Who would have guessed at this time last year that Wake Forest and Louisville would be preparing to play each other in a major bowl game, that Rutgers would be the Cinderella team in college football, that the Detroit Tigers would play in the World Series, that players named Andre Ethier and Russell Martin would play key roles in getting the Dodgers back to the playoffs, that the New Orleans Saints would win a division title, that Tony Romo would be a Pro Bowl quarterback, that Geoff Ogilvy would win the U.S. Open, that Kimmie Meissner would win the world figure skating championship, that Ricky Bobby would be the biggest thing in NASCAR or that the most controversial object in sports would be the NBA's new basketball?
None was on the radar for 2006, which leads to this question: What are the people, places and things that will emerge in 2007?
The Bears are favored to advance to the Super Bowl from the NFC. The Cubs spent more money than any other team in the off-season. The White Sox should contend again. Even the Bulls are better. And, if the U.S. Olympic Committee decides in January to submit a bid for the 2016 Summer Games, it appears now that Chicago will get the call over Los Angeles. The Second City becomes first.
Livestrong for pets
It seems as if every other person wears a Livestrong bracelet. Now your dogs and cats can join the fight against cancer. Collars and leashes are available at laf.org.
The son of former NASCAR driver Ken Ragan, David, who turned 21 on Christmas Eve, has been called a "dart with no feathers" by Tony Stewart. He was in the cockpit for two Nextel Cup short-track races in 2006 and wrecked in both. But he has a powerful team behind him in Jack Roush Racing, which tapped him to replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 Ford Fusion.
If perpetual nags such as the Saints can rebound after Katrina, why not a thoroughbred? No Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has gone on the next year to win the Kentucky Derby, but Street Sense could be a curse breaker. He won the Juvenile by 10 lengths over trainer Todd Pletcher's Circular Quay. Street Sense has strong Louisiana connections, including journeyman jockey Calvin Borel.
L.A. college basketball
Despite all those national titles by UCLA and the Bruins' current lofty ranking, Left Coast basketball remains an afterthought to the Dick Vitales and Billy Packers of the world. They seem to believe you can't spell Pacific without ACC. Well, maybe you can't. But they won't be able to ignore us next fall when heralded freshmen O.J. Mayo (USC) and Kevin Love (UCLA) arrive in Los Angeles.
Perhaps the best high school basketball player, if not in 2007, then in 2008, also resides here. Sydney, 6 feet 9, 260 pounds, transferred from Alabama because the competition is so good here. OK, that's only part of the reason. He, like Mayo, believed there were more marketing opportunities here.
Adenhart, 20, is already a veteran of Tommy John surgery. But he rebounded last year with a 15-4 record and 2.56 earned-run average in the minor leagues. The Angels would like for him to have more seasoning, but Bartolo Colon might not be whole, Kelvim Escobar has been injury-prone and Jered Weaver is coming off a season in which his workload increased dramatically. The Angels might have to call on Adenhart.
L'Equipe magazine celebrated her 20th birthday last October by devoting an entire issue to her. The French swimmer could emerge from the world championships in March as the female version of Michael Phelps. In 2006, she broke Janet Evans' 18-year-old world record in the 400 freestyle, then broke the record again three months later.
It may be the first time that it's hip to be square since Huey Lewis and the News. Square drivers are going to be big on the PGA Tour in 2007 and club makers are rushing to get them in the hands of the pros so you'll want to pick up your very own.
Even Tiger Woods tried out a square-faced Nike, although he hasn't stuck it in his bag. Nike and Callaway were the first two companies to get the ball rolling, at $400 and $500, respectively.
The buzz factor is moving the needle on Anthony Kim, 21, from La Quinta High and formerly of the University of Oklahoma, who left school to turn pro. He played in only two tournaments on the PGA Tour but earned $338,067 and tied for second at the Valero Texas Open in late September.
Then at the PGA Tour qualifying school, Kim tied for 13th and earned his tour card for 2007. The two-time All-American at Oklahoma was a four-time American Junior Golf Assn. All-American.
Sure, you've heard of him. But have you seen him in a Galaxy uniform?