Sports is sometimes disheartening as a profit-margin-focused enterprise, but it does produce some great stories

Sports is sometimes disheartening as a profit-margin-focused enterprise, but it does produce some great stories

It will always be an outstanding entertainment product

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Yes, sports is like all other major American industries — run by a handful of people who made out like bandits in this economic system of great wealth disparity. Because they have accumulated such vast wealth, they believe that is a sign of intelligence and that hubris frequently leads to poor decision-making both on and off the field of play.

For all of the greed, drama, bickering, and dozens of pages of investigation findings, sports remains a highly compelling entertainment product. The players rise through the ranks as they go from children to adults, what they endure in the process, the disagreements with coaches and management, the agony of defeat, and eventually victory whether it’s a championship, an all-star appearance, or maybe just making a timely contribution on a big stage.

The games are the payoff to storylines that sometimes last all season long, and there can be multiple on one team. The San Francisco 49ers have Mr. Irrelevant starting at quarterback, and also a talented coach with arguably the deepest roster in the league trying to finally finish the job and win a Super Bowl.

The stories in sports can be downers like the ones involving Brett Favre and Daniel Snyder. However, there are others that remind fans of why they love sports, and keep reading the articles and watching the games.

Here are some feel-good sports storylines from 2022.

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The Seattle Mariners making the playoffs

The Seattle Mariners making the playoffs

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The 2001 M’s won an astounding 116 games. However, after falling to the New York Yankees in the ALCS, Seattle didn’t return to the postseason until 2022.

The Mariners won 90 games with American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez providing a spark. The outfielder has all the makings of a Hall of Fame talent, and baseball fans across the Pacific Northwest rejoiced as the Mariners not only returned to the playoffs, but defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card Series.

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3 / 10

Dusty Baker finally got his ring

Dusty Baker finally got his ring

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Dusty Baker was the right choice to manage the Houston Astros in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that led to the firing of skipper A.J. Hinch (and GM Jeff Luhnow). By all accounts, Baker is one of the most well-respected figures in MLB. Outside of Tony La Russa, he hasn’t garnered many enemies in the league.

The Astros are still arguably the most hated franchise in MLB, but Baker, who had no connection to the tainted 2017 season, is someone to root for. Winning the World Series is the final stamp on a surefire Hall-of-Fame career for Baker, but the randomness of the MLB postseason finally going in his favor is far from the main reason he deserves the honor. In 25 years as a manager, his teams finished under .500 only eight times, and he has been named NL Manager of the Year three times. He is one of the greatest managers in the history of a sport that has had very few who share his ethnicity.

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4 / 10

Morocco magic

Morocco magic

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No African or Arab nation had advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup until Morocco made it in 2022, knocking off powerhouses Spain and Portugal in the process.

While The Atlas Lions couldn’t get past France to advance to the finals — and lost to Croatia in the third-place game — the Morrocan players were still treated like royalty by supporters upon returning home.

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5 / 10

Jalen Hurts from replaceable to MVP?

Jalen Hurts from replaceable to MVP?

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If there were any lingering doubts about Jalen Hurts and his status as Philly’s starting QB after a poor playoff debut, those were certainly put to rest by his play so far in 2022.

Before hurting his shoulder, Hurts entered Week 16 as the odds-on MVP favorite and is a big reason why the Eagles went 13-1 with him under center.

The signal-caller isn’t simply managing to get the ball to playmakers in the most low-risk scenario possible. Hurts has been aggressive. He has improved as a passer, and is still leading Philly’s rushing attack. It would not be a surprise for him to be giving an MVP speech at the NFL Awards. That’s a long way from where he and the Eagles were on Jan. 16, 2022.

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6 / 10

Las Vegas comes up Aces

Las Vegas comes up Aces

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Drunk A’ja Wilson might have been the best character of all sports in 2022. When she was demanding that Drake attend the Las Vegas Aces championship parade, and for adults to show up no less than “four shots deep,” her post-championship press conference was almost as good as her MVP season on the floor (19.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.4 spg).

Wilson was great but she didn’t lead the Aces to a championship by herself. WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, and All-Star Game MVP Kelsey Plum also made major contributions. The Aces have been an outstanding basketball team for two seasons, and elevated their play even higher against the Seattle Storm in the 2022 semifinals. Their unfiltered and uncensored championship parade speeches were also a sight to behold. Talent and personality — that’s all that can be asked of a great team.

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7 / 10

Take a bow, Geno Smith, and tell Nolan Nawrocki to eat your shorts

Take a bow, Geno Smith, and tell Nolan Nawrocki to eat your shorts

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Geno Smith was one of the quarterbacks who led those explosive West Virginia offenses of the late 2000s/early 2010s. As a senior, he completed 71 percent of his passes for 42 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Unfortunately, for him, the Mountaineer defense was one of the worst in the country and prevented Smith from playing in a major Bowl game.

Smith was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, and had his career seemingly derailed in his third season after he was punched in the jaw by a teammate over an alleged gambling debt. It took seven years before he received another opportunity to begin a season as a starting quarterback. How did that turn out? Smith was named a Pro Bowler.

Smith’s career renaissance has aged Nolan Nawrocki’s pre-draft scouting report like milk. The punch heard ‘round the locker room may have led a sort of credence to Nawrocki’s assessments of Smith — from the “fake smile” and the signal-caller believing he was “above the law” — but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It turns out that Smith is a damn good NFL quarterback who, ya know, got drafted by the New York Jets. That misfortune has slammed the brakes on — or just derailed — the careers of many young quarterbacks.

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8 / 10

The gritty Detroit Lions

The gritty Detroit Lions

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That defense hasn’t done much kneecap biting, but this team is on a roll. Early this season, after all of the gruff football talk on Hard Knocks, it was appearing more like Dan Campbell was a muscular version of The Dude from The Big Lebowski doing an impression of a football coach.

However, in a matter of weeks, Campbell has gone from The Dude to That Dude. Heading into Week 16, Detroit has won six of its last seven and has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs in a weak NFC. Jameson Williams and Amon Ra St. Brown are a dynamic wide receiver duo, and the Lions’ running game is one of the best in the league. Also, during this winning streak, the defense has shown a lot of the toughness that Campbell said he wanted at the opening press conference and on Hard Knocks.

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9 / 10

Brittney is home for Christmas

Brittney is home for Christmas

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Brittney Griner is finally home.

The WNBA star doesn’t have to serve a draconian nine-year sentence in a Russian prison as a political pawn. Griner is back on U.S. soil and gets to eat Christmas dinner at home with her wife and other loved ones.

A truly wonderful, early Christmas present.

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