2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

While every year has its own host of surprises, there are always those stories that simply fit the trend. Sure, it can get repetitive, but if we don’t look back at history aren’t we only doomed to repeat it? Every year has its fair share of stories that fell into this category, and 2008 was no different.

Our list of things we already knew this year includes the BCS’ continued suckiness (Texas-Oklahoma), how teamwork wins championships (KG, Pierce and Ray-Ray), and the #1 rule for carrying a handgun into a nightclub – don’t use your sweatpants as a holster. (Come on, Plax. Really? Sweatpants?)

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

Brett Favre can’t make up his mind.

The biggest story of the summer was all the drama surrounding Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. This saga has been covered to death, but there’s one detail that never seemed to get that much play. At the start, it looked like the Packers were making a bad decision by moving on so quickly even when Favre decided he wanted to return. But when the news broke about Favre’s near-unretirement in March, the Packers stance became much more clear. They were ready to take him back after the owners’ meetings, but he called it off at the last minute. At that point, the Packer brass was understandably finished with Brett Favre, much to the chagrin of a good portion of the Packer faithful. – John Paulsen

The Chicago Cubs’ title drought is not a fans-only phenomenon.

The 2008 Cubs were easily the best team the franchise has assembled in decades, but they still couldn’t win a single game in the playoffs, and the reason is simple: the pressure finally got to them. Sure, they said the right things to the press about how they didn’t care about what had happened in the past, but don’t believe a word of it; there wasn’t a single person in that dugout that wasn’t fantasizing about being part of the team that finally, mercifully, ended the longest title drought in sports history. Once ESPN picked them to win it all, however, they were doomed. Ryan Dempster walked seven batters in Game 1, which matched his total for the month of September. The entire infield, including the sure-handed Derrek Lee, committed errors in Game 2. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14 with four strikeouts in the leadoff spot, while the team as a whole drew six walks and struck out 24 times. The team with so much balance in the regular season suddenly became the most one-dimensional team in baseball; take Game 1 from them, then sit back and watch them choke. And now that this group has lost six straight playoff games (the team has lost nine straight dating back to 2003), it isn’t about to get any easier. Get a helmet, Cubs fans. – David Medsker

If you’re going to wear sweatpants to a nightclub, leave the gun at home.

If winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle of an NFL player’s career, than shooting yourself with your own gun in a nightclub has to be rock bottom. Case in point: Plaxico Antonio Burress. Just 10 months after helping the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while at a nightclub. Apparently the (unregistered) gun was slipping down his leg and when he tried to grab it to keep it from falling, the lucky bastard wound up pulling the trigger and shooting himself. And that wasn’t the worst of it because as Plaxico found out, New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. He was arrested, but posted bail of $100,000 and is scheduled to return to court on March 31, 2009. If convicted of carrying a weapon without a license, he faces up to three and a half years in jail. He shouldn’t expect special treatment, either. The mayor of New York wants to be sure that Burress is prosecuted just like any other resident of NYC. The Giants, meanwhile, placed him on their reserve/non-football injury list and effectively ended his season. While “Plax” definitely deserves “Boner of the Week” consideration for his stupidity, what’s sad is that in the wake of Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor’s death, most NFL players feel the need to arm themselves when they go out. Maybe players can learn from not only Taylor’s death, but also Burress’s accident so further incidents can be avoided. – Anthony Stalter

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Misty May-Treanor tears Achilles…ballroom dancing?

Two-time gold medalist (and possibly the best volleyball player in the world) Misty May-Treanor underwent surgery on the Achilles tendon that she tore while practicing for “Dancing With the Stars.”

Her rep tells PEOPLE the surgery was “successful” and that “she is currently at home recovering. Her husband, Matt [Treanor] is with her.”

Doctors estimate it will take approximately nine months of recovery and rehabilitation before May-Treanor can return to the volleyball court.

The doctors went on to theorize that years of “lugging around a more than ample derrier” [picture] may have caused the Achilles to compress and weaken, making it susceptible to injury.

Okay, I made that last part up.

Get well soon, Misty. We’ll miss you.

Wet and Wild: May-Treanor/Walsh capture the gold

Facing a good team in front of a (semi-)partisan hometown crowd in a pretty heavy rainstorm, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh completed their gold medal run (without losing a single game during the entire Olympics) by defeating the Chinese combo of Wang Jie and Tian Jia, 21-18 and 21-18.

They have now won 108 straight matches and have won back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Expect big changes for the duo now that this competition is over, as both players have said that they’d like to start a family. May-Treanor is 31 and Walsh is 30, so it’s conceivable (no pun intended) that they could take a year or two off to start a family and then join forces again in a couple of years to try to make a run at the 2012 Olympics in London. At 35 and 34, it wouldn’t be easy, but the way that these two compete, you never know. I guess it could depend on how many kids they want to have. One, maybe… two would be tough.

Regardless, if they do indeed take a break, the time is now for another American team to grab the mantle. The best beach volleyball team ever to take the sand now sounds like they may be done competing, at least for now.

Thursday morning update: The World of Isaac posted these photos of the match.

