Even the most avid sports fan has to admit that the ESPYs are, for the most part, corny-as-all-hell. Yes there have been some inspiring moments and legitimately funny ones, but any award show that allows Drake to host isn’t exactly helping its cause.
Still the ESPYs did have the ingenious idea of taking place on the one night of the year where none of the four major sports are playing (yes, we see you MLS and no, you don’t count), so needless to say most of us will be tuning in because we have no idea what else to do with out lives.
And if we are going to watch something, we might as well put odds on it. So here are our favorites for the best in the world of sports for 2015.
Best Male Athlete:
- JJ Watt, Houston Texans – 5/3
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers – 2/1
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 5/1
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – 6/1
The world loves JJ Watt right now. No matter where the defensive end goes, he ends up in the news somehow. And while Watt missed out on the NFL MVP award this year because of the nature of his position, this award is just about the best athlete, which is something Watt is constantly reminding us he is. That said, LeBron is coming off one of the better NBA Finals performances of all time, and the fact that it is fresh in people’s minds could help King James’ case.
Best Female Athlete:
- Ronda Rousey, MMA – 3/2
- Serena Williams, WTA – 7/4
- Lindsey Vonn, Skiing – 5/1
- Breanna Stewart, UConn Basketball – 10/1
Like Best Male Athlete, this should be a two-horse race. Rousey took home the award last year and since then she’s defended her title twice, knocking out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds and getting a 14-second submission on Cat Zingano, the fastest in UFC history. Williams has been equally dominant in the tennis world, winning the last three majors heading into Wimbledon. Both she and Vonn have won the award twice before.
Best Championship Performance:
- Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants – 1/1
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers – 7/4
- Lauren Haeger, Florida Softball – 11/1
- American Pharoah, Race Horse – 11/1
Like we said earlier, James is coming off one of the best NBA Finals performances of all time, averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists against the Warriors. But James’ effort came in a championship loss. Bumgarner on the other hand had arguably the best pitching performance in a World Series, pitching 21 innings as both a starter and reliever, allowing only one earned run, striking out 17, winning two games, and recording a save in Game 7. That should be enough to give him the nod over James.
Best Breakthrough Athlete:
- Odell Beckham Jr, New York Giants – 1/1
- Jordan Spieth, PGA – 5/3
- Cardale Jones, Ohio State Buckeyes – 10/1
- Mo’ne Davis, Little League Baseball – 12/1
After rattling off 91 catches, 1,305 yards, and 12 TDs in a 12-game rookie season, Beckham will likely be taking home the Breakthrough Athlete award to go along with Best Play of the Year. Beckham’s amazing year won’t go unchallenged, though, thanks to the great 2015 Jordan Spieth is having. At only 21 years old, Spieth won golf’s first two majors of the year, tying the record for lowest score at the Masters and making a clutch birdie on 18 to win the U.S. Open by a stroke.
Best Record-Breaking Performance:
- Peyton Manning throws record-509th touchdown pass – 3/2
- Klay Thompson scores 37 points in a single quarter – 2/1
- Devin Hester takes punt in for 20th touchdown return – 5/1
- Lauren Chamberlain hits 91st home run in NCAA softball – 7/1
Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter was pure insanity, even if it was against the Sacramento Kings. However, Manning’s TD record was 17 years in the making and came in the usual gem of a game we’re used to seeing from the QB as he carved the 49ers up for 318 yards and four TDs on 84-percent passing. Expect Manning to get the award for unseating Brett Favre this year, and perhaps next year too, when he takes aim at the all-time yardage record.
- Georgia State over Baylor in March Madness – 1/1
- Kansas City Royals win AL Pennant – 2/1
- Mississippi over Alabama in NCAA football – 4/1
March Madness always has its share of upsets, but what made No. 14 seed Georgia State’s both special and hilarious was head coach Ron Hunter. After tearing his Achilles tendon celebrating his team’s win of the Sun Belt conference, Hunter had to coach the tournament from a stool; but not even that could stop him from celebrating his son R.J’s game-winning three. The ridiculous circumstances around that game give it an edge over the Royals improbable October run. Although, if we know one thing about Kansas City fans, it’s that they tend to vote in big numbers.
- Patriots vs. Seahawks, Super Bowl – 1/1
- A’s vs. Royals, MLB AL Wild Card – 5/2
- Spurs vs. Clippers, Game 7, NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals – 5/2
All of these games deserve to be here (as well as the NFC Championship game, I might add), but the Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year, and the fact that it more than lived up to the hype gives it an edge. Also, the Seahawks’ decision to throw dominated discussions for weeks, while the other games left us with narratives – “Chris Paul finally stepped up in a big-time moment,” “Billy Beane really is never going to win a World Series” – that didn’t hang around nearly as long.
(Photo Credit: ESPN [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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