The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Sports: 2015 Edition

2015, like every sports year, saw a wide variety things happen. Records were broken, devastating injuries occurred, and the sports world lost many legends along the way. For all the ups and downs that the year brought, some athletes and moments shined brighter than others. So, without further ado, here is some of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2015 sports year.

The Good:

Steph Curry– It’s hard to have a better year than Steph Curry had. He led the Golden State Warriors to an NBA Championship, and in the process became only the third guy not named LeBron James to win an MVP since LeBron’s first one in 2009. But it was more than that for Curry. For the first time in a long time, it seems as if someone is poised to take over LeBron as the top player in the NBA overall. While Kevin Durant and even Derrick Rose showed potential in taking over the top spot in recent years, there’s just a different feeling with Curry right now. He’s playing at such an incredible rate, and it seems like the only one who can stop him right now is himself. And while Curry has played at a record-setting pace, it’s his team that is challenging the way the game has always been played.

The Warriors– Speaking of which, the Warriors deserve their own little section on this blog. Phil Jackson said a jump shooting team could never win a championship, and then the Warriors went out there and did it. And while every other team has been trying to assemble a “big three” to win a title, the Warriors have assembled a big 12. While Curry and Klay Thompson are the stars, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala all have played major roles for Golden State. Instead of spending big money to lure in big stars, they’ve assembled a complete team with tons of depth, setting them up to potentially become the next dynasty in the NBA.

American Pharoah– FINALLY! It took nearly four decades, but we finally have a Triple Crown winner in horse racing. American Pharoah (yes, the name is spelled wrong) was the horse to finally do it after 13 other horses had won the first two legs of the Triple Crown before losing at Belmont. Pharoah was the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the most prestigious title in horse racing, and he did it in grand style, winning by the fourth biggest margin in Belmont history for a Triple Crown winner. The question for horse racing, now, is will viewership decline now that there’s been a Triple Crown winner. Without the element of the drought ending, it’ll be interesting to see how many people will watch horse racing next year and beyond.

triple-crown
American Pharaoh made history in 2015, winning the first Triple Crown since 1978. Photo courtesy theblaze.com

Serena Williams– As if she didn’t need to prove her dominance anymore, Williams decided to win the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon all in the same year and was a semi-finalist at the U.S. Open. Not too shabby for the woman who ranks third all time in major wins amongst women tennis players. She completed the “Serena Slam” since she won the U.S. Open in 2014, the second of her career. With no signs of slowing down, it appears that the record of 24 grand slam titles is within reach for Serena.

Jordan Spieth– Winning a major in golf is hard, just ask Sergio Garcia. Winning two in a career would be great for many, just ask Greg Norman. Now imagine winning two majors at the age of 21, and that’s what Spieth did in 2015. He also finished fourth at The Open and second at the PGA Championship, shooting a combined 54 under par at the majors. He also became the first golfer to earn over 20 million dollars in one season on the tour. And, on top of it all, HE’S ONLY 22 YEARS OLD! The future looks bright for the young Spieth.

Youth movement in MLB– Man, this was a fun year for baseball. What was best for the sport, though, was that a lot of young talent emerged this season from the MLB. A 23-year old Bryce Harper was the unanimous NL MVP. The Chicago Cubs, who started three rookies in 2015, went to the NLCS. The team they lost to, the New York Mets, have four young pitchers poised to carry their team for a long time. And the team the Mets lost to in the World Series, the Kansas City Royals, won with a lot of young, homegrown talent. This is a great sign for the MLB as they try and emerge from the dark cloud that the post-steroids era has created.

College football playoff– Finally, after many years of suffering through the BCS system, we were rewarded with a four-team playoff to determine the college football champion. While the brackets were announced in 2014, the games were played in 2015, and boy were we treated. The fourth seed, Ohio State, won the whole thing, as Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott tore up both Alabama and Oregon’s defenses. This year, we get two great matchups with Clemson against Oklahoma and Alabama against Michigan State. We can only hope these games are as good as last season’s games were.

The Bad:

40 Bowl games­– Look, I’m a fan of college football. There’s honestly not much better in sports than attending a college football game live in-person. But even I have to draw the line when it comes to this bowl season. 40 games??? Really??? Again, as much as I love college football, 40 bowl games are excessive. Do we really need to see San Jose State play Georgia State in the Cure Bowl? Or Alcorn State play North Carolina A&T in the Celebration Bowl? I don’t think so. And since there are 40 bowl games this year, it leads to my next point…

5-7 Bowl teams– No team should ever, EVER, play in a bowl game with a losing record. I don’t even like it when 6-6 teams play in bowl games because that gives them a chance to finish the season with a losing record. The fact that there wasn’t enough NCAA teams to fill out all 40 bowl games is embarrassing, and the NCAA should take a serious look at sacrificing a few bucks to improve the quality of their product. My solution: cut it down to 20 games, take only teams with eight or more wins, and give us some really good games worth watching. It’s that simple.

