Posted January 2, 2018 09:23 pm - Updated January 2, 2018 09:58 pm

18 things I would like to see in 2018

New Year’s resolutions are staid. People make them. People break them. For many of us, resolutions are warm air to heat up a cool day.

These are not resolutions, or predictions. This is a list of what I would like to see happen in the world of sports. Some of these are fanciful, others are foolhardy and a select few are from the viewpoint of a fan of sports.

I spent a lot of 2017 espousing “Random Thoughts” on Twitter and social media. With a new year, comes a new approach. More of those musings will be fleshed out from 280-character quips into fully fledged thoughts.

Lionel Messi winning an international trophy: This summer will be the magisterial maestro’s last opportunity to captain his country to the World Cup. He will turn 31 in June—midway between Argentina’s group round matches against Croatia and Nigeria. While he has won everything imaginable at the club level, the holy grail of soccer has eluded him. For all the joy he has brought many soccer followers, it would be great to see him realize some of his own.

Speaking of soccer I remain hopeful that…

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinnie, Josh Sargent and Tyler Adams remain on the radar of soccer fans in this country despite the U.S. not appearing in this summer’s World Cup: As embarrassing as it was to watch the red, white and blue fail to qualify for Russia, they are exciting players who have the pedigree and professionalism to make sure the stain of failure does not hang around the men’s team for long.

With the Americans sitting at home this summer that gives us all more time to…

Watch Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton play baseball: The two Bronx Behemoths combined for 111 home runs last season. Stanton won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award despite his team fading down the stretch. He has since been traded to the New York Yankees, a power move that has left American League pitchers suffering from night sweats more than a month before pitchers and catchers report.

Considering how the two abused baseballs in 2017, I’m waiting for one of them to hit a ball so far people wonder whether the Space Shuttle program has revived.

The Yankee haters remerge: The New York Yankees are one of the few brands in sports with the acclaim to either be loved or loathed in all corners of the world. When they are good, it’s fun to watch and listen to the haters, purists, baseball agnostics and fans of other teams cuss and discuss the Bronx Bombers.

Whether the Yankees win the World Series or not, baseball is more fun when they are good.

A MLB postseason just as entertaining as 2016 and 2017: Baseball has returned to its regional roots—at least in terms of drawing a television audience. But, the postseason the last two years has been a month-long infomercial about what drew so many of us to the sport in the first place. Excellent pitching, timely hitting, high drama, stars showing up on the big stage and size mattering less than strength of character were all on display in the last two Octobers. Now, if only Mike Trout can join the fray.

Trout’s three-year exile from the postseason is peanuts compared to Northeast Florida’s football team….

The Jags become sustainable winners: The AFC South Division champions have been a pleasant surprise. The best teams are built through the drafting and astute acquisitions, not through free agency.

Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson and Dede Westbrook have made an impact from the 2017 draft class. Jalen Ramsey, Miles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue are three starters from the 2016 draft class on pro football’s No. 2 scoring defense and total defense. A.J. Cann has been a three-year starter on an ever-improving offensive line and Dante Fowler has been a functional rotational player along the defensive line. The 2014 class has been maligned at times, but it produced a starting quarterback, two receivers, the starting center and the heartbeat of the defense.

Regardless of what happens against Buffalo on Sunday, it would be nice to see the team continue to find contributors through the draft and add to that haul with creative trades like the one that brought Marcel Dareus to Sacksonville.

Tom Coughlin named the NFL’s Executive of the Year: Speaking of the Jaguars, this is as good a time as any to admit how wrong I was about the team in the preseason. The players, coaches and organization deserve all the credit and acclaim they are receiving for sticking to their plan —even after Bortles reportedly threw five interceptions in a practice. The Jaguars have won three division titles in their 23-year existence. Coincidentally, or not, Coughlin has played a part in all of them.

The College Football Playoff committee consider a Group of 5 team. Monday’s Peach Bowl proved that Group of 5 teams can compete on football’s biggest stage. UCF scored more points against Auburn than Georgia and Alabama combined in their regular-season losses to the Tigers.

It’s usually best to leave logic at the door when it comes to college football, but that idea should be ignored in Bloomington.

Nick Tronti become the starting quarterback at Indiana: The Hoosiers were 5-7 in 2017 with a senior quarterback. Reportedly, the Ponte Vedra graduate was as high as No. 2 on the depth chart during his true freshman season before the staff decided to redshirt him. Did I mention Indiana’s quarterback in 2017 was a senior?

