We've talked about the greatest feats ever. We've chewed over the ultimate athletes, the best all-around jocks, and the toughest sports to perform. Now the question is -- what's next? After a three-year study at the Page 2 Rip Van Winkle Sports Science Institute, we narrowed the realistic -- but amazing! -- possibilities.
10. 50 TD passes in a season
Who: Eli Manning
Why: Dan Marino's current record of 48, set in 1984, is getting a little long in the tooth. With the NFL's recent decision to let the receivers fly again (that illegal contact rule wasn't being enforced), watch the offenses vault over the next few years. Touchdown passes follow naturally, just when Eli's hitting his peak as a QB.
9. 100 percent free-throw shooting in major college or pro hoops
Who: J.J. Redick
When: 2004-2005 season
Why: Paul Cluxton of Northern Kentucky has shown it can be done in Div. II, going 94-for-94 in 1997. But we're talking big-time here. Redick set Duke and ACC records for free-throw shooting as a frosh, shooting .919 from the stripe. Last year, he clobbered his own mark, going 143-150 (.953), close to Calvin Murphy's current NBA mark of .958 and Craig Collins' Div. I mark of .959. He'll be perfect as a junior, and if he's not, he'll be perfect during one of his pro seasons.
8. Woman wins the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon
Who: We wish we could see four-time women's winner Natascha Badmann win the Ironman, but it isn't going to happen.
Why: Physiology favors women as events get super-long. We've already seen women outdo men in some of the toughest endurance competitions: Susan Butcher won the Iditarod and Lynn Hill speed-climbed The Nose. In this year's Boston Marathon, the top two women would have finished 13th and 14th in the men's competition. In the Hawaii Ironman, women are now within 40 minutes of the men's mark in the 140-mile event, and are edging closer.
7. Man wins Grand Slam in tennis
Who: None of today's pros -- the Grand Slam events had four different winners in 2003. If we had good odds, we'd put money down on Gael Monfils of France, the world's top junior player right now.
Why: Only two men have won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in the same calendar year -- Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969. Mats Wilander came close in 1988, winning three of four. Despite Pete Sampras' dominance during the 1990s, he couldn't do it. At this point, the Slam, which requires peaking four times within a space of nine months while defeating deep competition, would be a remarkable feat of domination and could foster a men's tennis revival, in the way that Tiger Woods revived golf.
6. Five homers in a game
Who: Albert Pujols
Why: Barry won't do it -- he's walked too much. Three others have hit four in a game recently, and therefore won't ever do it again, because nobody's done it twice in a career. In 2002, Mike Cameron and Shawn Green hit four in a game. Cameron completed the feat in the fifth inning, and almost hit his fifth in the ninth (he was robbed on a spectacular catch by right fielder Jeff Liefer). Green hit four homers, a double, and a single on a 6-for-6 day in which he set a single-game record for total bases. In 2003, Carlos Delgado did it. It's Albert's world now.
5. U.S. men win World Cup in soccer
Who: Freddy Adu, Claudio Reyna and company
Why: The U.S. women did it in 1999. The U.S. men made it to the quarters in 2002. Freddy's awfully sudden emergence sends a message to all promising boys: you can win fame and fortune in this sport, without leaving home. And soccer has never been more popular as a participant sport.
4. A sub-2:00 marathon
Who: A Kenyan
Where: Chicago or London
Why: The current world record is held by Khalid Khannouchi (2:05:38). And there's a bunch who've run within two minutes of that time. In 1998, Paul Tergat set the current half-marathon world record of 59:17. It'll be a man from Kenya because Kenyans ran seven of the fastest 10 marathon times in 2003, and the rest of the world isn't catching up. As more 10K specialists move up and training methods continue to improve, the records will tumble.
3. A 57-game hitting streak
Why: It's been 26 years since Pete Rose hit in 44 straight, and this record's all about a quick, high-average hitter getting very, very lucky. Which is Ichiro.
2. A woman wins a PGA tournament
Who: Michelle Wie
Why: Michelle can already drive with men, can compete on the women's tour, and has her eyes on the prize -- she knows she'll be playing part-time PGA, part-time LPGA. Michelle's short game is just going to get better and better. The clincher: she already plays against men, and is the coolest 14-year-old we know (sorry, Freddy, but you're No. 2).
Who: Barry Bonds
Why: In 2002, he came fairly close, hitting .370. This year, about one-fifth through the season, he's batting .463. If Bonds can't do it, maybe it won't ever happen again.
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A sub-3:40 mile
Daytona 500/Indy 500 double in same year
2400 yards rushing in a season (150 yards/game)
Two perfect games in one career
80 home runs
Seven-foot heavyweight boxing champ
Player gives 111 percent in a game