Odds to Win the 2015 American League Pennant

Tanaka
Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka's health will be of extreme importance if the Yankees are to be in the running for the AL Pennant.

Boston Red Sox 11/2 – Pablo Sandoval may have shown up to Spring Training looking like Barney from “The Simpsons” but he is still being relied upon to deliver after the BoSox acquired this offseason. Offensively I think Boston will be fine. I am a tad concerned about the lack of a stud leading the rotation but this should be a good team in 2015.

Los Angeles Angles 6/1 – The Angels racked up 98 wins last season and the team appears to be largely the same. Even with Josh Hamilton’s pending suspension, LAA should be right there in the mix for the pennant.

Chicago White Sox 7/1 – This should be one of the more entertaining teams in the AL to watch. There’s plenty of offensive firepower now and the only question is how far can the pitching take them? Chris Sale will miss the opener after he injured himself getting out of a pool. Either way, this could be the team to beat in the AL Central.

Seattle Mariners 7/1 – Robinson Cano has some help in the lineup now and that’s something he didn’t have last year. Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith should both give Cano better looks at the plate. If the pitching can follow the lead of King Felix then this could be a team right there at the finish.

JV
If the Tigers are going to win the AL Pennant then Justin Verlander must be much better than he has been the last two seasons.

Detroit Tigers 8/1 – The Tigers have had a wonderful run dating back to the arrival of Dave Dombrowski but is age finally catching up to them? Both Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are banged up entering the season and what can they expect from Justin Verlander who has been average the last two seasons?

Cleveland Indians 9/1 – The Indians return Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and a lot of youth that gained valuable experience last year as the Indians pushed both Detroit and Kansas City to the brink. I can see this team winning the division or finishing well back in the pack. That’s how hard they are to figure out right now.

Toronto Blue Jays 10/1 – The Jays added Josh Donaldson and field general Russel Martin but how much will they improve the team? Toronto was right there for a good part of the season in 2014 so can they see this year to the end?

Oakland Athletics 12/1 – Count me as one who thinks the A’s take a step back this year. Yes, there are some new faces, the outfield is the same and there are two good starters leading the rotation but this division will be a bear and I don’t see the A’s winning the pennant.

Baltimore Orioles 14/1 – Most people would say the Orioles did more than expected last year especially with Chris Davis having a brutal year. The Birds do get both Manny Machado and Matt Wieters back so perhaps they will be in the race again but pitching depth will be vital.

Kansas City Royals 14/1 – The Royals aren’t returning to the World Series this year but they should still be competitive despite the loss of James Shields. If the bullpen is as successful as it was last year than anything is possible but I see a step back here.

New York Yankees 14/1 – The Yanks have potentially deep rotation and solid bullpen. If they can get through the early portion of the season where all the talk will be “A-Rod” they could be right there. The first season without Derek Jeter in the locker room will be curious to watch as well.

Texas Rangers 22/1 – The Rangers were devastated by injuries last season and this year isn’t starting much better. Shortstop Jurickson Profar is likely out for the season with a shoulder injury. Yu Darvish is expecting a big season but how much can he do?

Houston Astros 28/1 – Houston added guys like Jed Lowrie and Evan Gattis but at the end of the day this will continue to be a team on the rise rather than one that will compete.

Tampa Bay Rays 33/1 – Beloved manager Joe Maddon is in Chicago and these Rays have very little depth. This will be nothing short of a miracle if the Rays can even get to .500.

Minnesota Twins 50/1 – Well, at least the fans have a lovely stadium to attend games in…. Sorry, this isn’t happening in the Twin Cities in 2015.

My Favorite: I love the Mariners. They’ll fly under the radar in the Pacific Northwest before it’s too late for most opponents to notice.

MLB Win Projections for 2015

Royals
Royals
Can the Royals duplicate their success of last year?

Can you believe teams have already reported for spring training in Florida and Arizona? Seems like the season just ended doesn’t it? Here are you season total win total projections from our friends at Bovada.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      71½ (-115)

Under                                   71½ (-115)

Despite the changes, I like the UNDER.

