MLB Predictions By Division

AMERICAN LEAGUE

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East

  1. Boston Red Sox             GB: –
  2. New York Yankees        GB: 2
  3. Tampa Bay Rays            GB: 5
  4. Baltimore Orioles          GB: 10
  5. Toronto Blue Jays         GB: 20

Central

  1. Detroit Tigers                  GB: –
  2. Cleveland Indians          GB: 3
  3. Chicago White Sox         GB: 12
  4. Kansas City Royals         GB: 22
  5. Minnesota Twins            GB: 30

West

  1. Texas Rangers                 GB: –
  2. Oakland Athletics           GB: 1
  3. Los Angeles Angels        GB: 3
  4. Seattle Mariners             GB: 7
  5. Houston Astros               GB: 25

NATIONAL LEAGUE

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East

  1. Washington Nationals   GB: –
  2. Atlanta Braves                 GB: 1
  3. Philadelphia Phillies      GB: 15
  4. New York Mets                GB: 23
  5. Miami Marlins                 GB: 30

Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals         GB: –
  2. Cincinnati Reds              GB: 1
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates          GB: 2
  4. Chicago Cubs                   GB: 13
  5. Milwaukee Brewers        GB: 21

West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers      GB: –
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks  GB: 9
  3. San Francisco Giants      GB: 11
  4. Colorado Rockies             GB:14
  5. San Diego Padres             GB:19

 

The King vs. The Greatest Ever

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Who’s better: LeBron James or Michael Jordan?  We’ve all heard this argument and just like everyone else, I’m tired of hearing it debated.  We’ve all heard the argument that LeBron isn’t better because he has help in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  But any true Jordan fan can’t forget the fact that Michael had Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.  With all these poor arguments being made, it’s time to put all the argument to rest as to why LeBron James will never be better than Michael Jordan.

What Jordan did was groundbreaking.  Sure there have always been great players such as Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Magic Johnson, but none of those players brought as much to the game as Michael Jordan did.  Aside from being one of the best players ever, Jordan, along with David Stern, turned the NBA into a globally recognized game.  When the Dream Team made their way around the world for the Olympics, Jordan was the main attraction as they won gold in 1993.  But why would he be the main attraction when the game wasn’t as globalized yet?  On paper Jordan is one of the greats but what makes him the greatest ever is the flash and skill he had.  The Russells and the Chamberlains of old were great but that was it.  Jordan was great because the way he competed, the way conducted himself on the court, and how he just buried opponents made people watching realize that he was different from every other player.  With the help of new technology, Jordan’s greatest plays were able to be seen all around the world and fans everywhere were able to see his greatest plays to date over and over again.

Why will LeBron James never be as great as Michael Jordan?  Simply because he came second.  If their places were reversed and LeBron James came at Jordan’s time and vise versa then James would be the greatest ever and Jordan would be left on the outside looking in.  James has done everything from a media and sponsorship standpoint that Jordan did and James continues to keep the NBA in the global market.  At his point in his career, James has almost all of the same accolades that Jordan had at the equivalent time as well.  But to no fault of his own, LeBron James will always be secondary because everything he will do will already be done already by either Jordan or one of the other greats.  Both players are extremely talented and helped shape the game into what it is today and they are almost interchangeable.

This will continue to be a problem for every great player that comes into the NBA for years and years to come because it will be very hard to forget what Michael Jordan brought to the NBA.  But why try to debate who was better when we can sit back and watch greatness happen live?  These debates will continue to happen but don’t forget to enjoy that LeBron, while he will never be greater than Jordan, is great in his own right and deserves to be appreciated all the same.

Picks For The Final Four

The board is set, teams are preparing, and fans everywhere are writing and scratching out picks made for March Madness.  Amongst all this mayhem, I’ll be providing my choices for the Final Four and the tournament winner.

FINAL FOUR

#1 Florida vs. #4 Michigan State: This game is going to be a hard nosed, gritty, tough it out type of game.  The Gators have been working 4 years for this chance behind seniors Scottie Wilbekin at the guard and forward Patric Young.  Patric Young is a physical specimen and has enough heart and energy to bring Florida fans back to the glory years of Joakim Noach and their back to back tourney championships.  Michigan State though is also very tough behind guard duo Gary Harris and Keith Appling and forward Adreian Payne.  Adreian Payne and Patric Young will almost cancel each other out in this game and it will come down to guard play.  Reigning SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin and the workhorse Gators will get it done and move on to the championship game.

