The NHL? To Las Vegas? And more? Hold Up.

On Wednesday, the report that the possibility of NHL team expanding or relocating to Las Vegas was suddenly ignited, and the possibility of three more teams being added to league by 2017 had reportedly been discussed.  The cities gaining teams would be Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and another Toronto team.

So would this make sense?

Yes and no.  See, a city within the USA that needs a hockey would be Seattle.  That’s priority one.  If the NHL feels that Canada needs more teams, then put a team in Quebec City.  Honestly, I don’t think you can put a team in Seattle until they get a NBA team.  That way you can have one arena, and the city, leagues, and fans don’t have to pay for two.

Las Vegas really doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t think there is a big enough fan base for hockey there, and Las Vegas has a population of just under 600,000.  To me, it’s a little risky to have the first sport in a large US city be a hockey team, just because hockey hasn’t grown to proportions like football and basketball yet.

A multiple city expansion means a couple of things.  A massive purchase of arenas, uniforms, players.  It would be something the that NHL would have to heavily invest in.  The league would have 34 teams, more than any other sport.  More teams mean more games, and that is the last thing the league needs.  If you add multiple teams, you have to shorten the schedule.  I believe they could go as far down as 65 games, but 70 seems more likely.

Another possibility of more teams could mean a higher salary cap, which could give players a higher average salary.  The cap for this season is set at $69 million, which is decent, but wasn’t what owners were looking for.  This is definitely something that wouldn’t occur for sometime.

The idea of two Toronto teams is another aspect of this proposal that I disagree with.  Toronto is the where the leagues headquarters are, but two teams of one sport in one city is something that huge cities are capable of.  Cities like New York and Los Angeles are capable of that because of their population.  Toronto’s population is 2.5 million, but it’s not a American city.  The Maple Leafs haven’t been very successful lately, or really since the 1990’s.  The Maple Leafs are the heart and sole the city and the NHL, and are the most valuable franchise in the league.  I don’t think you would want to ruin that.

If this mass expansion were to include a Canadian city, Quebec City is the most ideal, and the most deserving Canadian city.  Quebec City lost their team in 1995, when they became they Colorado Avalanche.  Hockey is big there.  With many junior leagues around town, the fans there would be ecstatic to have a NHL team again.  A plus in their pitch to the NHL is that a stadium is already under construction in Quebec City, and it is scheduled to open in September of next year.  It’s purpose is rumored to be for a NHL team at some point.

Back in the USA, Seattle, as said before, is the best place for a team.  It’s possible one of these expansion teams could become relocation, which means moving the Panthers out of the Miami metro.  The Panthers are the southern most team in the league, and hockey is not very popular down there.  Look at what happened to the Thrashers in Atlanta.

A rumor that I am having trouble believing is Kansas City’s bid for a NHL team.  I don’t think they can get one.  Kansas City has a small population within it’s metro are with 2.3 million, and I don’t think anyone is really pushing for a team there.  They have the Sprint Center in downtown, which is a very nice facility, and easily could hold hockey or basketball.  Ticket sales could become a issue.  The main sport their is Jayhawks basketball and NASCAR.  I don’t think it’s a good place for a hockey team. Sorry, KC.

The other problem with mass expansion would be you would HAVE to have a even number of teams join.  If that can’t happen, then you have to call it off.  It’s to complicated to have a uneven amount of teams.

My overall thought?  This is a ways off, if it’s going to happen.  Honestly, anything over 32 teams is a lot.  So add Seattle and Quebec City, both expansion, and see how it goes.  That’s my proposal.  Las Vegas is just to risky, and Toronto isn’t deserving of two teams.  Make it fair.

Is Josh Gordon’s Career Over?

I wrote a column in July about the Browns.  I wrote it with the mindset that Josh Gordon would be suspended for this season.  There was no way that he would’eve gotten anything less.  If he had, the NFL would get killed.

So instead of wimping out on it, the NFL came down hard on Josh Gordon.  A year long suspension really limits the Browns chances of doing anything productive this year.  I already have them as low as four wins.  Their starting Brian Hoyer instead of Johnny Manziel, they have no wide receivers, and their running game looks below average, but not bad.  It’s going to be a rough year in what was supposed to be a better year in Cleveland.

So is Josh Gordon done?

The thing that you have to consider is that he has 365 days to stay out of trouble, enter some kind of rehab, get some treatment, and get into shape.  The year long suspension means year long.  He isn’t able to join the after the season.  Gordon can re-join the team in exactly a year.  This is the part that has disagreed upon with the decision, but honestly, any suspension the NFL hands down is controversial these days.

