It’s officially 2016, and another year has come and gone. By any standard, it was a weird, weird year in sports and pop culture. So we at Barstool decided to document the best moments of it for you, broken down into seven blogs by seven categories. Best can mean a lot of things: Our favorite, most memorable, most significant, and most important. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive, just some of what we’ll think of when we look back on the year 2015.
Sam’s Army (@BarstoolSam) – Barstool Chicago
Pick: Wisconsin beats Kentucky
Listen, I’m not going to do what everyone thinks I’m going to do as Barstool’s resident lawn fairy and
go with the most obvious choice just because it had the most momentous impact on the world’s most beautiful and popular sport: June 2, the day the music began to die for the hopelessly corrupt house that Sepp Blatter built known as Fédération Internationale de Football Association – or simply FIFA – which is still in the process of slowly coming apart at the seams.
Yes, that may have been the year’s sports moment that touched the most lives and affected the most people. But was it my top personal choice for moment this year? No, for a simple reason: I have had three lifelong goals. One is for the USMNT to win a World Cup. Two is for the Wisconsin Badgers to win a national championship in basketball or football. Three was to write a soccer blog for the decidedly anti-soccer masses at Barstool.
My third ambition was realized in 2014, and this year the Badgers made my dreams come true by defeating Kentucky in the de facto NCAA championship game on April 4. This wasn’t just your average run of the mill five-starters-cum-lottery-draft-picks Kentucky team, after all, as this was a juggernaut on a 38-game domination streak that everybody – Drake, Ashley Judd’s tits, even Obama – had already pencilled into the record books as champions and possibly one of the best teams in history.
And yet there we were, watching a team best known for “grit”, “hustle”, defense, buzzcuts and every other euphemism for overcoming-more-talent-by-wanting-it-more go toe to toe and fast-break for fast-break with Calipari’s crew. How Sam Dekker managed to get any lift on that step-back three with the score tied at 60 and less than two minutes remaining, I’ll never know. I would have thought it’d hurt to walk with watermelon testicles, let alone jump.
But jump he did, and win Wisconsin did.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Duke may have lifted the trophy, and congrats to Coach K for having sold his soul. However, a wise man once said that to be the best you have to beat the best – not beat the best who beat the best – so in that sense Dekker, Kaminsky, Gasser & Co. won the most important one.
Also, given the recent trajectory of Badger athletics, fans are understandably concerned that the last five to eight year run may turn out years from now to have been the Golden Age of Wisconsin athletics, in which case last year’s run will have to do as our “crowning achievement” – so just back the fuck off and let us wallow in our delusionary glory, godamit.
Now the only thing I have to live for is Uncle Sam to bring home a World Cup. You hear that, Putin? We comin’ for that ass in 2018.
Charlie (@CharlieWisco) – Barstool New York
Pick: Michigan State Stuns Michigan
I’ll never understand the NFL purists who spit on college football. The players aren’t as big, strong, fast, or skilled. The coaching decisions are often dumb. And the fans sometimes a little *ahem* rough around the edges and look more like the crowd you’d see at a Trump rally than most professional sporting events. But it’s all the imperfections that make college football so great. The mistakes, the blunders and the absolute fucking mayhem make for a sport where anything is in the realm of possibility. So when blue blood Michigan and all it’s haughty, stuck-up fans get their hearts ripped out and their playoff hopes shredded in front of them in the most improbably awful mistake I have ever seen someone make, the COLLEGE FOOTBALL SUX crowd might use that as evidence of the game’s inferiority. Me? I’m just going to cackle and show how no other sport can create more drama and WTF moments than a big-time college football rivalry game. College football is a helter-skelter, unpredictable mess most of the time, and I absolutely would not have it any other way.
Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) – Barstool Boston
Pick: Joey Bats bat flip
There aren’t many fans outside of the city of Toronto who will call this the biggest sports story of the year, but it was one of the biggest moments in the game of baseball in 2015. Jose Bautista’s bat floated just over ten feet in the air for a little under two seconds, and we’re still talking about it. The bat-flip gets talked about so much that we almost forget just how significant the home run itself was. It was the most important home run in Blue Jays history since Joe Carter touched ‘em all in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. The wet blanket that covers the game of baseball are the purists who deem acts like this to be against the game’s unwritten rules, but MLB seemed to embrace the bat-flip after they had seen the enormously positive reaction on social media from the fans. You know, the people whose opinion actually matters. Here’s to hoping that Bautista’s historic bat-flip is the beginning of a new era within the game. An era in which players who are having fun are actually allowed to express their true emotions on the field without having to answer to a fastball by the head, or a finger-wagging column by an old, crusty baseball writer.
610 (@610Barstool) – Barstool New York
Pick: Wilmer Flores crying on the field
It was July 29th, a couple days before the trade deadline and in the midst of a Mets homestand. They just made a few minor acquisitions in Uribe, Kelly Johnson & Clippard – most thought the conservative Mets were done. Then, in the middle of a thumping by the Padres, word came from the Twittersphere that Wilmer Flores & Zack Wheeler were shipped to Milwaukee for the return of Carlos Gomez.
The Citi Field crowd caught wind & started their goodbye to a kid who’s only known the Mets since he was signed at 16 out of Venezuela. After failing to impress in a couple seasons of limited playing time, Flores finally put together a fairly solid offensive first half as a regular for a squad on the rise – but his time was up. Once he realized what the crowd was telling him the waterworks ensued.
Mets announcers couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Social media was eating it up. After enough of Flores’ crocodile tears, Terry Collins finally yanked him. Must’ve been straight-up Wilmer hysterics once he hit the dugout stairs. A couple hours later though, the deal was nixed due to Gomez’ physical. Flores & Wheeler stayed while the Mets were able to get Cespedes for much less in a deadline swap that basically won them the NL East. Hours after the trade, Flores hit a walk-off bomb to kick off a series sweep of the Nats & cap one of the stranger polarizing sports stories of the year.