Saturday, January 08, 2005Tags Is Tops at TSN...
Tagliabue has been pretty much a teflon commish since day one. Thanks to him the NFL has the strong salary cap, revenue overflows and they were the first sport to do a major crack down on drugs.
In a bit of a surprise at first glance, NASCAR leader Brian France comes in at No. 2. However, after further review, no one can argue that the "Chase for the Cup" really added a major level of excitement to the season's backstretch. Whereas last year Matt Kenseth wrapped up the title 2/3rds of the way through the season, this year the race to get to the last 1/3rd of the season kept NASCAR growing.
As for the rest of the list. Bud Selig stayed a spot ahead of David Stern but thankfully Gary Bettman didn't make the cut.
Oddly enough Kobe Bryant made the list at 11. Now I'm sure his ability to breakup a championship team and destroy his growing legacy proves that he has yet to use his power for good. Also given the fact that his jersey sales are out of the NBA's top 50, it's safe to say his power is fading.
Wednesday, January 05, 20052004 Look Back
January: A New Beginning
USC, ranked No. 1 in both the Coaches and Writers' poll, gets shut out of the BCS championship game and has to settle for a 28-14 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Two days later, SEC champion LSU defeats Big XII runner-up Oklahoma, 21-14, in the "National Title" game that was all but a joke by the time it started. The National title was split. The BCS still doesn't work.
Pete Rose admits he bet on baseball in hopes of getting an official into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for Charlie Hustle, he's now further away from that honor than he ever was.
Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were inducted, however, and no one really cared.
In the NFL, Philadelphia gets to the NFC Championship game thanks to a 4th and 26 conversion against Green Bay. The Eagles, however, relive the memories of "Choke City" by falling at home to Carolina the following week, 14-3. While New England does its best LAPD impression and does everything short of kill the Indianapolis receivers to return to its second Super Bowl in three years.
February: The Breast Damn Month in Sports
The Patriots win one of the top five Super Bowls of all time, but Janet Jackson's floppy tit takes the headlines. Tom Brady wins the MVP and Justin Timberlake wins an ass kicking from the entire Disturbing Tha Peace crew. Jackson also becomes the first woman who seemingly looks better fully clothed.
The Yankees continued their run of evil by trading Alfonso Soriano and a pair of season tickets to Xerxes for Alex Rodriguez. While some criticize the Yankees for a payroll approaching $200 million (more than the entire AL Central), Yankees GM Brian Cashman justifies the trade by saying, "Hey, we needed a third baseman." When reporters point out that A-Rod is a shortstop, Cashman quickly calls St. Louis in hopes of acquiring Scott Rolen.
Meanwhile at the Daytona 500, Red Sox fan Ben Affleck rants about the Yankees spending spree making himself more annoying by the minute. Affleck was later quoted as saying "The best thing about the Bronx is the Puerto Rican women with big asses."
BTW Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 and the Golden Spittoon.
The NFL, NBA and NHL held their All-Star games and no one cared.
In hopes of making someone care about their sport with the playoffs upcoming, ESPN replays Todd Bertuzzi's violent and ridiculous attack on Steve Moore over and over again. NHL commissioner announces that Bertuzzi is suspended for...a long time.
St. Joseph's rebounds from a terrible beating in the opening round of the A-10 tournament to gain a number one seed despite criticism from CBS hack Billy Packer. Two weeks later, the Hawks would stick a foot in Packer's mouth when they defeated his alma mater, Wake Forest, in the Sweet 16.
Xavier and Nevada make nice tournament runs as the names Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato become better known (and rightfully so). Kentucky is the first No. 1 seed to go down as they succumb to the 40 minutes of hell defense of Alabama-Birmingham.
Oklahoma St. breaks my heart and the hearts of many who love the underdog when John Lucas buries a 3-pointer to defeat St. Joe's 64-62 in the round of eight. It would be the second or four heartbreaks for Philly in 2004.
In Final Four weekend, Georgia Tech upsets Oklahoma St. to the surprise of many. I'm later quoted as saying "After the way [Oklahoma St.] did St. Joe's, fuck 'em". I'm sorry I REALLY wanted to see St. Joe's in the final four. Connecticut, led by all-world forward Emeka Okafor, defeats Duke 79-78 after a final second 40 foot 3-pointer from the Blue Devils goes in for one of the most improbable and devastating back-door covers of all time.
April Fools Many
UConn finishes its title run with a thorough beating of Georgia Tech on the first day of the new month. The following day the Connecticut women would win their third consecutive national title. Geno Auriemma declares himself "The Emperor of Eastwood".
