Once again ... the year that wasn't


The past 12 months in sports were once again so wild, unpredictable and occasionally unbelievable -- Dennis Rodman visited North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un? -- that not even the National Security Agency could keep track of it all.

A 14-year-old boy made the cut at The Masters while a 64-year-old woman swam from Cuba to Florida. Brother coached against brother in the Super Bowl. A No. 15 seed reached the Sweet 16. A British male won Wimbledon for the first time in 77 years. The Pittsburgh Pirates not only had a winning record, they actually reached the postseason. Auburn beat No. 1 Alabama on a 100-yard-plus missed field goal return after the Crimson Tide insisted a second be put back on the clock.

And please don't ask me to explain the whole Manti Te'o mess.

In fact, with so many bizarre, mind-blowing events over the past 12 months, you might not recall all these moments occurring in 2013:

Jan. 3: Actors Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson finish up production on a movie that will be released late in the year about a young man who has a very deep yet strange relationship with a woman who exists only as a voice on his cell phone. Director Spike Jonze is undecided whether to title the movie "Her" or "Manti Te'o's Girlfriend."

Jan. 6: Washington loses its wild-card game against the Seahawks when head coach Mike Shanahan decides to have badly injured quarterback Robert Griffin III operate from the wheelchair formation in the second half.

Jan. 7: Te'o is publicly humiliated after Notre Dame's loss in the BCS championship game when he is forced to admit that Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend Katherine Webb is much hotter than his girlfriend ever was, even if she had actually existed.

Jan. 8: The Chicago Blackhawks' record three-month streak without a regulation or overtime loss is really put on the line when the NHL lockout finally ends.

Jan. 10: The Hall of Fame announces that fewer than 70 percent of the ballots returned by the baseball writers were marked for Craig Biggio or any other player, though as usual, 90 percent were covered with mustard and ketchup stains.

Jan 15: In a nationally televised interview with Oprah, Lance Armstrong confesses he not only doped during his seven Tour de France victories, he also called up Manti Te'o and pretended to be his girlfriend.

Jan. 20: The already intense sibling rivalry between Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh intensifies when the two brothers immediately start bickering over who must leave tickets for their parents to Super Bowl XLVII.

Feb. 1: Just weeks after averting the previous fiscal cliff, Tea Party Republicans risk yet another government default by demanding the budget outcome so vitally important to all Americans -- a lower tax rate on Phil Mickelson.

Feb 3: Beyonce delivers a dazzling 15-minute half-time show at Super Bowl XLVII, but the debut of the league's new, 34-minute mid-third quarter show falls flat because of poor lighting.

Feb. 12: Pitchers, catchers and Alex Rodriguez's lawyers report to spring training.

Feb 15: The International Olympic Committee drops wrestling because it doesn't meet the rigorous sporting standards of trampoline, pingpong and rhythmic gymnastics.

Feb. 20: Lindsey Vonn imperils her Olympic hopes by tearing her ACL and MCL in the Super-G world championship in Austria when she crashes into Tiger Woods, who is improperly dropping a ball 4,800 miles behind the green.

March 10: North Korea threatens a missile attack on South Korea, Japan and the United States. Dennis Rodman responds by traveling to Pyongyang, where he meets longtime fan Kim Jong-un and autographs the dictator's "nuclear basketball" of launch codes.

March 13: Argentina's cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected to be the new pope, even though fewer than 70 percent of baseball writers had him on their ballot.

March 27: Talk about March Madness: No. 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast University pulls off the two biggest upsets of the year when it beats Georgetown to open the NCAA tournament and then snaps the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak.

March 31: Even though Louisville beats Duke to advance to the Final Four, Mike Shanahan criticizes Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, saying he should have left Kevin Ware in the game.

April 8: Pitino becomes the first coach in history to win the national title at two different schools and also fail to get the Boston Celtics to the playoffs a single time in four years.

April 12: Eighth-grader Guan Tianlangis, the youngest player in the history of The Masters, is assessed a one-stroke penalty for constantly stopping and texting his friends and also making farting noises with his arm on his way to the green.