The Big Ten and Pac-12 were both shutout of the College Football Playoff this year. To me, that is not an indictment on the leagues, but evidence of a chance the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences.

Every Power 5 conferences playing nine conference games: This will not happen in 2018, or in the near future, but I would like to see both conferences replace regular season games against Cupcake Community College with a conference opponent. Ask yourself this: Would you rather see Florida, Florida State and Miami play the likes of Alabama, Virginia Tech and Clemson more often or would you want the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes to remain in third gear beating schools like Maine, McNeese State and Mercer? Exactly.

The Players Championship goes out with a bang: This year’s tournament will not be the last time Northeast Florida hosts golf’s fifth major; but, it will be the last time golf’s fifth major is held on Mother’s Day weekend. The Players returns to March in 2019. While, the move will likely not dampen the energy surrounding the tournament, it will mean that we will not see as much frattire, sundresses or people in pink on Sunday.

A SJC football team winning a state title: St. Johns County football programs have won four state championships, but none since two magical afternoons in South Florida 13 years ago. Craig Howard has gone on to glory, Joey Wiles has left the coaching profession and the boys who helped Nease and St. Augustine win state championships are now men in their 30s. It would be nice to see someone, anyone, break that drought this December.

St. Johns County’s soccer streak continues: While local teams have not been able to bring home the bacon on the gridiron, the same cannot be said for the soccer field. In each of the last 13 years a St. Johns County girls or boys soccer team has made the state semifinals. It’s an astonishing run that even the state’s largest school districts cannot claim. Here is hoping either the Nease or Bartram Trail girls teams, or someone else, continues that streak.

People giving up the idea that athletes, coaches and teams “stick to sports”:  Let’s be pretty clear, politics have always been a part of sports. Those “gentleman’s agreements” that kept blacks out of baseball were personal politics trumping what was supposed to be a meritocracy. Those publically financed stadiums and arenas that many professional teams play in are a form of local and state politics. Governments and politicians from all countries try to infuse their will into that of a popular sports team, or league. The sooner we accept that as the norm, the less we’ll be surprised when people like Colin Kaepernick express their politics before and during the games themselves.

As much as one’s politics are infecting almost every area of American life, this year would be as good a time as any for…

Sports teams and leagues begin a divorce with their relationships with patriotism: Every time the American flag is stretched out horizontally over a field or basketball court while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is sung it’s in violation of the American Flag Code. It’s one thing for teams in Jacksonville, Tampa, San Antonio, San Diego and the like to honor the military — after all, those are military towns. Since we, clearly, cannot agree it’s best to scrap the idea of flyovers for football games played indoors, the playing of “God Bless America” during the Seventh-Inning stretch at a baseball game and other events of that ilk.

Patriotism may be a hot-button issue in league play, but in international events it’s highly encouraged. One can only hope…

The NHL comes to its senses and lets players participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing: The Winter Olympics are five weeks away and some of the best athletes in the sport will not be participating. The NHL owners made the decision to not release its players for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea last year despite disagreement from players and fans.

The decision ended a run of five Olympiads where the best men’s hockey players in the world determined who the best is in the best way possible — through competition instead of conjecture.

Many have speculated the NBA season is a fait accompli and we’re all wasting our time with the 82-game regular season. I disagree, which is why I’m looking forward to the NBA Playoffs.

LeBron James will continue his assault on the NBA record book: No one in the history of the sport has ever appeared in the NBA Finals for nine straight years. James will do something neither Bill Russell, nor Michael Jordan can claim if he can pilot Cleveland back to June. He played more minutes during the 2017 calendar year than any point of his career; but, the 33-year-old is shooting higher than ever from the field, the free throw line and creating more points than for his team than he ever has. And, by the way, sometime this season he will become the seventh person in NBA history to score 30,000 points.

LeBron may be the King, but Golden State will win the crown.

The Warriors and Cavaliers will entertain us with a fourth meeting in the NBA Finals: Hopefully, everyone from both teams not only stay healthy, but remain outside of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s crosshairs. If that were to happen, basketball fan—and even those who are not—will be in for a treat this June.

The final point has less to deal with sports and more with how they are presented. There are so many interesting people who play, coach, officiate and administer sports.

We who cover sports, and follow athletes and teams, have to remember they are human: As annoying as it is to watch someone miss an obvious goal, the open shot, strike out in the major moment, have a brain fart in a big moment or do something that those of us who are less athletically gifted think we can do better, they are still primarily young adults in their 20s and early 30s competing in high-pressure situations.

Sports are about wonder and witnessing the unexpected, not material for the next viral meme.