By Jim Caple
Page 2

I'm not here to talk about the past, but boy, what a year this was, huh? A Canadian was the NBA's best player. A woman nearly won the Indianapolis 500. Jose Canseco made the New York Times best-seller list. And, in the most improbable occurrence of all, a Chicago team won the World Series.

In fact, with so many strange things going on, you might have forgotten these moments while waiting for the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders to finish up in the bathroom stall so Canseco could inject you with (wink, wink) B-12 vitamins…

Jan. 1: Thousands gather in New York's Times Square to usher in 2005 the traditional way -- watching agent Drew Rosenhaus carry in the New Year's baby, who is already whining about quarterback Donovan McNabb, coach Andy Reid and the rest of the "classless" Philadelphia Eagles organization.

Jan. 2: The Red Sox sue first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, demanding that he return the New Year's ball dropped in Times Square.

Matt Leinart
AP
Ladies love him, girls adore him.

Jan. 4: Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart completes four touchdown passes in the first half to lead USC to the national championship in a 55-19 rout over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. He, Nick Lachey and Casey Cobb then combine on a seemingly unbreakable college scoring record by completing 27 passes in Santa Monica after the game.

Jan. 9: While broadcasting the Vikings-Packers game, Joe Buck calls Randy Moss' mooning pantomime "disgusting" and the way Minnesota center Matt Birk keeps bending over for every snap "downright filthy."

Feb. 2: Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, signaling that Barry Bonds will undergo six more months of knee surgeries and draining.

Feb. 4: At the world championships in Bormio, Italy, skiers Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves achieve an unprecedented, and what some considered impossible, feat by Americans -- they go an entire day without hearing a talk-radio host speculate on whether T.O. will play in the Super Bowl.

Feb. 5: Minnesota coach Mike Tice is embarrassed when he is caught scalping the most coveted, fought-over tickets in the country: round-trip deck chair seats on the Vikings' party cruise across Lake Minnetonka.

2005: YEAR IN REVIEW
Page 2
Patrick Hruby: The Ignominious Effort Awards
Jim Caple: A strange, strange year
Paul Lukas: Uni Watch year in review
Scoop Jackson: What mattered most
Jeff Merron: Sex & Sports

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Vote for the all-SportsNation Team
Rank the top personalities of 2005
Quiz: How well do you know 2005?

Feb. 6: The Eagles' last-minute rally falls short in the Super Bowl when Doug Mientkiewicz runs off with the game ball. The Patriots celebrate their third Super Bowl in four years the time-honored New England way … by watching Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon run onto the field and toss the Gatorade jug over coach Bill Belichick.

Feb. 8: Charlie Weis shows up 10 minutes early for his first day of work and Notre Dame responds by giving him a $10 million contract extension.

Feb. 12: Jose Canseco reaches the top of the New York Times best-seller list with his book, "The Five People I Shot Up in the Bathroom Stall." He might have sold even more copies had a court order not limited Canseco's book tour to his living room.

Feb. 15: In an attempt to cash in on the latest national obsession, the Westminster Kennel Club changes its format to a Dogs Playing Poker buy-in tournament.

Feb. 16: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman comes up with a brilliant method for correcting the league's balance sheets -- he cancels the season to save on soaring gasoline costs for the Zamboni machines.

March 9: Barry Bonds informs reporters that his head hasn't grown and his testicles haven't shrunk. The slugger does not, however, comment on his credibility.

March 16: An angry Congress calls in commissioner Bud Selig, union chief Donald Fehr and baseball's most prominent stars to demand a response to the sport's ugliest scandal: the Red Sox makeover edition of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

March 17: The congressional hearings on steroids in sports continue in explosive fashion when a passionate Rafael Palmeiro swears that he is not now, nor ever has been, a member of the Communist Party, and Mark McGwire stubbornly refuses to name his sources in the Valerie Plame case.

March 30: Cindy Sheehan draws nationwide attention and controversy when she sets up a tent outside Crawford, Texas, to wait in line for tickets to see Baylor in the women's Final Four.

