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Imagine what might have been in the last year in sports: a Grand Slam for Bjorn Borg, a .400 season for George Brett, a fourth heavyweight title for Muhammad Ali, a Summer Olympics to match the Winter Games, a barnburner of a Super Bowl. Though none of these great expectations was fulfilled, it is better to have hoped and lost than never to have hoped at all. And that's one of the reasons 1980 was a grand way to start the decade.
Speaking of great expectations—nice segue, no?—many of us have read Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, or seen the movie, or at least glommed the plot from Monarch Notes, we all know that Pip, the protagonist of the novel, was the guy Gehrig replaced, but other than that, what the dickens does Great Expectations have to do with me Year in Sports?
Well, one of the lasting images from the book is that of Miss Havisham's cake. To recap, it seems that she was jilted at 8:40 on her nuptial day and forever after kept the wedding cake on a table, without refrigeration.
Think of the sports year as a great cake, tier upon tier of events—of performances and games. All right, the year between the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl XV was not everything it might have been. Now we could, like Miss Havisham, let it collect cobwebs. Or we could savor the good. Here, have a piece:
?Just when we were getting ready to bid them farewell, Jack Nicklaus up and wins the U.S. Open and the PGA to bring his major-tournament victory total to 19, and Chris Evert Lloyd rediscovers her game in time to win her fifth U.S. Open.
?The Philadelphia Phillies, biggest teases in the history of baseball, win their first world championship. At this rate, they'll win their next one in 2077.
?Guard-Forward-Center-Cheerleader Earvin (Magic) Johnson leads the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the sixth and deciding game of the NBA finals by playing, as SI's John Papanek wrote, "Kareem for a day."
?The Oakland Raiders become the first wild-card team to win the Super Bowl, by beating the Philadelphia Eagles. More surprisingly, Oakland Managing General Partner Al Davis doesn't have a joy buzzer in his hand as he accepts Commissioner Pete Rozelle's congratulations.
?The best money players in sports turn out to be Tom Watson, who won a record $530,808 on the PGA tour, and Dave Winfield, whose new pinstripe suit could cost Yankee owner George steinbrenner $20 million or so over the next 10 years.