Five Sports Stars Miami Should Be Thankful for This Holiday Season

Five Sports Stars Miami Should Be Thankful for This Holiday Season
Michele Eve Sandberg

It's been a long, tough, and overall stinky sports year in South Florida. Thankfully, we have only a month left of a 2016 that has mostly brought us tears and heartache. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh left the Heat. Jose Fernandez tragically died.

But it hasn't all been bad in Miami sports. There have been moments of greatness that make even the worst of times not so bad. Think of them like bacon bits on a salad; if you concentrate just on the bacon bits, are you even eating a salad? Do you even have to acknowledge the salad's existence? No, you do not. You can praise these bacon-men and ignore the fact that their contributions came in a year that was a boring-ass salad nobody would ever order again.

1. Jay Ajayi

The Dolphins ended 2015 like they did so many seasons before it: poorly. They didn't make the playoffs, and they weren't picking especially high in the draft. They began 2016 in even worse fashion. Fast-forward to today, though, and things are looking much brighter heading into 2017 fresh off a six-game winning streak.

Short of calling Ricky Williams and asking if he could pass a drug test, the Dolphins did absolutely everything in their power to ensure Jay Ajayi was little more than a rarely used change-of-pace part of their offense this year. None of it worked. Arian Foster broke down and quit. And Ajayi was thrust into our lives.

Since then, it's been nothing but smooth sailing. Ajayi has given the Dolphins an identity — something they have sorely lacked for more than a decade — and helped save their season from the brink of grenade levels of destruction.

2. Giancarlo Stanton

The Marlins might perpetually suck, but in the end, fans will always have Giancarlo Stanton's monster dongs to keep them warm at night. Until they don't. Then they won't have them anymore. Come to think of it, the way things go for that franchise, you might want to buy 2017 season tickets and soak in all the Giancarlo you can before he Gian-car-goes to the Red Sox in a midseason trade.

Even in a down year, by his standards, Stanton entertained throughout whenever he was on the field. He hit peak Stanton during the All-Star Home Run Derby, where he smacked 27,187 feet worth of dingers to the delight of all of America. He was the obvious leader in the clubhouse during the dark days when everyone tried to recover from the sudden loss of Jose Fernandez. Stanton is the piece that makes the Marlins just kinda shitty and not totally shitty. Thanks, Giancarlo!

3. Ndamukong Suh

When the Dolphins signed Suh before last season, fans didn't know how to feel. On one hand, Suh is undoubtedly awesome, but on the other, he cost the team an arm and a leg. Was it worth it? The results are in, and the answer is definitely yes. Suh covers up so many flaws the Dolphins have on defense, especially at cornerback. Suh's constant pressure forces quarterbacks to make decisions or face certain pancaking.

Suh's presence gives the Dolphins a chance to win every week. He's the sort of player who can make opponents tear up their game plans they practiced for months. When things went south for the Dolphins early this season, Suh's confidence never wavered, and now that the team is on a six-game winning streak, it's clear his hubris is at an all-time high. Suh's game-winning tackle of Colin Kaepernick against the 49ers last week was just the latest example of why Miami fans are thankful Suh is on our side.

4. Hassan Whiteside

He might be a knucklehead, but he's our knucklehead, and Miami needed him more than ever in 2016. When Dwyane Wade caught the feelings and took his knees, talents, and Miami legacy to Chicago, the Heat was thrust into panic mode. Thankfully, Miami already had Hassan Whiteside in the bank early in free agency. With Chris Bosh a nonstarter with ongoing blood clots, Wade gone, LeBron James living the dream in Cleveland, and the rest of the Heat roster either a season away from coming good or using Miami as a rest stop on their way to somewhere else next season, Whiteside's re-signing was critical.

On a nightly basis, Whiteside stuffs the stat sheet. That alone is enough for fans to tune in through what is looking like a major down year for the Heat.

5. Adam Gase

Wait, Miami is thankful for a head coach? Is this real life? After the Dolphins' six-game winning streak, fans are ready to invite Gase to Christmas. He was first and foremost brought to Miami to fix quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and he's already done that. Suddenly, the Dolphins have a football team on their hands that doesn't seem lost at all times. Fans actually believe the team won't shit the bed with the game on the line.

If the playoffs began today, the Dolphins would be in for only the second time since 2001, and that certainly isn't because of any new talent they signed this offseason. Instead, it's in large part owed to the team's new direction and new identity Gase has brought to Miami.


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