The Sox Take Down the Pirates On Opening Day

Merry Christmas everybody and Happy Opening Day! The Boston Red Sox took the field this afternoon and boy was it exciting. After watching 9 innings of baseball pornography, I have a few takeaways.

  1. Rob Gronkowski looks healthy and ready to make a run at a second consecutive Super Bowl.
  2. Tom Brady is still perfect.
  3. Boston is easily the best city in the world.

Alright, all jokes aside, let’s talk about the game this afternoon…

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Rick Porcello took the bump and looked like the Porcello of last season. This was a great sign to me. Throughout Spring Training, Porcello struggled with his command and finishing off hitters. This was no problem for Pretty Ricky today. Porcello had command of all of his pitches and worked fast through the Pittsburg Pirates lineup. Porcello ended up going 6.1 innings giving up 3 earned runs and striking out 5, ultimately giving it off to the bullpen in the 7th inning.

First out of the pen was Matt Barnes. Barnes struggled this afternoon. The tall, hard-throwing, righty was able to record two outs but allowed two runners to score. Once Barnes left the game, it was smooth sailing from then on.

After Barnes, the Red Sox used Robby Scott and Heath Hembree to record 3 outs in the 8th inning and Craig Kimbrel took the hill in the 9th, recording his first save of the year.

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Another bright spot this afternoon was the Red Sox lineup. The Sox put up a 5 spot in the 5th inning, which proved to be enough. Eight of the nine hitters recorded a hit, picking up where they left off last year.

Andrew Benintendi started the 2017 season off with a bang, by launching his first homerun of the campaign into the Pirates Bullpen. The rookie looked like a seasoned vet as he led the sox to their first victory of the year.

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Though there were many good things to take away from this game, there were several things to be concerned about. One of which is the Red Sox newest addition, Mitch Moreland. Moreland looked like a fish out of water in the batter’s box. The big lefty went 0-4 with two strikeouts. The Red Sox signed Moreland this offseason to help move on from the retirement of David Ortiz, but what I saw from him was not encouraging. One thing that Moreland does bring to the table is an outstanding glove, but even that was nowhere to be seen. Yes, I know the season is early but if this trend continues, don’t be surprised if you see Sam Travis sooner rather than later.

Overall, it was a fantastic start to the 2017 season. Make sure to tune in on Wednesday for Chris Sale’s debut as the Red Sox look to keep things rolling.

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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Just two weeks removed from Gennady Golovkin’s (37-0-0) bout against Daniel Jacobs (32-2-0), he still stands undefeated and one of boxing’s premier stars following the “retirement” of Floyd Mayweather.  As Gennady “GGG” Golovkin recovers from an extremely tough fight that was won by a unanimous decision; he looks to see who his next opponent will be to try and over throw the unified undefeated middleweight champ.

There’s been a lot of talk about him having a drop off after a 23 knockout streak that started November 22,2008.  Personally, I don’t understand them because, GGG managed to put Jacobs on the canvas in the 4th round.  It was a hard fought fight for both fighters; you could tell within the first three rounds that Jacobs was being cautious of GGG’s punching power.  The poor start failed Jacobs on the score card and Ganndy Golovkin remain on top of the middleweights.

So what’s next?

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The boxing world awaits to see what happens on May 6, when Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. square off in their super super middleweight mega fight.  Why this is relevant is because GGG has attended Alvarez’s fights before hand.  When Canelo had his knockout victory over Amir Khan; when being interviewed GGG proceeded to take verbal jabs at him, stating that the fight needs ti happen between them.

Putting these two in the ring together could generate so many paper view buys and put the boxing world in an exciting spot.  These are two fighters who’re extremely talented and arguably the most watched in boxing currently.  There are a lot of young prospects rising the ranks and gaining attention but currently, we need to see this fight between Gannedy Golovkin and Canelo Alvaerz.  They can easily agree on a weight, both sides are being to difficult as they know they need to strike while the irons hot so they can think in a business sense and break the bank and earn as much money as possible if/when this fight happens.

We have to remember Muhammad Ali went out of his way to fight Joe Frasier. They fought numerous times, along with other fighters George Foreman, Sonny Liston, and Ken Norton.  Never the less that was boxing’s best era and it fair to say the fan base isn’t what it once used to be.  The renaming question is why is it difficult to get stars like this in this generation?  What it seems like is money has over masked the sport and made things setting up a fight that much more difficult.  If Canelo and GGG can find a way to reach an agreement after May 6th; the boxing world would be at an all time high.  Seeing those two fight would be a hot ticket for the WBC and all of the fans.

