By FRED LIEF
AP Sports Writer
A decade passes, all gone in a flash.
Let us count our blessings if not our cash.
Remember those days of milk and honey?
That blissful marriage of sports and money?
Well, this year that marriage crashed on the rocks
Amid tanked portfolios and tumbling stocks.
Fans clung to their wallets and sponsors fled,
With balance sheets written in scarlet red.
Teams slashed their payrolls and bemoaned their luck.
The name of the game was to save a buck.
And on this terrain of mountainous debts
Came Bernie Madoff to score on the Mets.
And some grew fearful and some turned bitter,
But everyone posted feeds on Twitter.
Wanna talk baseball? Step up to the plate
For one more national health care debate.
Manny Ramirez, the lovable lug,
Swallowed a female fertility drug.
Did he take steroids? He'd rather not say.
(But the weather's great and he loves LA.)
Consider his sidekick, David Ortiz:
Mark him in the scorebook for PEDs.
He simply got "careless," did nothing wrong.
Those vitamins sure make Big Papi strong.
Yes, baseball's sealed drug list leaked by the day,
An A-list with A-Rod leading the way.
He said he was "stupid," awfully "naive,"
Clueless and "sorry," his heart on his sleeve.
And then his story gets good and juicy.
The times, he tells us, were "loosey-goosey."
Wasn't his body a shrine that's holy?
Still, there's room for Dominican boli,
With help, of course, from his cousin Yuri.
But he's fine (no ban, no judge, no jury),
Then all's forgiven - he's now got the bling.
That's how it goes with a World Series ring.
The parade, the confetti. Ain't life great?
Even love filled the air - come kiss me, Kate.
So how did it go? How'd this year perform?
The eye of the Tiger, eye of the storm.
This year was for comebacks: Armstrong and Vick
While Favre playing Hamlet was real old shtick.
Lance rejoined the Tour and rode with passion,
But no yellow shirt to stay in fashion.
Vick got out of jail, signed with the Eagles.
No comment from schnauzers, Labs or beagles.
Brett Favre's return was not quite so perverse -
He thumbed through his playbook, called a reverse.
But the best return belonged to Clijsters,
A champion reborn who knows of diapers.
The Gators were kings; the man was Tebow.
This was the real deal not some placebo.
Hansbrough, Roy Williams were very big wheels
As North Carolina kicked up its Heels.
The Shaq-less Lakers, to Bryant's relief,
Took the title and silenced Kobe's beef,
While Jimmie Johnson ruled NASCAR once more,
Giving new meaning to four on the floor.
Pacquiao won one for the Philippines
By pounding Cotto into smithereens.
The Steelers and Penguins captured the crown.
It's Pittsburgh, they play to win in this town.
No need to spoil the civic elation -
Pirates are barred from this conversation.
We'll speak of great deeds we can't disavow:
Detroit Lions win! Apocalypse now.
Then back in May it got downright absurd
When the Derby was won by Mine That Bird,
With all the chance of a snowball in hell.
But there on the rail was Calvin Borel,
A good ol' boy who was riding a dream
Then showed how to switch a horse in midstream.
Smitten by Rachel, he gave it a whirl -
Hardly the first guy to fall for a girl.
The Preakness was set for racing's big star,
And Rachel was waiting where the boys are.
So sing her praise but play a sonata,
A Classic piece just right for Zenyatta.
Federer-Roddick was good as you get,
Going 16-14 in the fifth set.
Roger won Wimbledon, overtook Pete
To now stand alone elite of elite.
Golf roared across Asia with Y.E. Yang,
From Seoul to Tokyo if not Pyongyang.
Swimming went high-tech. It soon came to pass
The suits had turned humans into striped bass.
In track, Usain Bolt disproved the notion
Of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion.
But the laws of nature? How to agree?
Caster Semenya, a she or a he?
For Tiger, life's charmed from fairway to tee
Till a wayward drive finds a neighbor's tree.
So much is busted - lip, image and car -
No way on this one to salvage a par:
A whirlwind of scandal with no escape
From the sex and lies and audiotape.
It's babes, babes, babes! His life is in limbo.
Each passing day brings one more new bimbo.
Sponsors get skittish. His world's on the brink.
He needs to reflect, to heal and to think.
So he splits from golf, cast out of Eden
While the missus buys a house in Sweden.
The moral here? The lasting impressions?
A scorecard filled with regrets, "transgressions."
Serena Williams, her game going south,
Put her foot on the line, then in her mouth.
Agassi, the author, took a deep breath,
Then he wrote of his lies and crystal meth.
For Rick Pitino, remorse, confession:
A restaurant tryst, an "indiscretion."
Castroneves had his own sort of mess -
Not the IRL but the IRS.
Let's close with a tale too good to resist:
About age and time and the Scottish mist.
On the 18th hole there's nowhere to hide
When the sea winds blow off the Firth of Clyde.
So you study the green and get your line,
Knowing what's at stake and you're 59.
You plant your feet and you steady your hips,
And hope to avoid a case of the yips.
It's right there to be had - an 8-foot putt
Like so many before it, but, but, but ...
It's gone in an instant, the claret jug,
While giving the heart a soul-stirring tug.
So we'll raise our glass with a good stiff drink -
To you, Tom Watson. To you, Stewart Cink.
For we won't be passing this way again:
The sign on the road says 2010.