So many people keep saying 2007 was a bad year for sports. They keep harping on Michael Vick and the Mitchell report and Pacman and Tank. Their negativity knows no bounds. They forget to celebrate the joys of sport, the limitless pursuit of excellence and the indefatigability of the human spirit.
Like A-Rod. He brings us the opt out, then he opts back in, opting out of his relationship with superagent Scott Boras to opt in with the Yankees. Sweet story. Then he goes on "60 Minutes" to say he never took steroids, even though no one but Jose Canseco and Diane Sawyer asked that question.
Or, seriously, Kevin Everett. With the help of some of the best and most innovative medical care in the world, the Bills tight end recovered from a potentially paralyzing and life-threatening injury to walk again. He showed up at a Bills home game when it was, like, minus 55 degrees out. It was an amazing story of personal strength.
And Everett's recovery was another win for the NFL, the league made entirely of Teflon-covered Teflon. It gets to swim in the pool of glory created by Everett's recovery, while everyone conveniently forgets the sport's innate brutality.
In all, the year in sports will go down as the year American sports fans became completely obsessed with head size (look out, Placido Polanco!) and a guy in a gray-hooded sweatshirt figured out how to cover himself in both admiration and hatred.
It will also go down as yet another year in which Kobe Bryant was not traded, and the Yankees did not win.
Isiah Thomas cost his employer $11.5 million. The University of Florida won a football title, a basketball title and a Heisman all in the same calendar year. Tennis players gambled and fixed games, which created the first recorded similarity between professional tennis and the NBA.
This Year's List
• There's always one guy in the book club who doesn't read the book and spends the whole meeting trying to fake it: Bud Selig.
• Et tu, Adam Piatt?: Without the cooperation of Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski, the Mitchell report would have been nothing more than a 400-page paraphrasing of everything the investigators read in the past 20 months.
• "Oh, did you say Barry Bonds? I thought you said Marvin Benard -- my bad": According to the Mitchell report, Giants honcho Peter Magowan apparently told Mitchell's investigators that Bonds admitted to him that he used steroids without knowing what they were, but Magowan called back two days later to retract his statement.
• Let's see -- digging up dirt on an admitted steroids and HGH dealer, that shouldn't be too tough: Roger Clemens' legal team hired private investigators to pry into the life of trainer and snitch McNamee, with the idea of attacking his credibility.
• If this is an apology, I sincerely apologize: Andy Pettitte, in acknowledging his use of HGH (limited, for an injury, etc. etc. etc.), said: "If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize."
• As a matter of fact, he even knows a guy who might take two or three of them off your hands: Curt Schilling said he thinks Roger Clemens should give back the four Cy Young Awards he has received since 1997 if he is unable to refute the steroid accusations in the Mitchell report.
• He must be the one who ratted out Piatt: The New York Times reported that one big league player agreed to cooperate with Mitchell's investigators on condition that his name wouldn't appear in the report.
• Look for the release of his autobiography titled "Pitcher, Dealer, Dermatologist": In the Jason Grimsley affidavit, unsealed a week after the Mitchell report, Grimsley told investigators Glenallen Hill had the worst case of back acne he'd ever seen.
• The clincher was the YouTube video of him standing over a toilet flushing a big bag with "WINSTROL" written on the side: Mitchell agreed to grant a player immunity when he became convinced the player bought performance-enhancing drugs but got rid of them before using them.
• Now he goes by Bruce, and he lives in a trailer outside Yuma with his dog and a set of dumbbells: Kirk Radomski.
• This year's winner of the first annual Bring-Your-Kid-To-The-Press-Conference Award, named in honor of Barry Bonds, is Roger Clemens: In an Internet video designed to serve as a defense against steroid allegations, Clemens said, "It's been difficult for my family. I'm holding up better than they are."
• Mark McGwire tried to get in, too, but that didn't get nearly as much press: Jose Canseco arrived at George Mitchell's press conference but was tossed out because he didn't have the proper credentials.
• At least the private investigators know where to start: After Rory Sabbatini's agent told reporters his client left the Tiger Woods-organized Target World Challenge because of shin splints, Fred Couples said, "Sure he did, and Roger Clemens' agent said he didn't do steroids."
• Maybe Scott Boras was saving the announcement for the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series: After the report was made public, Canseco said he couldn't believe A-Rod's name wasn't included.
• To put it another way, it's kind of like the International Chairman for the Committee on the Goodness of Orange Juice coming out and publicly proclaiming the goodness of orange juice: Jim McGee, a fellow in charge of the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Spectator Sports Security, said he believes spectators in large venues are sitting ducks for terrorists.
• At least Michael Vick's dogs were chained up: Jonathan Papelbon's bulldog chewed up the ball that made the last out of the World Series.
• Worst excuse of the year: "It was a cultural thing" -- trotted out by defenders or explainers of Michael Vick.
• Game of the year: Padres-Rockies in the wild-card play-in game.
