On to the Series

Carlos Santana reacts to making the final out to send the Cleveland Indians to their 1st World Series Appearance since 1997
Carlos Santana reacts to the final out of the ALCS

The 2016 season has been a bumpy ride for the Cleveland Indians, but thanks to their manager and their team chemistry the Tribe have reached the World Series.

The biggest part of this team has been the decision making skills of manager Terry Francona. Tito has had plenty of experience in these high pressure situations and it has shown, most importantly when it comes to pitching decisions.

In Game three the Indians started Trevor Bauer, however after two thirds of an inning his stitches had ripped out and he was unable to continue. Tito spent the next 8 1/3 innings putting his best relief pitchers through more innings than most would be use to, however they answered the call by only allowing two runs on seven hits.

One of the most surprising, but important decisions of Game 3 came in the 7th inning when Francona brought in closer Cody Allen to help get the Tribe out of a tough inning. Not only was Allen able to get out of that inning, but he also got the first two outs of the eighth inning as well.

One of the biggest reasons that the Indians are headed to the World Series is the play of Andrew Miller. The righty was acquired by the Tribe at the trade deadline, and has proved to be a major piece of the puzzle for the team. He was awarded the ALCS MVP award, but promptly told everyone that he did not deserve it, and that the team around him was the reason he was able to accomplish what he did.

While Game 3 was a fantastic example of Terry Francona’s genius from the dugout, the Game 5 performance of young Ryan Merritt was something that can help the team throughout the next round. Before the game Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said that Merritt would be “shaking in his boots” when he took the mound at Rogers Centre on Wednesday evening. The opposite occurred as the young lefty threw 4 1/3 shutout innings before handing the game off to the rock-star bullpen. With unproven players like Merritt, only one major league start before Wednesday, showing that they can step into the spotlight when needed, the Tribe look poised to give their next opponent a difficult test.

It may be team chemistry and it may have a little to do with the man calling the shots, but there is one thing for sure, the underdogs are still among the teams that have a shot at bringing home the title. Their opposition will easily be the favorites in this upcoming series, but that has not seemed to mind the Indians before, and it should not bother them now.

Welcome to October

In most cases it took 162 games to decide who was worthy of battling for post-season glory. For the San Francisco Giants and the Toronto Blue Jays it took an extra game to decide who would have the right to face each conferences number 1 seed. Now it is time for the real games to begin!

In the National League we have two matchups that have the potential to be straight pitching duels.

San Francisco Giants v. Chicago Cubs

This matchup pits the best team in baseball against the team that has won the World Series in the past 3 even years. The Cubs had the best pitching staff in baseball. Led by aces Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, Chicago was first in the league in ERA(earned runs average), Opp. BA(opponents batting average), and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). They were assisted by a lineup that was in the top 5 of the league in both runs scored and OBS (on base percentage). This combination of pitching and hitting led the Cubs to win 103 games.

Their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, had to rely on the Wild Card game to gain entry to the playoffs and therefore will not be able to count on a game 1 performance from ace Madison Bumgarner. This season, the Giants have counted on their pitching staff, who was 4th in baseball in ERA and WHIP. Where the Giants will struggle is at the plate. They were middle of the league in all hitting stats this year.

Because of the large difference in quality of these teams, the Chicago Cubs are the easy choice to move on to the NLCS.

Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals

This series appears to be set up as another pitching duel. The Dodgers staff was 5th in ERA and 2nd in WHIP and Opp. BA. This was without having Clayton Kershaw for most of the season, but he is now back and looks ready to go for the post season run. On the other side of the field,  the Nationals pitchers were also top five in these three pitching stats this season. They are led by Max Scherzer and are looking to advance to the NLCS this year.

The other key component for these teams is hitting. Both teams are fairly even here as well. They spent the season being middle of the road at the plate, which makes this series likely to be dominated by pitching.

In the end, the Dodgers will be able to prevail as they have a deeper rotation to call on and that will allow their stars to be more sharp when they are called upon.

In the American League there are two vastly different series. The Toronto Texas series appears to be more of an uneven series, while the Boston Cleveland series seems to be evenly matched between the two teams.

Toronto Blue Jays v. Texas Rangers 

This series is not going to be a matchup of top pitching staffs. The Rangers were in the bottom 1/3 of the MLB. On the other hand,  the Jays are top 5 in pitching this year.

