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It's the day after Christmas and all through the house remnants of wrapping paper are scattered about.

The stockings once hung by the chimney with care are now inside-out in a reckless affair.

In the midst of this chaos and holiday flounce we humbly bring you the news that still counts.

The sports year is ending, as on to 2000 we jaunt. Our '99 was no year to flaunt. Bad guys and bad things reigned through the seasons. We celebrated sports, but for all the wrong reasons.

So with no further ado we offer to you our list of bad tidings, mischief and louts. To forget them is folly, of this there's no doubt.

No Goal: Who could forget this mischievous season? The Lords of Hockey committed high treason. The Sabres were robbed, of this we are certain. No Stanley Cup to treasure in person.

Dominik Hasek: He once said good-bye, then went off hurt'n. Now he hints he'll be back, but just when is not certain. It would be nice if we knew what the Domster is thinking, but each time he speaks we haven't an inkling.

Our Erie County Politicians: You gave us a stadium with cash that we earned. But once we sat down our kneecaps were burned. The seats were too tight, but our leaders made light. They claimed it was theater, but it was really a (tax) bite.

Doug Flutie: He won't read the papers and can't see TV. There've been times this season he showed the brains of a flea. The fault was not his that the Bills wasted wins. If only his arm was as good as his spin.

Ralph Wilson: We gave him a playpen with dollars he doubted. Into its walls his name was then routed. "The Ralph" it would be, Gov. Pataki decreed. Who gave him the say we don't know to this day. Taxpayer Stadium we thought it should be. It seemed only fitting since we paid on our knees.

Richie Phillips: The umpires' boss brought forth a decree. "Give us the money or from baseball we'll flee." The edict was silly, but the owners saw glee. They fired the workers as quick as could be. The moral is simple and easy to see. Woe be to umpires represented by thee.

Eugenia Williams: She carded a fight on an unholy night. Holyfield-Lewis was her ultimate plight. The winner she said was the loser to many, but later we learned she owed money aplenty. It made for a fright on a terrible night, but then ethics in boxing has always been slight. Still we bid her good wishes, glad tidings and cheer for if she voted her conscience Don King she would fear.

Eugene Robinson: The night before Super Bowl XXXIII he was out on the stroll. When he got caught with a cop playing a hooker his excuses were droll. He would play in the game but was never the same. His fellow Christian athletes were smitten with shame.

Dennis Rodman: The rap sheet is longer than his moments of fame. Since leaving Chicago he's seen nothing but pain. The wife filed charges, the Lakers did can him. The Feds tried to fine him and Vegas did ban him. Yet the worm doth turn slowly and one thing is clear: We've not yet seen the day when he's gone and we'll cheer.

ESPN: The network that brought us Chris Berman and Prime Time now claims to know the greatest of all time. Ruth, they say, or was it Jordan? As if one could choose from a century of sportsmen. Pretentious we say, their list is the worst. The greatest of all was the one you loved first.

An athlete is fine for his moment in time, but to try to pick one is a crime of the mind. Who says Gretzky or Thorpe outdid Carl Lewis or Russell, and were the voters around to see them all hustle?

I liked Nicklaus and Palmer and Joe Louis had tools. Magic and Bird were players way cool. Martina was great, maybe the greatest, but Evert was good and how about the latest?

Bill Tilden was great but Wilma Rudolph was better. Who's to say this is so without raising some feathers? Rocky and Sugar Ray, Robinson not Leonard. I like them all but how about Marciano untethered?

There's O.J. and Barry, Cy Young's out there too. A.J.,the rockets Richard and Clemens you knew. Ty Cobb and Connors, Cousy and who? Could we ever forget the great Johnny U?

And so ESPN, you did us no favors. What about Orr, Hank Aaron and Sayers?

Your list it was long and perhaps well intentioned, but to try to pick one shows a lack of invention.

The best and the worst, they were all there to see. A century of dreams can't be confined to TV.

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