November 6, 2013
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.
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 28, 2013
Brett Favre stays retired: An interesting story this week came out of St. Louis where it was reported that the Rams offered a job to retired quarterback Brett Favre. With starter Sam Bradford suffering a season-ending ACL injury, the Rams checked to see if Favre would be interested in making yet another comeback. The future Hall of Famer declined, though, deciding to stay out of football. While it might have been fun for us to see if Favre could still play, the move was the right one. Favre has already been the numerous butt of jokes for his on again off again relationship with the NFL. But more importantly, the quarterback hasn’t played since 2010 and can’t possibly be ready to step in for a team right now. Favre likely would have turned down any gig, but the icing on the cake for his decision was probably the Rams’ last-place standing in the NFC West. St. Louis doesn’t look like a playoff team and you can bet that Favre wanted no part of the grueling NFL season without a chance to win another title.
The World Series: The World Series is all tied up as the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox have each won two games. The big story has been all of the talk surrounding Game 3 where the Cardinals won on an obstruction call when it was ruled the Sox’ Will Middlebrooks prevented the Cardinals’ Allen Craig from trying to score from third. The rule is a complicated one and it’s still being hotly debated if it was the right call since the source of the obstruction was when Middlebrooks was diving for a ball and really had nowhere else to go. One thing’s clear, though – if the call was indeed the right one, Boston fans upset that the rule shouldn’t be enforced there are off base. The rule is the rule and it shouldn’t be changed simply because it affected a World Series game.
Kansas City Chiefs still undefeated: We’re now halfway through the NFL season and after a 23-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns this week, the Kansas City Chiefs are still unbeaten at 8-0. Kansas City has had a remarkable season, but it’s still hard to believe that they would be the favorite to reach the Super Bowl. At 7-1, the Denver Broncos have a blemish on their record and are technically behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Despite that, though, it’s hard to imagine folks lining up to bet against Peyton Manning and that offense if the two teams squared off in a game.
Alabama plays hardball with football fans: The Alabama Crimson Tide are building a small dynasty in college football and their tickets are understandably a hot item. So when some students left blowout games early, the administration was none too pleased. Head coach Nick Saban started things off by openly criticizing those that left, but the real hammer dropped when the school revoked the seats of the student organizations in a certain block of the stadium. That may sound harsh, but the school’s guidelines for having tickets actually state that early departures from games is unacceptable behavior.
Greg Oden returns: Big man Greg Oden returned to action in the NBA after missing the past several seasons with injuries. Oden made his return with the Miami Heat and suited up for the team on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. He only played four minutes since the team is trying to work him into the rotation at a reasonable rate after missing so much time, but he scored a bucket and hauled in two rebounds. Oden also had two turnovers and two quick fouls, but to see him back on the court was a welcome sight.
Larry Fitzgerald trade in the works?: ESPN reported this week that Larry Fitzgerald could be traded this offseason if not by this week’s NFL trade deadline as the move would save the Arizona Cardinals approximately $8 million. Fitz has been one of the league’s best wide receivers and this past weekend, he became the youngest receiver in NFL history to record 800 catches. Fitzgerald has been something to watch since he burst onto the scene. And the thing to remember is that his numbers would be even more astonishing if he had played with better quarterbacks over the course of his career.
Tim Lincecum signs new deal with Giants: Tim Lincecum hasn’t quite been himself over the past couple of seasons, but the Giants showed tremendous faith in their former ace by signing him to a two-year $35 million deal last week. That kind of money is substantial for a pitcher that was only 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA last year – particularly when you consider it was on the heels of a 2012 season when he was even worse, going 10-15 with an ERA of 5.18. At only 29, there’s still plenty of time for Lincecum to return to his Cy Young form. But San Francisco is still taking a sizeable gamble that he will be able to turn it around with that kind of money, though.
Basketball legend Bill Sharman dies: Former Boston Celtics star Bill Sharman passed away last week at the age of 87. Sharman was a Hall of Famer and also named as one of the NBA’s top 50 players of all time during the league’s 50th anniversary. You hear the term ‘lifer’ thrown around quite a bit, but Sharman was one of those guys where it was truly applicable. Sharman was a player from 1950 – 1961 and then went into coaching from 1966 – 1976. After coaching, he wrote two books on the sport and also was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers front office.
