Thank you, Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon
“Billy Bean, MLB’s VP of social responsibility and inclusion, wilth Cubs skipper Joe Maddon on #SpiritDay.” by Arturo Pardavila III is licensed under CC BY 2.0

At the end of the 2014 season, the Cubs were 73-89, another losing season mired amidst a team in the middle of a rebuild.

Rick Renteria was the manager back then, hired only a year prior and promised by team president Theo Epstein that he would be back as skipper of the Lovable Losers.

Long story short, Renteria was given the boot and Joe Maddon, the highly successful and slightly unorthodox manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, was in.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

471 wins. Four consecutive postseason berths. Three consecutive NLCS appearances. One massive, end-all World Series title.

That, folks, is the resume of a manager who will go down as one of the best Cubs skippers in a long time. Or maybe ever.

All good things must come to an end unfortunately. Maddon, the pragmatic skipper who helped end the Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought, ended a fabulous five-year run at the helm of the Chicago Cubs last Sunday, with a bottle of Corona in his hand as he talked to reporters one last time. Classic Joe style.

It ended an unremarkable season in which the Cubs failed to reach the postseason for the first time under Maddon, finishing with a 84-78 record. A season in which the Cubs’ bullpen blew 28 saves, tied for third-most in MLB. Hell, even if they notch half of those saves, they win 98 games. But I digress, this is about Joe.

Joe had an unorthodox style when it came to setting a roster, rarely using the same lineup on back-to-back days. Maddon may not have used the same lineup all season for that matter. Regardless, it seemed to work for the past five years, and the players didn’t seem to mind–that was Joe’s way.

Joe brought with him a different kind of culture rarely seen by current MLB managers, one that seemed to fit the mold of the youthful roster the Cubs presented him when he signed on to lead the Cubs back in November of 2014. Costume parties for road trips. Bringing in a magician to help lighten the mood amidst a losing streak in 2015. Yearly team slogans, including maybe his best “Try not to suck” line from the magical 2016 season. This was, and still is, the way Joe operates and connects with his players.

Maddon was the one who told Javy Baez to just be himself. Baez had struggled as a 21-year old highly touted prospect in 2014, striking out a ton and nearly quitting the game of baseball. Four years later, Baez was MVP runner-up and is a major piece of the Cubs roster.

It was Maddon who told Kris Bryant his door was always open for him, another highly regarded hitter out of the Cubs’ farm system. Kris Bryant won rookie of the year in 2015 and was the MVP in 2016.

Anthony Rizzo became one of the best first basemen in the game while under Maddon. Rizzo has seen both extremes as a Cub, playing on 100-loss teams and then on the 100-win team in 2016. Rizzo–a young player himself–became a leader for the youthful Cubs, being one of the most tenured players on the squad. “Joe has changed my life, changed my career,” Rizzo said after learning Joe would be moving on. “I love him like a dad.”

This is just a snippet of what Joe Maddon brought to the Cubs. The common theme? He let the players be themselves. There were more good times than bad under Maddon, but even in the bad times, morale was high. The Cubs were a tight-knot group under Joe. They were allowed to be themselves and have fun.

I’m not sure what the next manager will bring to the Cubs. 2020 is going to look different in Wrigleyville. Maddon won’t be there, standing on the top step of the dugout, laughing and smiling with the group of kids he has mentored, many of them the only manager they have ever known. A definite father figure.

Will that affect the chemistry that many of them have grown accustomed to? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure: Joe Maddon changed the culture of the Cubs for the better. As a fan, one can only hope it stays that way, no matter who they decide to bring in.

Five years ago, Joe Maddon signed up to become manager of the Chicago Cubs. The same Cubs that had not won a championship in an eternity and then-some, the same Cubs that were in rebuild mode, but had a plethora of unproven young up-and-coming stars. It was Joe who took a risk to be the person that could go down in Cubs lore as a savior, or as many had done before him, just another notch on the Cubs managerial belt of mediocrity and disappointment. In the end, it was Joe who took that chance and it was Joe who delivered.

As a fan, I’ll never forget game seven of the 2016 World Series, when Joe pulled starter Kyle Hendricks in the fifth inning. Hendricks had been cruising and was arguably the top pitcher for the Cubs that postseason. I cursed Joe for that decision, screaming at the TV in my living room thinking Joe was overthinking things. It wasn’t the first or last time I questioned a Maddon decision, but it felt like at that moment Joe had panicked and the chance of a Cubs title in my lifetime had gone down the drain yet again in the biggest moment I had ever experienced as a Cubs fan.

But the rest, as they say, is history, and Joe said it best, standing in the hallway holding his Corona after his final game managing the Cubs: “If anyone wants to denigrate what we’ve done over the past five years, come see me at some point.” Touche, Joe. Touche.

And as he stood there, in that hallway in Busch Stadium for the last time in Cubbie blue, Joe left Cubs fans with a lasting impression of the man that we all got to know over the past five seasons: “For those that say those critical things, if you were in the other dugout, I would kick your ass,” he said. “That’s pretty much how this whole thing would work out, so just know that. Your ass would be kicked.”

Classic closing line. Thank you, Joe. Cheers.

