A TIMELESS TEN (PART ONE) Being a sportswriter (oh heck, being a sports fan) certainly has its rewards. Over the next two weeks, I’m sharing my favorite events of 2004.

10) Louisville 56, Memphis 49 (November 4) -- Just to clarify, this was a FOOTBALL game. Particularly in hindsight, this may have been, well, the greatest loss in Tiger gridiron history. On national television -- Thursday night, prime time, no less -- Memphis went toe-to-toe with one of the most prolific offenses in recent college football history. (The Cardinals later became the first team in NCAA history to score at least 55 points in five straight games.) The two teams amassed a total of 1,202 yard s in the highest-scoring game in Tiger history. U of M quarterback Danny Wimprine threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns to complement DeAngelo Williams’s 200 rushing yards . . . and they lost. When Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal to give Memphis a 49-48 lead with 6:20 left in the game, the whole stadium had the feeling the Tigers had scored a little too early. The Cardinals’ Eric Shelton scored from one yard out with 37 seconds to play to keep Louisville on their march toward the Top 10. (If nothing else, I can say I shared a sideline for one night with ESPN’s incomparable Jill Arrington.)

9) Tulsa 4, RiverKings 3 (March 14) -- This was my precious daughters’ first hockey game. With a mother born and bred in Vermont, that counts for a lot. My 4-year-old was more interested in the River Thing than in the fact that Memphis star Don Parsons scored a hat trick. And my 1-year-old enjoyed her ice cream enough to ignore the fact that the loss eliminated the two-time defending champs from Central Hockey League playoff contention. But the matinee outing was a fun family distraction from all the madness of college hoops.

8) Mavericks 98, Grizzlies 85 (November 27) -- With the NBA in town, one of the consolations when the home team is struggling is watching stars in other colors do what only a select few on the planet can do. This was a night when -- lumps still in the throats of Grizzly fans over coach Hubie Brown’s sudden retirement -- the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki stole the show. Seven-footers aren’t supposed to shoot like this, certainly not run the floor like this. The 26-year-old German All-Star led all players with 32 points and 18 rebounds. Seems Nowitzki and Larry Bird have more in common than their golden locks.

7) Cardinals 5, Redbirds 1 (April 3) -- The Redbirds could do a lot better at celebrating their rich, albeit brief, history in Memphis. But before this Saturday afternoon exhibition with the parent club, the Redbirds presented a very special, newly painted red seat, just inside AutoZone Park’s rightfield foul pole. This was the final resting place, of course, of the championship-winning home run hit by Albert Pujols on September 15, 2000. To date, that home run is the greatest moment in franchise history and, as it turns out, it was delivered by one of the greatest players of this generation. Pujols later hit a dinger to help St. Louis win the game. It was hit to rightfield.

6) Memphis 62, Louisville 58 (February 4) -- If there’s a more exciting confrontation in Memphis than Tigers-Cardinals hoops, I’m not sure my heart could tolerate it. With Louisville on its way to the Big East, R.C. Johnson has his hands full trying to keep this historical rivalry alive. With the Pyramid quite literally packed (19,044 in attendance), the Tigers upset Rick Pitino’s 6th-ranked Cards on national television (ESPN). Four Tigers reached double figures to offset Louisville’s Larry O’Bannon pouring in 26 points. This was the sixth of 11 consecutive wins for Memphis on their way to a share of the Conference USA championship.

Next week . . . my top five.

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