Phillies trade Pence and Victorino in deadline deals
With the Phillies playing well below expectations and dropping further out of a playoff race by the trade deadline, Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger on two trades that shook the Phillies’ roster.
Shane Victorino, a Rule 5 pickup that started his Phillies’ career in 2006, was traded the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitchers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin on the morning of July 31.
Within hours, one of his outfield teammates was gone too. Hunter Pence, acquired a year ago in a trade with the Houston Astros, was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catcher Tommy Joseph and pitcher Seth Rosin.
The trades were made with the Phillies’ future in mind. While Victorino and Pence were fan favorites in Philadelphia, the Phillies rid themselves of a sizable amount of money on next season’s payroll. This will help the team pursue several elite players this offseason.
Kings win first Stanley Cup
Less than a year after the Philadelphia Flyers traded away Jeff Carter to Columbus and Mike Richards to Los Angeles to sign their top-of-the-line goalie, the two former Flyers reached the pinnacle of hockey greatness in June.
Carter, acquired by the Kings in February and Richards were reunited on the ice and helped the Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history by cruising to a Game 6 win over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final by a score of 6-1.
The Kings, led by coach Daryll Sutter and captain Dustin Brown, became the first eight-seed in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, beating the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games and eliminating the second-seed St. Louis Blues in four games to get to the conference finals.
In the conference finals, they met an upstart Phoenix Coyotes team that was the third seed. But once again, wins came with ease as the Kings punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final by winning the series in five games.
The Kings posted a 16-4 record in the playoffs including a perfect 8-0 record on the road. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
LeBron wins first NBA title with Heat
LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat two seasons ago to win championships. After participating in two NBA Finals in his career and losing both, the MVP led the Heat to their second NBA title in franchise history by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 by a score of 121-106.
James was awarded Finals MVP, completing the trifecta of NBA MVP, Finals MVP and NBA champion in the same season. After coming close to a championship twice, including once with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James finally won his first title in his ninth NBA season, posting a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
This was also the successful ending the season envision for the Miami Heat over a year ago when they signed James and forward Chris Bosh, joining Dwayne Wade in the “Big Three.”
Hamels signs extension with Phillies
With free agency looming for Cole Hamels following the 2012 season, the Phillies crossed a top priority off their offseason list.
The Phillies and Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension. The new contract will keep Hamels in a Phillies’ uniform until 2018.
Hamels debuted with the Phillies in 2006 and played a leading role in the Phillies’ World Series run in 2008, winning NLCS and World Series MVP.
Posting one of the best seasons of his career with a 14-6 record and 2.99 ERA in 25 starts so far in 2012, Hamels will become the future ace of the Phillies for years to come. In his career, Hamels is 88-60 with a 3.34 ERA.
Hamels was expected to be the hot commodity on the free agent market this season. Potential suitors included the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers.
But Hamels can now call Philadelphia his long-term home and will likely see his career end as a Phillie.