When it comes to performance at the plate, both teams rank in the top 10 in most categories.  Because of this, there is no edge at the plate due to the reliance on power hitters by both teams.

Despite having to play in through the Wild Card game, the Toronto Blue Jays will be successful in this series as they are the more well rounded team. Their pitching strength will help them keep the Rangers off the board, while their bats will give them a lead to work with. This series will be worth some extra attention not only because of the caliber of teams that are playing, but also because of their history. Earlier this year these teams had a brawl in their final meeting, which led to quite a few susensions, but also seemed to spark the Rangers to get to this point.

Cleveland Indians v. Boston Red Sox

This series features two teams with top tier pitching talent. Both of these staffs were inside the top 10 in ERA, WHIP and Opp. BA throughout the course of the 2016 season. With that being said, the Red Sox have the edge here since the Indians have two of their top pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, out for the rest of the year.

With the Tribe losing the edge in pitching, they will also be behind the eight ball at the plate as Boston was 1st in the MLB in runs scored, BA, OBS, and Slugging percentage. The Indians were not too far behind, placing in the top ten for each stat, however if they can not get runners on base then the most aggressive base running team in the majors will not be able to get runners in good position to score enough runs to beat Boston.

In the end Boston will come out of this series victorious due to the fact that the Indians have a weakened rotation and have been less successful at the plate than the Red Sox have been this year.

Positives from a Negative

Cody Kessler steps into through with defenders bearing down on him

As week three comes to an end tonight with the Falcons, Saints rivalry game, there are some teams that look set up for success this season and there are some that appear set for another miserable year. Among the teams in the second category are perennial cellar dwellers, the Cleveland Browns. With that being said, there are some positive things with this edition of the Browns.

The first thing is the balance they have found on offense. Through three weeks they average 144.7 yards per game, which is 4th in the NFL. These yards are not just coming from handing the ball off a million times as they actually rank 2nd in the league with 5.7 yards per attempt. One thing that crippled the Browns last year was their inability to run the ball, but with this new, more experienced coaching staff in place it appears that the balance is back on this side of the ball.

Another positive from the early part of the year has been the development of ex-QB Terrelle Pryor. His size and speed were something that the receiving corps lacked last season. He worked had during the offseason to become as sure-handed as possible in order to be a top notch wideout. This was on full effect yesterday as he caught 8 passes for 144 yards against the Dolphins. That is not where his usefulness ended, as he also went 3-5 for 35 yards passing and ran for another 21 yards on 4 carries. He even played one down at safety at the end of the first half. With versatility like that, Pryor is easily one of the most dangerous players on the team.

The final positive on the offensive side of the ball came from the position with the most change already this season. Number 26 on the QB list, aka Cody Kessler, made his first career start as the

Cody Kessler calmly delivers the ball while under pressure from Dolphins defender Andre Branch

different third player to start a game under center this year. Despite this a shaky offensive line that got him pummeled almost every down, he looked calm in the pocket and took care of the ball well after his early fumble. If he can continue to withstand the hits that he will be taking then he could develop into a solid QB at a position of much turmoil for the franchise.


On the defensive side of the ball there was one really big positive. Even without star corner Joe Haden the team was able to force three turnovers and even score a touchdown. This is due in part to the lay of rookie Emmanuel Ogbah. The Oklahoma State product was in the backfield on multiple occasions and overall looked solid throughout the game. In about a month, when preseason and weeks 1 and 2 star Carl Nassib comes back from a broken hand, this will be a strong pass rush.

As the season goes on the Browns players should continue to build on these things and hopefully it will lead to some wins down the line. Under the tutelage of Hue Jackson this is likely to continue as he has experience with keeping players motivated despite shaky play.

O’er The Land of the Free

Week three of the NFL preseason always brings a lot of drama as it is the final time fringe players have to impress the coaching staff before the first round of roster cuts are made. However, that was not the main storyline that came out of this slate of games, in fact it was about a player who may not even be the starting quarterback for his team come week 1.

On week 3 San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was spotted not standing during the national anthem. The media immediately began ripping him apart for it. The interesting part is, where were all these critics during the first two games of the preseason? He was sitting during the national anthem then.