Atlanta Braves – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      73½ (-115)

Under                                   73½ (-115)

The Braves always seem to find a way to succeed. Take the OVER.

Baltimore Orioles – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

I think they take a step back but go with the OVER.

Boston Red Sox – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      86½ (-115)

Under                                   86½ (-115)

The BoSox have upgraded in all the right places. Take the OVER.

Chicago Cubs – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

Will the Cubs be better? Yes, but I’m not ready for over .500 so take the UNDER.

Chicago White Sox – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

I’m just not convinced this team is ready for recovery yet. Take the UNDER.

Cincinnati Reds – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      77½ (-115)

Under                                   77½ (-115)

Take the UNDER as the Reds are still reshuffling the deck.

Cleveland Indians – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      83½ (-115)

Under                                   83½ (-115)

Take the OVER. I like the direction of the Indians.

Colorado Rockies – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      71½ (-115)

Under                                   71½ (-115)

I don’t see much to be positive about here. Take the UNDER.

Detroit Tigers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      84½ (-115)

Under                                   84½ (-115)

It’s really hard to see them doing as well as recent years with injuries and pitching losses. Take the UNDER.

Houston Astros – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      74½ (-115)

Under                                   74½ (-115)

Arrow up on the Astros. I like the OVER.

Kansas City Royals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      79½ (-115)

Under                                   79½ (-115)

Can they repeat last year’s success? I say no. Take the OVER.

Los Angeles Angels – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      89½ (-115)

Under                                   89½ (-115)

Take the OVER. Big year coming from the Halos.

LA Dodgers
Can the Dodgers get over the hump and get to the World Series?

Los Angeles Dodgers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      92½ (-115)

Under                                   92½ (-115)

It’s a big number but I’ll take the OVER.

Miami Marlins – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

I really like the OVER here as new additions boost the Marlins.

Milwaukee Brewers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      78½ (-115)

Under                                   78½ (-115)

Take the UNDER in a super-competitive NL Central.

Minnesota Twins – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      70½ (-115)

Under                                   70½ (-115)

Managerial change brings instability. Take the UNDER.

New York Mets – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

What reason have they given me to be excited? Take the UNDER.

New York Yankees – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

If A-Rod can contribute without being a problem, I like the OVER.

Oakland Athletics – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      80½ (-115)

Under                                   80½ (-115)

They stumbled to the finish last year and it continues in 2015. Take the UNDER.

Philadelphia Phillies – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      68½ (-115)

Under                                   68½ (-115)

Can they really be this bad? Yes, take the UNDER.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      83½ (-115)

Under                                   83½ (-115)

Playoffs for two straight years in Pittsburgh and things look as good this season. Take the OVER.

San Diego Padres – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      85½ (-115)

Under                                   85½ (-115)

Fantastic additions but I’m still going UNDER.

San Francisco Giants – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      84½ (-115)

Under                                   84½ (-115)

The defending champs have some offense to replace but I still like the OVER.

Seattle Mariners – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      86½ (-115)

Under                                   86½ (-115)

Could the Mariners be the cream of the crop in the AL? Maybe and I’m taking the OVER.

St. Louis Cardinals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      88½ (-115)

Under                                   88½ (-115)

This number is really close for me. I’ll take the UNDER but barely.

Tampa Bay Rays – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      78½ (-115)

Under                                   78½ (-115)

I just don’t see this team improving much. Take the UNDER.

Texas Rangers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      77½ (-115)

Under                                   77½ (-115)

With Profar likely out for the season I’ll take the UNDER.

Toronto Blue Jays – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

Lots of excitement in Canada about this team and rightfully so. I’ll take the OVER.

Washington Nationals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      92½ (-115)

Under                                   92½ (-115)

I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a World Series team. Take the OVER.

A-Rod is Just Pathetic Plus The Tigers Two Big Bats are Banged Up

A-Rod
A-Rod
With a hand-written apology, A-Rod proves once again he just doesn't get it.

