‘Twas both a naughty and nice year in sports | SierraSun.com

‘Twas both a naughty and nice year in sports

Matt Brown
"A Good Sport"

‘Twas the night before Kobe’s knee surgery, when all through the land

The country was stirred by the Lakers’ young man.

Bryant chose his apologetic words with care,

Then made damn sure Shaq would no longer be there (in L.A.);

The Red Sox appeared cursed again, their fans did dread,

‘Til the Yankees amazingly blew the series, 3-0 they led;

On Steinbrenner’s spending you can’t put a cap,

But New York proves time and again buying a ring is no snap.

When out on the ice there arose such a clatter,

The NHL is on strike, but to whom does it matter?

Unless you’re from Canada ” where the Expos flew like a flash,

But a move to D.C continues to be rehashed.

The sun on the breast of Janet Jackson,

Distracted from the Super Bowl’s luster, causing quite a reaction,

The FCC’s wondering eyes thought a boob shall never appear,

“Wardrobe malfunction,” cried Timberlake ” he was in the clear.

With their little old drivers, so lively and quick,

Mickelson won Masters and Singh was ever so slick,

While Tiger cared not about eagles; he just wanted to get hitched.

He whistled and shouted, but his golf game went into the ditch.

“Now, Artest! Now, Jackson! Now, O’Neal and Johnson!

What a scene at Auburn Hills, the home of the Pistons.

To the seats in the bleachers! It was off the wall!

“The penalties are too harsh,” is the union’s ridiculous call

The threat of terrorists at the Athens Olympics was high,

So quality men’s basketball players did not mount to the sky,

So over to The Games a few courageous hoopsters flew,

And THIRD FREAKIN’ PLACE was the best they could do!!

And then, not surprising, we heard in the news,

Bonds’ million homeruns were aided by The Juice

But Bonds has kept silent amidst the government leaks,

Did no one notice when hitters morphed into freaks?

T.O. was money; dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,

He vowed to fill Philly fans’ stockings with a Super Bowl, not soot;

A bundle of Philadelphia he had flung on his back,

Now he’s injured and Donovan’s season is sacked.

The Pistons ” how they twinkled! Their teamwork so merry!

Their defense was stifling, and the Lakers wary.

The New England Patriots won another Super Bowl,

Proving it pays to play playoff football in the snow;

The U.S. women proved to be brilliant in Greece,

Winning basketball, soccer and softball in peace.

A new points series in NASCAR wasn’t a push,

The closest race ever went to Kurt Busch.

While not chubby and plump, Lance Armstrong won his sixth,

And swimmer Michael Phelps fell just short of Mark Spitz.

Baseball players throwing chairs at fans’ heads,

The 2004 season was full of both glory and dread;

I’ve wrote many a word, since I came to the Sun to work,

And filled all my pages; without going berserk.

But here’s a confession that hardly any one knows,

I’ve taken another job in the city of Reno.

A tough decision I must say; I love the Sun and wish I could stay.

Away I will fly but the memories will remain.

I’m here to exclaim, when I drive out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, watch SportsCenter each night!”

” from Scripps Howard News Service

From a baseball postseason for the ages to a glittering Olympics to a wave of steroids scandals that tarnished the reputations of some of sports’ most illustrious names, 2004 was a not-soon-to-be-forgotten year for sports fans.

The Chicago Cubs fell short once again, but the Boston Red Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit to the New York Yankees in the ALCS and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for Boston’s first World Series title since 1918.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong proved some things never change by winning a sixth consecutive Tour de France while NASCAR proved you can indeed improve on a good thing by overhauling its points race format and winding up with a riveting Chase the for Championship.

And then, of course, there were the storm clouds with athletes behaving badly and the BALCO steroids scandal implicating some of sport’s most celebrated athletes.

– THE TOP 10 SPORTS STORIES OF 2004

1) Inspired by the courageous pitching of Curt Schilling, the Boston Red Sox come back from a three-game deficit to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series title since 1918. The unlikely victory brings joy to New England and buries the Curse of the Bambino.

2) The BALCO steroids scandal explodes, leading to indictments and suspensions and tarnishing the image of some of America’s most famous athletes, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Marion Jones among them.

3) Indomitable Lance Armstrong wins a sixth consecutive Tour de France, a remarkable exhibitions of courage and stamina never achieved before.

4) He fell short of his dream of matching or exceeding Mark Spitz’ total of seven gold medals, but American swimming sensation Michael Phelps nonetheless demonstrated his swimming prowess winning eight medals ” six of them gold ” at the Summer Olympics.

5) The U.S. Olympic women’s teams soar in Athens, winning gold medals in basketball, softball and soccer. The men bomb, settling for a disappointing bronze medal in basketball. (The U.S. men’s baseball and soccer teams didn’t even qualify for the Games.)