October 23, 2013
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?
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.
October 21, 2013
World Series – The World Series is set as the St. Louis Cardinals will face the Boston Red Sox for the right to the hoist the championship trophy. Each team won their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers, respectively, in six games. The name of the game in the playoffs is pitching and both teams have gotten plenty of it. Three of Boston’s four wins against Detroit came with the Tigers scoring three runs or less. The Cardinals have been just as stingy on the mound, giving up a total of 13 runs in six games against the Dodgers, tossing two shutouts in the process. The same mantra is repeated every postseason, but the team that pitches the best usually wins.
Florida State topples Clemson in top five matchup – Florida State-Clemson was supposed to be one of the best games of the season. A matchup of two top five teams, however, turned into a rout early on. The No. 5 Seminoles walloped the No. 3 Tigers 51-14 and proved they are worthy of the national championship talk that’s starting to surround them. Unbeaten Florida State enters this week’s poll as the new No. 3 team in the nation behind only undefeated Alabama and Oregon. For Florida State, it was again the Jameis Winston show. The freshman quarterback threw for 444 yards and had three touchdowns in the game and as the season continues, it will be harder to ignore the Heisman attention he’s beginning to garner across the country.
Lebron wants the NFL – In a Q&A session with fans via Twitter, Miami Heat forward Lebron James declared he wants to play in at least one NFL game. James played football in high school and there’s always been talk about his ability to play in the league due to his freakish size. Playing one game, though, won’t cut it and you can bet that if he did get the shot, the opposing team would do whatever they could to make his life miserable. No athlete wants someone making a mockery of their sport and by playing in only one game, that’s exactly what Lebron would be doing. If he wants to take a Michael Jordan-sized cut and try to make a full-time move to the NFL, more power to him. To try to suit up once just to prove to the world that he can play the sport, though, would be another bad PR move.
Bum Phillips dies – Former NFL head coach Bum Phillips passed away this week at the age of 90. Phillips coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints in his career, leading the Oilers to two AFC Championship games. Phillips’ legacy lives on in the NFL with his son Wade, a former head coach, and the current Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator.
Kentucky tops first preseason college hoops poll – The USA Today Coaches Poll was released last week and the Kentucky Wildcats will begin the season ranked No. 1. A year after winning the national championship, the Wildcats struggled mightily last season, missing the NCAAs and winding up in the NIT. This is the first time in the history of the poll that a team that finished the prior season unranked catapulted up to the top spot. But Kentucky reloaded with one of the best recruiting classes … of all time. The Wildcats brought in five players in ESPN’s list of top ten recruits so it should come as little surprise that much is expected of the team this year. John Calipari has a young team on his hands, but has already proved he can win with teams dominated by youth as he did two years ago.
Michael Crabtree preparing for return – San Francisco 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree is hoping to play as soon as November after his ACL surgery in May. For the Niners, the move can’t possibly come any sooner. San Francisco’s passing attack ranks as one of the worst in the NFL (31st heading into this weekend) with fewer than 200 yards per game. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had some up and down games from free agent receiver Anquan Boldin, but has largely suffered without his favorite target last season. The 49ers will also get back Mario Manningham soon as well after his ACL tear, but Crabtree is the player San Francisco misses most from last season’s Super Bowl team.
Martin Biron retires – Goaltender Martin Biron has decided to call it quits after 16 seasons in the NHL. Waived by the New York Rangers last week, Biron did not report to his AHL assignment and didn’t draw much interest from around the league. He largely has been a quality goalie over his career, but struggled wildly this season, giving up a whopping nine goals on only 38 shots for a disastrous 76% save percentage.
Grambling football protests conditions – Players from Grambling’s football program sat out this week as the university was forced to cancel its game against Jackson State. Players complained of not only long bus rides, but mold and mildew on equipment and in facilities, as well as having to pay for their own Gatorade at practices out of their own pockets. Players released a letter as well as photos of some of the conditions and, well, the players have a pretty good point, it would appear. The players also weren’t happy with the dismissal of former coach Doug Williams. Losing a coach is one thing, but unsanitary conditions are quite another. Where this ends up is anybody’s guess.
