Biggest sports stories around Kansas City in 2016?
Nothing topped the Chiefs winning their first playoff game since January 1994.
The Royals came awfully close, though.
A year after winning the World Series and painting KC blue, the Royals’ visit to the White House, raising of another championship flag at Kauffman Stadium and subsequent return to earth at 81-81 all ranked among The Star’s top 10 stories of the year.
When the votes from The Star’s sports writers and editors were tallied, however, the Chiefs’ 30-0 wild-card victory at Houston in January stood alone. Andy Reid and company would go on to lose at New England the following weekend, but the taste of NFL playoff fever was hard to match.
Here’s the complete list of top 2016 storylines as determined and ranked by The Star’s panel of voters:
▪ 1. The Chiefs beat the Texans 30-0 in the AFC wild-card round of the NFL playoffs before losing to the Patriots in the divisional round.
▪ 2. Injuries derail the Royals’ 2016 season. Afterward, closer Wade Davis is traded and designated hitter Kendrys Morales and pitcher Edinson Volquez leave via free agency.
▪ 4. The Kansas men’s basketball team wins its 12th straight Big 12 title and reaches the Elite Eight but falls short of the Final Four with a loss to Villanova.
▪ 5. Mizzou endures a year of change and turmoil that includes new football coach Barry Odom’s rough first season; quarterback Maty Mauk’s dismissal; NCAA investigations into basketball and academics; a new athletic director (Jim Sterk) replacing the old one (Mack Rhoades); and the saga of softball coach Ehren Earleywine.
▪ 7. K-State football coach Bill Snyder records victory No. 200.
▪ 9. Blue Valley North grad Jack Sock wins Olympic gold, one of two medals he collects in Rio.
▪ 10. Royals players dominate the MLB All-Star Game in San Diego, with Eric Hosmer and Salvy Perez both homering to lift the AL to a 4-2 victory over the senior circuit.
Top games of 2016
In no particular order, here are five top games from the calendar year of 2016 ... along with a bonus milestone that rings extra special in Kansas City:
▪ The Chiefs blank the Texans 30-0 at Houston in the NFL playoffs on Jan. 9.
▪ Kansas beats Oklahoma 109-106 in a triple-overtime college hoops thriller.
▪ Royals stars Eric Hosmer and Salvy Perez shine as the AL beats the NL 4-2 in the MLB All-Star Game.
▪ The Chiefs edge the Broncos 30-27 in overtime at Denver on Nov. 27.
▪ Kansas beats a downtrodden Texas Longhorns team 24-21 on Nov. 19 in Lawrence.
And, with a bonus event for the ages from a true Kansas City legend, we have this:
Don’t forget these, too ...
Because we just can’t get enough when it comes to reminiscing, here are some honorable-mention KC sports story lines from 2016 (again, these are presented in no particular order):
▪ Pitcher Riley Pint of St. Thomas Aquinas is drafted No. 4 overall by the Colorado Rockies; childhood friend and fellow pitcher Joey Wentz is taken 40th by Atlanta.
▪ KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self wins number 600, nominated to Naismith Hall of Fame.
▪ Jamaal Charles returns briefly from a knee injury before being declared out for the rest of the season; he might’ve played his final game with the Chiefs.
▪ Northwest Missouri wins its sixth Division II football title in a blizzard at Children’s Mercy Park.
▪ Bishop Miege continues to dominate in Kansas Class 4A-DI (in 2016 calendar year, the Stags won titles in football, boys and girls hoops, boys and girls soccer and boys track and field).
▪ Basketball player Josh Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in country, signs with KU.
▪ Sporting KC loses in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs to the eventual MLS champion for the second straight year.
▪ It was a wild year for Sporting KC’s Matt Besler: the KC native’s wife delivered the couple’s baby the same day he scored his first career goal with the U.S. men’s national team ... in the same year he got benched by Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes.
▪ FC Kansas City pro soccer players Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly (alternate) represent the U.S. in the Rio Olympics.
▪ KU football wins a game, then beats Texas.
▪ The Cubs win it all with former Royal Ben Zobrist winning World Series MVP.
▪ Park Hill senior Christopher Nilsen breaks the national high school pole vault record, clearing 18 feet 4- 3/4 inches.
▪ Carlton Bragg is suspended/un-suspended from the Jayhawks basketball team following a dispute with a woman near campus.
▪ MU’s women’s basketball team wins an NCAA tournament game and Sophie Cunningham is chosen SEC freshman of the year.
▪ Wellington, Mo., archer Zach Garrett wins a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
What about 2017, you ask?
Coming soon, we’ll share our top KC-area sports story lines to watch in 2017.