Filling out the 2012 sports calendar
Despite a dominant regular season, the Packers won't win the Super Bowl in 2012
A resurgent Peyton Manning will make a lot of news next year -- for a new team
Metta World Peace will be influential; Rangers will have their hearts broken again
And now, let's look back at the sports year of 2012!
Don't you mean 2011?
No! I mean 2012. We live in the era of the 24-7 news cycle. We can't wait for events to actually happen before we comment on them.
Besides, as you surely recall, 2012 was an INCREDIBLE sports year. It reminded me most of the 1999 sports year, though there are obvious parallels to the 2016 sports year as well. Let's look back at 2012.
Jan. 4: Trailing Clemson 31-3 at halftime, West Virginia sues to get out of the Orange Bowl and join the Cotton Bowl for opening kickoff. West Virginia wins in court. The NCAA rules that this is all OK as long as the players receive only one bowl gift.
Jan. 9: In a national championship game for the ages, Alabama and LSU head to overtime tied 4-4. Alabama gets the ball first in overtime and elects to punt. The decision pays off when the Crimson Tide sack Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson, pick up the fumble and run it back for the game's only touchdown.
Jan. 15: The Texas Rangers sign Japanese phenom Yu Darvish to an $88 million contract, which includes a clause that Chris Berman is not allowed to give him a nickname.
Jan. 22: The New Orleans Saints take advantage of unseasonably warm single-digit temperatures in Green Bay and beat the defending champion Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers go from 13-0 to missing the Super Bowl, shocking people who didn't remember any of the last six NFL seasons.
2005: The Indianapolis Colts started the year 13-0, and generated more undefeated-season talk than any team in years. They lost their first playoff game to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who started the season 7-5.
2006: The San Diego Chargers finished 14-2, and the Baltimore Ravens went 13-3, to earn the top two seeds in the AFC. They both lost their first playoff games.
2007: The New England Patriots finished the regular season 16-0 but lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, who started the season 7-4.
2008: The Giants started the season 11-1 but lost their first playoff game to the Philadelphia Eagles, who started the season 5-5-1. The Tennessee Titans started the season 10-0 but lost their first playoff game to the Ravens, who started the season 6-4.
2009: The Colts started the season 14-0 but lost in the Super Bowl to the Saints. (Of course, the Saints started the season 13-0, and somebody had to lose that Super Bowl, so maybe this isn't a fair example.)
2010: The Patriots (14-2) and Falcons (13-3) finished with the best records in the NFL and lost in the first round.
Conclusion: It is extremely difficult to dominate an NFL season from start to finish.
Feb. 5: The Super Bowl matchup between the Saints and Ravens becomes the most-watched television event in American history after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association head DeMaurice Smith jointly agree to make a snowstorm blanket the entire country. That's power, people. The Ravens pick off Drew Brees three times but the Saints win 20-17 on a last-second field goal.
Feb. 17: Faced with accusations that he can no longer guard anybody, Metta World Peace says he actually CAN get between his man and the basket, but he feels that would be unkind. He retires and endorses Ron Paul for president.
Feb. 28: The Colts, owners of the No. 1 pick, meet with Peyton Manning to discuss the future. Owner Jim Irsay offers to pay Manning his $28 million roster bonus and keep the four-time MVP on the team with the obvious first pick, Andrew Luck. But as soon as Irsay says it, everybody realizes how absurd this is and they all bust out laughing. Why pay that much money so Manning and Luck can play together on a lousy Colts team? If the 35-year-old Manning can really play another five years, as he surely wants to, he'll have to finish his career somewhere else anyway.
In a joint press conference, Manning and Irsay announce they will part ways. This leads to ...
March 25: Manning signs a free-agent contract with ...
... with ...
... with ...
Hint: J-E ...
Yes, the Jets. Manning realizes he has all the money he needs, so he takes a below-market deal to play for the Jets. Meanwhile, the Jets finally realize that Mark Sanchez's dating ability far exceeds his playing ability. This is their chance to upstage the two teams that bug them the most: the Giants, who suddenly find themselves with the less famous Manning brother, and the Patriots. Yup: Rex Ryan gets Peyton Manning for his matchups against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
March 5: Playing in their third city in four days, and their fourth game in five nights, and their 11th road game in less than a month, the Sacramento Kings spend the entire first quarter shooting at the wrong basket. Nobody notices.
March 17: Sidney Crosby returns from a concussion, scores a hat trick and Canada weeps with joy. Gary Bettman announces that this proves concussions are not as big an issue as people think.
