According to Andrew: The Best of 2016
2016 was weird, man.
But it did give us a lot of material to work with to make these lists. We're counting down the best of music, film, sports, and other pop culture for 2016!
Take a look at these countdown lists below!
Why 2016 was the Most Absurd Year Ever
Top 25 Pop Songs of 2016
Top 10 Most Annoying Songs of 2016
Top 10 Films of 2016 (COMING SOON!)
Top 10 Most Disappointing Films of 2016
Top 10 Performances of 2016 (COMING SOON!)
Top 15 Sports Moments of 2016
Top 10 "Oh No!" Sports Moments in 2016
Top 10 Games of 2016
Top 50 Sports Plays of 2016
Top 15 Musical-to-Film Adaptations and More!
In anticipation of the release of the new musical film La La Land, in theatres December 9th, we are unveiling a three-list series looking at the best of musical theatre and film together!
Our lists can be found HERE:
You can also view our other recent lists on our home page HERE.
End of the year "Best Of" lists and other news!
Happy Holidays to all!
It's December 2016, which means that the "Best of the Year" lists are right around the corner!
We've got some really good ones this year, as well as some new editions of old favorite lists from last year.
In addition, get prepared for some pretty big changes happening around the site... stay tuned...
10 Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election
I would like to preface this article by pointing out that these are only my opinions. I’ve been trying to make sense and rationalize this entire election, basically looking at it for what it is from the point of view that is mine and mine alone.
I’ve tried my best to look at both sides of this, and this is me making the best judgment and best formulated opinions that I can. Take any, all, or none of it as you will.
Well friends, here we are. It’s November 10, 2016, two days removed from one of the craziest elections in the history of this country. I’ve had a few days to wallow in both sadness and deep thought, while doing the best job I can to support those who are in need of it.
The coming months will be very telling as to how much work we truly have to do as a nation. The campaigning was easy. Now that it’s over and the results are in, the great work must begin.
This is my state of mind two days removed from the election.
This is the reality we face.
The fact of the matter is this- we are not dreaming. Regardless how unfathomable it is, or how much we don’t want to accept it- barring anything that goes down between now and January 20th, Donald Trump will be the next president of this country. We did not expect it. It’s hard to swallow. However, it is the reality that we face right now. I don’t want to get too into exactly why or how Trump won, or why or how the Clinton campaign lost, but the numbers on the board indicate Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.
A message for Trump supporters.
Here’s the thing. Yes, your candidate ended up winning. And I understand that you’re happy for him and the impending future of this country. I’m not going to knock you for voting for Mr. Trump, that’s your right as an American citizen- to vote for the candidate who you believe would improve the country the way you want to improve it. I can’t say I voted for him, so I’m not sure what your reasoning was- perhaps his proposed focus on economic change, or his proposed plan for tackling international threats- whatever it was, that’s all well and good from my end. But when I see people on social media talking about how they shouldn’t have to endure the reactions of people who supported Secretary Clinton in the aftermath of this election, I can only shake my head at the hypocrisy.
A picture that seems to keep circulating the internet reads “Right now, my liberal friends are saying worse things about Trump and his supporters than Trump has ever said about anyone.” And that bothers me.
You have to understand that these people that you know, many of whom I’m sure are women, minorities, or members of the LGBT community, are very scared right now at the road ahead. They are emotional, angry, and fucking terrified.
You have to understand that, while you may have voted for Trump based on certain views, there is another side to his campaign, and it is one that has projected the idea of misogyny, racism, and just overall hate and contempt. You have to understand that people have been given reason to fear that their rights that they have fought so hard to attain are about to be taken away in one swift movement. And, to be honest, I’m not sure that their reactions are worse than some of the things that Trump has said during his campaign.
I live in Massachusetts, which has traditionally been very good and progressive regarding states’ rights. I live in a part of the state where privilege exists for many people, white, black, male, female, gay, straight, etc. I think it’s been pretty good. But you have to understand that while you may not be affected wholly, there are other people who may not be so privileged that will be affected.
If your candidate won, that’s fine. I’m not going to argue you on who you voted for. All I’m asking is that you take a second to look at how some people on the other side feel before you jump to conclusions about your feelings being hurt. Put yourselves in their shoes for half a minute.
A message for certain Trump supporters.
Donald Trump’s win in this election is not reason to do whatever the fuck you want to other people. The law is still the law. Sexual assault didn’t just become okay overnight. Telling people who look different than you to get out of the country is still not cool. If you think for a second that you have your country back, you have done nothing but fuel the fire under a large group of people ready to show you that it’s not just your country- it’s theirs too.
A message for Clinton supporters.
It sucks. I know. It really, really sucks. To come this far for nothing is bad enough. But to have the presidency be awarded to someone who had said all the things he’s said, and done all the things he’s done, and to portray himself the way he has, and pull an upset victory over an extremely qualified long-time politician is devastating. I admit I had a hard time getting out of bed on Wednesday morning. I’ll admit it hasn’t sunk in yet for me either.
And you have just cause to feel afraid, or helpless, or alone. But, just like my Trump supporters above you, I need you guys to understand some things as well.
I know a lot of you are hurting right now. But I need you to understand that you are not alone in all of this. There are millions of people in this country and around the world that feel the exact same way you do. Just because one guy was elected president doesn’t mean that everyone is suddenly out to get you. You have strength in numbers. And Hillary did win the popular vote, so I think it’s safe to say that your numbers outweigh theirs.
There are people out there that you may not know. But they love you, and they have your back. People that may have more privilege to things will help those who are less privileged than they are.
You need to understand that the people who are around you will not let anything bad happen to you. If anyone tries to touch you or make you feel like nothing or take your rights away, they will have to go through the lines of us fighting with you and for you first.
I do not believe that people are innately bad people. Hatred and contempt comes from all different places in our lives, but I really think that deep down, we’re all good people. When it comes right down to it, I think human good will prevail in the end.
There are some other things I need you to understand as well (some of them may be a little hard to accept).
I do not believe that a vast majority of Donald Trump’s supporters voted for him because he said and did all of those sexist, racist, hateful things. I believe they voted for him because he represented one thing, and that was deviation from the norm.
They saw something in him that they think is going to change the country. I plead that you don’t get angry (or worse, violent) because they voted their conscience.
I need you to understand that many people in rural parts of the country don’t have a lot of money or jobs. They believe that Trump’s business background and focus on tax cuts, business tariffs, and his proposed investment in infrastructure will be some kind of guiding light. And perhaps it may not be what we’re used to hearing from politicians (which is why his promises came off as so egregious), but perhaps those that voted for him were tired of what they perceived as a slow-moving government that didn’t care about them. They wanted a candidate who says he won’t leave them behind and then actually doesn’t leave them behind. When it comes right down to it, they have their reasons for voting for him, and I’m not sure that all of them (maybe some, but definitely not all) are for the reasons you may think they voted for him.
Look at this statement Bernie Sanders released.
But above all of that, I need you to understand that all is not lost there either. Because if Trump doesn’t follow through on his promises, the people who supported him will turn on him, too.
A Message for Clinton supporters, Part 2: The fight begins now.
So, what happens now? Where do we go from here?
My opinion is to do something simple yet controversial: go about your daily lives. The opposite of fear is not acceptance in this case- it is normality. The only thing I ask (and this will tie into my next point) is that we all learn to love each other a little more.
What the “Trumpsters” want to see are those classified as the liberal elite crying, succumbing to fear and talking about moving out of the country (I’m paraphrasing Sorkin's letter to his daughter a tad, but you get the idea of where I’m going with this). What we need is to do the opposite.
So, cry. But after that, get up and be angry. Be passionate. Make art. Sing. Make music. Dance. Feel. Live. Inspire. Be inspired. But do not submit to fear and terror, because it’s not going to get us anywhere, especially when we have the power to fight this.
The midterm elections are only two years away. Invest in senators and congressmen and women. Just like Trump was able to flip the system, we can flip the system back.
Donate. Support. Protest (but please be safe and smart and don’t be violent with anyone or anything, please). Never stop making your voice heard, because we hear it and it does matter. It truly, truly does.
Trump might be different as president than he was during his campaign- or he might not.
Trump has based most of his campaign around the fact that he’s an outsider trying to bring down the system. But what happens when he’s actually inside the system? Starting today, Trump will begin to receive briefings at just about the same deep-level intelligence as President Obama receives. This means that his idea of what is happening both internationally and domestically could change. Might he have different opinions about Syria and Russia after these briefings than he did watching the news? Quite possibly. There is reason to believe that he might be a tad more moderate than we’ve come to believe during his campaign. We did see a gracious Donald Trump in his victory, and even saw glimpses of it during his address at the Republican Convention. Who knows if this Trump will emerge during his first term?
Then again, human nature suggests that at 70 years of living, one doesn’t just change one’s own personality in two months. We may very well get the same loud-mouthed, boisterous man that we’ve seen for the last year and a half. Paired with the prospects of his cabinet (among those being vetted are Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich), we have reason to believe that we could get more of the same thing. Republican voters also want the same Trump we saw during the campaign- which could spell disaster for Trump among his approval ratings if he doesn’t carry that to the White House.
HOT TAKE ALERT: I sincerely hope that Donald Trump is able to do this job well and treat it with respect. I sincerely hope something within him is going to make him change and treat all those people he offended with dignity and respect. Because when it comes right down to it, we’re all on the boat with him. And if he crashes, so do we.
Then again, I didn’t vote for him, and I don’t like him.
So, that being said…
Andrew’s Over/Under for the length of Trump’s term as president: 6 months.
His involvement in his own organization gives us reason to be skeptical. I, for one, don’t believe that he and his family can go about separating business from politics.
Trump has also vowed to reverse many of President Obama’s policies. He does have the House and Senate at his disposal, but even if his fellow Republicans choose not to back him, the two words that President Obama has really made famous that Trump plans to exercise are: Executive Orders.
That’s all well and good. But what happens when you use too many Executive Orders? That might be called an abuse of power. And what happens when you abuse your power? Two words: Impeachment Hearings.
I give him six months before the first impeachable scandal/crime happens. Any takers?
Looking at 2020: Who’s next?
I could be wrong, but I think we may have seen the end of Hillary Clinton’s run as public servant. She has done a fantastic job serving this country; she should and will go down as one of the most important not just women, but people, in this country’s history.
But, for the Democrats, there needs to be some searching for a candidate for the 2020 election.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)- she’s an anti-Wall Street crusader with a huge progressive following. She’s also a badass. However, not only would she be 71 years old in 2020, Massachusetts nominees have not had the best time in presidential elections (see Dukakis, Kerry, and Romney).
Sen. Chris Murphy (CT)- The senator made headlines with a 15-hour filibuster in support of firearm legislation back in June. Murphy is very popular in his home state of Connecticut, and he was also speculated to be a potential running mate for Clinton in 2016.
Sen. Cory Booker (NJ)- my personal favorite. He’s a fiery senator and former mayor of Newark who once saved a woman from a burning building. He’s got a reputation as a reformer, and was in consideration to be Clinton’s running mate this year.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN)- She may not have the resume that Hillary Clinton has at this moment in time, but Klobuchar is an extremely well-liked senator from Minnesota, who seemingly has a well-thought out plan for getting to the White House. She’s also extremely well liked in the state of Iowa, where she says she “feels at home.” Hmm.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)- Brown has very progressive tendencies very similar to those of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He also lives in the crucial swing state of Ohio, which I’m sure Democrats will be anxious to make a campaign assault on come 2020.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)- When Hillary Clinton left the senate, Gillibrand replaced her as New York Junior Senator. Could she make a run at the Presidency in 2020?
I encourage you to also look up names like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kamala Harris.
I have omitted names like Bernie Sanders (because of age- he’ll be 79 four years from now) and Michelle Obama, mostly because Michelle says that she has no interest in the job.
Don’t abolish the Electoral College- Reform it.
For those of you that don't know already, this is how the Electoral College works.
How ironic. The system that Donald Trump was complaining about being rigged ending up getting him elected.
Hillary Clinton may have lost the Electoral College, but she did succeed in winning the popular vote- something Democratic nominee Al Gore did in 2000, losing to George W. Bush. This is a huge accomplishment, signifying that more than half the voting population wanted Clinton to be president, not Trump. I keep seeing people on social media make moves to abolishing the Electoral College. I’m going to step out on a limb here and say that that is NOT what possible voting reform needs. A president cannot be decided merely by popular vote. If that were really the case, you’d have votes in New York City that weigh as much as votes in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Of course the candidate who can grab the most big cities would win the election. What bothers me about the Electoral College, and what I believe needs to be reformed, is this winner-take-all system that we’re used to.
In 2000, the race between Gore and Bush came down to Florida and its 25 (at the time, it’s 29 now) electoral votes. Bush ended up winning the state by 537 votes out of almost 6,000,000, but got the entire 25, winning the election.
I believe a system that takes into account the popular vote in each state would be more effective. This is sort of like the systems that Nebraska and Maine have in place, but instead of using drawn out districts (opening the door for parties to gerrymander and draw their own electoral lines), the electoral votes are split based on the ratio or percentage of the popular vote.
Ex: If there are 11 electoral votes in a state, with 7,000,000 votes cast, and Candidate A gets 5,000,000, while Candidate B gets 2,000,000, the votes would be split based on the ratio of votes. Candidate A would get 71% of those 11 electoral votes (7.81), while Candidate B would get the other 23% (3.19).
If there are an odd number of electoral votes in a given state, and there’s essentially a 50-50 tie, the candidate who wins the popular vote in that state outright would win that last electoral vote, essentially “winning” that state. It might also encourage more third party voting, since those candidates may end up with percentages of electoral votes. It requires a lot more math and more time than we’re used to, but hear me out.
This is just something to think about, but I hardly believe taking the step to not completely abolish, but instead reform the Electoral College would be an effective solution.
This country needs to find a way to come together, not divide the lines even further.
Can we promise to never have an election like this ever again?
I’ve been way more politically invested this year, I admit. But this was exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a campaign that was clogged with mudslinging, name-calling, and negative campaign ads. Good God.
I for one will be happy if I never see another campaign commercial as long as I live. Hopefully next time around we can get back to more civil debates about the issues, and less about personal attacks.
A final thought. I don’t know how this happened from four years ago (or maybe it’s blatantly obvious and I’m not looking into it all that much), but the lines between red and blue have divided people more than ever. If Clinton had been elected, Trump supporters I’m sure would have claimed it to be the beginning of the end of the world as well. Stephen Colbert, during his live election special on Showtime had an interesting statistic: “More than 4 in 10 Democrats and Republicans say the other party’s policies are so misguided that they pose a threat to the nation.” These two parties are terrified of one another. We need to change that.
That being said, the fact that Clinton and Trump splitting the popular vote and the Electoral College vote is fairly troubling. The fact that there was not one outright winner or loser in this election may very well deepen the divide in this country.
But this is America, where anything is possible.
A quick note about America: one of the best things about this country is that we’re all different, and that’s okay. It’s so great that we get to live in a country where all people from all walks of life should be accepted and accepting of each other’s differences. This country has been called the land of opportunity by many. It’s based on the idea of freedom, which, I think, means the freedom to look, speak, and think differently from other people. It also means that one should not be oppressed for being different. We really need to take a look at that in the coming months if we want to make some kind of difference.
Above all, this is not a country where hate it welcome. Love will always triumph over it, no matter what anyone does or says.
Hug each other a little tighter today.
Call your parents and friends (Don't text, call them). Tell them you love them.
Be patient with and good to one another.
Pray for peace.
That's my two cents, guys. Leave a comment if you feel so inclined.
2016 World Series: Should Red Sox fans root for the Cubs?
The Chicago Cubs have been baseball’s lovable losers for a long, long time. They haven’t won a World Series since 1908. But with a win in game six of the NLCS on Saturday night, the Cubs advanced to the World Series, finally winning their first National League Pennant since 1945.
The Cubbies retired the minimum number of batters (27) in a playoff game. The last team to accomplish this feat? The 1956 New York Yankees, when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It appears, for the moment, that the Cubs have the stars aligned to finally win their first World Series in 108 years.
Opposing them are the Cleveland Indians, who themselves are seeking a World Series title for the first time since 1948.
With injuries to their starting pitching, there were numerous question marks about the Indians’ chances in the postseason. They shut down the mighty Boston Red Sox and their juggernaut offense, sweeping them in the ALDS. They were projected to then get throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, whom they beat handily in five games. Much of this is thanks to the managerial decisions of Terry Francona, who has been able to mix and match his bullpen in order to shut down opposing lineups.
At this World Series, one of the two franchises will end a streak of despair that has been decades in the making.
But, looking at this from the perspective of a Boston sports fan, what are those of us who seek a rooting interest left to do, now that the Red Sox have been eliminated?
Instinct says we should cheer for the Cubs, as their championship drought is the longest. They’re also sufferers of a dreaded “curse,” something Red Sox fans should be all too familiar with. Also, the Indians defeated the Sox in the ALDS with former players from their championship teams of years past.
What more could we ask for as Boston sports fans than to have a hapless franchise suffering for a long period of time beat the team that knocked us out?
Hot take alert: Boston sports fans should be rooting against the Cubs. You read that right.
Let’s put this in perspective and look at the two franchises who suffered for all those years.
Before 2004, there were 5 teams with championship droughts of 55 years or more. San Francisco hadn’t won since 1954, going 58 years before finally winning in 2010. The Chicago White Sox went 88 years before winning in 2005, their first since 1917. The Red Sox ended their 88 year drought in 2004 by winning their first championship since 1918 (the latter two have each won 2 more titles after their initial title win- the Giants in 2012 and 2014; the Red Sox in 2007 and 2013).
As of 2016, we’ve got two clubs left to break their droughts. They happen to be playing each other in the World Series.
The Cubs haven’t raised a banner since 1908, 108 years ago. The Indians, of course, haven’t won since 1948, 68 years ago.
But this all ties back to the Red Sox. They are the original curse breakers. We did it first.
We’re also extremely territorial of our “original curse breaker” status.
We suffered more over a long period of time. We had to overcome more notoriously successful and more talented rival teams.
We suffered more devastating losses and bizarre endings that crushed our dreams.
And most importantly- we earned it because we deserved it more than anyone.
The Cubs may not have won for 108 years, but they also have sucked for a lot longer than we have. There are underdogs, and there are losers. The discrepancy between the two clubs is more than apparent.
For Boston fans, the Cubs do not deserve a World Series title because they haven’t earned it like we did.
Our misery is more miserable than your misery, Chicago.
Let’s start with the curses themselves: the battle of Bambinos and Billy Goats.