 

Buy or Sell: Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Jones and Golden State Warriors

Welcome to the future!

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr.” by DR. Buddie is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In this version of the “Buy or Sell,” we will take a look at the future and where it could take three teams. Join Aman, Dan, and I as we look into the future championship hopes of the Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Jones, and Golden State Warriors.

Can any of us be right in our buys or sells? Find out what we think about them here.

Dan: With their elite young core, the Blue Jay’s can win a World Series within the next 5-6 years?

Aman: If I’m going based off of the Toronto Blue Jays’ current competition, then no, of course not, but down the road, as the Blue Jays get stronger and the good players of the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, or the Los Angeles Dodgers age, the Blue Jays winning is actually a probable reality.
But this will only work if the Blue Jays’ key players remains with the team. Unfortunately, what I see happening is another team offering more money and a better deal to the likes of, how Rahim says, Guerrero Jr., leaving the Blue Jays behind. So, I’m going to end up selling this.
Rahim: I buy this! I’ve been saying it all season that this was the last year the Golden State Warriors were going to win an NBA title. I didn’t think they would have gotten D’Angelo Russell the way they did. But regardless of that addition, it will be hard for them to repeat what they did over the past five seasons.
There is also that fact that Dan said about the Los Angeles teams. Whether it’s Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers team or LeBron James’ Lakers, I think the Warriors will finish third best in their division. It’s going to be a hard road back to the Finals for the Warriors and I don’t think their time will come again. So yes, I buy the idea that they will fail to win an NBA title for the next three years, especially with Clippers and Lakers now standing in their way.

Rahim: Daniel Jones will win two Super Bowl titles in his career and silence all critics?

What you missed this weekend: 8/16-8/18

It’s only a matter of a few weeks before the NFL and NBA get underway as Europe’s La Liga and English Premier League have already started. We still have some pre-season domestic news though along with some UFC and MLB action and the Ashes between England and Australia witnessed a thrilling second test of cricket. 

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215-365 Today at the Ashes Test Match by John Garghan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

GOLF: BMW Championship

Tiger Woods’ season has come to a disappointing end. After 18 holes, Woods shot even-par 72, which was seven-under overall, and unfortunately, he doesn’t qualify for the next round.

UFC-241: Stipe Miocic

After just a little over four minutes into round four, Stipe Miocic won back his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier. Although Cormier had 73 more strikes than his counterpart, all it took was just one knockout for Miocic to win his beloved prize. This is the fourth time a champion ended up losing in Anaheim.

NFL: 

Injury news

Los Angles Chargers have lost Derwin James for three to four months due to foot surgery. New Jersey Jets LB Avery Williams tore his ACL in a practice game against the Atlanta Falcons and will probably miss the whole season. The Arizona Cardinals starting cornerback, Robert Alford, broke his tibia bone and will have to sit out for half of the season. The Baltimore Ravens will have to do without Taven Young, who will miss the season due to a neck injury.

Josh McCown

The former Jets quarterback has done a U-turn on his decision to retire and has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has signed just a one-year deal with the Eagles.

LA Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had the edge against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night in Hawaii, winning 14-10. Devin Smith and Tony Pollard both reached the endzone for Dallas while only JoJo Natson Jr. was able to convert for the Rams.

MLB: 

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres makes his name with the New York Yankees by becoming the second-highest Home Run scorer in a season with the Yankees. He scored his 29th Home Run right before turning 23 years of age.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols brought light to his name by becoming the player born outside of the United States with the most hits. The Dominican-born player went to 3,168 hits on Saturday night for the Los Angeles Angels against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Soccer: 

Barcelona

Barcelona was welcomed to a shocking start in La Liga by losing 1-0 to Atletic Bilbao. The hero was Aritz Adruiz who scored in the 89th minute.

Cricket: 

The Ashes

Despite Steve Smith scoring 92(161), Australia ended up trailing England by 8 runs at the end of the first innings, being bowled out for 250. To Australia’s dismay, Smith was retired out first due to a concussion after being hit in the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer. When he returned to bat, Chris Woakes caught him LBW after Smith mistakably left the ball. The second innings didn’t start well for England, especially when skipper Joe Root was caught behind the first ball but England found a hero at Lord’s once again in Ben Stokes, who scored his seventh test match century.

Australia needed 267 runs to win in just a few hours, so a draw was the most likely outcome, but for a good amount of time, the England bowlers excellently created doubt in the Australian batting ability. David Warner and Usman Khawaja were both dismissed caught off of Archer’s bowling, but substitute Marcus Labuschagne bravely got to 59 before being controversially being caught out by Joe Root at square leg. In the final hour, England needed four wickets to win and Australia wasn’t in reach of victory, but the likes of Archer, Joe Denly and Jack Leach were unable to find the wickets and the match was declared a draw.

Australia currently leads the five-match series 0-1 after two tests.

What you may have missed this weekend: 08/08-08/11

If you thought the NFL was teasing us about their return, you were wrong! We are less than a month away from the Thursday night kickoff between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers on September 5th.

