By Jim Caple
Page 2

The past 12 months didn't provide the greatest memories for American sports fans. The U.S. got whipped by international opponents in hockey (the Olympics) AND soccer (the World Cup) AND baseball (the World Baseball Classic) AND basketball (the world championships) AND golf (the Ryder Cup). The basketball and baseball MVPs were Canadian (Steve Nash and Justin Morneau). The best American skier was a drunk, a groin strain felled our best figure skater and our most popular boxer is 60 years old.

Hell, our vice president couldn't even shoot straight.

With such a thoroughly forgettable year, you might not remember these moments …

Adam Morrison
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Morrison's never gonna live this down, is he?

Jan. 1: The new year opens in traditional fashion with Old Man 2005 carrying in a weeping Baby 2006 -- Gonzaga's Adam Morrison.

Jan. 4: Texas quarterback Vince Young shreds the USC defense for 467 total yards in a 41-38 Rose Bowl upset, silencing the tens of thousands of Southern California boosters packing the house of Reggie Bush's parents.

Jan. 8: The Cincinnati Bengals are forced to forfeit their first playoff game in a decade when the salary cap prevents them from covering bail.

Jan. 10: The suspension of the U.S. women's skeleton team coach for sexual harassment -- after asking an athlete, "If I said you have a nice skeleton, would you hold it against me?" -- is upheld by a judge.

Jan. 12: After weeks of intense speculation, Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush announces he'll sacrifice hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and a lavish crib by leaving USC to enter the NFL. Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett says the Trojans tried hard to keep Bush but just couldn't fit him under the school's salary cap.

Jan. 22: In the most electrifying basketball performance in years, the Los Angeles Lakers franchise record for scoring -- and the second highest total in NBA history -- is set at 81 points by their autistic manager.

Feb. 2: Punxsutawney Phil crawls out of his groundhog hole and sees his shadow, the traditional indication that there will be another six weeks before Brett Favre decides whether he'll retire.

Feb. 3: "Game of Shadows" authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams take a controversial stand for journalists everywhere by defying a court order and refusing to name Detroit as the hometown of Steelers running back Jerome Bettis in their Super Bowl preview stories.

Feb. 5: The Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL. Line judge Mark Hittner and referee Bill Leavy are named the game's co-MVPs.

Feb. 9: The Stanford Tree is arrested on DWI charges after it careens onto a highway and wraps a car around itself.

Feb. 10: Tens of millions of viewers tune in to watch the compelling competition that brings the world together: "American Idol." Meanwhile, the XX Winter Games officially open in Torino, Italy, when the hallowed, time-honored Olympic relay ends with the handing of a vodka bottle to Bode Miller.

Feb. 11: Vice President Dick Cheney fails to medal in the biathlon.

Feb. 12: Bode Miller sets an Olympic record when he places fifth in the downhill, the highest finish ever by a skier with a beer bong strapped to his back, his pants around his ankles and a lampshade over his head.

Feb. 17: Lindsey Jacobellis blows the Olympic gold medal in snowboard cross when she foolishly stops just before the finish line to report her Visa check card has been stolen.

Feb. 17: Pitchers and catchers report to the Detroit Tigers' spring training camp and hold their first fundamental drills: fielding grounders and throwing them into the right-field corner.

Feb. 21: Having already donated his $40,000 gold and silver medal bonuses to charity, speedskater Joey Cheek finishes ninth in the 1,500-meter race, then donates his blood, bone marrow and left kidney to the Red Cross.

Feb. 25: Bode Miller is disqualified from his final event but still sets another Olympic record in the slalom when he successfully skis around 28 pink elephants.

March 2: National collegiate scoring leader Adam Morrison sets a personal high when he counts 21 hairs in his mustache. He breaks down into tears of joy.

March 3: General Motors announces record losses after the auto company introduces a Hummer large enough to hold LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis.

Alex Rodriguez
Jay Gula/WireImage.com
A-Rod, would ya solve this Iraq thing already? Geez!

