This is technically a blog, and I hate to say it, but I have come up woefully short in 2014. The fact is, any successful blog should have at least three clickbait-y lists a week. I only had like, two all year.
So to make up for my inability to keep up with Buzzfeed, here’s all the lists to fill my yearly quota. The main list, – the top moments in sports in 2014, shall be interspersed with my other various lists. Enjoy, and don’t forget to like, comment, retweet, instagram, share, and whatever the hell I’m supposed to tell you to do in order to make me look like a big star who matters.
The Ten Biggest Stories in Sports in 2014.
10. Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward
Perhaps the most tragic event of 2014 saw the NASCAR champion accidentally hit and kill a young driver on a dirt track in New York. The terrible event was a reminder of the dangerous nature of motorsports. It was also a reminder to let the experts weigh in before everyone else – many in the non-racing media were quick to condemn Stewart and label him a murderer, clouding the issue and making it that much harder for all involved to find closure.
9. Sochi, Sochi, Sochi!
The Olympics get a spot on these kind of lists by default, even in a year like this when there wasn’t a ton of excitement around them. Still, it was kind of fun watching Vladamir Putin squirm as Russian hockey went belly-up and where else can you see a 55 year old Half-German, Half-Mexican prince ski while dressed up as one of the Three Amigos?
8. Seahawks win the Super Bowl
Peyton Manning, foiled again! Pete Carroll, finally redeemed in the NFL! All these exclamation points, being used in a pathetic attempt to make you forget that it was one of the least exciting Super Bowls in history!
Best Movies of 2014: (WRITER’S NOTE: As the father of a tiny human who depends on me to keep him alive, my film-going has been primarily all about watching things as they come out on Netflix or iTunes, and doing so after my son has gone to bed, dreaming happily about the same damn episode of Yo Gabba Gabba that we have watched forty times. So I retain the right to change this list if and when necessary, such as when I finally get around to seeing Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, Interstellar, and any other movie that I can say with some certainty will be better than The Lego Movie.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy – The closest I’ve ever come as an adult to feeling the way I felt when I was a kid seeing Star Wars for the first time.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson-y film yet, and that’s a good thing.
3. Gone Girl – Creepy and bizarre; it keeps you guessing until the end.
4. Captain America – The Winter Soldier – A little bit superhero, a little bit Jason Bourne.
5. The Lego Movie. (See, I wasn’t kidding. Furthermore, I’m not even embarassed. This was just a good movie. Everything is Awesome!)
BACK TO THE LIST
7. Lebron goes home
His explanation in Sports Illustrated was either a perfect explanation of the decisions that brought him to this point or a perfectly played piece of public relations, depending on whether you love or hate him. Either way, there is no doubt that his return to Cleveland flipped the NBA on it’s head and should make things very interesting this season, at least until the Finals and the inevitable Western Conference victory.
6. Derek Jeter retires
A lot of people got tired of hearing about this. A lot of people talked about how much attention he got because he played in New York, and he played for the Yankees. Bull. He got the attention because:
A. He was one of the greatest shortstops of all time.
B. He was one of the genuinely good guys in baseball in an era marked by cheating and scandal.
C. He spent his entire career with one team when that just doesn’t happen very often anymore.
There are plenty of good examples of east coast bias in sports coverage, and plenty of examples of Yankee-bias in baseball coverage. Just don’t for a second believe that Derek Jeter’s farewell was one of them.
5. The U.S. National Team gives the country a reason to embrace soccer
I’m not going to sit here and say that America has changed forever, and that we are now a soccer nation. It’s never going to happen no matter how much the soccer fans in this country want it to. Don’t let that change the fact that for a few weeks this summer, the USMNT had the entire country hooked. It’s hard to not still get goosebumps when I see this:
Do we love soccer? No. But we love a spectacle, which the World Cup provided. We also love being a nation of winners, and for a brief moment in Brazil, we were.
