Editor’s Note

I try to limit these notes, because they usually don’t have great news.  That’s (kinda) the case with this one.

Today is my first day of school.  I’m starting my sophomore year of high school.  I’m expecting a workload I’ve never had before with school.  Yeah, I said that last year, and I feel like I say it every year and it never pans out.  But it’s starting to get serious when it comes to education.  I mean, crap, I’m gonna be in college in three years.

With school starting up again, there’s the possibly of content being reduced.. much more this year than others.  The quality will always be the same.  Everything is always from me and always will be unless I note otherwise.

Balancing this site, school, a social life and everything else has been easier than I thought.  This is the year that could change.  You gotta prepare for anything.

If school takes over my ability to write on here, then something will have to change.  I’ve thought about what will happen, and what changes I’ll have to make.  It may include a new site, it may only cover one sport, which sucks.

Nothing’s official yet, and maybe, like last year, nothing will change.  Maybe I’ll be able to hammer out those 2-3 columns a week I’ve been doing the past 15 months.  But again, you gotta prepare for anything.

Contact me at any of these places:

Email: hunterhippel@gmail.com

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SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/hippelsportshub

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Are There Any Non-Power 5 Playoff Contenders?

As a college football fan, we know, and care, about the Power 5 conferences.  Those are the biggest and best schools in the country within Division 1.

This photo includes Notre Dame, but not the other Independent schools. As you'll see later, I don't considered Notre Dame as a Power 5 school.
This photo includes Notre Dame, but not the other Independent schools. As you’ll see later, I don’t considered Notre Dame as a Power 5 school.

This is a perfect map of the teams I care about.  I care about the Power 5 schools and the top 25, which has included non-Power 5 schools before.

The playoff contenders this season mostly come from the Power 5, but there has to be a school or two that could make it’s way in, right?

Here, we’re gonna try to find that school that could be contending in December for a playoff spot.  It’s unlikely, but has happened before.  Remember when Boise State was really, really good a couple years ago, and won the Fiesta Bowl versus Oklahoma (They did it last year too, but I like to forget that game because of their opponent)?  Yeah, who saw that coming….

I’ve picked out a couple teams who could contend for the Playoff, who aren’t in a Power 5 conference.  The first team is an independent.

Notre Dame

Unlike the BCS, Notre Dame doesn’t have requirements to meet to make it.  It’s simple, and is recapped here.  Just be good enough.

And honestly, it shouldn’t matter whether they’re in a conference or not.  Discriminating against them would be like not allowing two teams from the same conference into the playoff.  Again, just be good enough.

So can the Fighting Irish be good enough?

I’m not as high on Notre Dame.  Everyone has this team at 11 wins or so, which would leave them with a one-loss season.  There’s some really good teams on their schedule!  I believe Stanford, which they cap the season off with, could win the Pac-12.  Georgia Tech is the Irish’s 3rd opponent, in what will be a great offense-defense matchup.  The Irish’s defense will be better this year, after last year’s 71st overall ranking.  Their d-line is small, but the linebacking core is one of the better ones in the country.

On offense, they have play-making quarterback Malik Zaire, who was great in last year’s Music City Bowl (or as I called it, the All-Dissapointment Bowl).  In that wild, crazy game, Zaire was 12/15 passing with 96 yards, but had another 96 yards with his feet.

We haven’t seen much of Zaire, but he’s got a lot of hype around him.  This is his 3rd year, so he’s sat and learned for awhile.  Hopefully that can pay off.  New guys that come in can take awhile, especially when there are big expectations, and with Notre Dame, those aren’t anything new.

There’s not gonna be a lot of people that agree with me, but I believe Notre Dame doesn’t have what it takes to live up to the expectations.  I see three losses on their schedule.  However, nothing like what happened last year will take place.  That four game losing streak was so unpredictable, and by the time the USC game came around, they had given up.

Again, nothing like that will happen to the Irish again.  But I don’t think we’ll see Notre Dame in the playoff this season.