Will the Cubs Capture the Central, Once More?

In 2016, the Chicago Cubs ran away with the division, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals by 17.5 games. The Cubs rode that momentum all the way into October, as they won their first World Series title in 108 years. Are the Cubbies destined to repeat as National League Central champs, or is there another team waiting in the weeds to take down the defending World Series winners?

  1. Chicago Cubs 100-62
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 86-76
  3. Pittsburg Pirates 85-77
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 80-82
  5. Cincinnati Reds 70-92
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There’s no question that the North siders are the best team in the National league, let alone the entire MLB. Yes, they may have lost some key pieces this offseason. Dexter Fowler is on his way out of town and landed with the Cub’s rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, while their stud closer Aroldis Chapman was picked up by the New York Yankees. With that being said, the Cubs did a great job replacing these guys. Baseball’s best General Manager, Theo Epstein went out and landed Wade Davis, who tallied 27 saves last season with the Kansas City Royals. To replace Fowler, the Cubbies have promoted Albert Almora Jr, who is expected to be a stud once he gets a few games under his belt. This year is going to be no different. Expect the Cubbies to run away with this division once again.

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Coming in second place are the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds are consistently good, year in and year out. The addition of Fowler to their lineup should bring some much needed speed and athleticism to their team. Unfortunately, the Cardinals haven’t done enough this offseason to even come close to the team the Cubs have built. Cardinal fans should be praying for a Wild Card spot.

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The Pittsburg Pirates are my choice for third place in the National League Central. The Buccos struggled last season, recording a losing record for the first time since 2013. This is due in large part to the lack of production from Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen had a quiet year in 2016, hitting just 24 home runs and recording a career low .256 batting average. If the Pirates want a chance to make the playoffs, they are going to need the Andrew McCutchen of old. Look for the Pirates to bounce back in 2017, but not nearly enough to put them over the top.

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Rounding out the bottom of the division are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers stayed out of the limelight in 2016, having a better than usual season. The offseason was even quieter for the Brew Crew as they went out and signed Travis Shaw. The Brewers are just as boring as the city they play in. Don’t expect them to do anything special in 2017.

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The Reds are in the midst of a rebuilding stage. Brandon Phillips has headed out of town, being acquired by the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Don’t expect the Reds star, Joey Votto to last much longer in Cincinnati either. I expect the Reds to deal Votto by the trade deadline in 2017 to acquire some much needed farm system help. The Reds will be bad for a while, no ifs ands or buts about that.

The National League Central is not going to produce any close races down the stretch. The Cubbies should comfortably take home the title once more, on their quest to repeat as World Series champions.

Fight For Your Right

When it comes to international hockey in the United States, it is the women and not the men who have enjoyed the most success. Women such as Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel have driven the bus in regards to motivating women to play hockey. That fact alone should be more than enough to have secured equal treatment to their male counterparts, but the playing field is far more lopsided than you think.

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Despite the numerous successes at the Olympics, Worlds, and various other international tournaments held yearly, the discourse between pay grades is as laughable as the men’s recent go around at the World Cup Of Hockey. The best of the best receive a quarter of a hundred thousand dollars a year, and that’s just for those sitting at the top. Compare that to Patrick Kane’s 10.5 million dollar cap hit to the Blackhawks payroll and you decide what’s fair.

One of the oldest adages in the book is, you have to make money to spend money. Understandably so. Competition between the NWHL and the CWHL have caused numerous pay cuts to its players this year to stay afloat. Similarly to the WHA and the NHL in the 70’s. Symbolically, the apple that represents a love for the game grows sour if certain accommodations cannot be made.

So when the US international women’s hockey team boycotted the World Championship until their desires were met, it caused quite the ripple effect. It should be stated that this simply wasn’t a dispute over wages, rather equal benefits to their male counterparts. This included child care, maternity leave, travel accommodations and added support for the youth development program for women. Things the men have always been blessed with.

Did it help that the United States were the defending champions of the tournament? Of course. What shouldn’t be lost in translation is the good they were doing in their fight.

When the dust settled earlier this week, USA hockey offered those who possessed the courage to stand up and fight a shinny 4 year 3.7 million dollar deal.

In return, the women will report to the World’s today having hurdled yet another obstacle in the form of gender equality. I congratulate the United States women’s hockey team by simply not falling in line, but taking courageous steps towards a more unified sport.