NBC is on my sh*t list right now

The women’s beach volleyball gold medal match was at 11 AM Bejing time, or 11 PM Eastern/8 PM Pacific. Does NBC show the match live on the West Coast? No, they make everyone in May and Walsh’s home state (California) wait until 11 PM Pacific to see the match.

You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to show it live on both coasts. On the East Coast, you have your normal programming, starting with all the diving and recorded track and field. Then, when the match is about to start, you air it live (as normal). On the West Coast, you start the night with the live match at 8 PM PT, and when it’s over, you go back to the diving and the track and field. The only downside for NBC is Bob Costas has to record a few more transitions in between events so that the West Coast feed makes sense. Since the match would reach a wider audience if it aired earlier on the West Coast, you’d think that it would be worth NBC’s time and trouble if it generated higher ratings.

This whole unnecessary three-hour Pacific Coast delay becomes even more troublesome for those that spend any time on the internet while they’re waiting for the match. I’m halfway through the first game of the gold medal match right now, but I already know the outcome because the news is splashed all over the internet, which includes my MSN.com home page.

(By the way, we here at The Scores Report have made a concerted effort not to post results of these Olympic Games until the event has aired in the U.S. Here’s an idea – maybe I should make The Scores Report my home page. Hmmm…)

All right, I’m going to quit my bitch session now. Misty May and Kerri Walsh are running around in wet, white bikinis (it’s raining in Bejing) trying to win a gold medal. And they’re in high definition. I really need to focus.

Olympic Roundup: Recent Winners and Developments

With the Olympics winding down, there are more and more medals given out each day as many events come to a close. Here’s a breakdown on the notable achievements in the last day or so:

American Lolo Jones stumbles over second-to-last hurdle in 100-meter event. Teammate Dawn Harper takes the gold.

Lolo Jones was the favorite to take this race. Her time of 12.43 seconds in the semifinal was the best recorded by any female hurdler in this event this year. If you watched this semifinal race, you would have witnessed Swedish runner Susanna Kullur clip the first hurdle, brutally tumbling to the surface, and failing to finish. Unfortunately, this poisonous energy followed Jones, who fell in the final, so close to nabbing the gold she deserved. To put her disappointment in perspective, Dawn Harper, who captured the gold, clocked in at a personal best 12.54 seconds. That’s 0.11 seconds slower than what we’ve seen Jones do. In terms of tragedy, Jones’ mishap is in not unlike Alicia Sacramone’s mistake on the vault. After four years of rigorous training and their uncertainty of being able to compete in another Olympics, watching replays of their misfortune is tough to stomach.

American Henry Cejudo wins the gold medal in men’s freestyle 55-kilogram wrestling.

The 21 year-old from Los Angeles beat Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga in each of the first two rounds in the best-of-three format. One of six children born to Mexican immigrants, his “rags to riches” story is one of the most heart-warming of these Games.

Shawn Johnson wins gold on the balance beam.

The perpetually smiling Shawn Johnson finally got her first gold medal, narrowly edging out teammate Nastia Liukin, who received the silver. China’s Cheng Fei grabbed the bronze. Although the undeniable star in these events has been Liukin—her five medals tying her with Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller as having the most for a U.S. woman in a single Olympics—it was nice to have the women’s competition finish with a Johnson gold. Amidst the dismay of nonsensical tiebreakers, inexperienced judges, and seemingly latent favoritism for the sometimes-sloppy Chinese women, watching Johnson listen to our country’s anthem with a gold medal around her neck was enough to ease the frustration.

Jonathan Horton’s daredevil horizontal bar performance earns him the silver.

Sure, the Chinese men won seven of the eight gold medals available. Sure, Zou Kai’s routine was a tad cleaner and warranted the gold medal. But Horton was much more exciting and on more than one occasion it looked as if his sheer momentum would launch him, bar in hand, straight into the fully occupied Bird’s Nest. This was the last gymnastics event of these Olympics, and perhaps the most entertaining.

U.S. women’s soccer team advances to gold medal match.

But I doubt you knew. They will play Brazil today (broadcast late at night in the United States), the country that beat them in the World Cup semi-finals. However, this is a very different U.S. team; they don’t have Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Brandi Chastain. The team’s best player, Abby Wambach has been sidelined because of a broken leg. A gold medal win should turn a few of these unknowns into household names.

U.S. women’s water polo team will battle the Netherlands today for gold.

The United States edged Australia in a 9-8 semifinal victory. That was the 15th meeting between the two teams in what has become the Yankees-Red Sox equivalent of a rivalry in water polo. The U.S. is still sore about their controversial loss to the Aussies with 1.3 seconds remaining in their gold medal match in Sydney eight years ago. A win versus the Netherlands represents American redemption.

U.S. softball team will compete in the sport’s final Olympic game.

With the American’s 19th straight victory, they have now outscored their competition 57-2 in Beijing. Their recent win against Japan put them in the gold medal game. Both baseball and softball have not been renewed for the 2012 Olympics in London, so imagine what these American women are feeling.

Both U.S duos will have a shot at gold in beach volleyball.

Todd Rodgers and Phil Dalhausser quickly dismantled Georgia in 41 minutes. They play Brazilians Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes for the gold on Friday. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh hope to continue their flawless Olympic performance in the gold medal match against China, broadcast as a part of NBC’s primetime coverage tonight.

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