What you may have missed this weekend: 2/15 – 2/17

It’s been two weeks since the NFL has begun its sleep. Today, even Premier League soccer decided to take a nap, but that doesn’t mean the fun has ceased. The NBA was the peak of the best headlines this weekend, along with some interesting features from Spanish soccer in La Liga and the start of the Pakistan Super League in cricket. Along with that, off the field, plenty of headlines to read were made in the NFL and the MLB.

NBA All-Star Game 2010” by Rondo Estrello is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NBA

All-Star game (RahimAli Merchant):

The best part about NBA All-Star weekend is the All-Star game, where we have two teams full of the best players in the NBA playing for a charity and the excitement of the fans. And boy was it a good one. Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 178-164 after shooting 35 of 90 from three and coming back from 18 down.

Team Giannis took control 53-37 early in the first quarter behind team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks teammate Khris Middleton with a combined 28 points. Giannis finished with 38 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a losing effort. Team LeBron was led by Kevin Durant with 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, scoring 11 in the fourth quarter and winning his second All-Star MVP.

Sonya Curry keeps it in the family:

To start off the All-Star Weekend, basketball players Stephen and Seth Curry, along with some members from their families, competed in basketball challenges, including a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a half-court shot. In the dire final minutes, Stephen and Seth’s mother, Sonya Curry completed the half-court shot, erupting celebration and discussion within the family. Afterward, Sonya’s husband, Dell Curry told ESPN “She told me she was going to make it — she called it. I was shocked, surprised, amazed.”

Sonya herself was having a bit of fun with her children as she jokingly trash-talked her children before scoring, but Seth could simply call it a “lucky shot”.

Kyle Kuzma shows off with MVP in Rising Stars game:

In the recent past, Team USA hasn’t been as successful against Team World, but this time, thanks to Kyle Kuzma, Team USA was able to find a 161-144 win. Kuzma was able to win MVP through the people’s vote with his all-time high 35 points, 14 coming in the first quarter.

Dunk Contest/Skills Challenge:

Not only is Hamidou Diallo good at dunking, but he’s extremely impressive at it. Diallo managed to dunk over Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who is 7’1″, all while wearing a Superman shirt underneath his OKC jersey.

In the skills challenge, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics won after scoring a half-court shot against Trae Young. Tatum went behind in the layup portion, but then came back to seal the victory.

Curry brothers’ bet:

When you have money, why not spice things up a bit? In the three-point scoring contest, the Curry brothers wanted to add more to the prize other than just the name. The winner would have to buy tickets for the family to their matches when they play each other for the entirety of their careers. Stephen Curry ended up winning the bet, so have fun, Seth!

 

NASCAR

Daytona 500:

It was quite an interesting Sunday in Daytona, with a huge crash that wiped out most of the field and led to an emotional win by Denny Hamlin.

It was Hamlin’s second career Daytona 500 win, but this one meant more, as he dedicated the win to J.D. Gibbs. Read more about that in the NFL section

 

NFL

Former NFL Coach Joe Gibbs touched by support:

Though he’s not on the NFL field anymore, Joe Gibbs and his son are now involved in NASCAR. Unfortunately, this weekend, between Gibbs and his son J.D. Gibbs, only one remains. J.D. Gibbs, unfortunately, passed away after his battle with a degenerative neurological disease. He was 49 years of age. His father expressed his gratitude to the support he’s received from the NASCAR community. Denny Hamlin, a NASCAR driver, pledged $111 for every lap he led on Sunday, as 11 was J.D.’s favorite number to the J.D. Gibbs Legacy Fund.

Colin Kaepernick settles grievances against NFL:

Kaepernick has won. The NFL has agreed to pay him an undisclosed fee after going through the court. Although technically the NFL didn’t admit to trying to prevent Kaepernick from playing, this is the one case in which the NFL didn’t walk away unscathed. This does open up opportunities now for Kaepernick to play football again, and some teams, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Carolina Panthers could be looking for a new quarterback (though his agent thinks he could sign for the New England Patriots as well).

 

MLB

Two of baseball’s best still available:

Both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still available to be signed, though they might be close to a deal. CBS reports that Harper is extremely close to finalizing a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, while Manny Machado is on the verge of signing a $240 million, eight-year deal with the San Diego Padres.