For the final week of the preseason the 49ers played in San Diego, who just happened to be holding Military Appreciation night. Kaepernick came onto the field to a chorus of boos, but held firm in his belief that he would sit for the anthem. This week was different for the onetime star quarterback as he was not the only one sitting in protest. Joined be teammate Eric Reid and Seattle defensive back Jeremy Lane, Kaepernick should now have the courage to remain sitting the rest of the season, unless of course the 49ers cut him which could be a possibility thanks in part to the lackluster performances he has turned in the past couple of seasons.

All in all this is just about as big a non-story as you will find out there for two reasons. The first is that the NFL does not mandate players stand during the pledge, so he will get no punishment from the league. The second is that he is using his first amendment rights that are one of the pillars our country was created on. So many brave men and women have died to protect our freedoms and all of a sudden people want to take these away from certain individuals just because thy don’t agree with them. This is the United States of America for heavans sakes, “The land of the FREE“. It is about time we acted like everyone has these rights instead of just those people that benefit us.

2016-17 Premier League Predictions

premier league logo

The day is August 12th, the year 2016. The year of the fairytale has come to an end and in just one day’s time the roller coaster ride that is the Premier League season will be underway. For many fans this is an exciting time of year that is full of promise especially after last year’s success for Leicester City which proved that anyone has a shot at lifting the trophy if they make pull the right strings. Will anyone there be another shock at the end of the season or will one of the perennial powers walk away with another trophy?

Starting from the bottom of the table these are my picks for the 2016-2017 Premier League season.


20- Hull City

With only a few weeks left before the season started Manager Steve Bruce resigned after being overlooked for the England Managerial position which left the team in a bit of a bind. Not only did the team lose it’s manager, but it has yet to make a significant signing which will make it hard for the club to stay up this season.

19- Burnley

Last season’s second tier Champions will struggle to replicate the same success this year as they have yet to make a top midfield signing to replace their leader Joey Barton who left the club for Celtic. The team under Sean Dyche plays very defensively which is the same way it favored during the 2014-15 season which saw the club relegated back to the second tier. Even with the goal scoring prowess of Andre Gray, this season will end the same way that year did with Burnley unlikely to avoid a quick return  trip to the Championship.

18-West Bromwich Albion

Last season ended with the Baggies stumbling across the finish line with three losses and two draws in their final five matches. As of right now the team has held on to promising young striker Saido Berahino and he will be the team’s key player as they look to avoid the drop. However with the lack of signings the club will find themselves on the wrong side of the relegation dogfight at the end of the season and back in the Football League Championship for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Safe From Relegation

17- Swansea City

This season will be a struggle for the Welsh club as they look to avoid taking the plunge back to the second division in English Football. After selling two of their better players from last season in Centre back Ashley Williams and forward Andre Ayew the club is turning the team over to some younger players like Mike van der Hoorn and Borja Baston who were brought in to help usher the team to higher levels. In the end these players will take some time to adapt to the style of play in the Premier League, but they will figure it out in enough time to save the season and live to fight for at least one more season in the English top flight.

16- Sunderland

This season will be an adventure for the Black Cats as they have another new manager this season after Sam Allardyce left to take charge of the English national team. Replacing Big Sam at the Stadium of Light is veteran Premier League manager David Moyes. He has experience at Everton and Manchester United and will give the team strong leadership that will see them stay up. Since being announced only a couple of weeks ago the team has solidified their defense with the signings of Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea and Paddy McNair from Manchester United. He also landed left midfield player Adnan Januzaj who excelled when Moyes was in charge at United but has struggled to find playing time since. With all this Sunderland will still be involved in the relegation dogfight, but not as much as in previous seasons.

15- Crystal Palace

This season will likely be similar to last year as the North London club has made one key signing in winger Andros Townsend, but are in need of a new defender and striker before they can challenge for a top ten finish. After spending most of the summer linked to Liverpool striker Christian Benteke there is still no deal in place, however if they can land the Belgian their season could finish better than this. For now it appears they should be solidly safe as a mid-table club.

14- Middlesbrough

The final of the newly promoted sides has had a much better summer than their counterparts Burnley and Hull. Signing veteran striker Negredo on loan and promising forward Viktor Fischer will help lead the line for the team, while signing former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes and American Brad Guzan to lead from the back the team looks to have made the right moves to make their stay in the top flight last longer than one season.

