Remember '08?

The Baltimore Sun

In my continuing effort to show how sophisticated I am, I'd like to quote the French poet Paul Valery: "The trouble with our times," he said, "is that the future is not what it used to be."

Never mind that he uttered that cynical little gem several generations ago; no truer words have ever been spoken, particularly when 2007 is going to be such a tough act to follow.

George Mitchell shocked the world when he discovered that baseball players have been using steroids. Michael Vick went to jail for his part in a dogfighting conspiracy. Bill Belichick joined Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton in the Handheld Videocam Hall of Shame. I mean, how are you supposed to top that?

It won't be easy, but here's an advance look at some of the story lines that could make 2008 the highest-numbered year yet:

New sports drug invented: Rogue scientists have come up with a new performance-enhancing substance that is undetectable with all current screening methods and - for a small additional charge - will actually help suspected athletes come up with a believable alibi if anyone rats them out. To further safeguard against detection, the makers will not accept personal checks.

Congressional steroid hearings face scheduling crunch: The rush to hold new congressional steroid hearings takes a strange turn when several committees inadvertently schedule hearings on the same day, which could severely limit the ability of our nation's legislators to exploit baseball's steroid scandal for maximum political gain.

Orioles win American League East: In one of the greatest upsets in baseball history, the new Baby Birds go wire-to-wire to shock the well-heeled New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In a heartbreaking finish, however, the O's lose the World Series to the Houston Astros on a walk-off home run by Miguel Tejada, who explains afterward that the Spanish word for that is iron?a.

Michael Phelps wins gold in eight Olympic events - including the shot put: Not satisfied with going down as the greatest swimmer of all time, the Rodgers Forge native climbs out of the pool in Beijing and becomes the first athlete ever to win a track and field event while wearing those little goggles.

NHL commissions George Mitchell probe: Commissioner Gary Bettman concedes there is no credible evidence of significant steroid abuse in professional hockey but hires Mitchell anyway to get the league regular coverage on ESPN.

New England Patriots complete undefeated season, tell 1972 Miami Dolphins where to stick unopened champagne bottles: While the Patriots douse each other with cheap bubbly after Super Bowl XLII, about a dozen forlorn members of the 17-0 Dolphins inexplicably travel to Maryland and set fire to a couch in College Park.

After fourth Super Bowl victory, Tom Brady reassures Kyle Boller there is no "Curse of Tara Reid": Since both quarterbacks dated the leggy blond American Pie star, it can be scientifically deduced that she has had no effect on their respective on-field results. However, everyone agrees that Jessica Simpson cost the Dallas Cowboys the NFL championship.

Ravens draft the wrong quarterback again: Ozzie Newsome uses high first-round pick to snare Andre Woodson of Kentucky, confident he'll develop quickly playing behind starters Steve McNair, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, Gus Frerotte and Randall Cunningham.

Orioles announce in October that they did not forget to celebrate 25th anniversary of last world championship team: Club officials insist it was not an oversight, just part of an overall strategy to keep the focus entirely on the future.

Bonds acquitted of federal perjury charge: Retired superstar Barry Bonds is found not guilty of lying about past steroid use when defense attorneys prove that personal trainer and supposed BALCO steroid supplier Greg Anderson was in jail on contempt charges for almost all of Bonds' playing career.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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