 

Soccer

Real Madrid’s title challenge halted:

Third placed Real Madrid was six points off of first-placed Barcelona in La Liga, but now the lead’s nine. While Barcelona won their match against Valladolid 1-0, Real Madrid lost to 15th placed Girona 2-1, thanks to Girona goals by Christhian Stuani and Portu. However, along in the process, Real Madrid captain and defender Sergio Ramos received his 19th red card, breaking the record for most La Liga red cards.

 

Cricket

Melbourne Stars let the BBL title slip in horrifying fashion:

After rivals Melbourne Renegades put up a short total of 145-5, Melbourne Stars were cruising to victory. Then the worst batting collapse in Big Bash League history happened. After Ben Dunk and Marcus Stoinis put up a 93-run partnership, the Stars lost seven wickets for 29 runs. For the Renegades, Dan Christain, Cameron Boyce and Chris Tremain each picked up two wickets a piece with Harry Gurney having the seventh.

Shahid Afridi fights champions Islamabad United for win:

On a new, green surface in Dubai, Multan Sultans used their bowling strength to restrict Islamabad United to 125-7. Despite Luke Ronchi’s 51(33), Junaid Khan, Shahid Afridi and Ali Shafiq still managed to grab two wickets each. However, the run chase wasn’t easy for Multan. It took Multan 18 overs to chase 126 thanks to the bowling of Faheem Ashraf and Samit Patel. However, captain Shoaib Malik’s 31(29)* and Afridi’s final two sixes won Multan the match.

Lahore Qalandars fight for win vs. Karachi Kings:

After the Karachi Kings restricted Lahore Qalandars to 138-6, it didn’t make sense that Karachi lost. Of Lahore’s six wickets, two were taken by 19-year old Umer Khan, who took the wickets of Sohail Akhtar and AB de Villiers, and one each by Mohammad Amir and Sikandar Raza. But Lahore’s bowling on Saturday was something else. Unplayable fast bowling it seemed. All ten of Karachi’s wickets were at the hands of seam bowlers, one for Hardus Viljoen, two for poster-boy Shaheen Afridi, three for veteran Rahat Ali, and best of all, four for emerging player Haris Rauf. Karachi was skittled for 116 off 19.5 overs and sit fifth in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) table (Lahore are still sixth).

Quetta Gladiators remain top; Islamabad face batting questions:

Things didn’t start well for Islamabad in their second match Sunday morning when Sohail Tanveer took the wicket of Luke Ronchi on the first ball. Trying to cut it for four past third man first ball, Ahmed Shehzad hunted the catch and Ronchi, and practically the entire Islamabad team, was sent back to the pavilion. Despite being 8-3 at one period, thanks to Hussain Talat 30(18) and Asif Ali 36(27), Islamabad managed to push past the 100 mark for a total of 157-8. Tanveer finished off with four wickets while Pakistani-born Australian Fawad Ahmed’s leg-spin added three.

In the second innings, Quetta Gladiators felt virtually no pressure. Shane Watson came to the show with his 81 off 55 not out and Umar Akmal maturely assisted again in the form of his 44 off 28. Quetta won by seven wickets.

Lahore no match for fiery Peshawar Zalmi:

Hasan Ali: injured knee, bowls three overs, takes four wickets. Lahore was sent to bat first and managed the second-lowest PSL total of 78 (the lowest total of 59 also belongs to Lahore). Along with Ali’s four, Wahab Riaz took three wickets and 20-year old leg-spinner Ibtisam Sheikh picked up the two wickets of Viljoen and Hassan Khan. Peshawar Zalmi chased the target down in ten overs thanks to Umar Amin’s carnage in his 61 off 39 not out.

 

College Basketball:

Losses by top 25 teams:

24 Maryland to 6 Michigan (65-52)
18 Kansas State to 23 Iowa State (78-64)
1 Tennessee to 5 Kentucky (86-69)                                                                                                                                                                                                                         13 Villanova to St. John’s (71-65)

What you may have missed this weekend in sports: 1/4-1/6

As promised, we have brought back the “What you missed this weekend” articles. You can see last week’s here! This week is much of the same in terms of the NFL news, as it’s real playoff heavy. But there is news from other sports you might be interested in. So let’s find out what you may have missed!

