Top 10 Sports Moments of 2019

Andrew Hahn, Writer

  1. Blown Call in NFC Championship between the Saints and Rams

With 1:50 left in the NFC Championship, the score was 20 a piece and it was 3rd & 10 for the saints on the 10 yard line.  A touchdown at this point of the game would pretty much secure the Saint’s victory. They decided to throw the ball, and there was a clear pass interference penalty by the Rams, but the referee did not throw a flag.  As a result, the Saints were forced to kick a field goal. The Rams later answered the field goal, so the game went into overtime, and the Rams ended up winning, punching their ticket to the Super Bowl. If the official made the right call, the Saints would have had first and goal inside the 5 yard line, where they would have a great chance to end the game with a touchdown.  Saints fans were outraged at the outcome of the game and even petitioned for the NFL to force them to replay the game. The NFL declined, but they did apologize for the blown call, and even enforced a new rule where coaches can challenge pass interference calls and force the referees to review the video of the play. The Saints ended up getting snubbed, but they got the last laugh as the Rams ended up losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and the Saints are in playoff contention this season, whereas the Rams are not.  

  1. Wimbledon Men’s Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championship in one of the greatest tennis matches of all time.  The 5 set battle lasted a record breaking 4 hours and 57 minutes, where Djokovic defeated Federer 13 to 12 in a 5th set tie breaker. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Federer, as he was so close to achieving his 21st Grand Slam title, solidifying him as the greatest of all time.  However, Djokovic came out on top, winning his 16th Grand Slam title.  

  1. Pete Alonso Breaks the Record for Most Rookie Home Runs  

Pete Alonso, a 25 year-old first baseman for the New York Mets, hit his 53rd home run of the season against the Atlanta Braves on September 29 at Citi Field.  This homerun broke Aaron Judge’s record for the most home runs hit by a player in their rookie season. I happen to have extreme bias in putting this on the list, because I am a diehard Mets fan who was fortunate enough to attend this game, and the crowd was absolutely electric.  Salty Yankees fans discredit Alonso’s record because of speculations of juiced baseballs, but until proven otherwise, Alonso’s accomplish is truly spectacular. It was the cherry on top to a historic season where Alonso was an All-Star, NL Rookie of the Year, First Team All-MLB, and the Homerun Derby Champion.    

  1. Nationals win their First World Series

The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros to win their first World Series.  Going into the playoffs, the Nationals were a large underdog because they were a Wild Card team.  They barely won the Wild Card game, thanks to a costly error by the Brewers. The team won a tight division series against the Dodgers, thanks to a typical Clayton Kershaw playoff choke.  They then went on to sweep the Cardinals in the NL championship, giving them plenty of rest to face the Astros in the World Series. They were able to win the series in 7 games, thanks to heroics by Howie Kendrick, a strong pitching rotation consisting of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin, and a strong hitting core of Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto.  Stephen Strasburg was named the World Series MVP and later resigned with the Nats.   

  1. Joe Burrow wins the Heisman Trophy Award

On December 14, Joe Burrow was crowned the 85th Heisman Trophy Award winner.  After a historic season leading LSU to the one seed, the 23 year-old quarterback beat out Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, and Chase Young to win the award.  LSU recently blew out Oklahoma in the semifinals, where Burrow threw for 7 touchdowns and ran for 1 in less than 3 quarters. Burrow hopes to add to his already impressive resume by winning the national championship this January.  Burrow has had one of the best seasons ever at the quarterback position, accumulating 59 total touchdowns and a completion percentage of 77.6%. He is projected to be the clear favorite of being drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals later this year.   

  1. Zion Williamson gets Drafted First Overall by the Pelicans 

Zion Williamson was regarded as the best NBA draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003.  After an outstanding season at Duke University averaging 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.9 blocks, he was the clear first overall pick, but the question was, who was going to get him?  The New Orleans Pelicans had only a 6 percent chance of getting the first overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, but they fortunately got the pick and hopefully received their franchise superstar in Zion Williamson.     

