November 25, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Prince Fielder traded – Baseball’s offseason saw its first big trade when All-Star Prince Fielder was dealt away from the Detroit Tigers to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler. The move really is one of those win-win deals. Fielder is an incredible talent as his 25 home runs and 106 runs batted in in 2013 will attest, but he was owed a boatload of money for a lot of seasons. The slugger is still owed approximately $170 million over the next seven years and Detroit really needs some of that money to lock down its pitchers. The Tigers get a solid player back in Kinsler but the real benefit to them is getting out from under all of that money due to Fielder. The Rangers, meanwhile, get a bonafide superstar that can make their top ten offense in 2013 even better next season.

Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder will be a Texas Ranger in 2014.

Don’t count out the Pats – For most of the season, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have been the class of the AFC. But the Pats have been lurking around in the background and on Sunday, showed they shouldn’t be forgotten. Tom Brady and New England upset Denver in overtime and at 8-3 on the season, are only one game behind the 9-2 Broncos. The Patriots got the game at home, but Brady’s spectacular 344-yard, three-touchdown effort officially put the rest of the NFL on notice.

Charlotte Hornets will get their colors back – The NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats will go back to being the Charlotte Hornets next season, but a name change isn’t the only thing coming. With the team name change, the franchise will go back to their original purple and teal color scheme per ESPN. If that doesn’t conjure up memories of Grandmama, then nothing will.

Crazy African soccer betting – And … I’ll just put this here.

Florida loses to FCS Georgia Southern. In football. – The Florida Gators’ season was already going about as badly as it could. Entering this weekend, they were 4-6 and in serious danger of a sub .500 season. But things got a whole lot worse for the Gators when they lost to FCS team Georgia Southern 26-20 at home. The loss dropped Florida to 4-7 and gave the Gators their sixth straight loss. Hello, Will Muschamp – it’s the hot seat calling.

Red Sox hair trimmings up for auction – Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some pretty interesting auctions related to sports. A few weeks back, Bill Mazeroski’s game jersey he wore when hitting his historic home run in the 1960 World Series fetched six figures. Last week, a ball boy who was given Michael Jordan’s shoes from his famous flu game decided he’d put those up to the highest bidder. Now the Boston Red Sox are getting in on the action. Several Red Sox players have trimmed their beards after their World Series run and putting them up to benefit a men’s organization. You may question if fans really want hair from players, but so far the auction is already bringing in thousands of dollars.

Derrick Rose injures knee … againChicago Bulls star guard Derrick Rose sat out all of last season recovering from an ACL injury in his knee. Rose returned this year but caught another tough break when he injured his other knee last week during a game against the Portland Trailblazers. It’s unknown how long he’ll be out, but word is that Rose could miss the rest of the season. If so, it’s another devastating blow to a team that had hopes of reaching the NBA Finals. The Bulls put up a bit of a fight in the postseason last year without Rose, but realistically, it’s difficult envisioning them competing with the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers without their best player.

And you get $20,000, and you get $20,000 – Last week a fan at an Oklahoma City Thunder game made a half-court shot at halftime to win $20,000. That’s an incredible feat, but it’s something that seems to happen in Oklahoma City more than anywhere else. The shot was the fifth such one by a fan in 2013.

Johnny Football and Texas A&M fall short against top teamsTexas A&M hasn’t had a bad season per se, but the Aggies have definitely struggled against the better schools on their football schedule. Johnny Manziel and company have played three ranked programs and after this weekend, have lost all three. Texas A&M previously lost to Alabama and Auburn and on Saturday, dropped a game to LSU on the road. Manziel has still been impressive this season, but failed miserably against the Tigers, completing only 16 of his 41 passes and adding two interceptions against only one touchdown. He’s played well in his sophomore year, but winning a second Heisman is looking less and less likely.

November 7, 2013

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In case you missed it – October

By: Joe Williams

Another month has come and gone. October was a big one in the sports world with the return of the NBA, the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series and of course the NFL and college football seasons taking shape. But you already knew about all that. Lots of other stuff happened in the sports world that you may have missed. Such as:

DeAngelo Hall of the Washington Redskins had a post-game interview cut short by an NFL wardrobe inspector who threatened to fine Hall because he was wearing an unapproved shirt. After the game. In the locker room!

A restaurant in Houston named a burger after the Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub. Probably not the first time a restaurant has done that about a local star. But this was not in support of the quarterback. After Schaub struggled and had a few interceptions returned for touchdowns, a local eatery came out with the “Pick Six” burger in his honor.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs can now say they play in front of the loudest crowd in the NFL after breaking an NFL record in October.

In protest to all of the rule changes and fines the NFL has unleashed on defenders lately, San Fransisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner decided to officially change his last name to “Hitner.”

The Atlanta Braves made the playoffs and left their highest paid player off of the playoff roster.