The Curse of the Bambino is far more well known than that Curse of the Billy Goat. It is, for the most part, the (very) long term effects of what can happen when one player alters the futures of a franchise. The Curse of the Billy Goat is more like what happens when the rapper Lil B curses James Harden before the Rockets face the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Are we taking Chicago’s “curse” too seriously?
Since the Red Sox won the 1918 World Series (where they beat the Cubs), they’ve had 17 postseason appearances, which includes eight division titles and seven wild card births. The other two appearances came in 1946 and 1967, (there was no LCS at until 1969), when the Sox had the best record in the American League and went to the World Series.
In those 17 playoff appearances, the Sox captured seven American League Pennants and three World Series titles. They were swept out of the playoffs only five times, while participating in 12 playoff series (ALDS, LCS, or World Series) that went all the way to winner-take-all elimination games.
The Cubs have made the playoffs only eight times since 1945, winning six division titles and two wild card births. In four of their eight appearances, they were swept out of the playoffs. Their only playoff series wins came in 2003 (NLDS), 2015 (NLDS), and 2016 (NLDS, NLCS).
The Red Sox were the lovable losers who were always just one rung short.
In 1984, the Cubs faced the San Diego Padres in the then-best of five NLCS. They went up two games to none in the series, only to drop the next three straight. San Diego went on to the World Series.
The closest they got (before this year) was by beating the Braves three games to two in the 2003 NLDS, then going up three games to one on the Florida Marlins in the NLCS. We all know what happened next.
Other than that, the Cubs have never made a sound in the playoffs before this year.
The comparison is not close on the stats sheet.
Let’s take a trip through the history of the Red Sox suffering, shall we?
1946- The Red Sox win the American League by 12 games and are heavy favorites to win the World Series. In game seven, a base hit turns into a game-winner for St. Louis, as the “mad dash,” as it is now known by Enos Slaughter, paired with the delayed, highly controversial throw from Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky, seals the World Series for the Cardinals.
1967- The “Impossible Dream” year. After finishing a half game above last place in 1966, the Red Sox miraculously rebounded to win the American League on the final game of the season in 1967, thanks to the Cy Young-winning season by ace Jim Lonborg, and the MVP season of Carl Yastrzemski. The Red Sox rallied from down 3-1 in the series to force a game seven at Fenway Park, with Lonborg pitching on two day’s rest against the Cardinals ace Bob Gibson, but were ultimately defeated 7-2.
1975- Game six at Fenway Park. The Red Sox, having already battled back from being down three games to one at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, found themselves in a 6-3 hole in the bottom of the 8th. Bernie Carbo came off the bench and crushed a 2-2 pitch to dead centerfield for a three-run home run, tying the game at 6, and sending it to extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Carlton Fisk hit one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history, sending one down the left field line and off the foul pole. Fisk, hopping down the first base line, waved his arms, attempting to direct the ball to stay fair. It worked, and the Sox won the game and tied the series. With three prior days of rain delay, the Red Sox had both ace pitchers Luis Tiant and Bill Lee available to try to close out the series. The Red Sox began game seven in the lead, 3-0, but ended up losing 4-3.
1986- Game 6 at Shea Stadium, Red Sox vs. Mets. The Sox made it to the World Series on the back of a dramatic late-inning home run by Dave Henderson, which ultimately sunk the California Angels. The Red Sox were one strike away from winning the World Series, which would be their first in 68 years. In a back and forth game, the Red Sox, after blowing a save in the bottom of the 9th, scored two more runs of their own in the top of the 10th, seemingly putting the game and the series away, up 5-3. The Mets were down to their last strike on two separate occasions, but managed three consecutive hits with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, cutting the Boston lead to 5-4. After pulling Calvin Schiraldi, Red Sox manager John McNamara went with former closer Bob Stanley to face Mookie Wilson. After a back-and-forth battle that kept the count at 2-2 for seven pitches, Stanley lost control of his next pitch, allowing the speedy Kevin Mitchell to score and tie the game at 5. Two pitches later, Wilson hit a slow roller down the first base line, which went through the legs of the first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run. The Mets would go on to win game seven at home the following night.
Why should the Cubs receive any kind of sympathy from Boston fans? The suffering the Red Sox have endured has been far worse.
But hey, at least we can blame the players on the field for our prior misfortune and not absurd happenings away from the game, right?
Take the selling of Babe Ruth, for instance. It is a prime example of the long term effects of giving a way a star player to a rival team. This is far less of a blatant “plague on both your houses” and more of an “oh shit, this has negatively impacted our franchise for an excrutiatingly long amount of time.”
Things originated differently on the North Side. Chicago tavern owner Billy Sianis brought a goat to the 1945 World Series and was kicked out because the smell of the animal was disturbing other fans, giving a verbal warning on his way out of Wrigley Field.
“Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” he allegedly declared.
Give me a break. Oakland Raiders fans can blame the Tuck Rule game for them not winning the Super Bowl in 2001. They can’t use it as an excuse for sucking for the next 14 years.
Red Sox fans can blame poor managerial decisions and individual on-field events for each heartbreaking defeat. Cubs fans have to find scapegoats in the years they got relatively close.
We can talk about the decision to start Jim Lonborg in 1967 on two-days rest, where he clearly struggled. We can talk about the decision by John McNamara to take Roger Clemens out of game six in 1986, and his decision to leave Bill Buckner in the game.
Or, we can talk about some poor guy who was doing what any fan would during a baseball game.
During game six of the 2003 NLCS, the fan that comes to mind is Steve Bartman, who interfered with a charging Moises Alou, who didn’t really have much of a chance of catching the foul ball in the first place. The player that is forgotten is Alex Gonzalez, who botched a potential double-play ground ball that would have closed out the inning, all but sending the Cubs to the World Series. Instead, the Marlins scored eight runs in the 8th and won the game.
Thirteen years later, Bartman still receives threats from fans who are completely oblivious to the fact that he is not responsible for losing the game. The players on the field are.
To rub even more salt in the would, the Cubs’ crosstown counterparts, the White Sox, won their first World Series in 88 years only two seasons later. But that’s less sad and more just unfortunate.
And, let’s be real, here. There is nothing romantic about this Cubs team we see before us in 2016. And it’s very easy to be romantic about baseball.
The Cubs had the best record in baseball in 2016, winning 103 games. The 2004 Red Sox were 10.5 games back of the Yankees in August 2004, but managed to close the gap to as few as 2.5 in almost three weeks, finishing only three games back, clinching a Wild Card spot. They won 98 games, which would be the third most in 2004 and the second most in 2016, but the New York Yankees were simply better.
The Cubs have no one in their division that is good on a consistent basis. I mean, sure, the Cardinals have traditionally been very good. But it’s nothing like the Red Sox have suffered at the hands of the Yankees. Just about every year, it has been the Yankees leading the division, and the Red Sox hanging on for dear life in the American League East.
The construction of the two teams could not be more different.
The 2004 Red Sox tearfully traded away one of their icons, shortstop Nomar Garciappara, in order to piece together a World Series team. Talk about romantic. The team was full of holes that ultimately found a way to cover each other’s weaknesses and win. They even called themselves “the Idiots.”
What have the Cubs done? They’ve essentially created a super-team, with four Cy-Young quality pitchers, an infield that started at all four positions in the All-Star Game, and an outfield bursting with talent. And they’ve done this with the same General Manager that helped the Red Sox break their curse in 2004- Theo Epstein- Another reason for Sox fans to be salty toward the Cubs. There’s a reason why many of the best players on the Cubs look familiar- they all used to play in Boston. Talk about a kick in the teeth.
If Epstein and the Cubs win this World Series, he will have punched his ticked into Cooperstown at the age of 42. He was 28 when the Red Sox won in 2004. Leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, doesn’t it, Boston fans?
But if you look up the word “magical” in the dictionary, you wouldn’t see a picture of this year’s Cubs, that’s for damn sure.
The Cubs advanced in the NLDS because the Giants bullpen completely fell apart. They beat the Dodgers because of Clayton Kershaw not being able to keep his cool during the playoffs. That’s not suffering.
And to top it off, the Cubs are actually favored to win the World Series. They’ve been the favorite ever since the season started? That’s never fun, to see the favored team win like everyone’s expecting them to.
If you want to be romantic about baseball, look no further than the 2004 American League Championship Series. Having been eliminated the year before by the Yankees on a game seven walk-off home run by Aaron Boone, the Red Sox returned to the ALCS against their rival squad, and quickly fell in a three-games-to-none hole.
With postseason heroics from the likes of Dave Roberts, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, and a host of others, the Red Sox became the first team ever to win a best of seven series when down three games to none, rattling off four consecutive wins against their bitter rivals. And to finish off the victory in Yankee Stadium where they were crushed yet again in 2003 was the icing on the cake.
One could even argue that Sox fans should stay out of watching this World Series altogether- because the Cleveland Indians are pretty much the same thing; a host of former Red Sox players (and one former manager) who have somehow captured that “lightning in a bottle” essence and ridden it all the way to the Fall Classic.
But, to be fair, the Indians are the better story in all of this. To be plagued by injury, and then essentially slaughter two teams that are offensive juggernauts and were projected to beat you is a remarkable achievement by itself, especially for a city that has traditionally sucked at everything, and is now competing for its second major sports championship in six months. It’s NC State-esque, circa 1983. It’s playoff magic.
When it comes right down to it, both teams playing in the World Series are the Ghosts of Red Sox past.
So, Cleveland and Chicago, you’re welcome.
The bitterness between the Boston fan and the Chicago should absolutely exist. There’s a sense of vitriol that exists in Boston fans toward their teams, even in moments of elation.
Chicago fans could care less if their team wins- they’ve been doing it for the last 108 years. They don’t call Wrigley Field the “Friendly Confines” for nothing. Hell, people are already saying that the curse of the Billy Goat has been lifted even though the team hasn’t won the World Series yet. I mean, we were pumped when we pulled out that comeback against the Yankees in 2004, but at least we knew we had a job to finish.
When the Cubs and Indians take the field on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Boston fans have an interesting decision to make. History’s going to be made either way, it’s just a matter of which one you want to see win- or lose- most.
One franchise will undoubtedly earn a well-fought a World Series title for their city. For those of us on the outside looking it, it’s just a matter of who the members of Red Sox Nation want to accept as their equals.
The World Series begins Tuesday, October 25th at 8pm on FOX.
Disclaimer: I would like to state my need to watch history happen. So I’ll be rooting against this hot take. Prediction: Chicago wins this series, 4-1.
The Hunt for October- 2016 MLB Playoff Predictions
At last, October is upon us! Aside from everything great about October that we all know and love (Halloween, pumpkins and their subsequent spiced lattes, and the sweet spot of FALL), this month brings us one of the most magical times of the year- the Major League Baseball Playoffs.
Around the league, there seems to be a major theme in storylines regarding the 10 teams playing for a World Series title this year: Fairytales. We've got teams playing to break curses, teams looking for their first title, and even teams looking to solidify dynasties.
Chicago Cubs (103-58), NL Central Champions
Just about everyone in baseball is anxiously awaiting to see what the Chicago Cubs will bring to the table this October. The North Side's lovable losers- as we're all aware- haven't won a World Series since 1908 (108 years). In fact, they haven't even advanced to the World Series since 1945. With a stellar rotation featuring Jake Arrietta and Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel and John Lackey (their entire rotation is in the top 20 for pitching in the National League), an MVP candidate in Kris Bryant, an All-Star Game starting infield, and a fantastic closer in Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs have the league's best record this year, as they were the only team to win over 100 games. All signs point to a return to the Fall Classic, and perhaps even a win for the city that's been hurting for so long without one.
Cleveland Indians (94-67), AL Central Champions
Next, we have the Cleveland Indians- the team with the second longest World Series drought, clocking in at 68 years (their last title was in 1948)- although they last made it to the World Series in 1994 and 1997. Manager Terry Francona has managed to keep this team above water for nearly six months, dealing with major injuries and setbacks along the way. While the rotation has a lot of question marks entering this month (Kluber almost back from injury but a few other starters on the shelf), Francona has been able to use his bullpen's arms to great effect, particularly that of trade deadline-acquisition Andrew Miller. Even though they're the American League's second seed, I consider this team to be a big underdog headed into Thursday's date with the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox (93-69), AL East Champions
Speaking of the Red Sox- the boys from Boston scored another worst-to-first season this year, doing it once before in 2013 (where they won the World Series, you may remember). The Sox have much to be thankful for: they've got two incredible starters, between offseason pickup David Price and the should-be AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello; they've got three players with over 30 home runs: Hanley Ramirez, the unexpected AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts, and the man who is having one of the most sensational final seasons of all time, David Ortiz, who leads the team with 38 homers. When this team gets rolling, it's an offensive juggernaut- scoring the most runs in the majors with 878, outscoring the next best team in baseball (Colorado) by 23, and the next best in the American League (Cleveland) by over 100. With an improved, but still- let's say enigmatic- rotation and bullpen, look for the Sox to make waves this postseason, as they try to win their fourth World Series in 12 years, and hopefully send Big Papi out on a high note.
Washington Nationals (95-67), NL East Champions
Next, we've got the Washington Nationals, my sleeper pick to win the World Series this year. The Nats won only one World Series title while they were the Senators, and never came close when they were the Montreal Expos. This year could change all that. With Max Scherzer leading the charge now that NL Cy Young candidate Stephen Strasberg is out due to injury, the Nationals bring to the table an under the radar, explosive offense that could prove troublesome for their NLDS opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, particularly in the form of offseason pickup Daniel Murphy, who hit home runs in six consecutive playoff games for the Mets last year, although he hasn't started since September 17th due to a butt injury. You've also got Bryce Harper, who is far and away one of the best all-around players in baseball. Don't let the big name Cubs and Red Sox draw your focus away from this underappreciated team this October.
Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71), NL West Champions
At the All-Star Break, the Los Angeles Dodgers were six games out of first place in the National League West. Here we are in the first weekend of October, where they won the division by four games over the San Francisco Giants, clinching in late September on a walk-off blast on Vin Scully's final game broadcasting from Dodger Stadium. Now that ace Clayton Kershaw is back from injury, the Dodgers can give it another solid run at a World Series championship. Their last title came in 1988, when they beat the A's, four games to one (see Gibson, Kirk). A player flying under the radar this year is Josh Reddick, who has a great ability to get hot when it matters most for a stretch of time. Given the fact that this team has been plagued with injuries, it's impressive that they've made it this far.
Texas Rangers (95-67), AL West Champions
Next, the Texas Rangers, who are also looking for their first World Series title, after posting back-to-back American League Pennants in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers have the one-two punch of Cole Hammels and Yu Darvish, who hasn't had a chance to show off in October yet. Second baseman Rougned Odor is one to watch, and players like Adrian Beltre, who has single-handedly put the entire team on his back with 32 homers and 104 RBIs. Take a look at reliever Matt Bush as well, if you want a feel-good story. Bush was the first overall pick at shortstop for the San Diego Padres back in 2004. Drinking problems forced him to take a hiatus from the game, and he was put in prison in 2012 due to multiple DUI's. Bush, entering his rookie season as a converted pitcher at the age of 30, has the ability to be lights out, striking out an average of one batter per inning this season. The Rangers are the American League's top seed. Don't be surprised if they win their first title this year, either.
San Francisco Giants (87-75) & New York Mets (87-75)
Now, we have the four Wild Card teams. The San Francisco Giants, while blowing that huge division lead to the Dodgers, have won every World Series that has taken place on an even-numbered year in this decade (2010, 2012, and 2014). They're in the playoffs again, with Madison Bumgarner looking to summon the one-man work horse that won the Giants the 2014 Series against Kansas City. Their opponents, the New York Mets, faced off against those same Royals in the World Series last year, ultimately losing in 5 games. This year's Mets team has one less Daniel Murphy and a few less pitchers, with stud Jacob DeGrom going down with injury. However, the team can still rally behind players like P Noah Syndergaard and OF Yoenis Cespedes. How fun would an NLCS rematch be if the Mets were to get through to the NLDS and face the Cubs?
Baltimore Orioles (89-73) & Toronto Blue Jays (89-73)
In the American League, we have two teams who came up just short in the AL East- the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. These two franchises have represented the division the last two years in the ALCS. Toronto has a fantastic lineup, which features last year's AL MVP Josh Donaldson, the ever-popular Jose Bautista, catcher Russell Martin, the long ball hitting Edwin Encarnacion, and local Superman, outfielder Kevin Pillar. The Jays also feature Aaron Sanchez, who lead the American League in ERA this season with a solid 3.00. It should be mentioned that the Blue Jays also feature J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada, who also place in the top 15 in the American League in pitching. Their opponents, the Baltimore Orioles, live and die by the home run. Case and point: O's DH Mark Trumbo, who has hit a whopping 47 this season for the team, with teammate Chris Davis coming in with 32. It's also worth noting that their closer, Zach Britton, converted in every single save opportunity that he was presented with this season, with a 0.54 ERA this season. If Baltimore catches fire, watch out.
Now, the fun part. Here are my predictions for the 2016 Major League Baseball Postseason:
Wild Card Round:
AL- Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays- Tuesday, October 4th @ 8:00pm (TBS)
Starters: Chris Tillman (BAL) vs. Marcus Stroman (TOR)
You live by the home run, you die by the home run. Stroman will be able to pick apart the Orioles' offense, and pitchers like Marcel Osuna will shut the O's down in the late innings. Tillman hasn't been the same since he's suffered all that shoulder inflammation and the Jays will jump all over it. Toronto moves on to Texas.
NL- San Francisco Giants at New York Mets- Wednesday, October 5th @ 8:00pm (ESPN)
Starters: Madison Bumgarner (SF) vs. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
I really, really like this matchup. It will be a pitching duel if I've ever seen one. Bumgarner has had to pitch on the road before, beating the Pirates in Pittsburgh, and Syndergaard is still ready and willing as ever. I see a low scoring game, something like 2-1, with the Mets making a mistake in the late innings. Giants win this one, and rumblings begin to stir as the Giants could win their fourth World Series since 2010.
Winner: San Francisco.
ALDS- Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays- Begins Friday, October 7th (TBS)
Toronto leads season series, 4-3.
I don't really care what the season series is. What matters is that the Rangers are the most underrated team in the American League for these playoffs, and when they make quick work of the Blue Jays, everyone will see exactly what we're dealing with here. I say Toronto gets one back at home, but the Rangers finish them off relatively quickly.
Prediction: Texas wins series, 3-1.
ALDS- Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox- Begins Thursday, October 6th (TBS)
Boston leads season series, 4-2.
