February 4, 2013
Baltimore Ravens hang on to win Super Bowl over San Francisco 49ers, 34-31: What looked to be a dud of a game early finally became interesting with the help of … a power outage. Down 28-6, the San Francisco 49ers rallied to score 17 consecutive points. The comeback came up short, though, after the two teams traded touchdowns. Baltimore added a field goal with about four minutes left in the game and after driving nearly the length of the field, the Niners were stopped inside the 10-yard line. Baltimore got the ball back and wisely took a safety with only a few seconds remaining to provide the final score.
49ers fans will focus on the non-call of what appeared to be pass interference in the end zone on that final drive, but the Ravens’ defense should be lauded for coming up big twice in the fourth quarter. In addition to the aforementioned stand, the D stopped a two-point conversion attempt by the 49ers that could have tied the game (and would have meant they would have only needed a field goal on that final drive). The Ravens allowed 31 points, but stopped San Francisco when it mattered.
Seven elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: Lost a bit in all of the Super Bowl hoopla were the Pro Football Hall of Fame elections. Coach Bill Parcells and players Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, and Larry Allen will all be inducted later this year. In addition, senior selections Curley Culp and Dave Robinson were elected as well. All were deserving, but if you’re looking for a snub, that would be former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. Bettis ranks sixth on the all-time NFL rushing list, but still couldn’t find a way into the Hall despite eight 1,000-yard seasons, six Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl victory. He should eventually get in, but it has to be a bit disappointing that it didn’t happen this year.
Dwyane Wade tries to convince Lebron James to participate in All-Star weekend activities: The NBA has been fighting a losing battle in trying to add more excitement to their All-Star weekend. Unlike the 1980s and 1990s, the league’s biggest stars generally no longer take part in the slam dunk championship or three-point shootout. Gone are the days when players such as Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, and Larry Bird were participating, but one guy wants to change that: Dwyane Wade. Wade has been pushing for teammate Lebron James to suit up for the slam dunk and three-point contests this year. While LBJ has reportedly said he’s not interested in dunking, we could see him in the three-point shootout. I’d be all for it, to be honest. If there’s one thing that will draw more eyeballs, it’s the participation by the game’s best players. I don’t think the league should try to force its stars to join in, but the players should want to do it. The weekend is all about the fans and if there’s any way to reward them, it’s by doing more than sitting on the sidelines.
Adrian Peterson wins NFL’s MVP award: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, beating out Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. You can make a strong case for Manning, who came back strongly after an injury kept him out last year. But Peterson is the right choice in my opinion. Not only did he carry the Vikings on his back to the playoffs this year, but he nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s long-standing record for most rushing yards in a season. Others have challenged the mark, but Peterson came the closest falling only nine yards short. Manning had one of his best seasons ever and for one of the best quarterbacks ever, that’s really saying something. But Peterson had less to work with if you look at it objectively. The Vikings passing attack was one of the worst in the NFL and the team won only three games last year when he suffered an injury. Meanwhile, Manning had a solid rushing attack and also took over a team that won a game in the playoffs last year. In other seasons, Manning could be an easy pick. But this year, the award belongs to Peterson.
Yankees may try to void Alex Rodriguez contract: As his career winds down, Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez has found himself in a number of controversies. The latest came last week when he was accused of using performance enhancing drugs. That’s nothing new as Rodriguez previously admitted to such use earlier in his career, but he has maintained that he has not done so recently. But because of the new allegations, the Yankees may be looking to void A-Rod’s expensive contract in the hopes of saving some money. That likely wouldn’t be the case if Rodriguez was in the prime of his career, but with his numbers in a steady decline, it makes sense that New York would want out of his hefty deal. Stay tuned.
Caltech ends historic streak: Chances are you’ve probably never heard of the California Institute of Technology if you live outside of the state. But their baseball team snapped a historic 228-game losing streak last week, winning their first game in nearly a decade, 9-7 over Pacifica. Even more shocking is that the school has had several other unbelievable recent streaks of futility. The men’s basketball team lost 310 straight games until winning in 2011 and the women’s volleyball team also lost 56 in a row at one point before a victory in 2012. Congratulations, I guess?
May 16, 2012
Coming into the 2012 MLB season, the Texas Rangers came up on the short end of back-to-back trips to the World Series. As the cliché goes, the third time is the charm and the Rangers sure do look like they’re planning on making it a reality.
Given, it’s only six weeks into the MLB season, but the Rangers look to be the cream of the crop. Currently sitting at 23-12, the team from Texas simply looks better than every other team in baseball. Most impressively, they are currently 13-6 on the road. Every team knows that to be considered successful they must win on the road and the Rangers are doing just that.
