2014 already shaping up as a year to remember

The Associated Press - Updated: December 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm • Published: December 28, 2013 | 8:05 pm 0
photo - FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez arrives at the offices of Major League Baseball in New York. Rodriguez's 211-game suspension was the longest of the 13 announced in August for players connected to a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned PEDs. The Yankees' slugger was the only one to contest the penalty, and the year ends with an arbitrator yet to rule. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez arrives at the offices of Major League Baseball in New York. Rodriguez's 211-game suspension was the longest of the 13 announced in August for players connected to a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned PEDs. The Yankees' slugger was the only one to contest the penalty, and the year ends with an arbitrator yet to rule. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

Cold and snow for the Super Bowl, balmy temperatures and palm trees for the Winter Olympics. A college football champion that nobody can question and a golf major guaranteed to go two weeks. There's also the never-ending mess with Alex Rodriguez, and a World Cup that may come off as planned.

The New Year hasn't even arrived yet, and 2014 is already shaping up to be one odd year. While it's impossible to predict everything that will happen, it's going to be a year like few others.

SUPER BOWL, Feb. 2

Yes, teams play in the cold and snow all the time during the regular season, and some of the NFL's most memorable games were played in wintry conditions. And yes, there's a chance it could be in the 40s on game day. But the NFL is taking a big gamble by holding the Super Bowl, its marquee event, at an outdoor stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in the dead of winter.

While some folks shelling out big bucks for Super Bowl tickets are fans of the two teams playing, most come for the experience - not frostbite. There will be plenty of mumbling and grumbling if the Big Apple is hit by a blizzard or cold snap Feb. 2, to say nothing of the potential embarrassment of empty seats. Bad weather wouldn't be any picnic in the days before, either, wreaking havoc with the other events that make the Super Bowl the spectacle that it is and keeping fans hunkered down in their hotel rooms.

WINTER OLYMPICS, Feb. 7-23

Weather has been a concern since the Winter Games were awarded to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea where the average high in February is nearly 50 degrees and rain is far more likely than snow. The temperatures should be lower in the mountains, where the outdoor events will be held, and organizers have guaranteed snow, even if it's the stuff they've been squirreling away since last year, when un-Winter Olympic-like weather forced the cancellation of some test events.

Warm temperatures and slushy snow might wind up being the least of the worries for Russian president Vladimir Putin and Sochi organizers, however. Russia's new anti-gay laws have sparked outrage from the rest of the world, as has Putin's human-rights record.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ

A decision on whether the Yankees' third baseman will play this season is expected in January. Rodriguez was banned for 211 games last August for violating baseball's drug agreement and labor contract, but he played out the season while the union appealed and he sued.

BOSTON MARATHON, April 21

The field for this year's race will be 36,000-strong, the second-largest in history, as runners honor not only the victims of last year's bombings but the city's resilience.

WORLD CUP, June 12-July 13

Six of the 12 stadiums won't be ready until January or February, though organizers insist that's more than enough time to hold test events. But despite spending billions to prepare for the World Cup (and the 2016 Olympics), questions remain about Brazil's infrastructure, with many fearing the airports, roads and local transportation systems won't be able to handle the crush of tourists. All that spending also has created resentment among Brazilian citizens, who disrupted last summer's Confederations Cup.

On the field, however, this could be one of the most entertaining tournaments yet. Led by budding star Neymar, host Brazil has its most intriguing team since its last title run in 2002.

US OPEN, June 12-15 and 19-22

For the first time, the men's and women's U.S. Opens will be played on the same course, Pinehurst No. 2, in the same year. A week apart, no less.

While it's a terrific showcase for the women - odds are the upcoming women's Open will be mentioned a time or 12,000 during the men's broadcast - there are concerns, as well. Like the state of the domed greens after a week of being tromped on by Tiger, Rory and the rest of the guys.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL, August-January

No matter what happens, there will be peace come the end of the year in the form of the first college football playoff. Unless five or six teams finish the year unbeaten.

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