FROM MY SEAT 

FROM MY SEAT

THE GLASS SAYS.... Believe it or not, I’ve got my own crystal ball. (Okay, it’s got water, an elephant, and floating glitter inside.) Here’s what’s ahead for 2003. JANUARY -- For the first time under John Calipari, the Memphis Tigers whip their SEC nemesis, Arkansas (Jan. 2). The Razorbacks have won 9 of 11 in this series, for my money the finest rivalry in the Mid-South. Bud Walton Arena will have a new look -- at least on the sidelines -- as Stan Heath has succeeded Nolan Richardson at the Hog helm. It’ll be fun to see if the Tigers can emulate their opponent’s “40 minutes of hell” and gain some momentum as conference play approaches. FEBRUARY -- Anna Kournikova -- vixen, starlet, hockey muse, supermodel? -- wins her first pro tournament at The Racquet Club. Give us guys a legitimate reason to root for you, Anna. Whattaya say? MARCH -- In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Tigers’ showdown with UCLA for the national championship, the Grizzlies host Larry Finch Night at The Pyramid for their game with Phoenix (March 26). Coach Finch, his health improving mightily, tosses the ceremonial opening tip between a pair of old friends, Lorenzen Wright and Anfernee Hardaway. APRIL -- When the Redbirds open their sixth season in Memphis (April 3), a sellout crowd at AutoZone Park rises to its feet when a certain undersized second-sacker takes the field with a backflip. Stubby Clapp belongs in Memphis as much as FedEx, Al Green, and dry ribs. MAY -- It’s the greatest sports month of the year: Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, baseball in full swing. Try as it might, Memphis in May can’t find one sports-related tie-in with this year’s honored country, the Republic of Korea. And don’t even mention Byung-Hyun Kim. JUNE -- Two weeks after the U.S. Open, the legend that is Tiger Woods arrives at the TPC at Southwind to tee off for the first time at the FedEx St. Jude Classic (June 26). Tired of being asked about gender policies at exclusive clubs, Woods cites the Nike mantra and proclaims he wants to “just do it,” Memphis style. Par has never seen such abuse. JULY -- Saying he misses the retired David Robinson too much to go on as a Spur, Tim Duncan opts out of his contract with San Antonio. Looking for a new partner in crime, Duncan is introduced to Pau Gasol . . . by Jerry West. Before you can say Big Fundamental, Duncan is a Memphis Grizzly. AUGUST -- Germantown resident Loren Roberts breaks through a tight field and wins the PGA Championship, his first major title. Before month’s end, he’s seen with the trophy at St. Jude Children’s Researc Hospital. The kids are all smiling . . . grownups all crying. SEPTEMBER -- Beyond comprehension, all 32 teams in the National Football League finish the month 2-2. While every American football fan alive shouts, “We’re number one!,” the ghost of Pete Rozelle is seen in the FOX-TV studios . . . smiling. OCTOBER -- Ending the franchise’s longest championship drought since 1926, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Oakland A’s to win their first World Series in 21 years. Before Game 7 in St. Louis, Darryl Kile’s widow, Flinn, throws out the first pitch. Cards romp, 11-1. NOVEMBER -- Danny Wimprine becomes the first quarterback in Memphis Tiger history to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season. He’s named second-team all-conference and leads the U of M to its first .500 season (6-6) since 1994. DECEMBER-- For the first time in its six-year history, college football’s Bowl Championship Series results in a three-way tie for number one. Miami, Washington State, and yes, Baylor, all finish with a ranking figure of 4.83796623. When data specialists at MIT, NASA, and the IRS fail to find a distinguishing factor among the three, BCS officials elect to go with a pair of coin flips to determine who will play in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship. The first coin flipped lands on its side.

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