— Expect a letdown.
The past year gave us the most dramatic Super Bowl, U.S. Open, Wimbledon final and arguably Olympics ever. We were given an NCAA hoops final that was settled in overtime after a last-second 3-pointer. The Celtics beat the Lakers.
Can the coming year match '08? To borrow a term from Deutschlanders, "Nein."
Which isn’t to say that 2009 will not be full of fun and surprises. And Yankee schadenfreude (to borrow yet another term from the Rhinelanders). Below, a look into the coming year in sports.
• The Rose Bowl, which kicked off on New Year's Day, ends two days later due to a Pac-10 officiating crew that is somewhat liberal in its use of "further video review." During the third quarter, perturbed press box-bound Penn State coach Joe Paterno, 82, can be seen mouthing the words, "C'mon, I'm not getting any younger here."
• Tim Tebow leads Florida to its second national championship in three years, but afterward, fans are discussing the halftime exorcism that he performed on Chris Myers.
• In an effort to become even more fan friendly, the FBR Open in Scottsdale installs beer pong tables at all par-3 holes. John Daly drops out of the PGA event during the practice round.
• President Obama, in his inaugural address, announces that he will bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq "as soon as there's a college football playoff. Your move, BCS."
• To avoid crowds and a media crush during Super Bowl week in Tampa, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning hires Michael Phelps as his stand-in. The Olympic swimming legend completes eight straight passes in a live scrimmage three days before the game, causing Giants head coach Tom Coughlin to reevaluate his depth chart.
• UFC 114 takes place at a casino in Las Vegas.
• The New York Giants defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa on a last-second field goal by John Carney, who is XLIV. Afterward, in keeping with league policy, the NFL mandates that the Giants must lose one starter to an NFL pre-game show.
• At the NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, Saturday's "Legends Game" is canceled after more than half the participants are diagnosed with an "acute stomach virus." All of the ill had attended a party hosted by Paradise Valley resident Charles Barkley the night before.
• Taking a page from fellow small-market franchise Tampa Bay's playbook, the Toronto Blue Jays announce that from now on they will be known as the Toronto Jays.
• Adhering to CBS' concerns about ratings during March Madness, the NCAA Tournament selection committee creates a furor when the No. 14 seed in the Midwest regional is announced: "Stephen Curry's mom."
• UFC 387 takes place at a casino in Las Vegas.
• The New York Yankees christen their new stadium with two exhibition games on the first weekend of April vs. the Chicago Cubs. In homage to the original Yankee Stadium home opener that took place in 1923, bleacher seats will sell for 25 cents and grandstand seats for $1.10. In a further tip of the cap to the era, minority players will be prohibited from participating. When the umpire yells, "Play ball!" only first baseman Mark Teixeira and centerfielder Johnny Damon are in the field.
• Tiger. Phil. Both at 9-under par entering the final three holes at The Masters. Jim Nantz is so ecstatic that the tenor of his voice almost — almost — changes.
• Following the lead of former USC backup Matt Cassell, current Trojans clipboard holder Mitch Mustain declares himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
• "With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select ... wide receiver Michael Crabtree."
• The New York Yankees, seven games back in the AL East, offer semi-exiled Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury $24 million not to play for them for the next four seasons "because we can ... and it's still a better deal than we got with Pavano." Marbury accepts.
• On a special, live edition of "Costas Now," erstwhile Deadspin editor Will Leitch berates seventh grader Ralphie Billings, who on his Facebook page has posted photos of Leitch buying soy milk and a Luna bar at a Brooklyn bodega. "Honestly, I think you're full of (bleep)," Leitch tells Billings. "And you should have tagged me."
• Wimbledon introduces its new rain-delay proof Centre Court, which has a retractable roof. The Fleet Street tabloids denounce the new “Wimbledome,” while organizers of the 2012 Summer Olympics announce that a roof will be installed over all of London in time for the opening ceremony of the Games.
• In order to cut costs, the Arena Football League merges with the WNBA. Details forthcoming.
• Retired Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, the greatest player in Denver Broncos history, gets engaged to a former Oakland Raiderette. Wait, that already happened.
• UFC 591 takes place at a casino somewhere in Las Vegas.
• Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffers a freak injury during the taping of a “This is SportsCenter” ad, paving the way for backup QB Michael Vick to start the season opener.
• ESPN personality Jim Rome tragically perishes in a southern California brush fire. Students of irony nod their heads.
• On Aug. 1, the Chicago Cubs have a 10-game lead in the NL Central. What could possibly go wrong?
• The Erin Andrews Fathead is introduced, and within days becomes the company’s all-time leading seller.
• Notre Dame opens the season with five straight wins, prompting Sports Illustrated to place wide receiver Golden Tate on the cover over the headline, "The Irish are Golden." That week, 43 different columnists — three of them from SI.com — write pieces decrying the program’s overexposure.
• UFC 716 takes place at a casino somewhere in Las Vegas.
• 2009 is fast becoming known as "The Year of the Knee." Knee reconstruction or replacement outpatients Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and Charlie Weis (the latter having had both procedures) have banner years. The Notre Dame football coach, who had his left knee reconstructed and his right knee replaced, announces that his rehab schedule should allow for a full recovery in time to dance with the bride at Brady’s wedding.
• An emergency meeting of the International Olympic Committee is convened when it is discovered that nearly all the financing for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi is coming courtesy of Russia’s primary export: on-line brides.
• The Toronto Jays meet the Florida Marlins in the World Series. TBS intentionally preempts Game 7 with the Steve Harvey Show.
• University of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Longhorns’ designated coach-in-waiting, designates running backs coach Major Applewhite as the program’s coach-in-waiting-in-waiting. Applewhite receives the news while in a waiting room as his wife, Julie, gives birth to their first son, Minor Applewhite.
• UFC 1,000 is staged on New Year’s Eve atop Steve Wynn’s Encore casino. Locals are buzzing about the under card match pitting Blue Man Group against Thunder From Down Under.