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Chuck McGill: Being born in 2012? Not bad

Welcome, 2013. Fair warning, the bar has been raised.

The past year was like no other for this sports scribe.

My view, on more than one occasion, was through the eyes of my infant son, who made his debut in February. Oftentimes, I tried to explain to him what had transpired during a sporting event on television, or attempted to articulate the magnitude of a particular accomplishment.

He might not understand the details, I thought, but he could certainly comprehend exuberance.

A priceless moment occurred Sunday night after I returned home from the Daily Mail newsroom. I cracked open the door to the living room and found my bubbly, giggly 10-month-old boy decked out in a burgundy and gold onesie.

We watched the first quarter of the Cowboys-Redskins regular season finale before he curled up with his blanket and drifted to sleep. He missed the Washington Redskins clinching the franchise's first NFC East title since the last millennium.

It's been a year of firsts in sports ... and my boy has witnessed it all in his own year of firsts.

In early March, my son wasn't even a month old - and hadn't been home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but a few days - when Marshall made its first-ever dash to the Conference USA men's basketball championship game. That followed the Herd partaking in the highest-scoring C-USA tournament game ever, a 105-100 triple-overtime semifinal triumph over Tulsa.

During the dog days of summer, I'd sit the boy on my lap and gush over a couple of baseball's rookie phenoms, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

Trout, the American League Rookie of the Year and runner-up for the MVP, was the first player in Major League history with 30 home runs, 45 steals and 125 runs in a season. He was also the youngest to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases, and the first rookie to hit 30 round-trippers and swipe 40 bags.

Harper, who played most of the season as a teenager, won the National League's top rookie honor a summer after playing a five-game series against the West Virginia Power in Charleston.

My son's first summer also included an unprecedented three perfect games in one season and the first Triple Crown winner in baseball (Miguel Cabrera) since 1967.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Summer Games, given that my boy arrived on an Olympics year. This year's Olympics marked the first time that each of the 205 participating countries had a female representative, and it was the first time the United States had more female Olympians than male.

And then we have the football firsts this fall.

WVU became gridiron goats after plummeting from the top 5 of national polls to unranked during its first five-game losing streak since 1986. That downward spiral included a 41-point home loss to Kansas State, which almost became the Mountaineers' worst defeat in Morgantown - at any venue - since the program's first ever football game on Nov. 28, 1891.

Neither of the state's Division I football programs, WVU and Marshall, displayed much defense this season. Both teams allowed the most points in a single season in school history.  

There were, however, a few individual rays of sunshine during a mostly overcast tackle football season.

WVU's 70-63 win over Baylor in the program's Big 12 debut was historic. There were 19 touchdowns and four punts in the unforgettable 133-point conference game. The Mountaineers shattered Big 12 records for total offense. Quarterback Geno Smith not only set the school's single-game record for passing (656 yards), but had the fourth-best total in FBS history. Stedman Bailey (303) and Tavon Austin (215) surpassed the school's single-game record for receiving yards that day.

The disappointing 7-6 season at least had the most prolific passing game receiving game and rushing game (Austin's 344 vs. Oklahoma) in program history.

The switch from the gridiron to hardwood offered little respite.

WVU's Bob Huggins and Marshall's Tom Herrion each lost at least five games before New Year's Day for the first time in their respective coaching careers. Huggins suffered the worst loss of his 31-year head coaching career in the Mountaineers' season-opening 84-50 defeat at Gonzaga. Herrion duplicated the feat on Dec. 22, when the Herd lost by 28 points at Kentucky - the worst loss of Herrion's seven-year head coaching career.

Before MU's star guard, DeAndre Kane, was sidelined with a broken hand last month, he recorded the school's first triple-double that involved assists. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss at Hofstra.

All of those local basketball feats were wrapped around a national news story of the Heisman Trophy. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the honor, beating Manti Te'o, who would've been the first solely defensive player to claim college football's top individual prize.

That's a lot of firsts since the arrival of my firstborn.

Ten months ago, my wife entered a hospital for eight days because of pregnancy complications and my son was born at 32 weeks, which is considered eight weeks premature. The one-year anniversary of my wife's admittance to the hospital will be Feb. 3, the date of Super Bowl XLVII.

Perhaps Robert Griffin III will still have the Redskins playing then, and RG3 can have a shot at becoming the first rookie quarterback to help his team become Super Bowl champions.

That'd be a heck of a birthday present for the boy, who'll celebrate his first a week later on Feb. 10.

I won't wish for him, but I'll certainly take another year like 2012 to share with him.  

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.


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