MLB Wild Card Games Preview

The MLB Regular Season has finally ended. Personally, the season is a little to long, but it depends on who you ask and their love for baseball. They could bring it down to 150 games, which would give teams a little more rest between the season and Playoffs.

The Postseason is a crapshoot. We all know that. It’s rare when the best teams wins. But hey, that’s what makes it fun. The Red Sox weren’t the best team last year, and that’s pretty obvious now. The A’s, one of baseball’s best teams his year, found themselves in the Wild Card game versus the Royals instead of AL West division winners, due to a massive ascent from the Angels, they had a mini collapse.

There is also the Milwaukee Brewers, another one of baseball’s best teams this year. Once August rolled around, however, the team completely fell apart, and led to the Pirates and Cardinals making the Playoffs.

I’ve always loved the Cardinals as a team. I don’t root for them, but they are always so fun to watch. We know they always play their best ball late in the season, and they proved it again. St. Louis won the NL Central, and cruised their way to the NLDS, where they will play Los Angeles Dodgers.

Previews of the Division Series will come out after the Wild Card Games are complete. 

AL Wild Card Game: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland A’s

(Homerism Possible)

I’m a Royals fan. My mom grew up in Kansas City, and I have lived their before. The last time the Royals made the Playoffs, my mom was 15, a year older than me. In 1985, the Royals, with George Brett and Willie Wilson, won the World Series. They haven’t only been back to Fall Classic since then, they haven’t been back to the Playoffs.

But that came to a end this year. This team battled with the Tigers for the division, and ended up losing.  They couldn’t score runs, and their pitching staff is what carried them.  That’s my main problem with this game for the Royals.  They aren’t built for a one game elimination.  It’s going to take luck for them to win, unfortunately.

The A’s are set up perfectly for this game.  The A’s are starting Jon Lester, while the Royals are starting James Shields.  Lester came over in the huge trades the A’s made this year to get here, and losing would be devastating.  Lester can deliver, and with a poor run scoring team, this could be a bad loss for the Royals.  Their offense can explode.

The Royals will have to put up runs if they want to win.  The winner goes on to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Yes, if the A’s win, it would be a Angels-A’s ALDS.

Prediction: Oakland-7 Kansas City-2

NL Wild Card Game: San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

(Homerism Possible)

The Pittsburgh Pirates wouldn’t even be here right now if it wasn’t for having Andrew McCutchen.  I’m sorry, but he drives this team and city.  After snapping their massive playoff drought last year, they fought with the Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds for the division.  The Reds, by the All-Star Break, had fell out if it, and the Brewers were on their way down.  The Pirates settled for the Wild Card, since St.Louis always steps up this time of year.  The Pirates, who will start Edison Volquez, have a tough task ahead of them.  These Giants, stacked with the P’s, have a killer lineup.  Volquez can’t get ahead of himself. The Pirates can win this game. Getting around Madison Bumgarner, though, is where it starts.

The bottom line is simple. If Madison Bumgarner pitches like Madison Bumgarner, the Giants will win. This isn’t a scary Pittsburgh lineup. Pitch well, and you’ll be fine.

Mad-Bum is the perfect guy for this game. He keeps his cool. Under pressure or Panik (see what I did there), he won’t get ahead of himself. Again, pitch well enough, and the Giants will be in the NLDS with the Nationals. Prediction: San Francisco-5 Pittsburgh-3

 

What To Watch For: College Football Week 5

Week 5 isn’t a weekend to sit on your couch all day.  The best game comes Thursday night, and only a couple of other games stand out on Saturday.  Week 5 probably won’t be the most exciting this year.  It’s the perfect time to have a vacation, go apple picking, or fly in family (like me)!

 

No.11 UCLA vs No.15 Arizona State

(Homerism possible)

This is a dandy.  The only problem is it starts at 9 PM Central time, on a school night.  But hey, that’s what a alarm clock set at 5:30 AM instead of 6:30 is for!

