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Sports Top 10

The year in sports veered from the horrifying to the sublime

By Mark Fagan, Fri., Jan. 6, 2012

Sports Top 10
Courtesy of Ron Byrd

The 2011 year in sports veered from the horrifying (the Penn State nightmare) to the sublime (Game 6 of the World Series). What occurs between the lines draws us in, but what happens outside of them is often more gripping. This column is dedicated to my dearest of friends, Esme Barrera, who was senselessly murdered New Year's Day. Her loss is not only a crippling blow to myself, but also to the hundreds of people whose lives she touched. It was such a joy to watch sports with her. Whether watching the World Cup at the Liberty Bar or supporting her buddies on the Waterloo Records team in the Alternative Softball League, she was there sharing her infectious love of life with all those blessed to be along for the ride. I'm a better man for having the privilege of spending as much time with her as I did. One of the bright lights of Austin has been extinguished. We're all rocking for two now. For more on her story, see "Barrera Death a Great Loss," News.

1) The End OF the Rivalry On Thanksgiving Day, UT beat Texas A&M with a last-second field goal set up by a nice run from Case McCoy, which more than likely marked the end of this historic college football rivalry.

2) The Longhorn Network I'll be nice: All I'll say is that it did not launch as planned and is still only readily available locally on Grande. For more, see "Top 10 Education Stories," News.

3) Round Rock Express switched affilations from the Astros to the Rangers and took their more-talented farm system with them. They went on to win their 11th division title (their first since 2006). The Austin Toros and Texas Stars continue to entertain their fans with a high level of play and excellent entertainment value.

4) Formula One The saga continues. For more, see "Top 10 City Council Stories," News.

5) Game 6 This year's Fall Classic was more exciting than your typical championship series (sorry Rangers fans), but Game 6 was one for the ages. St. Louis won 10-9 in a more than four-hour, 338 pitch marathon that ended with David Freese sending a ball over the center-field wall. Our own Shawn Badgley put it well when he said, "It [was] so magnificent that it should henceforth be screened for every baseball skeptic across the land."

6) Texas Rollergirls In the flat-track Roller Derby championship bout, the Hustlers put an end to the Hotrod Honeys' three-year dynasty.

7) Every Hall of Famer My friend Summer Anne Burton started her blog Every Hall of Famer in early January featuring folky renderings of (eventually) every MLB Hall of Famer accompanined by anecdotes and stats. She's since seen her work appear in ESPN The Magazine, on Deadspin.com, and numerous other publications.

8) Anarchy Championship Wrestling continues its successful run at Mohawk and was featured for the second year in a row at Fun Fun Fun Fest – with all the media attention both locally and nationally that entails.

9) Houston Texans Make the Playoffs In their 10th season, the Texans finally made the playoffs. They'll face the Bengals in Houston this Saturday at 3:30pm on NBC. The Cowboys can only look on.

10) The Score Bloggers I've lucked into an excellent batch of sportswriters whose work has drawn more and more attention to our Sports blog. My gratitude to Joe O'Connell, Alex Dunlap, Russ Espinoza, Will Schmidt, Barrett Walton, Will Eidam, Richard Whittaker, and all the writers who have contributed. Follow on Twitter @AusChronSports.

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