13- AFC Bournemouth

After finishing the season in poor form, the team has a healthy Callum Wilson at striker and last season’s record signing Max Gradel on the wing so they can almost be counted as new signings from last year. They added winger Jordan Ibe from Liverpool to help complete their front three while bringing Leeds youngster Lewis Cook in to bring some depth to the midfield. This along with the continuity among the staff will help the club achieve a better finish this year.

12- Southampton

One team that will be a disappointment this year is Southampton. After finishing 6th last season the Saints let three of their top players leave this summer and they will all be missed this season. However they may be in better shape for the future as they spent the money on some top young players this season. They still have a solid team, but with a new manager they will struggle to make the top ten this season and ultimately fail and finish 12th.

11- Stoke City

A 9th place finish season last year was a good result for a team that works hard for manager Mark Hughes. Hughes solidified the midfield by bringing in Welsh star Joe Allen to fight for a position in the side. A similar season appears on the cards for the Potters as they really have not improved in any position from last year.

10- Watford

One of last year’s newcomers Watford avoided the drop with a 13th place finish. Their acquisition of young attackers Isaac Success and Jerome Sinclair will allow them to rest stars Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney in some of the cup competitions which will leave them fresher for league games. This will help propel the team to their first ever top ten finish in the Premier League.

9- Everton

Last season’s 11th place team has managed to hang on to star man Romelu Lukaku and brought in new manager Ronald Koeman who has had previous success with Southampton the last two years. Despite not bringing in a new keeper, Everton still has a solid back line and managed to replace John Stones, who had yet to break into the starting 11, with Swansea captain Ashley Williams to challenge for a spot in Koeman’s back four.

8- Leicester City

Last season’s fairytale champion’s will come to a crash landing this season as they add another competition to the schedule. The team lost the engine of their midfield when N’Golo Kante signed for Chelsea after the Euros. However the team has brought in  some solid payers, but the fact that the team is not deep enough means that a grueling schedule will leave the reigning champions with too much ground to make up in the latter stages of the season leaving them just outside of European competition for next year.

7- West Ham United

A very well balanced side that has improved in every way from last season except in their final placement on the table. Slaven Bilic’s side will challenge for an automatic Europe spot but ultimately fall short, although cup competition success could be a possibility for the Hammers. They will ultimately finish 7th again this season.

6- Liverpool

The first full season under Jurgen Klopp will feature a side with more confidence offensively especially with the signing of Georginio Wijanaldum joining with their creative players. The focus will be on defense which looks to feature newcomer Joel Matip in place of the departed Martin Skirtel, but new keeper Lorius Karius will miss the beginning of the season after breaking a hand which will place the success of the team in the unsure hands of Simon Mignolet. That will be enough to keep Liverpool out of the top five at the end of the year.

Automatic European Qualifiers

5- Tottenham

Last season’s third place finisher is due for a little drop this year as some of the top team’s are back with improved rosters, while Spurs only brought in a backup striker and a defensive minded midfielder who may not be able to break into the Mauricio Pochettino’s league starting 11. That along with having to add Champions League fixtures to the schedule will leave the North London just outside the top 4 when al is said and done.

4- Manchester United

He’s back! No I am not talking about Paul Pogba, I am referring to  Manager Jose Mourinho, who after a disastrous first half of last season at Chelsea is back in the Premier League with Manchester United. While he has spent a boatload of money on players, his preference to have a small squad will bite this team in the butt as he has quite a few players that find themselves injured just as much as they are healthy. This will leave the team in the top four which will qualify them for the playoff rounds of the 2017-18 Champions League.

3- Chelsea

After a disappointing season new manager Antonio Conte will look to change the formation of the team. He has brought in Leicester engine N’Golo Kante who looks to be a key piece in the middle of the Blues 4-2-4 formation. New signing Michy Batshuayi should push striker Diego Costa and fill in nicely when the Spaniard is unavailable through injury or suspension. This should see Chelsea return to the Champions League after a season without European competition.

