By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Nova, Cavs, Cubs, Clemson, Super Bowl.
The last five championships in major men’s team sports have been great to the point of spoiling us watchers. (With apologies to the NHL, I guess.)
Sunday capped a span of less than a year in which we got another amazing finale to a season that, after whining all season about the lax gameplay in much of the NFL regular season and dust farts through most of the playoffs, we maybe didn’t deserve. So much so that I’m suddenly worried about our reckoning to come.
Immediately after Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots’ historic comeback (actually, I prefer to think of it more as an Atlanta Falcons sphincter contraction to end all sphincter contractions) was being called the greatest of its kind of all time — by CBS Sports, USA Today, Newsweek, Bleacher Report, NFL Pravda. The list of flabbergasted awe goes on. The only argument against this could possibly be that such credit shouldn’t be bestowed on a team so largely hated in the Patriots, but even that gets a bit blunted by the pleasure most took in seeing commissioner Roger Goodell have to stand on a stage with Tom Brady.
That was less than a month after what Fox Sports called “the best title game in college football history” after Clemson eked past Alabama. I found it even better when viewed through the lens of Uncle Bill Walton and his life lessons.
About two months before that, my life changed forever as the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, something I can’t say enough, even if it’s just to fight off the suspicion that it’s all a dream. But it contained the best Game 7 in World Series history with the highest highs and very Cubbie fatalist lows and controversy and rain and David Ross. It was as though the gods of sport decided we weren’t just worthy of the end of the most notorious sports drought but to have it happen in a way that almost wrote all the pending books on the Cubs season for the scribes.
The Summer of Cubs was kicked off with the Cleveland Cavaliers ending their city’s epic title want. It sort of felt like if LeBron James could finally free Cleveland from decades of jokes, maybe some months later more history could happen. A la the Falcons, the Golden State Warriors famously blew a 3-1 series lead that the Cleveland Indians would then cough up to the Cubs. The end of some jokes created others. Besides that, Game 7 of those NBA Finals is, according to Complex, “the greatest game we ever saw.”
And the series of fortunate viewing events was set off by Villanova’s buzzer-beating win over North Carolina to win, you guessed it, “the best NCAA championship game ever.” (USA Today seems to love throwing that around.) I agree, if only because I got a day off of school for teaching at a fellow Augustinian institution.
Now what? That ends this sports fiscal year, and we reset. But we can’t repeat anything close to that stretch. There has never been an April through February like that in sports history. We just peaked.
And while it would be irrational to hold out hope for anything even faintly resembling a duplicate of NCAA, NBA, MLB and NFL championship games all in a row, what creeps upon me more is a severe market correction. Our spoils must be taxed, and perhaps they will be severely.
What if we’re about to enter a dark year for sports? What if college basketball chooses to be the college basketball that NBA fans know it to be — bad basketball? Maybe we don’t get Final Four buzzer-beaters to make up for the clang after clang after clang that goes on for most of the tournament games.
The Golden State Warriors are 44-8. (I added a win because they’re playing the Bulls on Wednesday.) The Cavaliers are tops in the East, but they aren’t as fluid as last season. LeBron has more than once in recent weeks reportedly called on the front office to add players to the league’s highest payroll and $36 million above a very good Boston Celtics team that is only two games behind them. And even if the Warriors and Cavs meet again, there’s already an anti-climax in the assumption that matchup would happen anyway.
The Cubs are going to win the World Series again, so that will be cool.
But then Nick Saban is going to take all of the ceaseless font of teen angst he has been able to channel into obsessive college coaching and put out a juggernaut hell-bent on destroying everything in its path to make the voices in his head screaming “LOSER” stop for just a day. Then the Patriots are already 5-1 favorites to continue to be a metaphor for smirking evil to get whatever it wants in America.
We’ve had it really good lately. Maybe too good.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.