On Tuesday, Aaron Torres broke down Part I of his 10 Biggest Storylines of 2010.
And as we head toward the Christmas holiday, let's look at Part II: The Five Biggest Storylines in Sports for the coming year.
5. The End of An Era In Tennis?:
I know, I know, most of you really don’t care about tennis. But pretend to read this section and amuse me, because I love the sport. Hell, two of my favorite things I wrote this year were about tennis, my “Idiot’s Guide to the U.S. Open,” and a profile or Roger Federer.
And speaking of Federer, it’s him I’m worried about the most in 2010. Yes, he’s the greatest champion of our lifetime, and currently is the greatest champion of all-time.
But Federer could be coming to the end of his apex as the world’s best. Because, remember, this is tennis. It isn’t basketball, baseball or football, where player’s skills erode over the course of three, four or five years. Tennis players age like dogs, one year they’re dominating the tour, six months later their knees go out and they stop bothering you for table scraps.
And I’m afraid that might be where Federer’s at. He’ll be 29 in August, which is ancient for a male tennis player. And there hasn’t been a better group of young guys at any point in Federer’s career.
Juan Martin Del Potro just won the U.S. Open. Novak Djokovic finally seems to be putting it together. Andy Murray is right there. And we all know about Rafa Nadal.
So this very well could be the last run for Federer.
Of course, I also wrote a column in May called, “Is The French Open Roger Federer’s Last Stand?” And of course he went on to win the French and Wimbledon, and finished second in the U.S. Open.
There’s plenty of hope. But Roger Federer’s career is ticking down. I just hope he’s got one great year left in 2010.
4. The Conclusion of the Most Gawd-Awful College Basketball Season in Years:
Look, anyone who knows me, knows I love college basketball. I stay up late to watch all the West Coast games. I check Andy Katz’s blog, even during the summer when there’s nothing to report. Seriously, I grew up in Connecticut, meaning that most winters, I probably saw more of Jim Calhoun than I did my own parents.
Which is why it pains me to say this: This is one of the least inspiring groups of college basketball players coaches and storylines I can ever remember. It just is.
There are no truly great teams. No North Carolina from last year, Florida from 2007 or UConn of 2004.
Other than John Wall, is there a single player in the country you’re rearranging your schedule for? Ed Davis? Greg Monroe? Please. If I had a girlfriend, I’d blow those guys off in a second to go outlet mall shopping with her. But I don’t, so hence, I’m stuck with them.
Want to know the worst part? Kansas is undefeated and the top ranked team in the country. Yet they're nowhere near as talented as the same Kansas team that won a National Championship just two years ago!
I’ve already eliminated all but three teams from National Championship consideration: Texas, Kentucky and the above mentioned Kansas team. That's it.
So much for the suspense of March Madness, everybody is else too flawed to do any real damage. North Carolina has no point guard, Villanova nobody down low, and Michigan State just isn’t that good period. And please don’t get me started on Duke, Syracuse or anybody else. Please don’t.
So that’s what we’re left with in college basketball, three months still to go in the season, and three legitimate contenders.
Don’t let me get you down, and feel free to fill out a bracket when your office pool starts. I’ll probably do the same. Just don’t expect me to be too excited when I do it.
3. Boxing’s Renaissance, At Least For One Night:
If you’ve read this far, you know I love basically every sport out there. If it’s got a bat or a ball, a helmet or a stick count me. I love football and basketball, baseball and tennis, professional and amateur. Everything except the X Games (I’m sorry folks, but dirt bike riding is a hobby. Not a sport). And I used to love boxing as much as any of them.
I'd stay up late to watch Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad. I kept track of all the belt holders on a hand-held spread sheet until it became illegible because of too many cross-outs. In other words, if there were two guys getting their brains beat in, find me a TV, I was there.
But over the last decade or so, boxing has become largely irrelevant. There are just too many belts, and too many corrupt judges, with not enough star power, especially in the heavyweight division.
Which is why I’m excited about 2010. Because on March 13, the biggest fight in a decade, maybe the biggest fight for the rest of our lives (the way the sport is going), will be on.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. The two best fighters in the world, in their primes, putting on the fight that boxing needs. The fight to get people interested again in the sport I grew up loving.
Sure they still have to cross the “T’s,” and dot the “I’s,” and definitely need to figure out this drug testing thing. But the fight is going to happen, there’s too much money involved and too much pride at stake.
And when this fight does go down, you know where I’ll be: On my couch, in front of the TV, taking the whole thing in.
Two great boxers. One must-see fight. Just like old times.
2. Potential For Maybe the Most Exciting Super Bowl Ever:
Ok, ok, I know last year’s game was pretty exciting. And the year before that too. And we lost a tiny bit of luster when New Orleans lost to Dallas last weekend. But still, think about the potential storylines which could headline this year’s game:
Indianapolis going for perfection; the Saints looking to put the final stamp on New Orleans revival; Brett Favre coming out of retirement, winning a Super Bowl for the long starved Minnesota franchise and riding off into the sunset…before coming out of retirement again in August to play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, or even worse...the Buffalo Bills; Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb making one last run, as Michael Vick holds a clipboard, and PETA holds a protest outside the stadium; The…wait for it…wait for it...Arizona Cardinals making a SECOND STRAIGHT (!!!!) trip to the big game, with Kurt Warner thanking God, and Larry Fitzgerald thanking his hairdresser after the victory; Tom Brady and New England looking for revenge from the 2008 game; San Diego finally fulfilling their promise as maybe the most talented team in the league.
Honestly, under any of those scenarios, how are you not watching this game? And how is it not better than last year?
It’s a sad thing really, but I’m starting to think that 2010 might peak by the end of the first week of the new year. That’s right folks, Alabama-Texas. And the 2010 BCS National Championship.
Now, I know I’m supposed to stay unbiased when it comes to sports, but with these two teams and this game, I really just can’t help myself.
What can I say, I like Texas. I like that Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy are best friends and go fishing and hunting together, even if it’s only because it makes easy jokes for me. I like that Will Muschamp get’s uncomfortably sweaty during big games, and probably reeks of bad B.O in coaches meetings. And I like the fact that while Mack Brown might seem a little sleazy sometimes, no coach in college football treats the media better, or treats female sideline reporters more like his own daughter (Take that Charlie Weis!).
And Alabama, well I like them even more. I like that Javier Arenas is my height (5’10. Ok it’s really 5’9, but seriously who’s counting?), and is still one of the scariest guys in college football. I like that Mark Ingram looks like Carlton Banks, and that Greg McElroy may have the same hairdresser as Jay Cutler. And I like that some of the players wanted to dump Gatorade on Nick Saban after the SEC Championship game, only to get called off by Rolando McClain because he said they had one more game to win (Thank you to reader Andrew M., for sharing that story).
Mostly, I just really like both teams, and really love college football. It’s my favorite sport and the end we’ve been waiting for: SEC vs. Big XII, Alabama vs. Texas.
And it's just the start, of what is sure to be a great 2010.