This Rangers team is a well-rounded blend of stellar pitching and a deadly offense. Joining the club this season is Japanese sensation, right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish. The Rangers paid a hefty price (around $111 million) when they acquired Darvish from his former team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters but so far, he’s been worth every penny. He has posted a 5-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. Darvish has a nasty variety of six pitches and he’s proven that by striking out 51 batters thus far. The most amazing thing about him, he said in an interview that he can throw all six pitches with his off-hand, inclusing a left-handed fastball that can hit 82 mph on the radar gun.
As for the offensive side of the Rangers, the team is led by All-World outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is on a torrid pace this season. He already has hit 18 home runs and knocked in 45 RBI while batting .402. At this rate he’s on track to knock in over 200 RBI, which has never been done in the history of baseball. The current record is 191 held by Hack Wilson in 1930. While it’s a bit too early to start thinking that Hamilton is going to plate 200-plus RBI, it’s certainly something that brings wonderment to the imagination. If Hamilton can stay healthy, he’s on his way to having a historic MVP season.
The Rangers organization, led by Hall of Fame hurler Nolan Ryan has set the standard for all MLB teams. They have set the pedestal very high but carry themselves very well as they’ve become the precedent of baseball. By continuing their winning ways they’ll find themselves with a ring at season’s end.
May 3, 2012
Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals was anointed MLB’s next phenom when he left high school to play college baseball at the age of 16. At 17, he proved that was a worthy decision when he batted .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBI as a freshman at the College of Southern Nevada. His numbers were so impressive that he won baseball’s most prestigious award for a college player, the Golden Spikes Award. Even better, a month before he won the award, he was selected No. 1 in the 2010 MLB draft.
Now just 19 years old, Harper is present in the Washington Nationals lineup and is here to stay. In his first game on April 28, Harper took Hollywood by storm as the Nationals took to the road to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was special as it featured the games’ best player, Matt Kemp, and the games’ most talked about 19-year-old.
Harper looked his age early-on in that game as he took in the sights and sounds of the game with eyes as big as baseballs. He didn’t disappoint either, smacking a double off the center field wall and later brought home an RBI with a sacrifice fly. In the end it was Kemp who let Harper know who is top dog as he belted a walk-off homer in the tenth. Regardless, Harper had a most impressive MLB debut.
Considering the times, Harper has more hype surrounding him than any other player in history. This goes for all four major American sports. The MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL have never had a kid create this much buzz. To be under such an intense spotlight, Harper is handling himself quite well. After all, he’s only 19. While most 19 year olds are trying to discover themselves in their transition to adulthood, Harper is thriving in a dog-eat-dog world.
When the Nationals announced that Harper would be making his MLB debut, there were plenty of skeptics saying he’s not ready, only hitting .250 at International League’s Syracuse and too young. The organization didn’t care as they threw Harper in to see if he could swim. So far he looks like Michael Phelps on an MLB diamond.
In just four games Harper is hitting .385(5-for-13) with two runs scored and two RBI. The thing that stands out the most is not his bat, but his arm as Harper has made a couple of dazzling throws from the outfield. Fans should find a way to watch this budding Hall of Famer play ball. Yes, he’s only 19 and that’s a very bold statement considering he’s played four games in the big leagues, but this kid is downright spectacular. Just wait until the day when his body matures. Only then will we begin to see what Harper can truly accomplish.
So far, his life is reading like a story book as every diehard MLB fan is drooling at this kid’s raw talent. If he’s within a tank of gas from your town, take the time to be awestruck.
March 30, 2012
Opening Day for the 2012 MLB season is April 5 and this season promises to be one for the ages. While there are many teams that are expected to win, there are a few that are currently flying under the radar. Although merely forgotten about at the moment, these teams will be known and feared by all at the end of the season.
These teams are filled with youth who have just enough experience to make an impact for the entire 162 game season. Baseball fans should expect to see an abundance of these teams’ gear hit the streets of America by the time October rolls around.
Here are the 2012 MLB teams who will surprise all:
Kansas City Royals: This team may be the most talented young team in all of baseball. At 27 years old, Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon is the elder statesmen of the bunch. DH Billy Butler was once compared to Bo Jackson and is only 25 years old. Now considered veterans, these guys look to lead the way for the ridiculous talent on this team.
First baseman Eric Hosmer is going to be great this season. In 128 games in 2011, he hit .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBI. This season, don’t be surprised when Hosmer hits .315 with 30 homers and 99 RBI. 2012 is the season where he’s propelled into a superstar.