2- Arsenal

This season should see Arsenal finish in a very familiar position after failing to bring in a striker for yet another season. They did address the issue at holding midfield by signing Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach. They will start the season with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding as their only centre backs, however if they can weather the storm then they will finish near the top in what could be Arsene Wenger’s final campaign with the Gunners.


1- Manchester City

At the end of the season there is one team that has improved even more than the rest of the competition and that is Manchester City. They replaced solid manager Manuel Pellegrini with world class manager Pep Guardiola. A flurry of top signings will see the Citizens celebrating another title as they have a manager and the depth to be successful in all the competitions they will be participating in.



Going For Gold

USWNT Olympics

The site of the final group match for the USWNT took place in the Brazilian city of Manaus. After their 1-0 victory over France in Belo Horizonte on Saturday the team was assured of a place in the quarterfinals of the Olympic soccer tournament. Needing only a draw to win the group, manager Jill Ellis had ability to rest some of her more important players to ensure they were as fresh as possible for the next round.

The match against Columbia took place without five of the usual starters. Defenders Julie Johnston, and  Meghan Klingenberg, midfielders Tobin Heath, Allie Long, and forward Alex Morgan were all rested for parts of the match, although Long and Morgan made appearances in the second half. In their place were Whitney Engen, Ali Krieger, Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, and Christen Press.

The early part of the game was spent in the Columbian’s defensive half until a rash challenge by Megan Rapinoe brought a free kick just outside the American 18 yard box. Columbia capitalized on this opportunity by putting the ball between Hope Solo’s legs and into the back of the net to give Columbia their first ever goal in the Olympics as well as their first goal against the United States.

Less than 10 minutes later Rapinoe was taken off in a pre-planned substitution and 18-year-old Mallory Pugh was put into the match. With her ability to play both wings, Pugh was able to interchange with Chrystal Dunn to cause some extra confusion for the Columbian defense. This confusion led to Dunn’s goal where she was left unmarked on the back post after a shot by Carli Lloyd ricochet into the 6-yard box. The American’s found this equalizer mere minutes before halftime to give some hope to the team going into the break.

Out of the locker-room Jill Ellis made her second of three subs by taking captain Carli Lloyd off in favor of forward Alex Morgan. This helped the team pile on the pressure which was eventually capped off when Dunn sent in a cross from the left side. First half sub Mallory Pugh found herself on the ball before she cut along the top of the 6-yard box and fired home the go-ahead goal. With that goal she became the youngest player in USWNT history to score at the Olympics.

The rest of the game featured mostly possession by the Americans, with a few counter-attacking opportunities for the Columbians. In the 90th minute Kelley O’Hara made a reckless tackle deep in the defensive half which led to another dangerous free kick opportunity for Columbia. When the ball was struck, Solo appeared to be cheating towards a cross rather than a shot and that led to her being out of position as she watched the ball sail into the net for a late equalizer.

Despite Hope Solo’s shocking struggles, missed opportunities were the biggest story of the game as the Americans had countless chances in the offensive zone that resulted in goal kicks and one could wonder how different the outcome would have been if some of those chances had been put home. In the end it did not matter as the Americans are through to the Quarterfinals as the champions of their group.

The Superstar Treatment

Is the “Star Treatment” a real thing? The answer is yes and no where is it more prevalent than in the NBA. This was proved yet again today by the decision not to suspend Draymond Green for his actions Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

During game three of the Western Conference Finals for the NBA there was a moment provided by one Warriors star that had the NBA community up in arms. Draymond Green went up for a layup, however he was stripped of the ball on the way up and then he became the top story of the day. When he reached the top of his jump he kicked out his leg and struck the groin area of Thunder center Stephen Adams. It was enough for the officials to give Green a Flagrant 1 foul for his actions. The next evening the NBA decided that they were upgrading the foul to a Flagrant 2 but they would not suspend the Warriors star for game four of the WCF.

This incident occurred mere hours after the NBA announced they were suspending Cavaliers reserve player Dahntay Jones one game for striking Bismark Biyombo in the groin area the night before in Toronto. Jones did not receive a foul on the play but did draw the attention of Raptors coach Dwane Casey who was fined for his post-game comments about the officials and more specifically about the play that left his big man crumpled on the ground.

