15 Sports Moments That Made Us Happy in 2015

Tim Penman@TimPenman24Featured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2016

15 Sports Moments That Made Us Happy in 2015

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    2015 brought with it many heartwarming sports stories, images and plays. From epic celebrations, to jaw-dropping highlights, this past year had it all.

    This list is a celebration of the reasons we love sports so much. They offer us a release, an escape and a chance to reflect. Often times, it’s the storylines or individual moments of brilliance that really stand out. Player-fan interactions, coaches dancing or history being made can all put smiles on our faces, and they certainly did over the last year.

    Here is a rundown of 15 moments that made us laugh or jump out of our seats during 2015.

Will Ferrell at MLB Spring Training

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    On March 12, all eyes were on the Oakland Athletics’ new shortstop…Will Ferrell. The comedian took regular starter, Marcus Semien’s place in a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners to kick off what proved to be an epic day for the baseball world.

    Filming an HBO special dedicated to the fight against cancer, Ferrell achieved his goal of playing all nine positions in one day for a total of 10 different MLB teams.

    Inserted into live game action a la Billy Crystal for the New York Yankees in 2008, Ferrell was able to hold his own (for the most part) in the field through the course of the day. 

    While not too many balls were hit in his direction, highlights included Ferrell replacing Mike Trout in center field for the Los Angeles Angels and then cutting off a gapper, Ferrell fouling off a ball and then furiously shaking his “hurt” hand while at bat for the Chicago White Sox and him holding up signs while coaching third base for the Chicago Cubs.

Jerry Seinfeld Reacts to Yoenis Cespedes’ Homer

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    When the New York Mets traded for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline, no one among the Mets faithful was as happy as comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

    The move spurred Seinfeld to send out a brilliant tweet, celebrating the talented Cuban’s arrival in Flushing. Then Seinfeld asked Cespedes if Cubans really loved Cuban sandwiches, to which the All-Star replied with a confirmation and a suggestion that the two go get some sometime.

    The interactions between the two stars culminated during Game 3 of the NLDS, when Cespedes absolutely annihilated a three-run, line-drive home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. In the stands with his wife Jessica and fellow comedian Chris Rock, Seinfeld’s priceless reaction was captured by a nearby photographer.

    Stunned, the Mets superfan gave us the “Cespedes face,” and we are all the better for it.

American Pharoah Wins the Triple Crown

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    History was made in the world of horse racing in 2015, as American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978 with his victory at the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

    In the lead for practically the entire race, American Pharoah became the 12th Triple Crown winner in history thanks to a commanding wire-to-wire run.

    Then, almost five months later, American Pharoah one-upped himself. He became the first horse to ever collect the “Grand Slam” of American horse racing—the Triple Crown plus the Breeder’s Cup Classic—by taking the Breeder’s on Oct. 31. 

Stephen Curry Dribbles Chris Paul into the Ground

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    Stephen Curry made us happy countless times during 2015. From hitting three-pointers that barely made the net move to coming up with sneaky steals off inbounds plays, the defending MVP is now arguably one of the most exciting players in the world of sports.

    But nothing got me out of my seat (and the Warriors bench, for that matter) quite like Curry’s insane dribbling ability. To see it in warm-ups is one thing, but having it on display in games against some of the best defenders in the world is a whole different story.

    Always considered an outstanding ball-handler, Curry’s confidence in his dribbling appeared to especially take off over the past two seasons. After dribbling around four Los Angeles Clippers defenders earlier in March, Curry outdid himself against those same Clippers less than a month later.

    In one of the most celebrated moves of 2014-15 NBA season, the point guard totally shook Chris Paul to find space for a flawless jumper. Much like his first move against the Clippers, this one can be watched over and over again. Check it out from the Phantom Cam here

Cubs Fan Catches Foul Ball in Beer Cup

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    The 2015 season sure was a memorable one for the Chicago Cubs. They won a postseason series for the first time since 2003, Kris Bryant won the National League Rookie of the Year Award and Jon Lester collected the first base hit of his 10-year career.

    Then a fan caught a foul ball in her beer and proceeded to chug the remaining contents. 

    In a moment that would make any beer enthusiast proud, the Cubbies fan took the whole thing in stride, much to the delight of the Wrigley Field faithful.

    “That beverage just got a whole lot foamier,” cracked CSN Chicago color commentator Jim Deshaies.

    Let’s hope she kept the ball, and the cup.

Dabo Swinney Dancing Up a Storm

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    Clemson Football head coach Dabo Swinney sure loves to dance. In one of the most entertaining off-the-field moments of the year, Swinney stole some hearts when he learned how to “Nae Nae,” surrounded by joyous players in the locker room.

    Keeping up with the times is certainly not a challenge for the 46-year-old Alabama native. In November, Swinney broke out some additional dance moves following Clemson’s win over Florida State. 

    At 14-0, there is certainly plenty to celebrate. Now, it will be interesting to see if Swinney and the Tigers can keep dancing at the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 11.

