I stopped watching/caring about baseball a few years ago, when all my free time formerly spent engaging with professional sports was entirely suctioned up by a job covering the NBA. But I'm also from Boston, and in a year when the Red Sox won the World Series, choosing any moment that's not "when Chris Sale broke Manny Machado in half" would be sacrilegious.
My favorite sports memory of 2018 is two-fold and has everything to do with new sports franchises: We probably don’t need any more American sports league expansion, but I’ll admit, nothing spices up a league quite like creating a new team. It’s an exciting clean slate and opportunity for a new fanbase to discover itself.
And in 2018, amidst the glitz of the Vegas strip and gimmicky Game of Thrones pre-game introductions, the Vegas Golden Knights somehow made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. It was as historic as it was inspirational for the Vegas community, so that’s gotta be the highlight of the year, right?
Well as a PNW’er, the NHL recently officially announced that Seattle will be home to the league’s 32nd team starting in the 2021-22 season. Seattle is an excellent sports town and I know they’ll (learn to) love their hockey team as they also draw closer to getting the Sonics back. All that being said, I can’t help but think that Vegas’s resounding success helped accelerate Seattle’s approval process. So thanks to the Knights, we’ll only have to wait a few years to see another team try winning it all in their first season.
Also receiving votes: Browns finally winning, No.16 UMBC over No.1 Virginia, Nick Foles = Super Bowl MVP, FitzMagic, Gritty-mania, "I'm trying Jennifer."
Without question, my favorite moment from 2018 was when the New York Giants selected Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft last April. Not because I am a die-hard Giants fan who for some reason thinks that the NFL is evolving into a running backs league. No, not even close. It was my favorite moment because the New York Motherfucking Jets had the very next pick and, just like the Giants, they were in desperate need of a quarterback and there just so happened to be a cherubic gunslinger waiting right there for them. My beefy boy with the 65 lb. head, Sam Darnold.
After years of Cleveland Browns-esque futility at the quarterback position, every smart person on the planet knows that Darnold is the franchise quarterback we've been searching for and we are poised to win something like eight Super Bowls during his tenure.
[Gets visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future who shows me scenes from Darnold's 2018-2019 season including a 15-interception performance against the New England Patriots and the phrase "New York Jets starting quarterback Nathan Peterman."]
Uh, I mean, my favorite moment was when the Yankees did a cool thing.
Liam Daniel Pierce
Almost half the planet watched the World Cup this year at one point or another. And lucky for them because this one was special. Most of the world powers bowed out early, scoring was high, England lost (eventually), no one had to ask if team USA were going to be good this year, and neither Messi nor Ronaldo came out on top. But the final was exquisite.
Yes, it was the world power, France, who won over Croatia. But: six goals, Pogba silencing the haters (Mourinho), and Mbappe—good God, Mbappe. France's superstars played a beautiful, technical, attacking style. But more important, in spite of any preconceived notions of the country, the team felt afresh from old stereotypes, greatly celebrating its mostly African immigrant roots in the face of a sharp rise in nationalism across the globe.
And even though I was just one of 1 billion people watching, it felt personal, taking me directly back to my childhood, in 1998 when I was falling in love with the game. The Champs Élysées flooded with people. The country awash in a sea of blue, white, and red. The Eiffel Tower lit up. Am I getting mushy? Sure. But it was all was the same feeling, except it was definitively 2018.
Alex Ovechkin was a boss in 2018. He got his Cup, shutting up his annoying critics for good, and then went out and delivered the most entertaining post-Stanley Cup bender of all time. This guy got straight smashed with the Cup and certainly drank off years of frustration, showing a real relatable human side to the superstar. Combine that with him leading the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and winning playoff MVP after he led the NHL in regular-season goals once again, and there wasn't a better sports story than Ovechkin this year.
He could do nothing in the NHL again and still have his status as hockey legend cemented, but of course he's leading the league in goals and coming for Gretzky's record. This is now Ovechkin when he hears the haters.
Christine De La Rosa
For Christine's entry, please enjoy this slack conversation between two Jets fans.
I think mine is just that first jets game this season against the lions
Where for that moment in time, I felt like a fan of a real team
Sean [4:34 PM]
Christine De La Rosa [4:34 PM]
But it was more like getting back together with my ex even when everyone told me it would just end the same way
Sean [4:34 PM]
Christine De La Rosa [4:34 PM]
I knew it too
I just love them so much
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.