Well thank the lord almighty! Alex Rodriguez has formally issued an apology for his year-long suspension and performance-enhancing drug use!

A-Rod wasn’t apologizing for those things as much as he was apologizing for getting caught for cheating. It’s easy to dislike Rodriguez and that in and of itself is troubling. We shouldn’t want or need to dislike our fellow man but sometimes people do things so arrogantly and so recklessly that it becomes difficult to find anything becoming about them.

Earlier this week, Rodriguez told the New York Yankees he was ready to issue his formal apology to the fans, the Yankees’ Organization and Major League Baseball. They offered him the opportunity to host the press conference at Yankee Stadium but A-Rod had something else in mind. Or at the very least, the people calling the shots for him did.

Rodriguez decided to forgo the presser and instead went with…. A hand-written letter.

Apparently Rodriguez’s advisors must include a daycare provider who convinced him that he needed to write down his feelings. He mistook this as the actual issuing of his apology and ran with it.

Actually I don’t think it went down like this at all. A hand-written apology is right up the alley of A-Rod and is typical behavior. I have to give him credit because his penmanship was pretty good!

His sentences tended to move upward to the right but all in all it wasn’t bad for a baseball player who never went to college. But in all honesty, this was pathetic. I honestly feel bad for both the New York Yankees and their fans. The fact that they have to put up with this narcissist jackass for another season really is quite a sad development.

Because Major League Baseball has guaranteed contracts, the Yankees are still on the hook for about $60 million for A-Rod. They have insurance in case he were to get injured again which is entirely possible considering the hip surgery and his age. Still, the Yankees would love nothing better than for A-Rod to just walk away but he won’t.

He’s like that bad penny that just keeps showing up . Perhaps a more relevant analogy is that of George Costanza from ‘Seinfeld.’ If you recall, George, who worked for the Yankees on the show, once had to climb through the ducts in order to get to his office. That’s because his employer was doing everything he could to make George quit.

So far, it appears A-Rod has the same type of staying power as George Costanza did.

Tigers in ER

The Detroit Tigers since 2006 have been one of the better teams in baseball reaching the World Series twice but losing. As the Tigers head into the 2015 season, they know they will already do so without Max Scherzer who has signed with Washington.

They are also going to be a bit behind the eight ball offensively because Victor Martinez has a knee injury he’s recovering from and Miguel Cabrera is recovering from a bad foot. Both could be ready by opening day but it’s unlikely they’ll get many swings if any in spring training.

With team owner Mike Ilitch not getting younger, the time is now for the Tigers to give him the World Series title he’s been hoping for. Ilitch’s Red Wings have more than delivered in terms of Stanley Cups but Ilitch is desperate for the title. He’s brought a re-birth to Motown that wasn’t there for many years and whether the Tigers can deliver for him is based in large part on the health of two of his superstars.

 

 

Christmas Wishes for Your Favorite Athletes and Teams

Woods
Woods
Maybe my Christmas wish will come true and Tiger will actually just admit he played poorly for once.

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope your day is filled with all kinds of good food, family and fun. Today I’m giving you some Christmas wishes for any number of teams and athletes.

My Christmas wish is…

for Tony Romo to get at least one playoff win.

for Michigan to land a head football coach who wants to be there.

for Roger Goodell to resign.

for ESPN to cancel First Take and no longer allow Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless on television.

for you to win every bet, on every game this coming year. (giggles a bit)

for Tiger Woods to walk off the course just one time and say, “I played like crap” rather than blame it on everything else.

for the Kansas City Royals not to be one-hit wonders.

for college football to immediately move to an eight-game playoff.

for high school athletes to enjoy being “high school athletes” and not be forced to specialize by club sports.

for ‘Mike and Mike’ to use more of my tweets.

for the National Basketball Association to become interesting again.

for Coach K to get one more title before he hangs up the whistle.

for soccer to go back to being a world sport and not an American one.

for Marshawn Lynch to actually give a decent interview after a game.

for Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin to drop a few of his cliches.

for MMQB’s Peter King to finally admit he’s just a shill for the NFL.

