It’s that time of the year again when I make a fool of myself and predict the coming baseball season. Here’s what I think with a more focused look at Yankees and Mets, coming soon. Ok, here goes…
AL EAST- The most difficult division to predict. Not at the top, with the Red Sox having a clear advantage but so many what if’s with the rest of the pack. Yankees will rebuild,and make some noise.
AL CENTRAL- Indians are the clear favorites. There are two rebuilding teams and two reloading teams sinking under the weight of time and money.
AL WEST- Another difficult division to predict. Astros will be better than last year and the Mariners are over rated. Rangers will find a way to stay close, but not enough pitching.
NL EAST- The Nationals are the favorites, with a slight edge over the Mets. If Matt Harvey pitches as well as he's capable of pitching there will be a race. The loser will grab a Wild Card berth.
NL CENTRAL- The Cubs won the World Series. They will win this division again…easily. The Pirates are pretty good, too! Just not as good the Cubs.
NL WEST- The NL West has been a Giants/Dodgers battle for the last couple years, as it has been throughout history, and that shouldn't change much here. But, don’t forget the Rockies.
AMERICAN LEAGUE Rangers over Blue Jays
NATIONAL LEAGUE Mets over Giants
Red Sox over Rangers
Indians over Astros
Dodgers over Mets
Cubs over Nationals
Red Sox over Indians
Cubs over Dodgers
Red Sox over Cubs
Ok there it is.
P.S. I hate the Red Sox!
NFL owners approved the Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas at league meetings this week; the vote was 31-1. There was much more corporate money involved in the Vegas move than would have been if they stayed in Oakland. Raider fans are some of the most loyal in the NFL. This is another example of the NFL's lack of loyalty to its most important constituents -- the fans!
Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge that was later dismissed, was suspended 15 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday. The police report claims his wife had scratches on her neck. Familia in a statement said; “ it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening”. Umm, ok, so if that’s the case, what’s the 15 game suspension for??
At least one local team is still playing tournament ball. Go Peacocks!
When Giants head coach Bob McAdoo was asked whether free-agent running back Adrian Peterson could land with the Giants. "Never say never," he said. We've heard that one before. By my count, McAdoo has offered that same response to 13 other questions from reporters over the past year.
Speaking Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, Jets Head coach Todd Bowles didn't sound like Dead Coach Walking, as some have cast him. He actually used the word "excited" a couple of times, which is funny because anybody who has seen him on the sideline knows he's not the excitable type.
Now that UCLA is out of the tournament, it becomes a LaVar Ball-free zone, right?
Kentucky basketball fans have once again have shown how crazy and I mean Crazy fans can be. They have taken their resentment over their NCAA tournament loss to North Carolina to an ugly level this week. John Higgins, the referee from the game, has been receiving death threats as well as online posting concerning negative stories about his roofing business and personal life. All this because of some questionable foul calls in the first half. Those same fans forget that the Wildcats blew a 5 point lead in the 2nd half. Maybe they should be trying to lynch Calapari’s defense.
The Final Four has been set. The national semifinals, in Arizona on Saturday, will feature South Carolina versus Gonzaga and Oregon versus North Carolina. In a sport dominated by marquee programs, there is just one blue blood, North Carolina, which will make its 20th trip to the Final Four. Two of the schools are from the Pacific time zone for the first time ever. Duke, the team I picked to win it all, left the party early.
When South Carolina faces Gonzaga on Saturday, it will be the first time both the seventh-seeded Gamecocks and the No. 1 seeded Bulldogs have played their way into the semifinals. The Oregon Ducks, which haven't been in the final four since they won the very first tournament back in 1939, will have to outplay the aforementioned Tarheels who were last in the Final Four, well, last year. You could call this a surprising Final Four — even though it's a Final four featuring three league champions and two No. 1 seeds.
Ok, so I didn’t pick Gonzaga (36-1) to be playing next Monday night, but I have been rooting for them since game one. The one-time Cinderella turned best-team-to-never-make-the-national-semifinals, have been looking forward to this moment for nearly two decades. The Bulldogs' inability to make the final weekend turned them into the game's most lovable lightning rod, a squad appreciated for its overreaching success but questioned for its underachieving results.
Playing out on the left coast in a conference considered not nearly as good as Oregon’s Pac12, they weren’t given much of a chance to end up in Glendale, even though they were a Number 1 seed. I mean the Zags had to beat Santa Clara (who?) to avoid the bubble. Maybe, just maybe they are finally getting some national respect. The problem is, they do have to beat the other Cindrella team South Carolina on Saturday. If they do, everyone will say, “well, they should have”, if they don’t, then you’ll hear “I told you they were overrated”.