Rafael Nadal
“Rafael Nadal” by mirsasha is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

But we’ll have to take it a week at a time before we can see the big games. This past Thursday was the official start of Week 1 of the NFL preseason and we got to see some of the rookies show us what they got. We’ll take a deeper look into some of the games.

And this week’s article will be a little different as we are trying something new. That new thing is for none of you to miss a thing from the weekend. We typically focus on the more important news like NFL, NBA, Soccer and any major tournaments from the other sports like Golf, NASCAR, or Tennis. But we will give you the news you need to know.

Let’s start with the NFL preseason and then work our way around to all the news. This week we have MLB, Golf, Tennis, NASCAR, UFC, and Soccer.

NFL:

NFL Week 1 Preseason Highlights:

The rookies put on a show during week one. We saw a lot of rookies getting comfortable earlier on in their first preseason game. Kansas City Chiefs rookie Mecole Hardman made two catches from 31 yards and a touchdown in his debut.

The No. 6 overall pick, QB Daniel Jones, was drafted by the New York Giants and head coach Pat Shurmur was pleased in Jones touchdown drive in debut.

The No. 1 overall pick, QB Kyler Murray had a sharp debut with the Arizona Cardinals as he went 6 for 7 with 44 yards in his one drive, let’s pay attention to how this will play out with Murray and all the young receivers that they drafted to pair with him.

How about WRs Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry impressing us all with their debuts as part of the New England Patriots. They along with QB Jarrett Stidham are proving to be the bright spots in the Patriots future plans.

NFL Injuries:

Along with the highlights of some of the rookies, there is also some injuries that we should know of.

Players like Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller and Houston Texans Keekee Coutee. But the biggest one of the weekend is Philadelphia Eagles backup QB Sudfeld. This comes as no surprise for Eagles QB, but they are hoping that Carson Wentz can stay healthy this year too.

Other NFL News:

  • Antonio Brown set to retire over a Helmet issue: let him keep his helmet that he’s worn for every season.
  • Colin Kapernick says he’s ready to play again: President Trump said he should if he’s good enough.
  • The Cleveland Browns trade RB Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans for ’20 pick: Johnson will work alongside Lamar Miller.

MLB:

Toronto’s rookie found himself in an epic battle:

In a 1-0 game against the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr came up to bat with a runner on base looking to take the lead. He quickly found himself in an epic 13-pitch battle in his first meeting with Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman. Guerrero was called upon to close the game with a win and he fouled off seven of the 13, got a full count while swinging and missing twice. Guerrero’s last swing was a ground ball that led to a double-play and another save foe Chapman.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough had a career day:

He was one out shy of a complete game as he pitched a career-high 8 2/3 innings getting 26 outs of 99 pitches in a shutout win against the Seattle Mariners. Had Yarbrough had the chance to get the complete game, he would’ve been the Rays’ first since Matt Andriese did it in 2016. The Rays won the 1-0 and got a series sweep.

In a divisional battle, the Indians survived to tie it up:

This wasn’t just a normal series, but the chance to take control of the AL Central was in the line. The Cleveland Indians had everything in their favor until they blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings at 3 a piece.

The Indians came right back out in the 10th and loaded the bases in the top of the 10th without having an out yet. That’s when Carlos Santana came up and delivered a go-ahead grand slam that propelled the Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Tennis:

Rogers Cup:

Although it is not one of the major tournaments in the World of Tennis, the Rogers Cup had some big names in it. One of the biggest names was Spain’s Rafael Nadal who advances to the Finals with a walkover as his semifinal opponent Gael Monfils. Monfils was injured late in quarterfinals early Saturday and was not ready for the Semifinals hours late which lead to Nadal’s automatically going to the finals. In the finals, Nadal faced Daniil Medvedev and won in straight sets (6-3, 6-0).

Golf:

The Northern Trust:

In the Liberty National Golf Club, we saw Tiger Woods withdraw (+4) in the 1st round due to injury and he’s likely sitting out of the next tournament too. But in his absences, we still got to see some great golfers compete. Patrick Reed came out on top as he finished with a -16 par. Abraham Ancer (-15), Harold Varner III (-14), John Rahm (-14), and Adam Scott (-13) all had their chances late, but Reed held them off.

NASCAR:

Consumers Energy 400:

In the Michigan International Speedway, we saw Kevin Harvick win another race. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Kr., and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five. In the 183rd lap, Harvick passed Joey Logano and never looked back. He finished just 1.595-seconds ahead, and recorded his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and the 47th of his career.

UFC:

Women’s Flyweight Title Fight:

Valentina Shevchenko tries to revenge first loss of career (September 2010) against Liz Carmouche. Shevchenko also puts the title on the line 61 days off last defending it which tied for 3rd-fewest in UFC history. After a long-hard fight, Shevchenko won on decisions and it was rightful so. She recorded the matches only takedown as Carmouche failed on three attempts. With the win Shevchenko became the 5th woman to win at least 3 UFC titles. It was also the 8th time that Carmouche has gone to decision (4-4).

Soccer:

Liverpool beat Norwich in the first half:

In the first match of the Premier League on Friday, runners’ up Liverpool scored four in the first half against promoted side Norwich City. Grant Hanley’s seventh-minute own goal was the first goal of the season before Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Divock Origi scored. Teemu Pukki did pull one back in the 64th minute for Norwich, but Liverpool started off with a comfortable win.

