Year in Review | The best, and worst, of 2005

Issue: "News of the year," Dec. 31, 2005

Losers win

No one took the White Sox seriously until it was too late. Sure Chicago powered more home runs than the free-swinging Red Sox. But compared to famous Boston sluggers like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the star power of the White Sox no-name lineup could hardly compare. But it isn't the size of the name that wins baseball games.

The White Sox won in 2005 by getting on and then stealing bases. By pitching and fielding. By doing all the things that chicks (and dudes) who dig the long ball might miss. And they did it with reject pitchers from the New York Yankees like Orlando Hernandez and especially Jose Contreras, as well as home-grown youngsters like Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland.

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With the Red Sox breaking an 86-year World Series drought in 2004 and the Chicago White Sox ending an 88-year World Series slump, does a 97-year losing streak seem unbreakable? But if the Cubs do try to emulate their cross-town neighbors, they'll likely find at least one thing impossible. There is only one Ozzie Gullien, a manager whose team adopted his confident persona and translated it into wins on the field.

Ungrounded, grounded

Nearly two and a half years after the Columbia space craft disintegrated during re-entry, NASA launched another space shuttle, this time sending Discovery into space on a research mission coupled with a delivery of supplies to the International Space Station. But upon re-entry, Discovery faced the same problems Columbia encountered, though without tragedy. One safe landing and thousands of sighs of relief later, NASA in August grounded the space-shuttle fleet once again.

Just plain wrong

Howard Dean in his own words:

  • "The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party." -Mr. Dean speaking to reporters on June 6 in San Francisco.
  • "Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives." -Mr. Dean speaking to Democratic activists on June 2.
  • "The idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." -Mr. Dean in an interview with WOAI in San Antonio on Dec. 5.


A U.S./French probe descended to Saturn's moon, Titan, nearly 600,000 miles away from Earth, sending back first-ever images of the planet's satellite. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched on Aug. 12, is on course to reach Mars on March 10, 2006.

Decision of the year

It may not be a household name, but the law carved out by the Supreme Court in June, Kelo v. New London, means you could lose your house. In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled local governments could seize private land for public use. But this isn't your ordinary eminent domain. In the Kelo case, the court said New London, Conn., had the right to tear down a residential neighborhood to let a commercial developer build a resort hotel and a shopping center-all in the public's best interest.

Spinning wheels

As music-industry complaints about illegal downloading receded, so have complaints about diminishing sales. But if the industry's reliance on reissues-and redundant ones at that-is any indication, the news remains unsatisfactory. Of the 376 single-act albums released during the second week of December, more than 25 percent were either best-ofs, reissues, or live recordings.

Take the Bee Gees' Love Songs (Polydor). Of 18 tracks only two have not appeared on a previous Brothers Gibb compilation, boxed set, or live album, meaning that long-time fans (practically the only kind the Bee Gees have) are paying $13.98 for two songs. When labels start mining their vaults for live albums by New Riders of the Purple Sage and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, one senses that they're scraping the bottoms of their barrels. Throw in the 87 various-artists compilations that came out on Dec. 10, and the conclusion that the industry is spinning its wheels, either due to lethargy or a lack of fresh talent, is all but inescapable.

Bad old days in Tehran

When former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in June, some American heroes came down with a bad case of flashback fever. Several U.S. officials held hostage in Iran in 1979 for 444 days remember the 49-year-old head of state as one of their captors.

Mr. Ahmadinejad denies the allegation but has done nothing to distance himself from hardline policies dating back to the 1979 revolution. He calls Israel "an occupying country" over Jerusalem. Delivering a keynote address to a Tehran conference in October called "World Without Zionism," he predicted that "very soon" Israel "will be purged from the center of the Islamic world."


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