0 Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

NFL Playoffs

By RahimAli Merchant and Aman Huda

Colts beat Texans 21-7

Were you surprised in what the Colts defense did to the Texans? To be honest, I’m not! The Colts had the Texans’ number all season. They should’ve beaten them all three times instead of letting the Texans come back and win in overtime during their first meeting. The Colts took care of Texans, with both the offense and defense looking great! QB Andrew Luck had two touchdowns in the first half. Then they melted the clock, continuing to pressure Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the run game. Their next opponent will be the Kansas City Chiefs, and it’ll interesting to see how well the Colts’ secondary can play against MVP candidate QB Patrick Mahomes.

Cowboys beat Seahawks 24-22

Dallas won their fourth playoff game in the last 24 years. In 1995, the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl. They are looking to add another one this season. It was a nice win for the Cowboys, as they continue to prove they are worthy of being in the playoffs. The defense looks like it could be a championship defense. QB Dak Prescott didn’t look all that bad either, but can he continue to be great for the Cowboys? Their next opponent will be the Los Angeles Rams. The Dallas defense will be out to prove they can once again take down one of the best offensive teams in the league. They’ve already done it once to the Saints this season. Can they do it again?

Baltimore’s offensive errors cost them dearly

Within the first five minutes of play, the Ravens made mistakes which even high school teams wouldn’t. They fumbled three times, two of them from not receiving the snap. Their offensive line was also quite poor, with the QB having being sacked seven times. Melvin Ingram’s fourth-quarter touchdown seemed to be the gravestone for Baltimore, as that gave the Los Angeles Chargers a 20-3 lead. Afterward, despite scoring two touchdowns, Baltimore couldn’t do enough to repair the damage.

The Chargers’ next opponent is the New England Patriots. They have the ability on defense to slow down a Patriots team that’s been slow already. This is the playoff Patriots, and they are a totally different team in the playoffs. Do the Chargers have what it takes to knock them off?

A drama in which the hero dies

When everything seemed perfect for the Bears, everything fell into the Eagles’ claws, as QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles win as underdogs again. Both sides on defense showed strength, as at half-time, the score read Chicago 6, Philadelphia 3, all points from field goals. Philadelphia ended up getting the better end of it, as Cody Parkey, the Chicago kicker, hit the post twice when Chicago needed one point to win. The game ended Chicago 15, Philadelphia 16.

The Eagles’ next opponent is the Saints. They will be looking to avoid another embarrassing loss to them. The last time these two teams played, the Eagles looked like a team that just came into the league. Their QB at the time was also Carson Wentz, so hopefully, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ defense can find a way to win.

 

MLB

By RahimAli Merchant

The New York Yankees-Zach Britton agreement

The Yankees reached an agreement with relief pitcher Zach Britton, which was a three-year, $39 million deal, league sources told ESPN. Britton was one of the most dominant closers in baseball with the Baltimore Orioles until he was traded to the Yankees for three prospects. With the Yankees, he went 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings and finished the season with seven saves and 34 strikeouts over 40⅔ innings in 41 appearances. He will continue to be a part of the devastating late-inning complement to closer Aroldis Chapman, setup man Dellin Betances and fireman Chad Green, as they look to pursue their 28th World Series title.

 

NBA

By Aman Huda

Warriors, Kings set three-point record

For the first time in NBA history, both sides scored 20+ three-pointers. There was a total of 41 three-pointers scored Saturday night. Starman Stephen Curry for the Golden State Warriors scored 42 of Golden State’s 127 points, but the margin between both California teams was very fine, as Sacramento ended up losing by just four points. This match did not go without referring controversy, however, which you can check out in Kevin Dannaher’s article. 

 

College Football

By Aman Huda and RahimAli Merchant

Cal CB Bryce Turner dies at 20

After being hospitalized on December 30th for an undisclosed medical emergency, Bryce Turner has passed away. After transferring from Long Beach City College, the 20-year old had just played one game before his passing.