If the Browns cut Gordon now, or after the season, it really wouldn’t matter.  I don’t think it would be smart too.  Their is no reason for him to be released, cause he can’t help anyone this season.  The Browns should wait until he comes back next year, see if he has gathered himself, see what kind of shape he is in, and if he can contribute to the team.  This is a ways off, but there isn’t much else to discuss at this period in time.

If they don’t believe he is going to be himself, or his 2013 season self, then trade him.  He’s still the same dude.  He may not be 100% of 2013, but Gordon is talented, and it’s such a shame he’s ruining it.

I don’t know what team will have a need for wide receiver at this point next year.  That’s the reason their isn’t much to say.  It’s hard to predict who will need what at this time next year.

Josh Gordon is special, and hopefully he can realize that.

2014-2015 NFL Prediction Column

The big one is here.  I will predict the record of every team, based on my feelings and schedule, division by division, then give a explanation.  I will also predict my playoffs seeds, but won’t predict playoffs outcomes.

Predictions for Divisions

NFC East

1.  Philadelphia Eagles-12-4

2. Washington Redskins- 9-7

3. New York Giants- 7-9

4. Dallas Cowboys- 5-11

This is one of the worst divisions in football.  The Cowboys have a terrible defense, and won’t be able to stop anyone.  They will be involved in a lot of high scoring games, but Tony Romo will take them out of them before he even steps on the field.  The Eagles fly this year.  Nick Foles won’t have the season he did last year, but he is very talented.  The Redskins go 9-7 IF RG3 stays healthy.  If he doesn’t, they are in trouble.  The Giants will have another average/below average season.  I don’t see them doing to well, especially since they don’t have a run game, which is what they are built for.  The Eagles will be the only playoff team out this division.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots- 14-2

2. Miami Dolphins- 7-9

3. New York Jets- 7-9

4. Buffalo Bills- 4-12

The Patriots are easily the best team in this division.  They will roll through this season.  The Jets are a very interesting team.  I was pretty high on them before I looked at their schedule, then it dropped.  I don’t know if their offense is powerful enough to beat teams like Kansas City or San Diego.  The Dolphins had their moments last year, then the scandal hit, and it kinda killed their season.  I don’t expect them to be great, and they honestly could be worse than 7-9, giving who’s behind center.  For the Bills, it’s looking like EJ Manuel isn’t the answer, which contributes to their poor record.  The Patriots will probably be the only team making the playoffs in this division.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers-  14-2

2. Chicago Bears-10-6

3. Detroit Lions- 9-7

4. Minnesota Vikings-3-13

I really couldn’t believe it when I had the Vikings at 3-13.  This really shows that Teddy Bridgewater needs to start.  With Matt Cassel, in a tough division, the Vikings could be the worst team this year.  Look at the top three teams here, all above .500, and all could make the playoffs based on a talent standpoint.  The Bears need Jay Cutler to stay healthy if they want to reach 10 wins.  I like the Bears to make the playoffs more than Detroit, but defensive woes continue for Chicago, which could allow the Lions to pull ahead.  Green Bay is going to be really good this year.  Aaron Rodgers is healthy, and the defense has improved.  Honestly, they could be a Super Bowl team.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals- 10-6

2. Baltimore Ravens- 9-7

3. Pittsburgh Steelers- 8-8

4. Cleveland Browns- 4-12

This division is so hard to predict.  Every division game is always a grudge match, no matter who is playing who.  All of these teams have good defenses, and most of the weight resides on how the offenses preform.  The Browns easily land at the bottom of the list.  They will hopefully improve if Johnny Manziel is playing, but no matter who is at QB, they need wide receivers.  The Steelers have another typical 8-8 season, but could exceed given how the other division foes preform.  I like the Ravens this year.  They added Steve Smith, another target for Joe Flacco, who should have a bounce back season.  This Ravens team could be fighting for a Wild Card spot late in the season.  The Bengals end up winning, because of their fierce defense and weapons on the offensive side.  This team seems built for the regular season, but not for the postseason, and that issue resides at QB.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints- 13-3

