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Things we’d like to see in the world of sports in 2016

My trusty crystal ball wasn’t so trusty with sports prognostications in 2015. Like Rex Ryan, it really let me down. Yes, it accurately predicted a close victory by New England over Seattle in Super Bowl 49, and it also was spot-on about Tiger Woods’ balky back and Abby Wambach’s career-capping World Cup title. But it was as off-target as an EJ Manuel spiral in London when it forecasted a failed Alex Rodriguez comeback, a World Series appearance by the Chicago Cubs, an NBA title for the San Antonio Spurs and 55 touchdown tosses by Aaron Rogers.

So, I’m going to put the crystal ball in storage this year and take a different tack. Instead of predicting what’s going to happen, I’m going to write about things I’d like to see happen. Without further ado, here’s my wish list: 

 

  •  Less talking and more doing by Ryan and his Buffalo Bills players—and an end to the franchise’s 16-season playoff famine. Yes, Rex’s press conferences have been vastly more entertaining than his flat-lining predecessors, giving us who write and talk about sports for a living plenty of fodder. But the team regressed. Rex did less with more. It would be nice if he paid more attention to detail, disciplined his players on occasion, and ran a defensive scheme that was more comprehensible and maximized his team’s potential.
  •  A healthy and safe Olympics for Brazil—a Summer Games that won’t be remembered for terrorism or the polluted waters that already have sickened many rowers and sailors during practices and competitions.
  •  More fans who put away their cellphones and actually watch the games.
  •  A World Series cameo for eloquent Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. Even if his team doesn’t make it to the Fall Classic, wouldn’t it be great if the retiring octogenarian was hired by Fox to call a few innings each game?
  •  An NBA title for Cleveland. Not so much for LeBron James, but for long-suffering fans of a great sports town that hasn’t celebrated a championship since the Browns won an NFL crown a half-century ago.
  •  A World Series title for the Cubs, the most cursed of all sports franchises, which hasn’t won it all since 1908.
  •  Speaking of cursed franchises, how about some love for the Philadelphia 76ers, who won one of their first 31 games this season, and are well on their way to establishing an NBA record for futility? Here’s hoping new basketball czar Jerry Colangelo can pump some life into the 76ers the way he did while restoring USA basketball to Olympic glory.
  •  A rewarding second career for Wambach, who wants to become an advocate for gender pay equality. She also has some strong opinions about the lack of success by the U.S. men’s soccer team, so I wouldn’t mind seeing her take over as coach. I believe her achievements on the pitch would give her instant credibility.
  •  A bowl game for new Syracuse University football coach Dino Babers in his first year at the helm and an influx of Orange football fans to the Carrier Dome, which saw a 20 percent drop in attendance last season.
  •  The continued ascendancy of Jordan Spieth, who’s not only a superb golfer but a grounded, young athlete who gets it.
  •  Expansion of the college football tournament to eight teams. It would have been exciting seeing teams like Notre Dame, whose only losses were close ones on the road to Clemson and Stanford, have an opportunity to avenge those defeats in the post-season.
  •  More compassionate and inspirational sports stories like that of Lauren Hill, the 19-year-old who got to realize her dream of playing college basketball before succumbing to cancer last April. Her school—Mount St. Joseph College, near Cincinnati—moved its hoops opener up a month so Hill could officially suit up in a game. Her layup was one of the most memorable sports moments of any year.
  •  Another run to the Frozen Four by the RIT men’s hockey team. Coach Wayne Wilson’s Tigers captivated the Rochester community and the college hockey world with its Cinderella march five years ago. A program that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships proved it could play with programs that do.
  •  Total reformation of FIFA, the international crime syndicate that runs soccer.
  •  And while we’re advocating reformation of monolithic regimes, how about blowing up and starting over with college sports’ governing body—the NCAA?
  •  A moratorium on the retirement of New York Yankees numbers after Derek Jeter’s No. 2 is taken out of circulation. The Bronx Bombers have made a mockery of the honor.
  •  NHL Rookie of the Year honors for Jack Eichel and a return to the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres.
  •  Full-time NFL officials and a paring down of the rule book, so we all can understand what constitutes a catch.
  •  A Grand Slam for Serena Williams, which would give her 25 major tennis titles, one more than all-time leader Margaret Court.
  •  Athletes, coaches, owners, sports journalists and fans who think before they tweet.
  •  More traditions like the one started by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who gives footballs to young fans after throwing or scoring a touchdown.
  •  An end to the NFL’s Thursday night color rushes in which the league dresses its teams in ugly hues just to create more revenue streams.
  •  Championship seasons by the Rochester Red Wings, Amerks, Knighthawks, Rhinos, RazorSharks and Flash.
  •  Continued sobriety and some more Olympic gold for swimmer Michael Phelps, who could wind up making even a greater impact outside the pool.
  •  Anger management courses for Odell Beckham Jr., Jerry Hughes, Jonathan Papelbon and other enraged athletes who can’t keep their emotions in check.
  •  Another successful Danielle Downey Classic golf tournament for dedicated director Mike Vadala and all his hard-working volunteers, who have attempted to fill the void left by the LPGA.
  •  Owners and players throughout the sports world agreeing to pay cuts and reduced profits so they can offer deeply discounted tickets and merchandise. (Yeah, I know that’s a pipe dream, but…)
  •  

    Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.

    1/4/16 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

    One comment

    1. fire doug whaley finally…..sorry but letting go freddie is the start next is , what hell does he want from tyrod because i think he in the highest level you can go as a qb. doug is obviously blind

      disagree with you about rex because doug did not give him the talent in my opinion to fix what has been broken since 16 years sorry and for that russ needs to focus on one team still because both sabres and bills need a president who can stay focus on both teams

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