March 4: Alex Rodriguez goes 0-for-3 and strands three baserunners in a Grapefruit League game, prompting angry fans to complain that A-Rod can't hit when it doesn't count, either.

March 14: American hopes are dashed in the World Baseball Classic when the U.S. loses to the Taiwanese Little League team.

March 26: John Daly claims he lost $60 million when he bet on No. 1 seed UConn against No. 11 seed George Mason in the NCAA Tournament. Charles Barkley says that's nothing, that he bet $40 million on the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic.

March 27: Former Vice President Al Gore warns that world sea levels will rise 20 feet; the Amazon, Columbia, Mississippi and Yangtze rivers will overflow their banks; and 70 percent of major population centers will have to be evacuated due to flooding if Gonzaga's Adam Morrison loses another heartbreaker in the final seconds.

April 4: An uncomfortable stalemate hampers the debut of "Bonds on Bonds" when the controversial slugger refuses to talk to himself, instead forcing himself to stand awkwardly by his locker and beg himself for an interview.

April 21: Televangelist Pat Robertson claims he can leg press one ton thanks to a flaxseed oil protein shake. By the way, we're not making that up. He really made that claim.

April 25: Brett Favre announces he'll return to play another season in order to set the career record for interceptions.

April 29: The Houston Texans pass on Reggie Bush to beef up their defensive line by choosing Mario Williams with the first pick in the NFL draft. "We got the best athlete available," coach Gary Kubiak says. "He was very impressive at the combine."

May 2: Yankees fans blame A-Rod for letting nationwide housing prices drop.

May 29: Barry Bonds' slow, plodding and grueling chase finally ends when he finally gets his 715th viewer of "Bonds on Bonds."

May 31: Hopes for a possible Triple Crown are crushed and fans send out their thoughts and prayers for the famed one-ton competitor when Boston pitcher David Wells breaks down yet again.

June 5: America pauses in somber observation of the last man in the country to abandon the Atkins Diet.

June 12: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fails to win the Steel City motocross challenge.

June 18: The U.S. Open ends in heartbreak when John Daly and Charles Barkley lose a $10 million bet that Phil Mickelson can bank his tee shot off the hospitality tent, over the water hazard, make the pelican fly off its post and finish on the green.

June 24: The Toronto Raptors use the first pick in the NBA draft to choose Athena-Grace high school's autistic manager.

June 30: On the eve of the Tour de France, a Spanish police raid implicates 58 riders in a performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and, oddly, televangelist Pat Robertson.

July 9: France loses the World Cup final to Italy when the French players are distracted by the promiscuous behavior of Zinedine Zidane's mother and sister. French spirits are lifted, however, when Zidane announces he is pursuing a career in ultimate fighting.

July 19: The Cincinnati Bengals open training camp at their brand-new team headquarters, the River City Correctional Facility.

July 27: Tour de France winner Floyd Landis blames his positive steroid test after the 17th stage on drinking Pat Robertson's flaxseed oil protein shake.

Aug. 24: Lions defensive line coach Joe Cullen models the NFL's new line of tear-away jerseys, pants, socks, shoes and underwear at a Detroit Wendy's.

Sept. 3: Andre Agassi's superb career finally ends at the U.S. Open when he loses an exhausting four-hour battle with 3-year-old daughter Jaz Elle over whether she should get a Maria Sharapova tennis skirt or an Anna Kournikova Barbie doll.

Sept. 10: NBC premieres its new Sunday night series, "The Mannings."

Sept. 12: Emmitt Smith ties Jerry Rice's NFL record for most embarrassing post-career move when he appears on "Dancing with the Stars."

Sept. 16: Oregon wins a controversial game over Oklahoma when the replay official is busy playing "Madden 2006" on the replay monitor.

Sept. 18: Los Angeles rallies in the ninth inning with back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs and each one is caught by the lone fan who didn't leave Dodger Stadium early to beat the traffic.

Sept. 26: Terrell Owens releases a children's book, "Little T Learns to Read the Warning Label on His Pills."

