January 4, 2017

So long, 2016. 2017, you have a lot to live up to.

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Ice Hockey, Soccer

You have to admit that 2016 was one of the weirdest, most unpredictable years there has been in recent memory.

While some would go as far as saying that it was one of the worst years on record, let’s not discount the horrors of the World Wars in the 1940s and 1910s. To compare the two

Also, let’s not blame a year in particular for taking so many heroes. It’s not the calendar’s fault or that specific set of 366 days that caused so many deaths, it was pure coincidence.

And while some will decry it as a terrible year, think of the joy that 2016 brought for some.

The Chicago Cubs won a World Series, for or Christ sake! That was 108 years in the making for one of the most fervent and die-hard fanbases in all of sports.

Soccer fans in Iceland and Wales saw their teams go on incredible runs at Euro 2016 before Cristiano Ronaldo finally won his first major international title. Ronaldo would also go on to win FIFA’s player of the year, getting the better of rival Lionel Messi.

In perhaps the biggest underdog story in soccer history, Leicester City scoffed at their 3,000-1 odds and won the Premier League – the biggest league in the world.

Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs now have some massive hope for the future for once, too. Drafting Auston Matthews should be a big part of the team’s success in the future and will go a long way towards one of ice hockey’s biggest clubs snapping its championship drought.

Speaking of championship droughts, LeBron James brought some joy to Cleveland, a city that has suffered for decades in every sport. The King and the Cavs did it in astounding fashion, too, coming back from 3-1 down to beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors. We should be in for a rematch this year, with the team by the Bay signing Kevin Durant in the off-season – the biggest free-agent acquisition since James bolted Cleveland for Miami during The Decision.

There was some major craziness that went down last year, too.

The NHL doubled-down on their idiocy about ice hockey markets, putting a second team in the American desert while forsaking Quebec City. The Vegas Golden Knights begin play this year, if they can actually secure the trademark of their team name.

The NHL, despite all of its talks about wanting to expand its influence into China and the far east, still thinks that sitting out the 2018 Olympics in South Korea is a good idea.

Toronto seemingly hosted every single major event that it could, with the city eventually getting big-event fatigue and leading to some very underwhelming crowds for the Grey Cup, world juniors and Centennial Classic.

A thrown beer can at a Jays playoff game led to one of the biggest witch hunts in recent memory and brought forth some serious Zapruder footage-style YouTube videos.

And Kobe Bryant actually retired. You could have told me that he’d play until he’s 50 and I would’ve believed you.

There were some major shockers outside the world of sports, too.

Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidency, despite most voter casting their ballot for Hillary Clinton. Great Britain voted to “Brexit” the European Union, but we’ll see how far that actually gets.

Oh, and perhaps the weirdest thing to happen perhaps ever: The Columbus Blue Jackets are currently on the second-longest winning streak in NHL history.

Seeing how that turns out should be an interesting start to 2017, but this year will have a ways to go to match 2016.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

Leave a Reply