Coach Mark Few has the talent to win it all. Guard Nigel Williams-Goss is a veteran backcourt leader playing well, senior Przemek Karnowski is a force in the middle and forward Zach Collins is a possible NBA lottery pick. If they can break the Gamecocks tough defense, I think one more win over the other Cinderella team is a reality. A win over Oregon or North Carolina would give then their first national championship, and finally the Zags would get some respect. I’ll be rooting for them.
The U.S. men's national soccer team is set to take on Honduras in a must win qualifying match for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m PT tonight in San Jose, California. The national team desperately needs to make up ground in the race to qualify for the World Cup and a win tonight would go a long way in helping them reach their goal. After losing at home to Mexico and a road loss to Costa Rica, the Yanks sit at the bottom of the Hexagonal table, facing elimination. If they lose tonight there will be panic on the streets of Twitter, or maybe not. Sorry soccer fans, USA soccer isn’t nearly as popular as USA baseball.
The Skip Bayless fan club continues to shrink daily. The often outrageous Charles Barkley said that should he ever be diagnosed with a terminal illness, he'd willingly kill FOX Sports 1 "Undisputed" host Skip Bayless on Dan Patrick's radio show. You can guarantee Bayless will definitely have something to say about this.
If there was anyone in the sports universe who should come with an OFF button, it’s LaVar Ball, the personification of all the obnoxious sports parents you’ve seen and heard yelling from the sidelines at your kids’ games. He’s the loudmouth dad of UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. He’s the failed athlete who, the older he gets, the better he was. He is your neighbor, who played a little ball in middle school but insists, if not for that knee injury, he coulda been a star. Yeah, Whatever.
Xavier (30-13 made the clutch plays down the stretch against the West Region’s No. 2 seed, upsetting Arizona 73-71 last night. Xavier is one of the hottest teams in the country despite its injuries and has a chance to reach the Final Four for the first time. The Musketters will face No. 1 seed Gonzaga Saturday in the Elite Eight. I’ve been rooting for the Zags from day one, but it would be great to see a Big East team in the Final Four again.
Good for Mike Krzyzewski for calling out North Carolina’s bathroom laws for being as stupid and insensitive as they are.
The self proclaimed Sports Pope, WFAN host Mike Francesa owns a race horse named Mongo Nation. Francesa decided to take a commercial break during his show to watch the horse run. And after coming out of break during which Francesa saw Mongo Nation win the race, the windbag decided to text his trainer. Not off the air, but live as people were listening …. It was certainly not radio gold, but more like radio dreck. Compelling radio there, listening to a host sending his trainer a congrats text! Live texting on the radio! What's next, reading tweets on the air?
Here’s my general rule: If a Hurley is coaching a college basketball team, I’m rooting for it.
With Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Madison Bumgarner nowhere in site, a 5’8 half-African American, half-Puerto Rican kid from Long Island, led the USA to it’s first ever World Baseball Classic championship.
Marcus Stroman had no-hit the Puerto Ricans for six innings Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, by which time it had become clear the U.S. would be WBC champions for the first time in four tries. What’s amazing is that the 8-0 win was against a team that was 7-0 coming into the tournament final. They had scored 55 runs and led all teams in batting average, on base percentage and just about every other offensive category. Other than a walk, no one reached base until Angel Pagan reached in the 7th. It was an occasional fast ball, heavy sinkers and boring sliders to the bottom of the strike zone that baffled the PR hitting machine.
Thought the tournament Puerto Rico played with passion, emotion and a bit of arrogance, while the USA played with calm and professionalism showing emotion on rare occasions except in the end when Stroman and teammates ducked their heads to receive a gold medal, strung with blue ribbon around their necks. He was handed the tournament MVP trophy, which he hoisted overhead in front of 50,000 fans. No, this isn’t the World Series, but most of the American players commented that it was the best baseball experience of their lives. So did their 72 year old manager Jim Leyland, who will now be retiring from baseball for good. A nice way to go out.
I stayed up well past mid night this morning to watch the game -- the one that had begun on Wednesday evening -- right through to the end. And I'm here to blog that it was well worth each invested minute. No, it wasn’t MLB but, this was fun, competitive, baseball. They'll be doing this again in 2021. Do yourself a favor and give it a chance next time around.
For the first time since its inception, I can honestly say, I’m a fan of the World Baseball Classic. I hate the fact that it’s played in March and that tonight’s championship game starts at 9:00pm eastern. But I’m still a new fan.
