We’ve turned the page to 2012, but here are some things to consider before moving forward in the new year:
• How about that K-State Wildcat football team? Only the most blindly loyal or rabid of KSU fans probably thought they would go 10-2 and play in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas. The Wildcats were the masters of winning close games. Nice to see Bill Snyder have success like he did in the good ol’ days.
• Is there another major sporting event as fouled up as Davis Cup tennis? Unless you’re the most fanatical of tennis fans, you don’t know who is playing when, much less how many countries are in contention for the championship. The build-up to the championship is about as unimpressive as the build-up to the Super Bowl is impressive.
Do you know which country won the last Davis Cup championship? Me neither.
• Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com notes that this year there were 35 Division I bowl games. That means 35 of the 120 Division I football programs (29 percent) end their years on a high note with a nationally televised postseason victory. Contrast that to the NFL, in which one of 32 teams, 3 percent, ends its year with a postseason victory.
• How big do you have to be to play on the line in the NFL?
Offensive linemen of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins averaged 262 pounds.
In Super Bowl XXV in 1991, the defensive nose tackles each weighed about 270 pounds.
Now nearly all NFL defensive tackles weigh more than 300 pounds and the offensive lines average considerably more than 300 pounds.
How good is all this weight for the long-term health of football players?
One columnist on ESPN.com said, “It cannot be good for the long-term health of football players—especially at the high school and college levels (where players don’t even get a paycheck)—to force themselves to gain so much weight.
“A lawsuit finding some football team or college liable for long-term health damage to players who are pressured by coaches to gain weight might be a healthy thing for the sport.”
• Winter is far from over, but cheer up, spring training is only a couple of months away.
That means baseball will start before you know it. There are plenty of baseball players and managers with a sense of humor. After the Texas Rangers beat Minnesota, 20-6, in a game last July, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “The first five innings looked like a ZIP code. That will tell you how it went… 33354. I think that’s Florida… Fort Lauderdale.”
• Maybe it was a sign of things to come, but when the Boston Red Sox botched a suicide squeeze in extra innings last July, it gave Kansas City another chance to win. The Royals somehow managed to mess up their squeeze attempt, too, but still scored the game-winning run.
Royals manager Ned Yost said, “We caught a break. We finally got to run the play we don’t have much time to practice—we bunt over the first baseman’s head with runners running.”
• Former Major League Baseball player turned broadcaster Bob Uecker once said, “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for $3,000. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up.”
Uecker also said, “The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.”
• Remember the old Houston Oilers in the NFL? John Breen, a player for the Oilers said, “We were tipping off our plays. Whenever we broke from the huddle, three of our backs were laughing and one was pale as a ghost.”