Now both of these incidents involved a strike to the groin from one player to another and should therefore be treated the same, right? Wrong, the NBA was too worried about the quality of the WCF game four to let a star like Draymond Green miss the game, but who would notice if a reserve like Dahntay Jones missed game four in the East. However it should not matter how good or popular a player is when determining their punishment for their actions. If one player does something that deserves a suspension and then another player does a similar thing then they should be punished similarly. However on Monday May 23, 2016 the NBA decided that that is not how punishment works. They decided that an actual punishment on the player would result in punishment for the teammates of Green and fans of the Warriors, but what about the teammates and fans of Dahntay Jones and fans of the Cavaliers?

Giving the suspension to Green would force him to think about the consequences of his actions next time he gets mad about being stripped of the ball. He may not realize it but a lot of young players look up to him an idol. Kids are easily impressionable, especially when it comes to watching their idols and seeing him not have to face the punishment for kicking another player in the groin could be an extremely bad example for young kids.

Was giving Dahntay Jones a suspension for his actions warranted, yes. Was Green deserving of a similar penalty for his actions, yes. That is how you prove that stars are just like everyone else.

NFL Draft Day 1 Grades

The first round is over. There were some fans that should be happy and there are othersome that should be scratching their heads. There were not a whole lot of surprises but there were quite a few trades.

Pick #1.  LA Rams – A

On April 14th the Titans traded the 1st overall pick to the newlyrics relocated LA Rams. With this selection they selected Quarterback Jared Goff out of the University of California. The team has some issues but quarterback is on the list.  Jeff Fisher has not had a true #1 QB while with the Rams and this could be his chance.

Pick #2.  Philadelphia Eagles – B

On April 20th the Eagles traded with the Browns to move up to this pick. They selected Carson Wentz, QB out of North Dakota State University. Wentz is a player that knows how to win and has the potential to be a #1 QB in the NFL. Sam Bradford has not shown he is capable of being a true #1 QB so this pick know makes sense.

Pick #3. San Diego Chargers – A

The first team to pick in their assigned position was the Chargers. They selected pass rusher Joey Bosa out of Ohio State. This is not the best pick for the team, they needed an offensive lineman to help protect veteran QB Phillip Rivers. However in this pass happy league landing a talent like Bosa is not a bad decision.

Pick #4 Dallas Cowboys – C

The Cowboys selected running back Ezekiel Elliot out of Ohio State. Running backs are almost a dime a dozen especially when you have the caliber offensive line that the Cowboys have. With the holes in their defense that should have been a place they looked at for this pick. That being said, Elliot has the potential to be a difference maker and could fit in well with this team.

Pick #5 Jacksonville Jaguars – A

This was one of the best choices this team could have made. Jalen Ramsey is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball and will help to make thus a formidable defense for years to come. The only worry should be if the team struggles because he has not been in a situation of losing a few games in a row before.

Pick #6 Baltimore Ravens – A

The Ravens selected Ronnie Stanley, Offensive tackle out of Notre Dame. This was a fantastic pick for the Ravens because they really need help along their offensive line. Since the team lost Eugene Monroe it has been a revolving door at that position and this pick should end that pattern.

Pick #7 San Francisco  49ers – A

The 49ers selected DeForest Buckner, Defensive end out of Oregon. This selection gives the team a real replacement for Alex Smith who retired at the end of the 2014 season. He also played with last years first round pick Arik Armstead on the 2014 Oregon National Championship runner up defensive line.

Pick #8 Tennessee Titans – A

This pick was passed around quite a few times before it ended up with the Titans. It went from Miami, to Philly, to Cleveland, before ending up with the Titans. With this pick the Titans selected Offensive tackle Jack Conklin from Michigan State. This pick will help solidify the protection for last year’s top pick Marcus Mariota.

Pick #9 Chicago Bears – D

With the first major reach of the draft the Bears selected pass rusher Leonard Floyd out of the University of Georgia. He may be tall but he is not built big enough to bully his was through an offensive line. However he should fit well opposite McPhee in the linebacking core if they play him there. He may not have been worth giving up an extra pick in what is considered to be a deep draft.

Pick #10 New York Giants – B

The Giants selected the third best corner in the draft, Eli Apple out of Ohio State. They play in a division with Dez Bryant and with the league being so focused on passing the third corner is now an important position. He may not be better than Hargreaves but he will still be a good player for the Giants defense.