Hockey has never been a sport in which athletes annually hold out for what they believe they deserve as far as their pay grade goes. But when it comes to things such as the CBA or Olympic participation, for the NHL, the males have routinely stood in contrast to the NHL. Behind the numerous support of the fans, who is to say this example was any different, because it wasn’t.

I whole heatedly support the women of USA hockey for standing out from the shadow cast by their male constituents. Opening the door for women in other high powered positions to use their fight as a motivator to break down the notion of a glass ceiling. In a world full of double standards and gender discrimination, these women fought for what they believed to be fair. Truly fighting the law and winning.

 

 

Just Four Remain

Four are left standing in this ultimate elimination cage match that is the NCAA tournament. North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and Oregon all head to Phoenix for the chance to reign as supreme ruler of the NCAA basketball realm.

Alas the final four is set, and we are in for a doozy of games. But let’s first look at a couple things from the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games.

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We saw LaVar Ball’s oldest son, Lonzo, basically no show the biggest game of his career for UCLA, and we saw essentially what will get De’Aaron Fox a seat at the draft. Fox outplayed Ball and helped Kentucky punch their ticket to a rematch with UNC.

What I thought was the game of the year had the finish of the year as well. Malik Monk hits a highly contested three which led to former walk-on Luke Maye hitting the 2 point jumper to punch the Heel’s ticket to the Final 4.

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Oregon in the Midwest had Kansas Jayhawk on the menu in the Elite 8. They had their Jayhawks smoked, and Tyler Dorsey had himself 27 points on the night. Ducks star Dillon Brooks had his hefty helping with 17 points as well.

This duo could just be getting started, as Brooks is just a junior and Dorsey is a sophomore. Dorsey is looking like the tourney MVP for the Ducks, having 4 straight games with 20 points, 2 of those games were 27 point nights. The Ducks might want to lean on Dorsey then go to Brooks in the waning moments.

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I have been a Gonzaga hater this entire season and probably always will be. But I will give it up for the Zags, they have proved their worth to me. The absolutely destroyed Xavier, but still got away with highway robbery against Northwestern. Their Sweet 16 game with WVU was a great one, Jordan Mathews had ice in his veins when he drained that 3 ball. Happy for Mark Few, he finally got to the big one.

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 11.34.03 AMAnd then there is the Cinderella story, the South Carolina Gamecocks. They have beaten a 2, 3 and a 4 seed this tournament. Duke, Baylor and Florida have all been pecked to death by Carolina. One thing is for sure, Sindarius Thornwell can sure play. He has been nothing short of spectacular. South Carolina is now faced with Gonzaga, and can complete the sweep of a top 4 seed grouping.

So let’s start there, Carolina comes in the 7 seed and are playing unbelievably. The contrasting styles, the depth, and the guard play are three things that are going pivotal in this tilt. Thornwell is going to have to be the best player on the court. Nigel Williams-Goss is going to oppose him, and that’s got to be an exciting matchup. I am biting the bullet and sticking with the Cinderella, give me South Carolina in a great one.

Now to the other side of the bracket with Oregon and North Carolina, I am going to be short and sweet with this one. I like Carolina and I like Carolina big. The redemption they are looking for is going to be found here. They are too deep for Oregon, and have too many weapons. After what Luke Maye and Theo Pinson were able to do in the last game, they are just the next guys up. Before them they have Joel Berry and Justin Jackson. Brooks and Dorsey put up a fight, but it’s not enough.

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So the final will be a battle of the Carolinas. The redemption bid against the Cinderella story out of nowhere. Justin Jackson has his career defining game as the Heels win and get their redemption. Thornwell will have himself a night, but will not be able to get the job done. “The Ceiling is the roof”, or whatever MJ said will come to fruition. The Heels will not be denied this time around, Justin Jackson wins MOP.

“Wow, what a finish.” will be said by all.

The Las Vegas Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are moving out of Oakland, again.

What once seemed like pretend is now very real – the Oakland Raiders are out of Oakland and into Las Vegas, but will wait until 2019 to step foot in their new home as a proper stadium is built in their new city.

NFL relocations have become a bit of a tradition in recent years. This marks the third team to relocate in two years, including the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers (now both residing in Los Angeles).

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If you ask me about the two aforementioned teams and their relocation, I chalk it up to greed at the very top. The city of St. Louis wouldn’t pay for a new stadium, so the Kroenke’s found a new place that would shell out the cash so they didn’t have to. The city of San Diego offered numerous proposals for a new stadium, but greedy ownership saw an opportunity to save money and fled for Los Angeles.

The case for Oakland; however, is far from greedy ownership.

Since returning to Oakland, the Raiders have shared a stadium with MLB’s Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum. This means that at every Raiders’ home game, you can see the dirt from the base paths. It opened in 1966! The field is simply not up to standards of modern NFL stadiums. It became clear that a change was needed for the Raiders, so they began exploring options a few years back.

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In the new era of professional sports, cities that host sports teams end up paying for the stadium renovations/construction instead of the team ownership. Owners pocket A LOT of profit from home games without having to pay for a fancy stadium. Oakland simply doesn’t have the money to be a three-team city. They couldn’t afford to renovate much, and they couldn’t afford a new stadium for the Raiders.

The truth is, neither could Raiders owner Mark Davis. Davis, who’s net worth is 500 million dollars (and inherited the team from father Al Davis) ranks 29th out of 32 teams net worth by owners. The cost of a new stadium has now reached the billions mark. Davis couldn’t afford to pay for the stadium on his own.

Still, the Raiders NEEDED a fix. If the city of Oakland can’t afford the fix, and Mark Davis can’t afford the fix, who pays for the fix?

Answer: Las Vegas does. To the tune of 750 million dollars!

This is smart for Las Vegas. They’re bringing in another attraction to a city filled with attractions! After adding a hockey team, they’ve created a base for a sports following.

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Still, I see some problems that could arise from all of this.

For one, most of the Las Vegas population are tourists. That means fans of other teams visiting Vegas to come see their team play against the Raiders. While the Raiders might be good right now, teams fluctuate from successful and unsuccessful. It’s natural. I worry that a majority of attendants will be fans of the opposing team instead of the Raiders. Further, what happens when the Raiders stop being successful?

Secondly, and I don’t understand the details of this all, but a city centered around gambling mixed with a home sports team doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world. I’m not sure what kind of normal problems could occur, but in a worst-case scenario it seems more likely a Black Sox situation could occur when a player is spending every day in that city.

Is this move good or bad? Let me know what you think and stay tuned.

Water Finding It’s Level

While it may not be time to slam the panic button, your hand should be hovering over it considering Thursday nights collapse marked Boston’s fourth consecutive loss. In doing so only helping Tampa’s fleeting effort to make the playoffs. Both Ottawa and Toronto picked up huge wins, and a highly motivated New York islanders team anxiously await the opportunity to take over the final wild-card spot come Saturday afternoon.

While it should be stated that through no lack of effort were the Bruins thwarted Thursday night. In fact, their most important asset is, effort. Perhaps they should have tried their hand in trading effort for a top six forward at the deadline.

With all kidding aside, Boston shot themselves in the foot once again as a less than terrific effort in the games final frame eventually led to their demise. Yet again out-shooting their opposition only to come up short on the score board.

Rest assured, Torey Krug has stated that the fate of the last two years will not happen again this time around.

Take that how you will, but Krug’s uninspiring -14 on the season has even the biggest optimists raising an eyebrow towards the statement.

Third period collapses are some what of a specialty of the Bruins in the month of March. But it was what led up to the third period that is the most concerning. While taking the lead on three separate occasions is noteworthy. Sacrificing that lead in under a minute twice, then making Anton Stralman look like Paul Coffee a minute and change later is as deflating as it can be.

Collectively the crowd exhaled as the symbolic wind retreated from its sails. From there, it was a “wish I had that one back” goal by Jonathan Drouin to give Tampa its first lead of the game. Shortly there after, Nikita Kucherov completes the hat trick and the emphasis is pressed harder on Saturday’s showdown with the surging Islanders.

If last night was considered by most to be a must win then by all means tomorrow is do-or-die time for Boston. A win tonight by the Islanders against the defending Cup Champs means Boston is officially on the outside looking in on the playoff picture with only seven games remaining. Seven difficult games at that.

If for the third year in a row the Bruins are bounced from playoff contention with a handful of games left, one conclusion can be drawn. They’re too top heavy offensively, too porous defensively, and leaning much too hard on their 8 million dollar man, whom is paid to steal them games.

A strong effort from the bottom 6 may just be what the doctor ordered. Sooner rather than latter Cassidy will be forced to go to his backup net minders. In hopes that a new face in goal may steady the ship.

 

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