Sports Illustrated used Aug. 16, 1954, as the date for its first issue. Presumably, the idea for naming a “Sportsman of the Year’’ predated that by three months, to May 6, when Roger Bannister became the first person to run a sub-4-minute mile.
Bannister was the first, and Madison Bumgarner, the “I-got-this’’ hero of San Francisco’s third World Series title in five years, was named for 2014 as the 61st. Sports Illustrated has gotten cute on occasion, but mostly it has stayed with honoring an athlete as the Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year.
The Star Tribune has been naming a Sportsperson of the Year for Minnesota since 1998. It would conflict with my duties as chairman of the Turkey of the Year committee, so I’m not in on the vote. I’ll find out the 2014 winner with the rest of you on Christmas Day.
This question did arise while endorsing SI’s choice of Bumgarner: If you were to choose an athlete, SI-style, from Minnesota’s full-schedule, major sports entities for 2014, it would be who?
The Timberwolves played 51 of last season’s games in 2014, and Kevin Love was our most accomplished male athlete by far. And then he left.
Maya Moore of the Lynx was her league’s MVP, but with a 34-game regular season and short playoffs, the WNBA is actually a part-time gig for the best players in the women’s game.
Ryan Suter of the Wild? His year would’ve been 2013, as a Norris Trophy finalist. I put him third for 2014.
Here are my top two athletes from the Twin Cities major sports entities for this calendar year: Twins starter Philip Hughes and Gophers senior running back David Cobb.
Hughes gave the Twins a No. 1-quality starter for the first time since Johan Santana. He pitched 209 ⅔ innings, walked 16 and was 16-10 for a team that finished 70-92.
Team record is why I’d go with Cobb: The Gophers were 5-3 in the Big Ten, providing the relentless Cobb with a bowl game of actual merit to increase his school record of 1,545 yards rushing in a season.
It’s not Bannister or Bumgarner, but it’s pretty good.
Plus Three from Patrick
Other notable Minnesota pros/Gophers for 2014:
• DeAndre Mathieu. The little guard showed up as a JUCO transfer and was the Gophers’ best player in an NIT-title season.
• Miguel Ibarra. Minnesota United FC got more attention this summer than any soccer team here since the Kicks; defender Ibarra was his league’s MVP.
• Adam Wilcox. Gophers goalie was in top 10 for Hobey Baker Award as a sophomore. If he stays four years, he’ll have records no one will touch.