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Monday, December 23, 2002
Sports night before Christmas

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Page 2
A year full of memories came flooding through:

Tom Brady
Tom Brady had his Christmas in February.
A most unlikely phrase: "Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady,"
Raiders fans still insist that tuck call was shady.
The Ol' Ball Coach was imported, with much ballyhoo
Ain't played much better than the Texans, first-year pros, too.

Here's to Maddox and Feeley, to Ricky Williams -- holy smoke!
Here's to Bulger, jeers to Martz -- Turf's Greatest Joke.
Here's to Sapp and to Chucky -- is this the Bucs' year?
Home-field advantage to Philly is Tampa's lone fear.

Teams should learn from Dallas to avoid the "Hard Knocks,"
But "all-access" playoffs is this year's theme -- parity rocks!
If there was a moment to define the zany NFL this fall,
It would be T.O. in full endzone glory signing a ball.

The Olympics came to Salt Lake, starring Li'l Miss Hughes,
But "sacre bleu!" -- the skate-judging systems got abused.
The NHLers took a break, to play for countries' honor,
Once the Canada guys got fired up, the U.S. was a goner.

The year's most titanic matchup: Hootie vs. Women,
Augusta says "No Girls Allowed," so controversy's brimmin'.
Are we heading into next year on the brink of sports disaster?
Gender issues -- so divisive -- means high ratings for the Masters.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose has denied the allegations for the past 15 years.
Baseball's preseason watchword was fan-unfriendly: "contraction."
'Til Minnesota provided some small-market satisfaction.
Here's to loony All-Star ties and to labor-deal distraction,
And to the Pete Rose debate -- wanna bet on Hall reaction?

The MVP race came down to A's Tejada versus A-Rod,
The fans forgot about both, mesmerized by rookie K-Rod.
The World Series had the one-man show against a team.
The Angels played as one, though, Autry's postseason dream.

Harlem's Little Leaguers were baseball's story of the summer,
Showboating or enthusiasm? Critics wailed they run home glummer.
And to the memory of Ted Ballgame, lest we leave John Henry cold:
Dumping Don and hiring Theo; Bill James computes the Sox think bold.

The catchphrase of the summer: "Free A.I.! Free A.I.!"
From a local "Wanted" poster to Olympic hoops standby.
Because in August the so-called "Dream Team" got schooled,
In hoops (if not Econ 101), we learned Argentina ruled.

The Lakers cruised to the title; All-Star Kobe was booed in Philly.
This season, team dissension is making the reigning champs look silly.
Jerry West went East to Memphis and imported Hubie from TV,
"Now, what you've got here is to see that upside in newbies."

Much to Stern's delight, Yao has become the NBA's global name,
Millions of Chinese will vote him to start the All-Star Game.
Speaking of phenoms, teams have played so bad we've laughed,
Yao Ming
David Stern unwrapped a giant Chinese global marketing gem.
All hoping to win the lottery of the LeBron James Draft.

Every college-hoops fan was convinced that "J-Will";
But "J-Won't" make his throws, so Dixon did thrill.
The Terps' triumph was equaled by Michigan's shame:
Ed Martin's boosting gave the once-Fab Five a bad name.

On Bracey, on Reddick, on Felton, on Bosh:
Ever seen college hoops so overwhelmed by frosh?
On Doherty, on Heath, on Davis, on Knight:
The General still made first-round Tourney flight.

Despite dire warnings about the soulless BCS
Unruly fans storming the field became the biggest mess.
Miami made rankings easy -- we saw McGahee electrify us,
A West Coast guy won the Heisman -- what East Coast bias?

On Ferentz, on Zook, on Franchione, on Price
Dismissing a lame-duck coach before a bowl would be nice.
And to the season's best story: Ty's Willing at Notre Dame
Flip side: Brewing gambling issues -- next year's blame game.

To Andre, to Pete, to Venus and to Serena,
To South Korea, to Ronaldo, to U.S. coach Bruce Arena.
Rich Beem toppled Tiger? You've got to be kidding.
And on eBay, athletes' body parts were up for bidding.

There are so many other stories, we couldn't mention them all.
Rodeo, bowling, bass fishing, X-sports, Slam Ball.
To try to cover everything would surely leave some hot.
Instead we'll wrap it up with this very sincere thought:

Best wishes to all, this holiday season and next year,
May your days be filled with peace, love and sports-induced cheer.

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2.