Anyways, the Devils will be without Taylor Kelly, their leader and quarterback on offense.  Kelly could be out a couple more weeks with a foot injury.  Since Kelly’s a no-go, the Devils chances slip.  They have a very good defense, and if the Bruin offense can’t get up to speed, the Devils have a massive advantage.  The Bruins, also have a question at QB.  Brett Hundley, star QB and Heisman candidate, has a elbow injury, though his status has good odds.  If Hundley starts, the Bruin offense will probably get going.  There are a ton of weapons that the Devil defense has to contain.  As hard as it is to say, the Devils have a slim chance without Taylor Kelly.  Prediction: UCLA-35 ASU-17

Other Interesting Games

No.17 Georgia vs. Tennessee

Georgia put up 66 points last week as they destroyed Troy.  I don’t think Tennessee will challenge the Bulldogs.  Todd Gurley is still a animal, that has never been questioned.  If the Bulldogs put up points, they will roll.  Prediction: Georgia-45 Tennessee-14

No.6 Texas A&M vs. Arkansas

Another high-octane SEC offense, the Aggies should roll through.  The Razorbacks could put up a fight.  They can score too.  Arkansas, if they want to hang with the Aggies, have to take this game to shootout mode, but A&M will steamroll due to a good defense.  Prediction: A&M-55 Arkansas-27

No.22 Ohio State vs. Cincinnati

The Buckeyes and Bearcats should be involved in a high scoring affair Saturday night.  Both teams average over 40 points a game, and both have decent QB’s.  J.T. Barrett has played well, just decent since taking over.  Barrett needs to limit the picks, though.  The Bearcats may put up a fight, but Ohio State should pull away.  Prediction: Ohio State-37 Cincinnati-28

No.8 Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

Hey look! A Notre Dame game that’s not on NBC!

Anyways, the Orange have a tough task ahead of them.  Everett Golshon has looked great, throwing no picks so far this season.  The Irish are undefeated and definitely look like a top 10 team.  Syracuse, however, is 2-1, and have had success so far.  The Orange have to play better defense if they have any shot at this.  The offense is fine, but to compete with the Irish will be tough.  Prediction: Notre Dame-35 Syracuse-15

Upset Alerts 

No.13 South Carolina vs. Missouri

I love South Carolina, I really do.  They have a great offense and a great coach, with a great complement on defense.  However, they are going to be challenged here.  The Tigers were upset last week against Indiana.  They have to be feeling overwhelmed.  This would be a huge redemption for Missouri if they can pull it off.  If they can expose the Gamecock’s flaws, the Tigers could come out victorious.

 

Sucks To Be You Column: The Tigers Go Down

Both Tigers, or two of the three Tigers in the SEC lost Saturday, both in dramatic fashion.  It’s kind of ridiculous that there are three teams in the SEC with the name Tigers (LSU, Missouri, Auburn).

The Mississippi State Bulldogs came in un-ranked, with a very talented offense featuring Dak Prescott.  It was a pretty emotional game for him.  Growing up in Louisiana, he was recruited by the Tigers, and ended up putting up a massive game.  Prescott went 15/24 and threw for two TD’s, also running for another.  Putting up 100 yards on the ground, he led the Bulldogs to the upset win in Death Valley.

However, the game didn’t come easy at the end.  LSU, being down by 24 at one point in the fourth quarter, scored three TD’s in 12 minutes, including two within 28 seconds.  With a last minute, crazy drive, the Tigers again had the ball.  A Hail Mary at the end would decide it.  The Tigers through it up, and ended up in the hands of Will Redmond of the Bulldogs, ending the game.

One team made a statement, both teams have my concerns.  For LSU to fall behind that far was insane.  They had serious trouble running the ball, and with the highly anticipated Leonard Fournette, it’s concerning.  The Bulldogs, even with the win, can’t let go of a 24 point in the fourth quarter.  It could have been disastrous.

Mississippi State made a huge statement Saturday  The Bulldogs are 4-0, and should definitely be ranked.  They have a tough schedule ahead, and if they can keep their cool throughout it, watch out.

The Tigers though, I’m more worried about.  They’re young, I understand that.  They have a new QB and new running backs.  It’s going to happen.  Here’s the thing, though.  This is a Les Miles coached team.  These setbacks and little mini problems, shouldn’t be around much longer, and in the SEC, they can’t be.

