Canada Hockey’s double Olympic gold: With the lack of World Junior success in recent years and the near irrelevance of the yearly World Hockey Championships tournament, Canada looked to their men’s and women’s Olympic teams to reclaim international hockey glory. The men’s team had a rather understated run, winning the tournament with tremendous defence and goaltending. The women’s team orchestrated an epic 3-2 comeback win against the United States in the gold medal game, helped by one of the luckiest bounces ever seen in hockey history.
Canadian tennis supremacy: Last year saw the rise of Canada as a major talent producer in the world of tennis. As unlikely as that may sound, it was a year of success for both Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard. Raonic reached the semifinal of Wimbledon and became the highest ranked Canadian tennis player of all time, reaching sixth in the world. Bouchard reached the final of the very same tournament and supplemented that performance by reaching the semifinals of both the French and Australian open the very same year. Needless to say, she is the highest ranked Canadian women’s tennis player of all time, currently sitting at seventh in the world.
Madison Bumgarner singlehandedly winning the World Series: In an era where pitch counts dominate the discourse on pitchers, San Francisco Giant’s ace Madison Bumgarner’s performance in the 2014 World Series was something to behold. Bumgarner got the ball in game one, and pitched seven innings of one run ball. In game five, he pitched a four hit shutout, and then he finished off the Royals in game seven, pitching the last five innings of the game on two days of rest. Many people pointed to Bumgarner’s total playoff performance in 2014 as one of the best of all time, as he threw a record-setting 52 2/3 innings with an earned run average of 1.03. For those who don’t understand baseball, he singlehandedly won the Giants the World Series.
Derek Jeter’s final hit at Yankee stadium: Even the most enthusiastic Yankee supporter was growing slightly weary of the Derek Jeter farewell tour by his last game at Yankee stadium. Despite that, he went out as only Derek Jeter could, ending his career with a walk off single against the Baltimore Orioles. It was a fitting end for one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game and even those the most critical of his last season were left with a smile on their face. The captain went out in a very captain-like fashion. The moment was near perfection.
Michael Sam’s bravery: Just before the 2014 NFL Draft, NCAA Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year winner Michael Sam became the first player in college football or the NFL to publicly admit to being gay. While many thought his sexuality would affect his draft stock, Sam was eventually picked in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.
Peyton Manning breaks the all-time touchdown Record: After a series of neck surgeries in 2011, Peyton Manning’s future in the NFL was unclear, but three and a half years later, Manning continues to add to an already impressive career. In 2013 he broke Tom Brady’s record for touchdowns in a season, leading the league’s best offence to the Super Bowl. This year he continues to reach milestones, breaking Brett Favre’s all time career touchdown record (509) and joining him as the only quarterback to beat all 32 teams in the league during their career.
The worst loss in Brazilian soccer history: The expectations of an entire country was too much for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. The Brazilians were heavily favored to win the World Cup on home soil, but they were stomed 7-0 in the semi-finals by Germany in one of the most embarassing losses in tournament history. The camera panned to both children and adults crying before half time had arrived, concluding with the Brazilian squad being booed off the field. To make it worse, they followed that performance by getting shut out by a score of 3-0 to the Netherlands in the bronze medal game.
Richard Sherman’s NFC Championship Rant: After making the biggest play of his career in the Seattle Seahawks’ NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers, Richard Sherman told the world how he felt about 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. While the interview itself was memorable, the public reaction made it particularly noteworthy. Sherman was widely described as a thug, which many argued was a veiled way to make his rant about his race and background. While Sherman may not have been the best sport following the win, the reaction to the event reflected deep held racism that still exist today.
Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan: Whether you think of Kobe Bryant as a great scorer or a shameless chucker, this year had something for you. Before breaking Michael Jordan’s scoring record, Kobe accumulated the most missed field goals in NBA history. Less than a month later in Minnesota, Kobe hit two free throws to pass Jordan for third on the NBA all-time scoring list, behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabar.
Lebron James Returning Home to Cleveland: All of the people who burned their LeBron James jerseys when he signed in Miami back in 2010 were probably the first ones in line to grab a new one when he came back in June. 10 days after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals, Lebron opted out of the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat, making him an unrestricted free agent. Fans of the league were sent into a frenzy searching for any information on where he was going to take his talents this time. At the time, most fans believed Miami’s big three were opting out in order to rework their contracts, but in a decision that would have sounded unbelievable a month earlier, he decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he spent the first seven years of his legendary career.
Clippers sell for $2 billion: It all started with a tape that surfaced on TMZ of Donald Sterling making racist comments. Fans demanded the Clippers players forfeit their playoff games to make a statement. The Clippers played, but wore their warm-up uniforms inside out to show that they were playing for themselves, not the team’s owner. Action would come from higher up, as Adam Silver, in his first major decision as commissioner, banned Sterling from any association with the NBA, forcing him to sell the team for more than $2 billion. Silver’s leadership in the Sterling situation sent a clear message that racism wouldn’t be tolerated in the NBA.
Tim Howard saves literally everything: The Americans may have lost, but Tim Howard certainly didn’t. The American goalkeeper put up one of the most incredible performances in World Cup history, singlehandedly willing his squad out of their group and into the round of 16. Howard used every part of his body to make 15 saves against Belgium in the round of 16, which is the most in a single game in World Cup history.
Mo’ne Davis’s fastball: 13-year-old pitcher Mo’ne Davis took baseball by storm this summer, using her 70-mile-an-hour fast ball to will her Philadelphia Taney Dragons to the Little League World Series. Once Davis arrived, all eyes were on her. In her first game, she threw a complete game shutout over Nashville, striking out eight hitters. What 12 year old can keep up with a 70-mile-an-hour speed ball? Davis’ second game against Nevada drew ESPN’s biggest baseball audience in seven years. Not just the Little League World Series, but all of baseball.
The Kansas City Royals’ magical run: “Take On Me” by A-ha was the top song in the United States the last time the Kansas City Royals made in the playoffs. 30 long years, Royals fans waited, and waited without anything to show for it — until 2014’s miracle run. The Royals put together an epic comeback against the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card game, coming from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning and the 12th inning to snatch a 9-8 win. The Royals then took down the heavily favoured Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles en route to the World Series, where they were finally stopped in seven games by the San Francisco Giants.