The Red Sox come out strong in this first round, and the Indians with their array of injuries, have a lot of trouble stopping them. Everyone will be surprised when Cory Kluber beats Rick Porcello in Cleveland in Game 1, but David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Clay Buchholz will show solid outings, en route to a 3-1 series win for the Sox. With Cleveland's pitchers like Carrasco and Salazar injured, Boston should be able to lay on the hurt. Red Sox clinch at home. Ortiz has a clutch home run at some point this series.
Prediction: Boston wins series, 3-1.
NLDS- Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants- Begins Friday, October 7th (FS1)
Chicago leads season series, 4-3.
On paper, this series looks incredible. You've got the MadBum against the Bleacher Bums and their team, the Cubs. However, this is 2016, and it's literally just that. With Bumgarner out after pitching in the Wild Card game, the Giants will have to use other members of their rotation, which just isn't scary. The Cubs rotation, however, is quite scary. The Cubs throttle the Giants in game one at Wrigley Field and never look back, ending the Giants' hopes for a World Series title.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 3-0.
NLDS- Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers- Begins Thursday, October 6th (FS1)
Los Angeles leads season series, 5-1.
We have the Dodgers, who have Clayton Kershaw, and the Nationals, who counter with Max Scherzer. After that, it's Rich Hill (LAD) against Tanner Roark (WAS), then Kento Maeda (LAD) vs. Gio Gonzalez (WAS). Unfortunately for the Nationals, the loss of Stephen Strasburg will prove fatal, as the team's injuries prevent the team from grinding against their NL West opponents, particularly taking into account the lack of play from Daniel Murphy and the loss of Wilson Ramos. It'll be close, but I think the Dodgers pull this one out.
Prediction: Los Angeles wins series, 3-2.
League Championship Series
ALCS- Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers (TBS)
Season series tied, 3-3.
A precarious matchup, if I do say so myself. Can the Red Sox keep themselves from imploding against this Rangers team? Can the Rangers control this mighty Boston lineup? I think we'll get some brilliant pitching duels in this series, between Price, Porcello, Hammels and Darvish. It'll all be up to the rest of the pitching staffs to keep the series under control. One thing the Red Sox need to learn to get right before this series is to keep the bullpen locked down so as to secure any slim, late game leads. And with closer Craig Kimbrel effectively useless in non-save situations (but also in pretty much all situations, who are we kidding), they need to make sure that if they get a lead, they keep it. Texas' 36-11 record in one-run games is a league best. Boston is 20-24 in those games, the worst among all 10 playoff teams this year. This will be a season-defining moment for both franchises, although I think the Red Sox have more to lose here.
Prediction: Boston wins series, 4-3.
NLCS- Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (FOX)
Chicago leads season series, 4-3.
Chicago's pitching staff and lineup are just head and shoulders above the rest of the National League. They can and will attack you from both and offensive and pitching standpoint. After Kershaw, who is still nursing and injury, the Dodgers have some pretty capable pitchers, but the Cubs rotation and bullpen is just too strong. Even if Arietta's performance has dropped off, Hendricks and Lester lead the NL in ERA, and John Lackey is a postseason-tested veteran. Conspiracy theorists rejoice- the Cubs are sweeping their way to a World Series.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 4-0.
2016 World Series
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs (FOX)
Teams did not play each other this season.
Well, baseball purists, here ya go. Your World Series dream matchup. Think about it. Doesn't the thought of this series make you salivate? We've got the original curse-breakers, the Red Sox, who, since breaking the Curse of the Bambino back in 2004, have won two more World Series titles, and are looking for their fourth in 12 years, against the Chicago Cubs, a franchise not exactly familiar with postseason success, because their entire existence has been wrought with misery, disappointment, and bad karma. They are looking for their first World Series championship in 108 years, after capturing their first League Pennant in 71 years. This will be a series that all who watched will remember forever. Both clubs are ingrained with the lifeblood of Theo Epstein, who guided the Red Sox to their World Series win in 2004. I predict a seven game slugfest, featuring incredible pitching performances and offensive showcases. When it comes down to it, I believe the Cubs are the all-around better team. They're good and deep enough to make a playoff run of this length. They're young, scrappy, and hungry, and they're not throwing away their shot. That's not to say that I don't think that 108 years of Billy Goats and Bartmans will come back to haunt them. The Red Sox are a lot better offensively. But as I've said from the beginning, their instability at the pitching position will be their doom. In a baseball season full of surprises, only one can prevail. Either the city of Chicago wins, Theo Epstein becomes the greatest general manager of all time, and every goat in Illinois can be put to rest, or the city of Boston wins, and David Ortiz gets to walk to Cooperstown with a fourth ring on his hand, an exclamation point at the end of an illustrious career. Which feel good story do you prefer? The Cubs win this one, sparking the greatest celebration in not just the history of sports, but the history of America. The world, even.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 4-2.
Who's your pick to win the World Series? Leave a comment down below.
10 Things- The 2016 NFL Season: Projected Standings and Bold Predictions
The NFL season begins on Thursday with a Super Bowl rematch, as the defending champion Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers. This past offseason saw the departure of legends, the arrival of new faces, and the suspension of a certain goat. As this year has already shown outside of the sports world, 2016 promises to be a season of surprises.
From start to finish, here are my predictions for the NFL season's standings and projected winners, as well as 10 bold statements for the upcoming season.
(z- first round bye and home-field advantage; y- first round bye; x- division winner; w- wild card)
z- New England Patriots- 14-2
Miami Dolphins- 9-7
New York Jets- 7-9
Buffalo Bills- 6-10
y- Pittsburgh Steelers- 12-4
Cincinnati Bengals- 9-7
Baltimore Ravens- 8-8
Cleveland Browns- 2-14
x- Houston Texans- 11-5
w- Indianapolis Colts- 10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars- 9-7
Tennessee Titans- 4-12
x- Oakland Raiders- 10-6
w- Kansas City Chiefs- 10-6
Denver Broncos- 9-7
San Diego 3-13
x- Dallas Cowboys- 10-6
Washington Redskins- 9-7
New York Giants- 9-7
Philadelphia Eagles- 5-11
z- Green Bay Packers- 13-3
Chicago Bears- 9-7
Minnesota Vikings- 6-10
x- Carolina Panthers- 12-4
w- New Orleans Saints 10-6
Atlanta Falcons- 9-7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 6-10
y- Arizona Cardinals- 12-4
w- Seattle Seahawks- 12-4
Los Angeles Rams- 8-8
San Francisco 49ers- 5-11
AFC Wild Card:
3 Kansas City vs. 6 Indianapolis
KC 31, IND 24
4 Oakland vs 5 Houston
OAK 23, HOU 17 (OT)
NFC Wild Card:
3 Carolina vs 6 New Orleans
CAR 42, NO 21
4 Dallas vs 5 Seattle
SEA 28, DAL 10
AFC Divisional Round:
1 New England vs 4 Houston
NE 34, HOU 17
2 Pittsburgh vs 3 Kansas City
PIT 17, KC 14
NFC Divisional Round:
1 Green Bay vs 5 Seattle
GB 32, SEA 24
2 Arizona vs 3 Carolina
ARI 42, CAR 27
1 New England vs 2 Pittsburgh
NE 47, PIT 26
1 Green Bay vs 2 Arizona
ARI 28, GB 21
Super Bowl LI:
New England vs. Arizona
NE 31, ARI 14
And, of course, no NFL season prediction list would be complete without a little fun. Here are 10 extremely bold predictions for the upcoming season!
(Editor's note- not all of these predictions fall in line with my standings predictions, I know, shut up.)
10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 NFL Season:
1. Cardinals RB David Johnson will win the rushing title.
The Arizona Cardinals are poised to make a run at their first-ever Super Bowl title, having made it to the NFC title game last year and being blown out by the Carolina Panthers. The team returns again with one of the league's most explosive offenses, including Carson Palmer (who isn't getting any younger), Larry Fitzgerald (ditto), Michael Floyd and John Brown. Lost in the array of weapons that Palmer has to throw to is the running game, which, in the last few years, has been muddled through various RBs such as Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson. The Cardinals schedule features 9 teams that finished last year in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense, including two games with San Francisco (29), and Los Angeles (21). I expect this year to be David Johnson's year, as he rushes for more than 1,500 yards this season, finishing as the league's leading rusher.
2. Antonio Brown will break the single-season receiving record.
My reasoning is simple- there's no one who can stop him. Ben Roethlisberger has a grand total of three targets to throw to. He's got Darrius Hayward-Bey, who's mediocre at best, Markus Wheaton, who's a viable deep threat and not much else, and Antonio Brown. And yet, he led the league in receiving in 2014, while coming up 40 yards short of doing it again last year. Expect Brown to top Calvin Johnson's single season receiving record of 1,964 yards. The Steelers get a depleted Bengals defense twice, the Ravens twice, and the Browns twice, as well as the entire NFC east and AFC East. No problem. In fact, I'll go one step further with this prediction- Antonio Brown will also be the NFL's 2016 MVP based on his output this year.
3. The Oakland Raiders will win the AFC West.
The Raiders have dramatically improved in the last 2 seasons, with newcomer QB Derek Carr and WR Amari Cooper forming a threatening one-two punch on the offensive side of the ball. This isn't even taking into account the arrival of Khalil Mack, who had a field day got most of last season sacking opposing quarterbacks. I anticipate the Raiders to win 11 games this year. Most of this is due in part to their intra-division opponents, who, while definitely not getting worst, have certainly not going any better. Denver is now without Peyton Manning and a couple key defensive players. Kansas City could miss it's best pass rusher in Justin Houston, and San Diego is in full-on rebuilding mode. The stars are aligning for the Raiders to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Also, the last time the Raiders won the AFC West, they went on to play in the Super Bowl.
4. The Denver Broncos will miss the playoffs.
The departure of Peyton Manning has left the Denver Broncos' offense in shambles. This season, the defending champs will start rookie Trevor Siemian at QB. I think it's safe to say that, on paper, Trevor Siemian is a big step down from future-first-ballot-Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning. It's not all bad on offense for the defending champs, though. They're got a potential 1,000-yard rusher in CJ Anderson, and still have WR threats like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. But, much like last season, the Broncos strength must come from their defense, which lost Danny Trevaithan and Malik Jackson this offseason. However, I don't believe the handsomely-paid Von Miller and his stupid glasses won't be enough to get the Broncos into the playoffs. They will lose games against opponents like Carolina, New England, Kansas City, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Oakland. 9-7's not good enough to get into the playoffs in this league. Just another in a long list of defending champs to miss the playoffs the following season.
5. The NFL's new rules will make the game only more frustrating to watch (and they'll still have no idea what constitutes a catch and what doesn't).
The NFL has done a masterful job at frustrating all of us with its stupid rule changes in an attempt to make the game both more competitive and safer at the same time. The one-year trial on moving extra point tries back to the 15-yard line is now a permanent thing. A new rule this year involves moving the touchback line to the 25-yard instead of the 20, which the league believes will increase the amount of touchbacks and reduce injury. To me, this solves nothing, considering that moving the kickoff line to the 35 has made kick returns essentially non-existent, this is rule change is one more step toward eliminating kickoffs altogether, which means eliminating one of the most exciting things in football- the kick return for a touchdown. With fewer kick returns, it makes the game a touch less exciting to watch- and a little more frustrating. The NFL will also still have no explanation for what makes a catch and what does not. A major play with a catch possession rule will end up deciding a game, and while the NFL may deliberate the issue of the referee's decision, they will ultimately look the other way.
Sub-prediction- Josh Norman will be the first victim of the new Unsportsmanlike Conduct-Ejection rule. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and you're out.
6. Andy Dalton will lose his starting job to A.J. McCarron.
The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1991 (spoiler- that's not going to change this season), no thanks in part to Andy Dalton. Dalton even injured his hand last season, opening the door for then-rookie A.J. McCarron to take his spot. McCarron actually fared pretty well, almost beating the Denver Broncos in overtime, which would have all but knocked them out of playoff contention. I believe Dalton's play will suffer again this season, as well as the reappearance of the nagging hand injury, leading McCarron to begin starting games for the Bengals as early as week 7 (after they get throttled by the Patriots in Foxboro the week prior). The Bengals will recover under McCarron, ultimately finishing second in the AFC North and earning a wild card spot, where they will lose to the Houston Texans. Just because there's a change at QB doesn't mean the playoff drought will end.
7. Tony Romo is about to get Bledsoe'd.
Like Tom Brady before him, Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott will start in place of the injured veteran Tony Romo (not that Dak Prescott is the next Tom Brady, but you know what I mean). And, like Brady before him, Prescott will take over permanently as the starter. Let's be serious here. Are Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett so infatuated with Tony Romo that, no matter what happens or how well Prescott fares, the golden boy is going to return as soon as his back has healed up? (Actually, thinking about it, they are that infatuated with him...) Romo is only as good as the players around him like Dez Bryant and newcomer Ezekiel Elliot, as well as a freakishly talented offensive line that includes consistent Pro-Bowler Zach Martin. Other than that, he's an injury prone quarterback who's been on the shelf for more than half of both this season and last season. He also can't seem to win playoff games. Prescott will inject the new blood the Cowboys desperately need, leading them to a 7-3 record atop the NFC East before Tony Romo is should be cleared to return. If the Cowboys have any common sense at all (AT ALL), they'll stick with Prescott for the remainder of the season, as I predict the Cowboys will win the NFC East of Prescott plays the full 16 games.
8. The Cleveland Browns will go 0-16 this year.
I would really love for this one to happen, although, whenever I'm confident in ANYthing sports related, it typically backfires in the first hour. The Browns will lose every single football game they play this season. I mean, they're already listed as underdogs in every game this year. The addition of Robert Griffin III will do nothing for the Browns, as the injury prone QB will either get hurt or lose his starting job to Brian Hoyer (yeesh). Last season, the three Browns wins came against teams with draft picks 6, 7, and 8 (Baltimore, Tennessee, and San Francisco, respectively) in the 2016 Draft. Two of those wins came with Johnny Manziel under center, who is no longer on the team. Also, it delights me so to know that Cleveland fans will be so high off the success of the Cavs and Indians that they'll plummet into despair when the Brownies lose every game this season. At least LeBron signed for a couple more years, right? An interesting matchup for the Browns comes on Christmas Eve against the Chargers, who are also in rebuild mode.
9. The Jacksonville Jaguars will be in the playoff hunt (until week 17).
Blake Bortles is a capable quarterback. He's also got good weapons like Allen Hearns, Allen Robinson, and TJ Yeldon. The AFC South will be one of the most competitive divisions in the league this year, mark my words. The next steps for the Jags must come on defense. This is all, of course, banking on bounce-back seasons from Davon House and Jared Odrick. Expect the Jaguars to notch a few important wins against Indianapolis (a surprise win at that), and against Houston (another surprise win), on their way to a 9-6 record going into week 17, needing a win and some help to get into the final wild card spot. They will, ultimately, lose to Indianapolis, knocking them out of the playoff race altogether. Keep an eye out for this Jacksonville squad, though.
10. The New England Patriots will not lose a game that Tom Brady starts.
Gillette Stadium already has a giant banner hanging on its lighthouse. Countdown clocks on sports networks around the country have begun to tick. Tom Brady's suspension has begun, and it's only a matter of time before it's over. And when it's over, there will be hell to pay. This "Gronk You" tour will be much sweeter than last season, as Brady is actually serving his suspension this time around. There will also be more to play for, as the Patriots, even without Tom Brady, are far and away the best team in the AFC, and possibly the entire league. After Jimmy Garoppolo starts the first four games, which I anticipate him losing at least one of- look at Arizona in week 1, that's a scary defensive unit, Brady will return against the Cleveland Browns with - dare I say it- improved offensive weapons to use. Assuming everyone can remain healthy, the Patriots will finish the season on at least a 12-game winning streak, where they will blow out opponents by an average of 20 points or more the rest of the way, on their way to a victory in Super Bowl LI.
Which team will come out of nowhere this season? Am I right? Why am I wrong? Leave a comment down below!
Top 15 International Olympic Moments
The Olympic Games are an event that bring together nations from all over the world, and pits them against one another in competitions of sport to determine which nation is superior to all other nations (spoiler: it’s AMERICA).
But really. The Olympics are great because of what they do best- they demonstrate international unity over anything else. Because the Olympics in Rio are technically over, let’s take a look at why, when the Olympics happen, the world is the overall winner. Here are the top 15 International Olympic Moments.
This is part two of a two-part list series, where we took a look at the 15 best American Olympic moments (that list can be found here).
(SG- Summer Games; WG- Winter Games)
The Korbut Flip (1972 SG, Munich)
Long before the days of the Magnificent Sevens and the Fierce Fives and Final Fives, the Russians dominated women’s gymnastics. One such gymnast was Olga Korbut. This move right here should top every top 10 sports plays list for the rest of time. Surprisingly, Korbut only won a silver medal for this routine, but the Soviets did take home the gold for the team all-around.
Disclaimer: the move is actually now illegal in gymnastics because of the risk involved.
Andy Murray avenges his loss at Wimbledon on home soil (2012 SG, London)
At the All-England Club in July, native son Andy Murray took a miraculous run to the Wimbledon men’s singles final, where he became the first British man to do so since 1938. He would lose in four sets to Roger Federer, winning the first set but losing the next three. Then were the Olympics, which were also held in London the following month of August. Just like Federer before him, Murray had to overcome world #1 Novak Djokovic, but did so in straight sets. Federer defeated Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro to reach the final as well, setting up the stage for a rematch of the Wimbledon final. On the same grass that he lost the Wimbledon final, Murray defeated Federer in straight sets to win the gold medal for his country. In a highly emotional moment for England’s favorite son, Andy Murray delivered, making for a pretty cool Olympic moment out of the shadows of despair.
The world mourns for Nodar Kumaritashvili (2010 WG, Vancouver)
On the day of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, tragedy struck the sports world. During a practice run at the Whistler Sliding Center, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, only 21 years of age, died after losing control of his sled on the penultimate turn, and striking an unprotected steel support beam. He was only the seventh athlete to have lost their life during Olympic demonstration. International reaction was one of shock and awe. The Georgian team contemplated not marching in the opening ceremonies, and potentially pulling out of the Olympics altogether. Eventually, the Georgians decided to compete in the name of their fallen comrade. In an emotional entrance during the parade of nations, the Georgian team sported armbands to commemorate Kumaritashvili’s life. A moment of silence was held at BC Place, and flags at Olympic venues (Olympic and Canadian alike) were flown at half-staff.