2. Atlanta Falcons- 10-6

3. Carolina Panthers- 6-10

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 3-13

The Buccaneers and Vikings are two teams that I didn’t think about being this bad till I looked at their schedule.  The Buccaneers signed Josh McCown to a big deal in the offseason to be their starting QB.  Yes, the guy who took over for Cutler.  I’m not sure who lost their mind in the Tampa Bay front office, but it definitely will affect their season.  I’m not sure how much better they would’eve been if Mike Glennon would play, but he’s the better QB.  The Saints should be totally revamped and could make a trip deep in the Playoffs.   The Panthers were the breakouts last year will have a decent slip this year.  They lost multiple wide recievers and had four offensive lineman retire this offseason.  Cam Newton is great, no doubt, but his supporting cast is very weak.  The Falcons will have a bounce back year (see here) and should be a whole better.  They have their devastating duo at WR back with Roddy White and Julio Jones, which should help Matt Ryan rebound.  The Falcons will easily be in the running for a Wild Card spot.

AFC South (do I really have to write about this?)

1. Indianapolis Colts- 13-3

2. Houston Texans- 7-9

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- 3-13

4. Tennessee Titans- 3-13

This what a terrible division gets you, Indy.  The Colts will sweep every game in their division.  There is no chance that they lose a division game.  Meanwhile, the Texans will rebound, because there isn’t much anything worse 2-14.  This team has so much talent.  Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer.  I had almost never heard of Tom Savage except for his Arizona Wildcat days.  So what do you?  Play Case Keenum!!! Yea!!!  He’s better than anyone else at QB on your team!  My lord, Bill O’Brien.  I’m not even going to talk about the Titans or Jaguars, except for the fact that hot shot down here needs to get his mind straight and play his No.3 overall pick.

KAHNNNNN!!!!
KAHNNNNN!!!! (Jags owner)

Moving on to a couple of divisions that know how to play football, unlike some above.

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks- 13-3

2. San Francisco 49ers- 11-5

3. Arizona Cardinals- 10-6

4. St. Louis Rams- 5-11

The best division in football proves itself again, as three teams hit 10 wins.  The Seahawks are easy ten win team as they look to repeat as champions.  They will certainly get close if no there.  The 49ers defense has lost some key player, but a revamped offense should cover that.  The 49ers will probably make the playoffs, giving some kind of typical big NFL injury happening.  My beloved Arizona Cardinals end right where they did last season, a great team with a 70/100 QB and a ferocious defense makes it to ten wins, then get hosed because of limit of playoff teams (little rant there, sorry).  The Rams were already set up for a disappointing season after Sam Bradford’s ACL tear, and their schedule won’t help them be any good.  Hopefully their defense can keep them in games, and they could exceed my prediction.

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos- 13-3

2. Kansas City Chiefs- 10-6

3. San Diego Chargers- 8-8

4. Oakland Raiders- 3-13

Probably the second best division in football, the AFC West features three really great teams.  The Broncos, undoubtedly, will have another great season at 13-3.  This really doesn’t need much more debate.  The next two teams may stir some thoughts though.  The Chargers have a new, revamped, fast paced offense this year.  There is no doubt in my mind that it will be great.  It will work.  However, their defense is still a big question mark.  I don’t believe that they have enough talent.  This will be a interesting team to watch.  The Chargers will either prove me wrong, or they fall back to a .500 record.  The Chiefs will pull ahead of the Chargers.  That may be controversial, but I think that their offense and defense put together is enough for them to win 10 games.  I don’t feel great about it, but if they preform well enough, they can get there.

Playoff Seeds

AFC 

1. New England Patriots

2. Denver Broncos

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Cincinnati Bengals

5. Kansas City Chiefs

6. Baltimore Ravens

NFC

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Seattle Seahawks

3. New Orleans Saints

4. Philadelphia Eagles

5. San Francisco 49ers

6. Chicago Bears

 

 

 

 

 

What To Watch For: College Football Week 1

It is finally here.  College Football returns Thursday, in a big, jammed packed Thursday and Friday schedule this week.  My format for college football will be a little different than other sports.  Since there are so many games each weekend in college football, I will preview the games that are between ranked teams, big conference matchups, upset alerts, and any other game that has a fancy to it.  Week 1 definitely has some great games, including one possible major upset.