Baseball opens the season with...hmm...well nothing exciting happens in baseball until after the All-Star break...Derek Jeter slumped, Jason Giambi had an unknown disease (the office poll declared HIV or Rickets) and Kevin Brown and oddly enough Kevin Brown's wife later came down with the disease (those of us who said HIV patted ourselves on the back). Barry Bonds probably hit 661 or something, passing his godfather Willie Mays.
In the NFL, the Chargers take Eli Manning first overall and quickly trade the disgruntled quarterback to the New York Giants for the No. 4 pick (Philip Rivers), their entire 2005 draft and half the profits on naming rights for Giants Stadium.
May: A Horse Is a Horse...Of Course?
The NHL playoffs are in the second month and "The View" is getting better ratings.
Smarty Jones, a loveable Philadelphia horse, wins the Kentucky Derby on a sludge track while I take the office pool for $17. Hell yeah! Kick ass horse!
The NBA playoffs, getting better ratings than "The View" but getting smashed by Oprah are also going on.
I take my first trip of 2004 to Las Vegas. Winning $600 on craps my first night.
Derek Fisher makes San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich look like a moron when he decides to double Kobe instead of guard the inbounds pass. 0.4 seconds later the Lakers were taking a 3-2 lead back to L.A.
Roy Jones Jr. gets knocked out in the second round by Antonio Tarver to the shock of everyone in the audience, including myself. The sad thing is I missed the punch looking for G-List celebrities like Mr. T and A.J. from BET's 106 & Park Top 10 Countdown.
Smarty Jones wins the Preakness by a record 11.5 lengths and every sports fan officially becomes a horse racing afficianado. In lesser known news Ron Jeremy's horse, Rock Hard Ten, finishes second.
As for NHL, Tampa Bay and Calgary will meet in the Stanley Cup finals and as far as most are concerned, the lockout officially begins.
June: The Favorites Go Down
Smarty Jones, 1-1,000,000 favorite going into a Belmont Stakes hears the cheers of 125,000 as he rides down the stretch before getting passed by 36-1 underdog Birdstone. The handlers of Birdstone and owner, Marylou Whitney, is almost in tears as she apologizes to highly-disappointed fans who finally came to see a Triple Crown winner. This is Philly's third and worst heartbreak of 2004.
Tampa Bay goes from bad joke to Cup Crazy in ten years and wins the Stanley Cup title. However, with the league officially locked out after Philadelphia was eliminated, this feat gets very little headlines.
The Detroit Pistons slap the Lakers silly in five games to end the Kobe-Shaq soap opera once and for all. Karl Malone and Gary Payton look for other teams to leech on in hopes of winning an elusive title.
July: The Boys of Summer
In the best regular season baseball game I've seen since the Mets-Yankees in 2001, Bill Mueller hits a two-run homer off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth as the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 11-10.
The game featured a bench-clearing brawl that saw Alex Rodriguez get slapped and Tanyon Sturtze get smacked down. Considering the Red Sox never won games like this before, I have a feeling September and October would be different this year.
Meanwhile, despite not started or getting involved in the brawl, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling took complete credit for the fight, which spawned the Sox's comeback.
The American League wins the All-Star game as hometown starter Roger Clemens gets shelled for six runs in the first inning. Later Clemens' catcher in the game Mike Piazza denied telling the pitcher that Alfonso Soriano "really hates fastballs by his ankles...trust me"
In tennis Roger Federer gets closer to having BMF tattooed on his forehead as he rolls to his second Grand Slam of the year. On the women's side, new Russian hottie Maria Sharapova shocks older American hottie Serena Williams in straight sets.
August: Greece is the word
Michael Phelps wins the first gold on his quest to win eight medals.
Meanwhile the U.S. Olympic basketball team struggles in its opening match to Puerto Rico, losing 95-78. Team captain Allen Iverson says the game was "a wake-up call". As for the team shooting 34% from the field Iverson says "that's just how we do it."
Paul Hamm wins the all-around gold medal thanks to a scoring snafu and refuses to share it with the South Korean gymnast who should've won it. Way to be a good sport pal. On the women's side Carly Patterson legitimately wins the woman's all-around gold medal.
Thanks to a poor decision from the U.S. Swim Team coach the Americans lose the 200M team relay to South Africa, thus foiling Phelps' attempt at eight golds. A week later, Gary Hall Jr., the American's top sprinter who was inexplicably left on the relay team, wins the individual 50m race. Phelps' final count was six golds, two bronzes and a DUI.
