Ode to sports in 2014: When mayhem won the gold

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hold on a moment. Let’s see the year out,

But what in the world was that all about?

In sports, it seems clear, all mayhem let loose:

Racism, head trauma, spousal abuse.

And that’s just the start of one sorry list

Led by Sterling’s mouth, Putin’s iron fist

And Roger Goodell’s fast weakening spine,

His body of work in sudden decline.

Far better, for sure, than such dreary talk:

LeBron coming home in a cloud of chalk;

Bumgarner taking a team on his back.

So paint the town orange and paint it black.

But we’re jumping too fast out of the gate.

Let’s start from the top and recalculate.

Winter 2014

The BCS ends, the Seminoles win,

Winston’s troubles are about to begin.

Vonn skips the Olympics — knee’s the reason.

A-Rod is banned and sits out a season.

Sherman pelts Crabtree with torrents of trash.

Australia swelters; Wawrinka’s a smash.

The right to form unions comes to the fore

When Northwestern players open the door.

Adam Silver checks in and out goes Stern,

Then the Seahawks soar while the Broncos burn.

Sochi begins with more sunshine than sleet

And more than enough political heat …

… Russia passes the flag to Korea —

So much for the luge, on to Crimea.

Michael Sam comes out, hailed for bold action.

The NFL thinks this a “distraction”?

At Daytona, Junior reigns in the rain.

Phil Jackson grabs a Manhattan-bound train.

Pistorius goes to trial, where he grieves

And he sobs and he sweats and shakes and heaves.

March Madness concludes and a Husky roars

For king/queen UConn — all roads lead to Storrs.


Tiger’s back goes bad. He just can’t hack it.

Bubba Watson dons one more green jacket.

Donald Sterling, on tape, makes an appeal

(His better angels asleep at the wheel).

He tells his girlfriend, if it’s all the same,

Best not to bring blacks to a Clippers game.

This the advice she gets from an elder?

(She of the visor fit for a welder.)

He loses his team and his wife’s support

And gallantly calls her a “pig” in court.

Derby and Preakness: California Chrome,

But the colt can’t kick a Triple Crown home.

A thriller at Indy by Hunter-Reay.

Nadal sculpts a beauty on French red clay.

The Kings win the Cup – this seems like a trend.

A Heat wave passes and the Spurs ascend.

Two Opens at Pinehurst: golf’s jamboree.

First up, Martin Kaymer, then Michelle Wie.


Brazil takes its place on the World Cup stage.

No shortage of worry, anguish and rage.

The protests soon fade and the streets are tame,

But nowhere in sight the “beautiful game.”

Uruguay’s Suarez bites Chiellini

As if he’s a bowl of shrimp linguini.

Germany’s might is alarmingly clear,

Devouring Brazil like schnitzel and beer.

In the final’s 113th minute,

Mario Goetze steps up to win it.

Federer’s game, while still sharp and vital,

Can’t produce an eighth Wimbledon title.

A landmark deal to pay NFL vets

Becomes a lot richer when a judge lets

The damages top the sum once discussed

For ailing players whose brains are concussed.

LeBron misses home — that’s fact, not theory —

And takes his talents back to Lake Erie,

Where Johnny Manziel’s selling merchandise

And Cleveland is suddenly paradise.

McIlroy breaks up with Wozniacki —

His feet turn cold and his play is rocky.

But the British Open falls for Rory,

The PGA’s a similar story.

A tape’s soon played — and it’s far from pretty —

Of what went down in Atlantic City:

A thunderous smack, a soft suspension,

A public outcry, incomprehension

Over a league that’s now run far afield,

Far too intent on “protecting the shield.”

All of which leads to investigation

On top of plea deals and litigation.

Has this lawlessness gone beyond the pale?

Are these games sponsored by the county jail?

Then there’s the question of how to refer

To Washington’s team and not use a slur.

With the NFL under full attack,

A driver is killed at a New York track

Leaving his car in which he’d been riding.

Tony Stewart soon goes into hiding.

With sports imploding while attorneys fight,

From darkening skies comes a shaft of light.

A Little League artist goes on display.

She paints the corners. The name is Mo’ne.

The U.S. Open goes to Serena —

Eighteen majors, like Chris and Martina.


At Yankee Stadium, upon this rock,

Saint Jeter at last takes leave of his flock.

Europe again is a Ryder Cup force,

The U.S. team fades — all par for the course.

Kershaw’s like Gibson was back in the day

Before the postseason gets in his way.

Not so for the Royals. It’s their time to thrive,

With World Series visions of ’85.

It all seems so close, this wonderful chase,

Then Alex Gordon is held at third base.

A foul out by Perez, Sandoval’s flop,

Game 7 over, the Giants on top.

NASCAR’s new format is put to the test,

And Harvick, at Homestead, handles the rest.

Pacquiao scores a big win in Macau,

But is Mayweather next? The real cash cow.

Pro football is thankful for what it’s got —

Can you say Tom Brady? Or J.J. Watt? —

While fans in Philly confront ghastly nights

Watching the Sixers awaiting last rites.

At last, college football’s playoff debut:

Tide, Oregon, Seminoles, OSU.

Come Heisman time, Mariota’s the guy.

He takes to the air ’cause Ducks gotta fly.

Then we start to pack and prepare to leave,

Finding basketball T-shirts: “I Can’t Breathe.”

And just like that we’re in the last inning,

But it’s awfully hard to tell who’s winning

Amid the uproar, the sound and fury,

The cops and the courts, the judge and jury.

Let’s change the music. Something more serene?

So here’s looking at you . 2015.