The other Tigers to lose in the SEC yesterday was the Missouri Tigers.  Led by Maty Mauk, I liked this team earlier this year, and I’m not taking that away yet, but this is concerning.

In Columbia, the Hoosiers rolled in and battled the whole game.  With 2:20, a Tigers kicked field goal to go up by three, boosting the home crowd back to life.  The Hoosiers though, ignored it.  Driving down the field with the limited time remaining, they scored the winning TD with 22 seconds left.  It was terrible defense by the Tigers, giving up big plays and not coming up in the clutch.  The offense isn’t a problem.  But, giving up almost 500 yards to Indiana, not good.

With the two upcoming games versus South Carolina and Georgia, sure to be dandies, the Tigers have to play better defense.  The SEC has multiple high octane offenses, and to be in it at the end of the season, it has to improve.

Sucks to be you, LSU and Missouri!

What To Watch For: College Football Week 4

After a incredible weekend that included many upsets in Week 3, Week 4 may not return the favor, but will, as always be exciting.  Since a great game took place Thursday night, a recap is below, then we will get into the weekend.

Recap: No.5 Auburn vs No.20 Kansas State

This game was one of the most highly anticipated in Wildcat history.  In the Little Apple, Manhattan, Kansas, the hype was incredible.  All week was filled with pep rallies and parties.  Even though fans knew the odds weren’t great, it still part of the pride.

And the Wildcats came pretty close.  K-State missed three field goals and had multiple turnovers that contributed to the 20-14 loss.  The score was very puzzling.  I expected this to be a complete and utter shootout.  Both of these teams can score.

It came down not to the offensive production, but the offensive mistakes.  The Wildcats missed three field goals,  which would have made Auburn drive down the field to score.  The Tigers looked good, and they are with a doubt one of the top SEC teams.

 

No.22 Clemson vs No.1 Florida State

The Seminoles will be without Jameis Winston for the first half because of a suspension for a obscene phrase.  By now, mostly everyone has seen the story, or knows the phrase.  That’s as far as I will go.  As for football, it’s huge.  Clemson could easily pull out early and get ahead.  This isn’t in my upset alert, so I’m not taking Clemson.  It could be a dangerous game for Florida State, but I’ll take them anyways.  Prediction: Florida State-35 Clemson-24

Other Interesting Games

Florida vs. No.3 Alabama

This is definitely a statement game for both teams.  It can both ways.  If Alabama wins, which I expect, we’ll know that their not anyone to screw around with.  The Tide can’t be sloppy in this one.  For Florida, if they pull a unbelievable upset, this could get them ranked, and from there, it could a smooth ride to a bowl game.  Prediction: Alabama-28 Florida-17

No.4 Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

One word.  Shootout.  West Virginia can put up points, like anyone in the Big 12.  If they can score, they will hang with the Sooners.  The Sooners should have no trouble though.  They have a really good defense, and holding the Mountaineers back would be huge.  Prediction: Oklahoma-45 West Virginia-32

No.14 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

South Carolina told everybody last week to not write them off after beating Georgia.  The win pushed them to No.14.  The running game proved itself again, and should again this weekend.  The Commodores defense is really bad, and this could be a really ugly game.  The offense isn’t great either.  Vandy has to get their stuff together, unfortunately, this isn’t the game to do it.  Prediction: South Carolina-37 Vanderbilt-6

Upset Alert

Virginia vs. No.21 BYU

After what Virginia did last week to Louisville, they could be on the track for another upset.  Honestly, if they could pull this off against the Cougars, it wouldn’t be a upset.  The Cavaliers could be in for a great season if they could beat BYU.  Virginia has to be able to stop the rushing attack.  They average almost 260 yards a game rushing.  The Cavaliers have a huge opportunity, and if they take it, watch out.

Miami (FL) vs. No.24 Nebraksa

The Big 10 has had a rough season.  Multiple teams have lost games they should have won.  We may be able to add this one to the list.  Nebraska can run the football.  They always have and will continue to do so.  Miami has a great defense.  If Miami can control the Cornhuskers running attack, Miami can pull it off to add to a horrifying start for the Big 10.

