Random Thoughts on All the Latest Sports News

Kershaw
Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw had another brutal postseason as he and the Dodgers are heading for vacation.

There are times when I sit down with a complete gameplan. It’s littered with the right things to say and the right ways to say them. Everyone once in a while though my gameplan goes out the window for one of two reasons; either I have just one topic which has tons of content available or I have a myriad of things.

Today, much like the entire month of October, is littered with thoughts from around the sports’ world so rather than just pick a few items to cover I’m going to give you bits on just about everything I can possibly write in this space. Here goes….

I couldn’t have been more wrong about the MLB Playoffs. All four teams I had to this point have been eliminated. This is why they call it “gambling” and not “winning.”

After yet another fantastic regular season, Clayton Kershaw was torched in the playoffs. His postseason record now stands at 0-4 and so bad is that he is now being called “Clayton Manning.” Sorry, but it’s a fair comparison to the Denver QB.

Freeze
Call it a gut feeling but I think Hugh Freeze and the Rebels get beat this weekend.

I have a feeling Ole Miss will lose at Texas A&M. Teams that aren’t consistent winners often stumble after huge wins like the one they had over Bama Saturday.

So Northwestern loses to Cal and Northern Illinois and then beats Penn State in Happy Valley and beats Wisconsin in Evanston… The Big Ten is horrible.

Speaking of the Big Ten, everyone wants to go after Brady Hoke at Michigan and rightfully so but what about Tim Beckman at Illinois? He’s won just one conference game there and is 9-27 overall in his third year.

I hear Chris Bosh hasn’t heard from LeBron James since James left for Cleveland. Somehow I don’t think Bosh is losing sleep over this.

It’s a good thing hockey season starts this week in places like Pittsburgh and Detroit. Both cities are dealing with quick baseball playoff exits.

I have no idea why the media asks some of the questions they do. They have to be smarter than some of the stuff I’ve seen and heard recently. After the game four loss Tuesday night, Clayton Kershaw was asked, “What was the feeling when you see that ball (Matt Adams 3-run home run) go over the fence?” Kershaw correctly asked the reporter, “What kind of question is that?” How in the hell do you think he felt?

The best game of the NFL schedule this weekend is in Seattle where the Seahawks host the Cowboys. Despite playing on Monday night, I expect the Seahawks to be prepared. This will be the first true test of how good Dallas actually is.

Another game to keep an eye on is Pittsburgh at Cleveland. In week one the Browns rallied from 27-3 down to tie the game before losing in the final seconds. Last week, they rallied from 25 down to win and beating Pittsburgh in Cleveland is always a welcome sight. It’s only happened once in the last nine years and Ben Roethlisberger has only lost once in Cleveland during his career.

So I guess that even though I didn’t pick any of the teams in the AL or NL Championship Series I still need to pick winners to advance to the World Series. Giants-Cardinals is tough because both teams seem to have mojo right now. The same could be said for Baltimore and Kansas City as well.

Therefore, using the latest wagering and scientific knowledge available, I’ll take the Orioles and Cardinals.

Baseball Playoffs Plus Michigan Continues to Struggle

Perez
Perez
Salvador Perez and the Royals are on to the AL Championship Series.

For the 40 plus years I’ve been alive the playoffs in Major League Baseball have changed significantly but the one thing that has never changed is what wins games in the postseason. If you can get great pitching and timely hitting then you are more than likely going to win yourself a championship or two.

It’s very clear that I underestimated both the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles who used this exact formula to advance to the American League Championship Series. Kansas City dispatched the American League’s best team in the Angels of Anaheim in a three-game sweep that was never close.

The Orioles rode very solid pitching and took advantage of a horrible Detroit bullpen to sweep the AL Central Champions in three games. Baltimore defeated Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price to accomplish the feat. No easy task but they got hits at just the right time and stayed patient as Tigers’ Manager Brad Ausmus was forced to go to his bullpen.

As for the Royals, they just might be that team of destiny we hear so much about. After squeezing into the wild-card, they then needed 12 innings to knock off Oakland in the play-in game. From there, the Royals used their pitching to almost completely shut down the powerful Angels’ offense.

I had both of these teams losing in the divisional rounds. I figured Detroit would ride its’ offense and starting pitching to a 3-1 victory and I believed the same of the Angels but the old truths about the playoffs haunted me as they did them. Of course I also had Washington beating the Giants (SF leads 2-0) and the Dodgers beating the Cardinals (series tied at 1) so I’m pretty sure I know absolutely nothing about baseball in 2014.