West Ham no match for Manchester City:

Manchester City’s success seems to continue over into their third season. Although West Ham was playing at home, they couldn’t hold their ground and City won 0-5. The first half ended 0-1 thanks to Gabriel Jesús’s goal, but the star was Raheem Sterling who scored a hat-trick in the second half. Sergio Aguero, of course, made an impact as a substitute, scoring a penalty, which was City’s fourth goal.

Chelsea faces a devastating start:

Chelsea without Eden Hazard proved ineffective at Old Trafford as Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0. Marcus Rashford scored in the 18th minute with a penalty before getting a second goal in the 67th minute. Anthony Martial scored just two minutes prior to Rashford’s second and Daniel James closed the scoring account in the 81st minute off of a deflection from a Chelsea defender.

What you may have missed this weekend: 08/01 -08/04

Before we get into what all we missed this weekend, I just want to say welcome back football. It’s been too long and yet still too far.

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-Atlanta Falcons Tony Gonzalez” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed for Public Domain

This weekend had a lot of cheerful moments like the Hall of Fame game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. It was the start of the Hall of Fame weekend that welcomed in the Class of 2019. But let’s see what else we missed this weekend with more NFL news. There’s even news about the NBA and MLB along with a big weekend in Soccer and Cricket by Aman.

NFL:

Hall of Fame Game:

This is an extra preseason game for the two teams involved and it’s all about the Hall of Famers that get inducted the Saturday after. On Thursday, we got our first look at the 2019 NFL season as the Atlanta Falcons give up a touchdown to the Denver Broncos and loss 14-10. Of course, all the big name players weren’t playing in the game, but it was still a pretty good watch.

Hall of Fame Ceremony:

The Hall of Fame Ceremony was the better watch for the NFL. We got to see some of the best players and contributors become Hall of Famers in Canton, Ohio. Players like Chiefs’ safety Johnny Robinson, tight end Tony Gonzalez, Broncos’ corner back Champ Bailey and owner Pat Bowlen, Ravens’ safety Ed Reed, Patriots’ corner back Ty Law, Jets’ center Kevin Mawae, and Cowboys’ contributor Gil Brandt.

Chargers’ Gordon wants out:

In other NFL news, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon likely wants out. With him currently holding out, there’s been a lot of rumors of a possible trade for Gordon. No team has emerged in talks yet, but let’s keep our eyes and ears open as we get closer to the opening weekend.

Brady gets Extension:

The six time Super Bowl winning champion doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon as he and the New England Patriots finalize a contract extension. It’s a two-year extension that will keep Brady under contract through the 2021 season and will get paid $23 million this year, a $8 million increase which makes Brady the sixth-highest-paid QB in the league. It looks like 2019 Draft pick, Jarrett Stidham, will have a few more years to learn behind the “G.O.A.T.”

NBA:

“Melo” times in the NBA:

There hasn’t been much news on the NBA now that the free agency period has been “melo” lately. The only real question is if Carmelo Anthony will play for an NBA team this season? He opens up about his few games with Houston, but says that he is ready for the bigger task at hand. Melo has been a great shooter all throughout his career, but still no defense. But can he stay on a team’s bench?

Christmas schedule released:

We have also been given the five Christmas Day games that we’ll be watching while we eat some of Mama’s delicious pies.

These are the games, but the times are not given yet.

  1. Zion Williamson’s takes his chance at guarding Nikola Jokic as the New Orleans Pelicans face the Denver Nuggets.
  2. There’s also the classic Eastern Conference showdowns between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. How will Giannis Antetokounmpo do against both Al Horford and Joel Embiid?
  3. The other Eastern Conference game is the reigning champions, Toronto Raptors against the new look Boston Celtics with the likes of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.
  4. Then there’s the two guys that haven’t been able to beat the Warriors in the playoffs in the past five years teaming up with hopes of doing it again. Those two guys are James Harden and Russell Westbrook as they look to carry the Houston Rockets to a nice win over Steph Curry and the Warriors.
  5. Then there’s the game everyone wants to see: Lakers-Clippers 2.0. After their opening night game, we’ll have to wait until Christmas to see it again and seeing how each roster is, this will be a great game to watch.

Opening Day roster:

We will also see the battle of Los Angeles on Oct. 22 as LeBron James and the Lakers take on Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. That will be the second of a back-to-back as we get our first real look at the No. 1 overall pick. Zion Williamson (No. 1) will take his New Orleans Pelicans north to take on the defending NBA champions, Toronto Raptors.

