10. Wranglers make Kelly Cup Finals, proving team still exists.
Jeff Probst would love the Las Vegas-based minor league hockey team. He hasn't yet seen a survivor like it.
The Wranglers might have fallen 4-1 in the best-of-7 Kelly Cup Finals to the Florida Everblades in May, but they remain the second-longest-lasting pro sports franchise in Southern Nevada history, behind only the 51s.
The Wranglers are in the midst of their 10th season in Las Vegas, and for the first time in five years, they increased their average attendance, to more than 4,300 per game.
The best part: While team president Billy Johnson and his staff continue to offer entertaining promotions, it appears Johnson can do so being at several places at once.
I'm pretty sure he was watching Bruce Springsteen in California while taking a picture with Carrot Top in Las Vegas, drinking a beer in Phoenix and partying in Istanbul all in the same night.
He's either the David Copperfield of hockey or lives a really cool life.
9. Nearly 30,000 showed up at Sam Boyd Stadium ... and Brigham Young wasn't even playing.
We are, if nothing else, a sports town that will support big events defined by famous teams and their star athletes.
Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo qualify, which is why 29,152 found their way into Sam Boyd in August to watch the Spanish league champions and one of the world's best soccer players beat Santos Laguna 2-1 in a World Football Challenge match.
It also was a big night for Herculez Gomez, the Las Vegan and star forward for Santos playing in front of a home crowd. Gomez prepped at Las Vegas High and played club soccer for Neusport FC. He had a great chance to score in the 35th minute, but his shot went right of the post. What you don't know is Bobby Hauck called for a fake field goal on the play.
I'm not sure what one match says for the future of soccer in Las Vegas, but any time this many fans attend a football game at Sam Boyd Stadium, it's big news. Even this type of football.
8. Bishop Gorman is so good, Mark Sanchez could win a state title as its quarterback.
Well, maybe not him.
But we know Jarrett Solomon can.
Solomon capped a historic prep career by throwing for 199 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Gaels to a fourth straight state title. He threw for more than 10,000 yards in his time at Gorman and can now officially begin preparing to compete for a starting job at Arizona.
I just hope he can get used to a lower level of talent from teammates in Tucson.
Not to mention facilities.
Bishop Gorman beat Liberty 63-10 to become the first state school since Reno High in the 1950s to win four consecutive titles, a streak that seems to bother everyone except those who compete on the field against the Gaels.
Liberty players and coaches spoke afterward about how Bishop Gorman's dominance has challenged other local schools to improve every facet of their programs, from weight rooms to offseason conditioning plans to attitude. For now, the Gorman dynasty rolls along.
7. No controversy? No sarcasm? No attitude? The Busch brothers must have missed the Chase.
It's true. Kyle and Kurt Busch, the Las Vegas natives who each at one time or another have worn the hat of NASCAR's No. 1 Bad Boy, failed to qualify for their sport's playoff.
It's the first time since the Chase format was born in 2004 that it lacked at least one of the brothers.
How is this a good thing?
It reminds us how important the Busches are to the sport. Every playoff needs a villain, and few have played the part better over time than the Brothers Busch.
They bring a passion to NASCAR that other leading drivers (robots) lack.
Come on. Is it really a Chase when you don't have Kurt spewing all sorts of profanity during post-race interviews or giving the bird to a motorcade carrying the First Lady?
You never know what you have until it's missing, or until Kyle misses the Chase by three points and his older brother does so because Phoenix Racing couldn't afford lunch for the crew last year, never mind field a competitive team.
6. Score one for PEDs!
I know. I know. Juan Manuel Marquez passed his post-fight drug test.
(Enter rolling eyes here.)
The fourth installment of Marquez-Manny Pacquiao this month at the MGM Grand Garden was as thrilling a fight as you could want, one that ended in the sixth round when Marquez landed a huge right hand that sent Pacquiao to the canvas/dreamland for several minutes.
It was the perfect punch at the precise second.
I hope they fight a fifth time. And a sixth. And so on. Few matchups in boxing history have produced the sort of action we have seen from these two during their encounters in the past eight years.
Marquez hired a strength coach (Angel Hernandez) for this latest fight, a guy who was intimately involved in the BALCO scandal, and suddenly Marquez became Popeye at 143 pounds.
On a positive note, it really showed those out there pushing 40 what a little extra "boost" can do for a guy getting soft around the middle.
