As 2016 winds down the time where we all reflect on the year the good the bad and what we can improve on in the years to come. There is one thing I think we can all agree on sports got back to being great again there was not a scandal that distracted us from the game being played! It once again became the great escape that we all need at one time or another every year.
The best part of this year and sports was the fact that championship starved teams and cities finally got to celebrate. The Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer’s become the sports darlings of 2016, it was fun to see these teams finally break their long title droughts.
The Chicago Cubs
The longest sports drought in history was finally put to bed after 108 years the Chicago Cubs have reached the mountaintop as World Series champions. They did it in style coming back from a 3-1 deficit and being part of the most-watched baseball game and 25 years. It’s one of those sporting event you are going to remember exactly where you were when the Cubs broke the curse.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Joe Madden will probably have children named after them because they were able to band together and make a champion out of what was previously the laughingstock of baseball. It’s absolutely amazing the transformation this team underwent in such a short period of time to reach this point.
First of all, they were able to take advantage of multiple high draft picks when the selected this year’s MVP Kris Bryant’s second overall in the 2013 draft, Kyle Schwarber fourth overall in the 2014 draft. Schwarber remarkably came back from a torn ACL the third game of the season and became the biggest X factor of the World Series. He started the rally that ultimately claimed the World Series for the Cubs. Lastly, they selected second baseman Javier Baez ninth overall in the 2011 draft. He had multiple clutch hits and home runs not to mention his gold glove defense and tagging ability.
It’s one thing to get the high draft picks it’s another thing to pick the right guy and to say the least the Chicago Cubs have hit the jackpot on their last few selections. They have also orchestrated keen trades that have helped the team reach this point. The biggest trade was when they swindled second baseman Addison Russell away from the Oakland A’s in July 2014. Russell has turned into a young stud and a part of the young nucleus that Theo Epstein has pieced together.
To all the other rebuilding teams in baseball it will be smart to take a page from the Cubs playbook because 2016 looks like the beginning of a dynasty out in the Windy City. They are poised to become one and more annoying teams in baseball because of all the winning they are going to do for years to come!
LeBron James fulfilled his promise to the city of Cleveland as they overcame 3-1 deficit against the record-breaking Gold State Warriors. This was a heck of a way to break through considering Cleveland professional sports hasn’t been celebrated since Jim Brown donned a Browns uniform that’s saying a lot.
The road to the championship was a bit tumultuous not just because they were the first team in NBA history to overcome 3-1 deficit as I said, but they also fired their head coach David Blatt midseason and had to implement an entire new offensive scheme that was much faster and it took time to get used to. They also played the majority of the season without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who was recovering from knee surgery.
It was a year full of obstacles, but lucky for they had Cleveland’s favorite son LeBron James to lead them to victory. He did everything and more averaging 27.1 points per game, 7.6 assists per game, and 9.5 rebounds per game. He put his team, the city, and his legacy on his back and brought that elusive title back to Cleveland.
This title could potentially open up the floodgates for Cleveland as they are once again the best team in the Eastern conference and last time I checked still have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who has quickly become a Golden State warrior killer, which bodes well for the team’s success in the future. This season title might have been the first since 1964, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sick and tired of congratulating them in the near future because both the Cavaliers and Indians are poised for many playoff runs in the years to come.
The championship that came out of nowhere from the unlikeliest of places as Coastal Carolina shocked the college baseball world as they won their first championship in program history. It’s something all sports fans root for a magical Cinderella run that will be remembered forever and everyone on that team will be coastal Carolina royalty forever. They brought this small school a taste of glory that will last a lifetime.
This also proves that anything can happen as long as you get in the tournament Coastal Carolina entered the tournament as a fifth seed and a virtual afterthought. Despite that, they played their game and took advantage of every opportunity and misstep by their opponents and turned it into a national championship that will give hope to all small schools no matter what position they are in.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention head coach Gary Gilmore and his long journey with this university. Gilmore joined the coastal Carolina staff way back in 1979 and has held the head coaching position since 1996. I love these stories of passion and love Gilmore has shown to this university and all the lives he touched and lesson he’s passed on during his tenure is worth much more than this championship. That being said,it’s awesome to see Gilmore and his players experience a dream come true and reach the mountaintop. I hope to see other small schools follow suit and crash the party in years to come.