April 4: Roy Williams' long, emotional wait ends at last when the North Carolina coach finally receives his copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue that originally had been mailed to his old address in Lawrence, Kan.

April 10: Tiger Woods rouses Augusta with one of the most extraordinary shots in Masters history, after his chip from the rough on the 16th hole catches the green, breaks back toward the hole, rolls past the windmill blades, through the swinging barn doors, into the clown's mouth and, after resting at the lip of the volcano for almost 30 seconds, finally drops in for a birdie when groundskeeper Carl Spackler detonates two dozen land mines.

April 19: Two weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II, anxious Catholics around the world watch in hushed silence as puffs of white smoke appear by the landmark dome, signaling another $30 million contract extension for Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis.

May 7: Despite owning the clear favorite, George Steinbrenner once again fails to win the Kentucky Derby when trainer Nick Zito foolishly has Alex Rodriguez ride the horse in the race. Steinbrenner reacts by having Kevin Brown destroyed.

May 8: Another historic first in the world of sports -- Steve Nash is named the NBA's Most Valuable Player, thereby allowing Canadian sportscasters to finally open their shows with something other than news about the canceled NHL season.

May 17: Despite forcing a seventh game with a dramatic overtime victory in Game 6, the Celtics lose their series against Indiana, forcing bitterly disappointed Boston fans to seek comfort in the team's glory days by listening to tapes of Johnny Most's famous call from the 1965 Eastern Division final, "Mientkiewicz stole the ball! Mientkiewicz stole the ball!"

Danica Patrick
AP
Danica Patrick's one very popular race car driver.

May 28: Barry Bonds visits the pits at the Indianapolis 500 to have his knee drained.

May 29: After leading the Indianapolis 500 until the 187th lap, Danica Patrick establishes an historic milestone for women athletes -- she appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated despite being fully clothed.

Meanwhile, Dan Wheldon receives $1.5 million for winning the 500-mile race, which is almost enough to cover his gasoline bill.

June 16: Millions of anxious readers line up at bookstores around the world for the long-anticipated release of the latest tale in a hugely popular supernatural series: the paperback edition of Phil Jackson's hastily retitled book, "The Next to Last Season."

June 23: Sales are disappointing for San Antonio's NBA championship souvenirs when commissioner David Stern attempts to improve the league's image by allowing only "business casual" commemorative suits, blazers and collared shirts.

July 1: Barry Bonds consults the astrological charts, sees that Virgo is rising and Sagittarius is ascendant, and returns to the clubhouse for another month of treatment on his knee.

July 4: The Williams sisters' reality-TV show debuts with a special Wimbledon edition, in which Jill Craybas fires Serena in the boardroom and Venus votes Lindsay Davenport off Centre Court.

July 22: A remake of the classic "Bad News Bears" ends with Congress' subpoenaing Kelly Leak to testify about how he could have hit all those home runs without taking steroids and Sen. Jim Bunning's pointing out a telltale sign of steroid abuse on the team: acne.

July 24: Years of single-minded devotion to the sport and a training regimen of at least six hours per day on the bike pay off big for America's most famous cyclist when President Bush wins the Tour de France during the first quarter of his summer vacation.

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong completes the world's most grueling event when he fills up his SUV with regular unleaded.

July 25: Rafael Palmeiro joins a list of baseball immortals when he receives his 3,000th "accidental" dose of stanozol.

July 29: Trying desperately to revive the franchise, the New York Knicks hire the name synonymous with globe-trotting, expensive rebuilding projects: Halliburton. Two days later, the Knicks sign center Jerome James to a $93 billion, two-year deal.

August 1: Barry Bonds checks the calendar, sees that there is no "R" in the month and returns to the clubhouse for another four weeks of treatment on his knee.

August 8: The world of sports is brought to its knees after running out of wristband colors to symbolize horrible, life-threatening illnesses.

August 19: Despite taking a five-run lead into the ninth inning, the Kansas City Royals still lose by six en route to a club-record 19-game losing streak. Afterward, President Bush calls to tell manager Buddy Bell, "Buddy, you're doing a heck of a job."