Pick #11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A

The Bucs selected DB Vernon Hargreaves from nearby Florida to help solidify their defensive backfield. They were also able to trade back and acquire another pick in a deep draft. This pick, if used wisely, could help set the team up for future success.

Pick #12 New Orleans Saints – A

The Saints selected Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle out of Louisville. This is a great pick for the team that has not had a good interior pass rush for a few years now. He is going to have to prove that he can stop the run, but with his physicality and size he should be able to do this.

Pick #13 Miami Dolphins – B

At the beginning of the day if Miami had landed Laremy Tunsil here then I would have considered it a steal. Only 15 minutes before the draft started a video was posted to his twitter account that showed him smoking something out of a pipe. He has all of the physical tools to be a great player but does he have the brain power to stay out of trouble will be something to keep an eye on.

Pick #14 Oakland Raiders – C

The Raiders used their first pick on safety Karl Joseph from West Virginia. He could turn into a good player but he is coming off a knee injury that saw him miss all but 4 games last season. When healthy he is the type of player that could replace Charles Woodson, but that is only if he can stay healthy.

Pick #15 Cleveland Browns – B

This is not only because of the pick of Coleman, who was the nations top receiver last year, but also because of the picks the team was able to amass by trading down twice. Coleman should add some speed and talent to the barren wide receiver corps of the Browns and with this veteran coaching staff he should be in good hands to be successful.

Pick #16 Detroit Lions – D

The Lions selected Taylor Decker, offensive tackle out of Ohio State. Protecting the QB is an important thing for a team to do and Decker will do a fine job of that but there are bigger needs on this team. Calvin Johnson retired at the end of last season and that left the team without a number 1 receiver. Drafting someone like Laquan Treadwell or Josh Doctson would have been perfect in this spot.

Pick #17 Atlanta Falcons – B

Keanu Neal, safety out of Florida, was the pick for the Falcons. He can play linebacker and considering this is a major need for the team and he can also provide a playmaker for the team.

Pick #18 Indianapolis Colts – A

The Colts went for the best possible choice at a position of extreme need when the selected center Ryan Kelly out of Alabama. Protecting Andrew Luck was an issue last year that ended up with Luck missing a lot of the season.

Pick #19 Buffalo Bills – A

The team was one of the worst in the league when it came to rushing the passer last season. Shaq Lawson out of Clemson should be a great solution to this pass rushing issue and he will fit in for Mario Williams who left in free agency.

Pick #20 New York Jets – A

With this selection the Jets took Ohio State Linebacker Darron Lee. The team has lacked a little of the outside pass rush and linebacker pass coverage in recent years and Lee would fit both of those situations perfectly.

Pick #21 Houston Texans – B

The Redskins traded this pick to Houston on draft night and the Texans took Wide Receiver Will Fuller from Notre Dame. He is a deep threat with blazing speed. He has had issues running tight routes but that is going to be more of DeAndre Hopkins’ area anyway.

Pick #22 Washington Redskins – A

The ‘Skins kept the wideouts running off the board by selecting Josh Doctson from TCU. He has been considered to be the best receiver of the draft and the team will need him to prove that in a few years. Until then he can mature and learn the pro game behind veterans Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

Pick #23 Minnesota Vikings – A

The Vikings gave quarterback Teddy Bridgewater his first big target. They drafted big, physical receiver Laquon Treadwell from Mississippi. He is a steal at this point in the draft and should provide the strong game that the Vikings need to open their new stadium.

Pick #24 Cincinnati Bengals – D

The Bengals took yet another DB in the first round when they selected William Jackson III out of Houston. They completely ignored the issues in the offensive line and wide receiver positions. Maybe this one will actually prove he should be worth this high of a pick.

Pick #25 Pittsburg Steelers – B

They needed a strong DB after being burned by players like AJ Green consistently. They got a solid one in Artie Burns from Miami. At 6′ he has the length to compete with the big recievers in the NFL.

Pick #26 Denver Broncos – A

Elway drafted Osweiler 2.0 when he moved up five spots and selected Paxton Lynch from Memphis. He has similar size but is considered to be a better athlete than Osweiler is. Lynch will be able to develop behind Mark Sanchez and when he is put in he wont have to shoulder the load thanks to the strong defense already in place.