Deflategate– I didn’t know whether to put this under “bad” or “ugly,” but I decided to put it here instead because while it was ugly, it was also bad for all people involved. The NFL comes out of it looking dumb, Tom Brady came out of it still being called a cheater, and at the end of the day, the case will still continue next offseason. All over a couple of deflated footballs. What a joke.

Tom-Brady-sketch-08-12-15
Despite Deflategate being bad, we were treated with this awesome courtroom sketch of Tom Brady.

NFL’s handling of off-the-field incidents– The NFL hasn’t had a good couple of years really. Two seasons ago, it was the Ray Rice incident that grabbed many headlines. This past year, the Greg Hardy stuff gained more headlines, with his suspension going from 10 to four games and then the photos coming out of the bruises on Hardy’s ex-girlfriend. Not only that, but they’ve also fined a lot of players for wearing gear to raise awareness for diseases since it was against the uniform dress code. And on top of all of that, the concussion topic has heated up with the release of the movie starring Will Smith. Roger Goodell and the NFL have done a poor job of handling all of this, and it’s hurt the PR of the league.

Patrick Kane rape case– It was a great offseason for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans. The team won their third title in six years, the dynasty talk had started, and the city of Chicago was enjoying following the Stanley Cup around town. And then, on August 6, the Buffalo News reported that Kane was being investigated in a rape case in his hometown of Buffalo. Over the next three months, the case would see many twists and turns before it was announced on November 5 that Kane was not going to be charged with rape. Still, the damage had been done not only to Kane, but the NHL as well. They never came out and punished him, which hurt the image of the league. With Kane playing at an all-time high level, he hopes to leave the case behind him as the Hawks look to defend their crown.

The Ugly

Colin Kaepernick– Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just two years ago, Colin Kaepernick was the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl, falling just eight yards short from winning the game against the Baltimore Ravens. The next season, he was 20 yards away from winning the NFC Championship game, in Seattle nonetheless. He signed a 6-year, 126 million-dollar contract after that season, and 24 games into that contract, he was benched for Blaine Gabbert and ultimately placed on season-ending IR with a shoulder injury. After being regarded as one of the most promising quarterbacks in a long time, Kaepernick has fallen from good graces of everyone, and definitely won’t be back in San Francisco next season. It’s just crazy how far he’s fallen in such a short time.

RGIII– Another guy who has fallen from the good graces of all, Robert Griffin III hasn’t even seen the field in 2015 after a promising rookie campaign in 2012. Injuries have plagued the young man, though, and he will be looking for another team soon as well. His situation has been ugly for a while now, but not even dressing for games anymore is downright disgusting to see.

Philadelphia sports– I didn’t know which team to focus on, so I’m just going to focus on the city as a whole. The Phillies were the worst team in the MLB this season. The Flyers are currently eleventh in the Eastern Conference, which is where they finished last year. The Eagles, specifically Chip Kelly, blew up their entire roster, and they’re 6-9 because of it. And finally, the 76ers have become a disgrace to pro sports everywhere and will enter 2016 with just two wins on the season so far. I’m sorry Philly, but your best chance at happiness is if WrestleMania 33 decides to come to town in 2017. And even then you’ll find a way to be upset about it.

Kobe’s final season– I love Kobe Bryant. He’s one of the greatest players in NBA history, and he will definitely be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer once he’s eligible in five years. But man, this last year has been hard to watch. He’s shooting an abysmal 34 percent from the field and only averaging 17 points a game, his lowest since his second season in the league. It’s been a great ride Kobe, but this has been really hard to watch.

Derrick Rose’s facemask– I mean seriously, look at it.

drosemask.png

New uniforms for teams– Somehow the Cleveland Browns took their ugly uniform and made it uglier. For some reason the Atlanta Hawks felt like adding neon to their uniform. And why did the Ravens wear yellow pants a few weeks ago? There were some major setbacks in uniforms this year, and these are just a few examples of that.

So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed 2015 as much as I did. Happy New Years to everyone, and let’s hope 2016 is just as exciting as 2015.

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