A speculative look at what's ahead in the year in sports in 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009 - 06:14 AM

The Takeaway's sports contributor Jeff Beresford-Howe looks into his crystal (foot)ball to try and help us figure out what we can expect from the new year in sports.

January 1 — The best sporting event of the year is also the first: The Detroit Red Wings play the Chicago Black Hawks at Wrigley Field. Goalie Cristobal Huet of Chicago blows his first two save chances and is immediately signed by the Cubs.

January 4 — College football "national championship" game — Oklahoma vs. Florida. Unless, of course, it's a lousy game and USC crushes Penn State or Texas destroys Ohio State, in which case it's more like a half a championship game. Or unless you're a Utah fan, in which case the game is meaningless because you already have your undefeated national champion, thank you.

February 4 — Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The game will be delayed for 17 minutes when Somali pirates hijack the ship in the end zone at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and demand a $50-million ransom from the NFL. While Bruce Springsteen plays "No Surrender," Commissioner Paul Tagliabue agrees to pay ransom despite reservations about depleting the league's petty cash fund. In other news, several hundred ex-NFL employees, laid off during the holiday season in "anticipation" of lower league revenues, destroy their flat screens in a series of Schlitz-related incidents.

February 15 — The Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of auto racing. Despite NASCAR's attempt to create a quasi-playoff system at the end of the season, one of the season's first events is still definitive.

March 1 — Quarterback Matt Cassel of the New England Patriots becomes a free agent. Even Giselle Bundchen is interested.

March 2 — The Barry Bonds trial begins in San Francisco.

March 3 — First prospective juror at the Bonds trial lies and tells the judge he hasn't really heard much about the Bonds case. After being seated, he signs a book deal during the lunch break. "I knew Bonds was guilty when I saw him sitting at the defense table. He had dome acne," he writes during an afternoon break. A defense motion for a change of venue to a World Wrestling Federation match is denied.

March 5 — World Baseball Classic (WBC) begins in Tokyo, with China playing defending champion Japan. The team from the People's Republic is still not good enough to win a good high school league.

March 7 — Alex Rodriguez plays his first game in the WBC for his chosen squad, the Dominican Republic.

March 8 — Rodriguez announces after reading Madonna's Lotsa de Casha that his faith in America has been restored and he flies to Toronto to play for the USA in the team's second game, against either Italy or Venezuela.

March 14 — After family members tell Rodriguez that he has a cousin who married a girl from Amsterdam, Rodriguez joins Team Netherlands at Dolphin Stadium in Miami for the WBC quarterfinals.

March 17 — North Carolina wins the NCAA Men's basketball championship at Ford Field in Detroit in front of the largest crowd ever to see the championship game. Like you really think it's going to turn out any other way.

March 28 — The World Baseball Classic ends at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Chinese Taipei wins, becoming the first non-country to do so, but is disqualified after it's discovered that their designated hitter is actually Alex Rodriguez, disguised after a trip to the same Hollywood make-up artist who did Peter Sellers in Murder by Death. "I just wanted to play for a championship in something," a tearful Rodriguez tells a press conference. "It's never going to happen in New York."

April 5 — The Major League Baseball season begins in Philadelphia with the Phillies opening the season in defense of their world championship against Atlanta. Cole Hamels is booed after walking lead-off hitter Rafael Furcal Yunel Escobar.

April 7 — Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett hurt. Calls Carl Pavano to ask for advice.

April 13 — The Mets play their first official game at Citi Field, against traditional rivals the San Diego Padres. Doris Pavlova of Neck Neck, Long Island makes history by becoming first fan to note, "We only paid $650 for these seats. At Yankee Stadium, they would have cost us $3,250. I hate those elitist m-----f------."

April 16 — "New Yankee Stadium" opens. Evelyn Waugh Kapotnik of Darien, Connecticut makes history by becoming the first fan to complain that the $3,250 ticket price for his infield seat entitles him to a better game than an 11-2 loss to god-damned Cleveland.

May — Tiger Woods tentatively scheduled to return to the PGA tour. TV ratings for the PGA tour improve by five million percent, or, to express it in raw numbers, from one person to five million.

May 27 — The Champions League final, the Super Bowl of real football, is held in Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Italian fans, clubs and referees are betting at least one British team is in it again.

June 13-24 — The best college championship — the College World Series — is held, as it is every year, in Omaha. Virtually the entire SEC is selected for the tournament again and a West Coast school wins the championship again.

June 18-21 — Golf's U.S. Open in Farmingdale, New York, at a muni course. Seems appropriate for these times, yes?

July 5 — Wimbledon finals. If Roger Federer doesn't win, the Federer Era will be officially over. No word as yet on which Williams the family has decided will win the women's singles.

July 26 — You got your chips, your beer, your Los Angeles Avengers cap, you're all ready for the Arena Football League championship game and... hey, what do you mean the league doesn't exist anymore?

July 31 — Baseball's trading deadline. Poor teams sell good players to rich teams. Fans in Oakland mark the trade of the 100th excellent starting pitcher by the A's to a richer team with a silent vigil at Oakland City Hall. Mayor Ron Dellums, last seen at City Hall in mid-2007, doesn't notice.

September — The new Dallas Cowboys stadium opens. TV cameramen all across the country celebrate.

October 4 — On the last day of the Major League Baseball regular season, the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals play the last ballgame at the Metrodome. One of baseball's most treasured rituals — kids and their dads getting knocked over by hurricane force winds as they exit the stadium — sees it's last day. (The winds are caused by the difference in air pressure inside and outside the dome; as the doors open at the end of the game, wind rushes out.)

November 5 — Game Seven of the World Series (if necessary). It's the latest scheduled date in World Series history. No big deal if it's Arizona and Anaheim, but what if it's Cleveland and Chicago?

November 26 — Thanksgiving Day; it is unknown whether the NFL will dump the Detroit Lions from their traditional role as host of one of the NFL's games that day. Or if they will have won a game by then.

December 4-6 — Davis Cup final. Spain is the defending champion, even without Rafael Nadal for some matches in '08.


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