#3 Creighton vs. #4 Louisville: Doug McDermott and Creighton have the ability to put some monster numbers up on the scoreboard and they’ll get it done in the tourney.  When they’re on their game, Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge just don’t seem to miss a basket.  Louisville on the other hand who unfairly was handed the #4 seed show the committee why they deserved a higher seed and move into the Final Four behind guard Russ Smith.  This game, unlike Florida and Michigan State, will be a shootout.  Both teams have the capability to put up big numbers and both will, but #4 Louisville moves on to the championship game to go for the back to back championships.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

#1 Florida vs. #4 Louisville: These polar opposite teams will battle it out in the NCAA Men’s Tournament.  Both teams have veteran strength and freshman flare, but the tough defense and the will to win that the Florida Gators have shown all season long puts them out on top in this nail-biter of a finish.  The Gators will lock down Russ Smith and breakaway at the end of the game to win their first championship since 2007.

NATIONAL CHAMPION: FLORIDA GATORS

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Why College Athletes Should Not Get Paid

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For decades, college athletes performed for their schools without the expectation of any reimbursement for their performances.  College athletics always has been an amateur spectacle because, well, the athletes are still in school.  Now however, with all the money pouring into college athletics, there has been an increase in discussion over whether or not these amateur athletes deserved compensation.  But even with all the money going into college athletics, it would be incredibly difficult and irrational to try and pay all college athletes.

There are many reasons why college athletes should not be paid but to start, one needs to look at how many sports and athletes are actually involved in college athletics.  When most people hear college athletics, they think of basketball, football, and maybe baseball.  But those are just the major sports at schools.  There are several other sports like soccer, track and field, tennis, swimming, and diving.  With almost every school in the nation participating in these sports and then having men’s and women’s teams for each sport, that’s thousands of athletes that would have to be paid.  Divvying up money amongst all these athletes would be a monumental task and after dividing up the money, each athlete would receive only a miniscule portion because of how many athletes there are.  Not only are there thousands of athletes to pay, not every sport brings in as much money as the big time sports.

Every year when March rolls around, basketball fans everywhere look forward to the beginning of the Men’s March Madness College Basketball Tournament.  It is estimated that appearing in just one game of the March Madness tournament generates roughly $1.9 million for a team’s conference and a trip to the Final Four generate $9.5 million for a team’s conference.  While this is a lot of money, there is only 64 teams that compete in the tournament and 351 total schools in men’s Division I basketball.  March Madness and the Bowl Series for college football are the main moneymakers for schools.  But what about the swimmers, tennis players, and all the other athletes?  While other athletes are just as athletic and talented as the athletes from the “big time sports”, they don’t bring in nearly as much money so it begs the question: if college athletes were to be paid, how would the pay be divvied up between the different sports?  Yes, the men’s basketball and football players bring in the most revenue for their schools, but is it fair to pay other athletes less when they compete at the same level?  And then what about the bench warmers on teams who rarely ever take the warm-ups off and get into the game, what would they be paid when they didn’t contribute?  With all these dilemmas on how the money would be distributed amongst the schools, sports, and athletes it just seems to make more sense to not pay the athletes and to keep college athletics amateur.

With all these reasons to not pay college athletes, there are good cases to be made to pay them.  Many advocators for paying college athletes look to how college athletics has had such an influx of money into the big money sports.  There are lucrative television deals, independent athletic departments who receive funds separately from the university, and many other endorsements that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars into schools across the nation.  What many people fail to realize is that even though there is all this money going into athletic departments across the country, almost no schools turn a profit at the end of the school year.  So even though there’s really no money to give college athletes, let’s assume every school made a profit.  Would the lower tier teams be paid less than or the same as the Dukes and North Carolinas?  Then there’s also the issue of whether teams from Division II and Division III should be paid.  If a decision is made to pay Division I and not pay Division II or III, then that would spell the end of the lower divisions of college athletics because athletes would only want to play for the money of Division I.

