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I Dream of Janet ...

... and O.J. and A.I. and everyone else who did things more absurd or outrageous in 2004 than I could possibly imagine

Bring me the head of the guy who brought me the head of the Phillie Phanatic
A 37-year-old man was sentenced to two years' probation for allegedly stealing the head of the Phillie Phanatic and then trying to return it for a $5,000 reward.

Not well
Onstage at a charity telethon, legendary radio disc jockey Bruce (Cousin Brucie) Morrow cheerfully asked Roberto Clemente Jr., "How's your dad?"

Clemente died in '72
Pete Rose wrote in My Prison Without Bars that he was picked ahead of Clemente to start in an All-Star Game in the mid-'70s.

Mays retired in '73
Rose also boasted that he started ahead of Willie Mays in that game.

One more than Bill Clinton
North Korea's government-controlled media reported that Kim Jong Il shoots at least three holes in one every time he plays a round of golf.

Curse of the Gambinos
FBI documents claimed that reliever John Franco left New York Mets tickets for members of the Bonanno crime family.

What a tool
Boston Red Sox first base coach Lynn Jones injured an eye after losing control of a screwdriver while trying to open a box at his home.

And you thought the NHL lockout was the year's longest labor story
At the Tommy Hilfiger fashion show in New York City, Paris Hilton asked 24-year-old Venus Williams and her 23-year-old sister, Serena, "How many minutes apart were you born?"

Now he's crossed the line
DirecTV filed a federal lawsuit against O.J. Simpson alleging that he illegally unscrambled its satellite signal.

Of which Don King took $4.97
In U.S. bankruptcy court records Mike Tyson listed his earnings for November 2003 as $5.58.

To which Tyson promptly changed his name
The winning goal for Middlesborough in a 3-2 win over Manchester United in February was scored by Cameroonian striker Joseph-Desire Job.

Ice on sole
Reebok and Jacob the Jeweler introduced a diamond-encrusted Allen Iverson sneaker selling for $65,000.

Have you seen the price of sneakers?
Latrell Sprewell rejected a $29 million contract offer from the Timberwolves by noting, "I've got my family to feed."

Ask an English major why this is funny
At Wimbledon, NBC's Jimmy Roberts noted that British affection for Tim Henman is "like a Canterbury Tale: It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times."

Swift Boat Veterans for Heidi
With the Michigan--Michigan State game tied at 37, the ABC affiliate in Miami cut away to an anti--John Kerry documentary.

Vince Lombardo turned over in his grave
Kerry referred to the home of the Green Bay Packers as "Lambert Field."

I mean, besides me
While campaigning, Kerry said, "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?"

How much for a threesome?
Three people were sentenced to 125 days' house arrest after strippers and prostitutes were provided to golfers at the Hidden Valley Golf Club in Norco, Calif.

The (produce) scales of justice
Western Kentucky's tomato-shaped mascot, Big Red, held a press conference in Rome to announce that the school was filing a $250 million lawsuit against an Italian media company whose satirical news show features a comic, Gabibbo, who looks alarmingly like Big Red.

Thus destroying Kobe's faith in the sanctity of marriage
Kobe Bryant accused Karl Malone of hitting on Bryant's wife, Vanessa.

What makes Sammy's nose run?
Sammy Sosa missed a month of the season after he injured his back sneezing.

Blatter infection
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said female players should wear tighter shorts to make women's soccer more popular.

Thus clinching Tampa's bid for the next women's World Cup
The six-year-old seats at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa faded in the sun from Buccaneers pewter and red to pewter and pink.

Tempest in a D cup
Justin Timberlake exposed one of Janet Jackson's breasts during halftime of the Super Bowl and blamed it on a "wardrobe malfunction."

Call Janet
Belgian professional soccer referee Jacky Temmerman quit after having his pants pulled down by a fan in mid-match, saying, "They can look for another idiot who is prepared to stand with his ass naked for 20 euros a game."

Fielder's choice
Padres pitcher Akinori Otsuka, distracted by a piece of paper thrown at him by an autograph seeker, was injured when he failed to catch a bat thrown by another autograph hound.

Gimme a C! Gimme a P! Gimme an R!
Hit in the calf by a stray bullet as the team bus traveled through Kansas City, Indians rookie pitcher Kyle Denney was saved from serious injury by the knee-high white boots of the USC cheerleader outfit he was wearing as part of a rookie hazing ritual.