The Refugee Team marches at Opening Ceremonies (2016 SG, Rio de Janeiro)
Throughout the years, a number of athletes from around the world have flown under the Olympic flag. There’s the Independent Olympic Athletes team, the Mixed Team (athletes from numerous countries, like the UK and USA… random, right?), and the Unified Team (made up of former Soviet satellites during 1992). In 2016, however, a new addition to the group of athletes flying under the five rings reached a new level of awesome. Comprised of ten athletes from all around the world, the IOC established the first even Refugee Olympic Team. The team consisted of six men, and four women, competing in three sports: track & field, judo, and swimming. While the team has not yet reached a medal round of any kind, the fact that the IOC has decided to recognize athletes that are refugees is a pretty special thing.
The Top 15:
15. The Games Come Home; Athens hosts Summer Games (2004 SG, Athens)
Athens, Greece hosted the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896, and did not host another for over a hundred years. As the Centennial Olympic games came about in 1996, many thought that Athens would get the bid for the 100th anniversary (of course, that honor went to Atlanta, Georgia).When the 2004 bids came along, however, Athens was finally awarded the bid. The opening ceremony was something special to behold. In a presentation steeped in legacy, passion, emotion, appreciation for ancestry, and (obviously) athleticism, Athens brought the games they originated into the 21st century, boasting state-of-the-art technology that not many had ever seen before in an opening ceremony. The games had finally come back to where it all began.
14. The Jamaican bobsled team is actually a thing (1988 WG, Calgary)
We’ve all seen the movie Cool Runnings, right? If you haven’t, you’re a terrible person, go watch it. Go watch it right. Now. Real talk, the inspiration for the film came from the Jamaican bobsled team who competed at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Keep in mind these were actual bobsledders, not failed would-be Olympic sprinters. As a team from a tropical nation competing in a winter sport, naturally, many were skeptical about their participation. Eventually, the Jamaican bobsledders won over the hearts of many-a naysayer. Just like in the film (although not on the same run), the Jamaicans crashed their four-man sled and did not finish. However, this was only the beginning for the Jamaicans. After a poor showing in 1992, the team finished 14th in the four-man event at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, besting Russia, Australia, France, and the United States. Most recently, the Jamaicans qualified for the two-man bobsled at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. You could say they’re superstars of the bobsled world, showing the world that the cold sports aren’t just reserved for those who have the capabilities. Disney gets all the good stories, don’t they?
13. The Hermanator rides again (1998 WG, Nagano)
Austrian skier Herman Maier competed in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where he won two gold medals, one in the Super-G, the other in the giant slalom. A few days before, in the downhill race, Maier was involved in a scary-looking crash, in which he flipped over a few times, and meeting two layers of B-netting. In 2001, six months before the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Maier was involved in a motorcycle accident, when a car met his bike head on. Many thought his racing career was over, as doctors almost amputated one of his legs. Maier underwent major reconstructive surgery, and ultimately made a comeback in 2003. In 2006, he raced at in the same two events in which he medaled in Nagano, winning a silver and a bronze, respectively. Due to his seemingly indestructible nature, Maier was given the nickname “The Herminator.”
12. Beijing re-defines the opening ceremony (2008 SG, Beijing)
We see Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics and think “wow, that’s a lot of crazy lighting and costumes, I’m so excited for the Olympics!” We also think: “remember the Beijing Opening ceremony? That was crazy!” It is clear that the bar has been set for all Olympic Opening ceremonies to come. Directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the opening ceremony featured 2008 Fou drummers pounding on bronze drums, which lit up to form both Arabic and Mandarin numbers that counted down the start of the games. What followed was a dazzling spectacle reflecting on China’s past, from ancient dynasties to the Silk Road, to China’s “glorious era,” including its flourishing economy and space exploration programs, to a showing of the nation’s dream for harmony among the peoples and nations of the world. This Opening Ceremony was so good, even Steven Spielberg called it “arguably the grandest spectacle of the new millennium.” The American Film Institute even called it one of the “Eight Moments of Significance” for 2008. Watch and see what I’m talking about.
11. Australians upset Americans on home soil (2000 SG, Sydney)
The 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay was first brought to the Olympics for men in 1984 (before then it had been exclusive to women). And for four straight Summer Olympics, the United States had won every single time. They survived close races here and there (three in a row against the Soviet Union, Unified Team, and Russia- but they’re all the same really so who’s counting), but always emerged victorious. That all changed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. This time, it was the host Aussies who proved victorious against the previously-undefeated Americans. With Australia holding its lead through the first three legs of the race, American Gary Hall, Jr. passed Australia’s anchor, the legendary Ian Thorpe, with only 50m left to swim. Thorpe, however, was able to recover, and squeak ahead of the American, touching the wall only .19 seconds ahead of Hall. The Australians finished the race in a world record time of 3:13.67, shocking the favored Americans and lighting a fire under the home crowd. For the first time, the Americans proved vulnerable in the pool, and the Australians gave their country something to rally behind.
10. Abebe Bikila don’t need no damn shoes (1960 SG, Rome)
Russia’s doping scandal prior to the 2016 Games in Rio is just one of many cases of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs to gain that edge over their competition. Especially in the age of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, every piece of success athletes attain is magnified to the degree of speculating whether or not PEDs were used. Enter Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian marathoner who competed in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome. Bikila is a prime example of an athlete using zero performance-enhancement. Bikila won the men’s marathon running barefoot. That’s right, barefoot. As in no Nikes or PF Flyers helping him along the way. Running the way man was intended to run. He was originally sponsored was Adidas, but could not find shoes that fit him, hence running the race barefoot. He and Moroccan Rhadi Ben Abdesselam stayed about even until the last 500m, when Bikila sprinted to the finish line, finishing 26 seconds head of his Moroccan rival. No performance enhancement necessary. In 1964, Bikila again ran the marathon, this time wearing shoes. He won a gold medal in the event, setting a new world record, and beating the silver medalist by upwards of four minutes. Any PED use there? You decide.
9. Hicham El-Guerrouj’s run to redemption (2004 SG, Athens)
Hicham El-Guerrouj is now considered one of the finest middle-distance runners of all time, but his road to success did not come easy. Take, for example, his participation in the 1500m, where he was expected to challenge and potentially defeat three-time world champion Noureddine Morceli of Algeria. As he challenged for the lead, he fell with 400m remaining, finishing 12th. In 2000, El-Guerrouj again challenged for gold in the 1500m, only to be overtaken again by Kenyan Noah Ngeny, who had trained with El-Guerrouj as a pace maker. By the time 2004’s Games in Athens came around, El-Guerrouj was 29 years old, and entering the decline of his racing career. Again, El-Guerrouj participated in the 1500m. Due to a slow start to begin the 2004 season, most attention was drawn off El-Guerrouj and onto the 2000 bronze medalist, Frenchman Bernard Lagat, who ran the fastest 1500m of the year. In a thrilling race, the two ran nip and tuck around the track, trading positions 1 and 2 throughout the race. In the final few strides, however, El-Guerrouj pulled ahead of Lagat, and secured himself his first gold in the 1500m. Later in the games, El-Guerrouj also won the 5000m, becoming the first man in nearly 80 years to accomplish such a feat. For an Olympic career that spans three games and only has three medals attached, the story of Hicham El-Guerrouj is a celebration of the Olympic spirit- never giving up in the face of adversity.
8. Eric Liddell inspires Chariots of Fire (1924 SG, Paris)
We all know the scene. We all know the music. Men in white track suits running on a beach in slow-motion, with glorious 80s piano-ballad music in the background. There’s actually a pretty scandalous backstory to the events that inspired Chariots of Fire. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Eric Liddell was heavily favored to win the 100m. There was one problem- Liddell was a devout Christian, and the qualifying heats were on a Sunday. Naturally, Liddell needed to make a decision: run the race in defiance of his beliefs, or remove himself from the competition. Liddell chose the latter, and did not compete in the event his was most dominant in. Instead, Liddell chose to run in the 400m, which previously he was only modestly successful in. However, Liddell managed to secure himself a gold medal. The 100m was instead run by Harold Abrahams (whom you also may remember from the film). Abrahams, a Jew, was running to overcome prejudices against athletes of his religion. The two men exhibited bravery to the highest degree at the 1924 games in Paris, making for one hell of a story to put to film.
7. Eric the Eel comes up short in a big way (2000 SG, Sydney)
When one hears the phrase “elite Olympic swimmers,” no one really thinks of Equatorial Guinea (a country in Western Africa- see, you don’t think of it so often, that I had to just tell you where it’s located. Thank you, Andrew. You’re welcome, reader). And for the 100m freestyle race at the 2000 Games in Sydney, that was mostly true. For the Sydney Games, the IOC held a wildcard draw designed to encourage developing nations without proper training to compete. Remember the name Eric Moussambani, or Eric the Eel, for short. Moussambani, one of two Equatoguinean swimmers (the other on the women’s side) entered a qualifying heat against Karim Bare of Niger, and Farkhod Oripov of Tajikistan. The two dove into the water early, prompting a disqualification due to a no false-start rule. Moussambani would swim the heat unopposed. Eric had never seen an Olympic sized pool before. He took up swimming 8 months before the games, and practiced in both a pond and a 12m pool at a hotel he stayed at. However, Eric dove in and began the swim down and back. Fighting drowning, and evidently struggling to stay above the water, Moussambani finished his heat with a final time of 1:52.72, 50 seconds slower than the next best competitor, and even outside the best times of the 200m (it was a new Equatoguinean record, though). However, the Sydney crowd embraced Moussambani, giving him some of the loudest cheers ever heard for a non-native athlete at the Olympics. Obviously, Moussambani did not qualify for a semifinal, coming in 71st (and last, if you don’t count the three swimmers who earn DQs). Eric the Eel kept swimming, however, getting his personal best time to under 57 seconds, and later becoming the coach of the Equatorial Guinea swim team.
6. Sid the Kid’s Golden Goal (2010 SG, Vancouver)
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby has had expectations on him the size of Canada ever since he entered the NHL at the age of 18. And he’s lived up to his expectations for the most part, winning the Pens two Stanley Cup Championships, as well as two Hart Trophies, a Conn Smythe, and five all-star selections. One thing he did not have before 2010 was an Olympic gold medal, having been left off the 2006 Canadian squad (although it didn’t matter, they didn’t medal anyways). When February 2010 came around, many felt that Crosby’s luck in the NHL was beginning to run thin, as he entered a slump in late 2009. There may have even been rumors of a Crosby trade or demotion from team captain. When Canada entered the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Crosby was poised to make an international impression and break out of the slump. While he did score the game winner in a shootout in a second-round game against Switzerland, Sid the Kid went pointless in the next two games. Then came the gold medal game at Rogers Arena against the United States. The Americans fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game with 25 seconds left on a goal by Zach Parise, sending it into overtime. At the 7:40 mark of overtime, Crosby came through for his country, knocking a wrist shot past Ryan Miller to win the gold for Canada. This re-invigorated Crosby’s season, as he ended up finishing tied for second in points at the end of the NHL season. But what really mattered was Crosby’s showing that he could still be the hero that Canada deserved.
5. Lawrence Lemieux saves opponents from drowning (1988 SG, Seoul)
No one pays attention to sailing at the Olympics, it’s a known fact. I had forgotten sailing was even an Olympic sport for a while. But in the most unlikely of places, the most incredible stories and most heroic actions can be found. Canadian Lawrence Lemieux competed at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, finishing off the podium in the Star Class. At the 1988 Games in Seoul, Lemieux competed in the Finn Class (a single-handed, or one man, sailboat). During a run at Busan (the main sailing site for the games), the Finn and 470 (two man) classes were competing at their respective sides. Lemieux was running second during this run, which, if the results held through the rest of the races, would be enough to earn him a place in the medal round. During the race, however, the wind suddenly picked up to 35 knots. Over at the 470 course, two sailors from Singapore saw their vessel capsize, throwing the two from the boat and injuring them. About halfway through his run, Lemieux spotted the two men in distress, and made the decision to veer off course and help the two men onto his boat, where he waited for a patrol boat to fetch the two Singaporeans and bring them back to shore. When Lemieux finally re-entered his race, he finished in 21st. Due to his exceptional heroism and sacrifice in the name of humanity, the board of International Yacht Racing determined that due to Lemieux’s selflessness and bravery, they would reinstate his second-place finish. Lemieux would finish 11th overall in the class, ultimately failing to make the medal round. He would become only the second athlete to be awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for exceptional sportsmanship.
4. Cathy Freeman wins gold and the hearts of the world (2000 SG, Sydney)
Cathy Freeman carried the hopes and dreams of a nation on her shoulders at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Freeman, an Australian Aboriginal, was given the honor of lighting the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony, and ran in the 400m a week later, where she was the home favorite to win the title. She was expected to be challenge by France’s Marie-Jose Perec, but Perec left the games due to personal issues. With the hope of a nation resting on her performance in the race, Freeman took her mark, sporting a green, yellow, and silver full body suit (representing the colors of her country), but sporting red, yellow, and black track shoes (representing her Aboriginal heritage). Freeman won the Olympic title in a time of just over 49 seconds, to a highly emphatic response to the hometown fans. She took a victory lap, carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags, before falling to her knees in tears. This was an emotional moment for Australians and the world over, as many had seen Freeman’s victory as the reconciliation of black and white uniting together in hope, spirit, and sport.
3. Usain Bolt's thunderous performance (2008 SG, Beijing)
There’s no question about it, especially after his performance in Rio; Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive. And with a last name like “Bolt,” wouldn’t you think so? Bolt entered Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics as the favorite to win the 100m, the crowning of the fastest runners alive. Having already set a world record in the 100m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, Bolt entered Beijing with a mind to win both the 100m and 200m. Though various pundits claimed a lack of experience would work against him, Bolt prove the naysayers wrong. Lazy athletes don’t run a 9.69 world-record time in the 100m final of the Olympics. And the best part is this: Bolt doesn’t even run the full 100 meters full out. He runs about 90 meters, and then pulls up celebrating for the last 10. Also, his shoe was untied. With Michael Johnson in the crowd for the 200m (and believing Bolt would win, but would not break his world record), Bolt smashed the world record with a new best time of 19.30, .02 seconds faster than Johnson in 1996. Bolt would go on to anchor the Jamaican team in the 4 x 100m relay, earning himself three gold medals. He would do all three again in both London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, winning all of them, retiring from Olympic competition undefeated.
2. Derek Redmond’s father helps him cross the finish line (1992 SG, Barcelona)
No one likes to see an athlete get hurt. No one likes to see people visibly struggle with pain in athletic competitions. What makes us feel good, however, is love in the face of pain. British sprinter Derek Redmond entered the 400m in Barcelona, Spain for the 1992 Summer Olympics. He looked to be in pretty good form, posting the fastest overall time of the first round, and winning his quarterfinal race. In the semi-final, however, things did not go well for Redmond, as a miraculous run for glory was cut short. About 150 meters into his semifinal, Redmond tore his hamstring, causing him to collapse to the ground, writhing in pain, crushing his Olympic dream. With stretchers and medical support teams on their way to Redmond, he waved them away, knowing he would be disqualified if he received any help. Redmond got back up and hobbled toward the finish, but only got so far before falling again. He got back up and began to hobble again. With medical teams closing in, Redmond found himself suddenly supported by a familiar arm- his father Jim, who had stormed past security to reach his son. Derek, in tears, clung to his father as they both made their way down the track. The two received a standing ovation for the display of support and emotion as Derek and Jim finally crossed the finish line, with the former collapsing into the arms of medical teams. Though Redmond technically did get disqualified for helping, this moment remains one of the most powerful in the history of the games. Watch the video and try not to cry.
1. Nadia Comaneci's Perfect 10 (1976 SG, Montreal)
Perfection is something people strive for, but don’t always attain. It’s even harder on the Olympic stage, where everything an athlete does (at least in a competition where points and rankings are based on judgement) is picked apart by judges. In 1976 at the Summer Games in Montreal, 14-year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci proved that perfect is just a word. During the artistic all-around, gymnasts from Germany and the Soviet Union were posting extremely high scores, some as high as 9.9 out of 10. On the uneven bars, Nadia blew them all out of the water, posting the first perfect 10 in the history of the Olympics. It was so rare, the scoreboard, which only showed three digits due to the highly unlikely event of a gymnast posting a perfect 10. The scoreboard showed a “1.00” after Nadia’s flawless uneven bar routine, but everyone in the arena knew they had seen perfection. And just for kicks, Nadia did another uneven bar routine in the optional round, where she scored another perfect 10. She concluded her uneven bar rounds with two more perfect 10s, and even put another one up on the balance beam. Overall, Nadia won the individual all-around, as well as gold medals on the balance beam and uneven bars. In a showing of Olympic excellence, Nadia Comaneci left a legacy on the nation of Romania, inspiring girls to become gymnasts and compete at very high levels for years to come. After Olga Korbut, the next name on the list of female gymnasts that take the sport to the next level must be Nadia. Even though gymnastics scores are not based on a scale of 10 anymore, it is clear that, sliding scale or not, everyone inside the Montreal Forum that night was witness to perfection.
What's your favorite Olympic moment from outside the U.S.? Leave a comment down below.
Top 15 American Olympic Moments
Ah, the Olympic Games. The one time every other year where the world becomes obsessed with sports they never usually care about.
But really. We're so lucky to have live in a country that's so steeped in Olympic history. And now that we're just about halfway through the games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, let's take a look at just how awesome our country is at doing the Olympic thing.
This is a two-part list series, where I'm taking a look at the best American Olympic moments, followed by the best Olympic moments from around the rest of the world.
(SG- Summer Games; WG- Winter Games. Just in case you were curious).
Dara Torres still has game; wins silver at age 41 (2008 SG, Beijing)
Greg Louganis shows the board who's boss (1988 SG, Seoul)
Already a decorated Olympic medalist, with a silver in 1976 and two golds at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, Greg Louganis was poised to repeat his success on both the 3m springboard and the 10m platform at the 1988 games in Seoul. On a preliminary attempt on the springboard, however, Louganis, suffered a concussion when his head connected with the diving board on the way into the pool. Instead of bowing out, Louganis, like a champ, continued to compete, and ended up earning the highest single score of the qualifying round with his second dive. He won the gold medal in that same event by a margin of 25 points, using the same dive on which he nearly split his head open.
The Fierce Five- U.S. Women Conquer in London (2012 SG, London)
After modest showings in 2004 and 2008, with Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin winning individual all-around golds, the United States women’s gymnastics team showed up to the games sporting a group of remarkable young women known as the “Fierce Five,” poised to become only the second American team ever to win the team all-around event. It featured McKayla Maroney, who placed second on the individual vault event (inspiring the ever-popular “McKayla is not impressed” meme), Aly Raisman, whose inspiring floor routine earned her an individual gold, and one Gabby Douglas, who became the third consecutive American to win the individual all-around gold. With performances by these three women, as well as the likes of Jordan Wieber and Kyla Ross, the team showed the unstoppable prowess of American women in the gymnastics arena.