August 29: FEMA head Mike Brown responds promptly to the Hurricane Katrina threat in New Orleans by swiftly evacuating all Arabian horses from the city.

Sept. 1: New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson angers the city when he insists Hurricane Katrina evacuees pay a personal seat license before taking refuge in the Superdome.

Sept. 3: Matt Leinart returns for his senior season at USC and is eligible to play despite attending only one class -- a three-credit course in ballroom dancing. Not only is that 100 percent true -- oddly, the same class is offered at Ohio State, only there it's considered a 10-credit class in advanced Calculus.

Sept. 11: It's an unofficial Turn Back the Clock Day at the U.S. Open when thousands of nostalgic tennis fans pack Arthur Ashe Stadium to see Roger Federer in the final against their old favorite, Julio Franco.

Sept. 12: After nearly a year layoff, Barry Bonds returns, hits five home runs and then calls it a season in the seventh inning.

Oct. 7: The NHL returns from its canceled season with eagerly awaited rookie sensation Sidney Crosby, thrilling nearly 16 TV viewers nationwide.

Oct. 9: The longest game in baseball postseason history comes to a dramatic, unbelievable and historic end -- Tim McCarver runs out of things to say.

Oct. 10: As so many previous New York teams have before them, the Yankees receive their traditional postseason call from the president when Bush phones to say, "A-Rod, you're doing a heck of a job."

Oct. 12: The worst hurricane season on record continues when Tropical Storm Pierzynski devastates Anaheim.

Oct. 14: The unofficial start of the college basketball season is signaled outside Cameron Indoor Stadium when Cindy Sheehan sets up her tent in K-Ville.

Oct. 15: In an epic game between top-ranked USC and longtime rival Notre Dame, Matt Leinart scores the winning touchdown with seconds to go when he leaps over a bent-over Charlie Weis signing a $40 million contract extension for perfect attendance.

Oct. 22: The River Styx freezes over, glaciers form in the seventh level, Satan turns up the thermostat and Chicago hosts a World Series game.

Oct. 26: The day Chicago baseball fans had begun to think would never occur finally comes true -- manager Ozzie Guillen tells a reporter: "No comment."

Nov. 1: After Boston general manager Theo Epstein abruptly resigns, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino receives thousands of angry, threatening phone calls from fans, but none quite as devastating as this one -- "Larry," President Bush says, "you're doing a heck of a job."

Chad Johnson
AP
You better not pout, I'm telling you why ... Chad Johnson is coming to town.

Nov. 7: The Carolina Panthers fire two cheerleaders after the two were arrested for allegedly having sex in a public restroom. Joe Buck is disgusted, but the Vikings immediately hire them for the office Christmas party.

Nov. 24: Thousands gather in New York's Herald Square to watch the traditional opening of the Christmas season -- Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson riding Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Dec. 6: Seattle SuperSonics forward Reggie Evans misses the start of the second half because a league-mandated drug test took so long due to the Carolina Panthers' cheerleaders hogging the bathroom stall.

Dec. 11: After vigorous debate over the use of torture, Arizona Sen. John McCain gets the White House to agree to a ban on the broadcasts of 49ers games and the release of the special director's-cut edition of "Fever Pitch."

Dec. 16: The New York Times reports that the White House secretly taped the Mets' bullpen phone without a court order. Fox News counters that this does not even begin to explain manager Willie Randolph's stubborn use of closer Braden Looper.

Dec. 18: After beginning the season 13-0, the Colts finally lose, causing radio talk shows to go silent for two days, six hours and 32 minutes because they can no longer argue about whether Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy should rest his players or go all out for an undefeated season.

Dec: 21: WWJD? Boston fans get their answer: He sells his immortal soul to the devil and signs with the Yankees.

Dec. 31: Thousands usher out the year in traditional fashion by gathering in New York's Times Square to watch the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders kiss each other at the stroke of midnight.

Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale at bookstores nationwide. It also can be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.




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YEAR IN REVIEW