Tebow, A-Rod headline the year that wasn’t

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
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The past 12 months were so surprising that Nate Silver accurately predicted only 47 percent of what actually happened.

Peyton Manning is quarterbacking the Denver Broncos while Northern Illinois is heading to a BCS bowl. A man without legs ran in the Olympics while a man without a ligament in his pitching arm won the National League Cy Young award. A Scottish tennis player won the U.S. Open while Michael Phelps actually lost a race. LeBron James finally won a championship ring while Lance Armstrong lost seven yellow jerseys. A college basketball player scored 138 points during one game while Alex Rodriguez failed to score with a bikini model during another.

And in the most inexplicable development of 2012, millions of fans regularly started dancing along to stadium video of a chubby Korean entertainer pretending to ride a horse.

In fact, with so much Linsanity over the past 12 months, you may not even recall these moments occurring in 2012:

Jan. 1: The new year opens with Nate Silver phoning Peyton Manning to advise him to sell his house in Indianapolis, Bill Belichick to devote an extra defender to NY Giants receiver Mario Manningham, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to put that Jeremy Lin kid in the starting lineup, Ozzie Guillen to decline any interviews with Time magazine, the New Orleans Saints to destroy all recordings and memos and Korean pop musician PSY to go ahead with that ludicrous video idea of his.

Jan. 9: Alabama beats LSU in the BCS Championship Game and the players celebrate by pouring Gatorade on Nick Saban in an attempt to wake up the Crimson Tide coach who, like most Americans watching the 21-0 snore-fest, dozed off sometime in the third quarter.

Jan. 14: Despite Drew Brees passing for a record 5,476 yards during the regular season, the 13-3 New Orleans Saints lose in the playoffs when coach Sean Payton inexplicably benches Brees and starts Dog the Bounty Hunter at quarterback against the 49ers.

Jan. 15: After leading the Broncos into the playoffs, Tim Tebow’s saintly reputation suffers a major hit in the second round when Paula Broadwell reveals she is writing his biography.

Jan. 18: R.A. Dickey scales 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, then says he plans to climb 20,327-foot Mount McKinley and 29,002-foot Mount Everest as a warm-up to the highest point on the planet -- the summit of Mets owner Fred Wilpon’s 40,000-foot mountain of debt.

Jan. 23: The Knicks call up Jeremy Lin from the D-League, unleashing an unfortunate outbreak of tortured puns that drive readers positively Linsane.

Feb. 2: Punxsutawney Phil sees Jeremy Lin’s shadow, heralding six more suffocating weeks of Linsanity.

Feb. 5: An exhausted nation gathers by its TVs and gives quiet thanks when the Giants’ dramatic come-from-behind win in Super Bowl XLVI provides a momentary respite from New York sports news about Jeremy Lin.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
AP Photo/Kathy WillensAlex Rodriguez spent a little too much time with the ladies and not enough time making contact with the baseball.

Feb. 17: Spring training officially opens with pitchers tossing their first pitches from the mound and Alex Rodriguez tossing his first autographed baseballs to Australian bikini models behind the dugout.

March 2: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces that an investigation has unearthed a bounty scheme in which New Orleans Saints coaches paid their defensive players $10,000 bonuses to injure Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and, oddly, Nancy Kerrigan.

March 7: Under the cover of early-morning darkness, the Irsay family packs quarterback Peyton Manning into a Mayflower moving van and ships him out of Indianapolis.

March 17: In its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946, Harvard loses to the No. 1 seed, the NBA’s new expansion team from Lexington, Ky.

March 21: After signing Peyton Manning, the Broncos dispatch Tim Tebow to the New York Jets and 40 weeks in the desert.

March 27: Magic Johnson buys the Dodgers for $2 billion and Kobe Bryant immediately insists he should throw out the first pitch on opening day …l as well as at every game thereafter.

April 2: Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen deeply offends Miami fans, who demand his firing, by telling Time magazine “I just love the home run sculpture!” at the team’s new stadium.

April 3: Nate Silver wins his office NCAA bracket pool.

April 9: Bubba Watson wins the Masters with a dramatic playoff-hole shot from behind the trees, over the bunker, onto the green, through the swinging barn doors, between the windmill blades and into the clown’s mouth.

April 16: Forty-nine-year-old Jamie Moyer makes baseball history when he has Johnny Mathis played for his walk-up music.

April 26: After months of anticipation and media buildup, millions of fans eagerly watch the first installment in a series about young people being drafted to sacrifice their bodies in a brutal competition of survival purely for the entertainment of nationwide TV viewers. And after these fans watch the first round of the NFL draft, many go see “The Hunger Games."