Rulon Gardner defeats Aleksandr Karelin (2000 SG, Sydney)
Much like another American upset that I’ll get to later on the list, Rulon Gardner came into the Sydney Olympics as a massive underdog against the rest of the field. He had never been an NCAA Champion or a World Medalist of any kind. Miraculously, he made it all the way to the gold-medal match for 130kg-class Greco-Roman wrestling, something an American had never medaled in before. His opponent, Russian Aleksandr Karelin, had not lost a match in 13 years of international competition, and had not surrendered a point in nearly a decade. Still, in a shocking upset, Gardner was able to defeat the mighty Russian by a score of 1-0, winning the gold medal.
The Top 15:
15. U.S. Women's National Team is golden in extra time (2004 SG, Athens)
There’s nothing better than winning a game in overtime. Well, how about winning a gold medal on a goal in overtime? That’s exactly what happened at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, when the United States took on Brazil in the final of the women’s football tournament. With the score tied at 1 goal each at the end of regulation, the two football superpowers took the game into extra time. In the 122nd minute, and only 8 minutes remaining until impending penalty kicks, American Abby Wambach (one of the most legendary American female footballers ever, who was only 24 at the time) knocked in a header off a corner kick from Kristine Lilly, giving the Americans a 2-1 advantage. The Americans would close out the Brazilians to win their second gold medal in 8 years.
14. The "Dream Team" dominates the rest of the world (1992 SG, Barcelona)
Originally, the Olympic games were meant to bring together the best amateurs in the world of sports; that is, professionals were not to be found in the sports the Olympics have to offer. By the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain, that had all changed. For the first time, the NBA’s best were sent to Barcelona to compete for a gold medal- and that meant, for the first time, the NBA’s best Americans were going to compete against the rest of the world. Let’s take a second to list off the number of Hall of Famers on this team. David Robinson. Patrick Ewing. Larry Bird. Scottie Pippen. Michael Jordan. Clyde Drexler. Karl Malone. John Stockton. Chris Mullin. Charles Barkley. Magic Johnson. With the exception of Christian Laettner of Duke, the only collegiate player on the team, that’s EVERYONE. Everyone else on the team is a Hall of Famer. Experts call it the greatest basketball team ever assembled. Then there’s the Olympic results. The Americans never scored fewer than 100 points in a game, and defeated all of their opponents by 30 points or more. They finished with a dominant 117-85 win over Croatia in the Gold Medal game.
13. Eric Heiden wins five speed skating gold medals (1980 WG, Lake Placid)
Located outside of the Lake Placid Ice Arena is the Olympic Skating Rink. Not your traditional speed skating arena, the oval is located on a frozen-over section of the track at Lake Placid High School. It’s also outside, where the bitter winds and cold can freeze skaters in their tracks. The conditions did not affect Eric Heiden, however, who tore up the track during the 1980 Games, in the shadow of what was going on inside the hockey rink. In each of the men’s individual events, Heiden not only won a gold medal, but set an Olympic record in each one. That’s five gold medals, one in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m, and 10000m. Heiden also set a new World Record on the 10000m, with a time of 14:28.13. In spite of the cold, Heiden was red hot for the Americans.
12. Dan Jansen wins gold in the name of his sister (1994 WG, Lillehammer)
On the day of the 500m speed skating event in 1988, Dan Jansen was notified that his sister Jean was dying of Leukemia. A few hours later, he was notified of her death. He went on to compete in the 500m race later that day, but ended up falling in the first turn. He also began the 1000m race under record-breaking speed, but ended up falling once again. Upon returning to the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, Jansen again Jansen was the favorite to win both the 500 and 1000m races. He finished 4th and 26th, respectively. Finally, two years later in Lillehammer, Norway, Jansen pulled through, winning the gold in the 1000m. Jansen dedicated the win to his sister, and was chosen by his fellow Olympians to hoist the U.S. flag at the closing ceremonies, in recognition of his perseverance through six years of athletic despair and overcoming a painful emotional loss.
11. Michael Johnson smashes two world records (1996 SG, Atlanta)
The 200m and 400m races are two very different things. The 200m is far more sprint-based, while the 400m requires a steady balance of stamina control and knowing when to push at just the right time. While many sprinters compete in all kinds of events of varying lengths, no athlete had ever won both events at the same Olympics. At the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, Johnson did just that. First was the 400m, which Johnson easily won with a world record time of 43.49 seconds. A few days later, Johnson did it again, smashing the existing 200m world record by four tenths of a second. This record would stand until a runner named Usain Bolt would break it in 2009 (Johnson’s 400m record was broken at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro by Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa). During the races, Johnson sported a pair of custom gold Nike sneakers, earning him the nickname “the man with the golden shoes.”
10. Mary Lou Retton becomes first American to win all-around gold (1984 SG, Los Angeles)
Before 1984, no American had ever won the all-around gold medal in artistic gymnastics. At the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, California, 16-year old Mary Lou Retton became the first. With two events remaining in the competition, and trailing the event favorite, Romanian Ecaterina Szabo by .15 points, Retton scored perfect 10s on both the vault and floor exercises, with the latter coming in dramatic fashion, considering she had undergone an operation to repair an injured knee five weeks prior to the games. Retton earned the victory over Szabo by .05 points, earning “America’s Sweetheart” a gold medal- the first gymnast outside of Eastern Europe to ever do so.
9. Ali lights the flame (1996 SG, Atlanta)
During the 1996 Opening Ceremony, there was a large amount of speculation as to who was going to light the torch. The 1996 Games were incredibly important; not just for the United States as host nation, but for the Olympics as a whole, as the 1996 Games celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the first Modern Olympic games. After the participating nations made their way around into Centennial Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Torch made its way into the stadium, first being passed to hometown Atlantan Evander Holyfield, whom many thought would be the one to light the torch. However, swimmer Janet Evens’ lap around the stadium finished with a pass to one of the greatest sportsmen to ever live- Muhammad Ali. Ali, shaking due to the effects of Parkinson’s disease, lit a mechanical torch, which traveled along a wire to a cauldron atop the stadium. The fact that the torch lighter was kept a secret was dramatic enough, but to have it be Muhammad Ali (who received a replacement gold medal for his success at the 1960 Rome Olympics) is even more emotional. The emotion is clear in Ali’s eyes, making his lighting of the torch one of the most poignant and dramatic images of the 1996 Summer Games.
8. Carl Lewis matches Jesse Owens (1984 SG, Los Angeles)
Carl Lewis’s track and field record is not to be messed with. He is a four-time Olympian, competing in the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Summer Games, winning at least one gold medal at each (and a total of 10 medals overall). At his first Olympics in 1984 in Los Angeles, Lewis was entered in four events, having a strong possibility of winning each one, thereby emulating the legendary Jesse Owens and winning four individual gold medals at a single Olympics. First was the 100m dash, which he won handily by running a 9.99, .2 seconds faster than the second place finisher. Second was the long jump. Lewis’s first jump was 8.52m (28 feet), and would easily be enough to win the event. Though he was encouraged to keep jumping in an attempt to break Bob Beamon’s 29’ 2 ¼” jump, Lewis held off, fearing that pushing himself too hard might wear him out from winning his final two events (he did end up winning the long jump event). In the 200m, Lewis set a new Olympic record, winning in a time of 19.8 seconds. Finally, he anchored the 4x100m relay team, where the United States set a new world record of 37.83 seconds, with Lewis racing the best 100m of his life. With his four golds, Lewis solidified himself as one of the fastest men alive, and equaled one of America’s Olympic legends.
7. The Black Power salute (1968 SG, Mexico City)
With a time of 19.83 seconds, Tommie Smith set a new world record in the 200m final, winning a gold medal. John Carlos, who finished with a time of 20.1 seconds, ended up with a bronze medal. But the times and standings were not important at the Games in Mexico City in 1968. In a daring act of political protest, Smith and Carlos, standing on the medal podium without shoes (instead, wearing black socks), bowed their heads, and raised a black-gloved fist into the air during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, in solidarity with the Black Freedom Movement in the United States. Both Smith and Carlos were booed from the podium, expelled by the IOC from the Olympics, and heavily criticized at home (with both men and their families receiving death threats). While the move was highly controversial, however, Smith and Carlos exhibited immense bravery by demonstrating an imbalance of both human rights and racial justice, doing so on the world’s largest stage for sport. In 2008, despite the backlash from the gesture, Smith and Carlos were given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY Awards. For a brief moment on the world stage, two men dared to look into the eyes of the powerful, and, as solid as a clenched fist, declare their pride in being not only American, but an American athlete of color. A truly defining Olympic moment if ever there was one.
6. Florence Griffith-Joyner becomes the world's fastest woman (1988 SG, Seoul)
Flo-Jo was an unknown in 1988. Now, we all know her as the woman whose records seemingly cannot be touched. Before the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1988, Joyner had not exactly been the most prominent competitor, with her personal best in the 100m being a 10.89 into the wind. At the trials, however, that all changed. Joyner broke the world record for the 100m by nearly a quarter of a second. She backed up the win with three equally strong races at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, setting an Olympic record at 10.62 seconds. In the 200m, Flo-Jo was even more dominant. The 200m world record, set originally by East German Marita Koch in 1979, was 21.71 seconds; the previous Olympic record, set by American Valerie Brisco-Hooks at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, was 21.81 seconds. In the quarterfinals alone, Joyner shattered the Olympic record, posting a 21.76. In the semifinals, she shattered the world record by nearly .2 seconds, with a 21.56. Finally, in the finals, Joyner took home a gold medal, breaking her own world record in the process by running a 21.34. In less than three days, both the Olympic and world records had been completely shattered. Florence Griffith-Joyner had run the 100m and 200m faster than any woman in history. The best part? No one has come close to touching Flo-Jo’s marks in almost 30 years.
5. Kerri Strug's gold-winning vault on a broken ankle (1996 SG, Atlanta)
The scene is the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. The event is the women’s gymnastics team all-around, an event that had been dominated by Russian and Romanian teams for decades- and never won by the Americans. The “Magnificent Seven” as they were called, were in a tight spot, trailing the Russian team by a very slim margin heading into the final day of team competition. After all but one rotation, however, things were beginning to look the Americans’ way, as they held a commanding .897-point lead over the Russians with one event remaining: the Russians were on the floor, and the Americans were on the vault. Theoretically, the Russians could clinch the gold, but only if the Americans were to suffer a colossal collapse. Four of the Americans stuck their landings, but did not do so cleanly. To make matters worse, Dominique Morceau fell on both vault attempts. Strug was the last to vault for the Americans. On her first attempt she under-rotated, severely damaging her left ankle (she was awarded a 9.1 for the vault itself). Since the final Russian to perform on the floor (Roza Galieva) would go after Kerri’s second vault, Strug needed to land her second vault cleanly in order to secure the gold medal. After limping back to the start line, Strug miraculously stuck her landing on what appeared to be one foot. She immediately collapsed to the mat in pain, but she had done what her team and country needed her to do- secure the first team all-around gold medal for the United States. The image of coach Bela Karolyi carrying Strug to the podium is one of the most touching images in American Olympic history.
4. Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals (1972 SG, Munich)
The 1972 Summer Games in Munich, West Germany are steeped in controversy and sadness. What gets lost among all the politics of the games, and is often forgotten, is one of the single greatest performances in the history of the modern Olympics. In 1968, Spitz brashly predicted that he would win six gold medals, one more than the current record of 5 at the time, held by American shooter Willis A. Lee at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. Spitz only won two team events in Mexico City, along with winning a silver and a bronze. Poised to better his results in 1972, Spitz entered seven different events in Munich. In one of the most impressive swimming exposition of all time, Spitz won all seven of the events he entered- a record seven gold medals at one Olympics. To make it even sweeter, Spitz set world records in all of those events. In true Olympian fashion, Spitz dominated his competition, even though his races were very close to one another time-wise. On one day, he set a world record in the 100m butterfly, then, an hour later helped his team set a world record in the 4x200m freestyle relay. Spitz’s record would remain for 36 years. What is unfortunate is that Spitz’s success gets lost in the shadow of the tragedies outside of the Olympics, which, as a Jewish-American athlete, prevented him from staying in Munich for the duration of the games, as he left shortly after completing his tremendous run of success.
3. Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals (2008 SG, Beijing)
Just like Spitz before him, Michael Phelps was a standout athlete, already having competed in two Olympics prior, winning eight medals in Athens in 2004, six of them gold. Also like Spitz before him, Phelps was poised to overcome greatness before him, and best his predecessor’s record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics, by winning eight. The road did not come easy, though. First was the 400m individual medley, which Phelps won in a world-record time of 3:29.24. Second was the 4x100m freestyle relay, in which the Americans were underdogs to France. Phelps set an American record for his 100m leg, but it was teammate Jason Lezak, the anchor of the team, who made up half a body length on French swimmer Alain Bernard, to win Phelps his second gold by .08 seconds, and set a world record in the process.
He then won the 200m freestyle in world record time. The next day, he pulled a Mark Spitz, competing in two finals in one day: first the 200m butterfly (1:52.03, world record), and, less than an hour later (sound familiar?), swam the first leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay (which his team won in a world record time of 6:58.56- breaking the previous record by four seconds). His sixth medal came in the 200m individual medley, which was a world record time of 1:54.23. The seventh medal may have been the most difficult: the 100m butterfly. Phelps defeated Serbian Milorad Cavic by .01 seconds to set a new Olympic record (leaving Spitz’s record of WR’s equaled but not broken), and obtain a seventh gold medal.
The following night, Phelps swam for Olympic history, with team USA winning the 4x100m medley relay, in (once again) world record time. While his Olympic swimming career may now be over, Michael Phelps’ indelible image remains: 25 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold, 8 of them during one week in Beijing in 2008.
2. Jesse Owens embarrasses Hitler in Berlin (1936 SG, Berlin)
When Berlin was selected to host the 1936 Summer Olympics, the year was 1931. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party did not rise to power until 1933. When it did, however, the IOC was hesitant to keep the games in Berlin. A prominent Nazi newspaper was steadfast in its belief that Jews and Blacks would not be allowed to compete in the games, although that position was retracted due to an impending boycott from a number of nations. Still, though, when the games opened in 1936, it was evident that Hitler saw the Olympics as a perfect opportunity to promote both his government and his ideas of racial supremacy. There was one athlete, however, who continued to poke a hole in his side- a black man named Jesse Owens. Owens singlehandedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy, winning four gold medals: the 100m, 200m (where he set a new Olympic record), the long jump, and participating in the 4x100m relay, in which the US set a new world record for the event. Germany may have received the most medals at the 1936 games, but for one athlete to embarrass a man who wanted to distinguish the power of his country singlehandedly is quite the achievement in itself. There is speculation whether or not Hitler shook Owens’ hand after the fact. But Jesse Owens is proof that, black or white, German or American, the best pure sportsman emerges victorious.
1. The "Miracle on Ice," United States defeats Soviet Union. (1980 WG, Lake Placid)
It all began with this notion that “nobody beats the Soviet Union in hockey.” And, for the most part, that was true. The Soviets had won the gold medal in hockey at every Olympics since 1960. Many of their players had been training and playing together on the same squad for 15 years, and some even longer than that. The USA hockey team that entered the games in Lake Placid, New York, was made up of college students and amateurs, none of whom really knew each other all that well. In short, no one was giving them a chance. Before the games, the Americans barely managed to stay afloat in international play, tying a terrible Norway team in Oslo, and getting routed by the Soviets at Madison Square Garden. And yet, Herb Brooks’ squad never seemed to give up. In the Olympics, the United States did not lose a game in pool play. Their first game of the medal round, however, was against the Soviet Union, who also went undefeated in pool play. The Soviets, as heavy favorites, were obviously shocked when Mark Johnson’s goal beat the horn at the end of the first period, tying the game at 2 apiece. At the end of two periods, it was 3-2, Soviets. In the third period, the Americans got some much needed defense from goaltender Jim Craig, who stopped 36 of 39 shots in the game. Mark Johnson’s second goal of the game tied the score at three, and Mike Eruzione’s goal with 10 minutes to play gave the Americans a shocking 4-3 lead. The Soviets, clearly being outhustled by the United States, gave it all they had, but Jim Craig stood on his head to take away every scoring chance. It remains one of the biggest upsets in all of sports: USA 4, USSR 3. What most people forget, though, is that the Americans still needed one more victory to win the gold medal. They would get it- a 4-2 victory over Finland- and go on to receive the gold medal in front of their home crowd. Go and listen to Al Michaels’ call of the last ten minutes of the game, from the Eruzione goal onward. Perfection. There aren’t many sporting events that one may call special- hell, you typically don’t see the United States being the underdogs in any kind of sporting event anymore. But for a nation longing for some kind of victory against the backdrop of the looming Cold War, the victory over the Soviet Union was proof that sometimes, miracles do happen.
Did we miss any out? What was your favorite American Olympic moment? Leave a comment down below.
The 10 Best Renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
What’s more American than our national anthem, am I right? While (for some reason) The Star Spangled Banner is sung at just about every sporting event, there are a few that stand out from the crowd as particularly spine-tingling. Some are more unique than others in their make up, while some are chilling just because of certain circumstances. Here are ten of the best renditions of The Star Spangled Banner.
While another musician (who will be coming later on this list) performed the national anthem on a guitar, Metallica does a pretty solid version of it here. The double-guitar method works very well, with James Hatfield’s backing chords doing well to compliment Kirk Hammett’s solo work. Also, the two are long time Sharks fans, so that’s pretty cool that they’ve been able to do anthems like this at sporting events around the San Francisco Bay area.
Mariah Carey, Super Bowl XXXVI
Forget her horrendous “All I Want For Christmas is You” at Rockefeller Center that one time, just for a minute. Mariah’s anthem at Super Bowl XXXVI (the first Super Bowl since 9/11) is certainly one to remember. It really reminds you exactly how talented (and extraordinarily gifted at riffling and singing in her whistle tone) Mariah is. That last “free” at the very end? Clutch whistle tone. Vintage Mariah.
Dixie Chicks, Super Bowl XXXVII
It’s one thing to have a solo national anthem. It’s another to have it in pretty rad three-part harmony, which the Grammy-winning country artists do here. It’s extremely pleasing to the ears. Take a listen.
Carrie Underwood, 2005 NFC Championship Game
Underwood, fresh off her 2005 American Idol win, entered Qwest Field and let loose a powerful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Easily attacking the typically very rangy song, this was one of the performances where people really started to take note of her and her talent. I mean, she’s one of the most successful country artists of all time now, in hindsight.
