When the world is depressing and awful, you can (almost) always count on sports. And 2016 has been especially depressing and awful, from our interminable election to the rise of American authoritarianism to the ongoing devastation in Syria to the refugee crisis to the deaths of David Bowie and Prince to the rise of The Chainsmokers to the slow but steady erosion of everything we once held dear.
But sports, perhaps sensing impending global devastation, delivered in 2016. This year, we got a Villanova game-winner, the triumph of Leicester City, the Cleveland Cavaliers coming back from 3-1 down to beat the greatest time in the history of basketball, LeBron James turning into Basketball Apollo for three games, the goddamn Olympics, and then, to cap it all off, the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years in one of the greatest baseball games ever. (Also, the Euros were pretty good until Portugal won.)
There was a tendency, at least in political circles, to read last night’s game through the lens of our completely dysfunctional politics—that the stress and Joe Maddon and the rain-induced unpredictability of the 10-inning game were broadly indicative of this fucked-up year. That is myopic and wrong, because Game 7 of the World Series ruled. Everything about it was great, even Aroldis Chapman’s inevitable transformation into a pumpkin. The game had an arc, and only the final four minutes of the 2016 NBA Finals (which, it’s worth saying, were mostly garbage) could compare in terms of narrative tension. If the Indians had won, it would have been almost as sweet, but, like so many 2016 sports moments, the Cubs’ victory was the perfect capper.
Of course, not every sports moment in 2016 was glory. The Super Bowl was trash, but it really belonged to 2015, anyway.