MLB:

The biggest news in the MLB this weekend was the Trade deadline. Of course, most of these were done before the weekend, but all of them are taking place and being finalized. So let’s see some of the players who got trade and where.
  • Houston Astros traded five minor leagues players to the Arizona Diamondbacks for P Zack Greinke
  • Astros also traded OF Derek Fisher (NOT the Basketball star) to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Joe Biagini, P Aaron Sanchez, and minor league OF Cal Stevenson
  • The Milwaukee Brewers traded minor league infielder to the San Francisco Giants for a pair of pitchers, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.
  • The Minnesota Twins continue to surprise us with a good season and they trade minor leagues to San Francisco for P Sam Dyson.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers look to add insurance with the asquistion of infielder Jedd Gyorko from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals get P Tony Cingrani and minor league P Jeffry Abreu
  • The Philadelphia Phillies get OF Corey Dickerson from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • The Cincinnati Reds received a minor league OF from the Oakland Athletics in the Tanner Roark. Roark was the top starting pitcher traded on deadline day.
  • Chicago Cubs receive OF Nicholas Castellanos and cash from the Detroit Tigers who get a pair of minor league pitchers.
  • The Atlanta Braves boosted their bullpen in two different trades. They get pitcher Shane Greene from Detroit and Mark Melancon from San Francisco. They traded a pair of minor leaguers and and P Dan Winkler.
  • The biggest trade was between the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds that included the San Diego Padres. The trade was big for the Indians who traded P Trevor Bauer to the Reds. The Indians received OF Yasiel Puig and minor league pitcher from the Reds. They also received OF Franmil Reyes, P Logan Allen, and minor league infielder from the Padres. The Padres would receive minor league outfielder from the Reds.

Soccer: (Aman)

MLS All-Stars unable to stand up to Atlético Madrid:

Atlético Madrid are famed for their defensive strength and it was exactly that which won them their preseason match against the MLS All-Stars in Orlando. Along with keeping a clean sheet, Atlético Madrid also managed to score thrice, all with just 41 percent possession.
However, in that 41 percent, Atlético Madrid outshot the MLS All-Stars 8-19, with the three goals coming from Marcos Llorente towards the end of the first half, new signing João Félix in the 85th minute and Diego Costa adding salt to the wounds in the 93rd minute.

Bad day for LA Galaxy:

After a bad loss to LAFC, most did not expect Atlanta United to even be able to compete with LA Galaxy. But things did not necessarily go to plan. Atlanta went up 2-0 in the first half but they didn’t score either of the two goals.
An unfortunate occurrence of two own goals from David Romney and Giancarlo González 20 minutes apart set the win for the home side. Atlanta then made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute when Josef Martínez converted yet another penalty.

Dortmund shock Bayern Munich to win DFL Supercup:

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund usually play in the DFL Supercup and Bayern Munich usually win. But this time, Jadon Sancho had a show to put on. Dortmund shockingly beat the giants 2-0 thanks to goals from Paco Alcácer in the 48th minute and Sancho in the 69th. Sancho had put on such a performance, Alex Witself said later on that “Even Bayern were scared of Sancho!”

Messi handed three-month international football ban by CONMEBOL:

After Argentina controversially lost to Brazil in the Copa América Semi-finals, Lionel Messi didn’t hesitate and claiming CONMEBOL officials were guilty of corruption after a crucial referee decision against Argentina wasn’t reviewed.
CONMEBOL have since responded by banning Messi for playing for Argentina for three months, but this, amongst other things prove Messi was not wrong. Along with the corruption cases against FIFA, the President of the Argentina Fútbol Asociación Luis Segura was charged with fraud.

Philadelphia regains No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference:

To wrap up a weekend full of Soccer news, we have to take a look at the Eastern Conference standings in MLS. Going into their match on Sunday, Philadelphia Union was tied for 1st with Atlanta United FC at 39 points. The Unions opponents, DC United, were sitting at 4th with 36 and were looking for their chance to be the top team. With a win, DC United would’ve been in a three-way tie for 1st. However, Philadelphia Union didn’t let that happen as they cruised to a 4-1 victory over Wayne Rooney and DC United. There’s still plenty of games left and we could see more movement amongst the top four teams in the East.

Cricket:

Steve Smith silences England:

The first Ashes test at the Edgbaston, Birmingham has been highlighted by one player: Steve Smith. In his first test for Australia in 16 months, Smith scored 144(219), helping Australia from 122-8 to a respectable total of 284.
He first had an 88-run partnership with Peter Siddle, who scored 44(85) himself, and then the 10th-wicket partnership lasted 74 runs with Nathan Lyon, who scored 12(26)*. The loss of Jimmy Anderson due to injury made bowling difficult for England, but Stuart Broad passed the 450 mark in his five-for by bowling Smith.
In the next innings, England found a hero as well in the name of the opener Rory Burns. When Jason Roy’s dismissal reinstated doubts around England’s opening batsmen, Burns batted till Day 3, scoring 133(312), being dismissed caught behind. The skipper Joe Root and in-form Ben Stokes also provided half-centuries, but the biggest frustration for Australia was the ninth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad, 29(67), and Chris Woakes, 37(95)*, which lasted 65 runs and 24.1 overs.

In the next innings, England found a hero as well in the name of the opener Rory Burns. When Jason Roy’s dismissal reinstated doubts around England’s opening batsmen, Burns batted till Day 3, scoring 133(312), being dismissed caught behind. The skipper Joe Root and in-form Ben Stokes also provided half-centuries, but the biggest frustration for Australia was the ninth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad, 29(67), and Chris Woakes, 37(95)*, which lasted 65 runs and 24.1 overs.