May 8: One month ahead of Title IX’s 40-year anniversary, Our Lady of Sorrows forfeits an Arizona state championship game against Mesa Preparatory because the opposing school had a girl on its team. Seriously, I’m not making that up. A school refused to play a girl! In the 21st century! The school also objected to Mesa Prep manager Morris Buttermaker drinking in the dugout and center fielder Kelly Leak riding his motorcycle across the diamond.

May 14: Nets guard Deshawn Stevenson posts an Instagram showing a recently installed ATM in his kitchen. By the way, not only am I not making up this one, either, the ATM reportedly charges a $4.50 transaction fee.

May 15: Mets owner Fred Wilpon visits Stevenson’s apartment and immediately overdraws his cash machine while also running up $4,500 in ATM fees. After Stevenson kicks Wilpon out, the Mets owner says there is no way he can afford to re-sign R.A. Dickey now.

May 22: The NFL concussion issue grows worse when Harvard neurologists detect no brain activity inside Cletus, the Fox football android. “He just does the same move over and over and over purely out of reflex."

June 2: Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera becomes the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski by winning the Belmont.

June 11: The L.A. Kings’ celebration of their first Stanley Cup championship in the team’s 45-year existence is dampened when they have to go home in their chilly, sweat-drenched uniforms because owner Philip Anschutz has locked them out of the locker room.

June 22: After a decade in the league and a very controversial free-agency signing, LeBron James finally earns the reward he’s worked toward so long -- a Samsung video crew paying to follow him everywhere he goes to record the typical day of an NBA champion.

June 27: College presidents vote to begin a playoff system for college football in 2014, with the stipulation that we won’t have to watch Alabama and LSU play in the final.

July 4: In recognition of America’s 236th birthday, patriotic fans in stadiums across the country rise from their seats to sing our national anthem, “Gangnam Style.”

[+] EnlargeRoger Federer
Clive Rose/Getty ImagesWhen Roger Federer comes to Wimbledon, no one can escape his grass-court supremacy.

July 8: In the most anticipated match in British sports in nearly a century, Roger Federer defeats Harry Potter at Wimbledon for the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup.

July 13: Asked whether Bozo or Ronald McDonald deserves to be in the Circus Hall of Fame, Nationals rookie Bryce Harper replies, “That’s a clown question, bro.”

July 22: Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France but race officials announce they will wait 15 years before giving him the yellow jersey, just in case.

July 24: The Mariners trade Ichiro and 437 Japanese reporters to New York.

July 27: NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Summer Games begins with the opening ceremonies, which have been tape-delayed so long that the parade of nations includes East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rhodesia.

July 31: The London Olympic Organizing committee reveals 100,000 condoms were distributed in the Athletes' Village, adding that while that sounds like a lot, “It’s actually fewer than when American middle distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton was competing in the 2000 Olympics."

Aug. 3: Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and the U.S. swim team complete a dominating Olympic performance by standing atop the podium with gold medals draped around their necks while fans rise in tribute to the raising of the American flag and the playing of the team’s video spoof of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe."

Aug. 5: In an amazing upset in the men’s 100-meter dash Usain Bolt actually has to run the entire distance.

Aug. 6: America falls in love again with a teenage gymnast when fans watch NBC’s tape-delayed broadcast of the women’s individual all-around and see 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci win the event by scoring a perfect 10. In related news, 15-year-old Gabby Douglas achieves the ultimate reward in her sport -- on-set interviews with both Oprah and Katie Couric.

Aug. 11: Usain Bolt wins gold in the 4x100 relay while running with three members of the Swedish women’s handball team.

Aug. 12: NBC's broadcast of the Olympics comes to a close when the network airs George Michael, the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox performing at the closing ceremonies and the thing is, that wasn’t a tape delay of the 1984 Olympics. Those '80s has-beens actually did perform at the 2012 closing ceremonies, much to the confusion of the 10,000-plus athletes who had no idea who they were.

Aug. 25: Felix Baumgartner plunges from 71,580 feet up, landing safely and producing a video that becomes an Internet sensation. Baumgartner, however, does not break the record for the greatest distance a human had ever fallen. That record, of course, was set by former hero Lance Armstrong the previous day when he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping.

Aug. 27: Having taken away Armstrong’s Tour de France titles, which were won from seven to 13 years earlier, the quick-reacting U.S. Anti-Doping Agency looks into stripping Babe Ruth of his home run titles for drinking beer during Prohibition.

Sept. 8: Nate Silver picks Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, Stephen Gostkowski and the Bears' defense for his fantasy team.

Sept. 14: The Washington Nationals cause a stir when they shut down pitcher Stephen Strasburg along with the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green.

