For all of the predictable athletic outcomes that made up the bulk of 2009, the year had its share of surprises.
In between the Arizona Cardinals reaching the Super Bowl and Tiger Woods flushing his reputation down the toilet bowl, not everything followed the standard script.
The Netherlands eliminated the Dominican Republic in pool play of the World Baseball Classic.
A gelding, Mine That Bird, became the second longest shot in history to win the Kentucky Derby then lost by a length to filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.
American Andy Roddick pushed Roger Federer to the limit in an epic fifth-set tiebreak at Wimbledon.
And then there was golf, where David Duval resurfaced at the U.S. Open, 59-year-old Tom Watson came one missed putt from winning the British Open and Y.E. Yang became the first golfer to catch Woods on a Sunday in a major.
In a world with no absolutes, here are my picks on what might make the biggest sports surprises in 2010:
JANUARY: Despite its obvious superiority, Alabama's championship resurrection is thwarted by Texas in Pasadena, Calif., when Mack Brown successfully argues that time ran out before the Crimson Tide could get the snap off on a game-winning field goal.
FEBRUARY: Brett Favre rallies the Minnesota Vikings to a Super Bowl victory after Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell decides to sit starters Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne in the fourth quarter so they'd be fresh and healthy for the Pro Bowl.
MARCH: Though it still has never won in Chapel Hill, N.C., Clemson stuns a sellout Greensboro Coliseum crowd by beating North Carolina to win its first ACC Tournament title.
APRIL: After three years of dipping below the A-list for Masters Tournament champions, Phil Mickelson restores order with a playoff victory over Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy. Mickelson adds his first U.S. Open title two months later in another duel with Els, forcing the South African to quit the game.
MAY: In a breakthrough for both Dogwood Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher, Aikenite emerges from the pool of longshots to fulfil Cot Campbell's dream by winning the Kentucky Derby.
JUNE: After Tim Tebow is selected by his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the NFL Draft, Florida coach Urban Meyer cites doctors' orders in accepting a job coaching the Jaguars. His stress, however, increases when he learns that not all opponents in Alltel Stadium will be Georgia.
JULY: Six weeks after returning from hibernation at the Memorial, Tiger Woods survives a full-scale onslaught by British tabloids alleging an affair with Princess Sophie Rhys-Jones to win the Open Championship at St. Andrews.
AUGUST: In a mandated "punishment" for ongoing performance-enhancing rumors, welterweight Manny Pacquiao is forced into the ring with Aiken's Paul Williams, and their 12-round brawl to a draw is voted boxing's greatest fight of all time. All other welterweights immediately retire in fear.
SEPTEMBER: After winning his third FedEx Cup, Woods withdraws from the next week's Ryder Cup and announces that he will only play in majors for the rest of his career. The Americans still win the event in Wales after Colin Montgomerie subs himself in for Ian Poulter in the final singles match and gets disqualified after the gravitational force of his ego causes his ball to move.
OCTOBER: After being recalled from Triple- A Gwinnett, Melky Cabrera caps the Braves unexpected run through the playoffs with a World Series clinching walk-off homer against the New York Yankees.
NOVEMBER: After cruising to another ACC title, Paul Johnson is forced to replace his entire coaching staff that is poached by other schools as his triple-option replaces the spread as the most fashionable offense in college football.
DECEMBER: After every football conference produces an undefeated team, the BCS is forced to announce a legitimate playoff system to quell the rioting that broke out across the nation. It is the best Christmas college football fans have ever had.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.