50-year-old NBA Hall-of-Famer Chris Mullin went 14 for 15 and beat the current Sacramento Kings players in a three-point shooting contest.

The new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd, was suspended for two games before ever coaching a game. (The suspension came after he crashed into a telephone pole and was under suspicion of drunk driving.

Did you see Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” video? Let’s be real. Who didn’t see it? But did you see which big name from the sports world did a spoof of that video? That’s right. None other than Hulk Hogan got in the act with his own version of “Wrecking Ball.”

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis was as surprised as anyone when his team attempted a fake punt from inside its own 20-yard-line.

Phil Mickelson helped the USA to a win over the International team in the President’s Cup. How did he prepare for the competition? By hiring a new coach. A ping pong coach that is.

A 47-year-old, two-time Olympian, Zola Budd, crushed a bunch of college runners in a 5K event in North Carolina.

Former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice was named to the NCAA’s playoff selection committee.

People who don’t even work for USC have been contacting coaches and attempting to recruit them to fill the Trojans’ coaching vacancy.

A 15-year-old who was announcing a middle school football game was punished for using a phrase that NFL announcer Gus Johnson uses in the Madden NFL game. The phrase that got him in hot water….”He’s got that getting-away-from-the-cops speed.”

During an MMA fight in Brazil, a fighter found a new way to submit. He just jumped out of the cage and left the arena in the middle of the fight.

Kansas City Chiefs fans sent a record for the loudest crowd when they hit 137.5 decibles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have a team mascot so it was a bit of a surprise when someone in a bear costume came out during the 8th inning of the NLCS Game 3 against the Cardinals. The bear put on an amazing performance for the crowd before being ejected from the game.

A Cleveland Browns fan posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a decent quarterback for the team.

The Clippers took another step towards claiming Los Angeles for themselves by covering up the Lakers championship banners in the Staples Center.

After a 91-0 blowout win a high school coach in Texas is being accused of bullying.

A Red Sox fan couldn’t get the day off of work from his job selling furniture to attend Game 1 of the World Series. So he quit.

Indiana Pacer Paul George bought every ticket for Fresno State’s home opener for the men’s basketball season. That’s 15,596 tickets.

Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis admitted to sleeping during team meetings. And he wonders why he’s been replaced in the starting lineup.

A fan who was injured by a hot dog thrown by the team mascot back in 2009 is now suing the Kansas City Royals.

November 6, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Boston wins World Series: The Boston Red Sox claimed their third World Series title in only ten years with a 4-2 series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The big story of the series was easily David Ortiz. The slugger hit two home runs in the six games and had a whopping .688 batting average. Since nearly being left for dead after he batted .264 in 2008 with a modest 23 home runs, Big Papi has had some kind of resurgence. He batted only .238 the following season, but still hit 28 home runs. Ortiz has rebounded nicely and is hitting for average again, batting over .300 in each of the past three years. He’s 37, but still looks like he has plenty left in the tank.

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champs!

NBA season tips off: The NBA season officially got underway on Tuesday with a triple header. The Lakers and Pacers both came out on top, but it was the Miami Heat that won the marquee game as they defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-95, despite 31 points from Carlos Boozer and the return of Derrick Rose.

Florida State tops Miami: In a game of unbeatens, Florida State defeated Miami in a rout, 41-14 on Saturday. The loss for Miami was even more deflating after the team received news that star running back Duke Johnson sustained a broken ankle during the game and will be out for the season. The win was the second big win over a top ten team for the Seminoles, who knocked off Clemson 51-14 a few weeks ago. Despite sitting behind unbeaten Alabama and Oregon, Florida State is starting to gain some recognition and  even picked up six No. 1 votes in this week’s Associated Press poll. If the season ends with three unbeaten teams it will be a true shame since we’re only one season away from the college football playoff being implemented.

Shuffleboard: So, the World Shuffleboard Championships are actually a thing? Seems legit.

Brad Ausmus new Tigers’ manager: After Jim Leyland retired as manager of the Detroit Tigers, the franchise didn’t waste much time in naming a replacement. Brad Ausmus, a former major league catcher, got the nod and will take over for the team starting next season. The pick of Ausmus was a questionable one considering he’s never been a big league manager … or even a minor league one for that matter. Detroit interviewed other qualified candidates including bench coaches Lloyd McClendon, Rick Renteria, and Tim Wallach, but Ausmus was the final pick. The gig is a good one to be sure with a starting rotation that features Justin Verlander and an offense with perhaps the game’s best player in Miguel Cabrera.  Because of that, you can bet that big things will be expected out of Ausmus as he takes over a team capable of winning a World Series.

