In a not-so-perfect world ...


First of all, let's establish that Wheaties missed its true marketing chance decades ago by not including two fistfuls of processed sugar with every serving. They clearly missed out on generations of children who need that quick early morning jolt to get them through until recess, when they can have a couple of donuts and a soda to get them through until lunch.

Wheaties still has the one sure-fire gimmick left to them -- the cover of the box for our sports heroes. True, the honor has been encroached by such post-match accomplishments as the ESPYs, "I'm Going To Disney World" and the People's Choice Awards, but it still matters.

Sort of.

But with the announcement that their latest box will feature Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps, Carly Patterson and Justin Gatlin, they have badly missed an opportunity to more completely explain the Athens Games to those who watched two weekends of practice football games instead.

For instance (and didn't you just know this was coming?):

Trevor Graham: The man who gave us the BALCO scandal by mailing a used syringe of Doctor Runfast to rat out his former pupil, Marion Jones, and then bragged about it during the Games. Yeah, Trev, way to bring it home.

Victor Conte: The man who gave the BALCO scandal a face by looking like one of the extras in the Havana nightclub scene in "The Godfather."

Paul Hamm: You win! No, you lose! But wait, you still win! Actually, you still win, but we'd like you to FedEx us the medal back to show what a great sport you are. Not even Jesus could make this one up.

Hamm and Yang Tae Young: Wearing the one gold medal around both their necks and shrugging at the camera with that "Don't blame us because the judges are all crackheads" look.

The People Who Run International Gymnastics: Shown as they are frog-walked to Beijing.

Cornelius Horan: The Irish nitwit (emphasis on "nitwit") wearing a kilt, a beret and a message on his shirt (believed to be "Free The Rest Of The Whack-Jobs") who grabbed Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei de Lima while the runner was leading the race.

Marion Jones: Boy, this has been one hell of a good year for her, hasn't it?

The U.S. Men's Basketball Team: This will end up being Allen Iverson's fault, ironically, for showing up and playing hard.

The U.S. Diving Teams: Shut out for the first time ever, which would be a far more troubling scandal if anyone paid attention to diving except once every four years.

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou: The two Greeks who got bagged for blowing off mandatory drug tests even before the Games began, then got into a suspiciously timed motorcycle accident, and then compared their plight to crucifixion. Happy Easter, kids.

Adrian Annus: The Hungarian hammer thrower who won the gold medal then returned it by (1.) allegedly supplying someone else's urine for his test, (2.) provided less than the minimum amount for the test, which suggests that we now know who has the worst job in the Olympics, and then (3.) refused to provide more urine, thus raising the question, "Why not put a beer on the end of a stick and tempt him with it until he gives up the goods?"

Misty May and Kerri Walsh: The women's beach volleyball gold medalists who inadvertently raised the most burning question of the Games: "Why don't the men's team have to wear the same outfits?"

Dick Pound: Coming dangerously close to crossing the line between earnest drug policeman to insufferable gasbag.

Dick Ebersol: The NBC Olympic uberlord holding up an American flag in one hand and a copy of the overnight ratings in the other, wishing only he had a third hand to give the finger to the people who accuse him of shorting non-American athletes.

Mikhail Gorbachev: Whose role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union gives the U.S. the medal count victory instead of the Old Red-Gray Mare, which totaled between the 10 former republics 45 golds, 52 silvers and 65 bronzes. I mean, since you're all counting the medals so aggressively, you should know all the details.

Manus Boonjumnong: The Thai light heavyweight who elevated sincere sucking-up to a new high by crediting the country's king for helping him win the gold medal. Frankly, we could have used Ebersol's influence in showing Boonjumnong sparring with the king. Great human interest there.

The Trampoline: The instrument of the silliest Olympic sport this side of rhythmic gymnastics.

The Skyline of Turin: Home of the 2006 figure skating judging scandals.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com