Pick #27 Green Bay Packers – A

The team spent their first pick on Defensive lineman Kenny Clark from UCLA. The Packers are hoping that he can fill the void that was left when BJ Raji retired after the season. He should be able to accomplish that.

Pick #28 49ers – A

After trading back into the first round the 49ers may have found their replacement for newly departed Alex Boone. The team drafted Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett. He should be able to help not only in the running game, but also to protect whichever QB coach Kelly decides to run with this season.

Pick #29 Arizona Cardinals – B

In Robert Nkemdiche, defensive lineman from Mississippi, the Cardinals have an extreme talent. However there are just as many character questions when it comes to Nkemdiche who was arrested in December for a substance violation and also had an assault charge dropped against him. If the Cardinals can keep him on the field then he could prove to be the steal of the first round.

Pick #30 Carolina Panthers – C

The Panthers chose DT Vernon Butler from Louisiana Tech. This may not have been the best use of this pick with there still being a need at wide receiver on the team. The defensive line is one of the deepest positions on the team so it will be difficult to see Butler get playing time in the near future.

Pick #31 Seattle Seahawks – A

The line from their Super Bowl winning team is completely gone so by picking offensive lineman Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M the team makes the first real steps at fixing the issue. It may take a couple of years to completely fix but Ifedi has the tools and the coaching staff to become the cornerstone of the line.

On The Brink

As the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starts to reach a boiling point. There is strong possibility that there will be a Western Conference Champion not hailing from Chicago or Los Angeles for the first time since 2011. This is one of the many surprises that has emerged out of the playoffs so far.

The Blackhawks and the Kings both face the second hardest tasks possible to advance. They must come back from 3-1 deficits in order to keep their hopes alive. While there are other teams that are down 3-1, the Flyers and the Red Wings, these two teams are a big surprise as many people had them progressing far in the playoffs. Tonight is going to be interesting because there is the possibility that the defending champion Blackhawks could be eliminated.

The other two huge games tonight are the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings game as well Pittsburg Penguins and the New York Rangers game. The Lightning could eliminate the Red Wings tonight and with a win the Penguins could have a strangle hold 3-1 lead on the Rangers in their series.

In the final game today the Nashville Predators have a chance to take a 3-1 lead over the Anaheim Ducks. This could be interesting especially if the Ducks cant find a way to stop Predators star Flip Forsberg from scoring.


Greatest of a Generation?

kobe farewell

As the NBA regular season ended last night so did the career of possibly the greatest player of the last generation of players. Kobe Bryant announced before the season that this would be his last in the league. The season had a shaky start leaving many, including myself, wondering if he should have retired last year. In the end, April 13, 2016 is a day many basketball fans will remember for a while. Not only did the Golden State Warriors break the record of the 95-96 Chicago Bulls for most wins in a season, the league recognized the culmination of one of its greatest global ambassadors. Kobe Bryant’s popularity was not just in the United States, it was worldwide. He is known to be a friend with many of the players on one of European soccer’s best teams, FC Barcelona, as well as running camps and exibitions in places in Asia including basketball crazed China.  While it would have been great to see Kobe in the playoffs one last time, the ending was certainly done the only way the Black Mamba knows how.

The Lakers finished out their regular season at home against the Utah Jazz. Watching the pregame activities on ESPN had me wondering just how emotional Bryant would be during the game. From Magic Johnson calling him the greatest Laker to ever live, to the video put together from players, both past and present, and the lineup announcer saying many of his great accolades when announcing the lineups it was enough to leave me wondering just how well Bryant would be able to play with all of those emotions. He certainly did not disappoint. For twenty seasons he was most know for one thing on the court, his shooting. Last night, Bryant shot 22-50 for a grand total of 60 points! Even more shocking is that his final recorded stat in the NBA did not come from his own shot, but rather Kobe Bryant actually passed the ball and recorded an assist to close out his career.

Kobe Bryant had a career that was decorated with greatness. His career was actually bookended by two incredible seasons played by another team. His draft year was the year the Chicago Bulls won 72 games and set the record for most wins in the regular season. Now in his final season, the Golden State Warriors finished their season by breaking many records including that record of most wins in a season.