Nova
Michigan had no answer for Rutgers' Gary Nova in yet another loss.

More Mayhem at Michigan

Lost in much of the craziness that was college football weekend week six was the fact that Michigan dropped yet another game. This time it was a loss to new Big Ten member Rutgers in New Jersey. While I’ll say that I thought the Wolverines got jobbed a bit on their final drive in which a catch on the sidelines was ruled ‘not a catch,’ Michigan did itself no favors.

The defense has been thought of as the savior of this team but they were exposed all evening by the Scarlet Knights’ quarterback Gary Nova who threw for three touchdowns and over 400 yards. The offense at times looked better under Devin Gardner who took over at quarterback after giving way to Shane Morris last week.

The loss drops Michigan to 2-4 overall and to 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since dirt was discovered. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ Brady Hoke is fired as the head coach but rather a matter of ‘when.’ The man who hired him, athletic director Dave Brandon problem shouldn’t fare any better but he may survive if he handles the transition to a new coach properly.

Things are almost falling into line too perfectly for the marriage of former Wolverine QB Jim Harbaugh and the school. Several reports this weekend confirmed that this appears to be Harbaugh’s last year with the 49ers as players are apparently unhappy with him. It’s also no secret he doesn’t get along with the team’s general manager either.

While Harbaugh burned some bridges with many at Michigan in recent years, I believe he would be welcomed back. Usually when these stars align this well something comes along to ruin the pattern but time will tell for now.

 

My Thoughts on the Major League Baseball Playoffs

Harper

Harper
Bryce Harper is a key cog in the Nationals' machine.

I remember a time when the Fall Classic actually meant that it would be played in October. Actually, it’s now played in November because hey, the baseball season isn’t long enough already is it?

In fact I think a week after Thanksgiving don’t pitchers and catchers report?

OK, I won’t go there right now because this is a time to be celebrating baseball rather than ripping on it so let’s get to my thoughts on who will do what in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

American League

Detroit vs. Baltimore.

The Tigers won five of six from the East Division champs but they haven’t seen each other since May. A lot has changed since then for both teams while some things have stayed the same. Postseason baseball is about pitching and timely hitting.

Detroit can handle both of those things with one exception; their bullpen. Brad Ausmus has his hands full in trying to juggle the bullpen because closer Joe Nathan has been a train wreck all season. The good news is that Justin Verlander is heating up and the rest of the playoff rotation is good.

Have to give the managerial advantage to Baltimore’s Buck Showalter who will not make knee-jerk decisions while Ausmus is a bit new at this playoff stuff.

Prediction: Tigers in 4

Royals vs. LA Angels

What a second half for the Halos who seemed destined for a wild-card spot. Their run coupled with Oakland’s misery have them back atop the West Division. The offense begins and ends with Trout, Hamilton and Puljos while the starting pitching will need to hold up despite injuries.

The Royals made a spectacular comeback last night to defeat the A’s in 12 innings despite the best efforts of Manager Ned Yost to screw things up in the 6th inning. KC will not be an easy out for the Angels especially because of the home crowd but I think talent will eventually be too much for the Royals.

Prediction: Angels in 7

Kershaw
Can Clayton Kershaw carry his outstanding season into the playoffs?

National League

St. Louis vs. LA Dodgers

The Dodgers won the season series 4-3 but they haven’t seen each other since the month of July. Both teams have some playoff experience but in terms of an edge that would have to go to the Cardinals.

If ever there was a series about starting pitching this would be it. There’s no reason to expect Clayton Kershaw to be anything other than brilliant in game one but the Cards will make him work I guarantee that.

If St. Louis can put together some hitting they have a shot.

Prediction: Dodgers in four

Giants/Pirates vs. Washington

A lot of people just want to hand the Nationals the World Series trophy and I can understand why but there’s a reason they actually play the games. Washington is third in hitting and first in pitching and they will also have a fan base as fired up as any in recent memory.

It’s been 90 years since a Washington baseball team has a won a title.

The Pirates will host the Giants tonight and while either team can give the Nats problems, I think the Buccos would offer more of a challenge but that’s not by a long shot by any stretch.

Either way, I like Washington to get by either team with great depth in both pitching and hitting.

Prediction: Nats in Four

If you’re dying to know my League Championship Series predictions I’ll abide by your wishes but just in case I’m not right about the divisional round I’ll “re-predict” later.

ALCS – Angels over Tigers in 5

NCLS – Nationals over Dodgers in 6.