Most significant story: The Colin Kaepernick-inspired national anthem boycott. While the Santa Clara quarterback took a knee before games in protest of oppression of blacks, fans tuned out in droves. While the mainstream media concocted all sorts of reasons for the plunge in television ratings, numerous polls pointed to the #boycottNFL movement as the primary reason.
Most overlooked story: Kaepernick’s on-field performance. While the mainstream media focused on his morality play, the activist continued to suck at his $19 million job with the worst team in the league.
Worst first impression: Chip Kelly. In an absolutely dreadful debut, the Santa Clara coach achieved the impossible — somehow he made predecessor Jim Tomsula look good.
Best sign: Thousands and thousands of empty sets at Santa Clara home games.
Next best sign: “Fire (general manager Trent) Baalke,” which flew over Levi’s Stadium late in the season.
Best story: The Raiders come of age to earn their first playoff berth in 12 seasons. Yep, Las Vegas could have a heckuva team one day.
Best (almost) meaningless story: The Warriors’ epic regular season. The defending NBA champs stuck it to their doubters with 73 wins, which shattered a 43-year-old league record that many had considered to be unbreakable, but …
Biggest disappointment: The Warriors’ dubious postseason. Stephen Curry went down in the first game and wasn’t quite the same thereafter. Neither was his team, whose lack of poise and leadership was painfully obvious against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, when they became the first to gag on a 3-1 lead.
Worst sight: LeBron James at his otherworldly best. In a jaw-dropper for the ages, King James became the first player to lead both teams in points (29.7), rebounds (11.3), assists (8.9), steals (2.6) and blocked shots (2.3) in an NBA Finals.
Biggest goat: Draymond Green. In Game 5, his team one victory short of a championship repeat, the Warriors’ spit disturber swatted James in the privates. The stunt resulted in a one-game suspension that was a ominous sign of things to come.
Next biggest goat(s): Start with Santiago (Gas Can) Casilla then name a Giants’ reliever, almost any Giants’ reliever.
Best move: Kevin Durant. After months of speculation and angst around the league, the Warriors signed the future Hall of Famer to a two-year, $54-million contract and hacked off their many critics in the process.
Best performance, lead actor: Madison Bumgarner. As was the case two years earlier, the Giants’ ace came up large in the one-game playoff, this time against the Mets in New York …
Most unlikely hero: Minor league call-up Conor Gillaspie. His three-run homer broke a scoreless tie in the ninth inning.
Best performance, supporting actor: Luke Walton. The Warriors’ assistant filled in for Steve Kerr (back surgery) and promptly led the team to a league record 24 consecutive victories to start the season.
Most shabby treatment: Walton. Because the NBA doesn’t acknowledge assistants for some lame-brained reason, Cool Head Luke didn’t receive credit for his 39-4 record, let alone coach in the All-Star Game. He did get a lovely parting gift when the Los Angeles Lakers hired him as head coach, though.
Next most shabby treatment: Athletics fans. Operations genius Billy Beane trotted out a developmental team that finished 69-93 and was out of the race before it began.
Best former A’s player made good: Two years after he was dealt for two guys you never heard of, the Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist was selected World Series Most Valuable Player.
Oddest occurrence: After World Series championships in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons, the Giants couldn’t even get past the NLDS.
Worst move: Bruce Bochy. In a win-or-else Game 4, with a 5-2 lead, the Giants’ skipper lifted starter Matt Moore even though the bullpen had blown 29 save chances at that point …
Most fitting loss: The Cubs went on to score four times, the greatest comeback in a playoff clincher ev-er …
And that’s 30-for-30.
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