With the economy in the crapper for the foreseeable future, this seems like as good a time as any to think positive thoughts. So, without further introduction, here are ten things I'm eagerly anticipating in the world of sports:
1. Don Sutton calling Braves games again. The past six years have been death by a thousand paper cuts as everything that made the Braves unique have gone out the window. Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Andruw, Schuerholz, Skip, Pete, the Bravo Club, winning divisions, etc. Don's return will be a little slice of nostalgia for the decade when everything was great from April to September.
2. Duke's inevitable exit to a lower seeded, more athletic team. The NCAA Tournament doesn't officially start until a Duke player is crying his eyes out on a Thursday or Friday night in the second week of the Tournament. Greg Paulus, come on down!
3. The NFL Draft. It's such an odd feeling to have confidence in the Falcons' decision-maker. That confidence is buoyed, of course, by the team's decision to play hardball with Keith Brooking.
4. Josh Smith's first dunk in a home playoff game. I nominate Udonis Haslem as the dunkee.
5. The Copa del Rey Final. As I was mocking a Manchester United friend for the fact that United inevitably play boring finals, I realized that Barcelona have played exactly one final this decade. (I'm excluding meaningless games like the World Club Championship, the Spanish Supercup, and the European Supercup.) Thus, Barca's date with Athletic Bilbao (which ought to be re-named the "Who hates Fascist Real the most?" Cup) will be something exciting.
6. Terrell Owens' first interview after being cut. I'm sure that Stephen A. Smith is working the phones with T.O. as we speak. I'm also sure that Owens will be circumspect in his comments and wouldn't dream of throwing his teammates under the proverbial bus.
7. Liverpool losing at Old Trafford. 1990 was a long, long time ago.
8. Spring practice reports. There's nothing so exciting as the inevitable "Player X who has never seen the field before is tearing it up!" noise that comes out of every spring practice. We all manage to banish the thought that Player X is tearing it up against his own teammates. G-d help my sanity the first time I hear "Tate Forcier can [insert quarterback skill] much better than Steven Threet ever could!"
9. My friend Ben predicting an undefeated season for Georgia. It's a rite of summer. He's already thinking that the Dawgs are going to win 11 games. By May, that number will creep to 12 and by July, he'll reach 14-0. It's good to be friends with Pangloss.
10. Another Nadal-Federer final at Wimbledon. I'm not a tennis fan like I was when I was a kid, but the Wimbledon final last year completely sucked me in. I'd be very disappointed if there isn't a sequel.