5. A legend passes.
Somewhere up there, Bob Blum is calling a basketball game among teams of angels while interviewing Al Davis at halftime.
Southern Nevada sports lost one of its finest in July when Blum died at age 91, but he left those who heard his voice for decades with countless cherished memories.
Blum called UNLV women's basketball for 27 seasons, at times putting up his own money to ensure the games were heard on radio. His career included calling UNLV football and men's basketball and holding several positions with the 51s over 30 years, including special assistant to the general manager.
His was a familiar face, a voice recognized by a community as one of authority when it came to calling the sports he loved most.
The press room at the Thomas & Mack Center has been named in Blum's honor, a fitting tribute to a man who would tell the same stories 1,000 times and yet ones you would never tire of hearing.
4. This just in: Tap water tastes nasty.
You can't make this stuff up:
Floyd Mayweather Jr. won a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto in May and soon after reported to jail for a scheduled 90-day stay on a domestic violence charge.
Not two weeks later, his attorneys requested Mayweather serve out the remainder of his time on house arrest because the fighter's physical conditioning had deteriorated to the point he might never again be able to fight.
Mayweather reportedly wouldn't eat the food provided or drink the tap water available in his cell. Thankfully, Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa ruled against the motion and Mayweather was made to spend two months behind bars.
In searching for the positives of such a tale, I thought of three: First, it was nice to see Saragosa finally grow a spine in the case after first allowing Mayweather to delay reporting to jail so he could fight Cotto; second, Mayweather's team of enablers had 60 days to work on something other than granting his every wish; and finally, Mayweather is set to fight again in May, proving that jail snacks and tap water really can't ruin a boxing career.
3. Home early in March ... again.
To understand how any positives can be taken from UNLV's basketball team being bounced from the NCAA Tournament in another first-round game, you need to watch the Rebels this season.
The program that showed little heart or leadership or mental and physical toughness in a 68-64 loss to Colorado in Albuquerque, N.M., apparently has grown and matured from the experience.
Or at least it seems that way.
It was a third straight first-round exit for UNLV after Colorado ran to a big early lead and then held off the Rebels, who since have added players such as freshman Anthony Bennett and eligible transfers Khem Birch and Bryce Dejean-Jones, whose collective skills could mean a big difference come March.
Coach Dave Rice has a team today capable of making a deep NCAA run, but only if it doesn't offer the soft existence we saw against Colorado. It's time for UNLV to handle expectations when games matter most.
2. It's the shoe company, stupid.
The popular slogan for adidas is, "Impossible is Nothing." That apparently holds true with convincing top prep recruits on where to attend college.
Las Vegas featured the nation's No. 1 high school basketball player in Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman last season, a notable feather in the cap of local hoops history.
Muhammad led the Gaels to a third state championship in four years in February, scoring 30 first-half points in a 96-51 rout of Reno's Hug High.
He then signed with UCLA, picking the Bruins over Kentucky, which, in this particular case, simply wore the wrong shoes (Nike).
Las Vegas is far better in prep basketball than it was 10 years ago, and the publicity that came with Muhammad's ascension in the rankings made others aware nationally of such improvement.
It's also good to know that shoe companies continue to hold so much power with elite prospects, because if the time comes when high-level recruiting battles are actually fought based on things like integrity and honesty, well, where will we be then?
1. The Rook was on fire.
Bryce Harper was The Chosen One, all right.
He deservedly was chosen National League Rookie of the Year.
Harper is the Las Vegas native who at 19 became the youngest position player to win the award and the second-youngest overall to Dwight Gooden (1984).
Harper always has tended to do things ahead of schedule and followed such a script once called up to the majors by the Washington Nationals in late April. The top overall draft pick in 2010 hit .270 with 22 home runs, 59 RBIs, 98 runs and 18 stolen bases.
He slid head first, dived for balls, threw runners out, stole home against the Phillies, played with the sort of reckless abandon that endeared him to fans in Washington.
It is the beginning of what promises to be a bright future for Harper in the majors, assuming he can adjust to the scouting reports that now will be even more detailed for opposing pitchers.
I just hope being the No. 1 pick in our annual countdown of top local stories doesn't jinx him.
Dave Rice had the spot last year, and things seem to be working out for him. I believe Rice even drinks tap water now and then.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on "Gridlock," ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.