Every time I go back home to the (651) (it will always be the (612) to me!) during the winter I always grab a few old Sports Illustrated magazines to read in bed as my body tries to get acclimated to the sub-zero temps under the covers (for those who want to experience the pleasure of trying to go to sleep in the basement of my childhood home during a cold Minnesota winter night, just sit in a bathtub filled with ice and wait for it to melt).
During my most recent trip, I read an article that argued that 1998 was the greatest sports year ever. That year brought us the Big Mac—Sammy Sosa homerun showdown (which has since lost a bit of its luster);
Jordan’s push-off clincher against the Jazz; the Yanks’ claim to being the best team ever (125 wins); Ripken finally getting a day off; the Intimidator finally taking the checkered flag at Daytona; France besting Brazil in Paris to earn World Cup glory (and to give Parisian youths another reason to riot); and Elway’s helicopter and Denver breaking 13 years of NFC dominance to claim the Lombardi.
While 1998 was certainly filled with memorable moments, 2008 can now rightfully claim the title as the best sports year ever. There were so many amazing moments: Tyree’s pin-the-ball-on-the-helmet catch to set up the Super Bowl winning TD for the Giants and in the process ruin the Pats undefeated, and incredible, season;
the back-and-forth overtime thriller between Kansas and Memphis (KU’s win allowed me to take the office pool—I will forever be a Mario Chalmers fan);
Tiger’s gutsy sudden death playoff win at the Open with an ailing knee; the five-set Federer-Nadal classic at Wimbledon; Josh Hamilton’s after school special season highlighted by his historic display in the homerun derby (and let’s not forget it was a Twin that won);
the 15 inning All-Star Game held at Yankee Stadium during the Stadium’s last season (I was actually there, well until the end of the 10th (leaving an All-Star Game before it is over is one of those things that a 12 year old Dave would never understand or forgive, kind of like eating Kashi over Cap’n Crunch or watching Ugly Betty instead of a college football game)); an entire week of being planted on the couch to watch, of all things, swimming (nothing unites Americans more than the Olympics, well, except for war and food on a stick);
Lighting Bolt’s blazing 100 and 200; Major League Baseball’s captivating play-off races (which included the Mets’ annual implosion, the one game Twins-Chicago play-in and C.C.’s almost daily complete game gems); the improbable rise of the Rays; Philly having a reason to celebrate (other than due to a Michael Irvin injury) and former Gopher and NCAA wrestling champ Brock Lesner beating the legendary Randy Couture to capture a piece of the UFC heavyweight crown (Lesnar would be the most intimidating man alive if he did not have a rigid phallus tattooed on his chest—OK, on second thought, maybe that tat make him the scariest man alive).