Team of the Year
This year gave rise to some of the most impressive teams we’ve seen in a while, and nowhere was this more apparent than with the Boston Red Sox. Though they have enjoyed success in recent years, they were much more dominant this season. Their first season under new manager Alex Cora was a sign of a new, successful direction for the team. Many of the team’s best players had not previously been considered stars, but they dominated every statistical category in baseball. They had the most wins of any Major League Baseball (MLB) team since 2001, clinched a playoff berth before any other team, and broke their 106 year-old franchise win record with 108 wins. They dominated in the postseason, losing only three games in the whole competition. To cap it off they closed out their successful season with their fourth World Series win in the past 15 years.
Surprise of the Year
Despite being one of the most prominent nations in the soccer world, Mexico had not previously enjoyed much success in the World Cup. Germany, on the other hand, has been consistently dominant throughout the competition’s history, and was the reigning World Cup champion. So when the two teams squared off for their opening match everybody thought Germany was a shoe-in. What they failed to account for was that while Germany had lost valuable players who had led them to their previous victories, Mexico had picked up new, young talent. Mexico took home a 1-0 win as Germany tried and failed to equalize a game that has already gone down as one of the greatest in Mexican soccer history. When they scored, the fans in Mexico celebrated so hard that they registered an earthquake; it’s exciting to see a young underdog nation that’s so passionate about soccer topple an old giant.
Game of the Year
The Las Vegas Golden Knights entered their first ever National Hockey League (NHL) season as an unexpectedly dominant force, reaching the Stanley Cup finals. This was an unheard of achievement and a huge boost for the young franchise. They played against the ever-powerful Washington Capitals and ultimately lost in five games. However, in the first game of the series, they defeated the Capitals 6-4. Neither team had been able to edge ahead by more than one goal until the Golden Knights scored their final goal with three seconds to go putting them two points ahead. Both teams put up stellar efforts, scoring some of the best goals of the season. This was not only an incredible and exciting game to watch, but it was symbolic of a change in the tide of the NHL. The Golden Knights are a team capable of overcoming their youth to do something great. With hockey struggling and losing many fans, this game seems as if it may be the predecessor to many more exciting games that can help bring the sport back into the public eye.
Athlete of the Year
Last year, Serena Williams took a year off tennis to give birth to her first child and deal with the life-threatening after effects of the birth. She returned in style, battling to the latter rounds of the biggest tennis competitions in the world and defeating some of the best players. She also managed to inspire people all around the world, proving that having a child wouldn’t stop her from continuing to be an amazing athlete. Additionally, she served as a role model as she balanced health issues, motherhood, and being one of the top ranked athletes in the world. Williams also made headlines when her medically issued “super suit” was deemed inappropriate at the French Open. She spoke up about the issue, exposing the ridiculous rules around clothing for women in the competitions. Overcoming multiple adversities, Williams thoroughly deserves the status of athlete of the year.
Comeback of the Year
Although not very prominent in the public eye, this year’s biggest comeback undoubtedly goes to Tiger Woods. Woods is one of the most successful golfers in the history of the sport, but he has been out of form for a long time. Five years ago, he got his 79th Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) tour win, but he was absent from the golfing world until this year due to numerous back surgeries, other medical issues, and personal breaks. He returned this year to claim his 80th PGA tour win, exceeding expectations in the world’s biggest tournaments against some of the best players. Astonishingly, Woods ended 2017 not even in the top 1,000 golfers according to the Official World Golf Ranking. Now, he is ranked 14th. No one expected Woods to do much more than set himself up for next year, but he surpassed all expectations. As for the future, Woods is still looking for a major championship win since his last at the 2008 US Open.