What a crazy couple of weeks it has been in sports. The NCAA tournament was in the Sweet Sixteen last time I wrote a column that was not about Rock, Paper, Scissors. In order to try to summarize what has happened since, I am handing out five awards I made up.
The “Bartolo Colon” Award: Patrick Reed
This award is presented to athletes who achieve excellence while being a bit … hefty.
For the first 70 or so holes of the Masters, it seemed like people were talking about everything besides Patrick Reed. The first two days were dominated by talk of Tiger and that guy with the amazing hair in his group. Although he did make the cut, it soon became apparent that he would finish closer to the back of the field than the front. The narrative coming out of day three centered on Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler. McIlroy, a four-time major champ, is still seeking his first green jacket. Fowler, who now has finished second at three of the four major championships, has yet to get over the hump. Even on Sunday, Jordan Spieth dominated headlines as he buried eight birdies over his final 18 holes. But even he could not catch up to Patrick Reed. Reed dominated day two and three, and never relinquished the lead after the second round. It speaks to Reed’s overall dominance that even after a final round score of 71 (-1), the red hot Spieth still finished two shots back.
The “Yodeling Kid” Award: Sister Jean
This award is presented to an internet sensation that will soon become incredibly unfunny.
At what point did you first hear of Sister Jean? Was it after one of Loyola-Chicago’s miracle first round wins? Or were you able to hold off until the Ramblers made their Cinderella run to the Final Four? Even then, the average person still does not know much about her. When I asked six Concordia students what they actually knew about Sister Jean, they gave me the basics: “She’s a nun from the school.” When the Ramblers made the Final Four, it seemed like people, or at least the people I follow on Twitter, were completely over hearing about this 98-year-old lady. And yet, in the week since their elimination, we have heard not a peep about everyone’s favorite nun. So I am not sure how to think of her legacy. I will choose to think of her as a high-end meme. But a meme, nonetheless.
The “Shaquille O’Neal” Award: Villanova Wildcats
This award is presented to an unstoppable force that creates its own dynasty.
Let’s not mince words here: Shaq was the singular most dynamic player from the time Jordan retired in 1998 to the time that LeBron James became “LeBron” in 2007. In that window, no player was as dominant. Shaq left a legacy of basically being a one-man dynasty. In this comparison, Villanova is Shaq. Villanova dominated the NCAA tournament like no team has done in this decade. Coach Jay Wright has fully embraced the three-point line and often trots out lineups where each player is lethal from deep. The team will more than likely lose their top two players, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, but I would be completely surprised if the team drops off. Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo stepped up in the national championship game, and he will be joined next year by five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly. Not only is the present bright, but the future looks promising.
The “Retractable Roof” Award: Outdoor Baseball in Minnesota
This award is presented to the whole state, where America’s pastime is played (sometimes).
This is not so much an award as it is a wish. As I am writing this, my two favorite baseball teams, the Minnesota Twins and the Concordia Cobbers, have played a combined total of four home games. Not only do we need baseball games, WE DESERVE THEM.
The “Garfield” Award: Karl-Anthony Towns
This award is presented to a lovable feline who you cannot help but expect more out of.
By the time this is printed, the Timberwolves will have either missed the playoffs for the 15th straight year, or qualified for their first playoffs since Kevin Garnett carried the team to the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Either way, I will be disappointed. The best Timberwolves team I can remember will have their season end in the first round, shellacked by the Rockets or Warriors. Not great. Granted, this season has taken some unlucky turns, including Jimmy Butler’s knee injury. Butler is the obvious leader of the T’Wolves, but Karl-Anthony Towns should’ve been able to keep the Wolves afloat. I love KAT want him to be a Timberwolf for his whole career. But I also want to see him carry a winning team rather than collect stats on a bad team.