The Top 10:
Okay, so who ever thought that the operatic Josh Groban and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea would ever sound good together? Anyone? No? Yeah, me either. But, surprisingly, it works. I’m not sure who decided on the instrumentation for this one, but apparently the strong mixed drinks paid dividends. Flea’s backing bass flourishes actually contrast Groban’s voice quite nicely, and it gets even better when that drum corps comes in toward the end.
9. Lady Gaga, Super Bowl 50
The question was: what was Gaga going to surprise us with this time? Fortunately, there was no meat dress in sight. Only Gaga in a gorgeous red pantsuit and a piano. While it stars off like any other anthem, it finishes impassioned, theatrical, and grand, complete with emphatic gestures, unexpected but incredible melody changes, and a fierce chest pound before the final line. Bless you, Gaga.
8. Beyoncé, press conference before Super Bowl XLVII
So, Beyoncé had sung the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXXVIII, and had done a fine job of it. However, the reason this one makes the list and that one does not is because of the controversy that surrounded Queen Bey’s upcoming performance at the Super Bowl. Many people had accused Beyoncé of lip-syncing the national anthem during the president’s inauguration ceremony- something the singer had actually admitted to doing (sort of, she sang along with a pre-recorded track). When asked if she was going to be singing her halftime show performance live or not, she responded with this. A big middle finger to all of the speculators about her talent. Also, spoiler alert, her halftime show is now widely considered to be one of the best of all time (See the "Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows" list to view that piece of greatness).
7. Pia Toscano, 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5
I had no idea who Pia Toscano was until the night I watched game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Apparently, she too was a contestant on American Idol in season 10, and was shockingly voted off in 9th place, leaving all three judges both visibly and vocally upset at her being eliminated. So, Ms. Toscano decides to go off and sing the national anthem at the Kings’ home games. I say she’s doing a pretty damn good job of it.
6. Combined U.S. Military Academy Choirs, Super Bowl XXXIX
There’s something about a good old-fashioned choir singing The Star Spangled Banner that really gets me. This one features the combined choirs of all the U.S. Armed Forces Academies. While this one doesn’t really get good until the women come at “O say does that…” this one takes OFF with the addition of the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets. It’s simple, it’s a well-respected rendition, and it’s so quintessentially American.
5. Jim Cornelison, Soldier Field on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
One of the best things about national anthems in Chicago: the people are encouraged to applaud the country while the anthem is being sung (the way it should be, because America is AWESOME). Jim Cornelison, who typically does the anthem for the Chicago Blackhawks, gave this stirring rendition at the Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field on the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It’s also amazing when he points to the flag on “that our flag was still there.” Simply legendary.
4. Marvin Gaye, 1983 NBA All Star Game
This takes The Star Spangled Banner to a new level of cool. A very understated performance from a very unusual arrangement of the song, Marvin’s silky smooth voice effortlessly shapes the song as if it were another one of his soulful ballads. With a keyboard and a drum machine backing his vocals, Marvin took the crowd and players that night on a journey to a different side of America- the cool side of America.
3. Rene Rancourt, First sporting event in Boston after Marathon Bombing
Rene Rancourt has been a staple of TD Garden for a long time. His voice is loud, and often erratic. Honestly, he’s hit or miss with some people, and mostly just there for the novelty of having a boisterous singer/old timey organ combo. But on this day, when the city of Boston had been shaken to its core by horrendous act of violence during the running of the Boston Marathon, Rancourt’s rendition got the entire TD Garden crowd involved, and the result was absolutely incredible. The emotion in the building was electric, and this particular anthem brings a team to my eye. The anthem itself begins at 3:20, but watch the package before it.
2. Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock
I don’t really have words for this one. It was one of the first on a guitar, and it’s performed by a damn legend. Sit back and listen to some greatness. ‘Murcuh.
1. Whitney Houston, Super Bowl XXV
So, some context for this one. The United States had just entered combat in the Gulf War in 1991- and I’m talking JUST entered. Desert Storm began on January 17, 1991, the Super Bowl was on January 27, 1991. Naturally, American emotions were running high. Houston came to the Rose Bowl and blew everyone out of the water. This version of the Star Spangled Banner (complete with a backing orchestra) was so well-received, it reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. This was the performance that turned the national anthem into a pop hit of such great magnitude. Take a listen and let the chills flow through you.
Which ones did we miss? Which national anthem renditions gave you chills? Leave a comment down below! Also, be safe around fireworks, kids.
10 Ways the Boston Red Sox can save their season
By Tyler Trudeau
TIE: Orchard Lake St. Mary's Preparatory Eaglets &
Rockhurst Hawklets (High Schools, Michigan/Missouri)
Orchard Lake St. Mary's is a boy's catholic boarding school located in Orchard Lake, a suburb of Detroit. Rockhurst High School is exactly the same, just located outside Kansas City Missouri. Just a thought: if you're going to give your team a name, why make it the littler version of an animal? Why not just be called the Eagles or Hawks? It's weird man. Regardless of the weird name, the Eaglets have been host to a number of no-name professional athletes over the years (including soon-to-be-forgotten LSU QB Rob Bolden). The Hawklets, on the other hand, have won 35 state championships across eight sports since 2005. They are recognized consistently by Sports Illustrated as one of the top athletic high schools in the nation.
No bio for this one. It’s not even all that weird or unusual. It’s just a matter of a well placed mascot and it’s ridiculously awesome and I love it.
So, at first glance, this team looks like it’s called the Ham Fighters, which would be incredible. However, it’s not to be. Nippon-Ham is actually a metro region of Japan, making this team the fighters. A lot more lame; a team called the Ham Fighters would have been amazing.
Okay, so I kind of cheated here a little bit. RISD is what it says it is- an art school- and one of the most prestigious in the entire country. And like their prestige, their team name and mascot are among the best, if not the best in this entire list. RISD plays no sanctioned sports, however, only club sports, which is why they’re technically out of contention. The name “Nads” is ridiculously funny. It’s even better to know that the school’s club basketball team is known as the Balls. And then the mascot. His name is Scrotie. RISD’s mascot is a penis. Look it up. You’re welcome.
The Top 50:
We begin in Salt Lake City. Oh, the Utah Jazz, a horribly out of place team name. Originally, the Jazz were from New Orleans, and aptly named the New Orleans Jazz, which makes a lot more sense. However, in 1979 the NBA decided they wanted a team in Salt Lake City, and the Jazz picked up and moved, without ever bothering to change the name. With only two conference titles since their inception in 1974, perhaps a change in name might do this club some good.
The University of Evansville Purple Aces are members of the Missouri Valley Conference, with 14 varsity teams, and a basketball squad with exactly 5 NCAA Tournament Appearances (the most recent coming in 1999, where they lost by 21 points to Kansas in the first round).What I don’t understand is, why do the Aces have to be Purple? It’s kind of unnecessary, don’t you think?
The Mud Hens are the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. You will find on this list that many team owners decide to try to spice up their team names, especially if it is an animal. You will also find that it will blow up in their faces. There’s not much that’s threatening about the name “Mud Hens,” much less “Mud Anything.” However, the tie in to the native American coots (the actual “mud hens”) that roam the swamps around Toledo is a nice reference. Look at it this way: it could be worse. When the club was founded in 1896, they were known as the Toledo Swamp Angels. Yuck.
The logo doesn’t show it, but it’s all in the name, is it not? The Warriors are a fairly basic team name, to say the least. But throwing a little Hawaiian rainbow in there really represents the culture on the island of Oahu. The Rainbow Warriors don’t really have much to offer athletically, having only 26 bowl appearances since 1935, and 5 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Located in central Texas, the New Braunfels High School Unicorns boast a fairly respectable school athletic history, with a gratuitous amount of team tennis titles. Props to this little public school for their team name, their mascot (Buford the Unicorn) and an amazing motto: “Unicorn Pride is Justified.” Unicorns may not be real, but we believe in you guys.
Stetson University’s (located about 35 miles northeast or Orlando, Florida) sports teams are called the Hatters- as in Mad Hatters. Hey, at least they aren’t called the Jabberwocks. This is a school with a moderately satisfying team name, but a detestable team logo. Come up with something a little more colorful and more Louis Carroll-y, Stetson! I guess I can’t really judge, both Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber both went to school here.
These adorable creatures are the class A-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. What’s weird about this one is, before even the nickname, is the location of the team. You don’t see many of these broad-area-covering location names, like the New England Patriots or the Golden State Warriors. The team plays in Vera, Florida (the eastern part of the state, about halfway down). Finally, the nickname. I actually can’t get over how adorable the logo is, so I’ll give props to the team for having a sea cow as its mascot, something you don’t see every day.
The Penguins really go all in on the arctic theme, even though they play in Ohio. Their stadium is even called the “Ice Palace.” Believe it or not, lots of cool things came out of Youngstown State. Players like Ron Jaworski, Cliff Stoudt, current MSU coach Mike Dantoni, and former Ohio State great Jim Tressel, who led the Penguins to four NCAA FCS championships in the late 80s and 90s. Also, little known fact, the penalty flag originated at Youngstown State.
Originally this team was an honorable mention on this list. IronPigs is a semi-tough, fairly intimidating nickname, and their parent club, the Philadelphia Phillies are a respectable franchise with a long history. The team name even comes from a nickname for steel workers, for which the Lehigh Valley is well known. Then, I did a little research and found some of the Iron Pigs’ uniforms. The team has a bacon-inspired uniform. Bacon. Inspired. On the hat is not the main logo seen here, but an animated strip of bacon in the team’s colors. The uniform sports the name “Pigs” in classic baseball script, with the underline as- you guessed it- a strip of bacon. One may call it bizarre, I call it awesome.
Oh COME on. The Poca Dots? Really? REALLY? This definitely wasn’t planned insanely well, wasn’t it? Reportedly, the Dot mascot came about in 1928, when the Poca football team was playing during a bad storm, when one reporter exclaimed that the players looked like a bunch of red Polka Dots running around on the field. The name stuck. It’s become so popular, in fact, that ESPN and others have constantly referred to the Dots as being one of the country’s best mascots. It’s certainly a fantastic nickname, but is it the weirdest?
That’s… that’s an interesting choice of animal, Irvine. The Anteaters stake their claim to fame in volleyball, which has won four National Championships, and water polo, where they’ve won three titles. Their baseball team has been on a journey since their inception in 1970. The team won two College World Series titles, but was eliminated from the athletic program due to budget cuts in 1992. The program was revived in the early 2000s, where the team would reach as high as the #1 team in the nation during the new century. Since then, the team has made two CWS appearances, in 2007 and 2014.
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Could you be any more creative with your nickname, guys? The Bonnies, located in Alleghany, New York, once had a bad run in with a former mascot, known as the Bona Fanatic. The student body distaste with the mascot got so bad that the man in the costume was actually assaulted by students at games. For a change of pace, the university went with a much more mundane Bona Wolf. The Bonnies’ main success comes in the form of their basketball team, which has been to the NCAA tournament a number of times.
Again, more team mascots taking a syllable out of their name and making it their nickname. The Muhlenberg Mules. How original.
The Tincaps are the class-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. These iron-clad apple mascots are inspired by Johnny Appleseed, who spent his final days in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is buried in the city as well. The TinCaps won the Midwest League Championship in 2009.
This high school in St. Albans, Vermont goes by the team name the Bobwhites, although there is dispute as to what exactly a bobwhite is. Some claim that it was the school’s first athletic director, the aptly named Bob White. Others claim that it is inspired by the Northern Bobwhite, a quail-like bird native to the United States and Mexico. Either way, the name “Bobwhites” is weird and doesn’t exactly instill fear into the hearts of many opposing teams.
The Billikens have a strong basketball record, having won the Atlantic-10 division four times in the last five years. The name, however, is not as strong, being based from a child’s charm doll that was popular in the early 1900s. The name stuck, apparently. Thankfully Saint Louis updated their logo recently (I’m not saying it’s any better than what it was, they just updated it).
I thought Koalas just slept all the time! Apparently they enjoy fighting from time to time on the campus of Columbia College, located in Columbia, South Carolina. If all the mascots on this list were pitted against each other in a steel cage match, the Fighting Koalas would definitely be my sleeper pick to win.
This machinery-inspired team is the class A-affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. There’s not really anything intimidating about a Lugnut, but the team’s got some interesting traditions. Yearly, an exhibition game takes place between the Lugnuts and the Michigan State baseball team takes place, known as the “Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners.” The Lugnuts also have their own theme song (in true Toronto Blue Jays fashion), which is lovingly danced along to by their oversized mascot, Big Lug.
This one is just excessive. This school in Indianapolis is one of five making up the regions of the greater Indy area, but it has, by far, the strangest team name. The Space Pioneers get their name from the then-starting U.S. manned space program. Unfortunately, it is not the only space-themed team on this list.
We’re only at number 31 here? These are really beginning to get absurd. I’m just going to leave this one here. The Atom Smashers. Come ON.
You will learn exactly how ridiculous the Colorado Rockies farm club team names are. These AA-affiliates of said MLB club is peculiar because they’re one of those teams that has their own name in the “home” slot on your typical baseball scoreboard. Keep in mind, in the “home” slot, it says “Tourists,” not “Asheville.” So on a baseball scoreboard, we have the “Visitors” against the “Tourists.” Why not just be the Visitors and confuse everyone in the stands?
Kooky mascot or not, the Horned Frogs are nothing to laugh at athletically. The football team has consistently been ranked in the top five in recent years, and placed in numerous BCS games. The new logo isn’t all that bad, either.
When I was in middle school, we used to have a mascot called the Gorlok, who was etched on one of the walls, where I believe it remains today. Webster University chose to remain with this mythical creature and use it for their sports teams.
I… I just don’t really have an answer for this one. This is a high school in Hawaii… and I guess the Buffanblu is a play on the phrase “Buff and Blue.” It’s really random. That’s about all I got.
Ah, finally, a team that people have heard of! We’ve all really come to accept the fact that the Hokies are the Hokies, with no qualms about the issue. Apparently the whole idea comes from a name change (from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, thereby known as “V.P.I.”) and a school cheer, which incorporated the new name of the school. The name “Hokie” is completely made up, according to the dude who wrote the spirit cheer. Could be worse. They could still be called the Fighting Gobblers.
Hehe… Nimrods. Seriously though, the high school, found on the Minnesota border, on the upper peninsula of Michigan takes its name from Nimrod, the king of Shimar, present in the book of Genesis. He’s a symbol of power, and also Noah’s great-grandson. Pretty cool, once you explain it. Still though. Nimrods.
Another Colorado Rockies affiliate (the Nuts are the class A-advanced affiliate) with a bizarre name. The Nuts are so called because of the vast array of nuts that grow in Modesto, California. Before 2005, the Nuts were under the affiliation of the Oakland Athletics, and were aptly named along with their parent franchise. But they had to change their affiliation, and as a result, their name. To the Nuts. Go nuts, Nuts.
These horrendously named farmyard animals are the AA-affiliate of the- guess who- Colorado Rockies! The team moved from nearby New Britain (where they were the much-more-appropriately named Rock Cats) to downtown Hartford, where the name Yard Goats beat out names like Hedgehogs, Praying Mantis, and Whirlybirds (I’m laughing as I write this). They’ve got a theme song. Look it up- it’s hysterical. They’ve got two mascots, a green goat named Chompers and a blue one named Chew Chew. Apparently a “Yard Goat” is a nickname for a train engine, hence Chew Chew (a play on “choo-choo”). I’m still skeptical. Eat it up!
So, disclaimer. The Frankfort Hot Dogs aren’t actually hot dogs. They’re wiener dogs, which, while adorable, still doesn’t help the fact that they are called the hot dogs.
I really love this one. It’s just a fantastic mascot. The Kilties. As in, one who wears a kilt. The logo to the right isn’t an official one, but I love it. Good on you, Mount Pleasant, for having possibly the most bold (and by bold, I mean badass) mascot on this list.
This is another one of those “a-HA!” team names. And it’s glorious. The HardRockers don’t have much to offer athletically, with their football team’s record being 361-469-35 all time. But still, an amazing nickname for a school no one knew existed.
This… this just doesn’t make much sense really. Why are the beavers winged? Why would they ever need to fly? They’re semi-aquatic creatures who build dams on rivers for a living. Regardless, this Connecticut boarding school has churned out hockey players like Brian Leetch, Jonathan Quick, and Nick Bonino, to its credit.
Something tells me we wouldn’t want to see two actual planets fighting, but I do get the concept. The Fighting Planets are most notable for their swim team, which has been one of the finest in the state of Pennsylvania for a good amount of time. Their 2012 squad finished second in the state, with only five members on the team. Their 2014 team was even better- breaking every team record but one.
By far the strangest clothing-related item on this list, the Blue Hose got their name from the socks worn by the football team in the early 1900s. We’ve also got their mascot, Scotty the Scotsman, who doesn’t really have anything to do with wearing blue hose. To date, their most notable alumni is Justin Bethel, a safety for the Arizona Cardinals.
Now this is a nickname. It’s equal parts bizarre and incredible. Not to mention the mascot looks like some kind of vegetable ready for a fight (we’ll get to that in a minute). This tiny high school in southern Minnesota boasts only about 350 students, but they’ve got a pretty good football team, which won their conference championship in 2010.
So apparently, good syrup comes from Georgia, too! The Syrupmakers get their name from the famous production of cane syrup throughout the 20th century (no relation to Karo Syrup, though). Cairo (pronounced (KAY-roh) is literally nicknamed “syrup city.” The high school’s mascot reflects that of a syrup farmer (so, think Purdue Boilermakers or Nebraska Cornhuskers). The school’s football team won the Georgia state championship in 2008 after an undefeated season.
In the pantheon of cartoonish names, the Purple Pounders sounds a lot like some kind of furry, purple creature that you don’t want to mess with. This team used to be called the Purple Warriors (which is a lot more lame), but during a successful 1930s season, the Warriors “pounded” their opponents, and the name was changed. Not gonna lie, though. They have a great logo.
The Boll Weevil, a small beetle that feeds on cotton plans, is responsible for diversifying the southern U.S.’s economy, due to an infestation that led to the discovery of more cost-effective ways to reduce pesticide use and still cut down the boll weevil population. There’s even a monument dedicated to them in Alabama. It’s also the mascot name for the University of Arkansas at Monticello. So there’s that.
This one is near and dear to my heart, being a theatre student. The Orphans are so called due to yet another announcer christening them with a name. During a state basketball tournament, the school was low on funds and was forced to wear non-matching red uniforms from a random pile of clothes. The announcers noted that the Centralia team looked like a bunch of orphans. The name stuck. And it gets better. The name of all the women’s teams? The Annies.