 No.21 Texas A&M vs. No.9 South Carolina

Both teams lost a whole in the draft this past year, and recovering will have it’s pains, but this is a great SEC Conference matchup featuring two ranked teams.  South Carolina has Mike Davis, the stud running back who had 11 TD’s last season.  The Aggies are starting Kenny Hill, a sophomore QB who’s thrown a 183 yards in his career.  The Gamecocks should take care of the Aggies in Columbia.  Prediction: South Carolina-27 A&M-20

No.16 Clemson vs.No.12 Georgia

Personally, Georgia is a little overrated.  I don’t think they deserve the No.12 spot in the nation, though they still have Todd Gurley.  Aaron Murray is with the Chiefs, and Huston Mason played two games last season.  He put up a lot of yards, but threw three interceptions.  Clemson lost a lot of talent too, and it still bugs me that they never won a national championship.  They still have a lot of experienced guys, and they definitely make a bowl game this year.  Prediction: Clemson-20 Georgia-17

No.14 Wisconsin vs. No.13 LSU

A great non-conference matchup between two closely ranked teams, this one should be a dandy.  It’s also being played at NRG Stadium (formally Reliant Stadium) in Houston, Texas.  A QB competition has been taking place at LSU and Wisconsin and both coaches haven’t named a starter.  Both of these teams have great defenses, and it should be a low scoring game.  Prediction: Wisconsin-14 LSU-10

Other Interesting Games

No.15 USC vs. Fresno State

A matchup of last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, where USC killed a heavily favored Fresno State, a team which included Derek Carr.  This is a very interesting game.  I’m a little confused about how high USC was ranked, but after Steve Sarkisian was hired this offseason, so I see where it came from.  Fresno State won’t have the year they did last year, and they could really fall apart quickly.  USC should roll through this game.  Prediction: USC-35 Fresno State-7

Miami (FL) vs. Louisville

Both teams were great last year, and both lost their star QB’s to the NFL.  Louisville has a new coach in Bobby Petrino after Charlie Strong left for Texas.  Louisville killed their conference rival last year, when both were ranked, 36-9.  This game shouldn’t be that bad, but it would be a upset should Miami win. Prediction: Louisville-24 Miami-13

Upset Alerts

This week provides a couple of upset alerts, including the No.1 team.

No.1 Florida State vs Oklahoma State

I may be crazy, but Florida State has a tough game Week 1.  The game is a neutral site, being played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.  The Cowboys put up points, and so the Seminoles.  If Oklahoma State puts up points, this one could come down to the wire, and possibly send the Seminoles to 0-1 record to begin the season.

Boise State vs. No.18 Ole Miss

Another neutral site game, being played at the Georgia Dome, this game features a team who isn’t used to be not ranked come kickoff week, and a team who should be making some noise in the SEC this year.  Boise State has a new coaching staff, and probably won’t be a big threat to anyone.  Ole Miss lost a lot of close games last year, and they should be rebounding a bit.  No matter who coaching the Broncos, Boise State plays tough, and even though Ole Miss is favored, the Broncos could get in a groove that the Rebels can’t stop.

 

Should The Clippers Change Their Name?

The Clippers have a new owner after the total catastrophe of Donald Sterling.  The league did a great job handling the situation.  Adam Silver handed down the death penalty in NBA terms, by suspending Sterling for life.  He battled all he could to appeal, and just recently, he gave up.  The sale of Clippers went through to Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft.  The guy is a total riot.  Energetic and smart, he’s going be to a great owner.  He’s going to hire a bunch of smart people, and will easily help this team succeed.  The issue Ballmer needs to tackle first is the name of the Los Angeles Clippers.  I believe it should be changed.

The Clippers have never been good.  They’eve had a terrible owner, and have been a bad team since Sterling bought them in 1986.  Honestly, the Clippers name and brand is trashed.  Clippers aren’t even related to Los Angeles, the name originates from San Diego.  Funny, because my Dad believes they should just move down there.  I strongly disagree.  Anyways, I have my ideas for a new name.  I’ve heard some of them from other personalities, and I have my own.

My first choice would be: California Condors

Why?- This is honestly a great name.  Condors is a very California name, and it flows.  Imagine Blake Griffin, part of Lob City, stuffing basketballs down hoops, and flying through the air like a condor. It’s prefect!  The only downside to the name is California part.  The Warriors have the “Golden State” trademark.  Honestly, “Golden State” really applies to Northern California, in the area between San Luis Obispo and the Bay Area.   I lived there for four years, and the Bay is nothing but golden hills in the Summer.  It’s not a huge deal, but California and Golden State are pretty close.  But everyone knows Golden State is the Bay Area team.  Again, California Condors flows, and it’s my first choice.

Other names and possibilities…..

