Change Of Hart?

Canada is a country known for its unity, passion, and support. Examples of that in the sporting world is the tremendous passion displayed for the Toronto Raptors and or the Blue Jays when they reach the playoffs, despite geographic differences. What pales in comparison to both the support of Canada’s last remaining professional baseball and basketball teams is its support for Sidney Crosby, and then hockey. Like Gretzky and Lemieux before him, Crosby has dazzled at both the professional and international level. An experience that has been robbed from hockey fans recently, but that’s a blog for another day.

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Canadian’s adore Crosby, he is the poster child for success at the NHL level. While perfectly embodying what it means to be a consummate professional.

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In his wake, however is his adversary of sorts, Connor McDavid. Reaching the 100 point mark last Sunday is just the beginning of Mr. McDavid’s historic season. Edmonton is back in the playoffs for the first time since the Iphone was just a blueprint, and he is the biggest reason why. While Cam Talbot’s performance in net, Patrick Maroon’s turn around season, and the addition of Milan Lucic all absolutely help the cause, only one man can drive the bus.

Sid the kid was no slouch this season either amassing 89 points, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy, and obtaining and then hurtling 1,000 career points. Proving why yet again Pittsburgh should be your favorite to come out of the east.

That love for Crosby may migrate, slightly, in the future towards McDavid.

Sure, Crosby will zero in on a chance to compete for his third ring, while McDavid and the young Oilers may be star struck in their maiden voyage towards the playoffs. But where either of them end up mid June isn’t the purpose of the discussion.

We’re now witnessing a similar Gretzky or Lemieux who is better debate. Understanding the fact that the Ovechkin/Crosby conversation has been persistent, to the point of ad nauseam even.

For the first time in a long time we yet again have two Canadians competing for bragging rights on who contributes the most to their team. Crosby has cast his shadow, McDavid wishes to write his own story.

The final frontier isn’t who wins the Hart this year, but who will win the potential face to face match-up for hockey’s ultimate prize.

Seattle’s Sherman Situation

One of Seattle’s Superstars in the backfield is looking for a change of scenery.

Richard Sherman: the guy who has been touted as the NFL’s top cornerback who is notorious for shutting down an entire side of the field has lost interest for playing in Seattle and would like to move to a contender.

Hold up, since when is Seattle not a contender?

Actually, since they lost Super Bowl 49 is the answer. Since then, they’ve slumped down to two losses in the Divisional Round and questionable play in the regular season that is far weaker than the explosive team they have been in the past. The funny thing is, they’re still a top team in the league. They still have arguably the best defense in the NFL and a top QB who can make anything happen. What’s the issue here?

Seattle has a plethora of issues on the field. They have almost no desire to build an offensive line around QB Russell Wilson, and on defense they’re only getting older without really putting any new parts in to ensure success. Drafting simply hasn’t been the same as it once was, which begs the question: is this Seattle team (the L.O.B. & Danger-Russ era) on the decline? Will they eventually fall apart?

I’d assume so if one of their Top 3 players and top 10 in the league is looking to jump ship.

But which ship is Sherman trying to jump to?

I hate to be a homer, but I can’t see another option that ensures success aside from the Patriots. Seriously, if you’re on one of the few teams that can guarantee a playoff spot each year and you want to “move to a contender”: what else could that possibly mean? Is there another team with a chance of making the Conference Championship Game quite like New England? Hell no.

For this to work, Malcolm Butler is gone and the Patriots would need to pay A LOT for Sherman. He’s on a 4 year deal at around 14 million per year, which is honestly and under-pay.

Truthfully, I don’t see this trade panning out. Nobody wants to give up a boat-load for anyone, and the team’s that would aren’t of the “contender” caliber that would provoke Sherman to want to leave.

But this says a lot about the position Seattle is in. When your cornerstone players want to jump off the ship, it’s pretty telling of what’s to come.

 

 

Garcia Finally Gets His

Every year, we are graced with four majors in the golf world. This past weekend, we were given the best major, The Masters. A field that listed some of the best in the world of golf, like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, as well as past champions in Fred Couples and Phil Mickleson.

This year’s winner however was a former low amateur winner and a man who had never won a major. The winner of this year’s Masters was Borriol, Spain’s own Sergio Garcia.