O'Bannon
Thanks Ed O'Bannon for ruining my family's favorite video game!

for the NCAA and EA Sports to find a way get the NCAA Football video game back for us.

for NFL people stop using the word “elite” when it comes to quarterbacks.

for Antonio Brown to go up against Richard Sherman in the Super Bowl.

for Peter Edward Rose to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

for all of us to just admit that college football and basketball is nothing more than a minor league for the pros.

for Mike Emrick to call every game in every sport for the rest of his life.

to never see another pro athlete charged with domestic violence.

for the Super Bowl to be a national holiday and everyone gets the next day off.

for the Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Title.

for the Detroit Tigers to win a World Series before owner Mike Ilitch dies. No one has been more important to Detroit sports than he has.

for group celebrations to be allowed after NFL touchdowns.

for a “Gretzky-like” figure to reappear in the National Hockey League.

for the Cleveland Cavaliers to lose in the NBA Finals. Let’s face it; it makes for more interesting sports talk.

for the Lakers and Celtics to continue being irrelevant.

for defensive backs so they can actually play defense again.

for Jerry Jones’ plastic surgeon who must be tired of seeing him walk through the door.

for Larry Fitzgerald to get a Super Bowl title before he retires.

for Al Michaels to narrate my life.

for someone in a Santa suit today at an NBA game to do something ridiculous.

for officials at all levels and in all sports to remember it isn’t about them, it’s about the game.

for Oregon to settle on a uniform or 50.

for Devon Still’s daughter to make a complete recovery.

for karma to show up at Jameis Winston’s door.

for the NFL Playoffs to be as great as ever.

for your favorite teams to do as well as they can!

Royals, Tigers are Ships Passing in the Night

Butler
Butler
Billy Butler and the Royals are in the World Series and strangely enough they are similar to the team they lost the division too.

Sports brings out the best in people and while it can often bring out the worst too, it’s moments like Wednesday evening in Kansas City that make sports great. After 29 years the Kansas City Royals are returning to the World Series.

This is a team with no superstars which probably makes them even more enticing to the common fan and what I find most interesting about them is that they almost seem to be the very team they have pursued in the American League Central.

Brett
George Brett was a part of those great KC teams in the 70's and 80's and now gets to enjoy this as well.

What I mean is that eight years ago, the Detroit Tigers stumbled into the playoffs for the first time since 1987. They had the division wrapped up until these Royals came to Detroit and swept them forcing Detroit into the wild-card spot. While the Tigers had more “stars” then these current Royals do, the feeling around the Motor City in 2006 was total pandemonium.

The same craziness was on display in Kansas City Wednesday night as the Royals swept the Baltimore Orioles in four games. The Royals, who lost the division to Detroit by just one game, have now won eight straight playoff games. A dramatic, extra-inning win over Oakland in the play-in game, followed by a three-game sweep of the best team in the American League in the Angels.

While those 2006 Tigers didn’t sweep their first two opponents, they did defeat the New York Yankees three games to one and then beat the Oakland A’s four games to win the AL Pennant. Despite the two losses, the momentum never the left the Tigers much in the same way it hasn’t left the Royals.

Both organizations were very competitive throughout the 1980’s. The Tigers won the 1984 World Series while Kansas City won the ’85 Fall Classic over favored St. Louis. The Royals had actually advanced to the World Series in 1980 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Ironically in ’84, the Tigers defeated the Royals to advance to the World Series.

The Tigers would also win the American League East in 1987 but lost to the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS. While the Royals playoff run ended in 1985 with the title. They did have great success in the 1970’s with division titles in ’76, ’77 and ’78. All three of those years the Royals lost the ALCS to the Yankees.

With both the Tigers and Royals having good success from the 1970’s through the ’80’s, the decade plus that followed was anything but successful. The Royals struggled to stay below 90 losses at times while the Tigers would actually reach total futility in losing more games than any American League team in history in 2003.

