December 28, 2016


The moment that stands out for me was the Cavaliers winning the NBA championship. It was different than other NBA (or any other league) championships because it included the Prodigal Son theme, i.e., LeBron James return to his home, forgiveness, redemption, and the keeping of the promise of a championship. James’ life is like a sports film that would never be released because the 2016 NBA Championship win at the end would be deemed too improbably corny.

From an emotional standpoint, it was probably the crowning moment of James’ career. One could argue that his work in Miami, although impressive, did not mean nearly as much to Miami fans as what he did for Cleveland fans because James isn’t from Florida. He’s from Ohio. And if you look at the backgrounds of other NBA superstars, none of them have brought the top trophy back home: Jordan wasn’t from Chicago, Bird wasn’t from Boston, Bryant wasn’t from L.A., Johnson wasn’t from L.A., and Jabbar wasn’t from Milwaukee or L.A.

My favorite moment of 2016 was Rajai Davis’ home run in Game 7 of the World Series to bring the Cleveland Indians back level with the Cubs. It literally raised me off my recliner with a shout. Unfortunately, the Cubbies won the game (and Series) in extra innings, but it was a great run for a Cleveland team cobbled together from spare parts and the lowest payroll of all the playoff teams. There’s always next year! Go Tribe!

My favorite story was when James Connor took the field for Pitt after beating cancer–and promptly scored two touchdowns.

Can anyone disagree that THE sports story of the year was The Cubs ending their 108-year drought?  Not only did they finish the season with the best record in baseball – they never left first place. And we were treated to not only a full seven-game Series; we got (excuse my shout) EXTRA INNINGS IN GAME SEVEN!!! (OK; I feel better now. Please keep in mind this is being written by someone whose team has never even BEEN to The Series.)  I think this Series was easily the best since the Yankees-Diamondbacks Series in ’01. (Of course, that was the best of our lifetimes…or does anyone disagree?)

World Series Game 7 accomplished what seemed to be impossible: living up to the hype surrounding a game where one of baseball’s two longest championship droughts would end, and where the other drought would be cruelly prolonged. This game did so by delivering:
  • Unexpected (good and bad) pitching performances and controversial managerial decisions
    • Corey Kluber (who set a World Series record by striking out eight batters through three innings in Game 1) failing to strike out a single batter
    • Andrew Miller looking human for the first time during the whole postseason
    • Joe Maddon removing a cruising Kyle Hendricks (in the 5th inning) and Jon Lester (in the 8th inning), in favor of a compromised Aroldis Chapman
    • Mike Montgomery earning his first career save
  • Adventurous (successful and unsuccessful) baserunning
    • Jose Ramirez picked off first base in the 2nd inning
    • Kyle Schwarber thrown out at second base in the 3rd inning
    • Kris Bryant tagging up and scoring on a shallow fly ball in the 4th inning
    • Jason Kipnis scoring from second base on a wild pitch in the 5th inning
    • Albert Almora, Jr. tagging up from first base in the 10th inning
  • Unforgettable home runs
    • Dexter Fowler to lead off the 1st inning
    • David Ross, in his final game, in the 6th inning
    • RAJAI DAVIS, IN THE 8TH INNING, TO TIE THE GAME (this was one of the most jawdropping, exciting sports moments I can ever remember)

No matter what followed Davis’s home run, Game 7 was certain to be remembered as a classic. And what followed? Well, this game entered The Twilight Zone:

  • A Cubs 9th-inning rally was snuffed out by a feeble squeeze bunt attempt by Javier Baez, and a heartstopping defensive play by Francisco Lindor
  • A seemingly vulnerable Aroldis Chapman shut down the top of the Indians’ order in the bottom of the 9th
  • The. Rain. Delay.
  • A twisty, turny 10th inning seals the Cubs’ first World Series championship in 108 years…celebrated two days later with the largest human gathering in the history of the Western hemisphere

It’s going to be the story of two rookies leading the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl!