John Royal’s Top Twenty Sports Moments of 2007, Part One

The end of the year is coming. And you know what that means, right? Yep, it’s time for all of those cheesy Top 10 lists. And who am I to buck this trend? Cheesy is what I do. But I’ve got a couple of lists, and they’re going to be coming at you all week.

First off, I’ve got the first half of my Top Twenty Sports Moments of 2007, with the second half coming tomorrow Then I’ll follow up with another twenty selected by my friends, so we’ll get those events I don’t care about, like soccer and golf.

On with the list (in no particular order):

1. The Colorado Rockies win 14 of their last 15 games to reach the National League playoffs. Included in that 14 wins is an extra inning win over the San Diego Padres in game 163 of the season (technically, this is a regular season game to break a tie to determine who goes to the playoffs, and is not actually a playoff game.) This is the game where the Rockies score three runs off of future Hall of Fame reliever Trevor Hoffman, though many are still questioning whether Matt Holliday actually touched the plate to score the winning run.

The Rockies would go from that game to sweep past the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, making the streak 20 of 21, to reach the World Series, only to be, in turn, swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Conversely, over in the National League East, the New York Mets would make baseball history by blowing a seven-game lead over the Phillies with only 17 games left, and would miss the playoffs entirely.

2. The city of Houston learns what the rest of the nation, especially the people of Boston, has known for over a decade. Roger Clemens is a prick. Clemens, having spent the off-season going through his annual retire/not-retire dance, decides to return and play baseball for the New York Yankees. And for some reason, the people of Houston suddenly decide that Clemens is a greedy, evil bastard.

3. The Mitchell Report on steroid use in major league baseball is released just before Christmas. Big names are actually named, including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada. Along with those three, six other former Astros are named in the report: Ken Caminiti, Jason Grimsley, Chris Donnels, Ro Villone, Stephen Randolph and Gregg Zaun. Clemens was so offended that he hired celebrity attorney Rusty Hardin to handle the situation, obviously forgetting that there are no ongoing legal proceedings from which he must be defended.

4. Speaking of the Mitchell Report, Barry Bonds hits home run number 756 and passes Henry Aaron on the all-time home run list. I’ll let Richard Justice do the condemning. I’ll just say that Barry Bonds is the greatest player I’ve ever had the chance to watch play the game.

And on this record topic, Craig Biggio ensures his place in the Hall by getting his 3,000th hit. And Tom Glavine also cements a place in the Hall by getting his 300th win.

5. Rice grad Ria Cortesio, a minor league umpire for the AA Southern League, becomes the first women since 1989 – and only the second ever – to umpire a game between two major league teams. The teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs. The game happens towards the end of Spring Training.

Conversely, to ruin this, Ms. Cortesio, who had worked herself up to the top of the list for promotion, is mysteriously bumped down the list and fired at the end of the season.

6. The NBA holds its all-star game in Las Vegas. That’s not exceptional. What’s exceptional is the violence that breaks out around the game. Which causes many to say that Las Vegas isn’t safe. Then Houston’s own Tracy McGrady says the game shouldn’t be played in New Orleans in 2008 because that city won’t be safe. T-Mac, like many, misses the obvious solution: don’t let Pacman Jones into the city.And if he does somehow get into the city, then keep him away from the strip clubs.

7. The day before the season begins, Jose de Jesus Ortiz picks the Astros to win 93 games and to win the World Series. Once again proving that the Astros beat writer, who should know more about the team than anyone, is an idiot. Especially when, if he’d would’ve ever bothered to read me, he would’ve known how bad the team actually was.

8. In one of my favorite moments of the year, Division I-AA Appalachian State upsets the mighty Michigan Wolverines, in Michigan, to open up what would become one of the strangest major college football seasons in history.

9. Jimmy Kimmel is banned from ESPN’s Monday Night Football for making inappropriate jokes about former MNF commentator Joe Theisman. Now, if we could just get Kimmel banned from the airwaves in entirety.

And speaking of banned, here’s hoping that someone keeps Dane Cook away from major league baseball next season.

10. Matt Schaub, the new Jesus, comes to Houston. Of course, the team forgets that he still needs a running game and an offensive line. We also learn that, despite his penchant for white gloves with his uniform, David Carr was one tough bastard. -- John Royal