MLB 2017 Week 1: The Usual and The Surprises

The beginning of April in the sports world means the long 7-month baseball season is just around the corner, and the first week provided us with some cheers, new faces, and the end of misery in Chicago Cubs baseball. Here are some storylines to watch out for throughout the season:

The Diamondbacks Do Not Look Like a Waste of Money

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a team who over the last few years have spent a lot of money on trying to keep their team relevant in the NL, but it hasn’t worked until now. Starting Pitchers Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, and Shelby Miller, and Relievers Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney have all started playing at their potential. The batting of Jake Lamb, Paul Goldschmidt, and Chris Owings has all come into fruition for this team as well. So far, they are 6-2, with 3 wins each over the San Fran Giants, and the defending AL Champion Cleveland Indians.

The Orioles Are Playing Like a Complete Team

For years and years, I have thought of the Orioles as a World Series threat, but never as a potential World Series champion, until now. Their offense has never been a problem, with guys like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis. Their pitching was inconsistent last year, to say the least. Starters Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez both finished last year with losing records (9-12 and 8-12, respectively), and Dylan Bundy, while he had a winning record, was shaky at times. This year, they all look very solid, and Closer Zach Britton is at the top of his game. Expect this team to be a serious threat to win the AL, and possibly even the World Series this year.

The Nationals Will Be Better Than the Cubs

This is the boldest prediction anyone in the MLB can make at this point, but I believe this will hold true. The MLB hasn’t seen repeat champs since the NY Yankees 3-peated from ’98-’00, and the Cubs won for the first time in 108 years. While that was great, the Cubs will be a huge threat, but the Nationals have the roster to beat Chicago. Led by the great Bryce Harper, a supporting cast of Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, and Trea Turner, and pitchers Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, this could be the Nats year. An Orioles-Nationals Beltway World Series would be fun to watch, for sure.

Super Bowl LI: Hotlanta Falcons or Beantown Patriots?

This Super Bowl could be the highest-scoring Super Bowl in the history of the glorious championship game, as these teams are so evenly matched on offense, and lately, also on defense. This game could also be the first to go to overtime, but here is who I believe will be the winner of this game.

How The Teams Stack Up

Atlanta has been hot of late, having won 6 in a row, and they sport the most efficient offense in the NFL. QB Matt Ryan has over 4,900 passing yards, 38 TDs, 83.3 Total QBR (QBR measures what the QB did in the game to try to lead his team to win), and 9.26 yards per attempt (highest in NFL history). WR Julio Jones averaged over 100 receiving yards a game for the 4th straight season, and they also kept a very balanced rushing attack with RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The Patriots QB Tom Brady’s number don’t match up, but considering he only played 12 games, he played phenomenal. 3,554 yards, 28 TDs, and a Total QBR of 83.0 in ONLY 12 games is amazing, and he did it without the help of Rob Gronkowski in the beginning, as well as towards the end of the season. Gronk will not be playing, although he will make the trip with the team to Houston, and backup TE Martellus Bennett did a nice job of replacing him, with 701 yards and 7 TDs. What really gave the Patriots the edge on offense this season was their run game. RB LeGarrette Blount has 1,161 yards rushing and a Patriots team record 18 rushing TDs. His big bulldozing ability helps keep drives alive for the Pats, allowing Brady to have lesser pressure on him and the defense to go after Blount. The defense of the Pats was ranked 7th overall, and 1st in scoring, as opposed to the Falcons who are 22nd overall. The Falcons haven’t needed big defensive performances to win their game this year, but they will need it if they want to be able to win a Super Bowl.

Who Wins and Why?

This game will come down to which team can come up with more defensive stops, and this game probably won’t really have much defense. This defense will be atrocious for both teams in this game, and the offenses will have a ‘walk-in-the-park’ type of game. The X-factor for each team will be their 2nd Wide Receiver, being Mohamed Sanu and Chris Hogan for the Falcons and Pats, respectively. Hogan had 180 yards on 9 receptions and 2 TDs, and Sanu, while he had just 5 catches for 52 yards and a TD, he did create problems in the formations for the Packers defense in their last game. Look for Hogan to have another big game, and CB Malcolm Butler, who will be covering Julio Jones, to be the defensive hero in a Patriot victory. Final Score: 51-48, New England

The College Football Playoff: Who’s Going to Tampa?

