Fear not, friends. With the year’s end in sight, time now to trot out our feckless forecaster for another round of fearless future features. Facing his Magic Eight Ball, tongue firmly in cheek, here now The Great Dentoni’s fabulous fabrications for the 2011 sports year:
January: Penn State thumps Florida so soundly in the Outback Bowl that Joe Paterno decides to retire. “I couldn’t go out on a higher note than this,” explains Joe Pa. Two days later, the Nittany Lions introduce their new coach: Urban Meyer.
“I didn’t want to go out on such a low note, and I really feel refreshed,” explains Meyer. Auburn and Oregon combine for over 1,200 yards, 60 first downs, and 120 points. The game is tied at 65 when the scoreboard explodes, sending everyone home in darkness. TCU is declared the national champion after downing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
February: Hell freezes over. The Falcons — the Atlanta Falcons — win the Super Bowl, defeating the Patriots, 31-28. Owner Arthur Blank gets so carried away that he allows the players to tousle his hair. “Nobody gave us any credit all year,” shouts linebacker Mike Peterson, “but we got the rings, baby!” The Falcons ice the game by holding the ball for the final 11 minutes, driving 78 yards in 18 plays. What’s left? “Next year, we want to beat the teams from Pennsylvania,” exclaims coach Mike Smith.
March: Duke caps an incredible season by defeating Syracuse to win the NCAA basketball championship. The Blue Devils negotiate their way through the first undefeated season since Indiana won them all for Bob Knight in 1976. En route, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski passes Knight to top the career wins list.
Tech, Georgia, Mercer and Kennesaw State all reach the Tournament, finally sparking keen interest among local high school talent.
April: Dustin Johnson carries a three-shot lead into the final round of the Masters, but incurs a devastating penalty for grounding his club in a hazard on the 13th hole. “I thought it was casual water,” moans Johnson. Bubba Watson is the unlikely beneficiary of Johnson’s largesse, winning his first major title.
The Braves roar out of the gate, winning 10 of their first 12 games. The pitching and defense are solid, and Dan Uggla leads the league in power numbers. “We’re playing well,” notes manager Fredi Gonzalez, establishing himself as more of a linguist than his predecessor.
May: The Phillies and Braves continue to play the best baseball in the National League. The Phils suffer a serious setback when Roy Halladay undergoes Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season. “It’s too bad,” observes Gonzalez, “he was pitching well.”
June: The Boston Celtics sweep the Miami Heat to head into the NBA Finals. “Their sum is less than the total of their parts,” chortles the Celts’ Kevin Garnett.
Boston then beats San Antonio in seven games for the club’s 18th championship. “It’s still a team game,” notes Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The Phils suffer a serious setback when Roy Oswalt undergoes Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season.
“It’s too bad,” observes Gonzalez, “he was pitching well.”
July: In one of those rare moments that please everyone, Braves centerfielder Brooks Conrad becomes a write-in selection to start the all-star game. “The playoffs seem like another lifetime ago,” reflects Conrad. The Phils suffer a serious setback when Cliff Lee undergoes Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season. “It’s too bad,” observes Gonzalez, “he was pitching well.”
August: The NFL players strike/owners lockout [depending on who you believe] ends with a new 18-game schedule and no exhibition games. The Falcons open camp as defending Super Bowl champs, and have no idea how to act. Roddy White twitters the Saints for advice.
The Phils suffer a serious setback when Cole Hamels undergoes Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season. “It’s too bad,” observes Gonzalez, “he was pitching well.” The Braves suffer their own setback as Chipper Jones breaks an ankle stepping into the dugout. “At least I got my 120 games in,” Jones observes. “He was hitting well,” moans Gonzalez.
September: Tech and Georgia rip through their first month of play unscathed — and unscored upon. The Washington Nationals sprint past the injury-prone Braves and Phils to win the NL East. The Braves again win the wild card, inspired by a final weekend appearance by Bobby Cox. “I just told ‘em they were playin’ good,” relates Cox.
October: The Braves sail through the playoffs and into the World Series! But there, they face the most formidable lineup assembled since the Big Red Machine: the Boston Red Sox. The Beantown Bombers sweep the Braves, prompting Gonzalez to observe, “They really hit well.”
November: The nation’s only two undefeated teams, and top-ranked defenses, meet at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field. At the eleventh hour, Caleb King is suspended, and Tech prevails, 3-0. NBA commissioner David Stern announces that labor strife has caused the cancellation of the entire season.
December: Tech wins the ACC, Georgia the SEC, and a rematch is scheduled for the BCS championship game. “I thought we deserved a shot,” cries Penn State coach Urban Meyer.