Northwestern Football Player Dances the Macarena

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    SportsCenter

    After improving to 5-0, the Northwestern Wildcats were feeling pretty good about themselves back in October. That’s when freshman defensive back Steven Reese grabbed some headlines with a splendid rendition of the famous 1990s dance, the “Macarena.”

    Surrounded by excited teammates, with his long, blond hair flowing, Reese displayed a kind of rhythm possessed by few.

    The young team made some significant strides this year, finishing 10-3, and it now has something solid to build on next season. 

Greg Olsen’s Adorable Son “Dabs” for Dad

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    Greg Olsen

    Although Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen doesn’t “dab” like Cam Newton does, the move isn’t entirely lost on him or his household. Following a 38-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Olsen’s son was more than willing to show off for the camera, throwing out a quick celebratory move while adding a cute little sound effect.

    Panther doll in hand, mini-Olsen almost topples over with enthusiasm. While this moment was short, it sure was sweet, and Newton must have loved it.

    While the Falcons ended up getting some revenge against the Panthers by serving them their only loss of the season in Week 16, a 15-1 record is certainly still dab-worthy.

Golden State Fan Caught Mocking LeBron James

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    Bleacher Report

    This year, Christmas Day gave the sports world a great present. A woman sitting in the first row at the Golden State Warriors game was caught taunting LeBron James in hysterical fashion. 

    It was an example of a rare fan-player interaction, and the lady’s reaction was priceless in so many ways. Her crude sign language failed to get under the superstar’s skin, however, as James finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

The Monmouth Basketball Bench Gets Creative

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    SportsCenter

    You got to love a good basketball bench celebration. From Kent Bazemore’s infamous celebrations during his time with the Warriors, to the Utah Jazz players’ reaction to Alec Burks' dunk this month, they are always fun to watch. 

    This year, the Monmouth men’s basketball team took celebrating to a whole different level when they broke out the Sistine Chapel routine shown above.

    The four-man celebration took a considerable amount of coordination, and I for one, have never witnessed anything like it.

    Keep up the good work, boys. We see you.

Russell Westbrook Passes to Himself off Defender’s Back

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    J Pat Carter/Getty Images

    Is there anything Russell Westbrook can’t do? In what was quite easily the best inbounds play of 2015, the star point guard put his creativity on full display with an off-the-back buzzer-beater.

    Although they say there is no “I” in team, Westbrook showed that he can indeed do it all by himself. Not only did he catch the Utah Jazz entirely by surprise, he also made a very athletic, difficult fadeaway shot with nanoseconds left on the clock.

    This play shows that there's always something new to see when you attend a professional basketball game. 

Francis Owusu Makes Catch Against Defender’s Back

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    Continuing with the “back” theme, this next moment stands out as one of the best plays of the college football season.

    Early in the second half against the then-No. 18 UCLA Bruins, the Stanford Cardinal ran a flashy reverse play for a shot deep downfield. While the build-up was very impressive, it’s what happened at the end of the play that really stands out. 

    Without even looking at the ball, wide receiver Francis Owusu was able to score an epic touchdown by pinning the football in both hands against a Bruin's back. As the ESPN commentators pointed out, Owusu caught the ball purely off feel in what stands as an unreal display of natural talent.

Riley Curry Interrupts Press Conference

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    I think it’s safe to say that a lot of Americans fell in love with Stephen Curry’s daughter, Riley Curry, this year. Featured next to her dad at a number of pressers during the playoffs, little Riley was consistently entertaining. 

    Perhaps her shining moment came when she entered stage left from under a black curtain at the Western Conference Finals press conference. Although she disrupted her father’s concentration while he was fielding a question, she gets a pass due to her inquisitive nature and youthful exuberance.

    Since that famous moment, Riley has gone on to bigger things, such as dancing with Jeremy Lin and wearing a backward hat during the Warriors' championship celebration.

Bowling Green Defensive Lineman Plays Dead to Stop Clock

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    In what proved to be perhaps the most laughable sports moment of 2015, Bowling Green State defensive lineman Mike Minns was certainly thinking on his feet when he realized he didn’t have time to get off the field prior to a snap against Tennessee. 

    Clearly experiencing an equipment malfunction, the heavyset Minns did all he could to avoid a penalty, and deciding to suddenly fall to the ground as if struck by lightning was just the ticket.

    The Bowling Green medical staff came rushing out in comedic fashion, and Minns’ substitute was able to come on during the official’s timeout. Well played, sir. Well played.

Jerian Grant’s Chest-High Dunk

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    This last play happened very early on in 2015, but it should still be remembered as one of the great highlights of the year.

    It took place on Jan. 3, and USA Today quickly dubbed it the dunk of the year. In what is essentially the definition of a gravity-defying play, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant climbed the ladder off contact with Georgia Tech defender Tadric Jackson for the amazing two-handed slam shown above.

    These types of dunks do not come along very often. Propelling through the air, Grant seemed to get an extra push as his knee made contact with Jackson’s chest, mid-flight. The result was a finish in which Grant’s chest is seen level with the rim, his head high above it. Like many videos on this list, this one can be easily enjoyed on repeat.

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