Sports are as much about the measurements as the victories. Athletes are compared by the numbers they compile, the home runs they hit, the yards they gain, the points they score, the goals they set up.
As a result, even as we root for the teams and the players, we watch the milestones, the proverbial notches in the gun belt as players climb career achievement lists.
With that, here are the top five sports milestones of 2012:
5. A victory for the aged (Jamie Moyer, Colorado Rockies): By pitching seven strong innings on April 17, Jamie Moyer became the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to win a game. Moyer picked up the landmark win in the Rockies’ 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres. Moyer, 49, was 80 days older than Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers was when he won a game on Sept. 13, 1932. What made Moyer’s accomplishment even more remarkable was that he was coming back from missing all of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow. The comeback didn’t have a completely happy ending, though; Moyer was released in late May after going 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 10 starts.
4. Iginla joins the 500 club (Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames): Calgary captain Jarome Iginla became just the 15th player in National Hockey League history to score 500 goals with one team on Jan. 7 when he deflected a puck into the Minnesota Wild net off the skates of a pair of defenders. Iginla scored the goal on home ice and it turned out to be the game-winner in a 3-1 win over the Wild. He is the 42nd player to reach the 500-goal plateau overall. (Click here for video)
3. Let the comeback begin (Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos): It was supposed to happen a lot sooner and in a different uniform. Peyton Manning, back in the NFL after missing the 2011 season with a neck injury, came into the 2012 season with 399 touchdown passes. He had been stuck on that number since the end of 2010 and all 399 of those tosses had come as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Manning was released last winter and signed with the Denver Broncos. On the opening Sunday night of the season, Sept. 9, Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 71-yard touchdown. It was Manning’s first as a Bronco, but more significantly was the 400th of his career. Manning joined Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to reach the mark. It was a happy return in more ways than one for Manning; Denver beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19. (Click here for video)
2. Johnny U taken out of record book by a strong Brees (Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints): Drew Brees took down one of the oldest NFL records on the books on Oct. 7. He threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson in the Saints’ 31-24 win over the San Diego Chargers, the 48th consecutive game in which Brees had thrown a TD pass. Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts had set the mark with touchdown tosses in 47 consecutive games from 1956-60. Brees’ streak continued until Nov. 29, when it was finally snapped at 54 games. (Click here for video)
1. Kobe reaches elite company (Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers): With a driving hoop against the New Orleans Hornets on Dec. 5, Kobe Bryant became just the fifth player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. At age 34, Bryant was the youngest ever to reach the milestone. The other members of the 30,000-point club are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. (Click here for video)
Phil Watson was a writer and editor at several daily newspapers for more than 20 years and is now a radio commentator and freelance sports journalist.