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Garcia entered Sunday as one part of the final pair alongside Justin Rose. Rose and Garcia entered the final round tied atop the leaderboard at 6 under. With Rickie Fowler (1 shot back) and a trio of Jordan Spieth, Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman (2 shots back), the two looked like they were in trouble. However, Rose and Garcia each birdied a few holes to strengthen their lead.

Many thought Sergio would do his typical act of choking in the major, and it looked that way on the back 9. His tee shot on 13 was down right awful and nearly costed him a shot. He was lucky enough for Rose to miss a birdie and he was able to save par. Garcia hit an eagle on the 15th hole to come to a tie with Rose once again as the drama would continue to unfold.

IMG_3067Garcia and Rose would hit gems in the par-3 16 to make things all the interesting. Rose birdied the 16th hole, while Garcia missed what seemed to be an easy putt and just saved par. 17 was a different story, Garcia was able to two putt to save par and Rose bogied, and once again we are all square at 9 under par.IMG_3070The 18th hole was the tournament. Both hit absolute beauties of drives. Rose got possibly the luckiest kicks of all time, and Garcia would then hit a shot to get within 5 feet. Rose ended up paring, leaving it to Garcia. But in true Sergio fashion, he missed it, giving us a playoff.

The playoff started at the 18th hole. Garcia crushed a drive and a great shot from the fairway. Rose hit it into the woods and wouldn’t be able to recover and missed a 14 foot putt. Garcia then drained a putt from 12 feet out to win the title.

It was a long time coming for the Spaniard, and let me say I was happy for him. I’m not a Sergio fan, but when a guy finally wins a major, you definitely feel for him. All comments aside, good for Sergio, this is a huge win for him. After choking left and right in majors, he finally gets his due. No longer will we be able to say “Sergio will be Sergio”, it isn’t relevant anymore.

What I will say is this, sportsmanship was the theme of the final pairing. High fives, thumbs ups and just good times were had between the two golfers. We don’t see enough of it these days, and I have to say it was refreshing to see. Good stuff on the fairways

Save the date, June 15th is the U.S. Open from Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Dustin Johnson should be back, and this time to defend his crown.

Let’s go and let’s be handsome!

The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of Bradly Marchand

Brad Marchand is a dirt bag, but every team has its sleazy player.

I love how nobody else likes Brad Marchand except for Boston sports fan. Simmialrly to Brandon Gallagher or Matthew Tkachuk.

What you cannot deny is how reliable Marchand has been for this team despite the subtraction of players such as Tyler Seguin, Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, and Milan Lucic.

Admittedly, it came as no surprise that he speared Jake Dotchin’s groin area last week against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s all part of the ugly reputation that he has built up for himself. Since entering the league in the 2010-11 season, he has faced discipline from the league 6 times.

Brad received a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for leaping drastically over the line separating sportsmanship and Todd Bertuzzi or Marty McSorley. In response, the NHL Department Of Player Safety awarded him with a 2 game suspension. Which, is kind of laughable. Considering the two game suspension covers the remainder of the season. All but ensuring Boston’s most offensively reliable player will be 100% healthy for the playoffs.

Now, it can also be argued that the games between Ottawa and Washington are games in which Boston would need Marchand’s added offensive punch.

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Understandably so, the sentencing wasn’t welcomed with open arms by the Twitter universe. Many firmly believed he should have received much more of a punishment as rumblings of even one additional playoff game entering the final verdict surfaced from the rumor mill. With the idea being, making him sit for that playoff game would hammer home the point. That being said, you can score all the goals you wish, challenge the league elites for top spot in points, but you’ll never get the Sidney Crosby treatment.

Don’t get me wrong, Brad showed explicit intent to severely injure Dotchin. Not only should he have been thrown out of the game, he also should have had is block taken off by any member of the Lightning. But, you can’t argue that in order to get a reputation, you have to be repeatedly suspended for your actions on the ice. Keeping this in mind, Crosby didn’t face any supplemental discipline for the prior offenses highlighted above.

Inconsistencies don’t only exist in the NFL officiating, I suppose.

 

 

Russ’ Journey

This journey started in early August crushing spectators reports of Russ leaving Oklahoma City to form a super team in Los Angela’s with fellow UCLA alumni Kevin Love.  Shortly after the Warrior’s signing of Kevin Durant. Russel Westbrook singed an extension with the team that would make him a free agent in the 2017-18 season.  It’s evident of the amount of love shown between Russ and the faithful of Oklahoma City.  He had high expectations all year; most felt if the Thunder were going to remain relevant in a very tough Western Conference then Russ would have to carry the team.