Cal Coach Joe Wilcox said, “We are so deeply saddened by Bryce’s passing. This is an extremely difficult day for everyone. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Bryce’s family, friends, teammates and so many others who have been a part of his life. No words can accurately describe the pain we feel in our hearts right now. We’ll always remember Bryce and how he impacted all of us with Cal football.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bryce’s friends and family.

North Dakota State wins FCS Title

We will all find out who the CFB National champ is on Monday between Alabama and Clemson, but this past weekend we got to see North Dakota State win their second straight FCS National Championship title. This is their seventh title in eight years. All congrats are given to them for being able to dominate the FCS world for so many years. They are the only college football program to ever win five consecutive NCAA national championships, and the only football program to win seven FCS titles.

 

College Basketball

By RahimAli Merchant

St. John’s wins against Georgetown for the first time since 03′

St. John’s been looking like a team who could make a big impact in the tournament when it comes time in March. After losing their first game to Seton Hall last week, they rebounded by beating Marquette and Georgetown this week. They will likely get a spot in the top 25 rankings, but even if they don’t, a win over rival Georgetown after 16 years is the best feeling. That should help them carry over their momentum to the next few games, which will definitely put them in the top 25 if they manage to win them.

Losses by top 25 teams

14 Ohio State to 8 Michigan State (86-77)
5 Kansas to Iowa State (77-60)
6 Nevada to New Mexico (85-58)
13 Kentucky to Alabama (77-75)
9 Florida State to 4 Virginia (65-52)
2 Michigan- 21 Indiana (74-63)
24 Nebraska-25 Iowa (93-84)

 

Cricket

Pakistani batsmen not good enough

Despite efforts by Shan Masood 44(71) & 61(110), Captain/Wicket-Keeper Sarfraz Ahmed 56(81), Asad Shafiq 88(118) and Babar Azam 72(87), Pakistan could only put up a lead of 40, giving South Africa an entire two days to simply chase 41. It wasn’t necessarily the most easy thing for South Africa, as Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas managed to dismiss Theunis de Bruyn and Hashim Amla was retired hurt, but the loss by 9 wickets is still dismal in Pakistan’s point-of-view.

Unfortunately, due to slow over rate, South African Captain Faf du Plessis has been suspended for the third test, a dead rubber, as South Africa has already won the series 2-0.

Too-good India forced to settle for a draw

Man of the match for Australia in the fourth test vs India? Rain. With just a little over 25 overs played in the last two days, India couldn’t see victory despite putting up 622-7d and bowling Australia out for 300. Despite a five-wicket haul from young leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and 193 by Cheteshwar Pujara and 153* by Risabh Pant, India was unable to bowl out Australia a second time, after Australia were forced to follow on at home, for the first time in 37 years.

 

MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby Preview

Bryce Harper
Phillies vs Nationals 8/1/12” by Matthew Straubmuller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By RahimAli Merchant

Major League Baseball has reached the mid point of the season and it’s that time of year where we see some of the league’s best sluggers compete for the crown of 2018 Home Run Derby champion that will take place in Washington DC.

Washington’s Bryce Harper will be participating in the Home Run Derby this year and is a heavy favorite. Harper is looking to become the Home Run Derby champion in the city where he plays. The last player to win the crown for the host city was Todd Frazier as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 2015. How will Harper fair against the field?

Let’s find out:

Milwaukee Brewers’ Jesus Aguilar

Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins

Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman

Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber

Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy

Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez

Harper will have to face divisional rival, Freddie Freeman in the first round and hopes to grab the momentum early to lead him to the championship. Harper and his Nationals teammate, Max Schzerer will be a part of this year’s traditional All-Star game where the American League slugs it out with the National League.

Let’s check out the squads:

American League
Starters
C: Salvador Perez, Royals (replacement starter)
1B: Jose Abreu, White Sox
2B: Jose Altuve, Astros
3B: Jose Ramirez, Indians
SS: Manny Machado, Orioles
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees
DH: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox

Reserves
C: Yan Gomes, Indians (replacement)
C: Wilson Ramos, Rays (injured starter)
1B: Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
2B: Gleyber Torres, Yankees(injured)
2B: Jed Lowrie, Athletics (replacement )
3B Alex Bregman, Astros
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians

