In 1995 sports fans in this country got a cold dose of reality with their warm beers and $4 hot dogs. This was the year in which the most loyal customers realized that they don't matter anymore. They can, quite literally, sit up and bark like dogs for their sports heroes, but if another city comes across with more luxury boxes, their team will pack up and move like just another boat show.
This was the year in which even the most battle-scarred cynics among us were shocked at the headlines. O.J. walked, and so did Art Modell. Let's hope 1996 is a little more predictable.
January. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-20 in Super Bowl XXX when Emmitt Smith is stopped on fourth-and-one from the Chief 10 on the last play of the game. Cowboy coach Barry Switzer explodes when he is asked why he didn't kick a field goal to ensure the win. "We only needed a damn inch!" he screams. "What do you think I am? A coward?" After the game, Dallas owner Jerry Jones fires Switzer and hires the coach he has always wanted—himself. At his first press conference as coach, Jones gives himself a big hug.
February. Mike Tyson, claiming he is still working his way back into championship form, defeats the fat guy who sits on the couch next to Conan O'Brien with a sixth-round TKO. Tyson, who continues to appear out of control in the ring, also knocks out the ref, two judges and a peanut vendor named Mel.
March. On the eve of the Final Four, North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith announces that his team is moving to Nashville. "I can sum up our decision in two words: luxury boxes" says Smith. "We couldn't compete under our current lease arrangement." The mayor of Nashville says he also hopes to lure the Notre Dame football and Harvard debate teams.
April. The Cleveland Indians acquire Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mo Vaughn. The rest of the American League decides to forfeit the 1996 season and concede the pennant to the Indians. Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove says he will use the next six months to set his World Series pitching rotation and finish his basement.
May. Four weeks into its inaugural season, Major League Soccer folds, citing American sports fans' lack of interest in the game. One of the league's founders says he is at a loss to explain the low attendance figures for a sport that is played by some 20 million children in the U.S. Undaunted, he announces plans to form the Professional Hide and Seek League, which will begin play in 1998.
June. The Houston Rockets defeat the Chicago Bulls in Game 7 to win their third straight NBA title. Dennis Rodman shoots two air balls from the free throw line with no time on the clock to give Houston the 103-102 victory. While he admits it may have affected his shooting, Rodman says he doesn't regret his decision to have his eyeballs pierced on the day of the game. Rocket coach Rudy Tomjanovich later reveals that he did, in fact, play Shemp in The Three Stooges.
July. In the opening round of the men's basketball competition at the Atlanta Olympics, members of the U.S. team are criticized for commercializing the Games and bullying other teams when they bend an Angolan guard into the shape of the Nike swoosh.
August. On the gold medal stand, members of the U.S. men's basketball team create a stir when they sing the national anthem backward. When asked to explain their bizarre actions, one player says, "Sometimes we just feel like doing things backward. Like eating pizza, for instance...."