Hollywood Knights/Nights-  This is definitely my second choice.  I believe that “Nights” is better than “Knights”, because it’s a total Southern California name.  Pair it with the song, and the jerseys would be awesome.  I also believe that the location name Hollywood would be a cool add on.  It’s a total revamp of a ravaged team.  Most of the Los Angeles area teams use Los Angeles as the location name, and so Hollywood would provide a different vibe.  They could build a new arena in The Hills, so they wouldn’t share Staples Center with the Lakers.

Stars/Superstars-  Another very LA Area name, it’s not my favorite.  San Antonio’s WNBA team holds that name, and it’s used in hockey (Dallas Stars).  That’s not a issue, but it is a negative.  Superstars sounds better, but it’s a little childish.  I’m not sure this is a right name for basketball team.

Steve Ballmer needs to change the name, that’s a fact.  It’s not urgent, and won’t happen until next season.  Condors is my choice, but I haven’t been seeing it as a candidate among personalities.

Where Do The Rams Go Now?

Saturday night when Sam Bradford went down against the Browns, the Rams were very optimistic that the injury wasn’t a big deal.  Early reports showed no damage to his left ACL, the one he torn in Week 7 last season.

Then came morning, and optimism turned to concern, as a MRI showed he had re-torn his ACL.  News spread like a wildfire, and support, mourning, and prayers were sent to Bradford, and a silent sorry to Rams fans.  Now, as a possible breakout star this year sits the bench, and a team who was expected big things, is now in ruin, for the most part.

The injury means three things: 1) Bradford’s contract 2) The Rams campaign this season 3) What do the Rams do with their future?

Lets break it down…

1) Sam Bradford was one of the last rookies to sign a deal under the old CBA, which allowed the Rams to give him a 6 year, $78 million contract.  It included the largest amount of guarantee money given to a rookie ever at $50 million.  The contract hasn’t payed off at all.  He’s been injured (duh) for two seasons, and has never taken his team to the playoffs.  The Rams need to seriously look at their cap situation, and could have a very different outlook next season.

2) This leads into this season, and if the Rams could be relevant this year.  The answer is no.  Especially in the rugged NFC West.  The Rams will start Shaun Hill Week 1 against the Vikings.  Hill is defiantly one of the better backup QB’s in the league.  The Rams claim that they will start him, see how he does, then possibly make a deal.  This is the right decision.  Hill has a great team around him.  The Rams defense is fierce, like every other defense in this division.  The Rams added Kenny Britt, and have a up&coming running back in Zac Stacy.  If Shaun Hill can play well, the Rams can have a decent season.  I wasn’t very high on the Rams anyway, and this will defiantly drop them in my NFL Prediction Column, which is coming, but I’m not sure when.

To counter, if the Rams don’t like how Shaun Hill looks or plays, they could swing a deal.  Names that have swirled include Kirk Cousins, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.  Let’s get Tebow out the way first.  He landed a role as a analyst for ESPN’s new network, SEC Network.  Who knows how much he is getting paid, but it has to be the next best thing for him.  He claims he hasn’t gave up his NFL dream, and is in the best shape of his life, reportedly.  If the Rams would offer Tebow a contract, he would take in a heartbeat, but overall, Tebow isn’t  going to get offered, giving what else is possibly on the table.

The Rams, if needed, will probably trade for a QB.  This is more likely.  Kirk Cousins, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Mallet are the most likely names for the Rams to ask for.  The best fit would probably Sanchez, since he was with the Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer in New York.  The real question is if Sanchez would want to reunite with him, and if the Eagles get what they want for Sanchez.  It sounds like the Eagles price for Sanchez is hefty.  They could be asking a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him.  That is a hefty price tag.  It’s kinda ridiculous.  Ryan Mallet the Patriots QB, who’s name was floated in trade rumors throughout the Spring and throughout the Draft, is another possible candidate.  Mallet has sat behind Tom Brady since 2011, and hasn’t played.  I believe he will get traded at some point.  The Patriots seem like they don’t plan on him being there when Tom Brady retires, especially after drafting Jimmy Garoppolo this year.  Mallet, if needed, should definitely be considered by the Rams.