SS: Jean Segura, Mariners
OF: Michael Brantley, Indians
OF: Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
OF: Mitch Haniger, Mariners
OF: George Springer, Astros
OF: Nelson Cruz, Mariners

Pitchers
RHP: Trevor Bauer, Indians
RHP: Jose Berrios, Twins
LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (inactive)
RHP: Gerrit Cole, Astros
RHP: Edwin Diaz, Mariners
LHP: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
RHP: Joe Jimenez, Tigers
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
RHP: Corey Kluber, Indians (inactive)
RHP: Charlie Morton, Astros (replacement)
LHP: Chris Sale, Red Sox
RHP: Luis Severino, Yankees
LHP: Blake Snell, Rays (replacement)
RHP: Blake Treinen, Athletics
RHP: Justin Verlander, Astros (inactive)

National League
Starters
C: Willson Contreras, Cubs
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B: Javier Baez, Cubs
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS: Brandon Crawford, Giants
OF: Nick Markakis, Braves
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals

Reserves
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (replacement)
C: Buster Posey, Giants (injured)
C: J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
1B: Joey Votto, Reds

1B: Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
2B: Ozzie Albies, Braves
2B: Scooter Gennett, Reds
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Reds
SS: Trevor Story, Rockies
OF: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
OF: Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
OF: Christian Yelich, Brewers

Pitchers
LHP: Patrick Corbin, D-backs
RHP: Jacob deGrom, Mets
LHP: Sean Doolittle, Nationals (injured)
RHP: Mike Foltynewicz, Braves
RHP: Zack Greinke, D-backs (replacement)
LHP: Josh Hader, Brewers
LHP: Brad Hand, Padres
RHP: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
RHP: Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers (replacement)
LHP: Jon Lester, Cubs (inactive)
RHP: Miles Mikolas, Cardinals (inactive)
RHP: Aaron Nola, Phillies
RHP: Max Scherzer, Nationals
RHP: Ross Stripling, Dodgers
LHP: Felipe Vazquez, Pirates

The Cleveland Indians have six players representing them in the All-Star game, which is the most of any team this year. The Milwaukee Brewers have five players representing them, which is the most in the National league. Despite the amount of players each team has, everyone who is active will get a chance to play and we are in for another good one! So make sure you tune in and let me know who you got winning the Derby and the ASG.

MLB Second Half Preview

37185846582_cb3007a4f0_o.jpg
Chris Sale” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

BY ADAM HATLAN

Ah, the MLB All-Star break. The official-unofficial mark of the midway point of the season. A time for the best teams to relax and prepare for the stretch run, and a time of reprieve for some fan bases.

As division races have begun heating up, playoff races are starting to gain a clearer picture. Of course, anything can happen in baseball, with injuries and trades bound to happen that could shake up division races. Teams have to decide whether or not to load up for a playoff run and be buyers, or be sellers and throw in the towel until next year. Oh, and be hopeful the injury bug stays very far away.

Let’s take a look at how things might shake up the rest of the way in MLB.

AL EAST

This is a two-horse race between the Red Sox (68-30, 1st place) and Yankees (62-33, 4.5 GB). The Yankees lead the season series 5-4 against Boston, and the two teams play each other 10 more times in the second half. The Red Sox feature the number one scoring offense in the AL, the Yankees number three. The Yankees are leading MLB with 160 home runs. Number two in home runs? The Red Sox, of course. Boston’s Chris Sale and New York’s Luis Severino are both pitching like Cy Young candidates, but Boston features a rotation with four double-digit winners. Yes. Four. And it’s only July. The loss of Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston could make things interesting. Do the Red Sox go out and trade for a starter? Or hope that a Drew Pomeranz/Brian Johnson/Steven Wright trio can be enough? It’s worth keeping an eye on, but I think Boston should be able to take the East for the third year in a row in what could be the best race of the second half.

Projected standings and wins:

  1. Boston (104-58)
  2. New York (99-63, Wild Card)
  3. Tampa (83-79)
  4. Toronto (70-92)
  5. Baltimore (52-110)

AL CENTRAL

The Indians should be safe here. They currently sit 7.5 games ahead of second place Minnesota in what is possibly the worst division in baseball. Think about this: Cleveland would be in second place in any other division in baseball. Weak. But they will get Andrew Miller back, who is a difference maker out of the ‘pen. Jose Ramirez is a superstar with MVP numbers. Terry Francona is…well, Terry Francona. The Indians win this division easily. BTW, what the hell happened to KC? Wow.

