Cover Photo: True Blue LA
2020 has been a roller coaster sports year. COVID-19 caused many sports to rethink their fan experience and schedule. From "bubbles" to limited fans, esports competitions and other online interactions, teams and leagues have been doing their best to engage their supporters.
With yesterday being Thanksgiving, I am grateful that live sports have been going on during the pandemic. A big shout out goes to sports and healthcare workers who have made these events possible.
While I might not know when the next time will be when I can attend a major sporting event, my heart is full of gratitude for some of 2020's sports moments. I have three moments I am specifically grateful for.
Three 2020 Sports Moments to Be Thankful For
Clayton Kershaw Wins His First World Series
I am a huge Washington Nationals fan. When Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit home runs off of Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS, I was ecstatic.
I was even more elated when Howie Kendrick hit the go-ahead grand slam that sent the Nats to the NLCS and giving the team their first postseason series win since moving back to DC. When the camera panned to Kershaw, I could see defeat in his eyes. He had been the one that lost the two-run Dodger lead.
Afterwards. Kershaw stated in a press conference, "Everything people say is true right now about the postseason and I understand that. There's nothing I can do about it right now. It's a terrible feeling." The Nationals went on to win the World Series while the critics had a field day with Kershaw. Many believed that Clayton Kershaw would never be able to get the Dodgers a championship. His opportunities were running out.
My favorite thing about baseball is good pitching. I have been spoiled in recent years with the Nationals' rotation that has included Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Patrick Corbin, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister: all prominent starting pitchers with the team in the last decade. Watching these pitchers go seven, eight, or nine innings is always a great spectacle—something that you don't see with other pitchers nowadays. That's why I like watching Clayton Kershaw pitch. He has been the definition of a workhorse, an ideal starting pitcher, and redefined what it means to be a southpaw. The only thing that has kept him from being one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time is winning the World Series.
Now, he has done that. Not only did Kershaw win the World Series (finally), but he did so after going 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA in the postseason that included two wins with a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings of work in the Fall Classic. After so much disappointment and bad playoff outings, Kershaw pitched like a true ace when it mattered most.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports
I tip my hat to him for finally being on top of baseball. I am grateful that he won a championship while showing us a great playoff pitching performance.
Kershaw winning the World Series is a 2020 sports moment I am thankful for.
Phoenix Suns Go 8-0 in The NBA Bubble
If you had told me that the Phoenix Suns were going to be the only perfect team in the 2020 NBA Bubble, I would have said I had a better chance of seeing measurable amounts of snow in Phoenix sometime soon.
The Suns were the only team to go 8-0 during the NBA's seeding tournament. They barely missed the play-in game for the postseason, but they did turn some heads by showing they could be a force to reckon with in the Western Conference in the next few years. This was their longest winning streak since the 2009-2010 season, the last time they made the playoffs, and the third longest winning streak by a sub .500 winning percentage team in NBA history.
Photo Credit: The Arizona Republic
The best thing about this run was that no one thought they could do this. Sure the Suns had Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, a young and sharp 1-2 punch. Sure they were playing their best basketball in 5 years. Sure they had seven more wins already than the previous season. Yet, no one took them seriously.
Here are some of the highlights from the Suns' bubble run
- Beat the Dallas Mavericks...twice
- Bested the LA Clippers (considered the favorites to win the NBA Finals) on a game-winning buzzer beater
- Defeated the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Heat in a close game
- 87.5% of teams they played in the bubble were already playoff bound and no lower than a seven seed in each conference
- Devin Booker came in second of the bubble's MVP voting after averaging a little more than 30 points per game. He also received a First Team All-Bubble Selection
- Coach Monty Williams was named the Coach of the Seeding Games
While the Suns barely missed the playoffs, they proved they are a team on the cusp of being another great competitor in the Western Conference. They did a wonderful job defying expectations while making the seeding tournament more exciting.
Seeing the Suns be the only perfect team in the NBA bubble is a 2020 sports moment I am thankful for.
The Super Sports Equinox
While the pandemic prevented many fans from attending games in-person, I enjoyed watching many different sports on TV at the same time. If I was watching the Nationals' regular season game, I could count on a NBA game being on at the same time to watch during commercials, and a hockey game to watch right after the game ended.
Like me, many fans found this sports offering a heaven during the pandemic. This was exemplified when the Super Sports Equinox happened on September 10.
A Sports Equinox is when a game from each of the four major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL) all occur on the same day These are rare and have only happened about 20 times ever in history. When that number doubles to eight major sports, I consider it a Super Sports Equinox.
On September 10, games/matches from the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, US Open, College Football, MLS, and WNBA all happened. This was a dream! You had the right mix of postseason and regular season games taking place for some drama and you could start in the middle afternoon and watch a live event until the evening. This was the perfect nonstop sports mix.
While this may have caused some leagues to see reduced ratings because of the competition they faced with each other for viewers, sports fans could appreciate seeing something so rare. The equinox felt like a gifted sports holiday for all the strife the pandemic had caused this year.
Having a Super Sports Equinox will most likely never happen again (unless we get another pandemic) and is a 2020 sports moment I am thankful for.
Bright Spots of the Pandemic
Clayton Kershaw winning a ring, the Phoenix Suns going 8-0 in the NBA bubble, and the Super Sports Equinox are three 2020 sports moments I am thankful for. The pandemic may have shifted the way that we consume sports, but I am glad that we have live sports to watch again. We know what the world looks like with no sports going on, so I hope each of us gives gratitude for what we are able to see this holiday season.
What 2020 sports moments are you grateful for?
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