SportsBytes #2.4

Rant off the bat...

A lot of sports outlets are trying to play 2002 off as "The Year of the Underdog." The Patriots started it off with a big upset in the Super Bowl, the Angels overcame years of bad karma in the World Series, and... well, that's about it.

That's right. The big "Year of the Underdogs" had two surprise winners. Oh yeah, and that 46-1 long shot that won the Belmont, and has already been forgotten. Other than that, we saw Tiger Woods win two majors and Ernie Els triumph in another. Rich Beem's PGA win was an upset, but he did win another tournament in 2002.

Oh yeah, as for more non-underdogs, we had the Lakers winning their third straight title, the Detroit Red Wings skated to victory in the NHL, Serena Williams dominated women's tennis, Annika Sorenstam dominated women's golf and Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour de France.

Tony Stewart, a perennial contender, won NASCAR's points title, so he's not an underdog. Maryland, a preseason favorite, won the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The UConn women steamrolled to an undefeated national title. Oh, and I can't forget the Miami Hurricanes, who won the Rose Bowl in January and then went undefeated this year to qualify for its second consecutive title game.

I could go on, and this is a rant, so I should, but I won't. It just seems ridiculous to call 2002 "The Year of the Underdog," when it was just about the opposite.


• With Pat Summerall in semi-retirement, those of us who want to rid the world of over-the-hill announcers are now left to focus on Dick Enberg, who continues to prove his senility on a weekly basis. It's bad enough that Enberg can't get names straight or even do consistent play-by-play, but he never corrects himself. In this week's game, there was an obvious 3rd-and-6 situation, and it might have even been closer to seven yards to go. Enberg said, defiantly "It's not 3rd-and-6, it looks more like a short four." If he can't get things right, and can't trust his spotters, why is he still in the booth?

• Kevin Fraizer, formerly of Fox Sports, now on ESPN, scored major points with me on last night's SportsCenter. Leading into the story about Mike Davis's 1-game suspension, he told a store of his father doing a similar thing while a coach at Morgan State. The reason Fraiser made me happy? He mentioned, on air, MSU's opponent in that game -- Towson. Yes, Fraizer did call the school Towson State, but that's what it was back then. Any Towson mention on SportsCenter is a good thing.

Tiger Tracks

• Of course, if the basketball teams at Towson keep playing as they have been, there won't be many SportsCenter mentions forthcoming.

That said, I'm going to change gears and talk about one of my favorite Towson teams, the gymnastics squad.

Dick Filbert's team had one of its worst seasons ever in 2002, culminating with the suspension of star Jenn Baierlein. However, if Filbert's proven anything in his time at Towson, it's that he knows where to find talent.

There are four freshmen on the Tigers' roster this year, including Liz Rothbard, who comes from the same program as Baierlein, and could put up numbers like Baierlein did in 2000.

Then again, no matter what happens in the season-opening meet, the Tigers will enjoy themselves -- they're going to the Bahamas.

eBay Item of the Week

• A Shaquille O'Neal game-used rookie season jersey. Orlando Magic No. 32 White, size 52+. Current Bid: $1,998. Buy It Now Price: $15,000. Ends Jan. 2, 2003 6:15 a.m. PST.

Random Prediction

• With the NFL Playoffs starting, I guess I should make a Super Bowl prediction: OK. Steelers vs. Falcons, Steelers win in double-OT.