 

The Oh-So Familiar Scene in Washington

If Washington fans weren’t angry and embarrassed enough, the injury to RG3 Sunday is the icing on the cake.  It’s so unfortunate that he got hurt again, but this might be a sign to the team and fans that a bigger problem may be developing.  It’s a very similar situation in St.Louis, where the Rams have a big decision to make.

As for Washington, Kirk Cousins, has a absolutely huge opportunity the rest of this year.  Even with the optimism, the only way RG3 will be coming back this year would be if they made the Playoffs.  And boy, if Cousins plays well enough to get them there, they probably wouldn’t put in RG3.

However, no matter what, I feel like the Redskins wouldn’t change QB’s after this season.  It would be such a disaster to have to bench, cut or trade RG3.  Giving what they gave up for him, from a PR and even sponsorship standpoint, I can’t fathom the idea of that.  The trade they made in the 2011 draft to get him was so massive, and lopsided (so far) it inspired a movie.

The Redskins won’t have a decision to make come Spring.  They believe in RG3, and his health.  He dislocated his ankle Sunday from landing awkwardly after throwing away the ball.  Tears streamed down his eyes on the sidelines, and he was carted off soon after.  RG3 has to be feeling lucky.  He could have easily had a fracture and ligament damage, which might of had career implications.

As said above, Kirk Cousins has a monster opportunity, though, a sign could be sent to the Redskins, that, he is a really good backup.

I’m writing this from the standpoint of how I feel the Redskins front office feels.  Cousins has shown flashes in his nine career games and four starts.  He certainly showed Sunday.  The best thing for Kirk Cousins to do is to play great this season,  get into the Playoffs, and prove the Redskins that you should start the Wild Card game over RG3.  That’s best case.

Worse case?  Well, throw 13 touchdowns and 25 interceptions this year, the Redskins fall into the top five of the draft order, and you remain backup.  Cousins, if he wants to start, for any team, has to play well in RG3’s absence.  The problem is, you convince the front office that you are a capable backup for a obviously injury prone QB.

As for RG3, he isn’t getting traded, they aren’t going to cut him.  It’s that simple!  I’m not going into it again.

He needs to learn how to A) Slide B) Be safe out of the pocket C) Just play QB and not look like some one who you know is going to get hurt.

C) is a little harsh, I’ll say.  Here’s the thing.  Whenever he runs out of the pocket, or even scrambles, he just looks like he’s vulnerable, or not comfortable with it.  It’s his specialty, yea, but it might be something that he has to cut out.

But that’s what makes him so fun to watch.  He scrambles like nobody else.  There is something different about it.  If that is what makes him the guy, then we have a problem.

NHL Lookout

With football starting early in the fall. most people forget the NHL season starts about a month afterward.  This season, I plan to watch more hockey than ever, mostly due my location.

I moved to Minnesota over the Summer.  As school starts, I am starting to realize how big hockey really is here.  Everyone plays it, everyone follows it.  Everybody can talk hockey here, and know what their talking about.

So as the season approaches, the NHL will get a preview from me.  Multiple columns will help preview and predict the season.

After my New York Rangers lost the

Hold on..

Let me cry a bit….

Ok…

Alright.

After my New York Rangers lost the Stanley Cup in Game 7 versus the Los Angeles Kings, I took into deep consideration how great hockey really is.  I thought not only about that series, but how the whole Playoffs went.  So many incredible series, game-winning goals, and upsets really made me appreciate it.  Knowing I was moving to a state that lives it, I had to.

That leads us here.  Me, and you the reader, talking, reading, writing about the upcoming and sure to deliver hockey season.

The Lock Em’ Downs

East

  • Pittsburgh
  • Montreal
  • New York Rangers

The Canadians had a great year in 2013-2014.  P.K. Subban finally gained everyone’s attention, and by that, he got paid this offseason.  A great team surrounds him, and I think this year, they could end making a even deeper playoff run.

As long as Sidney Crosby is on the the Penguins roster, you can’t count them out.  The Pens got the 2nd seed behind Boston last year, and I expect them to be up there again.  Knocked out of the Playoffs by the Rangers, the Pens, if Crosby stays healthy, could end up making it farther than that.