Throughout games in prior seasons we’ve seen glimpses of what he could do when Kevin Durant wasn’t on the floor.  It was clear that with or without Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook was always going to play his game and put up high number while doing so.  He is a true commander on the court proving to be a leader on a very close team in OKC.

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Fast forward to the all star break, by already posting 27 triple-doubles at this point in the season it was obvious that MVP talks have begun for Westbrook.  At this point in the year was it possible for Westbrook to approach, tie, or maybe even break Oscar Robinson’s legendary record of 41 triple doubles in a season?

Yes it was, currently with four games remaining Russ remains tied with Oscar Robinson.  One would think it’s more than likely that we see this record be broken.  Russel Westbrook hasn’t missed a game all season and is playing the highest level of basketball out of anyone in the league (yes that includes LeBron James).  Also, he’ll most likely finish the regular season averaging a triple double.  For a Point Guard that’s huge, because that means he’s averaging over 10+ rebounds a game.  The NBA world expected Russ to have a good season, but no one thought he’d take over like he’s doing.  He carried this team and made his teammates look good with his strong play and put his team in a solid position to make something happen with their season.

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Regardless, if he remains tied or breaks the record this was a historic season for Russ.  By showing this consistent performance and unique swagger that makes him stand out; it truly cemented him among the leagues elite.  His performances were the reason that his team sits at 6th in the West and will most likely stay there going into the playoffs.

Even if the record is broken and Westbrook is named the league MVP the journey still isn’t over.  Most likely the Thunder will have a bout with the Houston Rockets in the first round.  The Thunder endured a lot of drama with Kevin Durant this off season, but with a player like this on the squad the sky is always the limit. Russ isn’t trying to only be the MVP or hold the NBA’s most triple doubles in a season all time; he wants to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.  He’s one of the most competitive players in the league, every thing he does on the court is to try and win a championship.

Total Tar Heel Dominance

The National Title belongs to the North Carolina Tar Heels, thus finishing the road to redemption. The Heels, led by Coach Roy Williams, fell victim to a buzzer beater finish at the hands of Villanova last season. This time around, the Heels said they would get the job done. That they did, and with an unbelievable defensive attack in the second half against Gonzaga, the Tar Heels redeemed themselves.

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Joel Berry III was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. The kid played with grit and determination. He dropped 22 points and had 6 assists in the effort. Berry, who is just a junior, could return to Carolina next season, as well as ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson.

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I’d be surprised if Justin Jackson were to return to Carolina. After the season this young man had, he could be NBA bound. But I would love to see him back next year, he could repeat as a champ and an MVP. He is a special player who can really play amazingly in the spotlight, it would be awesome to see him play one more year in Carolina Blue.

The unsung hero for the Heels has to be Luke Maye. Maye stepped up big time in the big game. Remember that shot he hit against Kentucky? Ask Malik Monk, he will tell you all about it. Maye was a solid contributor to the victory, and could be in for a colossal season next year.

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Kennedy Meeks wins in what will be his final game in Carolina Blue. Meeks was a role player in every season that I can remember. His presence will be missed in the middle for Carolina. Although he scored just 7 points, he snagged 10 rebounds in the title win. Those 10 rebounds were pivotal to the winning effort.

Let me say this too. Gonzaga proved me wrong and I apologize to them for counting them out so often. The Bulldogs were a formidable team and Coach Mark Few did what I thought he couldn’t do. They’re effort was admirable and I have to say, they worked their tails off. They now have a lot more credibility in my eyes, I’d just like to see them play a couple tougher games in the coming years. They’ll have a bunch of guys back next year so don’t be surprised to see Gonzaga creep up to a deep tourney run.

We in the college world now take focus on baseball and lacrosse. Two sports that have had a recent jump in viewers so should be a great spring.

Carolina found out that the ceiling is the roof, and boy did they do it impressively.

Stay handsome, everyone!

Who’s Left?

