ESPN - long known to be a lover of hockey, no?
On Wednesday night, ESPN hosted their annual ESPY Awards, highlighting the best athletes in the world and the biggest moments from the sports world from the past calendar year.
Our very own Columbus Blue Jackets were nominated for the 'Best Upset' award for their historic defeating of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Which is certainly a big honor (seriously, did you ever think the Blue Jackets would be on display at the ESPY Awards?!).
Also up for the 'Best Upset' award were the following upsets:
- NCAAF – Old Dominion defeats No. 13 Virginia Tech 49-35, Old Dominion only had a 1.8% chance of winning according to ESPN's FPI, making it the largest upset by an FBS team in the 14 years of Football Power Index projections
- 2018 US Open – Naomi Osaka defeating Serena Williams
- Boxing – Andy Ruiz Jr. upset win over Anthony Joshua
Now, the NHL has big contracts with the likes of NBC and USA for their postseason coverage, so it makes sense that ESPN isn't all too thrilled about highlighting the one major sport they don't have a big money stake in.
But the award show on Wednesday put on display just how ESPN and a lot of the country (somewhat as a result) views the hockey world.
Andy Ruiz's massive upset over Anthony Joshua took home the hardware, but one has to think ESPN's massive coverage of this boxing match and the recency bias (the fight occurred on June 3.) had something to do with the decision.
Ruiz was a 10-1 underdog to best Joshua, which is incredibly worthy of this kind of award. But when you have the Blue Jackets' situation sitting in the other corner (pun intended), how on earth do you whiff on giving them the prize?
Here's a quick reminder of how big of an upset this truly was for Columbus:
- The Tampa Bay Lightning were historically viewed as one of, if not the best regular-season team of all time, tying the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in a single season, with 128 total points (21 ahead of the next closest team). They also boasted three players over 90 points, and all three had over 40 goals on the season.
- The Lightning defeated the Blue Jackets in all three regular-season games, outscoring Columbus 17-3 in the process.
- The Lightning had a money line favor of -425 heading into the playoff series, the greatest odds to win a series since the Pittsburgh Penguins were a -430 favorite to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in...2010.
- Before the series started, the Blue Jackets had 45-1 odds of sweeping the Lightning. Not a single person on DraftKings or Fanduel placed that bet. Not even for $1.
- The Athletic's Series Probability Tracker had the Blue Jackets at a 2% chance to sweep the series.
The icing on the cake? When ESPN put out their staff's Stanely Cup playoff predictions, not a single member chose the Blue Jackets to win. No one even thought it would go beyond six games.
So, here we are. Complaining about an award everyone has already forgotten about. In our world where the Blue Jackets' greatest accomplishment is winning a single playoff series, though, we need to take what we can get.
Last night, they were robbed.
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