Who’s on First? A Weekly Sports Column

We know it’s hard to relive the events of the past weekend (that is, if you’re in Boston like we are), but some other things happened this week in sports besides the buttery fingers of the Patriots. Read on for more.

Giants tip Patriots…again

What was supposed to be revenge ended up being déjà vu all over again for the New England Patriots, as the New York Giants scored a late touchdown (again) to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl (again), this time by a score of 21-17. Super Bowl XLVI bore eerie similarities to the same match-up just four years ago: The Patriots had a late lead, but couldn’t hold on; Giants QB Eli Manning, the eventual Super Bowl MVP, led his team to another game-winning fourth quarter touchdown; and Mario Manningham was this year’s David Tyree, making a spectacular late catch to set up the win for the Giants.

The game was one of mistakes, both made and avoided: Patriots QB Tom Brady, trying to win his fourth Super Bowl, was called for a safety in the first quarter after intentionally grounding the ball from the end zone and also threw a fourth quarter interception; Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Aaron Hernandez all dropped catchable balls. After the game, Brady, used to so much success, was disheartened to the point of barely being able to speak for thirty minutes. The city of New York feted the Giants with a parade through the “Canyon of Heroes” in Manhattan on Tuesday. The game was watched by a record 111.3 million people across the nation, making it the most-watch telecast in television history.

Barbs continued to fly between the two sides after the game, as Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw said Brady’s wife, supermodel Giselle Bundchen, should just “stay cute and shut up,” referring to an incident after the game where Bundchen, responding to taunts from Giants fans, placed blame on the New England receivers, saying that her husband “can’t throw the ball and catch it at the same time.” Also, on Tuesday, an online pawn broker dropped a load of Butterfinger candy bars in Boston’s Copley Square to mock Welker’s drop, a play that likely would have sealed the win for the Patriots had he made it.

BOOOOOOO! Forbes’ “most-disliked” list

A big part of being a sports nut is despising opposing players and fans. Sure, rooting for the home team is fun, but disliking the other team is often more fun. Forbes recently published the results of a Nielsen/E-Poll Market research poll that asked American sports fans who they hated the most, and two athletes tied for the top spot, albeit for two very different reasons.

Pro golfer Tiger Woods and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick were tied for most-disliked, with each having a “dislike” rating of 60%. Woods’ image still hasn’t recovered from a very public divorce that came after the discovery of numerous (very, VERY numerous) extramarital affairs; Vick was hit with a 23-month prison sentence after being convicted of playing a major role a dog fighting ring back in 2007.

Up next on the list is New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress (56%), who etched his name into the annals of infamy after being sent to prison in 2009 on firearms charges stemming from an incident in which he shot himself in the leg. He’s followed by Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions (51%; stomped on a player), Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Nets (50%; marrying/divorcing a Kardashian tends to have that effect), and LeBron James of the Miami Heat (48%; an hour-long special dedicated to oneself usually has a detrimental impact on public image). Rounding out the top-ten are Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (45%), former NFL receiver Terrell Owens (also 45%), and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

NHL’s worst-kept secret to be revealed

Keeping the location of the annual Winter Classic a secret has never been the National Hockey League’s forte, and this year is no different. Speculation has been swirling for weeks now that the 2013 edition of the NHL’s outdoor spectacular will take place at Michigan Stadium, the University of Michigan’s 100,000+ seat football arena in Ann Arbor, between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. The parties involved took another step towards confirming the speculation on Wednesday, when it was announced that the university’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a measure to lease the stadium to the NHL for a $3 million fee.

Also, the NHL itself has scheduled a “major announcement” for Thursday at 10:30 AM at Detroit’s Comerica Park, adding that the “event will continue at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.” Gee, what could it be for? Such a mystery! Other pieces of the event are starting to come together as well, with CBSSports.com reporting that Comerica Park in Detroit will host American Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and NCAA games as part of the “Classic” festivities. Known as “the Big House,” Michigan Stadium has hosted a hockey game before: in 2010, the Michigan Wolverines beat the Michigan State University Spartans by a score of 5-0 in front of 113,411 fans, the largest-ever crowd for a hockey game.

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