Projections:

  1. Cleveland (90-72)
  2. Minnesota (74-88)
  3. Detroit (68-94)
  4. Chicago (58-104)
  5. Kansas City (46-116)

AL WEST

Are the Mariners for real? They sit five games behind division leader Houston and have a run differential of -1. That’s pretty impressive, considering they lead the second wild-card position by 3.5 games. But can they sustain it? I’m not buying into Seattle as a contender. It’s the other team in their division, Oakland, that has my attention. They completed a recent stretch over the past couple weeks in which they beat Cleveland four-out-of-six, then went INTO Houston and nearly swept the Astros, taking three-of-four. Oakland has been doing it with a rotation that features just two pitchers with double-digit starts. Can THEY sustain it? We’ll see, but I’m buying it. Oh, and I think the Astros should have little trouble taking the division.

Projections:

  1. Houston (103-59)
  2. Oakland (92-70, WILD CARD)
  3. Seattle (90-72)
  4. Los Angeles (82-80)
  5. Texas (70-92)

NL EAST

The Phillies and Braves in first and second, respectively, at the all-star break? Are you kidding? The Nats have been underachieving (Harper, Murphy, pitching-staff-not-named-Scherzer), while in my opinion, the Phils and Braves overachieving. Coming into the season, the Nats, just one year removed from being one game from the NLCS, seemed to be easy favorites. Philly had a bunch of “Who?” guys, while Atlanta seemed too young. Enter a potential Cy Young candidate for Philly (Aaron Nola) and rookie of the year candidate for Atlanta (Ozzie!), and you have some exciting story lines in the NL East and two unlikely teams at the top. If Philly goes all in and acquires Manny Machado, this is their division. If not, I think it comes down to which team can stay healthier. Either way, this division could be decided in the final two weeks of the year. Philly and Atlanta face off 7 times in the final 11 games. Chills. (Oh, and I think Jacob DeGrom is not a Met by the end of July).

Projections:

  1. Philadelphia (92-70)
  2. Atlanta (91-71, WILD CARD)
  3. Washington (81-81)
  4. Miami (68-94)
  5. New York (64-98)

NL CENTRAL

The Brewers may have seen first-place for the last time this season. Losers of six straight, the Brewers hurt themselves badly to end the first half, allowing the Cubs to quietly sneak ahead of them and possess a 2.5 game lead. The Cubs are having a season nearly equivalent to their 2016 season (shhh…), and have really started kicking it into gear over the last month-and-a-half. Barring a major addition to the Brewers lineup (ahem, Manny Machado?), the Crew may struggle keeping up with the high-powered Cubs. Machado to the Crew will make things interesting, though. The Brewers’ bullpen has been very shaky lately as well. The Cubs on the other hand, will be looking forward to the return of Yu Darvish and the addition of Jacob DeGrom. (Say what?!). The Cardinals are a mess, but may get a boost after the firing of Mike Matheny (kinda shocked by that one). The Pirates and Reds have both been playing good ball over the last month, but not enough to make a surge in the standings.

Projections:

  1. Cubs (96-66)
  2. Brewers (90-72)
  3. Cardinals (83-79)
  4. Pirates (79-83)
  5. Reds (75-87)

NL WEST

Four teams within striking distance here. The Giants are are in fourth and just four games behind leader Los Angeles. This is a tough one, especially considering how up and down the division has been. LA has been playing the best ball over the past two months, and I think it was only a matter of time before they started clicking. Kershaw was hurt, Madea has been dinged up…but the unforeseen power of Max Muncy has saved the day for LA! What a story this guy has been. Five career homers headed into the season over pieces of two seasons, and suddenly he finds himself with 22 first half homers and in the home run derby. Whether he continues this kind of hitting in the second half or not, he’s been a fun story line. Manny Machado comes into play here again, as the Dodgers and D’backs have both been linked to Machado. Does he put one of those teams over the top? I would say the Dodgers more than the D’backs. I think this race comes down to experience, and here, LA takes the upper hand.

