Best sports year ever? Why not 2017?

OK, Matt Ryan, you set the tone for the 2017 sports year in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

OK, Matt Ryan, you set the tone for the 2017 sports year in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

It has become the fashion to file 2016 – as did the recent Sports Illustrated cover – in a folder labeled, “Best Sports Year Ever.”

That exhausted year did indeed provide a heaping share of the ultimate reality programming that is sport. Some truly grand stuff – from the Cubs closing the book on a fabled curse, to Olympic greatness in the pool, on the track and upon the balance beam. Peyton Manning went out on top. Villanova won college basketball’s last game of the season in the last second of the season. British soccer’s version of the Bad News Bears (Leicester City) were champions of the realm.

But best ever? Hard to say, unless you have paid witness to them all.

They were playing with the same theme at the close of 2015, too, when a horse, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, was the headliner. We just love to take our mental selfies with the events of the moment and declare them singular, special.

And best for whom? Certainly not an Atlanta fan base that has so much more to look forward to in 2017. That new stadium smell, squared. The Falcons back in the playoffs, with a 12-cylinder offense. The pubescent Braves turning another year older, if the geezers in the rotation don’t yell at them to get off their lawn. Georgia taking the training wheels off its football coach.

Last year was fine, yes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make some requests anyway for small improvements to the sports year to come.

Such as, metaphorically speaking, may 2017 be all Phelps and no Lochte. More substance, less nonsense.

May there be less attention paid inflated salaries and deflated footballs.

Here’s hoping Duke’s Grayson Allen is allowed to return to action soon, if only to see which school would have the stones (or Beatles) to play “Day Tripper” when he appeared on its court.

A little dash of Tiger Woods would be nice – if only to tease the “casual golf fan” for a moment. In other words, the vast majority of the fans out there.

If someone wants to throw, if not a scare, at least a mild anxiety into the UConn women’s basketball team, that would be alright.

Not asking so much, just spot the Hawks a game when they meet Cleveland in the playoffs this time. Or make LeBron James play in Crocs.

Intensify the talk about trading Paul Millsap as the season progresses. Trade talk is always an entertaining diversion. Just don’t actually do it.

The NFL MVP is announced Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl 51. How convenient that Matt Ryan happens to be in Houston that week to play a football game when all the NFL is there. He can say his video thank-yous like Cam Newton did a season ago, then just take the award home on the team charter, saving all those shipping and handling costs.

How about in 2017 we make Atlanta United both the name of a new soccer team and a civic motto to live by?

And may you never spill mustard from your $2 Falcons hot dog on your authentic $150 Falcons jersey.

Happy New Year.

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