• It could have been worse -- everyone could have been talking about the impact of Jessica Simpson attending Cowboys games: One sign of a really bad NFL season -- the main conversation for two solid weeks centered on timeouts being called before field goals.
• A 20-month, multimillion-dollar investigation revealed it wasn't Selig's fault: Archbishop Murphy High School was disqualified from the state playoffs by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association because a player had an expired physical; the oversight happened because coach Terry Ennis, who handles the paperwork for the team, had died of prostate cancer.
• They just gave him a map with a big red X over Lombard Street: Eddie Sutton accepted the job as interim coach at the University of San Francisco despite never setting foot on campus.
• At least she didn't interrupt the World Series to do it: Before the college football season started, Darren McFadden's mother announced in no uncertain terms that her son -- a junior at Arkansas -- would head for the NFL after the season.
• Maybe Clemens should put his PIs onto this case, too: Shawne Merriman -- use steroids, get a Nike commercial.
• See what happens when you start calling traveling?: NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges that he bet on games he worked.
• History's darlings: The Ravens came close but couldn't pull off the win over the Patriots, but they did manage to lose to the Dolphins.
• The year -- 1965: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, addressing his team's disappointing 2007 season, said he believes the answer for 2008 is more bunting and more hitting and running.
• Clearly, not even close to enough bunting or hitting and running: The Mets lost the NL East despite being up seven games on Sept. 13.
• Next time, let him pitch against the White Sox: Yankee pitcher Chase Wright gave up four consecutive homers to the Red Sox on April 22.
• Well, at least everyone knows who Vivian Stringer is now: Don Imus imploded on the air, using racist and derogatory language to describe the Rutgers women's basketball team, prompting the Rutgers coach to embark on a media blitz.
• Predator vs. Aliens: Joba vs. The Bugs.
• Really, it was just so everyone could have a good laugh clocking the hang time on Chad Pennington's out routes: Spygate, in which the Patriots were found to be taping the Jets' defensive coaches on the sideline, cost Bill Belichick $500,000 and his team its first-round pick.
• Funnier than a Pennington wobbler: The Patriots get the 49ers' 2008 first-round pick in the Nos. 5-10 range.
• But since the surgery was performed by an out-of-network doctor, Nolan got the last laugh anyway: After repeatedly hearing his coach say he was 100 percent, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith lashed out at Mike Nolan, got a second opinion and ended up with season-ending shoulder surgery.
• Tim Donaghy had Ketel Cruiser in the fifth, Grey Goose in the seventh: A Nebraska veterinarian was found to have injected horses with vodka before races at Fonner Park.
• From "La Russa: The Musical":
Cop: "We found you asleep at the wheel."
Tony La Russa: "Is that a problem?"
Cop: "Well, yeah, you're in the middle of the intersection."
• White House spokeswoman Dana Petrino said there's no truth to the rumor that a similar scenario involving Dick Cheney and George Bush resulted in the country going to war in Iraq: During a midseason game, Brewers manager Ned Yost started scratching a mosquito bite in the dugout, a move that was misinterpreted as the steal sign by third-base coach Nick Leyva, who relayed the sign to Gabe Gross, who got thrown out trying to steal third.
• Sensing his scratch-means-bunt sign might be picked up by the opposition, Yost made every effort to refine his system as the season wore on: However, by September it became perfectly clear that fighting with his players in the dugout meant Yost wanted a bunt.
• Friend of the year: Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' personal trainer, went to prison on contempt charges twice for refusing to testify against his client.
• In his defense, he did leave a note: Bobby Petrino bailed on the Atlanta Falcons after the 11th game of the season to accept the head coaching position at Arkansas.
• "Attention Garden employees, whoever has the book please contact Greg at extension 3211 -- he just thought of something involving Catholic schoolgirl uniforms and that blonde who's third from the left": Among the long list of fascinating revelations to come out of Anucha Browne Sanders' sexual-harassment lawsuit was her claim that New York Rangers' executives had a book in which they recorded their sexual fantasies concerning the Rangers' ice-skating cheerleading squad.
• But a black woman calling a white man ... oh, it's just so complicated: During the Anucha Browne Sanders trial, Isiah Thomas testified that he called Browne Sanders a bitch but didn't see a problem with it, but "A white man calling a black woman a bitch ... that is a problem for me."
• Google's spot as the best company to work for in America appears safe for another year: When Stephon Marbury's father had to be taken from Madison Square Garden by ambulance during a game -- he died shortly after reaching the hospital -- the Knicks heeded Marbury's relatives and didn't tell him until after the game.
• Well, at least Broncos fans have this to look forward to: After Philip Rivers jawed with Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in the Chargers' Week 16 win, Champ Bailey and several other Broncos vowed to take care of this business next year.
• The only thing he didn't do was hold up a newspaper with the day's date clearly visible: Hank Aaron issued a tepid videotaped tribute to Barry Bonds after Bonds broke the home run record.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.