Last week we re-lived an epic Super Bowl comeback, the tale of two basketball heavyweights, an unlikely hockey conference championship run, and a repeat Stanley Cup Champion. The events of the first half of 2017 simply set the stage for an epic second half of the year.
Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez threw Major League Baseball’s only no-hitter of the year on June 3rd. Volquez survived an injury scare early on in the contest when he appeared to hurt his ankle on a play at first base. The Marlins hurler would shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing only two walks and striking out ten in a 3-0 victory. Volquez’s no–hitter was just the beginning of an epic baseball season.
It was supposed to be an uneventful rebuilding-in-process season in the Bronx in 2017, but the New York Yankees came back to life sooner than expected. American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge took the Big Apple, and Major League Baseball by storm in 2017. The term “All Rise!” became a catch phrase at Yankee Stadium as Judge lit up the Majors for 52 home runs while driving in 114 runs.
New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge helped revitalize the Yankees in 2017.
While Aaron Judge was lighting up the east coast, there was another rookie writing a similar story on the west coast. A month into the season Los Angeles Dodgers were in a three-way battle for first place in the National League Western Division with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers made a move in late April that changed the entire complexion of their season.
Cody Bellinger would lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to the National League Championship after being called up in late April.
Outfielder Cody Bellinger was summoned from the minors and made his debut on April 25th. Bellinger began his Major League career by going on a tear, homering five times in his first eleven games. Bellinger finished the season with 39 homers and 97 RBI to capture the National League Rookie of the Year and help the Dodgers to a National League Championship. Los Angeles would dominate the National League from the time Bellinger was called up until the All-Star Break with a 26-4 record. As a result they distanced themselves from Arizona and Colorado and ran away with the National League West.
A third storyline ran through the Major League season, this one would be in the middle of the country. The Houston Astros got off to the hottest start in baseball. Houston finished the month of May with a MLB best 38-16 mark. They led the 2nd place Los Angeles Angels by 11 games, and coasted to a division title.
Mother nature threw a fly in the Astros ointment in late August. On August 29th Hurricane Harvey slammed into Southeast Texas. The city of Houston and its surrounding areas were left paralyzed and flooded for weeks. When the storm was approaching the area the Astros were in Anaheim but were scheduled to return home to start a three game series with the Texas Rangers.
Hurricane Harvey ravaged Southeast Texas in late August. The Astros had to play a three game home series in St. Petersburg, Florida as a result. That was the least of the community’s problems.
Texas Rangers’ ownership gets the Bad Sportsmanship Award for 2017. In the midst of a state-wide crisis, the Astros reached out to the Rangers and offered to swap locations for the upcoming series and a series scheduled for Arlington in late September. Texas’ ownership balked at the idea, citing the fact that they were still in the hunt for an American League Wild Card and would rather be home for the late season series. Now keep in mind the Rangers reside in Texas too! The 2017 Humanitarian and Good Guy Award goes to the ownership of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays opened the doors of their Tropicana Field home to the Astros, where they played the series with the Rangers.
Harvey wasn’t the only tropical story to wreak havoc on the 2017 sports scene. On September 10th Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys and made its way north along the entire Florida Peninsula. I personally lived through this one, there was no escaping Irma’s wrath anywhere in the state. September 10th was Opening Day in the National Football League and the Miami Dolphins were scheduled to host their cross state rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Since moving the game to Tampa was not an option (Tampa was also bracing for the storm), the opener was moved to November 19th which was a bye week for both teams.
Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton finishes 2017 with 59 home runs.
Back to baseball and back to South Florida. Many still regard Roger Maris’ 61 home run performance as the Major League single season record. Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins took a run at Maris in 2017. Stanton lit up Major League pitching for 59 round trippers. Stanton would make headlines after the season as well. As part of a rebuild by new Marlins ownership, Stanton was dealt to the New York Yankees where he joins Aaron Judge. There will be fun times in the Bronx in 2018.
We have already revisited big stories in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami. Now it’s off to Cleveland where the Indians defeated the Boston Red Sox on August 24th. The Tribe wouldn’t lose another game until September 15th. The Indians won 22 games in a row, an American League record. The streak was the 2nd longest in Major League history, behind the 1916 New York Giants. The Giants won 26 games in a row.
With so much happening in the regular season, what does Major League Baseball to for an encore? It puts on an epic post-season, that’s what! The Yankees, Indians, Astros, and Dodgers all made headlines in a very memorable October.
The Los Angeles Dodgers had a relatively uneventful road to the World Series. The Boys from Hollywood swept Arizona in the NLDS and ended the storybook run of the Chicago Cubs in a five game NLCS.
The American League playoffs were simply amazing!
The Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox with relative ease in the Divisional round in a four-game series. The Yankees, who got into the playoffs on the final weekend of the season as the final seed emerged as the story of the Divisional Round. The Boys from the Bronx erased a 2 game deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians in a five game thriller!
The American League Championship Series was historic! In a series that went seven games, nobody won on the road as the Astros defeated the Yankees. Houston’s victory in Game 7 not only ended a memorable year in the Bronx, but as a result, the Astros became the first team to win league championships in both leagues. The Astros were National League Champs in 2005, and switched leagues in 2013.
The World Series was epic! The Dodgers and Astros battled for seven games, including a 10 inning 13-12 thriller (won by Houston) in Game 5. The Astros won their first ever World Series title with a 4-1 victory in Game 7!
The World Series Champion Houston Astros hoist the Commissioners Trophy.
What a baseball season!
As the NFL enters the late stages of its 2017 season, there are many storylines evolving. Can the Cleveland Browns win a game? Will the Vince Lombardi Trophy make its way to Pennsylvania (either in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia)? Where will Eli Manning play next year? Stay tuned, to be continued next year.
So we have reached the end of the Karpelblog year. I will be on hiatus until January 8th to enjoy the holidays. I want to take this time to wish everyone a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year! I thank each and every one of my readers for following me throughout 2017, and look forward to a great year in 2018!
Two more pieces of business before I go. First, it’s time for the annual Karpelblog Annual Awards:
My Athlete of the Year Award goes to Giancarlo Stanton.
My Story of the Year Award goes to the Houston Astros, who after Hurricane Harvey delivered so much misery in their community, brought them their first ever World Series title.
The second piece of business is a very special dedication. I dedicate this entire year to two very special people. On February 14th, my wife and I woke up to a horrific site. We found our son Justin, lifeless in our South Florida home. I struggle with his passing every day and miss him so much. I dedicate this entire year to you Justin!
Our lives changed in another way on April 19th when our daughter Megan and son-in-law Matt welcomed their first child. Madeline Grace Beauchamp, grandpa dedicates this entire year to you!