This is an article from the Dec. 21, 2009 issue
The closer was let go by the Pirates (salary squabbles) and now has a chance to play for a team that has not had 17 straight losing seasons. (The Cubs, D-backs and Orioles were reportedly sniffing around.) Even off a bad year his 48 saves over the past two seasons could get him the $3 million--plus he wants.
They've got five straight wins, the lead in the NFC wild-card race and an ideal winter mix: a 1,000-yard rusher in Ryan Grant and the NFL's second-ranked defense. Is Green Bay's first post-Favre playoff a lock? Said QB Aaron Rodgers (right), "We're going to be tough to beat."
Two weeks ago the 22-year-old winger was playing minor league hockey in Manitoba (3° the day he left). Now the rookie's in Anaheim (63° on Sunday), where he had four goals in his first five games and was slotted on the second line. His teammates call him Big Sexy.
The faster he falls, the further he rises. By driving to his third straight four-man bobsled win—in Winterburg, Germany, where a host team typically triumphs—the 2006 U.S. Olympian extended his World Cup lead and remained a favorite for the Vancouver Games.
Being released by the Yankees (a cost-saving move) gives the starter a chance to play for a team that hasn't won 27 world championships. There's been interest in the two-time 19-game winner, but after a foot injury, shoulder surgery and a 1--6 record in 2009, he's unlikely to get the $5 million he made last season.
Twelve straight losses through Sunday may have ended playoff hopes early in Philly (14th in the East). The repatriation of Allen Iverson had done little to boost the offense (he shot 35.9% in his first three games) or stiffen one of the NBA's softest defenses (no surprise).
The English powerhouse and Premier League leader has hit a bit of a rough spot. On top of an unnerving four-game winless streak ("We must stay calm and quiet," said coach Carlo Ancelotti), star striker Luis Suàrez nixed talk that he was going to Chelsea in a transfer from Ajax.
A weekend of steady decline in Val d'Is√®re: fifth in the super combined last Friday ("I didn't feel very good," he said), ninth in the Super G on Saturday and then out of Sunday's giant slalom with a sprained ankle. Did he get hurt on a bumpy run? Uh, no. Playing volleyball.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
WHAT GRADE WOULD YOU GIVE ROGER GOODELL FOR THE JOB HE'S DOING AS COMMISSIONER?
Players aged 21 through 24 were particularly positive, with 72% giving him an A or a B.... Since becoming commish in 2006, Goodell has made perhaps his most visible imprint by implementing a personal conduct policy to bring wayward players in line, on and off the field.... Earlier this month (and after the poll was completed) he expanded the restrictions on players returning to action after sustaining a concussion.
Based on a survey of 296 NFL players