This past year was a memorable one in sports, to say the least. Early in the year the New Engleand Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29, for their second Super Bowl win in three years.Eagles fans were once again crushed with defeat in January, after the Birds lost their third straight NFC Championship game to a more deserving Panthers team at the then-new Lincoln Finacial Field. Eagles receivers couldn’t even get off the line of scrimmage, a weakness that was quickly corrected in the offseason with the addition of Terrell Owens. There was an apprehensive feeling about whether T.O’s antics in San Franciso would carry over to the city of Brotherly Love. But in hindsight, T.O has proven to fit in like “Desperate Housewives,” in the prime time TV slot. Only time will tell if T.O. was the missing piece for a long-awaited NFC championship victory.
Philadelphia gained national attention in the spring from a local racing horse named Smarty Jones. Under good-guy trainer John Servis, Smarty was able to record impressive Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories by long margins, only to join the many horses in Triple Crowns forgotton after blowing it at the elusive Belmont. Losing the big one, I never thought a horse could join many Philadelphia choke artists but I gues it’s not restricted to humans. In May, the Flyers lost to eventual Stanley Cup champions the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. The Flyers rode the back of center Keith Primeau through the run. Primeau played 18 games with nine goals and seven assists, recording a team high 16 points.
The 2004-2005 season looks skeptical due to a players’ union strike. The NHLPA is currently waiting for a counter-offer from the league that would possibly end the strike, salvaging somewhat of a season.
The Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2004 NBA championship under former Sixer’s coach, Larry Brown. The Pistons were led by the Wallace tandem of team-leaders Rasheed and Ben. The 2004- 2005 season has brought the gang from the Motor City under a much different light.
On Friday, Nov. 19th, Ron Artest charged into the stands at the Palace at Auburn Hills and attacked a fan after having a cup of liquid thrown at him. Artest was attempting to stay out of a dispute between Pacers players and Pistons players after a hard foul he commited on Ben Wallace. In one of the worst moments in sports history, a huge brawl broke out among players and fans, with punches and popcorn being thrown with reckless abandon. After it was all over, prosecuters filed misdemeanor charges against five Pacers players and several fans.
In a follow-up incident, Latrell Sprewell was suspended a game last Tuesday by the NBA for yelling a sexual vulgarity to a female fan during a Timberwolves/ Clippers game. Sprewell is also known for choking his former coach, P.J. Carlisimo at a practice in 1997. Sprewell was originally suspended for a year, but the suspension was later reduced to 68 games.
The NBA’s already shaky image is becoming increasingly unappealing. For a change, Philadelphia was not involved in a fan-player dispute. Days after the Ron Artest melee, the 76ers beat the Washington Wizards in overtime after a game-winning steal and bucket from Allen Iverson.
After the play, Iverson jumped into the stands and, in sharp contrast with what happened in Detroit, celebrated with fans instead of punching them. Congratulations Philly fans, we are off the hook. At least for a little while. The brawls weren’t limited to basketball. On Nov. 27, in what should have been a game honoring legendary coach Lou Holtz on his retirement, players form Clemson and South Carolina broke out into an ugly fight late in the fourth quarter. The fight caused both teams to lose possible bowl bids. This combined with the fight in Detroit, was part of an embarrassing week for sports.
The Major League baseballseason was one for the ages. The Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918. Before absolutely dominating the St. Louis Cardinals in four games, the idiot crew came back from three games to none to shock the Yankees in the ALCS. Curt Schilling pitched heroically even with a stiched up ankle. The celebration continues in New England but the baseball world is ridden with the stench of the steroids scandal. Barry Bonds’ career is in question after he reportedly admitted to a federal grand jury that he used substances he didn’t know were steroids. There is no question what a great player Bonds is, but it’s impossible to tell where he’d be without using steroids.
In 2004, many lines were crossed. We saw the greatest of sport in the Red Sox and some of the worst player/ fan behavior ever witnessed. The steroid scandal will continue to damage baseball for a long time. Let’s just hope we don’t see the worst of 2004 in 2005.