As we honor the Best of 2019 in this issue, we also turn our eye toward 2020. There is much to look forward to, but we aren’t going to risk anyone accusing us of “jinxing” anything by including Super Bowl LIV (Feb. 2 in Miami) on this list. We just won’t do that.
Instead we offer The 15 2020 Sports Highlights … OTHER than Super Bowl LIV (which, if you missed it, is Feb. 2 in Miami, but we’re not including that on this list because we wouldn’t want you to think we’re jinxing anything).
1. Jan. 11: Vermont at UMBC Men’s Basketball
These schools have met in each of the last two America East championship games, splitting the two titles. Vermont’s roster features potential NBA Draft pick Anthony Lamb, who is the favorite to repeat as America East Player of the Year.
Other dates worth circling for local college basketball reasons include the rivalry games between Morgan State and Coppin State (at Coppin Jan. 25, at Morgan Feb. 29). Fans can also circle Feb. 1, which features the annual Autism Awareness game at Towson University as the Tigers host Charleston, while Loyola welcomes in-state Patriot League rival Navy.
2. Jan. 13 and Feb. 5: Roland Park vs. St. Frances Girls’ Basketball
You will have two opportunities to see two of ESPN’s top 25 high school players in the country square off against each other in the regular season at Roland Park Jan. 13 and at St. Frances Feb. 5. The Panthers’ Angel Reese is the nation’s No. 2-ranked prospect and headed to Maryland, while the Reds’ Mir McLean is ranked No. 21 and bound for UConn. Perhaps the most anticipated boys’ high school game is Poly vs. St. Frances at Morgan State Jan. 25. Poly features future Marquette Golden Eagle Justin Lewis, while St. Frances has future VCU Ram and defending Baltimore Sun Player of the Year Adrian “Ace” Baldwin.
3. Feb. 29: Michigan State at Maryland Men’s Basketball
If these teams live up to their preseason hype, this could be a late-season top-five showdown in College Park, Md. Additionally, the two schools are expected to battle each other to be the top women’s team in the Big Ten this season. Nia Clouden (St. Frances) and the Spartans visit Xfinity Center Feb. 3.
4. March 26: Orioles Opening Day
We all know the Orioles are likely to have another tough season in 2020, but this is Opening Day we’re talking about. After starting the season in New York last year, the Birds kick things off against the Yankees at Camden Yards this season. If you’re looking for a fun road trip this season, the Birds travel to Wrigley Field for a pair of games June 2-3, and there’s a West Coast swing to Oakland and Seattle July 2-8. Also, don’t forget the Orioles have the No. 2 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, to be held June 10-12 in Omaha, Neb., before the College World Series.
5. April 25: Maryland at Johns Hopkins Men’s Lacrosse
Both the Terps and Blue Jays are expected to be top-10 teams going into the 2020 season. Their meetings at Homewood Field tend to bring crowds that stretch the bounds of the term “capacity.” Other notable dates on the lacrosse calendar include Towson at Johns Hopkins Feb. 8, Johns Hopkins at Loyola Feb. 15, Towson at Loyola Feb. 26 and Towson at UMBC March 3.
6. May 16: 145th Preakness Stakes
Recent Preaknesses have been surrounded by a feeling of dread about the future of both the race and Pimlico Race Course. This year’s might well be the final Preakness at Pimlico in current form … but with work to be done, there’s far greater reason for hope about the future of the event and venue in general.
7. May 22 And 24: NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Final Four at Homewood Field
Maryland fans are hoping that Baltimore can be the site of a fifth NCAA championship in seven years after winning last year’s title at the same venue. Keep an eye on Loyola as a dark horse Final Four contender as well. And speaking of Homewood Field, the venue would seem to be a safe bet to host another weekend of games in the PLL’s sophomore season in the summer of 2020.
8. July 24-Aug. 9: Summer Olympics; Aug. 25-Sept. 6: Summer Paralympics
Believe it or not, it appears Michael Phelps actually meant it when he said he was retired this time. But there are other locals who will try to reach the medal podium in Tokyo, including 2016 silver medalist Chase Kalisz (Fallston), who won gold in the 200 and 400 meter medley at the 2017 World Championships. Local athletes could dominate the Paralympics, including swimmer Becca Meyers and racers Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk.
9. Aug. 23: Orioles vs. Red Sox (Little League Classic)
The good news for the hardest of hardcore Orioles fans is that the 2020 season presents an opportunity to see your team in a venue where you’ve definitely never seen them before and isn’t miserably far away. The bad news is that, well, tickets will not be easy to come by. Just 2,503 fans were able to watch the 2019 Little League Classic, played at the Single-A Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters’ home ballpark — and the majority were Little League World Series players and their families. A few tickets will be available to the public via a lottery. So we’re saying there’s a chance.
10. Aug. 29: Navy vs. Notre Dame Football (Dublin, Ireland)
For the third time in the history of the rivalry, the Midshipmen will face the Fighting Irish in Ireland. The “Week Zero” battle will likely be the first FBS football game of the season, played a full week before Labor Day weekend and could make fun a fun trip for fans of either program. Closer to home, Annapolis, Md., is again expected to host the Veterans Classic basketball event in November and the Military Bowl in late December.
11. Sept. 5: Towson at Maryland Football
The Tigers gave the Terps a run for their money back in 2011, trailing just 7-3 early in the second half. They’ll get another shot to pull off the in-state upset this season during Labor Day weekend before returning home to face Morgan State Sept. 12 as the schools renew their rivalry. Another Week 1 game of note sees Johns Hopkins host Stevenson for the first time ever in a new non-conference Division III rivalry.
12. Sept. 6: Maryland Cycling Classic
The fall brings a few new major events to Charm City in 2020, including this race which is slated to bring the world’s top cyclists to Baltimore during Labor Day weekend and will also include a festival atmosphere.
13. Oct. 14-18: Five-Star Fair Hill International Three-Day Event
Speaking of new events, Cecil County will be the home for just the seventh five-star equestrian event in the world and only the second in the United States. The facility has been undergoing extensive renovations in preparation for this world-class eventing spectacle.
14. Oct. 17: Baltimore Running Festival
Your humble columnist participated in the Running Festival for the first time in 2019 and was blown away by the effort that went into turning a major American city into a course hosting multiple different races at once and then back to a functional downtown again all within mere hours. He’s scheduled to try his hand at his first half marathon in 2020. Other running events include the Frederick Running Festival May 2-3 and the Baltimore 10-Miler June 6.
15. TBA: Ravens at Texans
I don’t want to be the guy who does this, but the NFL season is set to begin with a Thursday night game Sept. 10. Apropos of nothing, the Orioles are at home that night hosting the Blue Jays. The Houston trip is probably the best for those who want to go on the road with the Ravens this season, with games at the Eagles and Redskins providing short drives as well. The Cowboys are among the teams coming to Baltimore in 2020.
Originally published Dec. 18, 2019