April 13: Tiger is penalized two strokes and several nights on the couch for inadvertently dropping Lindsey Vonn off two miles from entrance at The Masters.

April 14: Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera begin their playoff at The Masters in drenching rain after caddy Carl Spackler assures them, "I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite a while.''

April 30: The NHL postseason schedule begins in traditional fashion with the Red Sox growing their playoff beards.

May 1: In a first-person story for Sports Illustrated, veteran NBA center Jason Collins becomes the first active U.S. pro athlete to openly reveal that he never, ever watches A&E's "Duck Dynasty."

May 6: Vladimir Putin earns world-wide criticism after he signs a controversial law banning Jason Collins from playing basketball in Russia.

May 13: After months of heated debate, backroom maneuvers and increasing angst over the fate of the Sacramento Kings, NBA commissioner David Stern holds a press conference to announce he has once again placed a big "Kick Me" sign on the back of Seattle.

May 20: Toronto mayor Rob Ford admits later in the year he smoked crack cocaine but refuses to resign from office, excusing his drug use by saying he only did so in a drunken stupor after watching the Maples Leafs blow a 4-1 third period lead in their Game 7 loss to the Bruins.

June 1: Ford also admits he might have smoked crack after the Blue Jays fell permanently into last place and many games under .500 despite acquiring Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson during the offseason.

June 16: Ford further acknowledges he might have smoked crack after Miami's Ray Allen buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 6 to cost San Antonia the NBA championship. "Hey, just because I live in Toronto doesn't mean I can't root for the Spurs."

June 17: Justin Rose wins his first major at the U.S. Open after Phil Mickelson double-bogeys twice in the final round to avoid paying taxes on the winner's check of $1.44 million.

June 20: Edward Snowden reveals that the National Security Agency repeatedly abused privacy rights by cat-fishing Manti Te'o, recording Richie Incognito's phone calls to Jonathan Martin, storing A-Rod's Biogenesis purchase records and secretly videotaping the New York Jets' sideline signals in 2007.

June 23:Sewage spills into the Athletics clubhouse after the aging Oakland Coliseum plumbing system is unable to handle all the profanity spewing from closer Grant Balfour's filthy mouth.

July 7: Andy Murray defeats Novak Djokovic to become the first British male to win Wimbledon since strawberries and cream were both fresh and reasonably priced at the concession stands.

July 20: Lance Armstrong calls up Oprah to tell her he hasn't tested positive once for PEDs during the entire 2013 Tour de France.

July 21: Phil Mickelson celebrates winning the British Open at age 43 by shipping the Claret Jug to a secret off-shore bank account in the Bahamas.

July 26: Despite losing head coach Chip Kelly to the NFL, the Oregon Ducks up their commitment to winning by opening their new football training facility, complete with Brazilian ipe wood flooring, Italian Carrara marble and Nepalese wool carpeting, directly inside Phil Knight's mansion.

August 6: Baseball suspends A-Rod 50 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and another 161 games for being such an ass.

August 11: In yet another amazing game, Los Angeles rookie Yasiel Puig hits a dramatic walk-off homer to continue the Dodgers' remarkable winning stretch, but misses first, second and third on his way around the bases.

August 27: Shocked and offended that an amateur player would dirty the name of college athletics by daring to profit off his own signature, the NCAA orders EA Sports programmers to keep Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel on the bench for the first half of the first game of the wildly profitable "NCAA Football 14" video game (list price: $59.99).

August 29: The NFL gets a sweetheart out-of-court settlement in its concussion suit with former players. The league must pay out $750 million in compensation but only if the brain-damaged players are able to figure out how to apply for benefits on the Obamacare website.

Sept. 2: Diana Nyad swims from Cuba to Florida and promptly receives a $43 million contract offer from the Dodgers.

Sept. 8: After winning the US Open, Serena Williams becomes the first woman in sports to top $50 million in career winnings, not including the divorce settlement for A-Rod's ex-wife.

Sept. 21: With the Hurricanes already leading 77-7, Miami and Savannah State agree to shorten the fourth quarter of their game to 12 minutes. In related news, Cal and Purdue fans request their seasons be cut short as well.

