2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Think Might Happen

It’s time to look ahead to 2009 and play a little Nostradamus.

Last year, we predicted that God would anoint the “Devil-free” Rays World Series Champions (ding!), that Brett Favre would play another year or two (ding! – sort of), that Isiah Thomas would be canned (ding!), and that Kobe would be playing for a new team by the trade deadline…

Granted, that last one didn’t come true, but how were we supposed to know that the Grizzlies would trade Pau Gasol to the Lakers for an unproven rookie and a bag of peanuts? Our occasional inaccuracy isn’t going to keep us from rolling out another set of predictions – some serious and some farcical – for 2009 and beyond, including President Obama’s plan for a college football playoff, Donovan McNabb’s new home and the baseball club most likely to be 2009’s version of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Read on, and in a year, we guarantee* you’ll be amazed.

*This is not an actual guarantee, mind you.

Don’t miss the other two parts of our 2008 Year-End Sports Review: “What We Learned” and “What We Already Knew.”

Michael Vick will play for the Oakland Raiders next season.

Once NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell allows suspended quarterback Michael Vick to re-enter the league, let’s be honest, there’s really only one team that will take a shot on the convict: the Oakland Raiders. Sure, the Raiders would have to possibly give up a draft pick because Vick will still technically be property of the Falcons, but with Matt Ryan on board, Atlanta would probably be willing to give Mikey up for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos…snack size. With Vick on board, JaMarcus Russell could shift to tight end or full back or offensive tackle or something. Or, Vick could play wide receiver! Or running back! Think of the possibilities! The Oakland Raiders will be the most unstoppable team in the league! That is, of course, until Vick gets the itch for his old hobby. – Anthony Stalter

The Nationals and Pirates become the official AAAA teams of their respective divisions.

After finishing at or near the bottom of the division since the franchise’s move from Montreal, Major League Baseball executives analyze the entire Washington Nationals player system and conclude that they have no chance of fielding a competitive team in the near future. In the boldest decision of his tenure, Commissioner Bud Selig demotes the team’s Major League roster to AAAA status, a phrase long used by baseball personnel to describe players that are too good for the minors but not good enough for the majors. In an added twist, Selig designates that the team’s assets are fair game for all four remaining teams in the National League East, as a means of creating parity. In order to keep the number of teams even in each league, Selig also downgrades the Pittsburgh Pirates, losers of 94 or more games since 2005, to AAAA status as well. It will be six weeks into the regular season before an NL East team claims any of these former Pirates or Nationals. – David Medsker

Barack Obama will have a plan in place for a college football playoff by 2016.

He has already spoken out twice in favor of an eight-team playoff format for college football. Granted, there are more pressing concerns for the President-elect – the economy, the war in Iraq and a forward-thinking energy policy, just to name a few – but there’s no reason that Obama can’t appoint a “Playoff Czar” to get the conference presidents and the bowl organizers together to hash out a system that works for everyone. Are the bowls worried about losing money? Rotate the semifinals and the final amongst the four bowl cities. Are the conferences worried about losing money? They shouldn’t be – the ratings for an eight-team playoff would dwarf the ratings the current system is getting. And better ratings means more money. This is something that 85%-90% of the population can agree on, and that doesn’t happen often. Mark our words – President Obama will make it happen, especially if he gets a second term. – John Paulsen

Read the rest after the jump...

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Pro-BCS’er Jason Whitlock knows best

We took a poll last year and 90% of our readers said that the BCS should be trashed in favor of a playoff system. It takes guts (or something) to stand up against that kind of popular opinion, and Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock is the latest to take up the mantle, using President-elect Barack Obama’s pro-playoff stance as a starting point.

Like I did with similar arguments from Tim Cowlishaw and John Walters, let me respond to Whitlock point-by-point…

I realize I’m one of just a handful of American men unpleased by Obama using the weight of the presidency to pressure college presidents to disband the BCS. He knows this, too. It’s probably pretty much all he really knows about big-time college football. Fans — Republican, Democrat and Libertarian — are dissatisfied with the current system. There’s virtually no risk in bashing the BCS.

Why is that? I’m not one to argue that the majority is always right, but when 90% of the populace agrees on something, we should probably go ahead and give it a try.

President-elect Obama doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and he diminishes his high office and invites other politicians to join him by foolishly entering a debate that has life only because “Joe the Sports Writer/Broadcaster” can’t wrap his brain around sports issues of substance.

Now Whitlock claims that anyone that is pro-playoff “can’t wrap his brain around sports issues of substance.” Mind you, he hasn’t yet made an actual point, but he is already declaring that anyone who doesn’t agree with him just simply isn’t as smart as he is.

Yeah, by lending his name to this non-issue, Obama has pleased every Bubba in America and pretty much ensured that big-time college football will continue an escalation toward professionalism and exploitation of “amateur” athletes.

Okay, here’s the big windup…

Let me quickly repeat the argument I introduced in the mid-1990s:

Division I-A college football has the greatest regular season in all team sports, and a playoff system would ruin that distinction. For decades, coaches and players focused on winning conference championships and were quite satisfied with a “mythical” national championship decided by poll voters. The advent of ESPN and sports-talk radio created the fallacy that the lack of a playoff system scars athletes, fans, women and children, contributes to global terrorism and delays Santa Claus’ delivery run on Christmas Eve.

There’s nothing wrong with college football on the field. It is America’s healthiest sport in terms of consistent entertainment value. This is not even remotely debatable.

So Whitlock’s argument is that the college football regular season is perfect as is, and that it was sports-talk radio that created a “fallacy” that the sport needs a playoff. Assuming this is correct, sports-talk radio was successful in convincing 90% of college football fans that the current system – the very system they were supposedly “fans” of – was broken. Wow, sports-talk radio must be really powerful. How often do 90% of Americans agree on anything?

He also declares that it is “not remotely debatable” to say that any other sport is as consistently entertaining as college football. I know a few million NFL fans that would beg to differ.

There’s a lot wrong with college athletics. Many football and basketball players are funneled through the system without receiving much of an education. Coaches and administrators are paid salaries that invite questionable ethics. Too many athletes arrive on campus completely unprepared to be educated and solely interested in the development of their bodies. The use of performance-enhancing drugs is out of control within most athletic departments.

These and other issues are worthy of discussion at the presidential level.

Who’s No. 1? How to set up an eight-team playoff format?

Leave that to the idiots.

This is a classic debate tool. Distract from the real issue by making points that almost everyone can agree with and then act like you’ve won the argument. Just because there are other issues to deal with in collegiate athletics, it doesn’t mean that Obama shouldn’t help to facilitate something that 90% of college football fans want to see.

He didn’t say why a playoff would ruin the regular season, he just stated that it would, as if it were a fact.

I guess that’s just one of those “sports issues of substance” that we mere mortals just can’t wrap our brains around. Jason Whitlock says he knows best, and therefore he must.

Barack Obama reiterates his support for a college football playoff

President-elect Barack Obama appeared on “60 Minutes” tonight, and once again stated that he supports the idea of a college football playoff.

Q: As President of the United States, what can you do, or what do you plan to do about getting a college football playoff for the National Championship?

BO: This is important. I think any sensible person would say that if you’ve got a bunch of teams that have played throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses – there’s no clear, decisive winner – that we should be creating a playoff system. Eight teams. That would be three rounds to determine a national champion. It would add three extra weeks to the season, you could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this, so I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.

The question about the college football playoff is at the 2:50 mark.

Watch CBS Videos Online

If all an Obama first term brings us is a college football playoff, it will be considered a succes, at least in the world of sports.

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