Sports

Muller: 2011 — The Year of The Paper Champion

Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade talk strategy during their game against the Dallas Mavericks. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade talk strategy during their game against the Dallas Mavericks. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

By Shawn Muller

(CBS) Nothing is more annoying than hearing sports writer after sports writer dote all over a team — crowning them champions — before they even step foot on the field of play.

We see it happen all the time, but I can’t remember a year where three teams received as much media hype as the Miami Heat, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Eagles did this past year.

Leading up to the 2010-2011 NBA basketball season, all we heard about was the Miami Heat.  Everywhere you looked—whether online or on television—anyone and everyone with a microphone was talking about how great the Heat were going to be, how many championships the three “divamigos” were going to win, and whether or not Miami was going to break the single season wins record set by the 1995-96 Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.

Don’t get me wrong.  Under normal circumstances, people would have said that Miami had a very successful season.  But not for this team.  The Heat were different.  They had to win a title.  Otherwise, the whole entire season was an utter failure.

Well, failure it was.

But Miami wasn’t alone in 2011.

Look at the Boston Red Sox.

They got Adrian Gonzalez.  They got Carl Crawford.  They had a killer starting rotation and a nice bullpen.

Basically, the Red Sox “looked” like the perfect team on paper, but we should have known better.

If the regular season would have ended in June, July, or August, Boston would have easily made the playoffs, and most likely, would have been a shoe-in to represent the American League in the World Series.  They were running on all cylinders and looked like the team to beat.  But then a little thing called “September” came along.

Before we knew it, the mighty Boston Red Sox began to resemble the Houston Astros down the stretch.

After having the best record in the American League for the majority of the summer, the dog days hit Beantown like a Mike Tyson upper cut, leaving the Sox dazed and confused, and just like that — BOOM!  The worst September collapse in baseball history occurred.

For those of you keeping track at home, what Boston managed to do was virtually impossible (kind of like the Cubs winning a World Series).  With a failure that big, nothing could be worse could it?

Actually…..

Yes it could.

I would like to congratulate the Philadelphia Eagles for winning the Paper Champion Award for 2011.

After the NFL lockout ended, the Eagles were the talk of the town heading into this season, and for good reason.  Michael Vick looked like the Michael Vick of old.  The front office seemingly had the pick of the litter in the free agent market.  The defense was solid.  Basically, if you named it, the Eagles were the team that “had it”.  Well, on paper, anyways.

After Thursday’s embarrassing 31-14 loss to the sub-par Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles 2011 record fell to 4-8 on the season, thus ensuring Philadelphia of a losing season, and earning them their spot at the head of the table of the over-hyped.

The Eagles stink up and down the football field.  Sure, they have had some key injuries, but that is no excuse for poor play.  The defense is horrible.  The offense is horrible.  The coaching is horrible.  Everything about the Eagles is horrible.  In fact, this Eagles team is the biggest flop of a team I can ever remember seeing in the NFL.

There was no way that team could have lived up to the massive amount of hype they had garnered before the season started.  All you heard about was how great the Eagles were going to be, how unstoppable the offense was going to be with Michael Vick looking like his former self, how ridiculous the defense was going to be.

But I don’t feel bad for the Eagles.

In fact, I called it before the season when I compared them to the Miami Heat.  I said Philadelphia was being given the “Miami Heat” treatment by the press.  Everyone was too quick to name the Eagles NFL champions before games had even been played, and now, I get to say I told you so.

I told you so!

2011 was the year of the “paper champion” in professional sports, and I have to admit, I have enjoyed watching every moment of each collapse.

shawn muller 2 9 Muller: 2011    The Year of The Paper Champion

Shawn Muller

Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.