April 2: Leading North Carolina by 30 points in the national title game, Kentucky coach John Calipari calls two late timeouts -- one to hand a handkerchief to weeping UNC coach Roy Williams, and another so he can tell the media what a great person he is for handing Williams the handkerchief. Calipari then goes home and hangs a banner in his house, where nobody can take it down without a court order.
In the wake of Calipari's triumph, the media spend almost an entire day questioning whether any sports should ever be played again, and indeed, whether the earth should even continue to exist, right up until ...
April 3: In the feel-good story of the year, and probably the decade, and maybe even eternity, Tennessee stuns No. 1 Baylor to win the national title for coach Pat Summitt, who is battling Alzheimer's disease.
April 4: The Miami Marlins open their new ballpark. Halfway through the national anthem, new manager Ozzie Guillen gets ejected for arguing with the singer.
April 8: Tiger Woods roars back from a seven-stroke deficit in the final round to win the Masters. Afterward, he is asked to sum up his extraordinary journey from No. 1 athlete in the world to tabloid sensation to divorcé to injured, struggling, seemingly hopeless golfer and back to Masters champion. He looks straight ahead and says: "Felt good. Hit it solid. Putted well."
April 26: With the first pick in the NFL draft, the Colts take Luck. Everybody knows this will happen, and all Luck does is walk across a stage, shake commissioner Roger Goodell's hand and smile. Thirty million people tune in for it.
May 12: Donald Trump announces that he will buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for $1 billion. "A great American institution like the Dodgers should be owned by a great American like me," Trump says. The Dodgers say Trump has not made an offer for the team.
June 10: The Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup, ending the little-known Curse of Celine Dion. In the early 1990s, Canada inflicted Dion upon America. Since then, only American teams have won the Stanley Cup.
June 24: The Heat win the NBA championship. Sorry.
July 10: As a horrified Nolan Ryan watches, Rangers manager Ron Washington lets Darvish throw 11 innings in the All-Star Game. Washington explains that he wanted to show Darvish he has confidence in him.
July 22: Rory McIlroy wins the British Open in a playoff over Tiger. As Woods reaches to shake his hand, McIlroy turns around, gets on one knee and proposes to his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. She says yes.
July 27: The London Olympics begin with a stunning Opening Ceremony in which Princess Kate Middleton and Reggie Jackson re-enact the climactic scene from The Naked Gun. Michael Phelps goes on to win three gold medals, which sounds disappointing, but how many gold medals have YOU won lately, pal? That's what we thought. Usain Bolt wins three races, including two that he finishes by cartwheeling across the finish line.
July 28: The start of a Yankees-Red Sox game in the Bronx is delayed so the teams can finally finish the game they have been playing since the previous night.
Aug. 18: The Associated Press releases its college football preseason poll. Alabama is ranked first, followed by No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 8 Mississippi, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Tennessee. SEC fans flood AP offices with phone calls demanding to know why Oklahoma is ranked so high.
Sept. 8: Wozniacki defeats Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final. Afterward, a serene Serena says she doesn't even mind losing because Wozniacki and McIlroy are "so damn adorable." Serena offers to design their wedding outfits, free of charge.
Oct. 14: Your fantasy team sucks.
Nov. 1: An epic World Series ends when the Philadelphia Phillies come back from a 7-0 deficit in the ninth inning of Game 7 to stun the Rangers. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee share the MVP award. The Rangers announce that if they ever make it to the World Series again, they will immediately forfeit. "Less painful that way," Ryan says.
Nov. 6: Thanks to a late endorsement switch from Metta World Peace, Barack Obama is re-elected president of the United States. Critics say World Peace only changed sides when Obama promised to make the Queensbridge neighborhood of New York City the nation's 51st state.
Dec. 1: Florida and Alabama meet in the Southeastern Conference title game, or so it appears. They decide to cancel the game so they can meet for the national title a month later. The SEC fans who paid big money to watch a canceled game spend three hours gleefully chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!" Nobody asks for their money back.
Dec. 2: The Patriots and Jets are both undefeated entering their first matchup of the year. The Jets win 35-31 behind Peyton Manning's five touchdown passes.
Dec. 3: Manning is named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. He thanks the Jets, Ryan, Indianapolis, Irsay, Luck, his family and, with no explanation, Metta World Peace.
Dec. 21: Despite dire warnings from the Mayans, the world does not end. Las Vegas bookmakers collect $300 million from people who wagered that the world would, indeed, end. The bettors realize that if they had been right, they couldn't collect anyway.
Dec. 30: The Patriots beat the Jets 35-31 behind Brady's five touchdown passes, ending New York's bid for an undefeated season.
Dec. 31: As the ball drops in Times Square, writers scurry to recap the 2013 sports year. You remember it, right? That was when Secretary of State World Peace resigned to become ...