The Stanley Cup runner-ups have to be considered.  Their are so many good players on this team, and the Martin St.Louis trade remains one of the best moves, honestly, ever during the season.  He brought so much emotion and talent to a already great team.  If the Rangers can stay healthy, then expect to see them back in at least the Conference Finals.

West

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Los Angeles Kings

Los Angeles is all the sudden a hockey town? What?

Yea, and both teams are pretty good.

The Kings, Stanley Cup Champion Kings, are loaded again and will be in the thick of things.  The question is, how far can they go?  The Kings got lucky last year.  After being down 3-0 (drying up a tear, check the My Teams page) they came back and won the opening round 4-3.  One of the greatest comebacks ever, they rolled through everyone else, then won a nail biting, exciting Cup.  The Kings simply got hot at the right time.  Johnathan Quick goal-tended outstanding, Drew Doughty played amazing defense.  It all came together.  I’m not saying they’re going slide, even though they finished with the 6th seed last year, but their postseason run might not be so extensive.

Moving South, the Ducks clinched the No.1 overall seed for the Playoffs last year.  A monster 54 win season carried them to Playoffs, only to knocked out by the crosstown Kings in the second round.

 

 

Sucks To Be You Column: A Day For The Ages

The title says all.  I believe Saturday was one the wilder days in my lifetime.  Four teams ranked in the Top 25 lost, including two teams ranked in the Top 10.  The most shocking upset was Boston College beating the USC.  Nobody had Boston College, they pulled off the unthinkable.  USC was overrated anyways, but it was still a massive upset.

The other Top 10 team to lose came with the biggest game of the weekend.  South Carolina beat Georgia in Columbia, and it was a incredible football game.  The Gamecocks played outstanding in the first half, Up 24-13 at half, they were in business.

Georgia played well, they just couldn’t get finish their comeback.  The Bulldogs came back, and took it down to the wire.  It came down to one spot, a incredible spot by the refs on 4th down, which certified the win.

The real difference though, was Georgia’s two missed field goals, especially one with 4:24 left in the game, which gave the Gamecocks the ball.  As for Georgia’s statistical performance, Todd Gurley ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and Huston Mason threw the ball very well.  It really came to the moments in the clutch that killed Georgia.  The Gamecocks were led statistically by Dylan Thompson, who only threw nine incompletions and three touchdowns.

The best game of the day proved itself, but the outcome was one nobody expected.  I wanted to pick the Gamecocks really bad, but felt Georgia was the safest bet.  Boy, do I regret that.

Two other big upsets took place Saturday, including one that will heavily affect Ohio State’s now very slim playoff hopes.

The East Carolina Pirates seem to be the team that wins enough games to get to a bowl game, but not any further.  I swear, every year they play in the Beef O Brady’s Bowl (now St. Petersburg Bowl).  It’s the easiest bowl game to get to.

But that just might of changed.

The Pirates shocked the Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, just like what the Hokies did to the Buckeyes.  East Carolina pulled out to a early lead, up 21-7 at halftime.  The Hokies didn’t give up, and scraped their way back into the game.

East Carolina, though, had the hot hand, literally.  Shane Carden through two passes of more than 25 yards on the game-winning drive, then ran into the end zone for the TD with 16 seconds left.

It was the last thing Ohio State needed.  The Hokies loss makes the Buckeyes loss to them look really bad, and probably eliminated any chance of the Buckeyes making the Playoff.

As far as it goes for the Pirates, it’s a game they probably won’t forget.  It’s their first road victory over a Top 25 team since 1996.  The Pirates probably won’t make the Playoff, but have definitely boosted their chances of making it past St. Petersburg.

The last upset of a wild day came also in the state of Virginia.  Virginia faced off with conference rival Louisville, the No.20 team in the nation.  Another instance where a comeback took place, Louisville battled back after being down 20-7 at one point.  Will Gardner, Louisville QB, didn’t help though.  He threw two picks and only posted a QBR of 21.  Virginia really outplayed Louisville, and that’s what it came down to.

It’s a huge win for a Virginia program that could emerge as a sleeper in this conference, but that’s a ways out still.

So, sucks to be you, USC, Georgia, Louisville, and Virginia Tech.