A Few Stories Dominated the Year in Sports

By and

With the long-awaited year 2002 upon us now, I wanted to take a look back at the top sports stories in one of the most memorable years in a long time. Here is my view of the top four stories of 2001.

1. The cancellation of all major sporting events due to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle took a major gamble in 1963 when he allowed the NFL to play after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He was highly criticized because of that decision. Everyone involved with the decision to cancel games following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 learned from that.

Every major sporting event in the country was either canceled or postponed the week of Sept. 11. A mass cancellation of games had never been done before.

The NFL postponed its games, which will delay the Super Bowl by one week. The NCAA postponed or canceled every event in the country.

Major League Baseball halted its season for one week, and the World Series was thereby delayed as well, causing it to be played in November for the first time in history.

2. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announces the possibility of a league contraction 48 hours after one of the most exciting World Series in history.

Perhaps Major League Baseball shot itself in the foot. After working hard to bring back fan appreciation in baseball following the Major League lockout of ’94 that canceled the World Series for the first time, Selig announced that MLB doesn’t have enough money for 30 teams. Rumors surfaced the Minnesota Twins and Montral Expos were on the chopping block.

The 2001 season was one to remember. Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, breaking Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record. The Diamondbacks won their first World Series. But much of this was undone by contraction talk.

Fans were upset that baseball is short on money after baseball superstars are making unbelievable salaries. Last year, Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers for $25 million a year. Other players are now demanding similar salaries.

To date, the contraction is still on hold as MLB is trying to work out other options instead of saying good-bye to two teams, but it has not ruled out contraction.

3. The death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnardt.

On Feb. 18, NASCAR lost a legend. As he rounded Turn 4 near the end of the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt’s car was hit from behind, sending him head-on into the wall. The impact killed Earnhardt instantly.

Memorials were placed around the country with the No. 3, Earnhardt’s car number. Songs were dedicated to him.

4. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeating the New York Yankees in seven games.

The Diamondbacks became the fastest team to come from expansion to World Series champion, defeating the hallowed New York Yankees?a team older than the state of Arizona.

After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Yankees went home to enormous fan support in the Bronx. Just one and a half months before, New York’s World Trade Center was leveled by terrorists. The Yankees won all three games in New York, two of them in extra innings. The Diamondbacks came home and won game six, tying the series at three.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning in game seven, the D-Backs scored a run off the Yankees’ All-Star closer Mariano Rivera. The bases were loaded with one out. Luis Gonzalez hit a blooper over shortstop Derek Jeter’s glove, sending Jay Bell home. The D Backs derailed the three-peat champion Yankees, 3-2.

Pitchers Kurt Schilling and Randy Johnson received the MVP award as co-MVPs. It was called by many one of the most thrilling World Series in Major League Baseball history.

It’s safe to say 2002 has a lot to live up to.

Lance welcomes feedback at: [email protected].