Summer of 72

By Mike Szwaja

They say you learn something every day, and by my count, we missed 72 school days over the summer. I learned 72 things about sports alone over the summer, and here they are:

A question on the Bears Web site asking who was the best Bears QB of the last 25 years listed Harbaugh, McMahon, Miller and Kramer. Ouch! … Maybe Jerry Krause wasn’t the one to lay all the blame on for the breakup of the Bulls after all. Phil Jackson just seems to have that effect on people. …

Training for a marathon can be grueling. … Going to US Cellular Field instead of Wrigley Field is: a) a whole lot easier b) a better experience for your taste buds and c) usually doesn’t put as big of a dent in your wallet. …

Pat Riley didn’t consider taking the Lakers job because if he remains in the Miami Heat organization for another year, he receives a bonus totaling between $25 and $30 million. …

During the Athens Olympics, I fell for synchronized diving. I knew it got bad when I could tell the difference between an 8.5 and a 9.5. … Remember Derek Jeter sprawling into the fourth row to make a catch at Yankee Stadium? Am I the only one who thought he easily could have braced himself before hitting the seats? …

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After watching Tank Johnson and Tommie Harris practice for 5 hours, I think Johnson is going to be better than Harris. … The Chicago Bulls’ slogan for the upcoming season is “Through Thick and Thin,” which subtly implies the organization expects another “thin” season. … With each passing day of stalled NHL labor negotiations, U.S. hockey is more doomed. …

Not having a U.S. baseball team in Athens is like not having spaghetti at an Italian restaurant. … After watching a lot of European soccer and just as many MLS games, it becomes apparent that we still have a long way to go. … Ricky Williams retiring really wasn’t that surprising. … The old motto is: Great pitching wins pennants. The St. Louis Cardinals’ offense dispelled that motto. … Lance Armstrong keeps “living strong.” … Mike Tyson officially began fading into “bolivian.” …

Had we not gone to war in Iraq, would we still have embraced their Olympic soccer team? … It’s official, the rest of the world caught up in basketball faster than we caught up in soccer. … My favorite Olympian was beach volleyball player Carrie Walsh. … The White Sox run away with the AL Central with a healthy Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez. …

The Chicago Fire’s Justin Mapp is my new favorite American footballer. … I’m going to miss watching Mia Hamm play. … Watching the Pistons manhandle the Lakers was a lot of fun. … Martin St. Louis has be an inspiration for short people everywhere. … For some reason, I’m pulling for Joe Gibbs. … Even with Terrell Owens, the Eagles don’t have what it takes. …

In three years, Charles Tillman will join Champ Bailey and Shawn Springs as the NFL’s dominant corners. … The Cubs will use Moises Alou’s salary, along with the money they were paying Alex Gonzalez, to sign Nomar for the next three years. … Andre Agassi looks poised to win the U.S. Open. … Andy Roddick doesn’t. …

Watching Phil Mickelson win a major was like watching a baby take its first steps. … Watching a pitcher throw a perfect game, as Randy Johnson did this summer, is awesome. … Barry Sanders’ dad introduced him at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony as the “third-best running back ever.” Respect. … Chris DiMarco is the best golfer without a major. …

The BCS announced it would add a fifth bowl game in 2006, which will help the situation how? … Look out for the Phoenix Suns next season. … It’s about time for the Cubs to start planning a new stadium. …

The beach volleyball classic, “Side Out,” came out on DVD in July, which was a plus. … Jimmy Roberts’ Olympic featurettes should get him a medal of his own. … I can’t wait until I can watch every sporting event in high def. … Judging how they handled the Phillip Rivers negotiations, maybe Eli Manning was right about the Chargers. …

The Jamal Crawford trade can’t be judged until we see who John Paxson signs during the next two summers. … Thierry Henry is the world’s best soccer player. … Freddy Adu will be everything expected of him. …

www.annabenson.net …

Part of me wishes rain and wind would have played a part at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. … Whether we like it or not, Roger Federer is the next big tennis star. … Part of me says Coach K’s decision was honorable and part of me says he was scared of failing. …

The Cubs’ road uniforms have to go. … I’m hoping Alexander Ovechkin skates for the Washington Capitals in October. … Greece winning Euro 2004 is like a house-cat simultaneously beating up a tiger, a lion, a jaguar and a panther. …

I’m still waiting for the NFL to retire Pat Tillman’s number. … Mike Vick says he won’t cut his hair until the Falcons win the Super Bowl. Look for him to lead the return of the Afro. … Even at third base, Alex Rodriguez is the best player in baseball. … Whatever happened to DaJuan Wagner? … Deion Sanders returning is a mistake. … Todd Bertuzzi should go to jail. …

It’s amazing that the Braves just keep winning. … Kerry Collins will be the starter in Oakland by week six. … Mike Williams should be playing for USC this season. … I tried and I still can’t get into NASCAR. … Ditto for poker. … Michael Jordan’s been way too quiet, so expect him to make some noise soon. …

The Tiger Woods/Frank the Headcover commercials keep getting better. … NFL cornerbacks are going to have a tough year with the new contact rules. … Free agent pitchers are going to line up to play in Petco Park. … Sammy Sosa will make $17 million next season, which is ridiculous. … Emeka Okafor will be a bust in Charlotte. … The Olympics are inexplicably fascinating. …

I missed writing my column. Thanks for reading.

Mike Szwaja is a senior in communications. He can be reached at [email protected].