Who is having a great summer and who is feeling the heat?
The end of July/beginning of August is a pretty quiet point for sports fans. Besides baseball, not a whole lot is going on. So today I’ll discuss the winners and losers of the summer of 2016.
Winner: The City of Cleveland
Well, this is an easy start. LeBron’s return to Cleveland has had some ups and downs, coaches fired, painful finals defeat, passive aggressive subtweets, and finally, vindication. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Cleveland beat Golden State in this year’s finals behind an incredible performance from LeBron and the gang. Following this, the Cleveland Indians went on an unexpected 14 game winning streak to take dominant control over the AL Central, and are now poised for an exciting post season run. AND, although they will still likely be terrible, the Browns recently learned that Josh Gordon will be reinstated this season! Although he will have to sit out the first four games of the season due to drug violations, Gordon is easily the most exciting and arguably best player on the Browns. They’ll probably still be really bad… well, maybe RG III can turn it around?! Who knows? God hates Cleveland? Think again!
Loser: Oklahoma City
OKC was on the cusp of beating a historically great Golden State Team to return to the finals and face Cleveland. Then, Game Six, and Klay Thompson happened. In what will go down as one of the biggest chokes in NBA history, OKC wilted down the stretch and allowed Golden State to win Game 6, despite leading all game, and blowing Game 7 as well. Of course, Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA, then left to join The Warriors in free agency. Brutal! But there’s more: after Durant signed with the Warriors, Andre Iguodala proclaimed that “OKC should have won” because they were more talented. Twist the knife, Iggy! Now, OKC is at best a first round playoff loss. If they trade Russel Westbrook, which is possible, they may be a lottery team. This was a potential dynasty in the making that loss an all world NBA talent and may lose another. Stay strong, Thunder!
Winner: Iceland’s Eurocup Run
Talk about underdogs! Iceland’s national team is not exactly one of the stronger teams in international play, but they made the most of their talent to sneak into the tournament and do some damage. Iceland made it into the tournament as one of the last teams, qualifying for their first ever Eurocup, and proceeded to wreak havoc from there. The scrappy underdogs had an impressive draw against eventual tournament winner Portugal, then proceeded to knock out England in shocking play before bowing out to tournament runner up France. A quarterfinals berth is an amazing accomplishment for such an underwhelming squad. Let’s hear it for the underdogs!
Loser: Los Angeles Angels
Two seasons after winning the AL West with the best record in baseball, the Angels have been in a free fall ever since. Despite boasting a talented roster, they barely missed the playoffs in 2015, and in 2016 they are downright putrid, sitting last in their division. June was a particularly rough month, as they went 8-19 and had losing streaks of five and then six games. Despite solid hitting, the pitching has been woeful, which of course is a huge factor in baseball. I think Mike Trout deserves better than this shabby team.
Winner: Bartolo Colon
Despite a rocky start from the precocious Mets, and up and down pitching across the board, Bartolo, in his age 43 season, has proved that he can still pitch, and pitch well! Trotting out as the 4th or 5th starter, Colon boasts an 8-5 record with a 3.48 ERA. Then of course, there is his first career home run:
Never change, Bartolo
Loser: Pablo Sandoval
After signing a 5 year, $90 million contract last year with the Red Sox, Sandoval has struggled mightily in his time in Boston. The slugger only batted .245 with 10 Home Runs in 2015, while missing 36 games. In 2016, he lost his starting third basemen job in Spring Training and appeared in only 7 games before being injured. On May 3rd he had shoulder surgery, ending his season. But before he was knocked out for the season, this happened:
Hit the gym, Panda.
Loser: Stephen Curry
Curry has so quickly gone from media darling to pariah it makes your head spin. Watching his team blow a 3-1 finals lead, coming up short as an MVP yet again, has many questioning his leadership and ability. His tantrum in Game 6, where he threw his mouth guard and earned his first ever career ejection, has many questioning his toughness in big moments. Adding Durant to his team definitely hurts him too, as he’s no longer “The Guy” sharing the spotlight with an all world talent. Curry is also unquestionably out of the running for best player in the world now, due to LeBron’s amazing performance. Curry is talented and ultimately will be fine, but he’s having a really rough summer.
Winner: J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith is an NBA champion. J.R. SMITH IS AN NBA CHAMPION!! When he wins, we all win. Never put on a shirt J.R.!!!!