April 1, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Final Four set: The NCAA Tournament will conclude next week and the Final Four has been set. Like many years, the top seeds have disappointed for the most part. Included in the Final Four are No. 4 seeds Syracuse and Michigan, and No. 9 upstart Wichita StateLouisville was the lone No. 1 seed to get into the elite club. My bracket is completely busted at this point, but since I had the Cardinals to win it all, I can still finish respectably. And after two weeks of NCAA Tournament action, I’ve got to say Louisville is looking like the nation’s best team.

Kobe Bryant is now 4th on the all-time scoring list.

Opening Day is here: With Spring Training over, Major League Baseball officially got its season underway on Sunday night with a game featuring the Texas Rangers and new AL West team, the Houston Astros. As always, there are plenty of questions heading into this season. Will Stephen Strasburg continue his dominance after surgery? Can the Yankees overcome all of their injuries? Will the Angels’ additions of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton the past two years pay off? If you forced me to make an early season World Series pick, I’ll go with the Nationals vs. Angels, but don’t take that too seriously.

Dallas Cowboys all in with Tony Romo: The Dallas Cowboys have shown plenty of confidence in starting quarterback Tony Romo over the years. After another disappointing season, Romo was rewarded with a six-year $108 million extension. The deal could take Romo, who turns 33 this month, to the end of his NFL career. The $55 million guaranteed money he will get even topped the deal Super Bowl quarterback Joe Flacco recently got with the Baltimore Ravens. Many Cowboys fans likely aren’t all that thrilled with the new deal for a quarterback who hasn’t gotten them to a Super Bowl since he’s been with the team. But finding a franchise quarterback isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do and the Cowboys think they’ve got their man in Romo.

Kobe Bryant passes Wilt Chamberlain on all-time scoring list: Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant passed legend Wilt Chamberlain this past weekend for fourth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list when he tallied point number 31,421. Statistics aren’t valued in basketball as much as they are in baseball, but Kobe’s achievement is still a big deal. Next up for the Mamba is none other than Michael Jordan, whose 32,292 points are third on the list. Bryant should easily pass up Jordan next season, but getting into the top two could be quite a feat. Karl Malone is second at 36,928 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the list at 38,387. Bryant will likely need to play at least four more seasons to have a shot at catching Malone, so Jordan could be the last person he passes on the list. But if there’s anything Kobe has proven over the years, it’s that he shouldn’t be doubted.

Good news and bad news for Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pittsburgh Penguins experienced some highs and lows last week. The team traded for star winger Jarome Iginla earlier in the week in a move that may put the team over the top to win the Stanley Cup. But on Saturday, Pittsburgh lost captain Sidney Crosby to a broken jaw after he was hit in the mouth with a puck during a game. Crosby underwent surgery on Sunday and is now out indefinitely. The Penguins are still in pretty good shape, but losing Crosby to injury yet again has to be frustrating for the team. Crosby is regarded by many as the league’s top player but has dealt with setback after setback in the league.

Miami Heat winning streak ends: The Miami Heat’s long winning streak ended with a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, 101-97. Even though the Heat’s streak was snapped at 27 games, Miami still put together one of the most impressive stretches the league has ever seen. Plus, while the loss meant they fell short of the Los Angeles Lakers historic 33-game streak back in 1971-72, the Heat’s real target is another NBA title. The goal here is to keep everyone healthy for a long playoff run.

October 18, 2012

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5 Most Disappointing Teams of 2012 MLB Season

By: Ally Silva

At the beginning of each MLB season, prognosticators and experts alike make their picks as to the teams that are expected to compete for the postseason. Division winners are selected along with possible World Series contenders.

In 2012, several teams that were thought to be worthy of playoff contention have fallen far short of the mark. Here is a look at five of those teams.

After adding Albert Pujols, many thought the Angels would be a World Series contender.

1. Boston Red Sox

After an epic collapse last September that saw them miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Boston Red Sox were expected to bounce back and be in the playoff mix and in the hunt for an AL East Division title.

However, nothing gelled for the Red Sox, and they now find themselves looking at their first losing season since 1997. GM Ben Cherington has already hit the reset button, trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James Loney and a package of prospects.

2. Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels are on the outside looking in at the playoffs. For a team that spent $317.5 million with the signings of first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels weren’t just expected to compete, they were largely expected to win and win big.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies had captured five straight NL East titles heading into the 2012 season—that rein of success will come to an end.

The Phillies jettisoned several players (Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence) as GM Ruben Amaro looks to restructure his team for the future. Injuries took a toll as well, with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz all missing significant time.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

After being the surprise team of the National League and capturing the NL West title last season, many expected the Arizona Diamondbacks to be dominant once again in 2012.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Injuries to pitcher Dan Hudson and shortstop Stephen Drew, along with a pitching staff that largely underperformed, didn’t help the Diamondbacks’ case this season.

5. Miami Marlins

A new team logo, new uniforms, new stadium, new manager and several new players led to tremendous excitement in South Florida for the Miami Marlins as they entered the 2012 season.

However, despite the additions of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle, the Marlins never quite got on track. The Marlins have alreadybegun moving pieces (Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate, Anibal Sanchez) as they lick their wounds and ponder their future.

This is a guest post submitted by Ally Silva. Ally played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports now, particularly Chicago sports. She works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class custom wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Ally loves writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.

June 20, 2012

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Sizing up Baseball’s Newest Star, Mike Trout

By: Matt Bowen

Major League Baseball has a new star in Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 20-year-old phenomenon has been thriving since being called up to the big leagues on April 28 of this season.

Bryce Harper isn't the only rookie taking the MLB by storm.

In 190 at-bats in 2012, he’s batting a remarkable .337 with six homers, 27 RBI, 40 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. His 49 hits since May 14 leads the American League.  He’s been a highly touted prospect for quite some time, but very few ever dreamt of Trout being this good so soon in his MLB career.

He got a taste in the majors last year, playing in 40 games and only batting .220 in 123 at-bats. Being only 20 years old, baseball fanatics were worried that the kid wasn’t ready, or that he wouldn’t live up to the hype of being one of the MLB’s highest rated prospects. He didn’t make the team out of spring training in 2012 and Angels’ fans expected him to be called up this season, but not by the end of April. All he did in the minors early in the season was hit .403 in 20 games. With the Angels struggling and Trout’s numbers being undeniable, the team knew it was his time to shine.

The Angels were expected to be World Series contenders in 2012 because of the offseason they had in free agency. The team signed all-world slugger Albert Pujols and ace left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson to hefty contracts. The Angels finished 2011 with an 86-76 record and those numbers were expected to be trumped this season because of the big-name free agents they added to their already strong lineup.

Despite all the money spent and big expectations, the Angels stumbled out of the gate in 2012. At the end of the season they’ll be thanking Trout, not Pujols, for their turn around.

The Angels were 7-14 on April 28 when they called on Trout to create the spark they desperately needed, and he hasn’t disappointed. On that date, the team was nine games back in the AL West to the Texas Rangers, the team they have to beat in 2012 if they’re to be considered one of baseball’s best. The Rangers have been to the World Series two-straight years and the Angels made those big offseason moves in order to dominate the Rangers.

Because of Trout, the Angels are 36-31 and only sit four games behind the Rangers.  Although he’s only a rookie, he’ll be an All-Star and shows no sign of slowing down. Forget Rookie of the Year, Trout may be the MVP in 2012.  Sure, he’ll still have his ups-and-downs, but the good decimates the bad when it comes to his rookie season.

Do yourself a favor and try to watch this budding star as much as possible.