This is what sports all about no one game no one season are the same anything can happen, underdogs rise, dynasties are born, and celebrations happen in unexpected places that is what 2016 has brought us. I hope that continues in the seasons to come because it just makes it a whole lot more fun to be a sports fan. Bring it on 2017!!!
On Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 13 innings, giving manager Clint Hurdle his 900th victory as a major league baseball manager. A decorated 28 year career that many would dream of he is one of the best guys you will ever see on a baseball field! I would compare them to Bobby Cox in this regard, he is definitely a players manager and will do anything to help his players and team succeed.
In 2007 he was able to lead his Colorado Rockies to an improbable World Series berth against the Boston Red Sox of the day came up short then you knew he just had the it factor as a manager putting players in the best situations possible and getting them to believe they could win. In 2011 taking over a beleaguered Pirates franchise that hadn’t seen October baseball in 21 years! He has brought his winning mentality to a steel city breaking that curse in 2013 leading to a wild-card game victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Hurdle was awarded the manager of the year award for his great work pumping the love for baseball back in the Steel City. The Pirates were able to ride the momentum as they reached the playoffs once again in 2014 unfortunately like all the other teams they ran into the Madison Bumgarner buzz saw nevertheless back to back playoff appearances for the Pirates has a lot to do with Hurdle’s attitude and winning mentality he brings to the ballpark every single day.
Clint hurdle is one of the most underrated managers in the game today helping young players experience winning everywhere he has been! He is a guy that does not like the spotlight, but deserves all the praise in the world for what he has brought to the game of baseball. Congratulations on number 900 and many more!
The Atlanta Braves came in for the 2015 season with a lot of questions due to a lot of moving parts many felt that this would be a rebuilding type your that we would be in the cellar of the division letting our young players develop and play for the 2017 season when the team will move into a new ballpark. Let me put it this way there is one part of our team that is rebuilding and that is the bullpen!
They have posted the worst ERA at 4.78 that even worse than the Colorado Rockies, who play in a hitter’s paradise with that high altitude. The Atlanta Braves bullpen has just been downright terrible they have blown 14 games that we have led to tied in the late innings we are either walking the ballpark or giving up long home runs. It is so heartbreaking and demoralizing for an offense that is able to get leads and just not being able to hold them.
The offense has done a complete 360 turnaround from when it was last year, putting the ball in play making things happen not striking out and just never quitting making the ineffectiveness of the bullpen hurt even more, if our starter doesn’t go at least into the seventh inning you hold your breath because you never know which again and get on a game to game basis.
The last road trip epitomizes our season to this point in Arizona we won the first in convincing fashion 8-1 with a stellar outing from Alex wood, then the fun started Shelby Miller had his worst outing as a brave giving up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings but as this team does they keep fighting to that last out is recorded we had a five-run sixth inning to regain the lead 6-4 points only to have the bullpen blow it up on four walks and the game-winning two-run homer. The next day we came out had a 6-0 lead only to see that evaporate and lose 9 to 8. So our bullpen managed to turn a sweep into a losing series.
Add on runs have also been a huge issue for the Braves bullpen yes, you give up runs, but you can never let the opponent keep adding on and making a comeback virtually impossible. Our offense right now is not only having to outscore the opponent it has to outscore its own bullpen and that is definitely not a recipe for success and something that is hard to watch and most of the time unexplainable. Just one more stat for you to digest the 2015 bullpen has accounted for 43.3% of the teams’ losses, whereas last year they only accounted for six of our losses at the same point in the season. We cannot blame the manager for any of this because of this point he could flip a coin and it wouldn’t matter he’s trying to put them the relievers in the best situations possible and they are just not executing simple as that.
Despite all of the bullpen issues we’ve had we sit at 27-30 just three games back of the New York Mets so if we can address the bullpen issue we have a heck of a chance to exceed all the expert opinions and make a deep run in October I really mean that because our team is not going to quit. It could just take one guy like Peter Moylan or the other veteran guys that we have recently signed to light a fire in this bullpen and be able to get late game outs. If that happens the sky’s the limit for this team and I can’t wait to see where we can go. GO BRAVES!!