England had a considerable lead of 90 runs, but Smith wasn’t done talking. Smith completed a rare Ashes twin century, scoring 142(207) this time. Multiple, lengthy partnerships seemed to kill England’s spirit as Australia batted on. First, a 48-run stand with Usman Khawaja, in which Khawaja scored 40 off just 48. Then, the Vice Captain, Travis Head got to his fifty from 116 deliveries as his partnership with Smith was worth 130 runs.
Things got even worse for England when Matthew Wade stepped up to the crease as Smith wasn’t the only one to score a century. Smith and Wade batted together for 126 runs and Wade went on to score 110(143), before being caught at fine leg by Joe Denly.
Some lower order power proved deadly for England as quick runs came from the skipper Tim Paine 34(44), James Pattinson 47(48) and Pat Cummins 26(33), setting England a target of 398.

Buy or Sell: Cleveland Browns, Atlético Madrid, and Boston Red Sox

It’s time to start buying and selling our thoughts and some important questions that caught our mind this week. As we do every week, Aman, Dan, and I will each buy or sell topics of issues.

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Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week we will discuss whether or not the Cleveland Browns have what it takes to win the AFC North and make the playoffs as a lot of us could be expecting. We’ll also be discussing the chances of one of the best soccer teams in the world as they try to top their league. And of course, there’s always baseball talk with the Boston Red Sox looking to make a push for the playoffs. Let’s see what we got to see about it.

Rahim: The Cleveland Browns, not the Pittsburgh Steelers, win the AFC North?

Dan: I BUY that the Cleveland Browns will win their division, not only this season but many seasons to come. The Browns with this team will be a dominate force in the AFC North division for a long time. Yes, I know it sounds like a shock, but think about it from a talent level.

They have such a good young core on both sides of the both and it will be tough to handle them, especially if everyone plays well together.

I mean I think having Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the same team is a great thing. We saw it happen at LSU during their college days, so why not now? It’ll help both of them say focused on football rather than off-the-field things.

Aman: I sell the Cleveland Browns finishing first in the AFC North and I have the Pittsburgh Steelers regaining the title. The Browns possess an intriguing team this season, without a doubt, but I still think it will take a few games in the beginning for the Browns to figure out their playing style and a winning combination.

With that being said, I’m sure the Browns feel like they can finish second in the AFC North and make the playoffs, perhaps one or two wins less than the Steelers.

The Browns might have more famous stars on their roster this season but the Steelers have the advantage of experience, especially when it comes to comparing the quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Baker Mayfield.

Also, we’re gonna have to wait and see if Mayfield can continue the magic across multiple seasons like how Roethlisberger has done.

Aman: Atlético Madrid will finish above Real Madrid this season in La Liga?

Rahim: This is a hard buy because I am a fan of hating Real Madrid as all Barcelona fans are, but I think Real Madrid is just @£&#_*”+%$~ and the deserve to lose. I love that fact that they have been struggling lately and it makes this an easy buy for me. With Atlético’s recent 7-3 win over Real, it proves that they are ready to be ahead of Real and take the La Liga.

Unfortunately, they still have to worry about Barcelona who continues to get better with the addition of Antoine Griezmann. That will hurt Atlético a bit because Griezmann was a former member of their squad, but they should be good enough to finish ahead of Real.

Dan: Now I am not much of a soccer or La Liga guy, but I’m selling this. I just think that Atlético has lost too much talent recently that it’ll be harder for them to be a top two team in La Liga.

Like Rahim said, Barcelona is most likely going to win La Liga again this season. Looking at the squads, Atlético doesn’t have as many stars as they did in the past. But maybe this will the year we see them do it. It will be tough because both Barcelona and Real Madrid got better despite losing one of the best players, so I sell that Atlético finishes ahead of Real Madrid.

Dan: Despite winning 3 of 4 over the division leading New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox will still miss the playoffs regardless of what happens in their next 3 game series with the Yankees.

Aman: It’ll be disappointing. It’ll be somewhat upsetting. But it will make the MLB wide open. I buy the Boston Red Sox missing the playoffs this season.

If the Red Sox lose their next three-game series as Dan mentioned, it’s definitely game over. The Red Sox’s difficult start earlier in the season is one that’s too hard to recover from. Along with that, the other American League teams which will likely make the playoffs ahead of the Red Sox currently have 60+ wins, meaning by the end of the regular season, they could be well ahead of the Red Sox.

Another team Boston fans will need to keep their eyes open for are the Los Angeles Angels, who have 56 wins compared to Boston’s 59, and could easily overtake Boston if the Red Sox lose just a few matches.

Rahim: I buy this as well! But I’m only looking at the playoff history of the Red Sox the year following a World Series win. They have had the worst record or been in the Wild Card. This year they are fighting for one of the two Wild Cards.

But it is a tough road ahead of them. We have seen the Red Sox’ battle through the early season struggles and be in a five team race for the two spots.

Regardless of their recent win streak against AL East’s best, New York Yankees, Boston still have their hands full with 52 games left and currently 7th in the playoff picture behind the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, and Cleveland Indians.

I do expect to see two of those teams finish ahead of the Red Sox and keep them out of postseason, so I’ll buy this question.