Today these two teams may in fact be two ships passing in the night. The Tigers are likely to lose Cy Young winning pitcher Max Scherer as well as Victor Martinez in free agency. Miguel Caberera looked mortal in 2014 as he dealt with injuries and while some of the youth was good, the Tigers overall took a step back.

The Royals may be peaking at the right time with a great blend of seasoned veterans and young players who are a great fit together. Kansas City also has tremendous bullpen strength which is a great foundation for the future. Look no further than the Yankees during late 1990’s and 2000’s.

For all I know, the Royals will do just as the 2006 Tigers did in the World Series which was completely tank but this team just seems different. Win or lose, I think we are starting to see the changing of the guard in the American League Central.

Two Big Trades Highlight MLB Deadline

Lester
Lester
Jon Lester brings talent and championship experience to the Oakland A's.

The Major League Baseball trade deadline has come and gone and in some years, what is left in the wake is nothing more than a few small waves and debris. This particular trade deadline has left a tidal wave and the debris left behind is the rest of the baseball as far as a few of the teams involved are concerned.

The first trigger pulled yesterday was by Oakland who started an arms’ race by acquiring Jon Lester from Boston. Already with a very good starting rotation, the A’s got even better with Lester. Also included in the deal was Jonny Gomes who goes with Lester to Oakland and on his way to Boston is Yeonis Cespedes.

It’s expected that Gomes will platoon with Sam Fuld in an effort to replace Cespedes’ offensive production which was good, but not great. The A’s offense might take a slight step back, but they’ve been consistently good all year so it shouldn’t hurt too badly. The knock on Cespedes was his on-base percentage which was lacking significantly and that area will be improved by Gomes.

Lester is 10-7 with a very good ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.12. He also brings leadership to a young team and championship experience as well so this is a huge win for the Athletics and a nice pick-up for the Red Sox as well.

Price
The Tigers add a third Cy Young winner to the rotation by trading for David Price.

Once the A’s made their move, the Detroit Tigers countered by swinging a three-team deal to land Tamp Bay Rays’ ace David Price. It has to be a hard, somewhat sickening day for the few, real Rays’ fans out there who felt like the team was going to keep Price in light of their recent winning streak. It wasn’t to be and Price now becomes the third Cy Young Award winner in the Tigers’ rotation joining Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

The Rays receive left-hander Drew Smyly and minor-league shortstop Willy Adames who was considered one of the Tigers’ top three prospects. Smyly was 6-9 with an ERA of 3.93 and a WHIP of 1.35. He’s been basically all or nothing this year for the Tigers. He seems to pitch really well or is the complete opposite.

Also involved in the trade were the Seattle Mariners who get Tigers’ centerfielder Austin Jackson who was pulled in the middle of the game with Chicago yesterday as the trade was unwrapping. Seattle then sent shortstop Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay and quite frankly his stats aren’t even worth mentioning here.

Jackson was a fan-favorite in Detroit who had been the centerfielder throughout Detroit’s recent run of division titles and playoff appearances. He is currently hitting .273. Jackson has always been a defensive stalwart for Detroit covering tons of ground in Comerica Park and it appears the Tigers will platoon that position.

Rajai Davis who is already on the roster will share some time in center with Triple A call-up Ezequiel Carrera. Davis has played over 400 games at center and Carerra is a speed guy who has over 40 stolen bases at Toledo this season.

Most will want to pencil in Detroit and Oakland into the AL Championship Series right now and I understand that, but the Tigers still have a significant bullpen and closer problem that I still think will be addressed in August.

For Oakland, everything seems to be in place. If the offense maintains it’s consistency they should be able to hold of the Angels in the West.

Let’s remember this day when we get to October. That way we can decide whether these trades were were ultimately worth it.

 

 

Huge College Games, ALCS Highlight Saturday Sports Action

Murphy
Murphy
How will Tyler Murphy handle the crazy crowd in the Death Valley?

It’s going to be really hard to avoid watching an SEC game today. The nation’s best football conference has been a heart specialist’s dream so far this season. Going back to Bama-A&M, LSU-Georgia and Georgia-Tennessee, the SEC has provided a number of high-scoring and heart attack inducing games.

