|Bobby Knight is not Indiana's coach and Ken Griffey Jr. is not the Mariners' center fielder. Pope John Paul II is a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and Dennis Miller is a Monday Night Football analyst. In other words, the past dozen months were filled with so many improbable comings, goings and returns that most fans must feel as if they endured an All-U-Can-Eat evening with Mike Tyson.
In fact, it was such a wild, confusing year in sports that you may not remember the following moments . . .
Jan. 1: The Y2K Bug infects computers, causing them to misread the year 2000 as 1900 and prompting Virginia Tech to wear leather helmets and run a single-wing offense. The Hokies lose to Florida State 46-29 when the antiquated formation fails to rattle the Seminoles' Chris Weinke, who remembers running it as a freshman at Tallahassee.
Jan. 12: Major league baseball condemns, fines and suspends John Rocker for voicing bigoted and sexist remarks that embarrass the game. "We must send a message that baseball will not tolerate hateful words or images," says major league spokesperson Chief Wahoo.
Jan. 30: In one of the most heartwarming stories of the year, former Arena football quarterback Kurt Warner leads the Denzel Washington-coached Titans to the Super Bowl championship. The game is marred by an unfortunate halftime incident, however, when Ray Lewis attempts to break up a formation of "Up With People."
Feb. 3: Declaring that what America really wants is a football league even more violent, bloody and offensive than the NFL, Vince McMahon announces the creation of the XFL to begin play in 2001. Mel Kiper Jr. immediately tabs Lewis and Rae Carruth as the likely No. 1 and 2 picks of the draft.
Feb. 4: In a saga that pits individual liberty against family rights, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro demands that the United States return 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Ken Griffey Jr.'s family.
Feb. 10: Seattle pulls off one of the biggest deals in memory, trading Griffey to the Knicks for Patrick Ewing. In a related development, the Cubs do not trade Sammy Sosa. The NASDAQ drops 180 points in response.
March 14: In an inspiring story of charity and rehabilitation, Sean Elliott returns to the court after Mike Tyson donates Lennox Lewis' kidney to the San Antonio forward.
March 15: Federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson declares the Yankees a monopoly and splits the team into two operating units.
March 16: Controversy brews at Indiana University when cameras capture coach Bobby Knight choking himself during another first-round upset loss in the NCAA tournament.
April 12: During a visit to Vatican City, the Harlem Globetrotters make Pope John Paul II an honorary member of the team. By the way, this really happened.
April 18: Marion Jones declares that she will attempt the unprecedented in Olympic competition. She will appear on NBC's coverage without the network mentioning a relative dead or dying of cancer.
May 15: Indiana president Myles Brand places Bobby Knight on double-secret probation after a tape shows the Hoosiers coach throwing a chair at Mike Piazza.
May 26: Eric Lindros suffers his seventh concussion when he is hit by a pitch from Roger Clemens.
June 18: Tiger Woods wins the U.S. Open despite being forced to play with a shovel.
June 19: The Los Angeles Lakers return to dominance when they win the NBA finals, beating Indiana behind the outstanding play of rookie power forward Pope John Paul II.
June 23: Attorney Morris Engleberg sues the city of San Francisco for naming a children's playground after his former meal ticket, the late Joe DiMaggio. And unfortunately, I'm not making that up.
June 25: The Cubs do not trade Sammy Sosa for the second time. The NASDAQ drops 263 points in response.
July 8: Roger Clemens causes a near riot during a Yankees-Mets game when he intentionally beans Keith Olbermann's mother with a pitch.
July 22: Lance Armstrong's second consecutive Tour de France victory is marred when he crosses the finish line and is run over by a gang of teenagers riding their Razor scooters down the Champ-Elysees.
July 23: After Tiger Woods wins the British Open and establishes long drive records, it is discovered that his exclusive golf ball is made of flubber.
July 31: The Cubs tie a major league record by not trading Sammy Sosa for the third time. The NASDAQ drops 382 points.
Aug. 5: Morris Engleberg sues the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying DiMaggio's corpse should be on the U.S. baseball team.
Aug. 10: After hitting a tee shot into the ocean, Tiger Woods mutters words that a stunned and horrified nation never expected to escape the golfer's lips: "I've decided not to wear anything with a swoosh on it tomorrow."
Aug. 15: Ratings for CBS's surprise hit, "Survivor," reach an all-time high when John Rocker is voted off the island.
Aug. 20: Tiger Woods wins the PGA championship despite being forced to watch "The Legend of Bagger Vance" before each round.
