NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Because we have three extra hours out here, I’ve had plenty of time to figure out exactly what is going to happen in 1989.
And here it is:
* JANUARY: Michigan wins the Rose Bowl over USC, 20-14, causing Bo Schembechler to declare, “Hey. If I knew it would be this easy, I’d have won all the other ones, too.” Meanwhile, in pro football, the Chicago Bears make the Super Bowl, but have to cancel because of fog. Left without an NFC contender, the NFL invites Detroit to play on Jan. 22. The Lions win, 3-0, over Buffalo. Afterward, Wayne Fontes says, “I told you when I took this team, I would lead us to the Super Bowl. Having done that, I now retire.” The Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno fight is postponed until March.
* FEBRUARY: Nothing happens.
* MARCH: Spring training begins. In Vero Beach, the entire Los Angeles Dodgers team is caught with black stuff in its caps. Kirk Gibson is seen laughing in the dugout. Down in Lakeland, Sparky Anderson surveys his troops. The average age on his team is 53. Chris Brown injures himself reaching for a bat. Jack Morris leaves, saying he’d rather be hunting. Anderson drags on his pipe. “Lemme tell ya somethin’,” he says. “This is the best team I’ve ever had coming out of spring training.” The Tyson-Bruno fight is postponed until May.
* APRIL: Michigan, Duke, Oklahoma and Alaska-Anchorage make the Final Four. The Seawolves win handily. The NHL playoffs get under way, and the LA Kings win their first round over Edmonton. Jack Nicholson buys a seat in the penalty box. “Are you Gretzky?” he asks. “Is he Gretzky? Which one’s Gretzky?” Meanwhile, in the Campbell Conference finals between Detroit and Calgary, Jacques Demers imposes a strict 7:30 p.m. curfew on his team. Unfortunately, the bus drivers stay out drinking the night before the big game, and the Wings must walk to the arena. Exhausted, they lose, 6-3. Says Demers: “I am very disappointed with de boys in de bus. Next year we’ll go greydog.”
Uh, that’s Greyhound, Jacques.
* MAY: In the NBA, Larry Bird returns for the Celtics just in time for their first playoff game. Unfortunately, the security guards no longer recognize him. “I’M LARRY BIRD!” he shrieks. “Nuh-uh,” says the guard, “you’re Martin Mull, that comedian.” Meanwhile, Canada’s Ben Johnson announces he will compete in the newly formed World Steroid Games. He runs the 100 in 6.78 seconds. He finishes third. The Tyson-Bruno fight is postponed until September.
* JUNE: The much-ballyhooed “Tour de Trump” bicycle race, also known as “Tour de Ego,” is run from Manhattan to Atlantic City. The winner takes the $10,000 check, enters a casino, and loses it on one roll of the roulette wheel. Says Trump: “What goes around comes around. . . . Did you spell my name right?” Meanwhile, the Lakers and Pistons take their NBA Finals to the seventh game. Detroit wins on a Joe Dumars bank shot. Endorsements abound. Isiah Thomas signs with Kodak and Coke. Adrian Dantley signs with Canon and Pepsi.
John Salley signs with everyone else.
* JULY: Guillermo Hernandez, suffering through an 0-10 start, announces he will now be known as Elvis Hernandez. He walks to the mound and throws scarves to the crowd. His record does not improve, but it sells a million copies. Meanwhile, in England, Steffi Graf wins her second Wimbledon. The men’s final is canceled due to lack of interest. And in the British Open, an unknown American golfer with a receding hairline captures the coveted Open title.
“Rogers,” the announcers say, “he says his name is Darryl Rogers. . . . ”
* AUGUST: Nothing happens.
* SEPTEMBER: Baseball, baseball. Milwaukee clinches the AL East with a .500 record. Jose Canseco hits his 74th home run of the season. And scandal erupts in Boston when Wade Boggs admits that he is really Polish solidarity leader Lech Walesa. “Power to the people,” Boggs says. He is quickly slapped with a paternity suit by a Polish woman who claims he misled her. Pro football begins, and the Lions — under new coach Eric Hipple — win their first four. The Tyson-Bruno fight is postponed until December.
* OCTOBER: The Mets win the World Series, beating the Minnesota Twins in six games. Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon starts, goes on injured reserve, and comes back all in one game. The big news, however, is the long-awaited fight between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBA, WBC, WBF, IWF, NBC, CBS, IBM and AT&T middle-super-fly-bantam-fatso- whatchamacallit title. Hearns wins by default after Leonard breaks his nose kissing himself in the mirror.
* NOVEMBER: Nothing happens.
* DECEMBER: Notre Dame prepares to play for the national championship. The Michigan basketball team loses to an unknown team from the islands. Wayne Gretzky is traded back to Edmonton in exchange for Janet Jones’ younger sister (a unanimous vote by the other players). And the Tyson-Bruno match is postponed until 1990.
Nobody seems to mind.
Mitch Albom’s sports-talk show “The Sunday Sports Albom” will be broadcast live from Pasadena tonight, 9-11, on WLLZ 98.7-FM. Guests include: Bo Schembechler, John Kolesar and Red Wing John Chabot.