Sept. 30: New York's injury woes continue when Mr. Met pulls a groin.

Oct. 2: Baseball's postseason opens with John Daly and Charles Barkley putting down $60 million on the Yankees to beat the Mets in the World Series.

Oct. 3: The Yankees pile on the mound and spray champagne in the clubhouse after beating the Tigers in the opening game of the Division Series, then miss the remainder of the series while voting on World Series shares and riding in the ticker-tape parade down Wall Street.

Oct. 14: The Miami Hurricanes beat Florida International by a split decision.

Oct. 15: Detroit goes wild when its beloved team finally reaches a goal for the first time in 22 years -- the Lions win a regular-season game. The Tigers celebrate by pouring champagne over Jerome Bettis.

Oct. 17: The Department of Homeland Security raises the advisory level to orange when an Internet posting warns that the Cincinnati Bengals will show up at one of seven NFL stadiums during the weekend.

Oct. 21: The quality of the World Series declines significantly when the 2003 Tigers accidentally take the field.

Oct. 22: Controversy erupts at the World Series when excess pine tar on Kenny Rogers' hand causes the Detroit starter's fist to stick to the jaw of a cameraman.

Oct. 27: The Cardinals win the World Series. Angry Yankees fans blame A-Rod, pointing out he didn't drive in a single run during the Series.

Oct. 30: The NFL suspends Pat Robertson for four games after he tests positive for steroids.

Nov. 4: Players protest about the odd feel and grip when they are handed the new NBA basketballs by Kenny Rogers.

Nov. 7: Ex-Steeler Lynn Swann loses the Pennsylvania governor's race after foolishly running his campaign on a single issue: eliminating the tax on NFL pensions and player salaries. In a related story, the Dixie Chicks officially become eligible to sing the national anthem again.

Nov. 16: Fox Media announces plans to publish O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It," after rejecting the slightly longer title: "If I Had Any Shame or Conscience At All I Would Have Spared Everyone by Wrapping That Ford Bronco Around A Tree A Dozen Years Ago."

Nov. 18: The Dead Schembechlers punk band changes its name to the Dead Wolverines' BCS Title Hopes.

John Daly
Marc Feldman/WireImage.com
Wanna make a wager on how much John Daly weighs in this picture?

Dec. 2: John Daly and Charles Barkley take USC against UCLA.

Dec. 6: After a painstakingly thorough, bipartisan, seven-month review of the facts on the ground, the Iraq Study Group finally releases its report, and the findings are what everyone expected: The Houston Texans made a horrible mistake by not drafting Reggie Bush.

Dec. 7: Angry Yankees fans blame A-Rod when the new NBA ball is dropped.

Dec. 8: Hall of Fame ballots are mailed out and self-righteous baseball writers take a stand against steroids by withholding their votes for Pat Robertson.

Dec. 10: Allen Iverson demands a trade to the most storied and talented franchise in basketball -- the LeBrons.

Dec. 16: Carmelo Anthony wins the NBA welterweight title, then immediately declines all rematch offers.

Dec. 17: LaDainian Tomlinson breaks the NFL scoring record set by Arizona rookie Matt Leinart over a long Labor Day weekend at the beach.

Dec. 20: Despite being 60 years old, Sylvester Stallone releases a sixth Rocky movie and draws surprisingly favorable reviews from critics, who are simply relieved he didn't make a sequel to "Get Carter" or "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot."

Dec. 23: Bobby Knight ties an NCAA record when an intimidated school administrator excuses his wildly inappropriate behavior for the 879th time.

Dec. 31: Bode Miller, Maurice Clarett and Joe Cullen toast the new year with a case of vodka while hundreds of thousands of Yankees fans gather for the other traditional New Year's Eve ritual: booing A-Rod for letting the Times Square ball drop.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is back up at a slightly different address, jimcaple.net, with more installments of 24 College Avenue. In addition to "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," his new book with Steve Buckley, "The Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans," is on sale now.




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