Through this painful, exhausting and downright terrifying year, we questioned if sports would even be a thing in the second half of 2020. Thankfully, they did and it led to some pretty awesome moments that we will not soon forget.
Here are some of my favorite sports moments from the worst year.
10. Astros caught cheating
HAHAHAHA. Y’all knew this was going to show up on here. While the Houston Astros didn’t receive severe punishment, it was enough to have the sports world turn them into villains in one of the most satisfying reveals in quite some time. A team everyone loved seeing take out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series will now have the cloud of an asterisk hanging over their only title in franchise history.
9. Pierre Gasly & Sergio Perez’s Formula 1 wins
Nowadays, F1 races are pretty chalk with Mercedes being the top dog and Sir Lewis Hamilton’s absolute domination on a weekend-to-weekend basis. However, there were some absolutely bonkers races that resulted in an underdog win and feel-good moments.
Pierre Gasly, who was replaced at Red Bull by Alexander Albon, had to fight for points in the mid-pack with AlphaTauri. He mostly ran somewhere outside of the top five for a majority of the races until the Italian Grand Prix. This was one of the most insane motorsports events of the year as safety cars affected positioning, Sir Hamilton suffered a position penalty while the pits were closed and Charles Leclerc’s terrifying crash. This race had something for everyone and it resulted in a battle for the win between Gasly and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. In the end, Gasly walked out victorious in one of the most exciting races in F1 history.
In the penultimate race of 2020, Sergio Perez’s future in F1 came down to him outperforming Albon in the closing races to take the second Red Bull seat. Perez may have won his 2021 ride by rebounding from a lap one spin to fight all the way back and win the Sakhir Grand Prix. It was enthralling to see Perez’s overtakes and the emotions after were palpable.
For over two months, the entire sports world was on pause as the uncertainties of COVID-19 were too much to warrant a continuation of play. In May, NASCAR were among the first leagues to return to their season and it led to an exciting race at the classic Darlington Raceway. For many across the motorsports world, it was a plus that NASCAR was the only option for people to tune in to and it possibly catalyzed the rise in social media engagement for NASCAR. A truly remarkable moment for NASCAR and one of its biggest days ever.
In a tumultuous time of the pandemic, along with the racial justice movements, the Milwaukee Bucks made one of the boldest and most daring decisions in sports history by boycotting a playoff game in the Orlando bubble following the shooting of Jacob Blake. This led to other leagues following suit in a defining moment in the intertwining of sports and the real world.
One of the brightest moments of 2020 came in the form of Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins hiring Kim Ng as their general manager. She broke down the barrier and became the first woman to be named general manager of a North American professional sports team. It’s a moment in time that should set the bar and open more doors and opportunities for women to take significant roles for franchises.
5. Clippers fire Doc Rivers
A true moment of catharsis for me as the Los Angeles Clippers finally nuked the true issue with the franchise in head coach Doc Rivers. This man is now responsible for blowing three 3-1 series leads in the postseason, two of which came with the Clippers. The jokes after their embarrassing elimination at the hands of the Denver Nuggets were some of my lowest moments ever and I knew it was time for this man to go ruin a different franchise.
Happy Trails, Doc Rivers. You will be forgotten.
4. Johnny’s reaction to LSU’s national title
What feels like years ago actually happened in the infancy of this year as our own Johnny Crane got to witness his LSU Tigers cap off a perfect 15-0 season to win the national championship. No other words need to be said. This is one of the coolest moments I’ve got to witness in my life.
2020 definitely saw a lack of epic matches and games in sports, but late in the year, we got that defining event of the year as the Seattle Sounders pulled one of the great comebacks in soccer/football history after trailing 2-0 against Minnesota United in the Western Conference Finals. While the Sounders couldn’t close the deal with a title, the second half of this match gave the year a nice closing to lead us into 2021.
A truly defining day for NASCAR as crews and drivers gathered around Bubba Wallace and pushed his car to the front of the grid in a unified moment of support as a rope tied in the shape of a noose was discovered hanging from his garage stall. As a black man, it was finally the day that I felt truly accepted by NASCAR and it was the day NASCAR was truly open to inclusion.
On top of that, there was some badass racing that day with the high winds in the first stage to just great, clean three-wide racing up until the insane final lap.
If you know me, then you know just how much this moment meant to me. The pain of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ shortcomings in the postseason dates all the way back to 2004 when I was just a little five-year old child watching the late and great José Lima throw a complete-game shutout, only for the Dodgers to be eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2006, we missed the first three innings of the NLDS matchup against the New York Mets. My mom, my brother Hunter and myself were in full-on tears because there were no parking spots available. We had to make our own and after all that, we still had to watch the Dodgers be eliminated at home. Sad times.
In 2009, the Dodgers were in prime position to even up the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies. However, as the game went into the bottom of the 9th with the Dodgers leading 4-3, Hunter decided to let a quarter decide the result of the game, and the coin landed on the choice of the Phillies pulling the comeback and winning, and would you guess what happens a few moments later??? The Phillies won on a Jimmy Rollins’ walk-off. Two years later, Hunter’s voodoo worked again as he made J.R. Hildebrand crash on the final lap and corner of the Indianapolis 500 to lose the race.
You know what happened from 2013-2019. There’s no reason to rehash all of Clayton Kershaw’s choking moments and the Dodgers’ offensive blunders.
All this engulfed pain and suffering was finally released on Oct. 27 as Julio Urias put on another great performance and struck out Willy Adames for a title to finally come true. It was truly one of the greatest moments of my life and I’m glad I got to share it with my family and my roommate.