There can be cases made to pay college athletes, but for every reason to pay them there are several more reasons not to.  With all the money flowing into college athletics, there’s just no way right now to figure out a way to divide that money amongst every single school and athlete in college.  The only way to put these discussions to rest for the time being would be to stem the flow of money into college athletics.  The idea of paying amateur college athletes is really heating up, and it is something that will continue to be discussed for years to come as more money is brought into the equation.

Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2012/03/14/march-madness-a-trip-to-the-final-four-is-worth-9-5-million/

Best Coach In The NBA Today

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While watching NBA teams on TV, viewers tend to hear the same sayings over and over again by coaches in timeout huddles.  Phrases like “keep them off the glass”, “don’t be outhustled”, and “play smart” causes many viewers to question if it really takes much skill to be an NBA coach.  With players like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony on teams it almost seems like the players do the coaching most of the time.  But today in the NBA, there’s a lot that goes into coaching, and Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls embodies hard work and is without a doubt the best coach in the NBA today.

Thibodeau started out coaching in college at Salem State and quickly moved on to assistant coach at Harvard.  He then moved on to the NBA and he moved around a lot, but he first started to get noticed when he was a key part to Jeff Van Gundy’s coaching staff with the New York Knicks in the 2000-2001 season.  He was the big defensive mind of the coaching staff, and that Knicks team set an NBA record at the time for 33 consecutive games holding opponents under 100 points.  After his tenure with the Knicks he switched over to the Celtics where he was the head assistant coach for Doc Rivers.

With the Celtics, Thibodeau, along with head coach Rivers, created a defensive juggernaut with Kevin Garnett at the helm.  They led several defensive categories throughout Thibodeau’s stay and they won a championship in 2008.  In those 2008 finals, the Celtics played Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and Tom Thibodeau and Celtics put on a defensive masterpiece, locked down Kobe, and won the finals.  That defensive prowess brought the Celtics back to the finals in 2010, but Kobe and Lakers got the best of them the second time around.  At the end of that 2010 season, Thibodeau acquired his first NBA head coaching job with the Chicago Bulls.  Thibodeau’s first season with the Bulls resulted in winning the Coach of the Year award and tying the NBA record for the most wins by a rookie coach with 62.  In 2012 he became the fastest coach in NBA history to 100 wins.  But what makes Thibodeau the best coach in the NBA is how he develops his players and how he handles the obstacles thrown in his way.

Tom Thibodeau has done an exceptional job with developing young talent.  When Thibodeau came to the Bulls, he had a large amount of young talent in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and new draftee Jimmy Butler.  Thibodeau taught those players the value of hard work and defense and together they created a championship quality team.  Taj Gibson is now a lethal offensive and defensive weapon and Jimmy Butler is one of the top guards in the league and is a steals machine.  Just this year the Bulls drafted Tony Snell and Thibodeau already has him logging big minutes off the bench and Snell is performing on both ends of the court.

The Bulls have been hit with devastating injuries twice.  First was Derrick Rose in the 2012 playoffs tearing his ACL against the 76ers.  This horrific play was just crushing to the Bulls who fell from championship hopefuls to a team just trying to make the playoffs the next season.  Many people didn’t think it would be possible to stay afloat without their MVP but Thibodeau rallied his players and they acquired the 5th seed in the playoffs the year following Rose’s injury.  Then disaster struck again with Rose tearing his meniscus in Portland in 2013.  No one thought the Bulls could survive another season and rumors of tanking started to surface.  With the trade of star forward Luol Deng, it seemed to be a sure thing that the Bulls had given up on the season and the team was done for.  But Tom Thibodeau did what he does best, and he fought through the obstacle, inspired his team yet again, and the Bulls are currently the 3 seed in the East.  It is just incredible at how Thibodeau was able to give life to his team two seasons in a row to power through all the obstacles thrown in their path.

