June 18, 2013

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MLB Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

There is another month of baseball to play before the MLB All-Star break so we should know who is good and who isn’t at this point, but I’ll bet there isn’t anyone out there who would have guessed that the best teams during the month of June would be Kansas City, Toronto, San Diego and Oakland. Meanwhile, teams like the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers are struggling. Where will that leave those teams in today’s power rankings?

The Cardinals can celebrate being at the top of our latest MLB Power Rankings.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (44-25): As a Cubs fan, you never want to see the Cardinals at the top of the list but there’s no denying they have the best record in baseball and are +102 in run differential.

2. Atlanta Braves (41-28): The Braves hold the biggest lead of any division leaders at 6.5 games over Washington.

3. Cincinnati Reds (42-28): If the Reds were in any other division, they’d be in first place.

4. Oakland A’s (42-29): The A’s have made a huge jump from the 15 spot a month ago. That’s what an 18-7 record will do for you.

5. Boston Red Sox (42-29): Boston leads the majors in runs scored with 363.

6. Texas Rangers (38-31): Just like the end of last season, the Rangers have been caught by Oakland.

7. Detroit Tigers (38-29): Right now just Chris Davis is standing between Miguel Cabrera and a repeat triple crown.

8. Baltimore Orioles (40-30): Baltimore has quietly taken the lead in the wild card race and pulled within just 1.5 games of Boston.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-32): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.

11. New York Yankees (38-31): Could this be the beginning of the end for the Yankees. They’ve lost ground in the AL East and wild card races.

12. Colorado Rockies (37-33): Gonzalez and Tulowitzki have lead the Rockies into the race. The pitching will need to improve to stay in it to the end.

13. San Diego Padres (36-34): Seven straight wins will and the Padres are back in the hunt after a 2-10 to the season.

14. Tampa Bay Rays (36-33): Wil Myers has been called up. Now let’s see what he can do.

15. Kansas City Royals (34-34): The Royals have been the best team in baseball, going 12-4 in June.

16. Washington Nationals (34-35): It’s turning into a disappointing season in the capital. The Nats better get back on track soon or it will be too late.

17. Cleveland Indians (34-35): Here’s a team that has really cooled off and is just 5-10 in June.

18. San Francisco Giants (35-34): The Giants will have to do better than 14-22 on the road if they want to defend their title.

19. Toronto Blue Jays (33-36): The Jays have six wins in a row and are climbing out of a big hole.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (34-37): The Phillies are second in the majors in quality starts but don’t have much to show for it.

21. Minnesota Twins (30-36): The Twins are near the bottom in just about every pitching category. Not good.

22. LA Dodgers (29-39): Talk about a wasted season…nobody is farther away from next-to-last in their division than the Dodgers.

23. LA Angels (31-39): Here is another team that was supposed to contend and has let their fans down.

24. Milwaukee Brewers (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Cubs for last place in the NL Central.

25. Chicago Cubs (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Brewers for last place in the NL Central.

26. Seattle Mariners (31-40): King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are lights out pitchers right now. They aren’t getting much help though.

27. Chicago White Sox (29-38): It looks like it will be a tight race for worst team in Chicago.

28. New York Mets (25-40): The Mets are making a strong run towards the worst record in baseball with a 3-10 start in June.

29. Houston Astros (26-45): An 8-8 record so far this month is a big improvement for the AL West newcomers.

30. Miami Marlins (22-47): The Marlins are playing better, posting an 8-6 record so far this month.

January 16, 2013

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Why Tony Gonzalez is the Motivator for the Atlanta Falcons

By: Matt Bowen

The Atlanta Falcons finally won a playoff game, which has eluded them in the Matt Ryan era until their Divisional Round triumph over the Seattle Seahawks on January 13.

Can Matt Ryan take Tony Gonzalez to their first Super Bowl?

Now, they can focus on the task at hand.

The pressure of being the best regular season team since 2008, compiling a 56-22 record but going 0-3 in the playoffs is over. They have now shown they are a worthy No. 1 seed in the NFC.

All the Falcons need to do now is look at their future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez for motivation. Like Ryan, the win over the Seahawks was Gonzalez’s first playoff win. It’s hard to believe at 36 years old, with his credentials, he has never won until now, but it’s true.

You see, Gonzalez’s career lore is only growing—at this point he’s a living legend, his stature has almost reached mythical proportions. He’s almost like Superman—missing only two games out of the possible 256 regular season games in his lengthy 16-year career. Considering he plays the more physical position of tight end, that’s a rather jaw-dropping stat. He was the new-age hybrid tight end that is so popular across the NFL right now before there was such a thing.

His 1,242 career catches ranks second on the all-time list behind Jerry Rice’s 1,549. Gonzalez tallied an astounding 93 catches this season and has had 70-plus catches in 10 straight seasons. His 103 career touchdowns ranks No. 1 for tight ends and sixth overall. His 14,268 career receiving yards ranks seventh.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate goal for any NFL player/team and Gonzalez and the Falcons have unfinished business. Now that Ryan and the Falcons have hushed the critics, Gonzalez becomes the focal point. Sadly, this may be his last season in the league, as Father Time and the bumps and bruises of the NFL life eventually become too much for even superheroes like Gonzalez.

Even casual football fans will fall in love with Gonzalez in the coming days. He’s a class-act that every athlete should try to emulate.

Expect to hear stories of “Win one for the Gipper” style speeches coming from the Falcons organization soon. As the members of the Falcons sit in their locker room the rest of the season, the emotions that will be running through their souls as they peer at Gonzalez will be nearly overwhelming.

Not wanting to let him down, his teammates will reach never before seen heights in their upcoming NFC Championship Game.

When the Falcons host the San Francisco 49ers keep Gonzalez in mind. One can’t help but root for him.