Rubber duckie, you’re the one; you make baseball lots of fun! There’s nothing intimidating about a rubber duck playing baseball. This Minor League team, the AA-affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, gets its inspiration from Akron’s involvement in the rubber industry (the city is home to companies like Goodyear and Firestone). The Rubberducks’ stadium, Canal Park, is also home to one of the best menus in baseball. Meet the “Three Dog Night.” That’s a hot dog inside a bratwurst inside a kielbasa.
Hoopeston, Illinois is known as the “Sweet Corn Capital of the World.” And their name reflects that passion. To me, the Cornjerkers almost feel like a second-hand version of the Cornhuskers, complete with a humanoid ear of corn as a mascot, who is apparently trying to get his mits on way too many sports at the same time. Fear the Ear!
Forget everything you know about Syrupmakers and Boilermakers. These are the least badass- the Camas Papermakers. This team was inspired by the team’s founding industry- thanks to the Georgia Pacific paper mill in town. While Camas High School, located in southwestern Washington State, is not the only high school to have the nickname “Papermakers” for their sports teams, they are the only one to feature a humanized paper roller machine, named the Mean Machine, as their mascot.
Thank you, Tampa Bay Rays, for this incredible gem. These AA-affiliates also boast some ridiculous mascots. We have Big Mo, an orange beast who loves to eat biscuits, Monty, the anthropomorphic buttermilk biscuit, who appears on the cap and main logo of the team (and star of the documentary “The Story of Monty the Biscuit”- I’m not joking), and Miss Gravy, Duchess of Pork, a miniature pot bellied pig. Truly, truly amazing. Only in Alabama. Roll tide.
Again, there are zero reasons why this object should have an action attached to it. Ghosts are just not known for their galloping. According to the school, there are two explanations for the nickname. One came from a Halloween football game in which the team wore all white and trampled over their opponents, a la Galloping Ghosts; the other came from a new football coach’s approach to training the speedy running back core to play like the great Red Grange (whose nickname was the Galloping Ghost).
This nickname isn’t really threatening to anyone who isn’t a beet. The name comes from the vast fields surrounding the area of the school where sugar beet fields were plentiful. Classes were even cancelled (until the 1950s) for two weeks in October so students could help with the harvest. Their mascot is Digger Dan.
You may or may not have caught John Travolta’s Banana Slugs t-shirt in Pulp Fiction. Who knew they were a real team? The Banana Slugs came about in 1974 from the UCSC soccer team, who were the first to use the nickname. Just when you thought Boll Weevils were bad enough, now we’ve got the Slugs.
Quite possibly the most politically incorrect name on this list comes out of Freeburg, Illinois. The Midgets, whose nickname came from yet another announcer, remarking at how impressive the basketball team was, even though they were all much shorter than their opponents, has come under fire from associations like Little People for America, petitioning them to change their name. For a long time, the Freeburg High School mascot was Marty the Midget. Marty has been decommissioned since the 1960s.
Talk about out of the blue with this one- the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly FC. Sounds oddly suspicious of product placement (perhaps we should ask the New York Red Bulls what they think). Now officially known as TTM Customs FC, the team was relegated to the lowest level within the Thailand Football League in 2015. They have decided to sit out for the 2016 season. But still, this team must be loaded, seeing as they own all the tobacco in Thailand.
Eutectic. We’ve been through Iron Pigs, Yard Goats, Flying Beavers, Blue Hose, and Banana Slugs, and now Eutectic. We’re really getting obscure now. According to various definitions that were very difficult to understand, eutectic is defined as the point where two solids combine to form a liquid. Apparently, they play sports at medical school as well. The STLCOP women’s track team made the national championship as a team, the first time an entire team has done something like that on any level of competition. The basketball team played at an indoor arena affectionately called “The Pillbox,” which was torn down during the spring semester in 2014.
The Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes actually play in a sanctioned sports league, the National Junior College Athletic Association, and boast 7 sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. But really, a fighting artichoke? Think about it for a minute. These people will have to tell their kids that they were fighting artichokes in college. Not Tigers, Warriors, or Eagles. Fighting. Artichokes. Your mascot was Artie the Artichoke. Shame corner.
But really, I give props to the school for being crazy about their team. Their logo is incredible, as is their merchandise for the school. Go check out their website and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I may or may not be ordering myself a t-shirt from these people sooner rather than later. Go Chokes!
Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, & Missy Elliot- Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
Setlist: "Roar," "Dark Horse," "I Kissed a Girl," "Teenage Dream," "California Gurls," "Get Ur Freak On"/"Work It," "Lose Control," "Firework."
Shania Twain, No Doubt, & Sting- Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)
Setlist: "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!," "Up!" "Just a Girl," "Message in a Bottle."
Diana Ross- Super Bowl XXX (1996)
Setlist: "Stop In The Name of Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Baby Love," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "Chain Reaction," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "I Will Survive," "Take Me Higher."
The Rolling Stones- Super Bowl XL (2006)
Setlist: "Start Me Up," "Rough Justice," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
The Top 10:
10. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- Super Bowl XLIII (2009)
Setlist: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born To Run," "Working on a Dream," "Glory Days."
9. Janet Jackson, P Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock & Justin Timberlake- Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
Setlist: "All For You," Diddy," "Hot in Herre," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy," "Rhythm Nation," "Rock Your Body."
8. The Who- Super Bowl XLIV (2010)
Setlist: "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley," "See Me, Feel Me," "Won't Get Fooled Again."
7. Michael Jackson- Super Bowl XXVII (1993)
Setlist: "Jam," "Billie Jean," "Black or White," "We Are the World," "Heal the World."
6. Prince- Super Bowl XLI (2007)
Setlist: "We Will Rock You," "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby, I'm a Star," "Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower," "Best of You," "Purple Rain."
5. Aerosmith, Nsync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, & Nelly- Super Bowl XXXV (2001)
Setlist: "Bye Bye Bye," "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," "It's Gonna Be Me," "Jaded," "Walk This Way."
4. Paul McCartney- Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)
Setlist: "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die," "Hey Jude."
3. Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers- Super Bowl XLVIII (2014)
Setlist: "Locked Out Of Heaven," "Treasure," "Runaway Baby," "Give It Away," "Just the Way You Are."
2. Beyoncé- Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Setlist: "Countdown"/"Run The World (Girls)"/"Love On Top," "Crazy in Love," "End of Time," "Baby Boy," "Bootylicious," "Independent Women Part 1," "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," "Halo,"
1. U2- Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)
Setlist: "Beautiful Day," "MLK," "Where The Streets Have No Name."
What Super Bowl halftime shows were your favorite? Leave a comment down below.
I had a dream that last night, that the Patriots ended up defeating the Broncos, 35-24, and would move on to Super Bowl 50 out in Santa Clara.
Of course, this was a dream. And, in reality, the Patriots are not moving on to the Super Bowl in 2 weeks time. So as I put away my Tom Brady jersey for the next 8 months, and have the NFC Championship game in the background, it's time to reflect on the fine piece of football I just witnessed.
So the Broncos controlled a lot of the first half of the game. Peyton Manning came out slinging the ball all over the field, which the Patriots were just not prepared for. The Patriots had too much faith in their offense, and weren't able to move the ball effectively on their opening drive. Denver got the ball and quickly went to work. 7-0, Denver early.
If it weren't for the Patriots defense (and a few lucky breaks), this game might have been 31-9 at halftime. Peyton Manning's failed lateral ended up as points for the Patriots, however, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point. 7-6, Denver.
Peyton Manning goes back to work and shreds the Patriots on third down (Denver was 6-17 on third down. Not spectacular, but better than the Patriots, who were only 2 for 15). Just like that, a quarterback with only one touchdown pass at home all season suddenly has 2 in the AFC title game. 14-6, Denver. The teams exchange field goals, and it's 17-9 at halftime.
One more time trading field goals, and we sit at 20-12 with 2 minutes to play. The Patriots come down to the 1, end up with the touchdown, but don't get the 2-point conversion to tie the game with 12 seconds to play. 20-18, Denver. Peyton Manning goes on to his 4th Super Bowl, his second as a Denver Bronco.
So, things to take away from this game:
1. Patriots MVP: The entire defensive unit.
Without various defensive stops for New England, this game wouldn't have been close. Actually, the game really wasn't as close as the score indicated, but the defense gave New England hope. Time and time again, the Patriots stopped the Broncos on third down. Given, they still converted four more times than the Patriots did, but still. The game, at least on the scoreboard, was never out of reach for New England, Denver was never able to get more than 8 points ahead. In the fourth quarter alone, the defense gave the offense multiple chances to tie the game. First around the 10 minute mark, then again at the 5:30 (or so) mark, then again at the 2-minute warning, when Amendola's punt put the Patriots in position at the fifty-yard line. If the phrase "Defense wins championships" held true at any time, it definitely held true in this game for the Patriots.
2. Broncos MVP: Von Miller.
So there was just no way to stop Von Miller today, plain and simple. The guy was everywhere. He had 2.5 sacks, an interception, and was just there on multiple attempts to stop the Patriots (and I think he might have even been there on the 2-point conversion- not that I'm going to sit through it again) on critical third down situations. The offensive line looked like shit on the right side, with Marcus Cannon getting beat by Miller on almost every pass play. New England really missed Nate Solder in this game, who was gone for the year with a torn bicep. But even if you were going to switch lineman assignments, and have Cannon switch with Sebastian Vollmer on the other side, DeMarcus Ware would have beaten Cannon on every play, and we'd have blind side hits on #12 left and right. Offensive line issues aside, hats off to Von Miller today. He came to play, and New England was just too overwhelmed and undermanned to handle him.
3. Julian Edelman being on the field does not equal automatic production.
Let's be clear on this. Yes, the Patriots were able to beat the Chiefs in the annual "Tomato Can Game," as Dan Shaughnessy calls it. Kansas City had played almost NOBODY in their 10-game win streak. The two teams they beat that were good down the stretch were Pittsburgh (who had no Ben Roethlisberger), and Denver (the game where Manning threw 5 picks). Other than that, it was Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Cleveland. So when Brady comes out in the Divisional game and throws short ball after short ball to Edelman, that doesn't mean that the offense is suddenly back. What it comes down to, and we saw this in the game today, is the play of the offensive line, which was in shambles against Ware and Miller. Brady took too many hits today, and wasn't able to get the ball to his receivers, who were also masterfully covered by Wade Phillips' secondary. I mean sure, the Broncos had some key players go down late like Wolfe and TJ Ward, giving a little bit of leeway for Brady to throw, but the majority of the game was won by Denver up at the line of scrimmage. Edelman had 7 catches for 53 yards in this game. Against Kansas City, he had 10 catches for 100 yards. It doesn't matter if Julian Edelman is back, and the offense was flying high again. One player can't do it all.
4. You cannot blame Stephen Gostkowski for this loss.
I mean, you absolutely can blame Stephen Gostkowski for this loss. The extra point was literally the difference in this game. Everyone who was livid at the new extra point rule obviously didn't live in New England, as Gostkowski hadn't missed an extra point since 2006. But the new rule eventually came back to haunt the Patriots, as the potential game-tying field goal sailed wide right. However, I think of the Seattle-Minnesota game and Blair Walsh's missed field goal. You can't blame the kicker for this shit, especially when he accounted for ALL of your team's points. Gostkowski kept the Patriots in this game, scoring 6 of the 18 points in this game. If he doesn't hit the field goal to make it 17-12, this game is over when CJ Anderson bursts through the line for a gain of 30, and McManus puts it through to make it 20-9 with 10 minutes to go (or worse, Manning throws his 3rd touchdown of the game, which would have made it 24-9). I don't blame Gostkowski for this loss. Kicking field goals ain't easy, and no one's perfect. Also, he got us that win over the Giants, so I give him a free pass on this one. He's still the best kicker in football. Everyone has a screwup moment, it's just unfortunate that this one came in the AFC Championship.
5. Bill Belichick actually could have used his kicker TWICE in the 4th and won the game.
Fourth and 1 from the Denver 16. 20-12. If Belichick sends Gostkowski onto the field for a 33 yard field goal (Gostkowski's not missing two of those in one game), it's 20-15. He could have even done it AGAIN when it was 4th and 6 at the Denver 14. 20-18. Instead, Belichick opts to go for it twice, and gets stuffed both times. In both instances, New England stopped Denver for a 3-and-out: as in THREE plays. On BOTH drives. The game could have easily been won, 21-20.
6. Can we blame the two losses at the end of the year for this loss NOW?
I think we can. You decided to rest up and play for health instead of playoff seeding and look where it got you- a seat on the couch on February 7th. You had to win ONE game out of your last two. You had to win THREE games, basically out of your last SIX, and you couldn't. The loss at Miami is unforgivable, in hindsight. The Dolphins didn't want to win that game. If you win any of those four games (at Denver- which I understand the loss to, Philadelphia- another unforgivable loss, New York- which I understand the loss to, and Miami- *shakes head in disgust*), the AFC title game is in New England, and you might be going back to the Super Bowl. But you're not. I really hope Bill decides to think a little differently next year if he's in this position.
7. This is Peyton Manning's last season in Denver.
And, if he wins the Super Bowl (which I highly doubt), it will be his last season in the NFL. If the San Diego Chargers hadn't freaked out when Manning came in the game in week 17, perhaps we would have a different story, and the AFC Title Game would have been in New England. But they didn't, and it wasn't. Say what you want about Brock Osweiler, the kid's good, and the Denver offensive system really works for him. Peyton Manning's age is a liability. He looked pretty good today, but who's to say that he won't show up next season and do the same thing all over again? I don't think the Broncos are too interested in having that happen to him and their team again. I think Manning will be back for at least one more year, but it will be with another team.
8. What do the Patriots need to do this offseason?
Really take a look at your damn offensive line, that's what. Find a way to protect your quarterback, that's what. Get some new offensive weapons, that's what. Best case scenario: the Patriots will go out and get Calvin Johnson, who has made it evident that he doesn't want any part of being in Detroit anymore. Also, this is Anquan Boldin's final year in San Francisco. This was Brandon LaFell's last game in a Patriot uniform. And you think they're gonna rely on the deep ball to Keyshawn Martin? Keep dreaming. They're going to be looking to get better on the offensive line, which was PITIFUL today, and for much of the season. Brady's getting older and you need to protect him better. They had a chance to get Russell Okung from Seattle, and I was surprised it didn't go through. Additionally, they're going to lose both LaGarrette Blount and Stephen Jackson. Look for the Patriots to find some new running backs in this year's draft.
9. The Super Bowl is going to be a blowout.
Sorry, guys. The NFC Champion is going to blow out the Denver Broncos. Sure, the Denver defense is good, but the offense really sucks something else. If Carolina's in the Super Bowl, and they get rolling early, see ya later. If it's Arizona, they can wear you down on offense and defense. Peyton Manning doesn't have a prayer in this game. It might be "close" on the scoreboard, but the NFC Champion is going to roll over the AFC Champion. Or maybe I'm just bitter. Hopefully the former.
10. Final Takeaway: The better team won today.
I mean, it's simple, but it's true. Could the Patriots have won this game? Absolutely. Does it sting the the Broncos won? Absolutely it does. But the better team won today, guys. There were no bogus, game-deciding calls. With the exception of the missed extra point, the game came right down to the wire, right down to a game-tying two-point conversion- so there were no "oh, THAT'S where the game was lost" plays in the second or third quarters. The Patriots looked so bad on offense because the Broncos looked so damn good on defense. You can't win if you don't score points. You can't score points if you can't move the ball. You can't move the ball if the other team's defense is down your quarterback's throat and his targets are covered all the time. Sure, things might have been easier for New England if they decided to be smarter about certain things, like deciding what to do on 4th down. But overall, I think the Broncos came in for this game ready to face the animal that was the Patriots. They wanted it more, and they played better. The Patriots' weaknesses were laid out for you clear as day in this game: Poor offensive line play, which resulted in lots and lots of defensive pressure on Tom Brady, plus an inability to run the ball effectively; and not allowing Brady's quick receivers to get open. With no real deep threat, and having two or three guys on Gronk, all you really need to do is cover Edelman and Amendola, which Talib and Harris did a great job of today. Put pressure on Tom Brady, and the game is won. That's all there is. Better luck next year, boys.
A look at the 2016 NFL Playoffs- Can anybody beat Carolina? Is Peyton Manning finally back? Are people underestimating Seattle? Are the Patriots really in trouble?
That said, there are a few things to look forward to this NFL postseason. We get to see a Pittsburgh Steelers team that just squeaked into the playoffs (thank you Rex Ryan- even when he's not coaching them, he's helping the Jets miss the playoffs), but I believe will be very dangerous down the stretch. We'll get to see a Kansas City Chiefs team play, a team that many think could be very dangerous. Also on the AFC side are the Cincinnati Bengals, who may be getting their star QB back. On the NFC side, we've got teams like Seattle. Seattle is dangerous, maybe not in the same way they were last season, but still a very real threat. We've got teams like Minnesota and Green Bay, who are coming off an epic NFC North division showdown, eager to prove their worth against Seattle and an upstart Washington team, respectively, who is somewhat of a dark horse heading into these playoffs. Finally, there's Arizona and Carolina- two very, very good football teams.
So what of the Patriots and Broncos, anyway? I've been trying to rationalize the results of Sunday and the playoff implications surrounding them. So the Patriots need to win to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC, thus sealing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If New England loses, all Denver needs to do is beat San Diego at home to clinch the #1 seed and home field, bumping New England to #2.
New England goes with a more conservative approach, with the typically passing-potent Tom Brady only throwing the ball five times in the first half. I'm under the impression that in order to win this game, New England was trying to establish the run (which they failed miserably at), and beat the Dolphins in one half (which they also failed miserably at).With no Julian Edelman and a limited Danny Amendola, Brady had no quickness in his wide receiver corps, and with a struggling offensive line, had to use tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler to pass block whenever he took shots down the field to Brandon LaFell and Keyshawn Martin- which were far and few in between. It also doesn't help the fact that Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal that would have made it 6-3 New England, and may have also made it 20-13 Miami with 2 minutes to go (giving Brady a chance to tie the game) instead of 20-10 and the game being all but over. The Patriots keep blaming these losses on injuries. That might work, if it didn't look so obvious that they wanted to lose this game.
So New England loses. All Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos need to do is win at home against San Diego. And for the first 10 minutes, it looked like it was going to be all Denver, with Osweiler hitting Demariyus Thomas for a 72-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage. However, San Deigo held fast, holding Denver only to a touchdown and putting up 6 points of their own, while forcing six Denver turnovers. San Diego took a 13-7 lead in the third quarter- until Gary Kubiak took Osweiler out, replacing him with some unknown backup, a five-time NFL MVP named Peyton Manning. From there it was all but over. San Diego made it interesting, but Denver's run game, with the addition of Manning being able to read defenses and change plays the line sunk the Chargers. This all comes with the simple fact that the Chargers had a total of 7 points off turnovers. SEVEN. They had almost as many turnovers as points converted off of those turnovers. The league's #1 defense sure didn't look like the league's #1 defense (given, San Diego's offensive line is shot) giving up 20 points to the Chargers, but COME ON. Seven points is inexcusable, especially when you have SIX forced turnovers, five in the first half.
