Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Surprise Teams of 2004

I am going on vacation and won’t be back until the new year. Happy Holidays to all!! Have a safe one everyone.

Because of that….this will be my last journal entry for 7-10 days [I may be able to sneak on a computer and throw one up here sometime]. I’ve worked over the last 2 days to put some stuff on here to read.

Here is a look back at the surprising and disappointing teams in sports for 2004. And NO…I am not going to put the Boston Red Sox in there. Before the season…they were one of the favorites to win the World Series. All of this things surrounding their championship season made it so special.



DETROIT PISTONS. This team canned it’s coach and made a pretty risky mid-season deal to get, at times, volatile Rasheed Wallace. They didn’t win their division…but went into Indiana and stole the East from them. Of course, that was just to be the West’s red-headed stepchild. Well, Detroit thoroughly spanked the Lakers. Spanked them in LA [though the Lakers did fight back to win one] and really spanked them in Detroit. Where did they come from?? They snatched the trophy away from the West for the first time since Jordan sank that shot at the FT line in 1998.


TEXAS RANGERS. This was a team that lost Alex Rodriguez…yet won 89 games [18 more than last season] and were in the playoff hunt up until the final week.


UTAH UTES FOOTBALL. I know, they play in the Mountain West. So what. They blew out virtually everyone they played…including some BCS conference teams. They became the first non-BCS school to get into a BCS game. Their coach will be in Florida next year….but the program could still thrive.


XAVIER MUSKETEERS. They lost A-10 player of the year David West to the NBA. Yet, they surprised everyone by getting to the Elite 8 and nearly popping Duke for a shot at the Final Four.


TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING. Yeah…the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup Champions. A hockey team in Tampa. A hockey team that sucked so bad for most of it’s existence. And they beat fellow surprise team Cal-gary to do it.


SAN DIEGO CHARGERS. How is this team the AFC West champ?? They drafted a QB that didn’t want to sign. But the guy that he was meant to replace is an All Pro. Their best receiver is a basketball player. And name a guy on defense….and one of them!


MIAMI HEAT. The pre-Shaq Heat. The team has been in shambles since Alonzo Mourning’s kidney problems started. He left for New Jersey and the Heat drafted Dwayne Wade. Suddenly the Heat were the #4 seed in the East….behind the Pistons. Pacers and Nets.



CHICAGO CUBS. They weren’t terrible disappointments…I mean, they did finish 89-73. However, they were supposed to be at least in the playoffs, right? Instead, you had Sammy sulking….players vs. announcers…and even Dusty Baker frustrated. Not to mention that they’ve inherited the Red Sox badge of total suffering franchise alone.


SEATTLE MARINERS. How did this team get this bad?? I know they had no pitching…but didn’t Seattle have enough mashers out there?? Ichiro broke a 80+ year record for hits and they still couldn’t score enough.


MIAMI DOLPHINS. Blame it on Ricky Williams. I do.


MIAMI HURRICANES. This was a team that was in two of the last three National Championship games. They were a top 5 pre-season pick. Yet, they lost to North Carolina…then Clemson, at home, the very next weekend. Yet, they still had a shot to win the ACC…but were knocked off, at home again, by Virginia Tech. Add to the fact that both Florida State and Louisville should have beaten them [both in Miami] and this could….could….be a 6-5 team.


DETROIT RED WINGS. The team won the President’s trophy for best regular season record. But, again, they came up short…getting smacked by Calgary. They did make a big trade for Robert Lang…Hasek’s return didn’t go smoothly as he and Cujo kept fighting [Legace turned out to be their top goalie]….Hull is now gone…and Stevie Y is hurt.


STANFORD CARDINAL HOOPS. They went thru the regular season with 1 loss….then lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Alabama. Great season cut short.


PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS AND UTAH JAZZ. Well, you can’t call them total disappointments. In fact, both teams made surprising runs for the playoffs. What was disappointing was to see their long playoff streaks come to an end. The Jazz missed the playoffs for the first time since 1983. The Blazers haven’t missed them since 1981. The longest current streak belongs, shakily, to the Lakers [10].


potfry said...

Top 10 Reasons Red Sox’s Made Varitek their Captain

10. Kevin Millar was  un-willing to give up pre-game alcohol binge
9. Winner of last year’s “First one to Slap a Yankee like a girl gets to be Captain” contest
8. Red Sox Management didn’t want to sit through another one of Curt Schilling’s “If it wasn’t for God” press conferences
7. Has critical “Special Olympics Hugger” experience management was looking for
6. Knows how to coax Johnny Damon into barber chair with Jolly Ranchers
5. Can speak convincingly to any of Manny Ramirez’s multiple personalities
4.   Knows special “tuck-in” technique for David Ortiz on road trips
3. Beat the snot out of a bat-boy in final “full-contact” round of Captain Selection
2.   Knows how to work locker room fire extinguisher
     1.   Players fell for his “Less Running/More Cake” Campaign Promise

mreliahu said...

For the Dolphins ... "Blame it on Ricky" ... WRONG ... ask Wannstedt who would have carried the ball if Ricky had broken his leg in the first preseason game ... then get out the towels as this idiot drools all over himself trying to explain why he didn't plan to have a back up running back ... or a decent left tackle (or right tackle or guard for that matter);  then ask him to tell us the truth why his offensive coordinator quit BEFORE the first preseason game;  the ask him why the he passed over three other former offensive coordinators on the staff to choose a coach who had never been an offensive coordinator ....