Sept. 18: Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes suffer a crippling blow when a video leaks showing the candidate telling people at a fundraiser that 53 percent of the country are productive while the other 47 percent just go to day games at Wrigley Field to sit on their behinds and drink beer because they don’t have jobs. GOP running mate Lee Elia says 47 percent is too low an estimate.

Sept. 24: The NFL’s replacement referee fiasco comes to a head at the end of the "Monday Night Football" game between the Packers and Seahawks because the league forgot to print the rule for “simultaneous possession” in Braille.

Sept. 25: The Nationals announce that in addition to shutting down Strasburg, they will no longer play “Gangnam Style” between innings, saying the Korean video sensation has also grown tired.

Sept. 30: The U.S. blows an eight-hole lead to lose the Ryder Cup on the final day when Roy McAvoy insists on going for the green rather than laying up, and hits nine consecutive balls into the water hazard.

Oct. 1: The Cowboys open a Victoria’s Secret store at their stadium, resulting in some very interesting replica apparel.

Oct. 2: Romney regains campaign momentum by winning the first presidential debate when President Obama takes the night off along with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green, plus Stephen Strasburg.

Oct. 4: In perhaps the most strangely specific decision ever, a Swiss court rules that former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis cannot say that cycling’s governing body “have accepted bribes, are terrorists, load the dice, are fools, are full of s---, are clowns … are liars and are no different than Muammar Gaddafi.” Seriously. I’m not making that up. That’s what the court ruled.

Oct. 5: Upon the advice of legal counsel, Landis responds carefully to the Swiss court by declaring, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, and whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

Oct. 14: When Alex Rodriguez invites an Australian bikini model to join him in the on-deck circle during the ninth inning of an ALCS game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is so disgusted he has the model pinch hit for A-Rod. The model hits a game-tying home run and though the Yankees lose in extra innings, she later receives a $50 million, three-year contract from the Dodgers.

Oct. 30: Pablo Sandoval is named the World Series MVP after the Giants sweep the Tigers but Kung Fu Panda’s celebration is dampened somewhat by the sad news that Hostess has declared bankruptcy and will no longer make Twinkies.

Nov. 4: Lindsey Vonn’s request to compete in a world cup race against the men is rejected by the International Ski Federation and Arizona’s Our Lady of Sorrows high school.

Nov. 6: Fox News analyst Karl Rove declares the Tigers the winners of the 2012 World Series.

Nov. 13: Just hours after police pick up former NFL receiver Jerramy Stevens on suspicions of domestic assault, he and Hope Solo vow to love, honor and obey until their reality show, “Keeping Up With The Real Housewives of the World Cup,” is cancelled.

Nov. 20: The Big Ten expands to 16 by adding Maryland, Rutgers, the Electoral College and the College of Cardinals.

Nov. 21: After Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp purchases 49 percent of the YES Network, the Yankees channel adds some commentators to its programming schedule. Sean Hannity argues we should invade Red Sox Nation now before it has a chance to acquire weapons of mass destruction, such as Mike Trout.

Nov. 23: The holiday shopping season kicks off with the Black Friday tradition of New Orleans Saints coaches paying players $10,000 to stand next to Salvation Army kettles and “ring the bell" of opponents trying to walk past.

Nov. 27: Faith Baptist College’s scouting report to let Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor have the outside shot proves rather inaccurate.

[+] EnlargeR.A. Dickey
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images Like many others this offseason, R.A. Dickey will need a valid passport to play baseball.

Dec. 3: Baseball’s winter meetings officially begin as players and agents sit on the lap of that jolly, generous man and ask Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti for money.

Dec. 8: After becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel acknowledges that Johnny Football is not just a nickname, that his biological father is actually Pop Warner Football.

Dec. 17: The Mets' trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto is held up for two days because of a backlog of All-Stars trying to clear customs at the Canadian border.

Dec. 21: When the world does not come to an end, Nate Silver explains that the fears of apocalypse were based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar. The actual end of the world is when the Cubs win the World Series. “So,” Silver says, “we have nothing to worry about.”

Dec. 24: On Christmas Eve, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria leaves a lump of coal in every Miami resident’s stocking, then thinks better of it, grabs all the coal back and ships it to Canada.

Dec. 25: Nate Silver has a disappointing Christmas because he already knew what everyone was giving him.

Dec. 31: Tens of thousands gather in Times Square to watch NBC show the taped-delayed opening ceremonies from the London Olympics. Afterward, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Donald Fehr tiptoe to the edge of hockey’s fiscal cliff, then get back in their limos and tell their chauffeurs to drive off the edge. As they fall, their last sight is a waving R.A. Dickey, who is free-climbing the fiscal cliff.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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