- The Washington Times - Friday, December 31, 2004

This prospective peek at the fun and games of 2005 guarantees it will be a better year for somebody, somewhere:

January — Oklahoma and Southern Cal drone through a lackluster BCS championship game in the Orange Bowl while Auburn demolishes Virginia Tech in the Sugar, boosting the Tigers to No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll and inspiring their fans to chant “BCS, What a Mess!” … The lockout-laden NHL officially cancels its season and retroactively cancels the seasons of 2002-03 and 2003-04 because, as commissioner Gary Bettman admits, “almost nobody cares about us.” … Roger Clemens leaves his hometown Astros to return to the Red Sox and fulfill the Rocket’s stated desire “to go out with a winner.”

February — Major League Baseball sells the Washington Nationals to Bill Collins, who immediately says he will move RFK Stadium “lock, stock and crud” to Northern Virginia. … With Karl Hobbs’ George Washington team in the Top 25 polls and Maryland unranked, Comcast Center sprouts signs reading “Gary Must Go” and “We Want Karl.” … Concerned about the Redskins’ lack of offensive production, Joe Gibbs signs Mark Rypien as his No. 1 quarterback, noting, “He’s a young 42.”

March — The Nationals smack the Orioles 10-2 in the teams’ first exhibition meeting, and O’s owner Peter Angelos demands $25 million more from MLB in mad money. … Maryland repeats as ACC tournament champion, causing signs reading “Who’s Karl?” to sprout all over College Park. … After Redskins minicamp, Gibbs cuts Rypien and signs Joe Theismann as his No. 1 quarterback, noting “he’s a young 55.”

April — The Nationals open the season by losing to the Phillies 18-1 in Philadelphia, then drop their home opener to the Diamondbacks 23-2 at RFK after President Bush mistakenly throws out Sen. Hillary Clinton instead of the first ball. … Red Sox ace Curt Schilling shuts out the Yankees on two hits while sporting the same bloody sock he wore during the 2004 postseason “because it inspires the guys.” … North Carolina wins its first NCAA basketball title since 1993, and some fans call for the Tar Heels’ home arena to be re-nicknamed “the Roy Dome.”

May — After the Nationals lose their first 16 games, manager Frank Robinson concedes they have a real chance to match the 0-21 start of his 1988 Orioles. … With the pitching-poor Yankees playing under .500, owner George Steinbrenner fires manager Joe Torre and hijacks Lee Mazzilli from the O’s, saying “what has Joe done for me lately?” … Distressed by Maryland’s offensive line play in spring practice, coach Ralph Friedgen announces he will enter graduate school and play left guard, center and right guard himself.

June — Tiger Woods regains his spot as the world’s best golfer by beating Vijay Singh in the U.S. Open and then asks reporters, “Where the heck is Fiji anyway?” … The astounding Wizards go all the way to the Eastern Conference finals, with the NBA honoring Eddie Jordan as coach of the year and Antawn Jamison as MVP. … Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers defeat Shaquille O’Neal’s Miami Heat in the tense seven-game NBA Finals, after which Kobe pleads total exhaustion and says he plans to recuperate in Eagle, Colo.

July — Back in form, Serena Williams beats sister Venus to win the Wimbledon women’s final, then challenges men’s champion Roger Federer to a winner-take-all match for the overall championship. … Barry Bonds, totally free of BALCO and steroids, reaches the All-Star Game with a .242 batting average, six home runs and 28 RBI. … Lance Armstrong wins a record seventh straight Tour de France, this time while riding a tricycle.

August — With the Nationals last in the National League East, owner Collins fires Frank Robinson as manager and hires Joe Torre; Washington wins its next 14 games to threaten for a wild-card berth. … Still unhappy with the Redskins’ offense after two preseason shutout losses, Gibbs asks George Michael and Larry Michael for permission to negotiate with Sonny Jurgensen, noting, “He’s a young 71.” … With the Labor Day milepost approaching, the Red Sox lead Mazzilli’s Yankees by 37 games in the American League East, prompting Noo Yawkers to blame the “Curse of the Bambino” — the club’s sale of Babe Ruth to the Boston Braves in 1935.

September — With reports of steroid use swamping baseball, commissioner Bud Selig hires Pete Rose as his chief investigator “because I’m betting on him to give me an honest answer.” … After the Nationals fade from the wild-card race, Collins fires himself as ersatz general manager and hires Cal Ripken, causing Peter Angelos to demand another $10 million from MLB in mad money. … When the Redskins lose their first four games, Gibbs blames Jurgensen’s lack of experience and places a phone call to Sammy Baugh, noting, “He’s a young 91.”

October — With a late-season surge, Barry Bonds gets his final numbers up to .264, 18 home runs and 58 RBI to win baseball’s first Unenhanced MVP Award. … Behind Schilling’s two shutouts, the Red Sox sweep the Cubs to snatch a second straight World Series for the first time since 1916 as the pitcher wins the Cy Young, MVP and 10 percent of Faneuil Hall. … Peyton Manning of the Colts approaches midseason with 26 touchdown passes while younger brother Eli of the Giants has 26 interceptions.

November — Mike Tyson caps the most dramatic comeback in boxing history by beating both Klitschko brothers simultaneously to regain a one-sixth share of the heavyweight crown at age 39. Promoter Don King immediately announces plans to unify the title by matching Tyson against the other five alphabet-soup title holders and George Foreman at the same time. … With the Dolphins lagging badly, owner Wayne Huizenga fires first-year coach Nick Saban and lures Don Shula out of retirement by offering him $12 million a year and a half-share of South Florida. … As new coach Steve Spurrier scowls and flings visors from Abbeville to Yemassee, South Carolina’s Gamecocks win their eighth straight game.

December — Announcing that “those old guys just can’t get it done anymore,” Gibbs trades two No. 1 draft choices to the Giants for Kurt Warner. Owner Dan Snyder promptly buys out Gibbs’ contract for $32 million and, in a widely praised move, hires Steve Spurrier away from South Carolina. … Maryland loses the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, when Ralph Friedgen, its starting interior offensive line, flunks out of grad school. … Desperate sports columnist guarantees 2006 will be a better year for somebody, somewhere.

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