NHL All-Star Game coming to Columbus: The Columbus Blue Jackets will host the NHL’s All-Star Game in January 2015. The franchise was actually awarded the 2013 game, but the NHL lockout that season eliminated the game. The announcement was made during first period of Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kentucky tops AP poll: As expected, a few weeks after topping the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Kentucky Wildcats also tallied the most first-place votes to lead the AP poll. The Wildcats received 27 of a possible 65 first-place votes and were followed by No. 2 Michigan State (22 first-place votes) and defending champion Louisville (14).

Derek Jeter gets new deal: The New York Yankees made sure shortstop Derek Jeter remained in pinstripes for another year, re-signing him for $12 million for next season. The large salary is clearly a bit of a nod to what Jeter did in the past as he had a disastrous 2013 season. After playing in only 17 games with an ankle injury keeping him out most of the season, Jeter batted only .190 on the season with one home run. Surely it’s not fair to judge him based on his numbers last year, but there’s no guarantee that he’s able to earn that  $12 million, too. To be fair, Jeter had a strong 2012 when he collected 216 hits and batted .316, but he’ll also be two years removed that by next season.  The Yankees, unfortunately, had little option but to pay him handsomely since allowing him to play for another team could have resulted in significant fan backlash.

Walt Bellamy dies: For the second week in a row, the NBA lost one of its legendary players. Two weeks ago, it was former Celtics star Bill Sharman that died. Last week, center Walt Bellamy passed away. In 14 seasons, Bellamy proved to be one of the league’s all-time greats at center, averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds per game. He played for a slew of teams including the Chicago Packers, Baltimore Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, New Orleans Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. Bellamy had one of the most decorated careers of all time as a Hall of Famer, Rookie of the Year, top overall draft pick, and Olympic gold medalist.

October 23, 2013

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Bold World Series Predictions

By: Matt Bowen

With the 2013 World Series getting underway between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox a bittersweet sensation fills the mind, body and baseball spirit. On one hand, the season will finally have a champion. Eight months after pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, the final champion in this season’s history book will conclude. The anticipation will be over. On the other hand a different level of anxiety sets in—what’s one to do without baseball for the winter months?

Fenway Park will play host to Game 1 of the 2013 World Series

While we may not have an answer for that question, let’s enjoy baseball while we can. In the end, the two best teams made it to the game’s ultimate stage—this hasn’t happened since 1995. Neither was upset in the earlier rounds and fans are in for a treat. Here are some bold predictions for the Fall Classic.

Jonny Gomes Will Be the Game 1 Hero in the 10th Inning

Every World Series has an unsung hero that forever etches his name in stone. Jonny Gomes will waste little time this year when he wins the game for the Bo Sox in the 10th inning of Game 1. Whether you want to admit it or not, this game will be slow out of the gates. Nerves, a three/four day layoff, quality pitching and cold October temperatures will have the bats quiet through much of the game.

With Xander Bogaerts pinch running for Jared Saltalamacchia, Gomes will shoot a single to the right field corner. Bogaerts will barely beat out the throw from Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran. Pandemonium will then ensue in Bean Town. Final score, 2-1.

Rookie Michael Wacha Will Go 8 Strong Innings in Game 2

The Cardinals starting rotation is wise beyond their years. Rookie Michael Wacha is no different. All he’s done this post season is go 3-0 with a .43 ERA over 21 innings. During that time he’s fanned 22 batters, with four walks and only eight hits.

Wacha has proved to be cold blooded and he’ll frustrate Red Sox all night long. He’ll be aided by the return of first baseman Allen Craig, who’s been sidelined with injury since September 4. Despite the absence, he still led the team with 97 RBI this season.  Craig will have three RBI in Game 2 and the Cards will win easily, 6-2. Wacha will only thicken is legacy.

The Series is Destined for 7 Games

These two teams were the best at the plate in 2013, have strong starting staffs and have shut down bullpens. Face it, something has to give, but not until Game 7. Both have rookie managers in St. Louis’ Mike Matheny and Boston’s John Farrell. It’ll be a seesaw battle that will have the ebbs and flows of a classic Halloween thriller. Fans will be glued to their seat from beginning to end and will be reminded of why baseball is engrained in our souls as something pure and comforting. No one will want this one to end.

In the End, the Cardinals Take It

With Adam Wainwright on the mound in Game 7 in Boston the Cardinals will win it all. Not very often does a sports franchise have the amount of success St. Louis has indulged the past decade. Look, the Red Sox are a great team and have certainly pulled a 180 from their 2012 campaign, but there’s something magical about the Cardinals.

No matter who dons the two birds and a bat uniform they seem to perform at the highest of levels.  They seemingly can do no wrong. This series will be one of the all-time greats and in the end St. Louis will own the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Carlos Beltran Will Win World Series MVP

It’s almost easy to forget how good Carlos Beltran is. Even at 36 years old he batted .296 this season. In 11 postseason games this season he has 12 RBI and eight walks.

