WHITE PLAINS, NY – We’re into the fourth quarter of 2016, the Mets and Yanks are dunzo, and the Giants and Jets are spinning their wheels, so I thought I’d get a jump on the competition and post my Top 5 Sports Moments of 2016. Now this isn’t a list of accomplishments, so you won’t see Ichiro’s record breaking hits or the Warriors 73-win season in here. You also won’t see anything about the face eating, zombie frat boy, the Kardashian robbery, or the Orange Cartoon Man posing as a presidential candidate. These are great sports moments, not absurd moments. So let’s do it, in reverse order.
5. Von Miller’s Strip of Cam Newton to Clinch Super Bowl 50: This play cemented the title for the Broncos and made Von Miller the MVP and a household name. The play was also significant because it told us a little something about Cam Newton. A guy who fancies himself as Superman should never ever jump away from a fumble with a game on the line. This rule includes the FREAKING SUPER BOWL. He literally jumped back as if a championship wasn’t worth the risk of a sprained toe. Maybe we should call him the Tin Man instead of Superman, with his abs of steel and empty heart cavity. When he scores a TD, he could pantomime squirting oil on his neck instead of ripping his shirt open.
4. Dee Gordon’s Emotional Home Run: Gordon had exactly zero home runs in 2016 and a grand total of 8 in his career coming into the Marlins’ first game after the Josè Fernandez tragedy. When he launched a Bartolo Colon pitch into the right field seats as the first Marlin hitter, it was a touching moment. Said Gordon, “If y’all don’t believe in God, you might as well start. I’ve never hit a ball that far, even in batting practice.” The cynical among us might credit this unexpected power to adrenaline and El Bartolo grooving a fat one over divine intervention, but it was a great moment and quote nonetheless. There have already been some big October moments and there are surely more to come, but this was the highlight of the regular season for me.
3. Lebron Baiting Draymond Green: You have to give King James credit for seeing an opportunity to provoke the irascible Green by stepping over him in Game 5 of the Finals. Luring Green into the trap was as easy as luring Patrick Ewing into a strip club.
The unsurprising overreaction by Green, and subsequent suspension, changed the series and turned the Warriors’ magical 73 win season into an epic collapse. It’s worth noting that Lebron has accomplished more than Michael Jordan at the same age.
2. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins National Championship Winning Buzzer Beater: Not only did Marcus Paige’s double pump three pointer look like it would send the NCAA championship game into overtime, but it came on the heels of his impressive putback of his own miss after wrestling the ball away from several Wildcats. But alas, Kris Jenkins made the Tarheel an afterthought with his heart-stopping buzzer beater, giving ‘Nova its first title since Rollie Massimino’s underdog squad took out Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Goliath in 1985. (Angry Ward bet me I couldn’t get two Patrick Ewing references into one post.)
1. Neymar’s Olympic Gold Winning PK: This won’t be the most popular choice for the average American, but stay with me. A friend of mine was at this game in Rio. On his return to the States, he was pontificating over a beer as to whether it was the best sporting event he had every attended. He even threw out a few Yankee playoff games as other possible contenders. I said to him “Bro. You just saw the home country’s biggest star win the Olympic gold medal on the final penalty kick in the most popular sport in the world on his own soil. Your Brazilian wife and her friends were crying hysterically. It was definitely the best sporting event you’ve ever seen or ever will see.” For Brazilians, it was the moment that saved an otherwise sketchy Olympics. For sports fans, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Honorable Mention: the Stamford Firebirds win the cup!
There you have it, post your own 5 in the comments. Come back tomorrow to see if Angry Ward will win our double or nothing bet and make two references to former Twins outfielder Rusty Kuntz. Please follow us on Twitter at @benwhit8 & @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.