To think that 2016 is almost over, I must reflect on the great moments we have seen this year. We have seen the Golden State Warriors become the team with the most Ws in a season, to the team which took the biggest L in sports history, blowing a 3-1 lead. Villanova won the national championship in basketball on a buzzer-beater. Kevin Durant went to the Warriors, and they still couldn’t beat Cleveland on Christmas Day. The Orioles put in Ubaldo Jimenez instead of Zack Britton, and Edwin Encarnacion needed one swing for victory. The Chicago Cubs overcame a 3-1 lead to win their first World Series in 108 years. And Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Washington ALL will be in the College Football Playoff. A great way to end the year, here are my predictions for the 4 biggest college football games of the New Year’s Six.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: #4 Washington Huskies vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

All I have heard since November when the season ended has been ‘Oh, Washington gonna win, they got a chance’, but everyone knows it will never happen. 2014 should be a reminder to all of us that Ohio State was a #4 team that obviously should have been ranked higher. Washington is NOTHING compared to that Ohio State team. That team had future NFLers in Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, and Michael Thomas. Also, Alabama’s defense wasn’t as good as the one we have this year, led by DE Jonathan Allen and CB Minkah Fitzpatrick. Washington QB Jake Browning can keep it high-scoring, but I wouldn’t think it would even be a one-score game at the end of it all. Alabama takes it 45-31.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: #3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #2 Clemson Tigers

This game has got me seriously mind-boggled as to who will win, and this game will probably be a 1-point win by either team. In fact, this’ll come down to OT. You know what, make that multiple OTs. This game might as well never end. Clemson, led by QB Deshaun Watson, has proved again it will contend for a national championship, with its big-play RB Wayne Gallman, receivers Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, and Hunter Renfrow, and defenders in LBs Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph, and Safeties Jadar Johnson and Van Smith. Ohio State is led by QB JT Barrett, RB Mike Samuel, and WRs Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown, and Dontre Wilson. If one defense will break and lost the game for their team, it’ll be Ohio State, as they have been relatively thin due to injuries. Clemson wins 50-49.

 

 

Rio 2016 Olympics: Week 1 Recap, and On to the End of the Olympics

Week 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been quite special, with Michael Phelps pushing himself to the limits to win 4 Gold Medals (already), the US Women’s Gymnastics Team also played way over their standards, by taking Gold in the team and individual events. However, there have been many surprises throughout the tournament, with no competition in tennis, USA Men’s Basketball surviving Australia, Serbia, and France, and the US Women’s Soccer Team falling to Sweden in the Quarterfinals. In Week 2, the US Women’s Beach Volleyball team fell to Brazil in straight sets, and Usain Bolt has retained the title as ‘The Fastest Man on Earth’. All in all, here is what I thought of Week 1, and what to expect towards the end of the Olympics.

Michael Phelps is the Greatest Athlete of All-Time

I know that the winner of the decathlon (10 sports by one player) is supposed to be crowned the title of ‘World’s Greatest Athlete’, but Michael Phelps is just too good. Sure, you could argue NBA uber-mega star LeBron James, or Michael Jordan, or decathlon champion Ashton Eaton, or even NFL megastar Odell Beckham Jr., but Phelps has too many medals, wins, and records to have any other player be in the conversation.

Katie Ledecky and USA Will Take Over Women’s Swimming

Ledecky took home 4 Golds and 1 Silver Medal, and the rest of the USA Women’s Swimming Team have taken over, and we should see them taking home many Golds in the future Olympics’.

The USA Women’s Gymnastics Team Was the Greatest EVER

Gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman were simply outstanding, and may be the best gymnasts on the planet, and the rest of the roster, while not the greatest in the individual events, stepped up in the Team Finals, as the Final Five took home 9 Golds, an Olympic record.

No One Will Ever Be Faster Than Usain Bolt

History speaks for itself.

USA Men’s Basketball Will Still Get the Gold

As much as I am concerned about the performance so far of the United States, I don’t see a way they will not be able to win the Gold medal. It is truly shocking how much they have played under expectations. Their performance against Argentina, who gave them a scare in the first 6 minutes of the game. They will need more defense against Spain in the semifinals, but it was very good against Argentina. They should end up playing Australia in the final, as Serbia won’t be a problem for the Aussies, and they will improve from the first match (USA won 98-88 after trailing nearly the entire game), and bring home the Gold.

Ashton Eaton Will Win the Decathlon Gold

Eaton currently has a 103-point lead in the decathlon, and he is trying to win his 2nd Gold in the Decathlon, but I think that there isn’t any competition this year for him to not be able to win Gold.

USA Women’s Basketball Will Get the Gold Easily

They have no competition, simply put.

The Germany vs. Brazil Men’s Soccer Rematch Will Be LIT!