Aug. 27: Earl Woods threatens to pull the Williams sisters out of the U.S. Open unless they are given a greater chunk of the revenues.
Sept. 4: Monday Night Football makes its season debut with the entire cast of "Friends" providing play-by-play from the broadcast booth. Viewers find Phoebe's breakdown of the Dolphins' nickel defense eerily similar to listening to Terry Bradshaw.
Sept 10: After Bobby Knight stuffs Indiana University president Myles Brand in a trash can, the University finally is forced to hand down the ultimate punishment -- requiring that the Hoosier legend coach Latrell Sprewell.
Sept. 15: After a 10,000-mile relay from Athens to Australia, the almost sacred Olympic quadrennial ritual comes to an end in Sydney with the opening of the 2000 Summer Games and the traditional passing of gymnast Kerri Strug.
Sept. 19: In one of the most dramatic moments in Olympic history as well as an Australian moment of healing, Aboriginal sprinter Cathy Freeman reduces her nation to both cheers and tears by burning all remaining tapes of "Crocodile Dundee III." Meanwhile, NBC's tape-delayed coverage of the Olympics features Olga Korbut winning the gold medal in the uneven bars.
Sept. 20: Just as Marion Jones' epic quest for five gold medals is to begin, her husband, C.J. Hunter, tests positive for a steroid and draws a four-year ban from competition as well as marital relations. Meanwhile, NBC announces that Ben Johnson has tested positive for steroids in Seoul and is being stripped of his gold medal.
Sept. 27: Unheralded and unknown heavyweight Rulon Gardner pulls off the upset of the Olympics when he defeats Russian wrestling legend Nikita Kruschev. Meanwhile, NBC viewers watch the Miracle at Lake Placid instead.
Sept. 29: The U.S. men's 4x100 relay team disgraces itself with a shameless and embarrassing display when it refuses to stand for our national anthem, "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Oct. 17: The Yankees beat the Mariners in Game 6 of the playoffs to give New York its first subway series in 43 years. The earth stops spinning on its axis, the ice caps melt, zombies roam the earth, the Anti-Christ seizes control of a single world government, the Cubs don't trade Sammy Sosa and the NASDAQ drops 491 points.
Oct. 22: Mistaking a broken baseball bat for a cannister of deadly anthrax, Roger Clemens retaliates by having Mike Tyson eat Mike Piazza's children.
Oct. 25: The NBA fines the Timberwolves $5 million, strips Minnesota of its first-round picks for five years and suspends owner Glen Taylor for a year after the team violates the salary cap by secretly signing Pope John Paul II to a five-year, $88 million contract.
Nov 13: As part of its bid for the 2008 Olympics, China's plans call for beach volleyball to be held at Tianamen Square, site of the 1989 massacre. No, seriously. I'm not making that up. And in a related development, as part of its bid for the 2008 Olympics, Munich proposes holding synchronized swimming at Dachau.
Nov. 25: Allen Iverson releases a Christmas CD, "I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus."
Nov. 28: As a breathless nation anxiously looks on, Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris certifies the Yankees' World Series victory over the Mets.
Dec. 7: Hockey fans rejoice with news of the greatest comeback in the sport's history -- the Hansen Brothers will come out of retirement to play another season for Paul Newman and the Charleston Chiefs.
Dec. 9: After a six-year minor league baseball career and a successful college football career, Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke wins the ultimate award for athletes in his age group -- a supporting role in the cast of "Cocoon 3."
Dec. 11: Maintaining that it was never about the money, Alex Rodriguez surprises everyone by signing a $252 million contract with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, saying he likes their chances to win the International League crown.
Dec. 12: Rodriguez buys the Texas Rangers.
Dec. 13: Rodriguez announces that baseball's economics are out of control, and that there needs to be a salary cap.
Dec. 14: The long national nightmare ends when the final BCS rankings give the presidency to George W. Bush.
Dec. 27: The Hansen Brothers comeback ends in tragedy when Tim McCracken and Ogie Oglethorpe run them over with a Zamboni.
Dec. 31: As Roger Clemens continues a New Year's Eve tradition by firing
the Times Square ball at Mike Piazza's head, the year draws to a merciful
close with Tiger Woods taking a 12-stroke lead in the 2001 Masters, Alex
Rodriguez demanding a contract extension, the NASDAQ plummeting and NBC
reporting that Marion Jones has just won her third gold medal.
Jim Caple, who writes a weekly "Off Base" column for ESPN.com's baseball page, is a regular contributor to Page 2.
|Apparently, though it wasn't shown on live TV, Marion Jones won some races in Australia.||