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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Updated: July 14, 12:24 PM ET
Page 2 makes ESPYS predictions

By Adam Watson
Special to Page 2

The ESPYS are almost here!

And if there's one thing we at Page 2 like more than the ESPYS, it's predictions.

So here is an exhaustive list of the categories with an equally exhausting look at the nominees, including who we think is taking home the trophy.

BEST MALE ATHLETE

Drew Brees, NFL
Kobe Bryant, NBA
LeBron James, NBA
Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
Albert Pujols, MLB

Page 2 Prediction: This category is full of heavy hitters, but the one actual hitter, Pujols, doesn't have a chance. Maybe he would if he were batting closer to .400 than .300. Jimmie Johnson deserves a solid look with four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup victories, but this is going to come down to the basketball alpha dogs. LeBron might be getting to play on a dream team in South Beach for the next three years, but our prediction for this ESPY is that Kobe gets some more hardware from another amazing season.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE

Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi has won at every level she has played, including last season's WNBA title and league MVP.

Maya Moore, NCAA basketball
Diana Taurasi, WNBA
Lindsey Vonn, skiing
Serena Williams, tennis

Page 2 Prediction: It's always good to see newcomers in this category. Vonn certainly grabbed our attention during the Olympics this past winter grabbing medal after medal. Taurasi did it again, leading the Phoenix Mercury to their second WNBA championship in three years. And what Maya Moore and the UConn Huskies did all season can only be described as domination. But Serena Williams is just on a bigger stage, capturing the Australian Open and Wimbledon for her 12th and 13th Grand Slam singles titles this year. Our guess is just like in 2003, Williams will go home with the ESPY for Best Female Athlete.

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE

Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLIV
Anthony Johnson, Big Sky Conference Championship
Michael Phelps, World Swimming Championships
Shaun White, Winter Olympics

Page 2 Prediction: We've come to expect such greatness from Michael Phelps and Shaun White, and they rarely disappoint. And what Anthony Johnson did in scoring 42 points and rallying his team from down 22 to beat Weber State in the Big Sky Championship was filthy. But football is king, especially when you take a city and team to the promised land for the first time. So Page 2's money is on Drew Brees winning the ESPY for Best Championship Performance.

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE

Brittney Griner, Baylor women's basketball
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
John Wall, University of Kentucky basketball

Page 2 Prediction: Griner became infamous this past year for both good and bad reasons. Wall certainly broke out, but not enough to get his Wildcats far in the NCAA tournament. Strasburg is locking up people like Steven Segal on his reality show these days, but if he hasn't done enough to be in the All-Star Game, how could he win an ESPY? No, our breakthrough athlete for 2010 is Chris Johnson and his amazing speed while rushing for 2,006 yards last season. Don't blink, or you might miss him accepting the award.

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE

Usain Bolt, 100- and 200-meter world records
Brett Favre, NFL record for consecutive starts
Roger Federer, most Grand Slam singles titles
Connecticut Women's Basketball, longest winning streak in women's NCAA basketball history
Isner versus Mahut at Wimbledon, longest match in professional tennis history

Page 2 Prediction: This is probably the toughest category to choose a winner. Who doesn't love watching Bolt pull up with 20 meters to go and still winning easily? Favre is durable, but his record simply makes him the Cal Ripken Jr. of the NFL. Federer might have had a shot had he not gotten knocked out early from the recent Grand Slams. Even more embarrassing, we're predicting he gets beaten out by two of his own, Isner and Mahut, for their epic 11 hour, 5 minute battle at Wimbledon.

BEST UPSET

Frankie Edgar beats B.J. Penn, MMA
Hawaii softball upsets No. 1 Alabama, NCAA softball
Northern Iowa shocks No. 1 Kansas, NCAA men's basketball
Y.E. Yang stuns Tiger Woods, PGA Championship

Page 2 Prediction: One of the great moments from this year's March Madness was watching the rough and tumble Northern Iowa squad knock out opponent after opponent, including No. 1 Kansas. And Hawaii's two-run homer to beat Alabama and start their College World Series trip certainly was magical. No doubt Frankie Edgar would have a real shot at winning this if more people followed MMA and knew just how big his defeat of Penn was. But there's no greater underdog in the list of nominees than Y.E. Yang. And in becoming the first Asian-born male to win a major, and the first person ever to defeat Tiger in a major that Woods was leading going into the final round, we're certain Yang will take home the ESPY for Best Upset.

