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Alarms all set for '03

June 20, 2002|By DAN SPEARS

It's not a sign of growing old or becoming reminiscent. Yet some moments in sports' past simply do not leave the brain. Ever. Indelible markers of history, forever stamped into your memory.

You can remember exactly where you were when Tiger Woods won his first Masters in 1997, or what you said as Lo Charles dunked to beat Phi Slama Jamma in 1983, sending Jim Valvano into the biggest love-in of all time. Those older than I know exactly what they were doing as they listened to The Shot Heard 'Round The World.

But as 2002 hits the midway point -- except for University of Maryland basketball fans -- this sports year will become a muddled mess five years down the road.

It will rank right up there with the exact amount of your 1996 tax return and the birthday of your daughter's third-from-last ex-boyfriend.

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It has been a dud of grand proportions, and if not for the New England Patriots, we'd be saying, "Wow, what is the sports story of the year?"

Because of the Red Wings, Lakers, Huskies, Hurricanes and the all-encompassing Tiger Woods, underdogs have taken a severe beating in 2002. They are the reason we remember things; David didn't beat Goliath in every book of the Bible, after all. But this time, Goliath is kicking tail, and taking names in the process.

n Miami crushed Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.

n Jennifer Capriati beat Martina Hingis in an awesome Australian Open final, but how many people really watched? It was on at 10 p.m. Saturday night. If you remember who won the men's title, you have serious issues.

n The UConn women's basketball team rolled the NCAA field. Maryland's win -- outside the state of Maryland -- was greeted with a resounding, "Big whoop. What a crummy game. And you're not Duke."

n The Masters provided three slightly entertaining rounds, followed by a Sunday so full of back-ups that the players' courtesy cars left Augusta National in reverse.

n The French Open provided another Williams sisters snoozefest, a final as aesthetically pleasing as that NCAA men's title game, and another no-name men's champion.

n The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup ... incredibly boring. As proof, the television ratings for both were the lowest or near the lowest in history.

n The Triple Crown got us interested until the opening of the gate at the Belmont Stakes, when War Emblem nearly took a header and finished ... wait, has he finished yet?

In other words, yawn. Yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn, yawn.

But do not despair or throw your commemorative Terps hats in disgust; the year 2002 still has a chance. We may be able to remember something in the future, outside of tennis victories by Thomas Johannson at the Australian Open and Albert Costa at the French Open.

Mr. Woods has a realistic chance at the real Grand Slam, not the media-concocted "Tiger Slam" he owned a little while back.

Please turn to SPEARS, C4

At the World Cup, the USA soccer team is stunning the planet, and forcing its few rabid followers in the States to have a few extra coffees the morning after yet another surprising result.

Baseball, our national pastime (provided it actually plays past July 9), almost always brings out something unforgettable come October. Or November.

All these could become the asterisk that sets 2002 apart in the sports history books.

But if they all fail ... well, hope you made a killing on the federal government this year.

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at dans@herald-mail.com or 301-733-5131 ext. 2334.

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