Analysis

Spoiler Alert: Wild Card Weekend

The Wild Card Weekend picks are upcoming, but -- real quick, before the glory of sports' greatest tournament commences -- there are a few 2014 acknowledgments we need to make.

(For the full commentary on all of the below and more, I suggest -- nay, demand! -- you listen to the 2014 Sheky Awards. Yes, click here. Now.)

Here, let's focus on our most ignominious trophy: the seventh annual Sonic Award, recognizing the sports town whose teams caused the most pain and suffering for its fans over the past calendar year. Created in 2008, the award's name comes from Seattle's departed NBA franchise (which had a rookie named Kevin Durant). The Sonics' exit punctuated what remains the most apocalyptic sports year for one city on record.

Before we get to the 2014 Sonic, here's a look at the past "winners" ...

2008: SEATTLE (Seahawks 4-12, head coach Mike Holmgren departs; Mariners 61-101, fire GM Bill Bavasi/manager John McLaren and release 1B Richie Sexson during the season; Sonics 20-62, depart for OKC with ROY Kevin Durant; University of Washington football 0-12; UW basketball 16-17.)

2009: CLEVELAND (Browns 5-11; Cavaliers 66-16, get No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference, but lose to Orlando in conference finals; Indians 65-97; Ohio State basketball 22-11, No. 8 seed in NCAA tourney, but lose to No. 9 Siena.)

2010: CLEVELAND (Browns 5-11; Cavaliers 61-21, get No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference, but lose to Boston in second round; LeBron James leaves Cavs for Miami; Indians 69-93; Ohio State football 12-1, but eventually forced to vacate wins for NCAA violations; Ohio State basketball 29-8, No. 2 seed in NCAA tourney, but upset by No. 6 Tennessee.)

2011: WASHINGTON D.C. ('Skins 5-11; Nationals 80-81, Stephen Strasburg misses most of season after Tommy John surgery; Wizards 23-59; Capitals 107 points, get No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference, but swept in second round by Tampa Bay; Georgetown basketball 21-11, get No. 6 seed in NCAA tourney, upset by No. 11 VCU.)

2012: PITTSBURGH (Steelers 8-8, miss playoffs; Penguins 108 points, humiliated in Round 1 of playoffs by archrival Philadelphia; Pirates 79-83, collapse in second half of season -- again, record 20th straight losing season; Pitt basketball 22-17, misses NCAA tourney; Pitt football 6-7.)

2013: NEW YORK (Giants 7-9, Eli Manning throws 27 INTs; Jets 8-8; Yankees 85-77, lose 2B Robinson Cano/OF Curtis Granderson to free agency, Mariano Rivera retires, Alex Rodriguez suspended through '14; Mets 74-88, Johan Santana misses entire '13 season with shoulder injury, Matt Harvey will miss '14 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery; Knicks 54-28, lose in second round of playoffs to Indiana; Nets 49-33, lose in first round to Chicago; two NBA teams start a combined 19-42 in 2013-'14 season; Rangers 56 points, lose in second round of Stanley Cup Playoffs; Islanders 55 points, lose in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs; Devils 48 points, miss playoffs; three NHL teams start a combined 50-56-17 in 2013-'14; St John's basketball 17-16.)

Unfortunately but inevitably, the 2014 field is littered with worthy nominees ... as you let me know last week:

Yes, NYC made a serious run at a grim repeat ... but the upstart Blueshirts nearly winning the Cup and the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. are enough to allow the five boroughs to narrowly escape.

A two-parter -- and you didn't even mention the Bucs' uniforms, Alex! (I also didn't know Tampa/St. Pete residents consider the Magic to be their team. Condolences.)

Good thought, Jordan. But as you say, the Raptors are just too satisfactory.

An excellent thought/shot at East Lansing's in-state rival from our pal/Michigan State alum Mike Prisuta. But the 12/30 under-the-wire hiring of Jim Harbaugh gets Ann Arbor off the hook.

Yeah, but things are looking up for the Rockets and Astros.