BEST GAME

Twins beat Tigers in extra innings (AL Central one-game tiebreak)
Canada edges USA in Olympic hockey championship game in overtime
Duke gets past Butler in men's NCAA basketball championship

Page 2 Prediction: It's amazing that out of all the games sports fan watch over the course of a year there are still certain ones that stick out in the mind. Regardless of rooting interest, the Twins and Tigers' one-game playoff was must-watch TV for all baseball fans. Despite the ebbing popularity of hockey, the country cared about the sport again during the U.S.' run in the Olympics. Had Canada not taken the Gold on Sidney Crosby's OT goal, this game could've very well taken the ESPY. However, our prediction goes to the men's NCAA basketball championship. Butler proved they belonged and came within a few inches of history.

BEST MOMENT

Phil Mickelson, 2010 Masters
Joannie Rochette, Winter Olympics
New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV
Landon Donovan, World Cup, U.S. versus Algeria

Page 2 Prediction: Rochette's inspirational performance for a bronze medal just days after her mother's death is one of the lasting memories of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's hard not to root for Phil Mickelson and the struggle his family has battled with cancer recently. Donovan's goal to keep the U.S. alive in the World Cup will also linger in soccer fans' minds until we take the pitch in Brazil in 2014. But the best moment of the year happened as the clock struck triple zero and the Saints won the Super Bowl -- a fitting thank-you to the people of New Orleans. That's why they'll collectively hold up the ESPY for Best Moment.

BEST TEAM

Gordon Hayward
When Hayward let it fly from midcourt, the greatest ending in sports history was within reach.

Alabama Crimson Tide football
Chicago Blackhawks
Connecticut Huskies women's basketball
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Saints
New York Yankees

Page 2 Prediction: Each of these teams was the last standing. They all achieved the ultimate goal in sports: a championship. For some it was a first, as with the New Orleans Saints. For some it was the end of a long road back, as with the Crimson Tide and the Blackhawks. For the Lakers, their last championship seemed like only yesterday. But one team's climb back to the summit was simply a matter of time. And last season, it was ordained from spring training that the Yankees would be there. The Yankees beat the Phillies 4-2 for their 27th World Series title, and we're predicting they pick up this ESPY as well.

CASTROL EDGE PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE AWARD

Sidney Crosby in the Olympic hockey gold-medal game
Brett Favre in his return to Green Bay
Landon Donovan's World Cup versus Algeria
Stephen Strasburg in MLB debut

Page 2 Prediction: All these athletes know pressure. Crosby has skated his way to a Stanley Cup. Favre has brought home the Lombardi trophy. So although they performed well under pressure this past year, it was expected. Landon Donovan's leadership and consistency were touted leading up to the World Cup, so his goal against Algeria was big, just not enough to win this ESPY. It takes a rookie to stand out under pressure. And Stephen Strasburg's 14 strikeouts for the Nationals in his major league debut certainly qualifies.

BEST SPORTS MOVIE

"Big Fan"
"Invictus"
"The Blind Side"
"The Damned United"
"The Karate Kid"

Page 2 Prediction: What makes a sports movie the best? Having Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon can't hurt. The World Cup frenzy has surely spiked sales of "The Damned United." Despite featuring Will Smith's offspring, "The Karate Kid" loses points in this category because it's a remake. What makes a movie the best is an Academy Award. "The Blind Side" was nominated for two, and Sandra Bullock earned one for her role, so we're adding to the acclaim and making the film our pick for Best Sports Movie.

BEST COACH/MANAGER

Geno Auriemma, Connecticut women's basketball
Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke men's basketball
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Nick Saban, Alabama football

Page 2 Prediction: There isn't a nominee in this category who can't be considered the best at what he does. The difficulty is in trying to compare their achievements across different sports. Phil Jackson makes it easy, though. His 11 NBA championships as a head coach trump all the rest. He's just wrapped up another title for the Lakers and next season will have a chance at a fourth three-peat. You read that correctly. Start engraving his name on the 2010 ESPY for Best Coach/Manager.