Projections:

  1. Dodgers (93-69)
  2. Arizona (90-72, WILD CARD)
  3. San Francisco (84-78)
  4. Colorado (79-83)
  5. San Diego (67-95)

PLAYOFFS

AL: WILD CARD–Oakland over New York

Divisional–Boston over Oakland, Houston over Cleveland

ALCS–Boston over Houston

NL: WILD CARD(ONE-GAME PLAYOFF)–Arizona over Milwaukee (PLAYOFF), Atlanta over Arizona

Divisional–Chicago over Atlanta, LA over Philadelphia

NLCS–Chicago over LA

WORLD SERIES–Boston over Chicago

So there you have it. My second half MLB predictions.

Obviously a lot can change here with the trade deadline likely to shake things up and injuries to star players, but I believe this is a pretty accurate representation of what might happen. Here’s to an entertaining second half.

Watch for foul balls.

GO BASEBALL!

 

June 20th Furtakes of the day

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Aaron Judge” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hello folks , writing this a tad bit late because I went to the jersey shore last night. While I was there however, I saw Giancarlo or Mike Stanton, whatever name you prefer, blast yet again another home run. I made a bet with a friend before the year him and Judge would hit a combined 110 home runs and I’m feeling more and more confident about that. I am so in on the whole home run or strikeout take. I personally don’t care much for the whole bunt and get the runner over mentality.

Baseball has finally realized that to acquire new fans, they need to double up on the juice. Maybe not with steroids, but tampering with the balls has done wonders for the game. The Cubs and Rays won as well yesterday, which led to the Astros snapping their 12 game win streak.

Little Furtakes FunFact, is there any combo of back to back quarterbacks at a college better then Joe “Broadway” Namath and Ken “The Snake” Stabler? Both are hall of famers in the NFL and I’m not sure you could find better back to back guys. Maybe Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel?

https://twitter.com/cnbc/status/1009224946109829121?s=21

Beer is running low in Moscow? Those Russians sure love to drink. I once went to a soccer friendly four years back and the amount of people hammered there easily competed with your typical Philadelphia Eagles game. Word on the street is that Neymar is hurt once again. This is officially me labeling him as the Kyrie Irving of soccer.

Breaking news, if it wasn’t already known, is that Tony Parker is the worst teammate on the planet, as he has now cheated on the Spurs. He has pissed off Kawhi Leonard with comments about his injury. If you look at that long line of things he has done, how has he never came up in conversation with the worst locker room guys ever in the NBA?

How Much Is Lindor Worth??

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Francisco Lindor” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Francisco Lindor Contract Situation

The Cleveland Indians have gotten themselves into a mess with regards to their best player’s contract. Francisco Lindor is currently the best bargain in all of Major League baseball. Last year, prior to arbitration, the Indians and Lindor agreed to a one year contract worth $623,200. The Indians missed their chance to extend him last offseason. Lindor is 24 years old and arguably the best shortstop in Major League Baseball. Lindor is eligible for arbitration for the next three years, at which time he will be in the prime of his career. I can only imagine what the difference will be between what Lindor asks for and what the Indians are willing to give him. The last huge contract for a middle infielder was Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, who signed a 5 year, $151 million contract with a signing bonus of $21 million in March. Altuve is 4 years older than Lindor. I would think that Lindor and his agent will start somewhere in the $30 million ballpark, and in my opinion, he is well worth it.

The Indians historically do not pay for their superstars, but they are in rarified air right now. They have a couple of players who are the best at their position and they are going to have to start paying for them. Unless the Indians change their ways and start paying for the players they have, they’ll continue getting away to other teams. Thome, Ramirez, and Belle are a few of the top free agents that the Tribe has lost over the years to big market teams that were willing to pay. They cannot afford to do that with the young starsthey have on this team.

Chris Antonetti and the front office took care of Jose Ramirez in 2017 to the tune of 5 years and $26 million, which will take them through 2022 and then the team has club options for 2023 and 2024 at $11 and $13 million respectively. The Indians have been doing a better job of signing their young stars to multi-year extensions pre-arbitration, as evidenced by the signings of Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley, with Kluber and Gomes signing the largest pre-arbitration deals for their position. The front office and the ownership better be ready to pony up another huge pre-arbitration contract for Lindor too.