  1. Lamar Jackson’s Historic Season

Lamar Jackson quickly silenced the haters in his sophomore season by putting up MVP caliber numbers and propelling the Ravens to the first seed in the AFC, breaking many records along the way.   As a dual-threat quarterback, people doubted his throwing abilities and believed he would get injured if he ran too much in the NFL. He broke Michael Vick’s record for the most amount of rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, he recorded a perfect quarterback rating in 2 games this season, and is the first person to have over 3000 passing yards and 1000 rushing yards in a season.  Lamar truly changed the game of football and is becoming the new face of the league. He is the strong favorite for the MVP award, and the Baltimore Ravens are a favorite to win the Super Bowl.  

  1. USWNT wins the 2019 World Cup

The United States Women’s National Team won their second straight World Cup, defeating Netherlands 2-0.  This was their fourth World Cup championship, and in the process of celebrating, they were able to support the women’s rights movement while inspiring millions.  Their victory parade was more of a political rally, demanding equal rights and pay for women across the world. The team gained large amounts of publicity and support, as they tried to make changes to the world off of the soccer field.  Captain Megan Rapinoe was a huge spokesperson and image for the movement, as she was a fantastic player, as well as a gay, pink-haired feminist who demanded change. Rapinoe won the Ballon d’Or, Golden Boot, and Golden Ball awards for her dominant performance on the soccer field.  She also convinced the rest of the team to not make a visit to the White House. 

  1. Kawhi Leonard Leads the Raptors to their First NBA Championship

The Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship, and much of it can be credited to Kawhi Leonard.  The Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 4-2 in the Finals, dethroning the super team built around Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.  Although KD and Klay got injured, it was still a very impressive feat. Kawhi Leonard was crowned the Finals MVP, as he averaged 28.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series.  He also played lockdown defense throughout the playoffs, which is often ignored. Kawhi also hit the amazing game winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the second round.  He was also able to contain the “unstoppable” Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) in the Eastern Conference Finals. Kawhi went on to sign a max deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason, teaming up with MVP finalist, Paul George.  Raptors fans were not too upset that he left because he brought them an unforgettable championship.  

Honorable Mentions: 

Kentucky Derby Scandal

Country Horse won the 145th Kentucky Derby in the most controversial fashion.  Maximum Security was the first horse to cross the finish line by a large margin, however; for the first time in Kentucky Derby history, officials disqualified Maximum Security because it pulled an illegal move against another horse, War of Will.  As a result, Country Horse, who had 65-1 odds prior to the race, was crowned the victor. The official’s decision was controversial as most fans believe that the illegal move was not worthy of a disqualification. In addition, bettors were outraged because Maximum Security was a heavy favorite. 

Gerrit Cole Signs a Record Deal with Yankees

On December 10, Gerrit Cole signed a 9 year, 324 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees.  This contract is the fourth largest in MLB history, and the largest for any starting pitcher. Gerrit Cole has been an absolute stud for the last couple of seasons, and has led the Houston Astros to a World Series and multiple playoff appearances.  Cole was an All-Star in both 2018 and 2019, where he posted a 2.88 and 2.50 ERA. When he became a free agent, it was no surprise that the Yankees’ GM, Brian Cashman, was the man who paid the highest dollar for the ace. The Yankees have been strong World Series contenders for the past few seasons, however their starting rotation has been the main thing holding them back.  With the addition of Gerrit Cole, a Cy-Young caliber starter, the Yankees are a clear favorite for the 2020 World Series. 

  1. Tiger Woods wins the Masters

When Tiger Woods won the Masters, it was by far the greatest sports moment of the decade.  Tiger is arguably the most iconic figure in the history of golf, and when he was at his peak, the PGA’s popularity was through the roof.  Tiger’s victory at Augusta in 2019 was so special because it marked the revival of Tiger’s career, and got fans truly engaged in the sport.  It was a magnificent story as he was able to overcome multiple injuries and surgeries, with the threat of never being able to play again. When the 43 year-old won his 15th major championship, it was his first major since 2008.