Year in Review

The Box has next week off, which is a good thing in oh-so-many ways, headmost being the end-of-the-year-sports-wrap-up-and-awards column will appear one week early. And when you think about it, isn’t that what we all want?

Winner — Feel Good category: San Francisco Giants. Cinderella and Lazarus win the World Series. Two months later nobody slogging out a life east of the Mississippi remembers.

Runner Up — Feel Good category; Winner — It’s About Time category: the 2010 World Cup. Well, hell, boy, that soccer is a pretty good game.

Biggest Loser — Money category: Tiger Woods. He didn’t rack a single win all year. Blew a four-stroke lead over not-a-household-name Graeme McDowel on the last day of the last tournament of 2010. The fact that he still won $1.3 million in PGA Tour prize money tells us the Tour has too much money. Tiger lost at least $22 million in endorsements and $110 million in divorce hush money, and yet Sports Illustrated reported that he earned $70 million in endorsements. There is a leak in our space-time continuum.

But, it’s not all about money, is it? NO, of course not. Let’s talk about the human cost, about the lives Tiger Woods trashed, and in particular one life, one promising career obliterated, wiped off the employment map because of her reckless lifestyle. TMZ reports that one of Woods’s mistresses, Devon James, was fired from her job as a whore at the Bunny Ranch in Carson, Nevada, for publicly talking about her relationship with the golfing star.

The brothel’s owner, Dennis Hof, said James “broke the code, which is privacy and discretion with all clients. She is a disgusting excuse for a working girl...a scumbag and a snitch.”

Ms. James cannot expect a letter of recommendation from her last employer. Her career is laid waste by the cruelty of Don Tiger Woods. He used her and then drove her into the shadows, into a life lived behind the counter of an In-N-Out Burger somewhere in Utah, alongside I-70.

Winner — Biggest Embarrassment category: I know, some of you will cling to Tiger Woods, but I submit his story transcends embarrassment and flies into Hindenburg dirigible territory. For simple lifelong embarrassment I give you LeBron James and his nationally broadcast TV special, The Decision. LeBron needed an hour to tell an impatient nation that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami. Jim Gray, a beauty-pageant journalist kind of guy, floated puff questions to LeBron, such as, “Would you like to sleep on it a little longer, or are you ready to make this decision?” Following up with, “You still a nail biter?”

At some point, James will come to understand what a fool he was. For now, only the rest of us know. The Miami Heat opened their season with a loss to Boston, and over 17 games compiled a record of nine wins against eight losses. We knew Justice. LeBron knew comeuppance and ridicule. Suddenly, America felt better about herself.

But then, in a twist that proves real life cannot be tamed, Miami started to win. The Heat’s Sunday victory over the Washington Wizards made it 12 games in a row. Further, they won ten games by 10 points or more and won five of those 10 games by 20 points or more. Miami averaged 101.9 points a game and held opponents to an average of 84.1 points. They’re not winning, they’re destroying opponents. For Cleveland fans, this is what it was like inside Hitler’s bunker right before the fall.

Unanimous choice — Going Out With a Whimper category: Bret Favre.

Winner — What’s Not to Like category: New Orleans Saints as Super Bowl Champion.

Winner — Under The Radar, Until This Week, Then Overkill category: The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. The Huskies have won two consecutive national titles and played two seasons without losing a game. As of Monday, the lady Huskies have won 88 consecutive games tying the record set by the UCLA men’s basketball team 36 years ago. The UCLA streak ended with a loss by one point to Notre Dame on January 19, 1974. The John Wooden–coached, Bill Walton–led team earned a streak that extended over four seasons, including two unbeaten seasons and three national championships.

Now comes UConn. ESPN2 will wall-to-wall UConn’s record-breaking attempt against Florida State at the XL Center in Hartford. On hand will be their A-list announcing team. A-list studio team. Hour-long pregame special. Postgame show. ESPNU will broadcast five hours of UConn lore leading up to tip-off. Money will change hands.

Finally. Comeback Player of the Year and NFL MVP is, believe it, Michael Vick.

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Your sympathy for the lives of the prostitutes manifests great empathy, great goodness.

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