BEST NFL PLAYER

Drew Brees, New Orleans
Brett Favre, Minnesota
Chris Johnson, Tennessee
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
Charles Woodson, Green Bay

Page 2 Prediction: It doesn't seem fair, but we're going to rule out Revis and Woodson because they play on the wrong side of the ball. Keeping someone from catching a touchdown just isn't the same as throwing one. The talented quarterbacks in this category threw for a combined 100 touchdowns last season. But it's the lone running back who we're picking to snag this award. Hey, if we predicted Chris Johnson would win the best breakout athlete ESPY, how could we not give him this one, too?

BEST MLB PLAYER

Zach Greinke, Kansas City
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Albert Pujols, St. Louis

Page 2 Prediction: We're afraid that this ESPY will be awarded the same way Eddie Murphy's character got elected to the Senate in the movie "The Distinguished Gentleman" -- name recognition. While more people should know who Greinke is, he and the other three nominees combined don't add up to one Derek Jeter. (Sorry, Albert, we loved the ESPN robot commercial, though.) Last fall Jeter won his fifth World Series ring, making him a lock for the Best MLB Player ESPY.

BEST NHL PLAYER

Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin forgot to bring his A-game to the playoffs.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
Ryan Miller, Buffalo
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

Page 2 Prediction: As this category is for the Best NHL Player, we're throwing out the nominees' accomplishments during the Winter Olympics. Ryan Miller became a household name standing on his head for Team USA but unfortunately couldn't get his Sabres very close to Lord Stanley's Cup. The offensive stats for the other nominees were so similar, it was hard to decide. Stamkos: 51 goals, 44 assists. Crosby: 51 goals, 58 assists. Ovechkin: 50 goals, 59 assists. Even though he scored fewer goals, we're predicting the ESPY goes to Sedin for having the most points (112).

BEST DRIVER

Kyle Busch
Dario Franchitti
Ron Hornaday
Jimmie Johnson
Tony Schumacher

Page 2 Prediction: This category should just be renamed the Jimmie Johnson Award. He's won it the past two years and isn't looking to break that streak anytime soon. As good a year as Kyle Busch is having and as spectacular as Franchitti's second Indy 500 win was, Johnson has captured the NASCAR Sprint Cup series for four straight years. You can go ahead and chisel his name on the Best Driver ESPY for a third time.

BEST NBA PLAYER

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
Dwight Howard, Orlando
LeBron James, Cleveland
Dwyane Wade, Miami

Page 2 Prediction: This trophy probably will come down to whether people voted before or after LeBron's "Decision" special. Wade is a phenomenal talent as is Dwight Howard, but they're still not quite at the top of the NBA food chain. Durant is also a little shy, but it's clear his time is coming soon. That leaves the age-old question: Kobe or LeBron? We could easily see the Black Mamba getting his second ESPY of the night, but we're picking James. Love him or hate him now, what he can do on a basketball court is otherworldly.

BEST WNBA PLAYER

Tamika Catchings, Indiana
Becky Hammon, San Antonio
Lauren Jackson, Seattle
Candace Parker, Los Angeles
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix

Page 2 Prediction: All of these nominees have done a lot for the women's game. They are All-Stars and champions, and one can even dunk. Parker's ability to throw down brought eyes to the sport that otherwise may never have tuned in. But it's what Diana Taurasi has done in Phoenix, bringing the Mercury their second title in three seasons, that we believe has earned her the ESPY for Best WNBA Player.

BEST FIGHTER

Floyd Mayweather
Manny Pacquiao
Georges St. Pierre

Page 2 Prediction: We wouldn't tell any of these fighters to their faces that they hadn't won this ESPY. That speaks not only to how slowly we run, but also to how much we respect their talent in the ring/Octagon. St. Pierre is a beast, but despite that he was the 2009 MMA Fighter of the Year, we don't see him winning this award. Manny Pacquiao was impressive defeating Miguel Cotto by TKO in the 12th round in his last bout, but we're giving this ESPY to perfection. By beating Shane Mosley by unanimous decision, Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s record stands at a perfect 41-0.

BEST MALE GOLFER

Ernie Els
Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods

Page 2 Prediction: It appears that Tiger's stranglehold on this award will come to an end. Woods has won eight of the past nine ESPYS for Best Male Golfer. And as much as we love Ernie Els, he's not the guy knocking Tiger off his perch. In fact, Woods' fall here may have to do more with distractions in his personal life than with any of his competitors. Still, Mickelson is the most deserving with a heartfelt win at the Masters this year. And it's fitting that the man who stopped Tiger's reign in this category in 2004 would do it again to win his second ESPY for Best Male Golfer.