Best Albums of 2014
1. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
2. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
3. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
4. Augustines – Self Titled
5. Weezer – Everything Will be Alright in the End
Honorable Mentions: Tweedy – Sukierae, Alvvays – Self Titled, Chromeo – White Women
BACK TO THE LIST
4. Michael Sam
There are some who will say this should be higher, as one of the most significant civil rights stories in sports history. There will be others who say it shouldn’t be here at all – he didn’t play a down in the NFL. The fact is, while his inability to make a roster dampens the impact slightly, it is impossible to ignore the door that Sam has blown open. Sam may never play a down in the NFL, but his bravery will be a big part of why we will eventually see the first gay player to make a roster, the first gay starter, the first gay all-pro, and the first gay hall of famer.
3. The Royal Resurgence and Bumgarnerball
The Royals run to the World Series helped electrify a fanbase that had been dormant for 20 years. They did it in such a different way, scratching and clawing and playing Ned-ball, that you couldn’t help but be entertained. Add to that Madison Bumgarner providing one of the single most dominating postseason performances in my lifetime, and you had the most entertaining post season of any sport in 2014.
2. College football adds a playoff – and still screws it up.
It may seem hard to believe that despite all the hype surrounding football finally having a playoff that they still had controversy and debate leading up to the selection. Did they get the right four? Maybe. I personally think Ohio State should have been out and Baylor in, but that’s just my opinion. The problem is, the entire system is opinion. In every other college sport, winning your conference matters. Not so here, and it’s not changing anytime soon because the elite programs don’t want to share the pie with the MACs and Mountain Wests of the world. They won’t be satisfied until one of the five power conferences folds and there is a nice, even four. The rest of college football? Form your own division or go the way of UAB. By taking one step forward, college football has taken two steps back.
Worst Cultural Trends of 2014
1. Clickbait. – You won’t believe what he writes next! Three more things he hated about 2014 – Number 3 will blow your mind! After reading this take this quiz to see which character from the mostly forgotten 80’s fantasy movie “Krull” you are!
Stop. Just stop it.
2. Bae. – One of the single dumbest pieces of slang ever. And this is coming from someone in a generation that used the word “phat” without irony.
3. Songs about asses. – Booty. Anaconda. All About the Bass. Wiggle It. 2014 was “The Year of the big ass” in pop music. Not great, but a definite improvement over 2013 – “The Year of Robin Thicke trying to touch you inappropriately”.
4. Corporate use of social media – If I see one more commercial where hip young people are tweeting about their food from KFC or the great deal they got at TJ Maxx I’m going to scream. I am admittedly no longer young, and was never hip, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen. If you are young, hip, and tweeting with Mountain Dew’s prescreened hash tags, put your phone down and get outside before you accidentally lobotomize yourself.
THE TOP SPORTS STORY OF 2014….
1. The NFL’s image problem
This isn’t supposed to happen to the Shield. The NFL has become the teflon juggernaut of sports. Labor issues? We keep watching. Safety concerns? We keep watching. Steroid concerns? Swept under the rug of public consciousness. Then we all watched the Ray Rice video. Then we all saw the photos of Adrian Peterson’s son. And while we didn’t stop watching, a lot of people certainly began asking the question Vince Lombardi immortalized – “What the hell’s going on out here?”
It wasn’t the behavior that was most concerning – we have seen abhorrent actions from pro athletes for years, almost to the point of being numb to it – it was the complete lack of action by the teams, the league, and the NFLPA. The fact that the Ravens, Vikings, and the NFL were so slow to rush to judgement, putting the concerns on the field ahead of simple humanity, proved that in the league’s mind, they are bulletproof. A lot of fans didn’t help dissuade that thought by rushing to defend their fallen idols. The whole, terrible mess has held up a mirror on the NFL, as they must come to grips with just how important the bottom line is in the face of tragedy. It’s also held up a mirror to us as fans – how far will we let a sports league go before saying “enough is enough”?