THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Highs, lows: A sports year worth remembering

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I'm pausing to reflect on what's been good about sports this year. I didn't think it would be an easy task, but surprisingly enough, I found a few things for which I'm thankful. Here goes, in no particular order.

The Red Sox Kick Manny Ramirez to the Curb

Hallelujah! Who would have thought that a sports franchise would have the gumption to wave good-bye to a troublemaker? Years of embarrassment, (allegedly) faked injuries, assaults on employees, refusals to play, and disappearances from the field finally proved Manny Ramirez to be a liability. Some would argue that Manny dictated the terms of his trade to the Dodgers, but the fact is, Ramirez was such a disaster that the Red Sox were willing to pay $7 million to get rid of him.  They may have been a little slow on the uptake, but bravo to the Red Sox.

The New York Giants Win the Super Bowl

Anybody remember that one? It was so long ago I'd almost forgotten the thrill of watching Bill Belichick get his. Mere months after dismissing "Spygate" as a "mistake," the Patriots' coach and his team of cheaters were humiliated by Eli Manning, of all people. Just a Super Bowl away from only the second perfect season in NFL history, the Patriots got taken to the mattress by football's most disappointing quarterback. Ah, sweet justice.

Barry Bonds Doesn't Play Baseball

I doubt there's been so quick and complete a disappearance since Amelia Earhart, and never has there been a more welcome vanishing act. It was just last year that Bonds set his dubious home-run record, and nary a peep has been heard from him since. I reckon that perjury indictment quelled his lust for TV time– and who among us isn't grateful for that?

Ben Roethlisberger Earns Highest NFL Salary

Aside from saving the world from a killer meteor or running AIG into the ground, no job warrants $27.7 million, yet that's what the Steelers paid Big Ben this year. A travesty of justice? Maybe so, but at least he's not Tony Romo.

John Daly Gets Arrested

A drunk and unconscious John Daly single-handedly reaffirmed that golf is everyman's game. Riddled with gambling debt, excess weight, and a persistent drinking problem, the former PGA and British Open champion manages to remain competitive, most recently winning the 2007 TELUS Skins game. His October arrest outside a Hooters "restaurant" in Winston-Salem proved what everyday golfers already know: any game a drunk can play is a game to be appreciated.

Usain Bolt Runs Away with Gold

Usain Bolt didn't need to humiliate his competition in the 100- and 200-meter races in Beijing, but we can be glad he did. The Jamaican may not serve as proof that the 2008 Olympics were a "BALCO-free" zone, but at the very least, Bolt's performance ensured that Olympic commentators could completely ignore former U. S. track stars Tim Montgomery, Antonio Pettigrew, Justin Gatlin, and Marion Jones. Every gold medal U.S. sprinters don't win is another gold medal they don't have to give back.


Finally, how can I thank UVA football for all its inspiration? Or Brett Favre, for always making my job just a little bit easier?

Where can I find the words to thank Mark Cuban, who was so conveniently accused of insider trading just when his purchase of the Chicago Cubs was almost a foregone conclusion? I can't forget my old pal Bud Selig, who worked diligently to set a new standard in World Series tedium. And I have to give a shout-out to Adam "Pacman" Jones for never failing to provide a story during otherwise slow weeks.

My thanks to everyone who made this year in sports so special. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.