December 30, 2004

The (Third Annual) 35 Most Shameful Events of 2004

In no particular order:

- Pete Rose, after years of denials, admits to betting on baseball; Barry Bonds, after years of denials, admits to using steroids; the Boston Red Sox, after years of denials, win the World Series.

- In a PR disaster for the ages, a Manhattan nightspot called AZ tosses out an entire contingent of bloggers during a Blogger Bash; coincidentally, AZ closes just two weeks later.

- Janet Jackson’s breast is inadvertently exposed during the Super Bowl halftime show; this somehow becomes the most talked-about news story of the first half of the year, and kicks off a wave of outrageous, censorious fines by Michael Powell's FCC.

- Former pro wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake sets off a bioterror scare in a Boston subway station- his current place of employment- when a bag of white powder is mistakenly identified as anthrax. The powder, police later discover, was merely Beefcake’s cocaine.

- A culture of serial rape is revealed in the University of Colorado football program- but it’s still not enough to cost coach Gary Barnett his job.

- Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi claims that his noticeable off-season weight loss was due to his “cutting out fast food”; leaked testimony later reveals years of steroid use by the slugger, who then becomes persona non grata in New York.

- A Brandeis University student who arrives at a Purim costume party dressed as Jesus Christ is assaulted by a partygoer; the “Jesus” student, in his defense, states that he dresses as a blockbuster movie character each year, and had been Spider-man the previous Purim.

- In hockey, the three biggest stories of the year are the near-decapitation of one player by another in a game, the murder-for-hire plot by a player against his agent, and the lockout that will likely cancel the season.

- Howard Dean's promising presidential campaign ends with one simple "YEAAAAGH."

- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig attempts (unsuccessfully) to put Spider-man’s likeness on each stadium’s bases; later, he inexplicably has his contract extended through 2009.

- Also extended through ’09: Jay Leno.

- Widespread torture is revealed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison; a conservative consensus quickly emerges that the biggest tragedy of all was that the New York Times put it on the front page too many times.

- Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold calls for Republicans to be “exterminated.”

- Smart liberals who should know better see- and praise- Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

- Muhammad Ali is asked to throw out the first pitch at the baseball All-Star Game, even though his advanced Parkinson’s Disease has rendered him unable to throw, and even though he never played baseball.

- On his hit rap single “Why,” Jadakiss asks, “why did Bush knock down the towers?”

- Ricky Williams announces his retirement from football a month before the season starts in order to travel the Earth and smoke pot; he periodically re-surfaces throughout the season to tease a return before quitting for good.

- Capitol Hill staffer Jessica Cutler starts a blog in which she details her various sexual adventures in DC; a Washington Post Magazine story a few months later, ludicrously, attempts to paint Cutler as some sort of feminist pioneer.

- Dan Rather puts a story on the air using likely forged documents that question President Bush’s National Guard service; the fallout leads to Rather’s early retirement.

- Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, inexplicably, continue to be celebrities.

- Writer Michelle Malkin releases a book in which she defends the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II; she later goes on “Hardball” and spreads the meme that John Kerry purposely wounded himself in Vietnam.

- Yusaf Islam, formerly known as ‘70s folk singer Cat Stevens, in detained on a flight when authorities determine that he’s on a government terrorist watch list; his music nonetheless continues to be sung around campfires at Jewish summer camps across America.

- The expected week-long tabloid/TV celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the O.J. Simpson murders is knocked out of the box by the passing that week of Ronald Reagan.

- Roger Clemens ends a sworn retirement to return (and win the Cy Young Award) with the Astros; he also gets ejected from his son’s Little League game, and leaves his team hanging once again as the year ends.

- Bill O’Reilly is sued as part of a bizarre sex scandal, in which a former underling alleges he attempted to initiate phone sex while using both a vibrator and fantasies involving “falafel.”

- The Lakers dynasty comes to an end when Kobe Bryant, after months of flying to games after hearings in his rape case, forces Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson out of town.

- Vladimir Putin all but crushes the nascent hopes of democracy in Russia- and tries unsuccessfully to do the same in Ukraine for good measure.

- The name of journalist and former intern Alexandra Polier surfaces, falsely, as an ex-mistress of John Kerry.

- The once-great ESPN devolves into a 24-hour scream-a-thon for the likes of Woody Paige, Stephen A. Smith, and Sean Salisbury.

- The presidential campaign is largely waged as a proxy debate over the Vietnam war, which ended 30 years prior.

- The Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons get into a 15-minute brawl that spills into the stands and results in the suspensions and arrests of several players.

- Oklahoma Senate candidate Tom Coburn says “lesbianism is running rampant” in the state’s public schools; he wins his Senate race by a comfortable margin.

- Yankee Gary Sheffield- the month after the Yankees blow a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox and he’s implicated in the BALCO scandal- is victim of a blackmail plot involving a sex tape of Sheffield’s wife and notorious R&B singer R. Kelly. The tape is “more than 10 years old”; Mrs. Sheffield is 28.

- Timberwolf Latrell Sprewell rejects a three-year, $21 million contract offer, retorting, “I’ve gotta feed my family.” Incredibly, it places a distant second among shameful events for Sprewell’s career.

- And at 2 AM on the final night of the Republican National Convention, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visits an MSNBC debate panel, during which actor Ron Silver engages Triumph in an argument about war, peace, and the 1940 election- temporarily forgetting that Triumph is a sock puppet.

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 30, 2004 12:52 AM

I would add that Janet's boob "paved the way" for the autumn appearance of Tara Reid's clueless mammary.

And Paris Hilton is truly one of this year's shameful events.

Posted by: Esther Kustanowitz at December 30, 2004 12:22 PM

An otherwise good list is marred by an 'opinion'. All 34 other items are indisputable, but people praising Michael Moore and his film isn't disgraceful at all. It just happens to be a very well made film that voices an opinion different from yours.

That's why I don't think your list is 'disgraceful', I just think it's wrong.

Posted by: drew at December 30, 2004 07:14 PM

1. why is the sox finally winning the world series "shameful"? that's the single best thing, not only of 2004, but EVER.

2. any item to come out of brandeis is inherently shameful. for instance, me - i'm ashaamed to admit i went to college there. perhaps not coincidentally, today I found a foam finger emblazoned with "Brandeis Judges We're #1." Sadly, it was neither the middle finger nor the shocker.

Posted by: LilB at December 30, 2004 07:18 PM

Not the death of Arafat, but the shameful suckingup to him and beatifying him by his "peers" and the press despite a lifetime of bloodshed and evil.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at December 30, 2004 08:14 PM

One of the worst things about the whole Janet Jackson breast thing is because of it, people forgot about what was an exciting Superbowl.

Posted by: Ron at December 31, 2004 05:47 AM

Drew: The reason F9/11 was shameful was that it was filled with lies and distortions. Any wonder why when it was released Moore called a documentary and now he is refering to it as a satire?

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at December 31, 2004 07:58 AM

You are sooo right...the Red Sox winning the World Series is a SHAMEFUL event.
And by the way...whatis a meme???

Posted by: A at January 2, 2005 02:26 PM

Muhammad Ali may be frail in body but not in spirit. Even now, he still has the heart of a champion.

Posted by: Lamar Cole at December 16, 2005 05:10 PM
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