2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone. As the year comes to a close, not everyone is in a celebratory mood. But when it comes to sports, despite the obstacles and challenges that all leagues and fans faced, there are still plenty of winners out there.
Let’s be honest, despite the challenges and stress, sports found a way to win in 2020.
Those challenges included:
- NBA and NHL on hold from March to June
- MLB experienced a delayed start and significantly shortened season (with no fans the whole way)
- NFL had no pre-season and has experienced several rescheduled games. Teams have had to navigate through the absence of key players (or even entire position groups)
- College football and college basketball have dealt with tons of postponements and outright cancellations
But in spite of this, the show has gone on! Everyone that went on hold came back. NBA, NHL, MLB, and WNBA all completed their seasons and crowned champions.
In fact, those 4 leagues plus NFL and MLS gave us games on September 10th – the first time ever all 6 of those leagues played at the same time.
The NFL has really been a winner. While every other league saw cancellations and delays, the NFL has experienced neither (to date). Peak pandemic happened during the NFL’s off-season and they were able to push forward with free agency and the draft without any interruption.
There have been several games that have been pushed back from it’s originally scheduled game, but to-date NO games have been outright cancelled. Sure, a large handful of players have missed games due to COVID, the lack of fans is still weird, and the shuffling schedule is annoying, but the NFL has found a way to avoid major conflict during this season.
Sports today are very different than they were a year ago, but they are moving forward. Fans may be home, instead of in the stands, but as long as the games are on, whatever games they might be, we all win.
New York Mets
The pandemic cost Major League Baseball millions and millions of dollars. With no fans in the stands, every team took a major revenue hit in order to complete this season.
As the dust settles and baseball moves forward, one team is in a great position to proceed – the Mets.
Mets were sold to billionaire Steve Cohen, who spent an MLB-record $2.46 billion to acquire the team that he and his family grew up loving. Cohen, from Long Island, has been a minority owner for years and has already breathed new life and excitement into a franchise that has been known for being cheap and outdated.
It’s not just that Steve Cohen is worth a lot of money. It’s that his worth, compared to the rest of MLB owners is scary. Mets need a lot of help and not just on the field.
This money can be allocated for a number of departments, such as
- Analytics, where they significantly lack compared to others
- Front office where they could out-pay competitors for talent
- Medical, given how the Mets always seem to have a ridiculous amount of injuries.
- Players – yeah, good luck outbidding them in free agency.
The overall product of the Mets is about to improve. Will it lead to a championship?
Los Angeles – the city of champions!
Lakers made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2013 and won their first series since 2012. Ultimately, they won 4 series, which included the last one. Lakers won the franchise’s 17th championship and first since 2010. Lebron James won his 4th championship (first in LA) and captured his 4th Finals MVP
Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988. After losing back-to-back World Series in 2017 and 2018, Dodgers finally got off the schneid and defeated the Rays.
Despite this success, LA also appears on the loser’s list.
Sarah Fuller deserves all the congrats in the world. On Saturday November 28th, Fuller was the kicker for Vanderbilt’s men’s football team. To start the second half, Fuller kicked off, making her the first female to ever play in a P5 college football game.
Unfortunately, Vandy stinks and Fuller never had a real opportunity to kick a field goal or an extra point. But that changed on Saturday 12/12, in a game against Tennessee.
Fuller nailed 2 extra points, going 2-2 in the game, becoming the first female in Power-5 conference history to score a point in a game.
Let’s recap the year Mahomes had
- February – led Chiefs to Super Bowl win, first for KC since 1969 and was named MVP of the game
- March – signed a new contract worth up to as much as $503 million over 10 years
- September – announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend and later in the month, announced she was pregnant with their first kid
Super Bowl, $500 million, pending baby, and engagement – I’d say Mahomes won 2020.
How can Michael Jordan ever be classified as anything but a winner, with his 6 championships (and 0 Finals losses).
With the sports world on hold in May and June, ESPN’s Last Dance documentary series became the focal point of sports talk and social media. The show reminded viewers that Jordan truly is the greatest of all-time and debating this is a waste of time.
The show also turned Jordan into America’s #1 meme. For so long, “Crying Jordan” had been one of the top memes, but now his newest meme is laughing at an iPad.
But that’s not all that MJ achieved in 2020.
Moving forward, all NBA teams will have the Jordan Jumpman logo on one of their alt jerseys, which is an extremely disrespectful, but savage move. While all fans respect Jordan, many also hate him. Are Utah Jazz fans or New York Knicks fans really rushing to the store to buy jerseys with a Jordan logo? What about the Pistons? How about that Lebron Jordan jersey? Awkward!
Lastly, Charlotte Hornets, owned by Jordan, signed this year’s top free agent Gordon Hayward. Forget the contract (4 years, $120 million) – the idea of simply luring the best player available to a team like the Hornets is a huge win for the franchise. Another win – despite finishing with just the 8th worst record in the league, Hornets jumped up to #3 in the draft lottery and arguably walked away with the draft’s most talented player in LaMelo Ball.
City of Tampa has had a highly successful 2020 sports year.
First, the Bucs, who have the NFL’s third longest playoff drought at 12 years, signed QB Tom Brady. That’s quite the upgrade over Jameis Winston, who led the NFL with 30 interceptions in 2019.
Lightning won the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history (2007). This came one year after a major failure, where they won the most games in NHL history in 2018-19, but were swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
In baseball, the Rays made the World Series for the second time in franchise history, but came up short losing to the Dodgers in 6 games.
The city also acquired an NBA team! Even if just temporarily. The Raptors will play in Tampa for the 2020-21 season, as Toronto borders remained closed.
693 days and 17 surgeries after suffering a gruesome leg injury, Smith officially returned to the NFL on October 11th, in relief for Washington against the Rams.
One month later, on November 15th in Detroit, Smith found himself in the starting lineup for Washington. Football Team lost that game, but they are 2-1 since Smith was inserted in the starting lineup and are now in a battle for first place.
Smith is a lock to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2020, unless of course the league decides to give it to Ryan Tannehill again for overcoming nothing.
Remember when the Astros cheated and everyone hated them? It feels like years ago that this story broke, but it actually happened in 2020. Not the cheating, but the revelation and backlash of it all.
Astros win 2020 by not getting punished by the league or booed by fans. Outside of heavy social media backlash, the Astros avoided it all. Sure, their GM and Manager got fired for their roles in this, but at the end of the day, who cares, those guys can and were replaced. What can’t, and apparently, won’t be replaced is the fact that they won the 2017 World Series.
Playing 2020 in empty ballparks across America was a major victory for the Astros as they avoided the boos from angry crowds.
In addition to playing in empty ballparks and avoiding angry fans, Astros finished 29-31 and still managed to make the playoffs. Not only did they make it, but they pushed the eventual champion Rays to the brink of elimination, forcing a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the ALCS.