Sept. 25: Despite trailing by eight races, Oracle wins the America's Cup after CEO Larry Ellison purchases San Francisco Bay and bans the New Zealand yacht from sailing anywhere in it.

Sept. 28: A trip to Arizona State ends very poorly for USC coach Lane Kiffin when he loses both his luggage and his job at LAX airport.

Sept. 29: As the Yankees' season ends and Mariano Rivera walks off the field for the final time, millions of fans across the nation weep over the fact they didn't draft Peyton Manning for their fantasy league teams.

Oct. 1: Humans wonder if the world's end is truly here as government agencies are closed across the nation and the walking dead roam the earth, all in the season premiere episode of AMC's series "The Pirates Reach the Postseason."

Oct. 10: Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter fails in his desperate attempt to catch David Ortiz's grand slam with his feet.

Oct. 20: Alabama coach Nick Saban criticizes Crimson Tide fans for leaving early during another blowout, saying, "Everyone should stay until the very end. It's not over until it's over. I mean, you simply never know what's going to happen -- even if we have the ball and there is only one second left on the clock. Seriously. Something weird could happen."

Oct. 26: The Red Sox lose Game 4 of the World Series in bizarre fashion when umpires rule that the Cardinals' Allen Craig was obstructed from scoring by first baseman Mike Napoli's beard stretching all the way across the third base line.

Oct. 27: Miami's Richie Incognito fails to inspire his teammates with a halftime speech in which he insults their work ethic, intelligence and fashion sense, and also says their mothers are ugly and promiscuous.

Oct. 30: The Red Sox beat the Cardinals to win the World Series and finally end the dreaded Curse of the Beard Rash for their wives and girlfriends.

Nov. 3: Seahawks fans set the record for the loudest crowd in sports history, beating the previous decibel level held by fans at all other stadiums howling at the price of beer.

Nov. 27: Much to the irritation of many Americans, the frenzied, excessive and eventually regrettable spending of Black Friday begins even earlier than normal when the Twins sign Rickey Nolasco to a $49 million contract.

Nov. 28: Around the nation, Americans gather together to give thanks that they do not root for the Astros and Titans.

Nov. 30: In perhaps the most extraordinary ending in college football history, Auburn defeats No. 1 Alabama by blocking a last-second field goal attempt and returning the kick through the Stanford band and knocking over the trombone player in the end zone.

Dec. 5: The Mariners re-energize their fan base by signing the player Seattleites would be most excited to see playing second base -- Russell Wilson. In related news, Jay Z gets Robinson Cano a 10-album, $240 million deal with Roc Nation.

Dec. 13: The holiday movie season gets under way with the release of Peter Jackson's new movie about a rich and destructive creature in "The Desolation of Jerry Jones.''

Dec. 24: Millions look up into the Christmas Eve sky, craning their necks to see if they can spot the amazing, believability-testing sight of a man in a very loud, colorful suit once again flying around the globe. They fail, however, to spot the plane carrying Dennis Rodman to North Korea for his third visit to visit dictator Kim Jong-un.

Dec. 25: Children everywhere are disappointed when they wake up and learn that Santa Claus was unable to fly around the world and deliver presents after all the antlers from the reindeer had been removed for PEDs.

Dec. 26: Thirty-seven years after "Rocky," Sylvester Stallone releases yet another movie in which he portrays a boxer. Wearing his boxing shorts up to his nipples, he misses his scheduled bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. when he misplaces his car keys.

Dec. 29: The students in Jon Kitna's math class work on their Christmas break assignment -- trying to calculate the quarterback efficiency rating of a 41-year-old high school teacher holding a clipboard on the sideline of a Cowboys game.

Dec. 30: After losing to Southern by 104 points, 116-12, Champion Baptist College receives a bid to be a No. 7 seed in the 2014 NIT tournament.

Dec. 31: With tens of thousands gathered around him for the annual New Year's Eve celebration, Tiger Woods receives a two-stroke penalty for improperly dropping the Times Square ball.