In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Germany and Brazil played each other in the semifinal, and everyone was getting ready to see Brazil return to their glory days by getting to the World Cup Final. Germany, instead, crashed the party with a 7-1 drubbing of the Brazilians, and since then, Brazil has been waiting for this rematch. On Saturday, the biggest, most anticipated rematch in the history of soccer, and quite possibly the history of sports, will come to Brazil at the Olympics. Brazil and Germany both started their Olympic campaigns very slowly. Brazil failed to score a goal in their first 2 games, as they ended as scoreless draws, and Germany ended with a 2-2 draw with Mexico, and a 3-3 draw with South Korea. Since then, both teams have come out with a sense of urgency. Germany finished their group play with a 10-0 victory, then won their quarterfinal 4-0 vs Portugal, and won their semifinal 2-0 vs Nigeria. Brazil won their final group play game with a 4-0 victory over Denmark, had a 2-0 victory in the quarters against Colombia, and then the country of Brazil was happier than ever with a 6-0 win in their semifinal. All in all, it has been the play of Brazilian Captain Neymar Jr., who has 4 goals in the tournament, and Goalkeeper Weverton, who hasn’t given up a goal in the tournament, who have led Brazil into the tournament. Germany sports a much different, younger, and less intimidating team than the one in 2014, with younger strikers in Serge Gnabry, Davie Selker, and Lars Bender now taking the lead of the team. In the end, Brazil will take the Gold home for the first time in their coveted soccer history.

2016 Rio Olympics Games: What to Expect Now and in the Future Games

 

Friday, August 5th, 2016 kicks off one of the biggest sporting events in the entire world, as the Summer Olympic Games arrive, this year in Rio de Janeiro. However, the conditions in Rio could hold back certain games, and could alter the future of the Games. Also, certain sports have exhibition games helping solidify their sports’ positions in the future Games. Here is what to expect now, and in the future.

Men’s USA Basketball Will Demolish

They may not be a ‘Dream Team’-esque team like the one we saw in 2012, but they have one of the youngest rosters we have ever seen. While they have young guns like Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant, they have the leadership of Carmelo Anthony, who has been on every roster since 2004. The only teams that can compete with the US are France and Lithuania, and even then, it won’t be very difficult for USA to go on the tear they did in ’12. They will get the Gold easy. As for the Women’s team, the same should be true for them.

The US Women’s Soccer Team is WAYYYY Better Than the US Men’s Team

Plain and simple, the girl power of the women’s team makes the men’s team look like a bunch of 10-year olds. The women do have competition coming from Japan, but after seeing the 2015 World Cup demolishment by the US of Japan, the US Women’s team will get Gold easy. The Men’s won’t really do much.

Brazil Won’t Impress

Brazil, the host country, hasn’t been very good at basketball as of late, yet their soccer team is one of the most coveted of all-time. However, after their disappointment in 2012 (they got Silver, losing to Mexico in the Final), Brazil’s soccer team has been in deep disarray, and their struggles will continue, as the strength of European soccer teams (such as Germany, France, and Portugal) will cause them to have an epic fall.

Baseball Will Show Itself in the Olympics

During the Olympics, there will be exhibition games between countries on helping solidify baseball’s return to the Olympics in 2020, as it hasn’t been played since 2008. I feel the talent in the MLB would make baseball very exciting for the sport, as well as the Games.

Added Sports

In 2020, we will see baseball, softball, surfing, karate, sport climbing, and skateboarding all in the Games. This is huge, especially for the sports of baseball and softball, which return for the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

MLB Trade Deadline: With a Few Days Away, Who Should We See Traded?

Another one of these posts, but now, the trades get even more intense. Now, with all of the intensity coming on with August 1st right around the corner, I go over who should be traded, and what teams should offer.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Jimenez isn’t the greatest ever as we know, but besides his subpar record this year, he can still play as a pitcher at a high level. Unfortunately for Baltimore, they missed out big time on trading Jimenez, as they were beat by the Toronto Blue Jays to get Melvin Upton, Jr., putting them in a position with not too many options. Their options are Edinson Volquez from the Kansas City Royals, but they may have to give up Mark Trumbo because the Royals are also looking to trade an outfielder. This will also have to involve Dan Duquette, their reliever. This trade has already been discussed between the team, but the question is what else do the Royals have to give the Orioles. The second option for them is SP Wade Miley of the Seattle Mariners. Miley is a pitcher who has won games against solid teams throughout the course of the year, especially when Felix Hernandez went down with an injury earlier this year. The Orioles are in very serious talks to try and get Miley from Seattle.

Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

The best way for the New York Yankees to plan for their future and try to get superstar OF Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent is to surround him with fellow, young, superstar outfielders. Braun, the 2011 MVP, has been on the trade block for what feels like forever, and the best offer on the table would be to trade him for Carlos Beltran of the Yankees. Beltran, like Braun, is another excellent outfielder, but the Brewers need veteran leadership. While trading Braun will be a hard pill to swallow, considering the current situation of Milwaukee, it’ll all be worth it.

Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Now, the first thought that comes to mind is to trade him for Jimenez in Baltimore, but I just do not think that the Orioles would want to add a player who doesn’t bring a winning mentality to their team. I think their best bet is to trade him for fellow SP Jeremy Hellickson of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is a perfect trade because these are two of the utmost worst team with absolutely nothing left to fight for. This trade should happen NOW!

Johnathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

This would be a good offer to make the Yankees along with Ryan Braun, if only Yankees C Brian McCann was older. McCann is EXTREMELY solid, but he isn’t the best veteran catcher out there. The other offer is the offer by the New York Mets for C Travis d’Arnaud and OF prospect Brandon Nimmo. The offer from the Mets is the offer the Brewers are most comfortable with, as it seems though as if the Yankees wanna roll with McCann as their catcher.

Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Bruce is definitely the hottest name on the market because it is shocking to many teams that he is even on the market in the first place. The best trade on the board will be the most compelling and game-changing trades for both teams, if the trade does indeed happen. The LA Dodgers will give OF Yasiel Puig to the Reds for Bruce. This trade would be huge because both of these players seemed like they would be untradeable at one point due to their utter dominance in the game. However, their similar qualities throughout this year has propelled this trade to possibly become a reality for both teams. This could change the whole outlook of the NL because while the Dodgers are fighting to be in the Top 4 of the NL, the Reds, although they are 14.5 games back of the first Wild Card spot St. Louis Cardinals, they could make the NL Central (their division) very interesting, and climb their way up the Wild Card standings.

MLB Trade Deadline: What Needs to Happen?

Now that the MLB is in full swing after the rather boring All-Star Game, the focus of the MLB will turn towards the MLB trade deadline. August 1st will be here before we know it, and many teams could use trades to get themselves back in the playoff picture, or even just make themselves look better, perhaps. Here are some trades which I think should happen:

LA Dodgers Trade SP Clayton Kershaw and 2B Howie Kendrick to Tampa Bay Rays SP Chris Archer and 3B Evan Longoria

I completely understand that Kershaw leads the NL in WAR despite missing over a month of play, but the Dodgers offense is inconsistent. Howie Kendrick has been good at times, and Longoria just has been on the Rays for too long. I think this trade can power LA into a possible division champion contention. As for the Rays, it can only get better from here. Tampa has been in a state of flux for many years now, and the ‘Rays’ of the sun don’t seem to be helping at all. Now, LA is going to lose one of the best pitchers in the game, but I think that Longoria will thrive under the leadership of manager Dave Roberts, who is all about high-powered offenses.

Colorado Rockies Trade OF Carlos Gonzalez to Oakland Athletics for OF Josh Reddick

This trade is a golden one for both teams because these are two great outfielders looking to change teams in order for contracts to be fulfilled. These are two of the best power-hitters in their respective leagues, and these teams are already having downfalls which will force them to have to settle for sitting on the couch in October, so why not try to improve the team going into next season. This will also possibly force these players to restructure a contract, and not have to walk away from their respective teams.

Milwaukee Brewers Trade OF Ryan Braun to NY Yankees for LF Carlos Beltran and CP Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees want to make their team as young as possible, and Milwaukee needs veteran leadership in all facets of the game, and so Beltran and Chapman are excellent position fillers. Braun on the other hand will always be an MVP candidate (even if he is on PEDs), and New York needs a guy who is a blend of power hitting and skilled fielding, and Braun brings that to the table immediately. The Yankees have some work to do in the AL East if they want to be in the Wild Card, though. They are 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leader, the Toronto Blue Jays, who are also in the AL East. Now, with Boston flailing a bit, New York could be in good hands, but if the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers continue their hot streak, New York ain’t seeing the playoffs this year.

Atlanta Braves Trade RF Nick Markakis to Kansas City Royals for OF Alex Gordon

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, Markakis’ glory days are behind him. His days in Baltimore were great, and they just didn’t seem to last very long. Alex Gordon had his glory days last year in Kansas City. Now, he is an outfielder, like Markakis, looking to find his ‘fountain of youth’. This trade makes a lot of sense because these are two outfielders who have a lot of potential and can still be productive if put on the right team. Markakis has a contract which pays him $11 million per year all the way through the year 2018. This allows for trades for him to become much easier than expected. This trade will give Atlanta fans a chance of hope, as they are the worst team in the big leagues.

*I would like to thank everyone for their support of my blog, as my last post was featured last week on the MLB.com Blog.