2021: The Year in Sports, Such as It Was

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, we’ve been shuffling through our files, sorting out the top sports stories from the year that was … not much of a year. We refer to 2021, a year in which sports sort of returned to normal.

Breaking it down by sport, professional football saw Tom Brady win one for the old guys as the 2020-2021 NFL season concluded with his leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It helped that the Buccaneers defense didn’t give Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes time to so much as breathe, let alone make plays. Brady managed to turn his win into a loss by failing miserably at a Donald Trump joke during the Buccaneers visit to the White House in July.

Heading into the 2021-2022 season, the NFL maintained its fierce determination to go woke, but much to the annoyance of the “We need FYTERZ” brigade forgot to go broke. Those whose entire lives have become centered on living out all teachings from The Gospel According to St. Fauci pilloried Aaron Rodgers for contracting COVID but went three brass monkeys when dozens of vaccinated players also tested positive. On the playing field, Urban Meyer performed much better playing around at a nightclub than his Jacksonville Jaguars played on the football field, and thus became unemployed.

College football started the year with Alabama winning the national championship. It ended the year with Alabama getting ready to win it again. In-between, there were multiple games rescheduled or canceled outright due to COVID. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide kept on a-rollin’.

Baseball proved it is second to none in knee-jerk stupidity by yanking the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta following Georgia passing a voting reform law, moving the game to Denver, Colorado … where the voting laws are little, if any, different than Georgia’s. On the field, the season came down to the Houston Asterisks … er, Astros, who, to no one’s surprise, won the American League pennant, doing battle with the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, much to everyone’s surprise, won the National League pennant despite being without their best player for much of the season. The Braves won the World Series in six games. The fans, except in Houston, were happy. In its inimitable way of proving it can’t stand prosperity, baseball immediately went into total labor strife and a lockout.

Pro basketball watched with dismay as the NBA 2020-2021 season saw all of its big market teams and stars fall by the wayside in the playoffs, leaving the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns to go at it in the NBA Finals. As had been their wont in the postseason, the Bucks spotted their opponents a two games to none lead before winning the series in six. Phoenix can console itself by knowing that at least people know it’s still in the league, Chris Paul is still an elite floor leader, and Devin Booker is a superb shooter. Booker also won the award for Best Impersonation of Tony Stark by, as soon as the Finals concluded, immediately hopping on a plane along with Bucks players Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, crossing the Pacific, and helping the USA win the men’s basketball Olympics gold medal. Ah, youth.

Yes, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were held in 2021. Pretty much no one cared. When the most memorable moment in an Olympics consists of a gymnast getting the yips, pulling out of the competition, then whining about being a victim … ’nuff said. Not that Simone Biles was the only athlete claiming to be brave by crumbling at an inopportune moment. Naomi Osaka, anyone?

Back to pro basketball for a minute. The 2021-2022 NBA season started with the Golden State Warriors Steph Curry reminding Booker that while there are others both good and great, he is the Highlander when it comes to shooting a basketball. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard, no slouch he at scoring from near and far, made no great secret of his desire to leave Portland for a location more devoted to winning championships than mollycoddling Antifa. The Lakers spent the off-season recruiting from the seniors tour, while the Warriors put on a copy of The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” and brought in some young ’uns. Thus far, youth and skill are mopping the floor with old age and treachery.

College basketball in 2021 featured mostly empty arenas. The Gonzaga Bulldogs finished the season with a sparkling record of 31-1. Unfortunately for them, the one was the NCAA championship game, won by Baylor 86-70. Oops.

Hockey saw an abbreviated season conclude in familiar fashion, namely the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisting the Stanley Cup. Due to the oddball divisional alignment foisted upon the league by COVID considerations, their opponent in the finals was the Montreal Canadiens. The 2021-2022 NHL season saw the Seattle Kraken’s release.

The most unfortunate athlete of the year had problems not of his own doing. He also had four legs. Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, then before the mint juleps had worn off on those in attendance had the victory taken away due to his dope of a trainer Bob Baffert doping his horse. Medina Spirit finished the year … actually, sadly he didn’t finish the year as he died on December 6, reportedly from a heart attack.

The non-sports sports winner of the year was State Farm. First, they had the wherewithal to sign Sabrina Ionescu and pair her with Chris Paul in a series of humorous ads. Then, they had the intestinal fortitude not to give in to cancel culture, instead declaring they were keeping Aaron Rodgers as part of their ad campaigns after he tested positive for COVID. As a side note, the State Farm ads were a welcome antithesis to Chevrolet, who first broke all of us and then broke the Internet with their holiday ad last year.

Elsewhere in sports, there were more wins by and for the old guys. Helio Castroneves won the Indianapolis 500. Phil Mickelson won the PGA. There were losses as well. Tiger Woods lost control of his car while going twice the speed limit, the resulting injuries likely ending his career. We lost Hank Aaron, Floyd Little, Paul Westphalia, Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton, John Chaney, Leon Spinks, Marty Schottenheimer, Marvin Hagler, Elgin Baylor, Bobby Bowden, Demaryius Thomas, and John Madden, among others.

Bring on 2022.