Today looks like that very well may happen again. Florida goes into Death Valley to play LSU who is but a three-point loss from being unbeaten right now. With QB Jeff Driskel out for the season, how will QB Tyler Murphy handle the crowd in Baton Rouge?

Georgia could find itself in yet another shootout as 5-0 Missouri comes to Athens today. The Bulldogs have sustained some horrible injuries in the last couple of weeks but they continue to persevere. Both teams are scoring points at will so this could come down to who can get crucial stops and turnovers at the right time.

Out west, Oregon faces their stiffest test in a trip to Washington. The Huskies battled last week before finally losing by three points to Stanford. With D’Anthony Thomas questionable with an injury, the Ducks appear to be less than 100% which is why so many think the Huskies will pull the upset today in Seattle. I’m not sold on that.

What was once always the game of the day regardless of whom else was playing; Texas and Oklahoma meet in the Cotton Bowl to renew the Red River Rivalry. The game has certainly lost its’ luster with Texas struggling the way they are. In fact, there are many ‘Horns fans who are quietly hoping for a blowout in hopes that the loss would seal the fate of Mack Brown.

I expect Texas to fight hard today, but Oklahoma is once again playing great defense and has the threat of both the run and pass on offense. Texas’ fans may actually get their wish.

Lester
Lester takes the hill in game one of the ALCS against Detroit.

In Major League Baseball, the American League Championship Series gets underway tonight in Boston. The NLCS started last night with St. Louis getting a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.

The Tigers enter the ALCS off the spectacular pitching performance of Justin Verlander. While his regular season was very average by his standards, he has now pitched 15 straight innings without giving up a run in the playoffs. Dating back to September 15th, he hasn’t given up a run in that span either.

Boston will offer different challenges however because of their offense. Ranked number one in baseball, the Red Sox and Fenway Park will also create a tougher environment than the Tigers faced in Oakland. The two ballparks couldn’t be more different and Detroit will need to adjust.

With Verlander on rest and Max Scherzer scheduled for game two, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland will go with Anibal Sanchez to oppose Tim Lester in game one. Sanchez was as dominant as any Tigers’ pitcher in the second half of the season but was roughed up by the Athletics in game three of the ALDS.

Lester went seven and two-thirds against Tampa Bay giving up just two earned runs in the Red Sox 12-2 win. Both of those runs came via the long ball which should concern Manager John Farrell a bit considering the Tigers penchant for going deep. Lester will need to keep the ball down and keep the hitters off balance.

Tigers’ third baseman Miguel Cabrera showed some signs of life hitting a huge two-run homer in the deciding game five in Oakland. It’s no secret he has been battling injuries.

Both teams can score runs, have good starting pitching and have very good closers. The difference I believe will be in the middle relief where the Sox have a clear advantage. This could go seven but I’ll take Boston.

Reveiwing Saturday’s Many Items of Sports News

Scherzer
Scherzer
Scherzer moved to an incredible 16-1 on the season for the Tigers yesterday.

Occasionally in this spot I feel like I have tons of things to get to but more often than not I focus on just one thing. Sometimes that proves to be a great choice while other times not so much.

A lot went on yesterday in the world of sports so why not touch on a little bit of everything?

Major League Baseball – The Detroit Tigers won their seventh straight game and pitcher Max Scherzer moved to 16-1 on the year, but the talk remains about Biogenesis and just how long will Alex Rodriguez be suspended. MLB may have tipped their hand however as they have decided they will no longer meet with A-Rod or his representatives.

This news came on the heels of A-Rod’s comments suggesting the New York Yankees and MLB were conspiring to keep him out for life. According to SI.com, the suspension could come no later than Monday and will total 214 games. This means the rest of this season and all of next season.

Rodriguez just turned 38 last week meaning the next time he would take the field, for the Yankees more than likely, he would be 40 years old. As much as I’d like to see him banned for life, I almost wonder if this isn’t more just. Let him come back to MLB and be booed at every stadium including the one he will call home in the Bronx.

