FROM MY SEAT: 2007 Top 10 (Part 2)

Posted by Frank Murtaugh on Sun, Dec 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

5) Memphis 1, Sacramento 0 (July 26) -- A one-hitter and a game-winning hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. In terms of fan engagement -- you know, the crowd at AutoZone Park actually paying attention to the action on the field, as opposed to nurturing cellphone relationships -- this was the highlight of the 2007 Redbirds season. Starting pitcher Chris Narveson pitched five and two-thirds hitless innings against the first-place Sacramento River Cats, and was relieved more than capably by Matt Ginter and Troy Cate. With two outs in the ninth, Memphis drew three consecutive walks before Nick Stavinoha ripped a hit into the rightfield corner for a walk-off victory. For a night, at least, the standings didn't matter.

4) Jazz 104, Grizzlies 88 (February 28) -- In the closest parallel to Jack and Joe Buck my family is likely to realize, 7-year-old Sofia Murtaugh was part of a media contingent during a pregame press conference on Kids' Night at FedExForum. Her question for Grizzlies coach Tony Barone: "Which NBA player is the toughest to defend?" (Barone's answer: Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.) Suited up in a mini-Grizz outfit for the pregame introductions and a dunk contest following the third quarter, young Murtaugh saw the home team jump out to a 20-4 lead, only to witness the Northwest Division-leading Jazz chip away and end the Grizzlies' two-game home winning streak. Pau Gasol's 28 points and 13 rebounds weren't enough to offset Utah's Carlos Boozer (24 points and 16 boards) and Deron Williams (14 points, 10 assists). The loss kept Memphis tied with Boston in the Greg Oden Sweepstakes, with an NBA-worst 15 victories on the season. Ms. Murtaugh was tucked snuggly in bed by the time Barone opened his postgame session.

3) Memphis 25, UAB 9 (November 17) -- In terms of probability -- or lack thereof -- this was the Game of the Year. The Tiger football team had been handled by the likes of Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, UCF, and East Carolina (giving up 56 points to each of the latter two). They had lost a member of the team -- reserve defensive lineman Taylor Bradford -- in an on-campus murder not even two months earlier. They had not beaten the Blazers since 1999, and that was with DeAngelo Williams carrying the ball four of those years. Yet there in the end zone at game's end, hoisting the bronzed rack of ribs that has come to symbolize the "Battle for the Bones," was Tiger backup quarterback Will Hudgens. With Joseph Doss rushing for 168 yards, Duke Calhoun catching four passes for another 159, and Martin Hankins passing for 298 yards, the U of M earned bowl eligibility for the fourth time in five seasons. With a win over SMU the following week, Memphis finished with a conference record of 6-2, its best in 12 years of C-USA play.

2) Memphis 71, Houston 59 (March 10) -- For the second straight year, John Calipari's Tigers finished off a sweep of Conference USA's regular season and tournament championships with a win at FedExForum. (And for the second straight year, the victory gave the Tigers 30 wins for the season, on their way to a 33-4 finish.) The Tigers essentially had the Cougars beaten by halftime, up by 11 with a capacity crowd roaring for the national-television audience. Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 17 points on his way to earning tourney MVP honors. Fellow sophomore Antonio Anderson matched CDR's point total and dished out five assists. This marked the fifth time in Tiger basketball history that Memphis won both conference titles in the same year.

1) Dallas 35, St. Louis 7 (September 30) -- In the fine tradition of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise, a friend and I packed up the horseless carriage and headed west, our destination Texas Stadium. Lifelong Cowboy fans, Johnny G and I counted the RV dealerships and cotton fields over our 450-mile journey, all for a chance to cast our shadows under that famous hole in the roof where Someone Else is rumored to keep watch over His favorite football team. We saw the Cowboys rack up 502 yards (their most in a non-overtime game since 1998) and improve to 4-0 for the first time in more than a decade. Tom Landry statue aside, the highlight was seeing Dallas quarterback Tony Romo retrieve a shotgun-snap over his head, turn upfield, and dodge at least three Ram tacklers to gain a first down. How 'bout them Cowboys, indeed.

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