Signs of the End of the World

By on December 19, 2012

The world is supposed to end December 21, according to the Mayans. Some people believe the end of the Mayan calendar will mean the end of the world. I know— you’re too smart to believe the world is going to end because a dead civilization ran out of space for their calendar. But perhaps you should heed their warning, there are some strange things happening in sports that may point to some Armageddon truth.

Notre Dame Football and Duke Basketball is each number one

This is the first time each has had this kind of success since 1993 when Duke was the defending National Champion and Notre Dame was No.1 fresh off beating a top-ranked Florida State team. Since then, several programs like Florida, Ohio State and UCLA have seen both football and men’s basketball at No.1 at various times (Florida and Ohio State have had overlaps with both sports at No.1 simultaneously). In this day and age when it’s difficult for Notre Dame and Duke to compete with guys who live up to the academic excellence of their schools, each program is the top ranked in its respective sport. What’s even weirder is that Notre Dame is doing it with defense, not like the Joe Montana or Tim Brown days, and Duke is doing it with their superior athleticism. Touché, Mayans.

Soccer has passed hockey in American popularity

Nearly 112 million Americans watched at least six minutes of the 2010 World Cup, according to Nielsen Ratings. However, the Stanley Cup Finals drew about 20 million Americans total. More Americans care about Lionel Messi’s knee injury and his world record goal scoring ability than the NHL lockout. Americans would rather watch a sport dominated by Europe, Africa and South America than one that was nearly as popular as football in the ‘90s. Americans would rather watch a sport where “flopping” is the standard than where fighting is almost encouraged. More Americans are watching the European leagues in soccer than they were watching the NHL before the most recent lockout. Even ESPN has made the transition. The network hasn’t shown hockey in years, but now shows UEFA Champions League and MLS games regularly: and not just on ESPN2. It probably doesn’t help that every time the NHL tries to make a comeback, there’s another lockout.

UFC and other MMA have passed boxing in popularity

UFC President Dana White (photo: US PRESSWIRE/Gary A. Vasquez)

As violent as boxing is, people can find just as much brutality in mixed martial arts, throw in a few kicks and backhands to the head. The UFC combines wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, tae kwon do, karate and any other form of martial arts you can think of into one badass combination of televised fighting. It doesn’t hurt that while boxing is unable to get household names to fight one another UFC President Dana White is putting big-time fights on basic cable networks (FOX for fightd and FX for the preliminaries). Millions of people watched as Benson Henderson beat Nate Diaz on FOX December 9. Those same people must’ve immediately gone to bed because fewer than the 5.7 million viewers that watched Henderson-Diaz saw Juan Marquez knock out Manny Pacquiao just a few hours later. Remember how cool it was just 20 years ago to get the guys together and chip in for a pay per view boxing match? How awesome was it to watch Mike Tyson terrorize guys in the heavyweight division? Go ahead and name me the heavyweight champion in boxing. That’s OK, I’ll wait.

 

 

A freshman won the Heisman

Going back to December 9, before Marquez put Pacquiao to sleep (ignore the audio) and before the UFC affirmed itself as the premier fighting competition ahead of boxing, there was the Heisman presentation. The three finalists there were a senior quarterback with passing numbers less impressive than Tim Tebow, a linebacker (from Notre Dame, no less) and a redshirt freshman who almost lost his starting job before the season started. Johnny “Football” Manziel won the Heisman as a redshirt freshman. Manziel was the best single player in college football this season, but beat out two seniors to become the first ever freshman to win the award. Now just five years after Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman, Archie Griffin’s record of two Heisman trophies is in jeopardy. OK, Mayans, we didn’t see this coming.

Eddie Michels photo

The Blue Jays may win the AL East and the Red Sox may finish last- again

It was said here on Rocket Sports and Entertainment that the Toronto Blue Jays wouldn’t have a chance to win the AL East. Mostly because of how tough the division is with the surging Baltimore Orioles, the youthful Tampa Bay Rays and the affluent New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Well, the Yankees are old, the Sox are rebuilding and the Blue Jays just got a whole lot better. They basically traded for the Miami Marlins not named Giancarlo Stanton. Getting Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and John Buck from the Marlins made them look like a halfway decent ball club. Then they signed Melky Cabrera who, steroids or not, led the NL in batting last season with the San Francisco Giants. Then they traded for 38-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who won the Cy Young this past season. OK, so the Dickey move isn’t like if they would’ve landed Justin Verlander in a deal, but Tim Wakefield showed you can use the knuckleball effectively. Wakefield also showed the pitch can extend your career as a pitcher. I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if the Jays will win the division, but I can guarantee they won’t lose 90 games this season. With the improvements everyone else has made, it seems the Red Sox are again the odd team out. Trading all of their big guns has made room to spend salary, but this team is in a rebuilding phase. At least you have the Patriots, Boston fans.

I’m not sure if Friday December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world. Honestly, I doubt it will be. But if it starts raining fire and the end of the world plays out like in The Day After Tomorrow, let’s not pretend we didn’t see this coming. The Mayans left plenty of hints all around the sports world.

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