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
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
Even in a down year, by his standards, Stanton entertained throughout whenever he was on the field. He hit peak Stanton during the
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
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
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
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.