With the rise to prominence of the Skip Baylesses and the Stephen A. Smiths of the world, the lines have become blurred between hot takes and genuine predictions. One moment you might think you are innocently forecasting the future, and the next you are being roasted on that Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account:
If there weren’t bad predictions, there wouldn’t be predictions at all. But sometimes, there are educated guesses that just about everyone agrees on and aren’t classified in the fiery take department. Storylines, if you will, that are almost certainly going to happen, barring something drastic. There were quite a few of these that the collective sports world thought would occur in 2017, and didn’t. Here are the top storylines of the year that didn’t pan out like we all thought.
The New York Mets Pitching Staff Would Be Dominant
After a World Series appearance in 2015 and an NL Wild Card game appearance in 2016, New York Mets fans had plenty of reason to be optimistic for the 2017 season. This would be the year it all came together, aided by the fact the organization would have all four of their top pitchers healthy and ready to dominate: Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Stephen Matz. What could possibly go wrong? Well, in classic Mets fashion, literally everything. Syndergaard didn’t make it to May, Harvey struggled before shutting it down in mid-June and Matz went 2-7 before calling it a year in late August. DeGrom was the only one of the “Four Horsemen” to last the season, one in which the Mets went 70-92, 27 games back of the first-place Washington Nationals.
This was the year Tiger Woods would make a real comeback
Since his five-win season in 2013, Tiger Woods has been plagued by injuries that have kept him away from the PGA Tour. Each failed comeback attempt was becoming harder to watch than the last, but 2017’s edition appeared like it would finally be the one that stuck. Despite showing plenty of rust, Woods led the field in birdies at the Hero World Challenge, and had fans optimistic for what was to come. Less than two months later, he missed the cut at Torrey Pines, WD’d with a bad back at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and already closed up shop on the season before the tour even reached the Florida swing. Let’s hope 2018 isn’t a similar story.
“Tiger Woods is done.”
Tiger’s Torrey struggles, early exit in Dubai and Memorial Day nightmare only made the “he’s done” crowd scream louder, and even his most ardent supporters were starting to face that harsh reality, including Tiger himself. But his slow progression afterwards, including a strong showing once again at the Hero World Challenge, have made everyone cautiously optimistic once again.
The Oakland Raiders are Super Bowl contenders
The 2016 season was the year that could have been for the Oakland Raiders, who lost starting QB Derek Carr in the second-to-last game of the season, destroying their Super Bowl hopes despite a 12-4 season. With a healthy Carr, the addition of Marshawn Lynch and added incentive to perform for the Oakland faithful before the team moves to Vegas, 2017 was supposed to be the year they made a Super Bowl run. Thanks to 2-0 start, the Raiders looked to be headed in that direction, but they’ve gone 4-9 since, highlighted by embarrassing losses to the Patriots and Bills by a combined score of 67-21.
LaVar Ball would pipe down when Lonzo got drafted
All of the talking and Kardashian-like promotion of his kids finally paid off for LaVar when Lonzo was taken by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Draft. Surely, he would shut up now that he achieved this ultimate goal. Shockingly, that has not been the case. LaVar has feuded with Trump over his other son LiAngelo’s transgressions in China. He’s said Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry. The latest? He plans to start a basketball league for high schoolers looking to make it to the NBA but not go to college. Big Baller is not going anywhere.
“Jared Goff is a bust.”
Believe it or not, people have absolutely no patience in the year 2017. That’s why after just seven games under center, the Twitter geniuses of the world had declared No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff a “bust.” There was nothing he could possibly do in his first full season that would convince anyone otherwise, even with a new coach and a little experience under his belt. The Rams QB has blocked out all the haters this year, leading the Rams to a 11-4 start and an NFC West title. Along the way he’s thrown for 3,804 yards, 28 TDs and just 7 interceptions.
Blake Bortles will be replaced at QB at some point for the Jaguars
It wasn’t a matter of if, or even who, but when Blake Bortles would be replaced at QB in Jacksonville. For a few weeks, Eli Manning was the guy everyone had already subbed in for Bortles, immediately making the Jags a Super Bowl contender. One might think that could wear on a player mentally, but Bortles has quietly improved each game despite the whispers. For the first time since 2007, the Jags are back in the playoffs, and if Bortles continues to build on his strong play, he makes them a legitimate force in the AFC with their stout defense, which ranks third overall in the NFL.
Dustin Johnson, not Justin Thomas, would dominate in 2017, and win at least a major
No one in golf, or on earth for that matter, was hotter than Dustin Johnson heading into the 2017 Masters. He had won in his previous three starts on the PGA Tour, two of them in World Golf Championships. The question quickly went from “which major will Dustin win this year?” to “how many?” Then, the infamous stair slip felt ‘round the world occurred at Augusta, DJ withdrew and the rest is history. Incredibly, he nearly won in his first start back at the Wells Fargo, and was still able to notch one more victory at The Northern Trust, defeating Jordan Spieth in a playoff. Unfortunately, an unbelievable four-win season will now be remembered for what it could have been, rather than what it was for the No. 1 player in the world.
The Chicago Cubs would repeat
The curse-ending season was magical one for the Chicago Cubs, but the franchise wasn’t going to be satisfied with just one World Series win. The roster Theo Epstein has built was too stacked to be a one-hit wonder, and the Cubs were locked, loaded and ready to repeat in 2017. After an up-and-down first half of the season, the Cubbies came roaring back in the second half, winning the NL Central division for a second-straight year and stunning the Washington Nationals in the first round of the postseason. They were back in the NLCS for the third straight year, but couldn’t overcome the LA Dodgers, who disposed of Chicago in five games, including a 11-1 beat down in the clincher at Wrigley Field.
A team would sign Colin Kaepernick
There was never any doubt that Colin Kaepernick had the talent to play quarterback in the NFL. Not long ago he and the San Francisco 49ers were perennial NFC Championship contenders. But after opting out of a $14.5 million contract, his time in SF was over, and despite his anthem protest, there was no question a team would give him a look. The possibility of this became greater by the week, with injuries to starting QBs like Aaron Rodgers, Sam Bradford, Jameis Winston, DeShaun Watson and Carson Palmer. Somehow, Kaepernick remains unemployed as the 2017 NFL season comes to a close.