This year’s W.B.C. has thus far proved to be an inspiring tournament, with thrilling games, passionate players (several who died their hair) and boisterous fans showing off the best the sport has to offer on stages as diverse as Tokyo; Miami; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Seoul, South Korea. Since tonight’s game will be at Dodger Stadium in LA, the 9:00pm start is unavoidable.
As for the timing…Well we have heard the argument about players getting hurt. If the tournament was played in November or perhaps February, that risk dwindles, as any injured player has a chance to heal in time for the start of the MLB season. Fans of some teams have watched with bated breath, not because of game tension but rather over concern that their favorite team's star could wreck his season before it begins. Didi Gregorius is a case in point. Yankee fans are crying about his shoulder injury which could keep him out of the line-up till late April. Funny thing is, he didn’t injure it during a WBC game, instead the injury happened during an exhibition game involving his Netherlands team. Had this injury happened in February, his chances of being ready for opening day wouldn’t be of concern.
So, Im looking forward to tonight’s match-up between Puerto Rico and the USA. The Americans won a 1 run affair against undefeated Japan to make the final and will only make their second appearance in the final since the tournaments inception in 2006. Late start or not I will be watching and rooting for the USA to win a tournament that has given us the best March baseball in a long time. I won’t however forget that Real baseball starts on opening day.
I’m a huge fan of the March Madness tournament, but for me the addition of commercial time out minutes is annoying and made this past week’s watching experience frustrating. In fact it’s happening in all televised sports. The almighty dollar helps extend a baseball game that should take 2.5 hours, to nearly 3 hours on average. We know that’s not the only reason while baseball is so slow moving, but it is one of the major reasons while certain rules like limiting pitching changes will never go away. The networks NEED plenty of commercials, so we get frequent stoppage of play and more selling opportunities. Games are artificially becoming longer, partly due to the fact that advertising brings in the big bucks, Very big bucks. For me, commercials are sucking the life out of the game!
Was it me or did CBS/Turner tend to play the same AT&T commercials over and over again. The AT&T unlimited plus ads featuring Greg Gumbel and Wedding Singer/Hangover singer Dan Finnerty are not only annoying, they make you want fire your remote at your TV. It seemed like every game that was close had and endless parade of end of game commercials every 45 - 60 seconds or so with Greg and Dans faces on my screen. To make matters worse, when I click over to another game, there were the same two ugly mugs pitching ATT again.
And the ads that feature the guy quoting movie and TV lines at every turn are even worse. If he ever came into my elevator shouting “Hodor! Hodor!” I would close the door on his hands. The AT&T ads are seemingly played in every break and they have become unbearable very quickly.
Listen, you have to have commercials to generate the income needed to broadcast these events, but who told them to pay so much for the rights? The networks paid too much. And I refuse to help bail them out.
With all this said it almost unbelievable that the opening week for the 2017 NCAA Tournament was the most-watched since 1993 (thanks to streaming), which is interesting because ratings keep rising in an era where so many sports ratings have seen some declines. Bolstered by some compelling games on Sunday, viewership for the first week of the tournament averaged 9.325 million viewers, an increase of 10% from last year. But without Duke and Villanova playing in the second week, can these numbers be sustained? We’ll find out.
March Madness is never boring, but yesterday was close. If it were not for Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis’s bone head foul on Bryant McIntosh Northwestern’s best foul shooter. There wouldn’t be much to talk about. Only two “maybe” upsets took place. Maryland and Minnesota lost to lower seeded teams. Like many predicted, myself included, Middle Tennessee (31-4), a 12 seed, beat Minnesota (5). A 12 beating a 5 is usually a big deal, but not this number 12. The Blue Raiders face Butler tomorrow. Don’t bet against them in the second round; don’t rule them out even further down the line.
Jim Boeheim didn’t like that the ACC tournament was in Brooklyn. He thought it should have been in Syracuse. Hey Jim; The best basketball teams were in New York City last week, and none of them were the Knicks or the Orangemen.
The Dominican Republic took a step toward a repeat title in the World Baseball Classic thanks to impressive home runs by Nelson Cruz and Gregory Polanco. The Dominicans also got some nice pitching in a 3-0 victory Thursday night that pushed Venezuela to the brink of elimination. The Americans play Puerto Rico tonight, and then the rematch with the DR tomorrow. Petco Park is going to be a fun place tomorrow night. Go USA!
Tim Tebow's baseball silliness continues. Tebow did record a base hit on Monday, raising his batting average to .100 this spring. Say what you will about him – there is no denying the guy leaves all he has to offer on the field. Too bad it won’t be at Citi Field.