********************************************************************
There you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Will the Cleveland Browns win the AFC North over the Pittsburgh Steelers?
  • Will Atlético Madrid finish above Real Madrid this season in La Liga?
  • Can the Boston Red Sox make a playoff push after their recent winning streak against the New York Yankees?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment!

What you missed this weekend: 07/24 -07/28

This was a quiet weekend in the sports world as we all start to look forward to the start of the football season in nearly a month. Before we get there, we will still look at what there is to miss this week while we wait.

Mookie Betts

“Mookie Betts” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We do have some news from the NFL that relates to contract extensions, signings, and injury updates. We have some MLB highlights with more Boxing, and MMA news to catch up.

NFL:

As we look forward to the Hall of Fame game on August 2nd, we look at new deals for players like Bobby Wagner (ILB) and Kevin Byard (S) who are the highest-paid players at their positions. Wagner with the Seattle Seahawks and Byard with the Tennessee Titans. The New York Jets signed their rookie, Quinnen Williams, to a four-year, $32.5 million deal.

Another players like WR Allen Hurns and CB Orlando Scandrick found new teams, while the Detroit Lions cut long-term RB Theo Riddick, Riddick is planning on meeting with the New Orleans Saints.

There are also some injuries to some key receivers like New York Giants’ Sterling Shepard and Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green. Shepard is out with a fractured thumb, while Green injured his left ankle and likely out 6-8 weeks.

MLB:

Toronto and New York trade:

It was a long time coming for this move. On Sunday, the Toronto Blue Jays made a trade that would send pitcher Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets in exchange for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson, according to ESPN. Both Kay and Woods are No. 6 and 7 prospects for the Mets’ system, while Stroman is fifth-best in the American League with a 2.96 ERA off 21 starts. He is a cheap option ($7.4 M) for the Mets and could hold onto him until 2020 when he is eligible to hit free agency.

Betts make-a-wish come true:

In case you missed it, Boston Red Sox’ Mookie Betts added a new reason for the New York Yankees to hate him. Not only was he the American League MVP last year, but he also homered three times in four innings against the Yankees in a 10-5 win on Friday night. This three-homer game from Betts helped me pass Alfonso Soriano for most three-homer games from the leadoff spot (4th). He also became the eighth player in MLB history with five three-homer games.

Beets had a bit more motivation before Friday’s game as he met with a
10-year-old Nico Sapienza, Make-A-Wish child who asked Beets to hit a home run for him. Not only was it one, but three homers and he made history doing it.

Boxing:

Davis TKo’d Nunez

In another important fight, we saw Gervonta Davis vs. Ricardo Nunez in championship bout. Davis (22-0, 21 KOs), the WBA junior lightweight champion had the last laugh in this one as he made his return home to face hard-hitting Ricardo Nunez who he knocked out in the second round.

But here’s how he did it. Davis was patient early as Nunez (21-3, 19 KOs) attacked forward. But Davis gave one left-handed blow to the head Nunez that snapped his head back. Nunez was using the ropes to hold him up as Davis continued to land punches until the referee called the bout at the 1:33 mark of the second round.

With high praises from Floyd Mayweather Jr., Davis looks for who’s next. He has several fighters wanting a piece of him, but he has his mind set on current IBF junior lightweight champion Tevin Farmer as the two have been exchanging words on social media.

Ramirez stunted Hooker:

In a champion vs. champion bout, Jose Ramirez stunted Maurice Hooker to become the unified 140-pound champion on Saturday night. With the victory, Ramirez retained his WBC light welterweight belt and captured Hooker’s WBO belt as well.

Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) scored a first-round knockdown after stepping on Hooker’s foot while throwing a punch. Both fighters had their moments as Ramirez seized control when he was able to pin Hooker against the ropes. Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KOs) had success in the center of the ring with his long reach.

But in the sixth round, Ramirez landed a wicked left hook to Hooker that sent him stumbling backwards into the ropes and Ramirez continued with shot after shot until the referee called the bout.

UFC:

At UFC 240, we saw Max Holloway defeat Frankie Edgar on a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47). During the fight, Edgar had a lot of bright spots, Holloway’s pace was too much Edgar. Holloway used his length to get some nice punches in on Edgar and make the decision easier for the judges.

Buy or Sell: Cleveland Indians, NBA’s USA team, and Bears next Walter Payton (MVP)

We are once again covering different topics from the NFL, NBA and MLB, as Aman, Dan, and I discuss some more interesting topics.

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4. Walter Payton” by Korye Logan is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

With the MLB trade deadline approaching, we look at a team and might be ready to give up one of their pitchers for more assets. We’ll also look at how the USA Men’s basketball team will look without a lot of big names. And the biggest question of the week is who will be the next MVP for the Chicago Bears? The one and only time the Bears had an MVP was Walter Payton in 1977. Do they have an MVP on the team this season?

Aman: The Cleveland Indians will back-track and decide not to trade Trevor Bauer?

Dan: I sell that the Indians won’t end up trading Trevor Bauer. It’s really just a relationship that needs to end. Doing one-year deals and going to arbitration every year for like 4-5 straight seasons and screwing this guy out of the money he actually deserves to get is burning bridges.