Lindor is not only the best player on the Indians team, but he is also a crowd favorite. Not only is he a crowd favorite, but he is the favorite of the youngest of fans. The kids in Cleveland love him. I’m not sure if it is his infectious smile or just that he plays the game the right way, but all of Cleveland loves him. It would destroy the city, just short of the way LeBron leaving did to the city and team. Let’s hope that the team can get something long-term done this offseason so they can avoid arbitration. Let’s Go Tribe!

🍀Cheers🍀

April Report Card: Cleveland Indians

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Cleveland Indians” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cleveland Indians played in the World Series in 2016, losing in a dramatic seven-game series to the Chicago Cubs. Last year they won 102 games, but bowed out in the divisional round of the playoffs to a lesser New York Yankees team. What will this year hold for the Tribe? Well, they have a lot of parts that got them to the Series two years ago still on the team, thanks to some great young players that haven’t hit their contract year yet and some great signings/trades made by the front office. I do not think that enough attention is paid to the fact that the Indians are not one of these teams that goes out and rents a player for a few months and then they hit free agency never to be heard from again, but rather they get guys that will be good for them for a few years and will be under contract, ala Andrew Miller. The Indians, under the leadership of Terry Francona and General Manager Chris Antonetti, are enjoying success the city of Cleveland hasn’t experienced since the mid-nineties.

Currently, the 2018 version of the Indians are sitting in first place in the Central Division, three games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. In the Tribe’s 19 ball games so far this season, 17 in April and 2 in May, the Tribe has scored 120 runs and have given up 115 runs in the first 19 games. The bats have been relatively quiet the first part of the season, but that could be due to a whole lot of factors, mainly that they play their home games at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, and the weather has been terrible to start this season. Without further ado, here is the breakdown of the offense, defense, pitching, and managing of the team in the first 1/8th of the season.

Offense:

The offense has struggled at times to score runs other than hitting home runs. The big bat that they acquired in the offseason, Yonder Alonso, has added some pop to the middle of the lineup. One of their young studs, Jose Ramirez, struggled out of the gate, but seemed to find his stride about the middle of April. He is now hitting about .270.  Francisco Lindor is the teams best and most exciting young player on the team and he too is struggling at the plate so far in this season. Lindor did supply the most exciting moment of this young season as he homered to break open a scoreless game with the Twins. The exciting part wasn’t that he hit yet another homer. The excitement came because of where he hit it, in his homeland in Puerto Rico. Francisco is one of a few Puerto Rican players, along with Roberto Perez of the Indians, that were welcomed home as heroes when the Tribe played there earlier in the season. Look for the Tribe’s bats to heat up as the weather gets warmer and play gets more consistent.

Defense:

Not only did the Indians offense get a boost with the addition of Alonso, but also the defense. Alonso is a good first baseman and a bigger target to throw to than the departed Santana. The infield has always been solid, even with Kipnis getting older and losing a step or two at second base. The outfield gets a much added boost with Bradley Zimmer in centerfield and Michael Brantley moving to left. While Lonnie Chisenhall gets healthy, having a young Tyler Naquin getting reps in right field is a pretty good thing for the future. The Indians have arguably the best catching duo in the league, between Perez and Yan Gomes. Both are solid defensively, especially throwing runners out trying to steal.

Pitching:

The Indians have a sure fire Hall of Famer as their number one starter in Cory Kluber, and a really good two and three starter. The problems with the rotation start with these two spots. Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger have not been able to find the consistency to establish themselves as solid major league rotation guys. Clevinger has been becoming more solid in his, as he threw eight innings in his last start and a complete game two-hit shutout in the start before. I believe the inconsistency in games has played a major role in these two becoming less established in their roles. If the Indians have a game postponed or suspended, then their start gets pushed and sometimes passed until their next start, which would lead to inconsistencies.

Managing:

Terry Francona is the best manager in the game! This is not even close. He should win the Manager of the Year Award every year. The Indians are in great shape in this department and Tito always has the squad playing their best in September and October.

The Tribe is off to a great start and I still like them to represent the AL in the World Series and win the whole thing this time.