The excitement of free agency has come to a halt as teams prepare for the NFL draft. After the draft, teams will likely make decisions on the remaining free agents to see how can be a low-risk, high-reward type of signing. The thing is, there’s still a lot of talent in free agency this year. Let’s take a look at who’s left…

  1. Zach Brown – ILB (Bills)

Zach Brown is coming off of a very impressive year with the Buffalo Bills last season with Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. The lack of signing here puzzles me because he was great last season and there are plenty of teams that could use a starting-caliber inside linebacker on their roster. My guess is due to a sub-par agent (who he fired during the free agency period) mixed with a good defensive draft means that teams will bite on Brown after the draft. The only real concern is that he has only had one season of play worth calling him a starting-caliber player.

Prediction: Signs with Raiders on a 2 year deal after the draft.

The Raiders are lacking on defense, especially at the ILB position. Getting a stop-gap player who can provide at a low-cost is a good option until they can build an ILB through the draft.

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      2. Jonathan Hankins – DT (NYG)

Hankins is coming off a year on a New York Giants defense that absolutely balled out last year. After spending money on the defensive line with Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and now Jason Pierre-Paul, it was expected Jonathan Hankins would have a breakout season. While being good at run-defense, there wasn’t much else he could provide. The problem now is that he wants money like his trench-mate Damon Harrison, who is a top DT in the league. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen here.

Prediction: Re-Signs with the Giants.

I believe he will have no other option but to fold on his bluff for more cash and re-sign with a team that could quietly snatch the NFC Conference (yeah, I said it). As for how many years, I have no idea. I’d imagine he will probably want to play on a prove-it deal to make more money next year. There’s also the off-chance another team’s DT gets injured and he gets signed to replace the roster spot.

     3. Adrian Peterson – RB (MIN)

Peterson really hasn’t played in two years. Granted, the last time we was playing he was a stud, as he always has been. Here’s the issue I have with Peterson. He’s old, and age doesn’t bode well for running backs. Not to mention he’s had essentially two years off from playing in the NFL. Lastly, his running style is so one-dimensional that it hurts. He can’t catch passes, and he is only successful running in standard formation. Peterson was one of the greatest running backs ever, but I think his time of greatness is over. With all of that said, I find it hard to believe a team will sign him for 6 and a half million dollars with all of these impending problems.

Prediction: Retires. 

Or a free agent. I just don’t see a team biting on him for that asking price. Maybe next season when his price goes down he will play for a team, but right now I just don’t see it happening.

      4. LeGarrette Blount – RB (NE)

Blount has a huge year last season including 18 touchdowns and a 1,000 yard season for the Patriots. His rushing attack created a more multi-dimensional offense, which was a huge reason the Patriots ended up as Super Bowl Champions at the end of the year. So far, Blount hasn’t had much news in free agency. Hovering around 30 years old as a running back, it’s tough to make noise in the market. With this being said, there’s not much debate on where he ends up next season.

Prediction: Re-signs to the Patriot on a 1 year deal. 

It makes enough sense to bring Blount back since his asking price can’t be too expensive given the current market. Getting a guy with his hard-nosed running style paired with the shifty Dion Lewis and pass-catching James White seems like a no-brainer, seeing how well it worked last season. Expect a similar result as far as success from the running back crew as last year, even if Blount declines this year (which I expect).

      5. Darelle Revis – CB (NYJ)

Revis proved to the NFL that he was, in fact, one of the greatest CBs to play the game back in 2014 with the Patriots. Then, he signed a multi-year deal with his old team the Jets to an absurd amount of cash, and now he is struggling to find a team. What happened? Revis is about the money, there’s no denying that. So he got lazy on a failing team. Congrats man, now you’re getting paid 6 million by the Jets to sit out from the season. Apparently he’s lost a lot of weight and is prepared to make a comeback in the NFL.

Prediction: Signs with the Patriots.

Is there another option besides retirement? Nope. Revis knows the system, he knows he will fit and succeed, and the Patriots could use another new CB with the departure of Logan Ryan and impending departure of CB Malcolm Butler. As long as his price is small, it makes sense to bring in a low-risk high-reward player. Revis likely won’t be the #1 or #2 guy on the roster anymore, but putting him as a slot corner (where NE has lost depth without Logan Ryan) in man-to-man press makes a lot of sense.

For Revis, it makes sense to play in New England again on a one-year deal. He’s getting paid 6 million already from the Jets this season, so he’s making plenty of money this year. Playing on a team where he can come in and succeed just gives him a new opportunity to get paid next offseason by some other team stupid enough to bite. The Patriots and Revis can yet again use one another for their own benefits. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

 

We peaked in high school, so now we blog.