The drug-free America track team sweeps the medals in the Men's 200M and 400M races while losing both 4x100 relays on bad baton passes.
In happier news, the Yankees suffer the worst loss in franchise history, dropping a 22-0 decision to the Indians.
Top-ranked USC starts defense of their national title, defeating Virginia Tech 24-13 behind three touchdowns from Reggie Bush.
September: Rock Me Like a Hurricane
LSU's title defense almost ends quickly but the Tigers survive a major scare from Oregon St. The Beavers were haunted by missed kicks from Nick Serta.
Hurricane Frances rips through the state of Florida.
The NHL officially locks out its players and neither side appears to be ready to talk. Wayne Gretzky says this lockout could last the whole season. Most fans hope Wayne is ready to back up those words.
Barry Bonds "creams" a shot over the right centerfield wall at Pac Bell Park to reach 700 home runs, only the third man to "clear" such a barrier.
Miami gets their sixth victory over Florida State, fifth against FSU starter Chris Rix, who has four turnovers and makes the general consensus official. He sucks.
Hurricane Jeanne rips through the state of Florida.
The Jets, Eagles and Patriots are 5-0. Actually the Patriots had lost since last October.
The ALCS begins as Curt Schilling fights through the pain to get shelled for eight runs in three innings. Pedro Martinez loses the following night to his "daddies" and the Yankees look like world beaters after two games.
The Jets fall from the unbeatened ranks first as they fall 13-7 to the Patriots. Two weeks later the Eagles join the fall after a beating from Pittsburgh. One week later the Patriots face the same fate in Pittsburgh.
Down 3-0 and seemingly helpless the Sox summoned the power of aging speedster Dave Roberts and professional hitter David Ortiz to bring the team back from the dead and win back-to-back extra inning games to send the series back to New York. In Game 6, Curt Schilling, apparently annointed as the chosen one through the power of God, stitches his ankle and pitches and inspired seven innings to lead the Sox to a 4-2 victory. The next night, Johnny "Jesus" Damon hits a pair of three-run homers to give the Red Sox a 10-3 and an improbable series victory after falling behind 3-0.
In the world series, the Sox make it look easy as Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe pitch gems to complete a sweep of the Cardinals.
Despite not being named series MVP or even winning a World Series game, Schilling takes credit for all of the Red Sox's good fortunes and uses his platform to tell everyone to vote for Bush. Schilling would continue his me-first media tour until the end of the year.
November: Fight Night in Detroit
The biggest story of 2004 centers around Indiana's loveable lunatic Ron Artest, who starts an all-out brawl in the final seconds of Indiana's victory over Detroit. After being hit with a beer, Artest and equally looney teammate Stephen Jackson climb into the stands and swing on everything moving. The fans in Detroit, to their credit were ready and it turned into one of the ugliest scenes in sports.
A day later, Clemson and South Carolina enjoyed rivalry week with a similar brawl that featured 300-pound men swinging helmets. State law enforcement had to step in and both teams gave up their bowl invitations as punishments.
Auburn defeats Alabama, 21-13 and Oklahoma defeats Baylor 36-0 as both undefeated teams fight to see who will play undefeated USC in the BCS championship game. I told you this system works.
Roger Clemens wins his seventh Cy Young, a record. On the AL side...I can't lie, I forgot who won that one...
Peyton Manning throws six touchdowns passes on Thanksgiving in a 48-9 victory over Detroit, but the biggest story of the year is a rookie named Roethlisberger.
December: BCS Busted Again
USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all win to join Utah and Boise St. as unbeatened college football teams. USC and Oklahoma finish 1-2 in the BCS rankings, while Auburn and Utah get big bowls but are left out of championship contension. Boise who?
Fans suffer a big scare as NHL league and player reps have talks but both sides reject the others' proposals and the league stays in the dark. Everyone wins!
In Philly's fourth and final heartbreak, free agent signing Terrell Owens limps off the field after being tackled by Dallas safety Roy Williams. Owens would suffer a broken leg, ending his 2004 season and taking Philly's Super Bowl hopes with him.
Peyton Manning engineers an exciting comeback against the San Diego Chargers as he connects with Brandon Stokely for his 49th touchdown pass of the season, an NFL record, meanwhile his brother Eli is 0-6 in his NFL career so far.
On the final day of the New Year, Louisville (10-1) and Boise St. (11-0) say "Screw the BCS" and play the best bowl of the season, a 44-40 victory for the Cardinals. The BCS really doesn't work.
Boston gets over, Philly gets bent. I'm heading back to Vegas in March, everyone wins!