Gazing into the crystal ball that is 2014 sports
Do you feel as if you missed a big sports happening in 2013? Don’t let it happen again.
Here’s a list of events for 2014, suitable for printing out and sticking on your refrigerator. Not only do we tell you when stuff will happen. We give you a heads-up on what will happen, along with a little free gambling advice.
6 – BCS Championship Game. Look for Auburn to start fast, then FSU will eventually figure out Gus Malzhan’s offense and win, 34-27. Jimbo Fisher will celebrate by signing a $7 million-a-year deal with Texas. (Yeah, we know, he just signed an extension with FSU … but who says that’s etched in stone?)
7 – Approximate date for Alex Rodriguez appeal ruling. A-Rod will not go quietly if the arbitrator upholds the 211-game suspension.
8 – Baseball’s Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. Newly eligible Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine will get in. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will get more votes than newly eligible Trot Nixon.
26 – Pro Bowl. New rule: The two leading vote-getters will choose sides like a sandlot game. Old rule: Tackling will still be optional.
28 – Six weeks after the latest knee blowout, the Kobe Bryant saga will resume.
2 – Super Bowl. We can’t tell you who’ll be in it. We can tell you it should be carried by The Weather Channel since Mother Nature will get more attention than either team.
5 – National Signing Day. It’s the day scores of 17-year-olds make or break the hearts of millions of grown men.
7-23 – Winter Olympics. The big stories will be Bode Miller, Shaun White, the NHL players, Russia’s anti-gay laws and Tiger Woods in a ski mask watching Lindsey Vonn go downhill.
11 – Pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training. Soon after, Robinson Cano will report to Seattle, Prince Fielder to Texas, Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees and Kevin Youkilis to Japan as the Hot Stove league moves become real.
22-25 – NFL Scouting Combine, also known as draft-geek heaven. Four days of weigh-ins, bench presses, shuttle runs and analyzing Chance Warmack’s broad jump.
23 – Daytona 500. Danica Patrick stole the show last year by winning the pole and finishing eighth. She probably won’t match either this year but will still get more attention than the winner.
11 – NFL free agency begins. Among those who might be available: Jay Cutler, Jimmy Graham, Hakeem Nicks, Greg Hardy, Jairus Byrd and, for old time’s sake, Michael Vick.
14 – NBA tanking gets serious. The date is imprecise and there will be denials all around, but bad teams will really start jockeying for spots in the talent-rich draft.
16 – Selection Sunday for NCAA tournament. You’ll have less than 48 hours to figure out who this year’s Florida Gulf Coast is before your bracket is due.
22 – Baseball Opening Day in Sydney. Yes, it’s Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks in Australia. Their feud will continue if the Dodgers win and jump into the pool, assuming the Sydney Cricket Ground has a pool.
6 – WrestleMania XXX. No actual connection to the real sport world, unless Tim Tebow shows up in tights.
10-13 – The Masters. Will Tiger win his first major in six years?
16 – Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. Check back in two months for final results.
19 – NBA Playoffs begin. See above.
21 – Boston Marathon. In the wake of last year’s tragic bombing, this will be far more than just a race.
3 – Kentucky Derby. Bet on the brown horse.
8 – NFL Draft. After 4.9 million mock drafts, we’ll finally see whether Teddy Bridgewater, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews or a surprise fancy suit gets to hug Roger Goodell first.
25 – Indianapolis 500. Juan Pablo Montoya finally returns after spinning his wheels in Formula One and NASCAR for the past 13 years. If he wins, it’ll be the biggest story since Danica finished third in 2009.
25-31 – National Spelling Bee. Bet on the kid with glasses.
5 – NBA Finals begin. Bet on the fact you’ll get sick of hearing “Three-Peat” if Miami is in it.
12-15 – U.S. Open. See: Masters.
15 – World Cup begins. The biggest sporting event in the world could take over U.S. sports-bar viewing if the Yanks can advance through the “Group of Death.”
26 – NBA Draft. The most anticipated talent grab since the ’03 LeBron-Wade-Carmelo class. Unless, of course, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon all decide to return to school to pursue their degrees.
1 – NBA free agency negotiations open. Teams can officially start pursuing Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Eric Bledsoe and LeBron. Would he possibly take his talents back to Lake Erie?
5-6 – Women’s and men’s Wimbledon finals. Unlike women’s champ Marion Bartoli, Andy Murray did not retire after winning last year. If he repeats, expect him to jump ahead of Prince Charles in the line of succession to the British throne.
5-25 – Tour de France. The past two have been won by British riders, and neither has been exposed as a doper. Can such unlikely streaks continue?
10- First day to sign NBA free agents. The great plot lines will thicken if Dwight Howard’s camp leaks a story that he’s unhappy in Houston and wants to return to Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
17-20 British Open. See: U.S. Open.
4 – NFL Hall of Fame Game. Preseason begins with Dallas vs. Miami and the probable debut of whatever puppet Jerry Jones has installed as his next coach.
7-10 – PGA Championship. See: Lindsey Vonn. If Tiger hasn’t won a major by now, expect her to dump him for Tim Herron.
9-16 – Gay Games in Cleveland. It’s actually host to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Who will be the first straight athlete to come out?
21 – PGA’s FedEx Cup playoffs begin. Check back in a month to see who’ll win the $10 million bonus they don’t need.
28 – College football season opens. Texas A&M vs. South Carolina on a Thursday night. Do not expect to see Jadeveon Clowney or Johnny Manziel.
30 – College football’s first Saturday and first season under the new playoff format. Expect Temple, Kansas and Purdue to be eliminated by 7 p.m.
5 – Fantasy football season opens. Coincidentally, the NFL will play about 14 actual games that day.
7-8 – U.S. Open tennis women’s and men’s finals. Serena Williams could be going for her third straight win and sixth overall title.
14 – Sprint Cup Chase begins. Check back in two months to see whether Jimmie Johnson’s quest for a seventh title gets more attention than Danica’s quest for one top-10 finish.
26-28 – Ryder Cup. It’s in Scotland, so at least the U.S. team won’t have to worry about gagging in front of the home crowd this time.
30 – Baseball playoffs begin. After 162 games, some lucky wild card might be eliminated by one bad hop.
9 – Midnight Madness. College basketball teams can begin practice, and John Calipari can introduce five freshmen starters to Kentucky fans.
18 – FSU vs. Notre Dame. First big Atlantic Coast Conference game for the league part-timers Irish. If they beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee, ACC might award them the title outright.
22 – World Series begins. Bet on the Red Sox if they again show up looking like the cast from “Duck Dynasty.”
1 – Breeders’ Cup. Again, bet on the brown horse.
16 – Sprint Cup Chase final race. If Johnson wins, will detractors finally admit he belongs on NASCAR’s Mount Rushmore with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty?
21– Davis Cup Finals begin. Check back in two days to see whether anyone notices who wins.
29 – Iron Bowl. Do not expect Alabama to try to kick a 57-yard field goal as time expires.
6 – Conference championship football games. It’s the playoffs to get into the playoffs.
7 – College football playoff teams announced. The selection committee will name four teams, then spend the week getting accused of bias and stupidity by fans of the fifth-place team.
13 – Heisman Trophy presentation. Based on recent history, bet on a redshirt freshman quarterback to win.
21 – The AP will announce the top sports stories of 2014. For the 64th straight year, the Pro Bowl will not make the list.
28 – NFL regular season ends. If Dallas doesn’t make the playoffs, bet that Jones will not blame his general manager.