Interesting angle, citing minor league titles as a point of shame. But I don't want to sully another remarkable season by Bruce Arians.

Ding-ding-ding! Sorry for you and your fellow Eastern PA sports fans, Marc, but the 2014 Sheky Award goes to ...

PHILADELPHIA!

Is it worse to be punch-line awful or to crush hopes and dreams by failing to live up to lofty expectations? Moot point for Philly fans in '14, because their teams combined to provide the full range of negative emotions. Yes, the cities of Tampa and Atlanta had bad years, but the enormity of what Philly just did was something for the ages. Consider: The Eagles, a prohibitive favorite to reclaim the NFC East in Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era, were instead eliminated from playoff contention before Christmas. The Phillies were the worst team in an NL East populated by three other teams with losing records, then they traded away Jimmy Rollins, one of the mainstays of their (semi-)recent glory years. The NHL's Flyers were mediocre (at best) last season and are worse this season. Oh, and their captain also got arrested for groping an Ottawa cop's bum. Villanova basketball won a weakened Big East, but blew a No. 1 seed by losing to Seton Hall in the conference tournament, then got upset by rival UConn in the national tourney. Of course, the Sixers -- or Sicksers(?) -- are the sour cherry on top of this curdled sundae. We've seen other teams tank to get a high pick in the draft ... but two seasons in a row?! Exactly how patient are fans supposed to be? And for what, exactly? Nerlens Noel and his 43 percent shooting accuracy (woeful for a guy who doesn't shoot from outside two feet)? Joel Embiid and his bum back? Not exactly the ideal building blocks for the NBA's next dynasty in the City of Brotherly Love.

Better luck in 2015, Philly. And please refrain from groping the private parts of North America's peacekeepers.


And now, a few NFL-specific awards to wrap up the 2014 regular season:

Harrison: Power Rankings

What does the pecking order look like with the regular season behind us and the postseason on tap? Elliot Harrison weighs in. READ

Rookie of the Year:Football Baby -- 4-0 in Week 17, 30-9 lifetime. (Sorry, ODB ... as a consolation prize, my man Booyah and I paid homage to your iconic catch.)

Best Uniform:49ers

Worst Uniform (tie): Bucs, Jags

Best Uniform Matchup:Chiefs at Raiders

Best Team:Seahawks

Best QB for a One-Game Playoff with the Fate of Planet Earth on the Line: 1) Aaron Rodgers; 2) Ben Roethlisberger; 3) Tom Brady

Hardest QB to Sack:Russell Wilson

Best Triplets (QB/RB/WR): Oh, I've got a couple thousand words on this award. CLICK HERE.

Best Jenga Piece (The Jenga Theory: If you remove the wrong player from the roster, the whole team collapses like a Jenga game. We skip QBs because most teams can't lose their QB without imploding.): Rob Gronkowski

Best O-Line:Dallas Cowboys

Best WR:Antonio Brown

Best RB:Le'Veon Bell

Best DL:J.J. Watt

Best LB:Bobby Wagner

Best DB:Darrelle Revis

Best Head Coach:Bruce Arians

Best Assistant Coach:Todd Bowles

Best GM: Jerry Jones

Best Football Podcast:The Dave Dameshek Football Program


All right, now that we've put the regular season in the rearview mirror, let's look ahead to the wild-card round ...

WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the final scores of this weekend's games.

(11-5 last week, 173-82-1 on the season)


CARDINALS 9
PANTHERS 14

ARZ QBs: 4 turnovers
Cam Newton: TD pass; TD run


RAVENS 10
STEELERS 13

BAL D: 7 sacks
Antonio Brown: 7-yd TD rec


BENGALS 19
COLTS 27

Jeremy Hill: 24 car, 125 yds, TD
T.Y. Hilton: 80-yd TD rec


LIONS 28
COWBOYS 26

Calvin Johnson: 2 TDs
Dez Bryant: 2 TDs


Enjoy Wild Card Weekend! I hope your team wins (unless they're playing my team).

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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