In today’s game, it seems like coaches are just trying to beat the basics into the heads of the players because there doesn’t seem like there is anything left to tell them or teach them.  But Thibodeau is constantly working his players during games and his voice is almost gone after every game from shouting out defensive instructions throughout the game.  Behind closed doors, coaches like Tom Thibodeau are instilling great work ethic and skills into young players and creating championship quality teams the old fashioned way.  Thibodeau is working his players hard and he is making sure that they are the best conditioned, hardest workers, and best team out there night in and night out.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Thibodeau, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Bulls_draft_history

Top 5 Best Beards in the MLB

With the baseball season right around the corner, there’s a lot of analysts talking about who’s going to do well this year and who’s going to flounder.  Well I think it is much more important to look at the lighter side of things and ahead to who might grow the beard of the season for 2014.  In anticipation of this, it’s time to look back at some of the game’s greatest beards.

beard 3 Jayson Werth

5) Jayson Werth-Nationals RF: Jayson Werth’s beard is pretty nice.  Its nice, straight, thick, and full and he has a lot of potential to grow it out in different ways.  Every little boy growing up wishes he can grow a beard like Jayson because it’s a basic and solid beard.

beard 4 Mike Napoli

4) Mike Napoli-Red Sox C: Mike Napoli is sporting a luscious beard here during the 2013 post season.  You can tell he needs to shampoo that bad boy and comb it with the illegal whale bone comb owned by Chazz Michael-Michaels in Blades of Glory.  There is nothing wrong with this one Mike, keep on keeping on.

beard 1 Johnny Gomes

3) Jonny Gomes-Red Sox LF: Right here is what commonly is known as the “19th century politician”.  That sucker is shooting straight out of his jaw.  If you put a top hot on Jonny Gomes’ head and line him up next to 19th century politicians I swear you won’t be able to tell him apart.

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2) David Ross-Red Sox C: I don’t know about anyone else, but I am loving what the Red Sox catchers have got going on.  Mike Napoli has got the flowing beard and David Ross here clearly uses Touch of Grey For Men to get that aged wise look.  Well played David.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers

1) Brian Wilson-Dodgers P: Alright let’s just take a minute to appreciate the whole ensemble here.  Mr. Wilson is rocking the thick, bushy beard with the flowing mane of hair going right down the middle of the head.  He’s got it all going on here and dare I say he pulls it off quite amazingly.  You can’t get much better at looking like a Viking than he does.

 

1990’s: The Golden Age of Hoops

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What wasn’t to love about the NBA in the 90’s?  Intense rivalries, legendary games, historical performances, and of course who doesn’t love the short-shorts.  Growing up in Chicago, I’ve heard all about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and the prolific Bulls teams of the 90’s.  But there is also a plethora of stories about the toughness and grit that players in the 90’s showed that are completely absent in today’s game.  Along with toughness, players today lack the competitive nature that was shown all over the league in the 90’s.  Kids today will look at you like you’re crazy if you talk about 90’s basketball because they can’t grasp the concept that there were players before Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Kevin Durant.  Little do they know though that their favorite players grew up watching the hard nosed, blue collar players that defined the NBA in the 1990’s.

The defining aspect of the NBA in the 90’s was the fundamentally sound, hard working, and competitive players.  The players were mean and nasty, and people who watched the game had this sense of foreboding that every game was going to be one for the ages.  If you have NBATV, I highly recommend watching their Hardwood Classics.  They show classic games from the 90’s and watching Michael Jordan finally overcome the Bad Boys of Detroit or watching Reggie Miller take on the Knicks just gives you chills.

Another film to watch is the ESPN 30 for 30 film Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks because it gives great insight to what the NBA was all about in the 90’s.  Toughness and competitiveness of that magnitude hasn’t been seen in the NBA for a long time.  Just listening to players from Pat Riley’s New York Knicks team talk about how they “would get fined for picking up players from the other team” and how “you weren’t allowed to talk to members of the other team, even if you went to college with them” is just unheard of in today’s game.  Can you imagine Lebron James not being able to talk to Carmelo Anthony during their game or a whole day beforehand?  That’s as crazy as the Cubs winning another World Series!  The players were so competitive and gritty that every game there seemed like there would be a fight breaking out.  Whenever a player went down the lane, they were knocked down so hard that they would be afraid to come back down again.  I mean, who would want to go in for a layup and see Shawn Kemp, Patrick Ewing, or the grand psycho Dennis Rodman waiting for them?  If these players weren’t happy with you they would let you know, just take Charles Barkley throwing the ball at Shaq’s head which can be seen here.  And who doesn’t enjoy watching Shaq flat out dominate Chris Dudley and push him after slamming it home on him which can be seen here.  Both of these incidents went without a fine and nowadays Shaq and Barkley would be hit with such a big fine that they wouldn’t dream of doing it again.