Beltran knows this may be his only shot at winning it all. Despite 45 career postseason games, he’s never played in the showcase. Now is his time and he will rise to the occasion. A crucial game-winning hit in Game 5 will propel his team closer to the prize.

Expect three homers, eight RBI and one MVP trophy at the end.

August 1, 2013

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MLB Contenders Post Trade Deadline

By: Matt Bowen

Now that the dust on settled on the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline, we can focus our attention on the true contenders. It’s now August, this is the time where the cream rises to the top. MLB GM’s believing that this is their year have spent the last couple of weeks trying to feverishly hammer out deals to put their team on top when it’s all said and done. As baseball fans we now get to sit back and watch the drama unfold. The next two months will be pure entertainment as every division except the NL East is up for grabs.

So, what is to be expected down the stretch? Who were the real winners at the deadline?

AL East: Per the usual, the AL East will be one of the most interesting races until the end. The Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles are all in contention.

The Rays were the quiet, only acquiring left reliever Jesse Crain from the Chicago White Sox. Crain is currently on the DL, but has electric stuff out of the bullpen. This was a low-risk, high-reward kind of deal for the Rays—if Crain returns healthy they win, if he doesn’t, the compensation towards the White Sox will be next to nothing.

The Baltimore Orioles proved to their fan base that they plan on winning now and forever. They traded for starting pitchers Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs and Bud Norris of the Houston Astros along with reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers. Nice work from the Orioles front office.

While the Orioles made plenty of noise, the Boston Sox stole the show in the division. The acquisition of pitcher Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox made headlines as the Red Sox appear to be legit. They also picked up left-handed reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox. For a team that lost 93 games in 2012, they have certainly changed their course. The Bo Sox have Boston buzzing at the moment.

AL Central: This division is a two horse race that won’t be settled until the final days of the season. The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers are the two best teams in the Central and only got better at the deadline. Both teams picked up necessary relief help with Marc Rzepczynski headed to Cleveland from the St. Louis Cardinals and Jose Veras to Detroit from the Houston Astros.

In the end, it was the Tigers who made out best though. They were involved in the trade with the Sox, both White and Red, that sent the aforementioned Peavy to Beantown, shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Tigers and young prospect Avasail Garcia to Chicago, along with others.

The Tigers need a shortstop with the suspension of Jhonny Peralta seeming imminent. Peralta, who is involved in the Biogenesis mess, is also a free agent as the end of the season, so picking up the talented 23-year-old Iglesias now is a stroke of genius.

While the Tigers will benefit the most now in the division, the White Sox may have gotten the best player out of the deal. Garcia has star written all over him, but with a crowded outfield in Detroit, it was a price that had to be paid.

Regarding the race in the Central, neither the Tigers nor Indians will quit. As of August 1, they’re two of the hottest teams in all of baseball. The two teams face each other seven more times in 2013 with the last game on September 1.  Both teams won at the deadline, but who will win the division?

AL West: Still in disbelief that the Oakland A’s are truly good? Don’t be, this team is for real, but did the division leader do enough? They swapped a minor leaguer for infielder Alberto Callaspo from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to shore up their defense. Where they swung and missed is in the pitching department. For decades the A’s were sellers at the deadline and this year, when they needed it most they couldn’t land a prized trade target to take the hill.

This means their rival the Texas Rangers were the true winners in the division at the deadline. They got starting pitcher Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs and seem to be in a groove right now. True, the A’s are still the team to beat, but the Rangers won’t go away. Now that the A’s seem to have crosshairs on their back, can they hold onto the West?

NL East: No contest here—the Atlanta Braves have a double-digit game lead in the division and the small and subtle acquisition of reliever Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only made them better. Overall, the NL East has been a dud this season. Maybe 2014 will bring more competition. The Braves will skate into the playoffs.

NL Central: Baseball’s best division had an interesting trade deadline this time around. While the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs were heavy sellers, and for good reason, the top three teams were rather stagnant. This is a very peculiar situation, the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds were all quiet. The Pirates, who currently lead the division tried but could not land a big-name right fielder. The Cardinals didn’t make a splash and the Reds needed a viable two-hole hitter to bolster their lineup but did next to nothing. Content with what they have, all teams are now on board with their current rosters. This was disappointing on all accounts. If a winner had to be chosen, it would have to be the Cards, who seem to always find a way to win.

NL West: Let’s not forget about the NL West—there’s no west coast bias here, but the deadline proved that only the Los Angeles Dodgers are the real thing. They snatched up coveted pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins and had the luxury of signing charismatic reliever Brian Wilson. Since rookie Yasiel Puig was called up earlier in the year the team has been on fire. In just 50 games Puig is batting .364 as of August 1—most importantly he’s instilled some swagger in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

The Dodgers payroll may be bigger than many small countries’ annual GDP, but they are now looking like they are worth every penny. Move over Hollywood, the Dodgers are now the big stars in town.