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From hope to humor and everything in between, here’s the Inquirer’s best sports journalism of 2019 | Mike Sielski

Nick Foles' final game with the Eagles, Kawhi Leonard's Game 7 heartbreaker, heroes and villains: We covered them all in 2019.

The now-famous buzzer-beater by the Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (center) to beat the Sixers in the Eastern Conference semifinals was arguably the most memorable, and painful, moment of the year in Philadelphia sports.
The now-famous buzzer-beater by the Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (center) to beat the Sixers in the Eastern Conference semifinals was arguably the most memorable, and painful, moment of the year in Philadelphia sports.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Everyone does best-of lists this time of year, and nobody likes doing them more than sportswriters do. We get a chance to highlight some of the good work we did, and despite all protestations to the contrary, we actually did produce some good work. Honest.

So here it is: The Inquirer’s best sports journalism of 2019. The stories and columns are in no particular order. Hope you enjoyed them then and enjoy them now:

Bob Ford with the moving story of Kevin McCloskey, a veteran from Tacony who lost his legs in Afghanistan but found salvation in golf.

Jeff McLane on Nick Foles’ final game with the Eagles.

Aaron Carter went deep on a big problem for too many Philadelphia high school athletes: They don’t have enough to eat.

Here’s the second part of Aaron’s terrific series.

The story of Joe Savoldi: Notre Dame football star, world wrestling champ, American spy.

Erin McCarthy’s harrowing essay on the rafting accident that cost her one of her fingers.

Here’s David Murphy’s excellent column from Game 7 of Sixers-Raptors.

Les Bowen on the Eagles’ long and ugly history with the Lisfranc injury.

Marcus Hayes introduced everyone to Joe Ostman: baker’s son, Eagles practice-squad pass-rusher stand-in.

Paul Domowitch made it clear: If Carson Wentz stays healthy, the Eagles’ championship window will stay open a long time.

Matt Breen detailed the relationship between Phillies star Bryce Harper and his father, Ron.

Bob Brookover recommended that the Phillies fire Gabe Kapler before the Phillies … fired Gabe Kapler.

Mike Jensen covered the firing of Phil Martelli better than anyone, first with his story on Martelli’s reaction. Then, he traveled to Ann Arbor to check in on Martelli at Michigan – and to share pulled pork sandwiches with him.

Speaking of food, remember: When you tailgate at a game, don’t bring Wawa hoagies.

E.J. Smith on the Arcidiaconos, Philly basketball royalty.

Ed Barkowitz caught up with Darren Jensen, the goalie who carried the Flyers while they mourned Pelle Lindbergh.

Scott Lauber on the branding and marketing of Bryce Harper.

After Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Sam Carchidi got the perspective of someone who could relate: former NFL linebacker and Wayne, Pa., native Mark Herzlich.

Joe Juliano was there for Olympic champion Greg Bell’s return to the Penn Relays.

Bob Ford explained how instant replay has ruined sports.

Mike Jensen on La Salle’s Isiah Deas and the basketball court that used to be his home. Literally.

Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. national women’s soccer team turned Marcus Hayes into a fan of the beautiful game.

David Murphy warned Joel Embiid to stay off Instagram and let his game to the talking for him.

Marc Narducci on the tough love that propelled Temple’s Rod Carey into his coaching career.

Aaron Carter on Frankford High football coach Bill Stytsma, who keeps his locker room open on Friday nights to keep his players safe.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi learned everything he knows about analytics from a professor at Northwestern. Everyone now knows the story because of Scott Lauber.

Jonathan Tannewald covered the making of history: the Union’s first postseason victory.

Bob Brookover told Bryce Harper’s life story.

Les Bowen told the story of the Eagles’ big victory over the Cowboys.

Jeff McLane detailed the quirks and beliefs of former Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett.

Keith Pompey profiled the 76ers’ Tobias Harris.

Matt Breen reminded everyone about the ugliest uniforms in Phillies history.

Frank Fitzpatrick linked Philadelphia to the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

Ed Barkowitz detailed the odd and inspiring connection between the South Philly Mummers Club and the St. Louis Blues.

A column on the life and death of former Inquirer sports columnist Bill Lyon.

Mike Jensen on Norty Levine, 84-year-old pickup hoops aficionado.

Joe Juliano went deep with James Franklin on the state of the Penn State football program.

Jeff McLane interviewed everyone but the waiter when Carson Wentz tried to win over the Eagles locker room by taking his teammates to Barclay Prime.

Erin McCarthy on Giants running back and former Penn State star Saquon Barkley.

Mike Jensen on Villanova’s Kenzie Gardler, breaking a longstanding Big Five tradition.

David Murphy visited the small Texas town where Jason Peters grew up.

Frank Fitzpatrick on the demise of Old-Timers games.

Mike Jensen went inside the North Philly basketball league for homeless men.