My bad!
While filming a commercial, Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho shattered a window of the 12th-century cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The Law is an ass
Pulled over for a traffic violation in Miami, Patriots cornerback Ty Law allegedly abandoned his Rolls-Royce and led police on a foot chase before being caught. One arresting officer said Law told them "not to touch him because he's a pro athlete." (Law denies saying this.)

Don't free Willie
During a five-hour visit to the University of Florida, football recruit Willie Williams allegedly hugged a woman without her consent, punched a man in a nightclub and discharged three fire extinguishers in his hotel. Williams enrolled at Miami.

This also works on Willie Williams
Dartmouth crew coaches were attacked by a crazed river otter that boarded their boat during varsity practice, but they fought off the "devilish creature" with paddles and a megaphone.

The hard part was prying it from Santa's cold, dead fingers
A 14-year-old boy in Orange, Calif., was trapped overnight in a chimney from which he was trying to retrieve an errant football.

It was won by the Brown noseguard
A reader told New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick that he'd seen an ABC closed-caption scroll identifying linebacker Derrick Johnson of Texas as a finalist for college football's butt kiss award.

The notorious D.O.G.
Ron Artest asked the Pacers for time off to promote a rap album.

So everything worked out in the end
After Artest punched a fan in the stands in Detroit, he was suspended for the season, at which time he began promoting a rap album.

Who says Wal-Mart pays low wages?
The University of Missouri changed the name of Paige Sports Arena when a college roommate of Elizabeth Paige Laurie said she was paid $20,000 to write term papers for the Wal-Mart heiress.

Or so he surmised from hours and hours of illegally unscrambled Court TV coverage
O.J. Simpson told Greta Van Susteren that he thought Kobe Bryant was innocent of sexual-assault charges.

Urine good hands
Chicago Cubs leftfielder Moises Alou, who doesn't wear batting gloves, revealed that he urinates on his hands to harden them.

Angry fans thought Samson Night was a suitcase giveaway
The Triple A Nashville Sounds gave away religious-themed bobblehead dolls of Moses, Samson and Noah.

The guy who won had no proof of insurance
NASCAR rookie Scott Wimmer finished third at the Daytona 500 even though he didn't have a driver's license, which was suspended after a DUI charge.

Losing isn't in my vocabulary, and neither are hundreds of thousands of other words
After taking over as president of the New York Knicks, Isiah Thomas gave coach Don Chaney a vote of confidence, saying, "He's got great stuff. His defensive stuff is solid. His offensive stuff is exceptional."

Stuff happens
Days later, two hours before tip-off of a game against the Orlando Magic, Thomas fired Chaney, who was then escorted--with his wife--out of Madison Square Garden.

How was your day, dear?
One of Chaney's assistants, Brendan Malone, who was also fired that night, was driving home from the Garden when his Lincoln Navigator was broadsided and totaled.

Da bail was set at $500
Chester Brewer, who played Da Bull--the mascot of the Chicago Bulls--was arrested with six ounces of marijuana on his person. "He was not dressed as a bull at the time of his arrest," reported the Associated Press.

Further evidence of links between Saddam and Al-Leiter
New York City staged a mock terrorist attack at Shea Stadium, where a fake weapon of mass destruction went off.

Worst seat in the house
At a Maryland Terrapins basketball game, off-duty Baltimore cop Darren Sanders shot himself in the buttocks when his revolver accidentally discharged.

Twins third baseman Corey Koskie said, "If I hit 30 home runs and Jacque Jones hits 30 home runs and Torii Hunter hits 30 home runs, that's 120 home runs."

Let's see, one plus one plus one--that's four
For one of the final-exam questions given to Georgia basketball players in his Coaching Principles class, former assistant Jim Harrick Jr. asked, "How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a Basketball Game?"

Evidently he had the take sign
Yankees slugger Jason Giambi reportedly told a grand jury that he injected human growth hormone into his stomach and testosterone into his buttocks, rubbed a steroid called "the cream" on his body, placed another called "the clear" under his tongue and might have taken a female fertility drug called Clomid.

After all, that's what Teamsters and umpires do
The union that represents Major League Baseball umpires explored a possible affiliation with the Teamsters, though umpire Tim Tschida downplayed the talks, saying, "We're just having lunch."