BEST FEMALE GOLFER

Cristie Kerr
Lorena Ochoa
Jiyai Shin

Page 2 Prediction: We're going to have to agree with the Women's World Golf Rankings to decide this close race. Shin has accomplished so much on the LPGA of Korea Tour and is making a fast start here in the States. Ochoa certainly has a good chance at winning considering she retired in May having won 27 LPGA Tour events and two majors. But we're giving the award to the new No. 1 in the world, Cristie Kerr. By winning the 2010 LPGA Championship, she has proved she belongs at the top, and we think she'll take home the ESPY for Best Female Golfer.

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER

Roger Federer
Juan Martin del Potro
Rafael Nadal

Page 2 Prediction: Here we're predicting another changing of the guards. And as much as we like the 6-foot-6 Argentine, del Potro isn't our selection to overtake Roger Federer. For the past five years, Federer has ruled this category. But it's clear that Nadal, after winning the past two Grand Slams, is the future. That's why we think Rafa will take home his first Best Male Tennis Player ESPY.

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER

Kim Clijsters
Serena Williams
Venus Williams

Page 2 Prediction: Clijsters is a formidable opponent on the court, but this category is all about the sibling rivalry. In a family version of "what have you done for me lately," we give the nod to Serena. Her dominance at Wimbledon just a few weeks ago gives her the upper hand on her older sister. We predict that Serena takes home the ESPY for the fourth time Wednesday.

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

Blake Geoffrion, Wisconsin hockey
Mark Ingram, Alabama football
Evan Turner, Ohio State basketball
John Wall, Kentucky basketball
Garrett Wittels, Florida International baseball

Page 2 Prediction: Geoffrion brought a lot of attention to Wisconsin as the first player in school history to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. And Evan Turner's and John Wall's myriad accomplishments on the basketball courts are well known. But the accomplishments of the other two nominees really stand out. Wittels is working on a ridiculous 56-game hitting streak carrying over to next season. That's impressive, but our pick goes to Ingram for winning the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship.

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

Tina Charles
Tina Charles was a major reason why UConn was perfect this season.

Tina Charles, Connecticut basketball
Megan Hodge, Penn State volleyball
Megan Langenfeld, UCLA softball
Maya Moore, Connecticut basketball

Page 2 Prediction: Hodge's accomplishments are many, with an NCAA championship for Penn State the crowning achievement. Langenfeld tore up the Women's College World Series, earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award. Still, this category seems to be a race between two very deserving Huskies. Since there can be only one winner, we're giving the ESPY to Tina Charles. She has moved on to a career in the WNBA. Moore will be returning for her senior season, giving her another shot at the award next year.

BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE

Bobby Brown, freestyle skiing
Ryan Dungey, motocross
Mick Fanning, surfing
Garrett Reynolds, BMX
Shaun White, Snowboard

Page 2 Prediction: Despite his awesome name and freestyling on the slopes, Bobby Brown was not our pick for the winner of this category. Neither was two-time ASP World Tour winner Mick Fanning. Dungey and Reynolds are rock stars on bikes (with and without an engine), but the Flying Tomato gets our nod for this ESPY. Shaun White picked up his second gold medal in the halfpipe in Vancouver this year, and we believe that's enough to earn him his sixth overall ESPY.

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE

Torah Bright, snowboarding
Ashley Fiolek, motocross
Jen Hudak, freestyle skiing
Stephanie Gilmore, surfing
Ashleigh McIvor, freestyle skiing

Page 2 Prediction: The nominees have a laundry list of achievements among them. Bright picked up a gold medal on the halfpipe in Vancouver. Fiolek has now won back to back WMA Pro National Championships. Hudak has won four medals at the X Games. Gilmore is a three-time champion on the ASP World Tour. And McIvor became the first gold medal winner of woman's skicross at the 2010 Winter Olympics. We're giving her the nod not just because of her place in skicross history, but also because her last name leads us to believe she can pick a lock with her skis.

BEST JOCKEY

Calvin Borel
Julien Leparoux
Mike Smith

Page 2 Prediction: Leparoux may have won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2009, but he's in with some tough competition. Smith has won all three legs of the Triple Crown, including this year's Belmont Stakes on Drosselmeyer. But only one jockey has dominated the biggest horse race in the U.S. for the past half decade. Calvin Borel has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbies. That's why he's our lock for the Best Jockey ESPY.

