Last year was quite an amazing year in the world of sports – perhaps one of the best. There were long-time curses put to rest, superstar athletes retiring and franchises relocating. But that’s all in the past now. With 2017 officially upon us, it’s time we start to look ahead at what this year will bring.
Rather than sit here and just list who we think will take home some of the biggest trophies in sports, we’re going to delve a little bit deeper, predicting what could be some of 2017’s most fun stories.
CLEVELAND FANS ONCE AGAIN CRITICIZE THE CAVALIERS
It’s hard to argue that the city of Cleveland is still in a honeymoon phase with its beloved basketball franchise. After bringing home the city’s first championship in forever, the team has seemingly earned a free pass for most of the 2016-2017 season, as we’ve often seen with the team’s erratic play, inability to focus on the game and that certain swagger that comes with winning a championship.
Of course, the Cavaliers are still among the league’s elite teams. However, as LeBron James and company found out last season, it’s never an easy road to hoisting the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. At the first sign of trouble this postseason, angry Cleveland fans will be back in full force, giving the team a healthy dose of their opinion on sports talk radio. Sure, they’ll likely make it back to The Finals, but to go back-to-back will require 100 percent, which just hasn’t seemed to be there thus far this season.
TIM TEBOW MAKES IT TO THE SHOW
By this point, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing about Tim Tebow, but get ready for the former college football great’s return to professional sports.
Before the end of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the world will get a glimpse of Tebow playing for the New York Mets. While a lot of it might be predicated on the three-ring circus the 29-year-old seems to attract and his ability to put butts in the seats, his ability to play the game will be the driving force to securing a bench spot.
Now, let’s face it, Tebow didn’t exactly look like Ted Williams last year in the Arizona Fall League, hitting just .194 in 70 plate appearances, but he was facing off against some of baseball’s best prospects and did hit .281 in his last 11 games, showing significant signs of improvement.
How he will do during his time up is anybody’s guess but one thing will be certain, orange and blue are the colors he was born to wear.
“TALKING HEAD” SKIP BAYLESS IS FINALLY QUIETED
After all these years of being a contrarian, it boggles the mind how Skip Bayless continues to find work with some of sports’ biggest outlets. Yet, here we are, in 2017, and he hosts a TV show with Shannon Sharpe on Fox Sports 1 where he complains — or just gives more “hot takes” — about the same things he ranted about at ESPN for years upon end.
He burnt bridges with ESPN, and now, judging by the frequency of the commercials on FOX, he might be again struggling with ratings.
The defender of all things LeBron James and Dallas Cowboys might be running out of media outlets. So 2017 could just mean a break from Bayless, if even for a few months.
You hear that? It is the sound of silence.
THE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS WIN FIRST POSTSEASON SERIES
For 15 seasons, the Blue Jackets have failed to make it to the National Hockey League playoffs or win a playoff series – appearing in the postseason twice since the team’s inception in 2000. The team has long been a laughingstock of the league, with little talent and even less organizational stability.
But right now, it’s Columbus who is laughing, as the team is riding the second longest win streak in the league’s history, at 15 games in a row. The Blue Jackets seem to be gelling under second-year head coach – and Bobby Knight impressionist – John Tortorella, with their biggest win coming Saturday when Columbus took down the Minnesota Wild, a team on its own 12-game win streak.
The Blue Jackets clearly cannot play this well forever and will likely come back down to earth. However, the franchise should be able to ride this current win streak into the postseason and will actually win a series.
Dare we say, they’ll make it to the Conference Finals before being bounced? Either way, the future appears promising.
MIKE TROUT TRADED BY LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
Despite the fact that his contract doesn’t end until 2020, Mike Trout will not end 2017 in an Angels jersey, as the franchise will dump perhaps baseball’s best player in a move to look to build toward the future.
Never will Trout’s value be higher, considering he hit .315 last season, belting out 29 home runs while knocking in 100 RBIs – earning his second Most Valuable Player Award of his career – and he did so as a member of the American League’s fourth worst team.
Trout will turn 26 in August, and with his best years potentially still ahead of him, he could fetch an arm and a leg. Look for the usual suspects such as the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and even his hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies, to make a strong bid for the outfielder. Either way, this year will bring Trout a new home.
COCA-COLA BECOMES NASCAR TITLE SPONSOR
Call it a hunch, but Coca-Cola will become the new NASCAR title sponsor in 2017. For the last 13 seasons, NASCAR’s premier Cup series was sponsored by cell phone giant Sprint, which took over for cigarette group Winston in 2003, after the company ended a 33-year relationship.
While reports have surfaced that Monster Energy is the current frontrunner, what’s more American than NASCAR and Coca-Cola. It really seems like a no-brainer and the soft drink company has been involved with NASCAR for more than 50 years as the official, non-alcoholic, drink of the racing league. Add in the fact that the Coca-Cola 600 – which takes place in Charlotte, close to the company’s Atlanta headquarters – is the longest continuous sponsorship of any race and it’s clear these two groups have a history.
TOM BRADY NEVER WINS ANOTHER POSTSEASON GAME
Sure, the New England Patriots were the best team in the National Football League this season, even with future Hall o Fame quarterback Tom Brady missing the first four games due to a suspension. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t the same team that won the Super Bowl a couple of seasons ago.
The Patriots proved this season that they’re not unbeatable and soon Tom Brady will prove he’s not immortal. At 39, Brady is no spring chicken and his fall from grace is going to happen quick. I predict it will start this winter.
Brady will never win another postseason game, starting this year, in the Divisional Round. While he’ll continue to play next season for the franchise, the team won’t make the playoffs due to several emerging AFC teams. That’s right, a team coached by Bill Belichick and featuring Tom Brady will not make the playoffs in the 2017 season – you heard it here first. New England sports talk radio will have a field day.