Jan. 1, 2017. Exiting the 2016 calendar year sure does have at least a touch of catharsis to it. Realistically, every year has its ups and downs, so a lot of that “worst year ever” talk has probably been a bit overhyped.
Each January, I like to do a brief look ahead at what we might expect the coming 365 days to produce. Maybe it won’t allow us to instantly forget a lot of the turmoil or disappointment that 2016 seemed to accentuate, but we can all be optimistic together, right?
(Yes, just say yes.)
Back to earth for the Rainbow Warriors
Right now, the historic 2015-16 Hawaii men’s basketball season still provides me with some fond memories and an overall warm and tingly feeling. Only once in a while does a team show such cohesion and garner supreme results to show for it. Well, hopefully you have some highlights saved on DVR or you’re ready to fire up YouTube for a refresher because that team is long gone. Nobody expects Eran Ganot to approach his recent success, but I’m actually predicting this year’s squad to finish the season with fewer wins than losses.
Even with some nice pieces to build around — namely Jack Purchase and Sheriff Drammeh — I don’t see them coming together quite enough during the conference schedule to finish with a winning mark.
Let the back-to-back campaign begin
Looking into my crystal ball, there’s a lanky blond kid calmly standing upright on his board inside a massive, hollow barrel. His face is becoming clearer as he exits the doggy door and gives a knowing glance to the shoreline.
It’s unmistakably John John Florence, and he’s gliding his way to another yellow jersey.
Yes, it’s a long season. Yes, he has shown a propensity for inconsistency in the past. Yes, the world tour is tougher than ever before.
Those things matter to mortals. John John is another specimen. He’s about to embark on his curtain call and will become the Championship Tour’s first male back-to-back champion since Kelly Slater in 2010 and 2011.
Women’s world title will also stay in Hawaii
So not only will John John claim his second world title, but Carissa Moore is about to earn her fourth. It was only a two-horse race this season and Tyler Wright pulled away from Courtney Conlogue with plenty of momentum towards the home stretch. Moore was a factor in most events, but she never really got into the world title mix.
That changes in 2017.
Whether it’s coincidence or there’s more reasoning behind it than we understand, Moore has won the world title every other year since her first in 2011. Any odd year has been one in which Moore comes out on top. She may need to muster a little more of the seriousness that helped Wright transition this year from a contender to a front runner. But Moore is as competitive as they come and I think her best days are still ahead of her.
On a more national stage, here are some quick hitters to keep in mind:
At least four players will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame — With Bud Selig getting in a few weeks back, the flood gates should open for so-called “steroid era” players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will win their second straight NBA Championship — The Cavs seem to have a more defined on/off switch than do the Warriors.
UCLA will win the NCAA men’s basketball championship — Get ready for lots of Steve and Bryce Alford ESPN packages.
The New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl — This really pains me, but they’re simply the best team in the league and nobody is all that close.
Roman Reigns will finally turn heel; it will be great — I’ve burrowed deep down the WWE rabbit hole this past year and I think this is finally on the horizon.
Rex and Rob Ryan will be doing terrible Papa John’s commercials — Right?
Draymond Green will have another run in with a player’s nether region — Easy money.
Drake and J-Lo will break up — Because, yeah.
Have a happy, healthy and safe new year! Bring on 2017!
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.