Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Squiddies 2011

The Armchair Squid turns two years old today. As such, it's awards show time. And the Squiddy goes to...

Biggest Surprise: Steve Brewer

Photo via

Back in December, I wrote a review of Mr. Brewer's book End Run and posted links to the review on both Goodreads and Twitter, per usual. Just a few hours later, I got a comment on the post from the author himself! I was tickled pink.

So, be careful what you write, folks. You never know who might read it.

Honorable Mention: Sabermetrics, VCU Basketball, A to Z Blogging Challenge

Biggest Disappointment: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Image via R4NT

This past television season, the CBC carried Men with Brooms, a show based on the curling-centered film of the same name. I had a great and glorious plan to post reviews for each episode of the show. While DirecTV, our satellite provider, does not carry the CBC, I had hopes of being able to watch the show via their Website. Denied! Episodes could not be streamed outside of Canada. I was able to watch the first few episodes by pirate streams but that got to be more trouble than it was worth. Hosers!

Honorable Mention: DirecTV's Sports Pack Fake Out, NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final

Best Match: Roland Garros Men's Semifinal: Djokovic v. Federer

Federer's uncharacteristic reaction at the end of the match said it all. This victory was about a lot more than one match, one opponent, one tournament. The message was pretty clear to Djokovic, and to all of us: "I'm not done just yet." The final was great, too, astonishing in the genius-level of play Fed and Nadal nearly always bring to their rivalry, but the semifinal was the one that really mattered in the arc of the season. Note: that was one of only two matches Djokovic has lost so far in 2011.

Honorable Mention: Roland Garros Men's Final, Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament Semifinal: Lafayette v. American

Best Story:
The Rise of Djokovic

Photo via Fanpop

It would be cheating to say "men's tennis" but one certainly could. The current narratives of Nadal, Federer, Murray, Fish, del Potro, Tsonga and many others have added up to an absolutely marvelous season. But what can you even say about a man who has done what Djokovic has done over the past twelve months? He has only lost eight matches during that time (interestingly, four of them to Federer) and won ten titles, two of them Slams, plus the Davis Cup for Serbia. He is the undisputed World #1. His ascent has been anticipated for a long time. But who could have foreseen that it would look like this?

Honorable Mention: Butler Basketball, VCU Basketball, Roland Garros

Best Read, First-Time Read Category: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Image via

I will not pretend that Mr. Lewis or any of the authors I've read this year is better than Shakespeare. They aren't. Nobody is. But no book this year has had a greater impact on my blogging than Moneyball. Sabermetrics absolutely blew my mind and has forever changed the way I watch baseball.
Moneyball should be required reading for any fan of the game. Even Englishman Nick Hornby raved about the book in The Polysyllabic Spree, though he admitted to not understanding most of it.

Honorable Mention: The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski,
Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie by Mark St. Amant

Best Read, Re-Read Category: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl

Image via wikia

Charlie was my only re-read for the blog this year but it seems unfair to compare the other books I read with one of my all-time favorites. No, Roald Dahl isn't Shakespeare, either. But I'm betting Charlie will still be read 400 years from now.

Athlete of the Year: Na Li

Photo via All World Sports Stars Wallpapers

Once again, Roland Garros produced a surprise women's champion. Li was a Curtain Call for me at the Australian Open where she became the first Chinese player to make a Slam singles final. Then, after a miserable spring season, she surprised absolutely everyone by claiming the title in Paris. With all of the moaning about tennis being on the decline in the US, the sport is booming worldwide, nowhere more so than in Asia. Will her RG title prove the watershed moment for the sport as so many believe? Only time will tell. In the meantime, she deserves full credit for her astonishing achievement.

Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Jurgen Melzer, Novak Djokovic

Post with Most Unexpected Consequences: Baseball Tunes: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

My first music-centered post had one most unexpected result: My Wife's first - and so far, only - comment on my blog! I can't complain too much as she is one of my two most faithful readers but I couldn't help celebrating the moment. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should: Wikes! Hikes on the Long Trail.

Honarable Mention: On the Coffee Table: Steve Brewer

Best Family Adventure: The Philosopher's Island

It really was just about the perfect family holiday. We all love the place. We can be equally happy doing things or doing nothing. Cost is minimal. The scenery is stunning. One could hardly ask for more. More photos here, here and here.

Honorable Mention: Side-to-Side Project, Long Trail Project

Best Unexpected Benefit of Blogging: Renewed Appreciation for Photography

The A-to-Z challenge was great for a lot of reasons but perhaps best of all for exposing me to all of the excellent photo blogs out there. They have inspired me to take more of my own and post them. Here are my favorites:

Ben and Carrie Tracks
Oak Lawn Images

Honorable Mention: Networking with Other Bloggers

Just in case you're curious, last year's awards:

Squiddies 2010

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