6) Quarterback Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl title in three years in the midst of an NFL-record 21-game winning streak.

7) NASCAR overhauls its season points race format with Kurt Busch winning the first Chase for the Championship. Five drivers were still in the running at the last race and the title wasn’t decided until the last lap.

8) Athletes behaving badly all over the place, from the NBA (Kobe Bryant and the Pacers-Pistons brawl) to baseball (Texas Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco heaving a chair at a fan in Oakland) to college football (Clemson and South Carolina slug it out on the field after a game).

9) An endearing underdog race horse named Smarty Jones had America one again talking about “the sport of kings” before falling short at the Belmont in his bid for racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978.

10) The Bowl Championship Series just can’t seem to get it right as LSU and Southern Cal share college football’s national championship.

– Athens, Greece. After putting up with years of carping that they weren’t up to the job, the citizens of Greece deliver a near-flawless Olympic Games highlighted by spirited competition at some of the most inspiring venues ever seen. It’s hard to top cycling in the shadow of the Acropolis or a marathon along the original route of the classic race.

– Vijay Singh. He won’t win too many popularity contests, but Singh’s nine Tour victories and nearly $11 million in prize money represent one of the greatest single seasons in golf history. Singh’s achievements ended Tiger Woods’ five-year run as the world’s top golfer.

– Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens. The 38-year-old Schilling was brought to Boston to get the Red Sox past the dreaded Yankees and he delivered. He then ignored a bleeding right ankle to lead his team to a World Series title. Clemens, meanwhile, managed to win his eighth Cy Young Award while leading the Houston Astros to their first series victory in postseason play.

– Urban Meyer and Gator football. The University of Florida landed the hottest prospect in college coaching when Urban Meyer signed on to replace fired Ron Zook. With winning stints at Bowling Green and Utah on his head coaching resume, Gator fans think they have landed the man to replace coaching legend Steve Spurrier.

– Detroit Pistons. An underestimated team in an underrated division, all the Detroit Pistons did was use solid defense and team play to breeze through the playoffs and then rout the highly-favored Los Angles Lakers 4-1 for the 2003-04 NBA Championship.

– Notre Dame football. If there was any doubt about how far Notre Dame football had fallen in the past decade, that doubt evaporated with sorry spectacle of the firing of football coach Ty Willingham after only three seasons and the futile courtship of Urban Meyer as his replacement.

– Baseball parity. Out of eight teams in baseball’s postseason, only one ” the Minnesota Twins ” had a payroll of less than $75 million. Five of the eight were over $90 million, Anaheim, New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angles.

– Sixty-something coaches Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells and Dick Vermeil. Gibbs has clinched his second losing season in 13 years as an NFL head coach, and Parcells and Vermeil are headed that way.

– BCS. Try as it might to get it right, the BCS worst nightmare occurred with three major teams finished the season at 12-0. Auburn will be left on the outside looking in as Oklahoma and Southern Cal play for the national championship.

– Marion Jones. Winner of five medals at the Sydney Olympics, track star Marion Jones came home empty handed from Greece, then has had her reputation soiled by allegation of steroid abuse.

– John Henry Williams, 35, son of baseball legend Ted Williams who had his father’s body taken to a cryonics lab for freezing, died March 6 in Los Angeles.

– Marge Schott, 75, controversial owner of the Cincinnati Reds whose actions and comments frequently landed her in hot water, March 2 in Cincinnati.

– Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, 80, NFL Hall of Famer with the Los Angeles Rams from 1949 to 1957 and later the athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, Jan. 28, in Madison, Wis.

– Charles Dumas, 66, the first high jumper to clear 7 feet and a gold medal winner at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 5.

– Tug McGraw, 59, the fun-loving Mets relief pitcher who coined the phrase “You gotta believe,” Jan. 5 at the home of his son, country music star Tim McGraw, outside of Nashville, Tenn.

– Roosevelt Brown, 71, eight time all-pro defensive tackle with the New York Giants and member of the NFL Hall of Fame, June 9 at his some in Mansfield Township, N.J.

– Ralph Moody, 86, a NASCAR Hall of Famer whose Holman-Moody racing partnership was a major force in the development of the sport, June 9 in Mooresville, N.C.

– Art Devlin, 81, Olympic ski jumper who later joined ABC as a commentator, April 22 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

– Pat Tillman, 27, who turned down a lucrative pro football career to join the Army after the Sept. 11 attack, April 22 in “friendly fire” incident while serving in Afghanistan.

– Bruce Edwards, 49, long-time caddie for golfer Tom Watson whose struggle against Lou Gehrig’s disease was an inspiration on the PGA Tour, April 8.

– Justin Strzelczyk, 36, a former offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 30 in a head-on collision in upstate New York after a high-speed chase with police.

– Ken Caminiti, 41, three time All-Star and one-time National League MVP who later admitted using steroids, Oct. 10. in New York.