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY

Steve Cash
Rudy Garcia-Tolson
Andy Soule

Page 2 Prediction: Cash proved that he was money by winning a gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Garcia-Tolson has won two gold medals at the Paralympics in '04 and '08, and last November, he became the first double above-knee amputee to finish an Ironman Triathlon. But our ESPY pick goes to Andy Soule. Soule is a U.S. Army veteran who became a double amputee because of injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan. His bronze at the 2010 Paralympic Games in the pursuit event is the first U.S. biathlon medal in the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY

Linnea Dohring
Alana Nichols
Amy Palmiero-Winters
Stephani Victor

Page 2 Prediction: Dohring competes in the floor exercise and vault for her local gymnastics team despite being born with no ulna, forcing her to compete with just one arm. Nichols scored a slew of medals for the U.S. Paralympic team in Vancouver this year, including gold medals in the giant slalom and downhill. Palmiero-Winters recently ran more than 130 miles in less than 24 hours. The accomplishment helped make her the first person to be added to the U.S. Track and Field team with a prosthetic limb. Victor proved to be just that at the Vancouver Paralympic Games picking up one gold and two silver medals. Despite having had both of her legs amputated above the knee, she's gone on to win multiple World Championships and several medals over two Olympics. That's why Victor is our choice for the Best Female with a Disability ESPY.

BEST BOWLER

Kelly Kulick
Bill O'Neill
Walter Ray Williams Jr.

Page 2 Prediction: O'Neill is quite the roller and a force to be reckoned with as the defending U.S. Open Champion. Williams storied career is even more impressive, as he currently holds the record for all-time standard PBA Tour career titles at 47. But our pick for the Best Bowler ESPY goes to Kelly Kulick. In winning the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in January, she became the first woman ever to win a regular PBA tour title.

BEST MALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE

Apolo Anton Ohno
Sadly, we won't see Apolo Ohno for another four years.

Apolo Anton Ohno, speedskating
Shani Davis, speedskating
Evan Lysacek, figure skating
Bode Miller, skiing
Shaun White, snowboarding

Page 2 Prediction: Ohno and Davis have captured our attention in the speedskating arena for several Olympic Games. Bode Miller's tale of triumph and defeat is well known throughout the sports world. Even more famous is Shaun White and the sport he continues to revolutionize with every pass. Still, one man's recent accomplishment out of this group stands out. In Vancouver, Evan Lysacek became the first American to win the Olympic figure-skating gold in over 20 years. That's why we're guessing he'll bring home the Best Male U.S. Olympic Athlete.

BEST FEMALE U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE

Hannah Kearney, skiing
Julia Mancuso, skiing
Lindsey Vonn, skiing

Page 2 Prediction: This trio of skiers captured our focus with every run down the mountain during the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Kearney won a gold medal on the moguls. Mancuso picked up silver medals in the downhill and combined. But it was Lindsey Vonn who became America's sweetheart. She won gold in the downhill, becoming the first American woman to do so, and a bronze in the super-G to boot. That's why Vonn gets our nod for the Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete ESPY.

BEST MLS PLAYER

Conor Casey, Colorado
Jeff Cunningham, Dallas
Landon Donovan, Los Angeles
Shalrie Joseph, New England
Kasey Keller, Seattle

Page 2 Prediction: Hopefully the energy from the recently concluded World Cup will radiate and grow the MLS audience here in the States. Then more people will know just how good Casey, Cunningham, Joseph and Keller are. But until then, there will be just one name in soccer, and that's Landon Donovan. Consider this ESPY nod a makeup for our pick in the Castrol Edge Performance Under Pressure category.

BEST TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE

Usain Bolt
Allyson Felix
Sanya Richards

Page 2 Prediction: Richards owns three Olympic medals and five more medals from the world championships for her work in the 400-meter and 4x400-meter relays. Felix also owns three Olympic medals and an astounding six golds from the world championships. But neither of these runners can match the shock and awe delivered by Usain Bolt. His list of accomplishments includes the 100m world record at 9.58 seconds. We give him the Best Track and Field Athlete ESPY because we don't think there's any chance of that record coming down soon.

BEST PLAY

The nominees for Best Play will be announced during the ESPY Countdown show.