Along with Hosmer, the Royals have young third baseman Mike Moustakas—who’s only 23 years old. In 89 games in his rookie season of 2011, Moustakas struggled early, but finished strong. He ended with a .263 batting average but batted .352 in September.
Moustakas will pick up where he left off in 2011. In total, he’ll bat at least .280 with 80 RBIs this upcoming season.
With the All-Star game being played in Kansas City this season, Moustakas will make a case for himself to be among the game’s best at the mid-summer classic.
Washington Nationals: How could this team be left of this list? Stud pitcher Stephen Strasburg has recovered from injury and will be the Opening Day starter. The team also has up-and-coming talent in first baseman Michael Morse, catcher Wilson Ramos, closer Drew Storen and a 19-year-old kid by the name of Bryce Harper.
Although Harper has yet to play a game in the big leagues and won’t make the Opening Day roster, he’ll get his cup of coffee in “The Show” sooner than later. His meteoric rise to fame began a few years ago when he left high school early to go play college ball at the age of 16. Baseball hasn’t had this much surrounding a kid’s debut in the majors since “The Kid” himself—Ken Griffey Jr. Needless to say, expectations are enormous for Harper, but everything he’s done thus far is solid proof why he’s a prodigy.
With a bolstered pitching staff with the likes of Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals are nothing to scoff at—they’ll be contenders this season.
Keep your eye on these teams as the season progresses. Can’t wait for the two sweetest words of all—“Play Ball.”
March 27, 2012
My league had our MLB fantasy baseball draft recently. As always, I got some of the guys I wanted and missed out on a few as well. But since my draft has come and gone I don’t have to worry about the other guys in my league knowing who I want on my team. Therefore, I will give you a rundown of what my ideal team would look like. It’s not like I had much to worry about, anyway. Chances are none of those guys would have seen this since most of them can barely even read. (Bazinga!) Trash talking your league members is one of the best parts of a fantasy league. Anyway, here’s who I would realistically try to take going by the average draft position on the site my league uses.
Round 1 Miguel Cabrera, 1B
I want my first pick to be a sure thing. Cabrera has put up an average of .320 batting average with 33 home runs, 115 RBI and 102 runs for the last eight years. That’s as much of a sure thing as you will find.
Round 2 Carlos Gonzalez, OF
Again, I want a sure thing if I can get it. Gonzalez has had at least 25 home runs, 20 steals, 90 runs and 90 RBI to go with a .295 average for the last two seasons. He is the real deal.
Round 3 Jose Reyes, SS
Here’s a guy who has led the league in steals and in batting average. Reyes joins a Miami team that has loaded up on talent and brought in Ozzie Guillen to manage. Guillen had the White Sox running a lot and he should do the same in Miami.
Round 4 Michael Bourn, OF
Just in case Reyes isn’t 100 percent healthy and his steals come down again, adding Bourn will make up for it in a hurry. You can pencil him in for 50 steals and he gives you a solid batting average as well.
Round 5 Zack Greinke, SP
Greinke will be nearly as good as the biggest name pitchers in baseball but will cost you a much lower pick to get him.
Round 6 Carlos Santana, C
There aren’t a lot of great catchers so if you get one of them you will have a big advantage at at least one position.
Round 7 Carl Crawford, OF
If Crawford is still available in the 7th round you better jump on him. He had injury problems last year and was a big disappointment. I believe he will bounce back big time.
Round 8 Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Here’s another guy who had a disappointing year in 2011 and should be better in 2012. Youkilis could end up being a steal.
Round 9 Brian Wilson, RP
This guy is awesome. I want Wilson on my team regardless of what he does on the field but it just so happens that he can pitch.
Round 10 Josh Johnson, SP
Because of his injury history this is a high-risk, high-reward pick. Go for it. You aren’t playing for third place are you?
Round 11 Matt Garza, SP
I’m a Cubs fan. I always need a Cub. I choose Garza.
Round 12 Heath Bell, RP
He’s going to a better team which will hopefully translate into more saves.
Round 13 Brandon Beachy, SP
He averaged almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings last year.
Round 14 Torii Hunter, OF
Round 15 Ryan Roberts, 2B
You are going to have a weak spot somewhere. This is mine. And it’s not that bad.
Round 16 Emilio Bonifacio, SS
I love guys that can play multiple positions because they provide lineup flexibility.
Round 17 Josh Willingham, OF
Not a guy people will be desperate to get, but always gives you at least 20 long balls.
From this point on in the draft, grab as many high-upside players as you can. If they don’t pan out, you can always drop them and find someone else.