The name that makes the most sense, and the name that will probably end being a Ram if needed is Kirk Cousins.  Another QB who’s name was rumored in trade talks, Cousins is the most ready out of all the names.  He’s got the most talent.  I seriously think he could end up on the Rams.  To counter, I’m not sure how willing the Redskins would be to give him up.  He is Robert Griffin III’s backup, and since RG3 is very injury prone, the price tag will be hefty.  The report that he is outplaying RG3 in practice is very believable.  I don’t doubt he is, but the weight that Redskins face on playing Cousins resides on what they gave up for RG3.  You can’t do that.  I try not to bring up the trade much, because it was completely lopsided so far, and inspired a movie.  Even Joe Theismann believes Cousins should be playing.  And honestly, Kirk Cousins, it may not be this season, or with this team, but Cousins will start for a team in this league, full-time, at some point.

3)  The Rams could easily cut Bradford after this year.  You would have to think the they would consider it.  Move on, and get yourself a QB of the future. (Or you trade for one)  This Rams team is stacked right now, and it is such a disappointment that Bradford went down.  It would suck to see them ditch Bradford and start over at QB.  That could take time. Serious time.  Time that some of the star players on this team don’t have.  If the Rams are really bad this year, they could take a QB with a high pick.  If they are good, whether they trade for some one or not, it could turn into a situation like the Bears last year, where the backup plays better than the starter. But I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with Shaun Hill.

So what ends up happening? Nobody knows.  If the Rams make a move for someone, I think they cut Bradford in the Spring.  They develop whoever they trade for, and hopefully won’t waste many years on it.  Bradford is a good quarterback. Should he be cut, he would be a hot commodity.  Multiple teams would try to sign him.  Some as a starter and some for a backup.

Sam Bradford suffered what is a absolutely devastating injury Saturday.  The Rams, Rams fans, the league all suffered a big loss yesterday.  The Rams organization has to be thinking about his and their future, or else the Rams may walk into some trouble next season.

 

Where Have The Royals and Mariners Came From?

This is the second part of the two-part series I have wrote this week.  Part One came out Wednesday.  In case you missed it, it’s here.

As I started Part One- The Royals are in first place.  Yes, you read that right.  This Royals team is so puzzling.  They’eve hit less home runs than anyone in the Major’s.  They walk less than anyone. And, Eric Hosmer has been on the DL.

This is insane.
This is insane.

Look at those stats!  How are they any good?  They don’t score! It’s incredible.

It’s their pitching.  They have great relievers and bullpen, unlike their division foe, the Tigers.  Starting pitching is also key in their success.  I am a Royals fan, and boy, I still can’t figure them out.  You need hitting and pitching in baseball.  It those two things that make a team.  I’ve never seen a team  where one side of the ball is so much more dominate than the other. It’s keeps them in games since they can’t score.  The also don’t blow games.  Greg Holland is one of best closers in the game.  He has 39 saves, he put up a 1.82 ERA, and his WHIP is staggering, at 1.01.

As a fan of this team, I hope they make the playoffs, of course.  I just don’t know how far they can go.  It depends on if they win the AL Central.  In the Wild Card Game, you have a 50% of winning, and keeping your hopes alive, no matter who your playing.  If you win the division, your chances go up, and you have time off.  I’m very worried about their hitting, and hopefully Josh Willingham can boost them a bit.  The Royals are definitely defining baseball right now, no matter how bad their hitting is.

The other team that has rose from the ashes are the Seattle Mariners.  This team is very balanced, and have one of the best pitchers in the league with Felix Hernandez. They went and signed Robinson Cano this offseason, who is delivering defensively, and who a little down batting wise.  The Mariners currently sit tied with the Tigers for the 2nd AL Wild Card spot.  The Tigers are definitely the better team, and as documented Wednesday, they are slumping, while Mariners are rising.  If the Mariners make the playoffs, they could move their way along, and be very scary.  This another team where pitching better than hitting.  The only guy on their nine man line-up who is hitting over.300 is Cano.  That’s somewhat of a problem, but when a team has dudes who drive in runs, which helps.  Three of the guys in their rotation are trusted, durable guys.  They also each have 10 wins.

So what’s expected of this team the rest of the season and possibly the playoffs?  Well, they have to make the Playoffs.  The hardest games on their remaining schedule are their division games.  The A’s and Angels are both great, and are much better than Mariners.  Their playoffs hopes hang on them having the talent to beat the A’s or Angels in one game, because one of those teams will have a Wild Card spot.  It would be a complete upset if the Mariners beat one of these teams.  It’s not very complicated here.  The remaining factor are Tigers (they come up a lot).  The Tigers are better than the Mariners.  This team will have to play great baseball to get a Wild Card spot.  This truly shows how competitive the AL West is.