The Villanova Wildcats win their third National Championship, and second in three years. One and dones continue to dominate the college basketball landscape, forcing blue blood programs such as Duke to change their philosophy midstream to stay on top of the mountain. While college football has pushed out all but two programs, college basketball has more teams than ever that can legitimately dream of their One Shining Moment.
Justify wins the Triple Crown. After going nearly 40 years without a winner, we have had two in the last four (American Pharaoh, 2015). It’s still not enough to return the ponies to the days of Secretariat.
On a very personal note, I never thought I would live to see the day where I could say Washington Capitals and Stanley Cup Champions in the same sentence. The perennial “choking dogs” shed the moniker once and for all, the DMV went absolutely insane, and admittedly, I shed a few tears as well. The last Washington sports franchise to win it all was the 1991 Redskins.
When J.R. Smith made the bonehead move of the NBA Finals in Game One, it became not only clear that he was gone but that the Cleveland Cavaliers were doomed to being swept. The air was sucked out of the building for the Cavs, and they have returned to the pre and post LeBron form of 15-67 or so. If the Lakers and Cavs 2018-19 seasons aren’t clear that King James is the greatest player of this generation, I don’t know what is.
France won the World Cup to the surprise of nobody watching. Ronaldo put on the bianconeri of Juventus. Man City sitting on top of the Premier League is something to see.
The Boston Red Sox cruised through the playoffs and World Series in a convincing and dominant fashion, and have to be the betting favorites to win it all again in 2019. As weird as this is for me to say, they aren’t even in the top three of greatest MLB teams I’ve ever seen, because those positions would belong to, in chronological order, the 1984 Detroit Tigers, 1986 Mets, and 1998 Yankees. Please don’t ask me to rank those squads.
As Conor McGregor appears to be on the back nine of his UFC career, boxing has slowly returned to the conscience of the casual sports fan. Big kudos to the GGG/Canelo Alvarez camps, as well as Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder for putting on the contests that people want to see. Since we had to wait far too long to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao square up five years too late. 2018 was likely the best year for boxing in a decade.
The Shield has carefully and masterfully navigated the uneasy CTE waters to deliver the most compelling season in a generation. The last weekend of the season had major playoff implications, I wouldn’t be surprised if all four host teams lose this weekend, and we have a litany of breakout stars to enjoy for the next decade. While boy genius head coaches and 54-51 shootouts dominate the headlines, we have also seen a return of defense, which should dictate who plays in February.