After the Twins bought pitcher Terry Mulholland's contract for $1, Mulholland--who would go 5-9 for Minnesota--said, "It was a dollar well spent."

Beware of Greeks sharing lifts
Greek sprinters Konstantinos Kenteris and Katernia Thanou skipped their Olympic drug tests, then faked a tandem motorcycle accident as an alibi.

Baby Ruth
After losing 6-4 to his archrivals at Fenway Park, Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said, "What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."

Lincoln, city of light
After a 30-3 loss to Oklahoma, Nebraska coach Bill Callahan called Sooners fans "[expletive] hillbillies."

Sour grapes? No, I think they were clementines
Callahan later softened his comment, saying, "I probably could have used a better choice of words, but I am distressed when people are shooting off guns and throwing fruit at our players."

Diaper Dandy
A Pleasantville, N.J., middle school teacher was fired as basketball coach after giving a 13-year-old player the Crybaby Award at the team banquet.

A real wake-up call
Oakland A's pitcher Rich Harden injured his shoulder while turning off his alarm clock.

He was working on a backdoor slider
Florida Marlins pitcher Bryce Florie sliced open his chin one night when he reportedly sleepwalked into sliding glass doors.

Blaspheme it like Beckham
Wax figures of David Beckham and his wife, Victoria (Posh Spice), were dressed up as Joseph and Mary in the celebrity nativity scene at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. A visitor to the museum was so outraged that he punched the two figures in the face.

Dopey's sleepy
Great Britain's National Portrait Gallery exhibited a 67-minute video of Beckham sleeping.

With great power comes great irresponsibility
Major League Baseball announced plans (later canceled) to put ads for Spider-Man 2 on bases and on-deck circles.

The Yankees, sadly, passed on both of them
Rick Bambino and Doodle Hicks were two of the players selected in the June major league draft.

The Devil Rays signed him to a three-year deal
While throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for the Provo Angels of the Pioneer League, banker Kevin Williams blew out his knee, causing the game to be delayed for 25 minutes while he was removed from the field by ambulance.

Diamonds are forever. Except when they're not
A $350,000 diamond that was set, as a promotion for the movie Ocean's Twelve, in the front end of a Formula One Jaguar in the Monaco Grand Prix was never recovered after driver Christian Klien crashed into a guardrail on the opening lap of the race.

He also puts Trojans on bananas
Randy Valicoff, a farmer in Washington's Yakima Valley, ripened the logos of the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars onto his Pink Lady variety of apples.

This could explain Craig Stadler
A dog in Manchester, England, was found, during surgery, to have swallowed 28 golf balls.

Magic Johnson
After the Pacers' equipment manager was arrested for allegedly exposing himself in the window of his hotel room, Birmingham, Mich., police chief Richard Patterson said, "Apparently he was proud of his equipment."

Kabul promptly threw in the towel
Havana submitted a bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Thousand island undressing
Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight upbraided the school's chancellor, David Smith, at the salad bar of a Lubbock supermarket.

Crack staff
In homage to a fellow Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, Justin Miller tattooed the phrase I ‚ô• Billy Koch on his buttocks.

And that's the year in sports--from soup ...
Eric Booker ate 21 baseball-sized matzo balls in five minutes and 25 seconds to become the world champion of competitive matzo-ball eating.

... To nuts
In August, USA Today reported, "St. Louis Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez was suspended for 10 days Tuesday for applying a foreign substance to balls."

That's all, folks!

Canadian prime minister Paul Martin phoned Calgary Flames president Ken King to congratulate him during the last minutes of the Flames' victory in the Western Conference finals. After Martin identified himself, King replied, "Yeah, I'm Daffy Duck, and I've got a hockey game to watch here," then hung up.

• For a collection of Steve Rushin's columns, go to

Steve Rushin's column will return in SI's Jan. 10, 2005, issue





One Step Ahead of Ty Law

After returning a kick for a touchdown against North Carolina, Marquis Weeks of Virginia said, "That was just instinct. Kind of like running from the cops."



It is the fastest way down

The hiking magazine Trail instructed readers on how to descend Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest peak, in low visibility. Alas, those instructions would have led hikers to step off a cliff.



Jim, for instance, has a tiny freckle on one earlobe

Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner said that 6'4", 244 pound Phillies slugger Jim Thome has a twin sister, but they are "not identical."