Woods
Woods is in total control at Bridgestone as the final Major lurks next week.

Golf – Right on cue, Tiger Woods is tearing up Firestone Country Club this week in the Bridgestone Invitational as he has a seven-shot lead entering the final round tomorrow. I say “on cue” because this seems to be the M.O. for Woods since 2009. He tends to win the tournaments that are one step down from the majors while he contends in the Majors yet falls flat on the weekends.

Woods is an incredible 52-4 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead. When he trails at the 54-hole mark however the wins are few. Woods has never comeback to win a Major and had the lead or shared it in the final round of all 14 Major wins. I fully expect Tiger Woods to march to victory today.

There would be nothing shocking about that at all. I’ve said all along that until Woods finally wins another Major, then he is not “back” in my mind. He’ll have one final opportunity at the PGA which starts Thursday and should he fail, it will be another long winter filled with questions and what-ifs.

Pro Football – The National Football League inducted another group of greats into the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday. Among the newly inducted was Bill Parcells who deserves to be in enshrined for his three Super Bowl appearances and two wins while coaching the Giants.

I do not believe Parcells is one of the all-time great coaches as many would have you think. Part of that stems from his coaching history with the Dallas Cowboys and then his tenure as President of the Miami Dolphins. As head coach of the Cowboys, Parcells’ teams were 0-2 in the playoffs and vastly under-achieved in the eyes of many considering the talent the team had.

His overall playoff record as a head coach is 11-8. With the Giants, he was 8-3 while with the Pats, Jets and Cowboys he was a combined 3-5.

The common thread between Parcells’ success as a head coach and his lack of it is when you look at assistant coaches. In his three Super Bowl appearances there were guys like Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel. In two of those three appearances, he also had Charlie Weis, Al Groh, Ron Erhardt and Tom Coughlin on his staffs.

Great coaches always surround themselves with solid assistants but this was on a much bigger level. Hopefully Parcells took the time to thank the staffs that helped bring him his success. Without the men mentioned above, Parcells is nowhere near the Hall of Fame.

 

Bringing Baseball Back into Focus

Puig

 

Puig
Puig, shown here in Spring Training, has been excellent since joining the team 19 games ago.

If any professional sports league is like a roller coaster it has to be Major League Baseball. America’s Pastime (arguable I know) starts with such excitement and promise for every team in the league in late March or early April and then goes through ups and downs that only the folks at Disney World or Six Flags could relate.

Baseball immediately shares time with college basketball’s Final Four and then gets some attention. Eventually the playoffs in both the NHL and NBA begin and baseball gets pushed to the back burner but before too long, the seasons end and baseball becomes the only game in town until NFL training camps open in late July.

If you’ve been sleep-walking your way through the baseball season because of your attention paid to hockey, hoops or horse racing, then I’m here to catch you up on what’s going on in the Majors.

Blue Jays
The hot Blue Jays have made the AL East the tightest and best division in baseball.

Best Division – Without question the American League East is the most competitive top to bottom especially with Toronto on an eleven game winning streak heading into play last night. All five teams in the division are separated by five games with Boston on top of the Orioles by two games, the Yankees by 2.5, and the Jays and Rays by five.

I honestly don’t think you’ll see a lot of movement in this division through the summer and into September because each team has flaws that aren’t going to be cured by a trade or two at the deadline. New York could get a boost from Derek Jeter’s return but when that is is anyone’s guess. Despite losing three of four in Detroit, Boston may still be the team to beat in the East.

Worst Division – Coming in ahead of the AL Central is the National League East where only Atlanta is above the .500 mark as they lead second-place Washington by six games and Philadelphia by 7.5. The Braves don’t really do anything amazing but they pitch extremely well and seem to get big hits when they need them most.

The Nationals have to be the most disappointing team in baseball right now as they sit at 37-38 heading into last night’s action. I certainly don’t know everything going on there, but I would not be a bit surprised to see a significant change either in the clubhouse or on the field because there is too much talent for this team to be where it is.