They don’t want to pay him and if he doesn’t get traded he’ll just end up in arbitration again this offseason. Why keep doing that to a top pitcher especially when you can probably get a couple really good prospects back for him.

Currently the Philadelphia Phillies are the top team for him and are said to be in ‘Deep’ discussion about acquiring Bauer. This is a team that has so much young talent and a lot of money. Why not go out and add another starting pitcher to help out guys like Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola. He’s 28, so if he was to go to a team like the Phillies, it would boost their chances to win and he would be right in the middle of that while finally getting the money he should be getting. I think he is definitely gone by the deadline.

Rahim: This is a hard sell because of where the Indians have been over the past three years. The Indians have won their division each of the last three years and had it to the World Series in 2016 where they blew a 3-1 lead against the Chicago Cubs and ended their curse.

But the reason I am selling this is because the Indians need a change of pace in their roster and they have managed to keep themselves in the hunt for both the Wild Card spot and another division title. If the postseason were to start today the Indians wouldn’t been division championships (Minnesota Twins led by three games). The Indians would be battling the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card game.

Unfortunately, there still roughly 60 games left in the season and the Indians are looking for something to help them move ahead in their division. Trevor Bauer has been the only pitcher for the Indians this season with the other guys like Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Carrasco all missing a handful of games. Bauer is the only one with trade value right now and it would be smart to move him while he is playing well.

I don’t think a trade like this will effect the Indians chances of making the playoffs and if they get good value for him, it might actually benefit them more in the playoffs once everyone else returns from injury.

Rahim: Is USA Basketball now a joke with all superstars opting out of playing this summer?

Aman: I sell this! I think that it is quite a dismay that the country’s greatest stars won’t be representing their country at the upcoming World Cup, but I still wouldn’t take this team lightly.

The US has the best domestic league in the world, so there is a myriad of talent from the NBA to fill up the team. This is a good chance for young players to perform at their best and bring pride to their country.

Another point is that there couldn’t be a better coach then Greg Popovich to lead this team and I would keep faith in his coaching ability in forming a solid, unified US national team.

Dan: I sell that the NBA USA team is now a joke. I don’t think it’s that players don’t want to play for the team I think it’s more the fact that’s this tournament is so close to the NBA season.

The tournament starts August 31st and the finals of that tournament would be September 15th. The NBA preseason starts on October 4th. Those dates are very close together especially when a lot of the guys asked to be on that are Western Conference guys fighting for a championship spot and really even a playoff spot after what has happened this offseason.

Also to throw this in, their all-team USA has do is finish 1st or 2nd out of seven teams and if they fail to do that they still have another opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in the FIBA tournament next year. So this really isn’t as big of a deal as people are making it out to be.

I think you’ll see a lot of these bigger name players next year for FIBA if need be and certainly the Olympics. The roster for this year’s tournament still has Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Andre Drummond, Kyle Kuzma, and Harrison Barnes. There’s some all stars in there and guys that people know can get the job done. Team USA will be okay this year.

Dan: The Chicago Bears last MVP was Walter Payton (1977). But with the MVP-caliber players they have on their roster, this will be the year the franchise gets their second MVP

Aman: Although it’s a long shot, I buy for two reasons:

A. This is the best chance the Bears have to put up an MVP worthy performance. Someone like the QB Mitch Trubisky or defender Khalil Mack. Sure, there might be more profound QBs in the league than Trubisky, but if the Bears make a Super Bowl run, Trubisky could be worthy of the award.

B. The other reason responds to Mack. Obviously, a defender hasn’t had his hands on the MVP trophy in a while, but as defenders are becoming more valued, Mack might be on the top of that list. Therefore, although a long shot, I buy this being possible.

Rahim: I’m definitely selling this. I know the Bears won their division for the first time since 2010, but I don’t think they have the next MVP on their team. I do think the Bears win likely win the division again in 2019 and maybe make it further than a missed kick in a Wild Card game.

When I look at the Bears roster I see two potential MVPs (QB Mitchell Trubisky and EDGE Khalil Mack), but looking at the players in front of them, it will be a tough task to accomplish.

Trubisky isn’t even a top 10 quarterback in the league and for him to get to the MVP status, the Bears will have to have the best record in the league with the no. 1 offense. Trubisky will need more than just one game of 6+ touchdowns to get him there.

Mack, on the other hand, has a harder road to the MVP award simply because it’s rarely ever reward to a defensive player. The last and only defensive player to win MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1988, and though we have seen what kind of impact Mack has on a team like the Bears, I don’t think he’ll get the looks for this award.

I mean honestly speaking the MVP award is mostly an offensive player award rewarded to the best QB of the season. It honestly surprises me how New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees has yet to win one. I think his time should’ve been last year. But I’ll be selling any Bears player winning the MVP in 2019. Sorry Dan and Aman, it won’t happen!

********************************************************************
There you have it! Now, what do you think?

  • Will the Cleveland Indians back track and not trade SP Trevor Bauer?
  • Is USA basketball team a joke without the superstar players we are use to seeing?
  • Can a Chicago Bears play win MVP like former RB Walter Payton did in 1977?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment!

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