Loads of great sports news going on this time of the year as 2008 slowly draws to a close – and throughout the sports landscape.

First let’s start off with some history in ski jumping. Double 2002 Olympic champion and 2007 world champion Simon Ammann won the first leg of the Four Hills tour by beating Wolfgang Loitzl in Obertstdorf – becoming the first Swissman to win on the German slope.

Ammann, who is the overall leader in the World Cup standings this season, has set his sights on winning the first overall Four Hills title for Switzerland. The other three jumps are in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on January 1, Innsbruck on January 4 and Bischofshofen on January 6.

English football/soccer is still being rocked by news of the arrest of international star Steven Gerrard for alleged assault in a early morning fight. Gerrard is still being detained and has been charged in the probe.

While Gerrard waits to see his fate, three coaches in the American football NFL saw their sackings written clearly on the wall. And just one day after the regular season, the Detroit Lions did not shock anyone by firing Rod Marinelli after the first ever 0-16 season in NFL history.

The Cleveland Browns also surprised few by axing coach Romeo Crennel after losing 40 games in four seasons at the helm and never making the play-offs. And Browns fans’ hopes of having former Pittsburgh Steelers boss Bill Cowher in as new coach were also trounced upon straight away.

The one somewhat surprising is that the New York Jets sacked Eric Mangini – though his Jets did not make the play-offs the past two seasons, including this year despite the addition of Brett Favre.

The Big East college basketball conference got off to a great start as No. 8 ranked Georgetown went to No. 2 Connecticut and jumped ahead 18-3 in handing the Huskies their first loss of the season – 74-63.
With eight Top 25 teams in the conference, Big East fans will see plenty of great action all season.

The big game Monday night in the NBA saw the Detroit Pistons win their fourth straight game, beating the Orlando Magic at home 88-82 and snapping Orlando’s seven-game winning streak.

Heading to tennis, Roger Federer is clearly motivated to regain his number one ranking in the world as he plans on competing against Rafael Nadal and four other players at the January 1-3 exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. The Federer-Nadal battle promises to warm plenty of tennis hearts in 2009 – and this time earlier than ever before.

And to finish off with some baseball headlines.

The Los Angeles Dodgers appartantly are not waiting long for Manny Ramirez and have looked at Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu for help.

The New York Mets are making news for two reasons. First they are clearly still in the running for the other main free agent pitchers (it’s amazing that Randy Wolf will get a big contract this winter). And the Mets for some reason are inquiring to the Dodgers about a trade for Andruw Jones Talk about low risk, high reward – as long as the Dodgers can eat some of that massive contract of Jones’s.

The Boston Red Sox appear close to hopefully stabilizing their rotation by signing Brad Penny. Questions must remain just how healthy the former All-Star Dodgers pitcher is.

And this last item is not exactly new news. But here is milb.com’s Jonathan Mayo’s take on the Chicago Cubs losing left-handed pitcher Donnie Veal to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

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