Baseball to Brady: 2020’s top 5 sports stories

Top 5 sports stories of 2020: illustration by Ryon Horne, video by Kelcie Willis

2020 was a year unlike any other in U.S. history. Before we embark on 2021 and the promise that it brings, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s content curation desk is taking a look back at the most impactful stories of 2020 and their effects on Georgia and the rest of the nation. Today’s topic: Sports

5. Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl

With one of the NFL’s most dynamic players in quarterback Patrick Mahomes and longtime offensive genius Andy Reid as head coach, the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl 54.

The Kansas City Chiefs – What you need to know

Fans of the Atlanta Falcons were all too familiar the 49ers were coached by Kyle Shanahan, who served as the Dirty Birds' offensive coordinator in Super Bowl 51. The Falcons led the New England Patriots 28-3 at one point in the game, only to suffer one of the NFL’s most historic meltdowns.

4. MLB hits Astros with penalties

Major League Baseball hit the Houston Astros with penalties after determining the team stole the signs of pitchers during the 2017 season and part of the 2018 season. The Astros retain their 2017 World Series title.

GM, manager of Houston Astros fired, team fined $5M in scandal

For years, some individuals on other teams had suspected the Astros of stealing signs, but there was no public reporting on the subject until November 2019, when The Athletic reporters Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich published an article detailing the team’s activities. The Astros used a video camera in center field seats to film the opposing catcher’s signals to the pitcher regarding the next pitch. Astros players and staffers used various audio cues to signal to the batter what type of pitch was coming next. The team’s GM and field manager were suspended for the 2020 season. The team was fined $5 million, and it forfeited its first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

3. Tom Brady signs with the Buccaneers

After 20 seasons and six Super Bowl victories with the New England Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Coronavirus: Tom Brady sends of Class of 2020 with a video of encouragement

Brady was the talk of the NFL offseason in 2020, after announcing he was leaving the Patriots and longtime coach Bill Belichick. Brady reportedly considered signing with several other teams, but in the end, he chose the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is a longtime adversary of the Atlanta Falcons, as both teams play in the NFC South.

2. City of Angels becomes city of champions

The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series.

What You Need To Know: Los Angeles Dodgers

One of the most successful franchises in MLB history, the Dodgers won their seventh World Series title during 2020′s abbreviated baseball season. They trailed the Atlanta Braves three games to one in the NLCS, only to come back and take three straight from the Braves to advance to the World Series. There, they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, four games to two.

The Dodgers joined the Los Angeles Lakers as the city’s second championship team this year. Earlier in the year, the Lakers captured their 17th NBA title by defeating the Miami Heat. The Lakers are tied with the Boston Celtics for most championships in league history.

1. Coronavirus pandemic takes toll

The coronavirus pandemic impacted every American amateur and professional sports league, resulting in cancellation and postponement of many events — including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — and significantly reduced seasons for others, including MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL.

Credit: AJC

On Jan. 9, the World Health Organization announced mysterious cases of pneumonia-like illnesses in Wuhan, China. On Jan. 21, the first U.S. case was confirmed by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus began a series of events that impacted every sport in the world, amateur and professional. Every sports league was affected — Major League Baseball shortened its season; the NBA halted play and then resumed in a bubble-like quarantine, as did the NHL. The NFL canceled its preseason and began its 2020 regular season with no fans allowed in stadiums, as did NCAA football. Major global sporting events such as the planned 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed.

The effects of the coronavirus on worldwide sports is being felt to this day.

Other stories in the series

»Top 5 politics stories

»Top 5 weather stories

»Top 5 business stories

»Notable deaths

»Top 5 coronavirus stories

»Top 5 social justice stories

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