July 30, 2013
Alfonso Soriano returns to Yankees: In desperate need of offense with so many injuries to key players, the New York Yankees turned to a familiar face, trading for outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Soriano began his career in New York as a second baseman before later playing for the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and most recently, the Chicago Cubs. The outfielder is past his prime, but a recent hot streak was proof that he can still provide a surge of power. After hitting only nine home runs in the first three months of the season, Soriano has hit nearly that many already in July with eight this month heading into this past weekend.
Jeremy Maclin out for year: NFL training camps are underway and that can only mean one thing – injuries won’t be far behind. The biggest casualty thus far may be the Eagles’ young wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, who is out for the season after tearing an ACL in a practice. With perhaps their best wideout injured, Philadelphia’s season gets off to a rocky start. The team still has DeSean Jackson at receiver, but Maclin’s loss gives rookie head coach Chip Kelly less to work with on offense – his area of expertise.
Jaromir Jagr signs with New Jersey Devils: Even at 41, Jaromir Jagr isn’t ready to hang up his skates. After playing for the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars last year, the winger has signed a one-year $2 million deal with the New Jersey Devils. Jagr isn’t the player he once was, but still has a little left in the tank after scoring 35 points (including 16 goals in 45 games this past season). Plus, with Ilya Kovalchuk leaving New Jersey to play in Russia, the team was in desperate need of scoring. Jagr ranks eighth all-time among NHL players in scoring and his 681 career goals are good for tenth overall.
Lebron > Kobe in ESPN poll: When it comes to the most popular player in the NBA, LeBron James passed up Kobe Bryant for the first time in a few years according to an ESPN poll. Bryant had beaten out James the past few seasons, but after his second consecutive title, James overtook him last week. Really, it’s just proof that time heals all wounds. Immediately after the much-scrutinized “Decision” broadcast where James announced his intention to leave Cleveland for Miami, he took a huge publicity hit and was even viewed as a villain by many. But after a few years with the Heat and winning a couple of rings, liking LeBron is once again okay.
101 Russian women set a skydiving record: Yeah, I’m not even going to try to add anything to this. Feel free to watch for yourself.
Matt Garza pickup costly for Rangers: Matt Garza may not quite be a household name, but the pitcher could be the best starter that gets dealt before baseball’s trade deadline this season. At 7-1 with a 2.87 ERA, Garza is having a career year and was heavily desired by contenders before he was traded to the Texas Rangers by the Cubs. Garza didn’t come cheap, however. He cost Texas two of their top prospects entering this season, pitcher Justin Grimm and first baseman Mike Olt. Both have struggled to a degree this season, but Grimm has seven wins with the major league team while Olt has 12 home runs in the minors. The trade also cost the Rangers C.J. Edwards, a flamethrower who has dominated Rookie League and Class A in the minors the past two seasons. Also, keep in mind that Garza could only be a rental player as he’s due to become a free agent after this year. All things considered, the Rangers need to not only make the playoffs, but maybe even reach a World Series for this trade to come out in their favor.
Tim Hudson injury hurts Braves: Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson suffered a devastating injury last week when his ankle was broken by the Mets’ Eric Young, Jr. in a collision at first base. The injury was a big one as the veteran will miss the rest of the season. That hurts Atlanta’s playoff chances at least a bit and the team is already looking around for a potential trade. The Braves hold a comfortable lead in the NL East, but should the team hold on for a playoff spot, Hudson’s veteran presence will be sorely missed in the postseason.
Matt Harvey likely to end season early: Similar to what the Washington Nationals did with prized young pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the New York Mets are planning to keep Matt Harvey on a limit for the rest of the year. Mets manager Terry Collins has said Harvey has about ten more starts left instead of the 13 or so he may reach if he continued to pitch every fifth day. While similar to Strasburg’s situation, though, it’s a bit different considering the Mets aren’t likely to be in the playoffs as the Nats were. One thing that will be interesting, though, is to see if the loss in starts costs Harvey when it comes to the Cy Young voting.