December 11, 2012 8:45 PM | By Jeff Hale, MSN Sports

A year of big events, big frustration and big disappointments

A highly subjective look at the year in sports, starring Usain Bolt, the Manning brothers, Lance Armstrong, Andy Murray and a passel of successful Canadians

Fireworks illuminate the stadium after the lighting of the Olympic Flame 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremonies in London on July 27, 2012. (© CANADIAN PRESS - Frank Gunn)

Fireworks illuminate the stadium after the lighting of the Olympic Flame 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremonies in London on Friday July 27, 2012.

Best event of the year, bar none: The Summer Olympics in London showed big cities can still do the big spectacle. 

Best combination of frustration and tedium — oh, and stupidity: The NHL lockout.

Biggest disappointments: The Miami Marlins opened the baseball season with a new manager, several high-priced free agents, a new uniform design and in a $525-million (US) stadium. By season’s end, the Marlins were in last place, 24 games below .500, and only the uniforms and the stadium remained.

The Vancouver Canucks, the best team in the 2011-12 NHL season, were ousted in the first round of the playoffs, losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. 

The Los Angeles Lakers spent $100 million (US) on payroll, then wallowed in mediocrity.

Best example of hubris unraveling: Lance Armstrong, after years of unequivocal denials, was banned from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following a report that said he was at the forefront of a highly sophisticated doping operation.

Best comebacks: This year’s Ryder Cup delivered riveting TV, as Europe overwhelmed the United States on the final day.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning engineered a fourth-quarter overhaul of a New England Patriots’ lead in the Super Bowl, his second such feat against the Patriots in four years.

One attempted comeback that seemed headed for the previous category: Canada, down 6-1 in the third period in a semifinal against Russia at the world junior hockey championship, scored four times, but that was it.

Pro sports league in big trouble, non-NHL division: The colossus that is the NFL was diminished this year by a string of incidents: the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, penalties eventually overturned; the debacle of using replacement referees; a murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs player

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