Finally, whenever players these days show an inkling of toughness they’re regarded as heroes because they’re sacrificing their bodies for the game.  Here you can see when Kirk Hinrich tackled Lebron James on a breakaway during the game that the Bulls snapped the Heats winning streak.  NBA analysts went on and on and on about how Hinrich’s play was so incredible and just showed how tough he was.  The thing is, these plays were commonplace during the 90’s and fans didn’t even think about these plays being tough because the game was just so naturally gritty.

Today, the NBA is just soft.  The game is 1-on-1 dominated and there’s way too many soft fouls.  In the 90’s, the game was team oriented and players stuck together.  Players were taught that if you were going to foul, you had to earn it and make it hard.  Many of todays best players either grew up watching this era or were old enough to be forged in the hellfire that is 90’s basketball.  There seems to be a slow but steady shift moving towards a more tough and gritty game, but for now we have to live in the past and enjoy those legendary games of the 1990’s.

Where Have The Sharpshooters Gone?

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Scotty Gruszka

Live by the 3, die by the 3.  We’ve all heard it before.  Some players choose to use the 3-point shot as a way of having a lethal weapon in their arsenal such as Lebron James.  Everyone and their grandmother knows Lebron can take it to the hole and post up pretty much any player in the NBA, but its when he steps back and hits the dagger 3 that makes him special.  Other players choose to use the 3 as their main weapon of choice, but this is a more dangerous road to go down.  Very few players have found success with this method, such as Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.  But what about the hundreds of players in between who’ve attempted this? These players seemed to literally live and die by the 3 by moving in and out of national acclaim and it is a wonder as to why that might be.  Three players in particular, Dorell Wright, James Jones, and Steve Novak have been under the spotlight and then disappeared completely and it’s time to look at why that might be.

  1. Dorell Wright- In the 2010-2011 season, Dorell Wright made the most 3-pointers in the NBA with 194, he became the first player in NBA history to score more points in his 7th season in the NBA than his first 6 seasons combined, and he also finished 3rd in voting for Most Improved Player.  These are very impressive stats and it begs the question why we haven’t heard a single thing about this guy since the 2010-2011 season.  He had a very good supporting cast in Golden State that year which allowed him to spot up on the outside and he was comfortable doing just that.  After another decent season with the Warriors he was traded to a very poor Sixers team in 2012 and he was asked to do more than just camp out on the arc.  This proved more challenging for him and he fell into obscurity and he now rides the bench for the Portland Trail-Blazers.
  2. James Jones- James Jones has had a very up and down career with him being moved around, being waived by teams, and then being resigned for a league minimum contract.  In 2007 with the Trail-Blazers, Jones shot 44.4% from beyond the arc which was third best in the league.  That stat would make one think that he should stick around but he quickly lost playing time and then he resurfaced with the Miami Heat when Lebron came to town.  Jones was able to be a role player and sit behind the arc and he flourished again shooting 42.2% from 3, but as more role players came in, his confidence dwindled and he now rides the bench for the Heat. But hey, he’s got two championship rings, that’s got to count for something right?
  3. Steve Novak- Steve Novak represents what only focusing on 3 point shooting can do to you: he might have one of the worst all around games in basketball for how much he played.  After bouncing around for years from team to team and NBA to D-League to NBA again, Novak found a home with the New York Knicks in December of 2011.  At the end of the 2011-2012 season, Novak shot a league best 47.2% from 3 and finished third in the league with 133 made.  After the season he signed a 4 year deal with the Knicks and everything seemed to be going right with him. Nope. He was soon traded to the Toronto Raptors with several other players for Andrea Bargnani and Novak, you guessed it, has disappeared along with his fellow 3-point artists.

So what makes these sharpshooters disappear? There seems to be a common theme that these players, unless they are as prolific as Ray Allen or Reggie Miller, can only ever reach the level of Role Player.  They also can only succeed if they have a strong supporting cast that allows them to sit on the outside and fire away.  So kids, as easy as it seems to just sit on the arc and shoot 3’s, be more like Lebron and learn how to round out your game and use the 3 as a dagger to break your opponent down for good.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, stats.nba.com