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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The Golden Boy’s farewell: Dec. 6 against Pacquiao

Oscar De La Hoya will wrap up his boxing career on December 6 against Filipino star fighter Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

The conditions of the deal will not be announced until a conference call on Thursday. Both sides stalled negotiations throughout the summer, but the conversation was revived recently and a reasonable solution was found to split the estimated $100 million revenue from this fight. This is boxing’s most lucrative bout since De La Hoya’s split-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.

Both boxers will make sacrifices to make this fight a reality. They will have to make the 147-pound limit, which means De La Hoya will be dropping down to the welterweight class for the first time in eight years and Pacquiao will have to bulk up to the heaviest weight of his career.

Couch Potato Alert: 8/22

– With all due respect to NBA officials, amateur boxing is the undisputed winner as being the world’s most corrupt sport. But it is still great to see an unknown boxer like Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather Jr. receiving international exposure for the first time. The boxing finals will be televised on Saturday evening, 8/23, on NBC. Tune in to find out who will be the next great fighter.

– Will this year be a triumphant return to glory for USA Basketball? In 2004, the men’s team convinced many of us to root against them in Athens. This Olympics, we have brought our A-Team to Beijing, as Kobe, LeBron, and D. Wade command the court. Tune into NBC on Saturday, 8/23, to watch the gold medal finals.

– As summer winds down, the baseball pennant races are heating up. And another possible playoff preview will take place this weekend, as the Tampa Bay Rays visit Chicago to face the A.L. Central’s leading White Sox. Sunday’s contest will be televised nationally on TBS Sunday, 8/24, at 2 p.m. EST.

– The Little League World Series takes place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. ABC will televise the championship game on Sunday afternoon, 8/24, beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST.

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