Five Franchises that can be Thankful for 2016
Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s one of the few times of the year when you have permission to eat yourself into a food-induced coma. Or maybe it’s that one time of the year when you get to see that weird uncle from who knows where. For most of us, it’s also a time to reflect and to think about all we have to be thankful for. Some people are thankful for their families, others for opportunities or experiences, and others are thankful for their sports teams. Here is a brief list of some franchises whose fans can be thankful for their 2016 performance. This isn’t to say that these are the only franchises that can be thankful for 2016. These are just a few who stand out in 2016, and heading into 2017.
We’ll start off with an obvious one. With the Indians heartbreaking loss to the Cubs and the Browns heartbreaking existence over the past several years, the Cavaliers’ championship means that much more to the city of Cleveland. All of the resentment harbored towards LeBron evaporated once the boy from Akron delivered the city its first championship since the Browns won the NFL in 1964. But the team isn’t content with just one championship, and they retained the weapons necessary to make a run at being the first back-to-back NBA Champs since the 2012-13 Miami Heat.
The Cubs and their fans have to be grateful for a stellar 2016 season, capped by ending their 108 year World Series drought. Unfortunately for their opponents, the Indians now inherit the MLB’s longest World Series drought, but their fans can still be thankful for the aforementioned Cavs ending their city’s championship drought. This isn’t just about the Cubs breaking the curse, but their ability to retain so much of the talent that won them the World Series. Yes, Aroldis Chapman and Dexter Fowler hit free agency this offseason, but most of the big bats and arms, including MVP Kris Bryant and Cy Young candidate Jon Lester, will be returning next year. As long as guys like Kyle Schwarber can stay healthy (and they did more than fine without him), then this team has the talent to be a serious contender for quite a while.
When Tony Romo went down for the second straight season, I’m sure a lot of Dallas fans were expecting to see a repeat of 2015. Sure there was the potential of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott getting a chance to showcase their abilities, but few people probably predicted they would be doing this well after ten games. The Cowboys current nine-game win streak is the longest in franchise history. Even storied names in Cowboys history like Landry, Staubach, Smith, or Aikman were never able to accomplish such a feat. Elliott, behind the Cowboys’ explosive O-Line, leads the NFL with 1102 rushing yards thus far. Prescott has thrown for 2,640 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions this season. When this kind of success can be seen with rookies at the helm, it’s an auspicious sign of good things to come down the road in Dallas.
First of all, Oakland can be thankful to still have a team. With all of the rumors during the offseason about finding bigger markets, and seeing the Rams head back to Los Angeles, Raiders fans had to be a little concerned over whether the Alameda Coliseum would still be used for more than just baseball. The Raiders and their fans have suffered tremendously since their 2002 Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay, and they’re finally seeing years of suffering vindicated with the emergence of young stars. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper have proven to be a dominant duo on offense, and currently have the Raiders sitting atop the AFC West at 8-2. Their wins haven’t all been pretty, including one that came with over 20+ team penalties. Carr and Cooper have become staples in the Raider offense, and could be so for years to come.
Now of course, none of the above teams are huge surprises. The former two won their respective leagues, and the latter two currently have the two best records in theirs. However, teams and fans can be thankful for more than just their successes. Next is a team that didn’t do particularly well this season, but still have given their fans something to smile about.
Yes, the Braves 2016 was a bit of a wash record-wise, but in the final few months, the team really appeared to be coming together. They went 23-14 in their last 37 games, including a 12-2 run to finish out the season. Freddie Freeman and deadline acquisition Matt Kemp performed well at the plate, with Freeman hitting a career high 34 home runs. Dansby Swanson showcased his talent to Atlanta fans, hitting .302 with 3 homers and 17 RBIs over 38 games in 2016. They also recently acquired Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey from free agency, which may not seem like groundbreaking signs, but can certainly pay dividends with their very young staff. Combine all of this with a brand spanking new stadium in SunTrust Park opening next year, and Braves fans have plenty to be happy about this year.