by Julian Spivey
Best Team: Boston Red Sox
The 2017 Boston Red Sox certainly weren’t bad, winning the American League East Division, but their season ended in disappointing as they fell to the eventual champion Houston Astros in the Division Series and subsequently fired manager John Farrell. They named Alex Cora as their new manager, made a huge offseason acquisition in power hitting designated hitter J.D. Martinez and had high expectations for 2018, despite it kind of being a new start for the franchise too. The team ended up being the best overall in baseball in 2018 with a 108-54 record (a new franchise record for wins) and essentially cruising their way to their ninth title and their fourth since 2004. The team also saw outfielder Mookie Betts take home the American League Most Valuable Player honor.
Best Athlete: Simone Biles
I can hear the sighs now for naming a gymnast as athlete of the year, especially in a non-Summer Olympics year. But there is not an athlete in any sport right now as dominant at their respective game as Simone Biles is in gymnastics. It’s very possible Biles is the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport and the 21-year old showed that this year by thoroughly dominating the World Championships, where she became the first American gymnast to ever win a medal in every event at a single Championships. Biles won gold in Team competition, All-Around, Vault and Floor Exercise, silver in Uneven Bars and bronze in Balance Beam. To make all of this even more amazing Biles was hospitalized the day before the Championships began in Qatar with a kidney stone!
Best Game: U.S. Women Win Olympic Hockey Gold
The United States and Canada have had quite the history against each other in women’s hockey during the Winter Olympics, but Canada almost always comes out on top. The gold medal matchup between the two in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February proved to be the most exciting sporting event of the year. The hard fought battle went all the way to a shootout where American Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson confounded Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados for what would be the winning goal. It was an absolute thing of beauty to see and gave the American’s their first hockey gold in 20 years.
Best Moment: Tiger Woods Wins Again
Pretty much the last thing I needed to see as a sports fan in my lifetime happened in 2018 with a no. 16 seed finally beating a no. 1 seed in March Madness college basketball when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers absolutely stunned the Virginia Cavaliers by 20 points. For that not to be the best sports moment of 2018, you know the moment I’ve chosen – Tiger Woods making an improbable comeback from major back surgery to win his first tournament in five years on one of golf’s biggest stages, the season-ending Tour Championship. It’s not only a huge moment for me as a life-long Tiger Woods fan, but a huge boost for golf. The scene of Woods walking up to the 18th green to clinch the win with thousands of fans following behind is one of the most epic sports images you’re ever going to see.
Best Coach: Alex Cora
Alex Cora became just the fifth manager in baseball’s long history to lead a team to the World Series title in their rookie season with the team joining Bob Brenly (2001 Arizona Diamondbacks), Ralph Houk (1961 New York Yankees), Eddie Dyer (1946 St. Louis Cardinals) and Bucky Harris (1924 Washington Senators). Not only did Cora manage to join that great group, but he managed the Red Sox, a team with the third most championships in baseball history, to their greatest season ever with a record of 108-54. Cora seems like he’s a true players manager and will likely have extended success with the BoSox.
Best Breakthrough: Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the obvious choice for best breakthrough athlete of 2018, as he might end up being named the MVP of the NFL in his first full season as a player. As of this writing, Mahomes leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 45 (which is already sixth most for a season and he has two games remaining), in passing yards with over 4,500 and has the second best passer rating in the game behind Drew Brees. Mahomes has led the Chiefs to one of the best seasons in the current NFL year and will see his first playoff action in January.
Best Play: Philly Special in Super Bowl LII
There have been a lot of truly fantastic plays in sports this year from Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez showing off his ambidexterity throwing a baserunner out with his non-throwing hand after being nailed by a line drive, the U.S. women’s hockey team winning an Olympic gold medal in a shootout, Joey Logano’s last lap effort to beat Martin Truex Jr. in NASCAR at Martinsville and more. But, the biggest of these best plays was the trick place named the “Philly Special” that the Philadelphia Eagles pulled on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in February. On a fourth-and-goal play in the second quarter, Eagles backup QB Nick Foles, who had already led the team on a miraculous run after Carson Wentz went down to injury toward the end of the season, lined up on the offensive line as the ball was snapped to running back Corey Clement. Clement then pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who passed the ball to a wide open Foles for the touchdown. The score made Foles the first player in Super Bowl history to both pass and receive a touchdown in the big game, it also propelled him to a Super Bowl MVP and the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title.
Lifetime Achievement: Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre, who announced his retirement from baseball after this past season, had an incredibly quiet and underrated career for one of the greatest players in baseball history. Never once in his two decades of Major League Baseball did he ever seem like the face of the sport or was ever named Most Valuable Player, but he put together a career – both offensively and defensively – that will go down in history as legendary. Beltre, who reached the 3,000 hit club milestone in his penultimate season, finished his career with 3,166 hits (16th most all-time), 477 homers, 1707 RBI and a .286 batting average.