Breakout Player so Far – Since joining the Dodgers 19 games ago, Yasiel Puig has set the Majors on fire. The 6’3″ 245lbs outfielder looks as athletic as any player I’ve seen come up in a long time and the results are validating that. Puig is hitting .425 with six home runs and 12 RBIs. His on-base percentage is also solid at .462.

Unexpected Cy Young Candidates – When you think the Detroit Tigers and pitching, you think of Justin Verlander but not this year. RHP Max Scherzer is 11-0 and has a WHIP of .91 for the Central-leading Tigers. While his 3.05 ERA is a little high, it’s actually below his career average of 3.76. Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox is a strong contender in the AL as well.

Over in the National League, 23-year old Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks is 9-0 with an ERA of 2.19 and a WHIP of 1.00. While Lance Lynn, Jordan Zimmerman and Adam Wainwright are all at the 10-win plateau, should Corbin continue his unbeaten season he;ll be hard to beat at awards’ time.

 

Baseball’s Division Races Shaping Up for Potential Drama

Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish
Darvish is 6-1 for the first place Rangers.

It’s often pushed to the back burner this time of year but Major League Baseball has five division races right now that are worth paying a ton of attention. With the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League each deep into their playoffs, it’s often easy to forget that baseball is still going on.

With the excitement of opening day long over, baseball has started to find its’ groove in the 2013 season and we as fans are the beneficiaries of some really good stories and some tremendous races. Yes, it’s only May but if history tells us anything then these races look to be ready to go the distance.

Out in the American League West, the Texas Rangers have opened up a seven game lead over both Oakland and Seattle. Sitting eleven games back is one of the pre-season favorites in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This is the only race in Major League Baseball that sees a lead bigger than two games.

AL West Prediction: Go with the Rangers and don’t give it another thought.

In the AL East, you have to hand it to the New York Yankees who continue to overcome injury with good pitching and outstanding relief pitching behind the incredible Mariano Rivera who is 16 for 16 in save opportunities this year. Not bad for a guy over 40. Baltimore and Boston are both two games back while the Tampa Rays sit four and a half deep.

AL East Prediction: The way the Yanks are playing right now gives them more time to bring Derek Jeter back. This will ultimately come down to who is healthiest down the stretch. I’m actually going with the Orioles to claim the division.

The American League Central is shaping up to be a tremendous race and one that really was not expected. Heavily favored Detroit has three teams within three and half games and the White Sox are just five games out. The longer the Tigers allow the Indians, Royals and Twins to hang around the more doubt will creep in.

AL East Prediction: If the Tigers fail to make the playoffs it will be a tremendous failure. They have too much talent to not win this division but I just don’t see them running away because of their weak bullpen.

Matt Harvey
Harvey has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets.

Over in the National League East, Atlanta has cooled off significantly since their hot start but still leads the Nationals by a game. To the surprise of many, the Phillies are hanging in there and sit just three and half games out of first. The New York Mets are six games out and are getting a great year on the hill from Matt Harvey, but the rest of the team is struggling.

NL East Prediction: I like the Braves, but I also like the pitching of Washington and I see them over-taking the Braves at some point. Do not count out the Phils just yet though.

The amazing St. Louis Cardinals lead the NL Central by two games over Cincinnati and three games over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals always seem to be left for dead in the seasons following Albert Puljos’ departure, but here they are again behind great pitching and timely hitting. The Cubs and Brewers are sadly already planning for next year as they both sit nine games out of first.

NL Central Prediction: The Cardinals have such a nice mix of pitching and hitting that I have a hard time seeing them relinquish the lead, but Cincy will push them.

And finally in the NL West, the defending World Champion Giants lead Arizona by a half game and the Colorado Rockies by two. San Diego is four and half back and the Los Angeles Dodgers are five and a half deep. The surprise here has to be Colorado who most experts never saw coming. A tip of the cap to San Diego as well, but the Rockies have just not shown any signs of going away.

NL West Prediction: The Dodgers have Zack Grienke back now and he looked good in his return, but I still like the Giants to take the division.