Unlike our first three “Best Of” editions, this issue has barely touched on anything that occurred on a field or a floor this year.
The season was drastically shortened. Maryland men’s Ok was denied an opportunity at an NCAA Tournament run. The Ravens were ravaged by COVID-19. We had an October Preakness. Lacrosse season was nearly nonexistent. But most importantly, sports largely took a back seat to real-world issues in 2020.
That said, sports did occur this year. So we reflect on the sports that did happen with “The 15 Best Baltimore Sports Moments of 2020.” As a reminder, these are the actual on-field moments, not trades or signings or draft picks or even really good decisions made by front offices like dedicating rows in a stadium to Mo Gaba. These are just the actual sports moments, listed chronologically.
1. Feb. 22: Jason Gibson and Brian Fobbs Author #SCTop10 Highlight
If you’ve never seen the play, I would encourage you to do a quick search immediately. Falling out of bounds in a game against Elon, Towson’s Jason Gibson simply chucks the ball over his head … and directly into the hands of a streaking Brian Fobbs, who goes in for the dunk. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll probably click “replay” no fewer than a thousand times.
2. Feb. 22: UMBC Takes Down Vermont … Again
Vermont has been such a powerhouse in the America East that entering this season, the Catamounts had lost a TOTAL of six games against conference opponents since the start of the 2016-17 season. It just so happens that thanks to the Retrievers’ 66-64 victory in Burlington, Vt., in February, four of those six losses have come at the hands of UMBC.
3. Feb. 26: Darryl Morsell Plays Hero Against Minnesota
The Terps struggled mightily in Minneapolis, trailing by as many as 17 points. But after climbing back within two points in the closing seconds, the expectation was that their fate would be determined by star point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. or big man Jalen Smith. The attention given to those two left Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph) wide open some 4 feet beyond the 3-point line, and he rattled home a thrilling game-winner.
4. March 8: Maryland Claims Share Of Big Ten Title
This was perhaps a bit conflicting for a few Terps fans, as losing three of four down the stretch took Maryland from the favorite to win the league outright to having to split the crown with two other teams. But considering it had been a decade since the Terps had even shared a conference regular-season championship, this was certainly noteworthy.
5. March 19: Loyola Women’s Lacrosse Receives Bittersweet Recognition
Of all the teams in the country, the cancellation of lacrosse season may have been most devastating for the Loyola women. The Greyhounds were 5-0 on the season with wins against four ranked teams (Johns Hopkins, Florida, Penn State and Penn) and local rival Towson. They finished the “season” ranked No. 3 in the final coaches’ poll, their highest ranking since 2003.
6. Aug. 1: Pat Valaika’s Walk-Off Winner And Socially Distanced Celebration
You won’t soon forget the image of an almost entirely unknown player delivering a thrilling game-winning hit against the Rays and then an entire team offering fake high-fives in what was essentially a “raise-the-roof” gesture. It was definitely the best Baltimore sports GIF of 2020 and came an inning after the Orioles forced their first-ever “leadoff double play” when Cedric Mullins threw out Ji-Man Choi at third base.
7. Aug. 11: Austin Hays Finds Strange Way To Deliver Wild Win
Remember this game? The Phillies looked like they would get out of the top of the ninth with the game tied, 6-6, but Jean Segura hilariously botched a two-out pop-up in the middle of the infield. But the Orioles couldn’t hang on to the lead in the bottom of the frame, forcing extras. Austin Hays led off the top of the 10th by somehow making things even weirder. He laced a line drive to center field that turned into an inside-the-park home run that proved to be the game-winner.
8. Aug. 21: Ryan Mountcastle’s Debut
It wasn’t necessarily Ryan Mountcastle’s first game that was so important but his overall performance in the first stretch of his MLB career. The former top prospect absolutely raked throughout his first 35 games (.333/.386/.492 with five homers) and perhaps more importantly played respectably in the field despite concerns that he might prove to be a defensive liability.
9. Sept. 13: Lamar Jackson Picks Up Where He Left Off
No preseason? No problem. Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was in 2019 form to open the season. Jackson completed 20 of 25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns while adding 45 yards on the ground en route to a 38-6 blowout win against what proved to be a really good Browns team. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
10. Sept. 19: Navy Emphatically Bounces Back
During the first six quarters of their 2020 season, Navy was outscored by just a little bit, 79-3. (Bear in mind, the Mids weren’t even allowed to hit during their practices in the summer.) In the next two quarters, Navy outscored Tulane, 27-0, to get out of New Orleans with an improbable 27-24 win.
11. Oct. 3: Fantastic Filly Swiss Skydiver Wins Preakness
The Kenneth McPeek-trained horse outran Kentucky Derby winner Authentic down the stretch, becoming just the sixth filly to win what is normally the second jewel of the Triple Crown (third this year) and the first since 2009.
12. Oct. 18: Sam Koch Breaks Terrell Suggs’ Record
While things were quite up and down for the 2020 Ravens, some things did remain steady. Not only did kicker Justin Tucker continue his greatness, punter Sam Koch remained among the best at his position in the league. He got some much deserved attention when he broke Terrell Suggs’ record for career games played as a Raven.
13. Oct. 30 And Nov. 7: Taulia Tagovailoa’s Coming-Out Party
Despite his relationship with Michael Locksley dating back to Alabama, fans were still a bit surprised to see the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua choose to transfer to Maryland. His debut was both delayed and ultimately inauspicious. But his second and third games were sublime. He became the first Terps quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards since 2013 in a comeback win against Minnesota and then nearly did it again while throwing for three more touchdowns in a win at Penn State a week later.
14. Oct. 31: Gervonta Davis Scores Incredible Knockout
With two belts on the line, the Baltimore native was locked in a battle with Leo Santa Cruz on Halloween. That changed in the sixth round. Gervonta Davis reminded fans of why he’s captured their attention throughout the years, delivering an absolutely devastating uppercut with his left hand that might well be the sport’s knockout of the year.
15. Dec. 14: Ravens Flush Browns In Thriller
While he says it was cramps, fans aren’t completely convinced that Lamar Jackson’s second-half departure wasn’t related to a bathroom visit. With the season potentially on the line, backup Trace McSorley injured and the team facing a critical fourth-and-5 at the two-minute warning, Jackson returned to deliver a spectacular touchdown pass to Marquise Brown and then lead a game-winning drive to defeat the Cleveland Browns.
Photo Credits: Kenya Allen/PressBox
Originally published Dec. 16, 2020