So Denver wins, they clinch the #1 seed, New England gets bumped to #2. I reiterate- I'm upset.
So, I guess we should get to the main point of the article- the playoffs. Some interesting matchups on Wild Card weekend.
Wild Card Weekend (Saturday, 1/9 & Sunday, 1/10):
#5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #4 Houston Texans (9-7)- 4:35 p.m. (ESPN/ABC)
Houston plays in a terrible division, the AFC South. Sure, they had a hot streak about two thirds of the way through the season, but they were playing teams like the Jets, Titans, Colts, Jaguars, and Saints, and their quarterback is also Brian Hoyer. Kansas City's offensive line is too good for Houston's defensive line (J.J. Watt can't do everything), and they'll not only clear the way for the running game, but be able to block for Alex Smith (who can also scramble out of the pocket if need be). Houston will make it interesting (at least on the scoreboard), but this one will be all Kansas City, who will win their first playoff game since 1993.
Prediction: Kansas City 27, Houston 17.
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)- 8:15 p.m. (CBS)
Pittsburgh is a dangerous team. Cincinnati, at this point, doesn't have a quarterback. Cincy also hasn't won a playoff game since 1990, and has lost in the Wild Card round of each of the last four seasons. Even without RB DeAngelo Williams, Ben Roethlisberger looks like the best QB in the AFC, and he and Antonio Brown will destroy you. Andy Dalton plays, but is pushed to return too early and is very close to ineffective. Pittsburgh goes on the road, looking for vengeance against their AFC North opponents and takes care of business.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 23.
#6 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at #3 Minnesota Vikings (10-6)- 1:05 p.m. (NBC)
When I first saw that the Packers could have this spot as the #3 seed, I thought about what a great matchup that would be: Russell Wilson returns to Lambeau Field and seeks vengeance against an ailing Packers team that beat him in week two. However, Seattle instead gets to deal with the frigid cold of TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota. While no one is exactly afraid of Seattle's defense anymore, all they really need to do is stop Adrian Peterson, as Teddy Bridgewater isn't capable enough to pick apart the remains of the Legion of Boom. Russell Wilson is going to throw bombs to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. All day, baby, all day. Seattle rolls and moves on to Carolina.
Prediction: Seattle 38, Minnesota 14.
#5 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #4 Washington Redskins (9-7)- 4:40 p.m. (FOX)
Green Bay is ailing. Washington also comes from a terrible division, the NFC North. They're basically here because every other team in that division wet the bed. This is the game I care least about, actually. Washington's been playing really good football lately, and the Packers have not, losing their last two. Green Bay just barely squeaks by in this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Washington 24 (OT).
Divisional Weekend (Saturday, 1/16 & Sunday 1/17):
#5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #2 New England Patriots (12-4)- 4:35 p.m. (CBS)
This game could go one of two ways here. Either the Patriots come back with all of their players healthy from injury and destroy the Chiefs, or the Chiefs will be ready for the Patriots, overpowering them and taking it to them at home. I want to be safe here and say that the Patriots were playing more for health's sake than for seeding on Sunday against Miami. But the supposed injury to Tom Brady is something to worry about. People say that the AFC is still New England's to lose; I think it was lost about two weeks ago against the Jets. New England loses their third game in a row for the first time since 2002.
Prediction: Kansas City 35, New England 33.
#5 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3)- 8:15 p.m. (NBC)
Arizona has had a chance to rest up, while Green Bay is still reeling from the overtime bout with Washington. Carson Palmer's got too many weapons for Green Bay to handle, and the Arizona defense is too good, even without Tyrann Mathieu. Honey badger don't care about Aaron Rodgers. Arizona goes to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2008.
Prediction: Arizona 41, Green Bay 27.
#6 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at #1 Carolina Panthers (15-1)- 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
By far, the most interesting matchup in the postseason thus far. Carolina won in Seattle in week six earlier this year. Seattle was a different team then than they are now, of course, but I don't think that should change. The presence of a cornerback who can actually cover receivers (I speak of course, of Carolina's Josh Norman) will benefit Carolina greatly, as the Panthers can use a variety of defensive packages to both cover the Seattle receivers, and contain Russell Wilson, who is the best QB in the NFC right now. Wilson will need to play a really good football game against a very tough, healthy Carolina defense. Panthers dab their way to the NFC title game.
Prediction: Carolina 31, Seattle 27.
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #1 Denver Broncos (12-4)- 4:40 p.m. (CBS)
I take it back- this is the most interesting matchup in the postseason. I think Kubiak goes with Peyton Manning to start this game, and Denver begins to chug along on all cyllinders- their offensive unit can be a juggernaut when it gets going, since Manning's got 15 million targets and two incredible running backs in Hillman and Anderson. However, if Pittsburgh can get to Manning and/or force a turnover or two, the game will swing the other way. I think the Broncos have backed themselves into a corner with this quarterback situation- one might be too old and volatile, the other is too young and inexperienced. I give the edge to Pittsburgh in this one.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Denver 20.
Championship Sunday (1/24)
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)- 3:35 p.m. (CBS)
Who knew. The two teams were fighting for a playoff spot at the end of the season will now be fighting it out for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I think crowd noise will be a factor here. Arrowheads Stadium is loud, and the Kansas City faithful want another championship run for their city (as they come across the parking lot from Kaufmann Stadium where the Royals just won the World Series). Kansas City started the season at 1-5, and has won its last 10 heading into the playoffs. This is not the team you want to mess with. If DeAngelo Williams is indeed out, that could spell trouble for the Pittsburgh run game, leaving Ben Roethlisberger to have to throw the ball a lot. The Chiefs defense can figure out how to stop Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton. Kansas City goes to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970.
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Pittsburgh 17.
#2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3) at #1 Carolina Panthers (15-1)- 6:40 p.m. (FOX)
It all comes down to this- the two best teams in the NFC, and possibly the NFL. Arizona and Carolina have not faced each other this regular season, so neither has had any experience other than game film. The two teams are just about even on both sides of the ball, with two MVP-candidate QBs in Carson Palmer and Cam Newton, as well as the defensive side of the ball. When you don't know any of the guys' names on defense, and they're 15-1 and 13-3, you have to assume they're pretty good. Very much like cornerbacks. I think Darrelle Revis is so good because you never hear about him during games- because the opposing QBs are always afraid to throw in his direction. However, I give the edge to Arizona in this game. They got decimated at home against Seattle, but then were playing merely for health instead of seeing. Carson Palmer likes to spread the field out and throw to his many, many wide out options. On top of that, Arizona's David Johnson has become a folk hero in his own right. It'll be either a shootout or a defensive struggle. I'm opting for the former.
Prediction: Arizona 45, Carolina 41.
Super Bowl 50: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA- Sunday, 2/7
#2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3) vs. #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)- 6:30 p.m. (CBS)
The biggest Super Bowl in history, represented by two franchises that, ten years ago, nobody thought would be here. In this matchup here, I have to go with Arizona. The Cards' defense is too good for any of the weapons that Alex Smith can throw to. Alex Smith, Charcandrick West, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce in the Super Bowl? Come on. The road warrior, the 36-year-old Carson Palmer, picks apart the Chiefs defense to win his first Super Bowl and MVP award.
Prediction: Arizona 38, Kansas City 17.
Top 50 Sports Plays of 2015
November 1: World Series Game 5- Royals baserunning in ninth leads to a tie game, later a series win over Mets- Kansas City vs. N.Y. Mets
September 12: Deshone Kizer finds Will Fuller late to put away Virginia- Notre Dame vs. Virginia
November 8: Lance Stephenson's alley-oop to DeAndre Jordan- Houston vs. LA Clippers
February 24: Karri Ramo robs JT Miller with spectacular save- Calgary vs. NY Rangers
August 27: Carlos Torres kicks comebacker, David Murphy completes putout- NY Mets vs. Philadelphia
The Top 50:
50. September 12: David Ortiz hits career home run #500- Boston vs. Tampa Bay
49. May 9: Albany lacrosse goalie Blaze Riordan runs the field, splits the D, scores- UAlbany vs. Cornell
48. January 9: Travis Booker beats the shot clock with a circus-style tip in- Utah vs. Oklahoma City
47. May 23: Ducks score 3 times in 37 seconds to take lead over Hawks- Western Conference Finals, Game 4, Chicago vs. Anaheim
46. September 26: Aaron Green lifts TCU over Texas Tech with touchdown catch off deflection- TCU vs. Texas Tech
45. September 20: Bartolo Colon flips ball behind the back, isn't really 42- NY Mets vs. Miami
44. October 10: Alex Ovechkin dekes John Moore out of his skates, scores- Washington vs. New Jersey
43. November 7: St. Thomas College's no-look pass for 2-point conversion- St. Thomas vs. Carleton
42. May 16: Garry Hill's gravity-defying grab- Brookland vs. Star City (Arkansas)
41. January 9: Michal Neuvirth reaches across the crease to rob Brett Connolly- Nashville vs. Tampa Bay
40. May 14: Tristan Thompson makes circus style layup while falling- Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6, Cleveland vs. Chicago
39. September 26: Mike Trout takes a home run away from Jesus Monteiro, makes it look easy- LA Angels vs. Seattle
38. January 13: Julian Kislin's crazy passing skills lead to goal- Freehold Township vs. Middletown North (N.J.)
37. April 26: Alex Gordon flies into stands to make catch, takes fan with him- Kansas City vs. Chicago White Sox
36. December 9: Kevin Garnett still has game, dunks on Blake Griffin, draws technical- Minnesota vs. LA Clippers
35. August 19: Juan Perez makes basket catch over the wall to rob a home run- San Francisco vs. St. Louis
34. August 11: Neymar scores beautiful spinning goal- Barcelona vs. Villareal
33. September 7: Braxton Miller's spin move leaves Virginia Tech in the dust- Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech
32. April 21: Tom Wilson steamrolls Lubomir Visnovsky- Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4, Washington vs. NY Islanders
31. July 6- Ryan Smith makes spectacular flipping catch- Saskatchewan vs. Toronto
30. May 9: Paul Pierce calls "game," hits buzzer-beater over three defenders- Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 3, Washington vs. Atlanta
29. September 4: Mac Bignell crushes a Fort Lewis receiver- Montana State vs. Fort Lewis
28. January 3: Jerian Grant climbs the ladder, defies gravity on huge dunk- Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech
27. September 5: Tanner Mangum's hail mary finds Mitch Matthews to beat Nebraska- BYU vs. Nebraska
26. July 28: Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar combine for incredible put out- Kansas City vs. Cleveland
25. March 19: RJ Hunter hits deep 3 to sink Baylor, dad falls off stool- NCAA Tournament Second Round, Baylor vs. Georgia State
24. April 10: Andrelton Simmons breaks sound barrier with throw to nab runner- Atlanta vs. NY Mets
23. March 21: Steph Curry breaks Chris Paul's ankles, part 1- Golden State vs. LA Clippers
22. August 15: Three Nationals combine for wild defensive out, Washington vs. San Francisco
21. January 10: Julian Edelman throws touchdown pass to Danny Amendola- AFC Divisional Round, New England vs. Baltimore
20. June 24: Josh Donaldson dives into the stands to make the catch- Baltimore vs. Tampa Bay
19. December 3: "The Miracle in Motown:" Aaron Rodgers ends game with walk-off hail mary- Green Bay vs. Detroit
18. November 28: Mike Thomas does his best Odell Beckham, Jr. impression- Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana Tech
17. September 25: Mookie Betts goes over the wall to rob Chris Davis, ends game- Boston vs. Baltmore
16. February 1: Jermaine Kearse makes crazy bobble catch to put the Seahawks in position to win- Super Bowl XLIX, New England vs. Seattle
15. August 31: Kevin Kiermeier robs Manny Machado of a home run- Tampa Bay vs. Baltimore
14. June 3: Alex Killorn makes no-look, tip in goal to open the series- Stanley Cup Final, Game 1, Tampa Bay vs. Chicago
13. November 30: Ravens block Browns' potential game-winning FG, return it for game-winning touchdown- Baltimore vs. Cleveland
12. December 9: DeAndre Jordan posterizes Greg Monroe
11. July 5: Carli Lloyd scores third goal of a hat trick- from midfield- FIFA Women's World Cup Final, United States vs. Japan
10. October 16: Michigan mishandles punt, Michigan State returns it for touchdown to win- #12 Michigan vs. #7 Michigan State
9. February 3: Carter Hutton spins around and makes incredible paddle save- Nashville vs. Toronto
8. August 6: Kevin Pillar is Superman, robs Miguel Sano of extra bases- Toronto vs. Minnesota
7. September 21: Chad Kelly finds Quincy Adeboyjo (somehow) for touchdown- #15 Ole Miss vs. #2 Alabama
6. February 1: Malcolm Butler picks off Russell Wilson to seal Super Bowl victory- Super Bowl XLIX, New England vs. Seattle
5. March 8: Steph Curry breaks Chris Paul's (and the Clippers) collective ankles, part 2- Golden State vs. LA Clippers
4. April 16: Kevin Pillar enjoys parkour, robs Tim Beckham of a home run- Toronto vs. Tampa Bay
3. November 29: Odell Beckham Jr, "The One-Handed Catch, Part 2"- NY Giants vs. Washington
2. November 1: Miami uses 8-lateral kick return to score touchdown to beat Duke- Miami vs. #22 Duke
1. October 16: Francis Owusu makes catch pinned to defender's back- #15 Stanford vs. #18 UCLA
What did I miss? What do you think should be included on this list? Leave a comment if you so desire. Have a happy and peaceful New Year, everyone!
Top 10 Sports Moments of 2015
First, a few honorable mentions:
September 12- David Ortiz hits career home run #500
January 1- Jameis Winston fumbles away the Rose Bowl
November 29- Kobe Bryant announces his retirement
October 15- Jose Bautista crushes home run, does bat flip to end all bat flips
The Top 10:
10: October 18- Colts execute worst play in the history of football
9. May 27- FIFA, Sepp Blatter involved in bribery scandal
8. December 11- Golden State Warriors set new NBA mark by starting 24-0
7. January 11- Ohio State wins the first College Football Playoff Championship
6. April 29- Orioles and White Sox play game in empty Camden Yards
5. May 11 - September 3- Tom Brady and the Deflategate scandal
4. May 2- The lead up and letdown of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
3. November 15- Holly Holm knocks out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193
2. July 5- U.S. Women decimate Japan to win World Cup, avenge loss from 2011
1. June 16- American Pharaoh becomes first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown
More Best of 2015 lists to come soon!
Top 10 Sports Games of 2015
A few honorable mentions before we begin:
December 5- Big 10 Championship Game, #5 Michigan State vs. #4 Iowa
January 18- NFC Championship Game, Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers
October 3- #6 Notre Dame vs. #12 Clemson
The Top 10:
10. November 15- New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
9. May 10- The Players' Championship, Final Round
8. August 27- Little League World Series, U.S. Semifinal, Texas vs. California
7. September 26- #3 TCU vs. Texas Tech
6. October 27- World Series, Game 1, Kansas City Royals vs. New York Mets
5. June 16- The Belmont Stakes
4. May 13- Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7, New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
3. March 28- NCAA Men's Tournament, Midwest Regional Final, Kentucky vs. Notre Dame
2. July 5- FIFA Women's World Cup Final, United States vs. Japan
1. February 1- Super Bowl XLIX, New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Which sports games did you enjoy this year? Let me know in the comments section down below. More countdowns to come before the year is out!
Top 10 Most Annoying Songs of 2015
I'd like to point out that this list is (obviously) not the end all, be all, I'm just one guy, and I know that one man's most annoying list is another's top 10 favorites list. I'm not saying these songs are bad, they're just annoying. Once again, if I've omitted (or included) one of your favorites, I can only apologize. Without further ado, one with the list! Beginning, of course, with some honorable, or in this case, dishonorable mentions.
"Fun," Pitbull feat. Chris Brown
"Focus," Ariana Grande
"Bitch Better Have My Money," Rihanna
"Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," Silento
The Top 10:
10. "Dear Future Husband," Meghan Trainor
9. "Love Me Like You Do," Ellie Goulding
8. "I Really Like You," Carly Rae Jepsen
7. "Lean On," Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ
6. "Lips are Moving," Meghan Trainor
5. "Where Are Ü Now," Skrillex & Diplo feat. Justin Bieber
4. "Somebody," Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih
3. "Marvin Gaye," Charlie Puth feat. Meghan Trainor
2. "Fight Song," Rachel Platten
1. "Worth It," Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink
Which songs from 2015 drove you nuts? Leave a comment if you so desire. Here's to 2016 and a bunch more countdowns to come!!
Top 25 Pop Songs of 2015
I originally had something like 30 or 35 songs for the list, so in order to include as many as I could, I threw in a few honorable mentions just, because.
"Fourfiveseconds," Rihanna feat. Kanye West & Paul McCartney
"Bad Girls," MKTO
"Renegades," X Ambassadors
"Want To Want Me," Jason Derulo
"Style," Taylor Swift
"Sugar," Maroon 5
The Top 25:
25. "Drag Me Down," One Direction
24. "On My Mind," Ellie Goulding
23. "Budapest," George Ezra
22. "Hotline Bling," Drake
21. "Honey, I'm Good.," Andy Grammer
20. "Hello," Adele
19. "G.D.F.R.," Flo Rida feat. Sage the Gemini & Lookas
18. "Cheerleader," OMI
17. "Ex's & Oh's," Elle King
16. "Stitches," Shawn Mendes
15. "Someone New," Hozier
14. "Bright," Echosmith
13. "The Wolf," Mumford & Sons
12. "Bad Blood," Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
11. "Talking Body," Tove Lo
10. "Lay Me Down," Sam Smith feat. John Legend
9. "Cool for the Summer," Demi Lovato
8. "Believe," Mumford & Sons
7. "Uma Thurman," Fall Out Boy
6. "Blank Space," Taylor Swift
5. "See You Again," Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
4. "Can't Feel My Face," The Weeknd
3. "Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
2. "Shut Up and Dance," Walk The Moon
1. "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
If I missed one of your favorites, I can only apologize. Maybe I'll get it on the next one. But just so I know, which songs do you think were the best from 2015? Leave a comment if you so desire. Happy New Year everyone!
I enjoy making lists, countdowns, and making sense of the world that I see around me.