Year in review: 2011’s most overhyped athletes
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Well, it’s 2012 and we’re a little behind.
You might have seen a lot of top-10, top-20 or top-50 lists swarming the internet either reviewing the good and the bad of 2011 or ones previewing what’s coming up in 2012. We at Couch Side haven’t made it that far, but my first new years resolution while I was stumbling drunk in a warm, cozy cabin during New Year’s Eve was to make such a list.
Last year was an amazing 12 months of sports. It wasn’t all glamour and good news, but 2011 was an exciting year in sports nonetheless. There was lockouts in the NBA and NFL. The Major League Baseball season literally came down to 162nd game of the season and the Texas Rangers came out on top for the first time in franchise history. Yes, 2011 was full of thrills. But, of course, the year also had its fair share of athletes that didn’t quite live up to their expectations. So without any further holdup, here’s Couch Side’s top-10 list of overhyped athletes for 2011:
Tebow came out of the gates blazing, but the fire didn’t last forever. The second-year quarterback out of the University of Florida started his campaign with a 6-1 record as a starter with a handful of those wins coming in the fourth quarter. His late-game heroics became known as “Tebow Time” and it seemed whether you loved or hated the guy, everyone rooted for him. “Tebow Time” didn’t last forever, though. Since his immaculate start, Tebow’s record as a starter dipped to 1-3. He still “led” the Broncos to the playoffs, but one could blame an incredibly weak division for Denver’s success. Tebow will be taken off this list quick if he can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs. I don’t know if that will happen though, considering that he’s only thrown for 675 yards and a dismal two touchdowns with five interceptions in the final four games of the regular season.
CJ2K was an absolute bust in 2011. There’s no way to argue it the other way. In fact, the only reason the Titans were playoff contenders during the final two weeks was because of Matt Hasselback and the Titan defense. No one can tell me or the average NFL fan that Tennessee was successful because of Johnson. After the third-year pro landed his over-the-top contract, which made him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL, he rushed for barely more than 1,000 yards. That was one year after he ran over opposing defenses for an unbelievable 2,006 yards. Talk about not living up to the hype.
You probably won’t find Hanley on many of these lists, but when comparing his numbers between the 2010 and 2011, Ramirez clearly received too much hype last season. He entered the 2011 regarded as one of the best — if not the best — offensive shortstop in the game, However, after hitting .300 with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2010, Ramirez didn’t come close to those outbursts in 2011. Last season he hit an uncharacteristic ,243 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs. And now with Jose Reyes in Miami’s lineup, Ramirez just might wind up as trade bait — especially if he doesn’t return to the Hanley of old.
Some believed Kolb was a risk. Some believed he would easily earn his ridiculous six-year, $65-million contract. It turns out those who thought he was a risk were the ones who were right. Kolb was 2-6 as a starter and threw for just 1955 yards and 9 touchdowns while compiling a below average 81.1 QB rating. He did suffer a concussion, but any fan had to wonder if the Cardinals were asking him to sit out because the team’s backup, John Skelton, was playing so well. Kolb definitely didn’t earn his millions in 2011 and he may just have to battle for his starting role in the desert next season.
When the Patriots picked up Ochocinco a lot of football fans probably thought he would return New England’s offense to the way it was when Tom Brady and Randy Moss looked like two peas in a pod. Ochocinco only had 276 receiving yards this season with just a single touchdown catch (in week 15!!!), proving he definitely wasn’t the guy to replace Moss.
Artest (I will be referring to him by his former name for the sake of sanity) was picked up by the Lakers because of his defense. He proved his worth on that side of the floor, but his scoring numbers dropped significantly in his first year with the Lakers. Before joining L.A., Artest averaged between 12 to 24 points per game. And in his first year in purple and yellow, Artest scored just 8.5 points per game. They wanted him for his defense, but I guarantee the Lakers expected more from him offensively than what he provided in 2011.
If I were to do this list every year, Jeter would probably be on it. The Yankees’ captain has been overhyped for the majority of his career in my opinion. He did achieve his 3,000th career hit in 2011, but on the year, Jeter batted .297 and showed no signs of power, slugging just six home runs and 61 RBIs. The guy is a legend and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There’s no question about that. I just have to wonder how long the Yanks are going to put up with his mediocrity at the plate.
Favors definitely didn’t live up to his potential as the third-overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. He seemed like he would, but with how way No. 1 pick, John Wall, played, Favors’ averages were unacceptable. In 78 games last season, Favors averaged just 8.2 points per game while Wall turned in clips of 16.6 points per game. That’s probably why it was so easy for the New Jersey Nets to ship him to the Utah Jazz where he isn’t even penciled in as a starter on the team’s depth chart. Favors may pay off in the future, but usually guys who are drafted that high make a quicker impact than he has.
Now Burnett may not have had a lot of hype entering the 2011 season. However, another year of horrible numbers by a pitcher who has an $80 million+ contract lands one more Yanks player on this list. New York probably thought Burnett could have earned his dough after he recorded a 10-15 record with a 5.26 ERA in 2010, but they were flat out wrong. And although Burnett improved, his performance in 2011 was pathetic. Burnett posted an 11-11 record with a 5.15 and was a headache for manager Joe Torre when it came to the decision of letting the righty start. Burnett probably has a short leash now and he has no one to blame besides himself — mainly for not trusting an upper-90s fastball.
Heyward almost won the N.L. rookie of the year in 2010. In 2011, he barely held onto his starting role in right field with the Atlanta Braves. Heyward looked like a different player in just a year span after he pleased fans with 18 home runs and knocked in 91 runs in 2010. The following year, the former first-rounder hit just 14 home runs and 42 RBIs. That hurts. And it might hinder the youngster’s chances of starting in 2012 because Braves general manager Frank Wren said Heyward will probably have to battle for a starting role during spring training.