ESPN personality and Northwestern alum Michael Wilbon spoke at a rally for Wildcats fans before yesterday’s game. He took some shots at Vanderbilt alum and FS1 host Skip Bayless, who proudly picked the Commodores to “drop anchor on Northwestern’s fairy tale.” Wilbon told him to shut up. I second that motion. We know about Skip’s lack of perspective, just listen to him go on and on about the Cowboys.
In about a month, people are going to get fired. Those people are NHL coaches. GM Ray Shero brought Devils head coach John Hynes over from the Penguins organization two years ago and has given him next to zero help with a very bad roster. And that’s not even Shero’s fault — Lou Lamoriello scorched the earth before leaving. No new coach is coming to New Jersey next year and getting a playoff spot out of that roster.
Today kicks off the most intense, compelling and unpredictable four-day stretch in all of sports. We’ll hear the familiar voices of Ernie Johnson, Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz. We’ll fondly recall the late Craig Sager, who never failed to flash a suit repurposed from a Brady Bunch episode, and we’ll welcome the laughable commentary from Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. We will review or brackets over and over. Sixty-four teams will enter the ring but only sixteen will emerge. And from that Sweet Sixteen will rise a champion. It’s March Madness!!
Yes. For the next 4 days your remote will get a work out and certainly be worth the monthly rental fee you donate to your local cable monopoly. CBS, TNT, Turner and TruTV, bring you hours and hours of live coverage. If your stuck at work, don’t panic, the NCAA, Apple and Google and a host of others have your back. Every game will be streamed live via the NCAA March Madness Live mobile app. Yeah, there is an app for everything!
Did you know the phrase “March Madness” was first coined in connection with the tournament which started in 1939 by sportscaster Brent Musburger back in 1982? Or, no bottom seed has ever unseated a top seed in the first round? Or, only one time, in 2008, all four No. 1 seeds -Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, and Memphis - locked horns in the Final Four?
The beer will flow and too much wings and pizza (pizza orders increase by 19%.) will be consumed and as each big dramatic basket is made, you’ll look at your bracket wishing you made a different choice, as you realize your chances of winning the office tournament pool are dwindling away.
Bold first-round bracket upsets or Final Four long-shots can make you look like the Amazing Kreskin or just an amazing bonehead. But that won’t stop you from trying. By the way, The chances of picking a perfect bracket are virtually impossible. You have a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of getting it perfect. So hurry up and finish that bracket, and use a pencil with an eraser, your gonna need it. Let the games begin.
Not sure if you tuned in to watch the World Baseball Classic, but I did. In fact, for the first time since they have been running this tournament (since 2006), I have watch several games, including the USA – Dominican Republic game, and it was great. Great for the baseball fan, not great if you’re rooting for the USA. They blew a 5-0 lead, only to lose 7-5. Bad loss, great game.
While the WBC It isn’t at an ideal time of year, isn’t on a marquee television network, isn’t beloved by MLB executives with tangible sway over players’ decisions to participate, the WBC is exciting. It is dramatic, and it is important to those who do choose to play. The World Baseball Classic is capable of conjuring up atmospheres of which regular-season games couldn’t dream and to which postseason games aspire. The World Baseball Classic is a canvas for perhaps the sport’s greatest quality – an ability of teams with lesser talent not only to compete but actually beat superior ones – to manifest itself via Cinderellas worthy of the month in which it’s played. The World Baseball Classic is representative of the sport’s evolution from America’s pastime to one shared by enough of the world that national pride matters. Above all, the World Baseball Classic is fun, and for a die in the wool baseball fan like me, it’s almost real baseball while MLB is playing games that don’t count.
As I mentioned previously, it isn’t perfect. Especially with all the wacky tie breaking rules and it’s failure to communicate them to teams correctly. Just ask the Mexican team who did not get to play a tie-breaker qualifying game. It was a heartbreaking way to be eliminated based on a hundredth of a run. Crazy rule, they should have played a game.
Sunday marked the end of the WBC’s first round, and calling it anything less than a rousing success would be criminal. After a week of upsets, comebacks, passion, highlights – of the Dominican Republic turning Miami into a party with all it’s MLB all-stars, Israel turning Asia into its playground and the other 14 teams turning the fourth incarnation of the tournament into a legitimate event – the quibbles felt petty. It typically takes 10 months into a year to witness baseball at this level. Getting a megadose in the third month is downright indulgent.
Eight teams have advanced, including the USA and the DR, who are in the same 2nd round bracket in San Diego. These two teams will most probably face off again and you can expect another rollicking good time.
If your a true baseball fan I suggest you tune in. I know I’ll be watching. Heck, I've watched all 9 innings of several WBC games. Haven't watched 9 innings of a single Spring Training game. The WBC must be doing something right.
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It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other INTERESTING, stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.