The truth is that Wannstedt is the worst coach in football and my condolences to any U of Pitt fans who may read this.

mjordanwizards said...

How could you choose Xavier over the St. Joe's basketball team?  Nobody in their right mind would have predicted that St. Joes would end the regular season undefeated AND ranked #1 in the nation.  They got to to the same point that Xavier did in the postseason as well, if I recall.  Also, they had the player of the year in Jameer Nelson and were pretty much the best story in college hoops last year.  

baurmike said...

I agree that Ricky williams can not take the blame for the dolphins having one of their worse seasons ever. Williams did quit on his team. However, a decent team does not depend that much on on player. When Marino got hurt and was lost for the season the were not this bad.  Coach Dave took the Bears and screwed them up. Now he is didth same thing with the Dolphins. They were and are a proud orginization that has a winning tradition Coach Dave W has a loosing tradition. He needs to o back to what he does best coach defense. He should should start at the high School level. Pitt hired a coach that has name recognition, that does not win games.

I guess you were in a hurry going on vacation and all. You took th fast and easy way with the Dolphins. The only time losing is one persons fault is when it is the leaders fault they are in charge.

sportzassassin said...

JORDANWIZARDS...."How could you choose Xavier over the St. Joe's basketball team?  Nobody in their right mind would have predicted that St. Joes would end the regular season undefeated AND ranked #1 in the nation.  They got to to the same point that Xavier did in the postseason as well, if I recall.  Also, they had the player of the year in Jameer Nelson and were pretty much the best story in college hoops last year. "

To me, St. Joe's wasn't a total surprise.  Yeah, it was a surprise that they went the entire regular season undefeated....but this team was pretty darn good in 2003.  They brought everyone back from a 23-6 team and played better than most people thought.

But, Xavier lost All American and A-10 player of the year David West to graduation.  They got out to a horrible start to the season....but came on STRONG at the tail end of the season.  They went from bubble team, to the first team to beat St. Joe's, to NCAA Elite Eighter.  And they HAD Dook on the ropes.  That was my reason for throwing them up there.  

tsewitoo said...

Ricky Williams was/ and is a cry baby. He has been ever since his college days.
At best he was a so so running back.

Wayne promised a winning team when he canned Shula for Jimmy. Then Jimmy quit. The Davy boy took over.

Blaming a poor season one losing 1 player is nothing but an poor excuse for a poor coach.

Teh Pats lost a lot of players at diff times, but I didn't see them complain.

1 Player is not a team...a part of one, yes. Team means everyone playing as a unit.

To run the football you need a line. A good line will make a poor back look good.
And you better have a QB in there too. Fiedler is a joke, as is Feeley.
The Fins need to clean house, both on offense and defense. The defense is a great unit, but age is catching up on them.

robertsill said...

The sportzassassin should stay on vacation permanently for not recognizing that the Steelers are far and away the surprise team, a great sports story, and the best "team" in sports, this year!

No one picked them to do anything in the pre-season! They had only 6 victories last year, lost their starting quarterback, lost their starting running back, lost their starting nose gard, safty, and outside linebacker and, for the most part, had the same players that they had last year and then lost Burrus for half the season and still did what no other team from the AFC has ever done including the '70's Steeler teams...go 15 and 1.

Instead the stories are all about major market non-stories and trying to pump up their pre-season picks,  including Eli, the Pats, Danta and the Vikings, Vic and the Falcons, Donavan and the Eagles and, the of course the now the most over rated player, potential felon, and worst role model to young people everywhere in the league, Ray Lewis.  What a sad state of pandering is the national media.

Is it pride, ratings, or reverse racism, which is one of the only states of mind worse than racism itself...and don't start with me, my favorite player and the best role model in the NFL is Hinze Ward.

All year, all the "experts" said the Steelers would lose to ever team the "experts" picked and instead the Steelers beat and / or murdered everyone of those "best teams in the NFL"...Philly, Pats, Jets, Ravens, and lastly the "hottest team in the NFL" the  Bills, who the Steelers beat with their second and third team on the field.

This is just further proof, that the pandering national media "experts" are seldom objective or correct, and when the results of the game, or the season, are in and prove them wrong, few if any, can ever admit they missed the call...sad!!!

blazerfan29 said...

It is definetely rickys fault the dolphins tanked, ask any one of them for the truth and they would tell u that.   HE RUINED THAT FRANCHISE!    they were my favorite team before but all ricky did was put a ton more pressure on wandstedt

sportzassassin said...

"No one picked them [the Steelers] to do anything in the pre-season!"

I did....actually....if you look at my pre-season NFL preview.  I did have the Ravens winning the division....but I did call out a "watch out for Pittsburgh" in that preview.  
Here is a quote of mine from that post:  "Also, people downplay how well the Steelers could play with a healthy [and trying to keep his job] Maddox and Duce Staley as the featured back"  That is even before a Big Ben sighting.  That's why they aren't a SURPRISE team to me.

So, actually I did the opposite of your accusations.  I went AGAINST those "media predictions" as I tend to do to make my assessments of the season.  

Check it out:

sportzassassin said...


I think people are sleeping on this team. They aren’t elite…but they do have some nice parts. If Tommy Maddox can regain his 2002 form, he should keep his job for the year and keep Rothlesberger with a clipboard. He has Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress to throw to and new RB Duce Staley to run it. The O-Line is iffy and the defense has some holes. But if they get big years from those guys, they have the talent and the coaching to get them close to a division title.

blazerfan29 said...

there is no way maddox will get back over big ben.