It wasn’t all that long ago that you would go somewhere like FYE or a record store and pick up the latest CD. There was nothing like paying $16.99 for something that cost less to make than a cassette tape for an album that helped make record label execs like Lou Pearlman multi-millionaires.
While the idea of a CD isn’t dead, I’d figured that greatest hits albums might be. Isn’t it just as cheap to pick 10 digital singles for a dollar? But apparently Ariana Grande and 50 Cent each came out with one in the past few years, so maybe I’m dated.
If The Beatles “1” is the best greatest hits album (27 tracks?!), 2020 must be at the opposite side of the spectrum for just about everything (except toilet paper sales). In a normal year, fitting in 10 memorable moments is damn hard; it feels like Patrick Mahomes manufactures those himself. So in the unusual fashion of this year, I just came up with a list and started writing with no number in mind.
The life and death of Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s death on Jan. 26 was tragic and shocking, and though it didn’t touch me personally as a hoops fan, he impacted thousands of players, coaches and fans. He also gave us a ton of memories and had a Jordan-like mentality that is all too rare.
Super Bowl LIV. Might as well start with the obvious one, and the one that feels so far away now. For so many Chiefs fans, this memory is going to be one that makes a list that spans a decade, or even a lifetime. Frankly, we’ve been spoiled with great Super Bowls in the past decade, where objectively it fits below the Falcons’ collapse and the Seahawks’ failure at the goal line. Still, it had a fourth quarter to remember, could be remembered as the start of a dynasty, and if we’re being honest, it saves space, because the AFC Divisional win over the Texans felt historically good, too.
UFC 248. The co-main event between Zhang Welli and Joanna Jedrzejczyk a contender for fight of the year, an absolute classic. Tapology ranks it currently as the 23rd-best fight of all-time, and it's the only women's MMA fight in the top 50 as it stands.
March 11th. I wrote a column two days prior that printed on the 11th of how little sports had been impacted by COVID-19 at that time, and hoped that the pandemic wouldn’t reach full throttle in America. Swing and a miss, huh? But that day was unforgettable because of the Utah Jazz game where the team doctor ran out just seconds before tip-off and the game was cancelled due to Rudy Gobert's positive test. It marked the beginning of the sports calendar being decimated here in the US.
Down goes Liverpool. They went on to handily lift the Premier League trophy after sports restarted globally, but Liverpool, defending UEFA Champions League winners, suffered a wild shock defeat in the Round of 16 to Atletico Madrid on March 12. In a match that went to extra time and had plenty of heartstopping moments prior, Liverpool took a lead over Atletico Madrid, and then surrendered three goals in a loss that ended a 42-game unbeaten run for the club.
The empty stands of the Show-Me Showdown. It slips my mind where it was at, but I remember fighting a crowd and having to stick my press pass against a window to get into a Detroit Public School League Championship game for a game that featured Pershing’s Keith Appling, a McDonald’s All-American. That crowd was being turned away because the building was already at max capacity. It was memories like that one that crossed my mind throughout Strafford’s run to the title. Long as this virus has lingered, looking at those photos of players taking free throws with no fans behind them will never get less unusual.
Baseball’s tug-of-war. The ending to Game 4 of the World Series was bonkers, but in five years I’ll remember how Major League Baseball owners and players dug their feet in and delayed starting an abbreviated season in embarrassing fashion. By comparison, MLS beat baseball back to the playing field by over two weeks. Another financial battle between the MLB Players Association and owners is on the horizon and there's not much reason to be optimistic that there'll be a return to 162 games in 2021.
Browns-Ravens, Week 14. If the Browns don’t give their fans a reprieve from pain, at least they gave us one of the best football games of the year.
That’s all I’ve got. Get out of here, 2020.