NFL offseason, Young responded that it was like they were building a "dream team." The press pounced on it and a new storyline was born. The Eagles were asked about the comments almost daily, and when a 1-1 start turned into a 1-4 debacle, the "dream team" moniker was used in derision. Did Young's comments have any effect on other teams figuring out how to contain Michael Vick, Andy Reid's fourth quarter indecisions, Juan Castillo's bizarre promotion to defensive coordinator or the countless turnovers that helped Philly blow fourth-quarter leads? Of course not. What it did was put a bigger target on the Eagles backs and gave the team a fitting epitaph for their lost season. It was a completely avoidable gaffe that still has repercussions. All Young had to do was keep his mouth shut.
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