Boise State

Alright, there is issues with this team, and I don’t have a lot of happy thoughts towards this team after what they did to my Wildcats to end last season, but they could be really, really good.

I look at their schedule, and it’s possible they could go undefeated.  That probably won’t happen, as they open the season with tough games against Washington and BYU.  That could be an 0-2 start right there.

But there’s a lot that will go right for the Broncos.  They were the 13th best offense in the country last year, like, this team was good!  And it seems like they just haven’t gotten enough attention even with winning the Fiesta Bowl.  No one’s talking about them!

There are some bigger concerns this year.  The offense will regress with some-what new quarterback Ryan Finley taking over.  This isn’t the guy who took them to the Fiesta Bowl, so there will be some turnover.  The Broncos do have a great offensive line, and they’re huge, averaging 294.2 pounds between their lineman.  Have fun, opposing defenses.

I think the Broncos have some defensive holes, but they’ll be good enough to cover them up.  The line, like the offense, is stacked.  Elsewhere, there’s issues, but again, they’ll be able to hide them.

The Broncos probably aren’t going to the Playoff, and neither is Notre Dame.  But I won’t be shocked if one of these teams is in it late in the year.

Should We Only Care About College Football Playoff Contenders This Year?

With the Preseason AP Poll out yesterday, college football is here.  Yay!

With so many teams in Division 1, a preview is very hard.  So, to get ready for the season, we’re gonna do big picture columns.  Previews of conferences, contenders, and storylines heading into the season.  Since there’s a little more than a week till kickoff night, we better get started!

Since we only have four teams in the playoff, that’s who we should care about, right?  I mean, if only four teams get a shot at the National Championship when the time comes, then we should spend the season figuring out who, right?

It’s pretty unfair to the other teams, who know they’re heading for a non-New Years Six bowl game.  Yeah, there’s 34 others bowls (35 if you subtract the National Championship), but the general public doesn’t care.  They care about their team, and the 12 teams who’re playing in the New Years’ Six, because they were good enough to be recognized by the committee.

This discussion can have two paths, and there’s two paths I’ve already made in this column: 1): There’s too many bowls.  2): We need more teams in the playoff.

Those kinda contradict each other.  If we put more teams in the playoff, you re-work the New Years Six, and eliminate say, 2-4 extra bowls games that are invitation only.  That might be the perfect resolution, but remember, there’s a business side to everything.  The NCAA, playoff committee, and ESPN (who has television rights) keep saying they’re sticking with four teams.  ESPN’s already paying a ton of money for the rights, and adding more would ramp up the cost.  Adding two extra playoff games would be a huge money maker for the NCAA, as if they don’t need more.

That’s why I’m so confused about the opposition to an eight team playoff.  It took us one year to realize that eight was needed.  If we go through this again, the NCAA is basically gonna turn into a combination of the NFL and a 14 year girl on Twitter when it comes to running away from their problems.

So what can the disrespected teams do during the season?  Let’s run through some ideas:

Pull of an upset

Getting your team known by the casual college football fan by pulling an upset is the most exciting thing you can do as a team.  How many people knew Appalachian State existed when the upset Michigan in 2007?  I didn’t, then again, I was 7 years old, and thought Arizona and Arizona State were the only two teams that existed in Division 1.

Score an insane amount of points

High scores are more common in college football due to the pace of the game.  Offenses in the NFL are much more systematic and slower, while college teams can play at incredible speeds with funkier formations and schemes.  No one’s gonna score points at this rate, but scoring more than 60 points gets eyes to draw… And can even inspire troll jobs!

Have a player complete an incredible feat

These are just some ideas, but unfortunately, if more teams don’t have a chance to compete for the Playoff, then they won’t get noticed.  Some people just don’t care enough.


On the AP Poll, which was released yesterday….

The full poll can be found here, and nothing really shocked me yesterday.  Here’s some Quick Hits though:

  • Ohio State was ranked No.1, and is the only team to unanimously be ranked No.1 in the Preseason Poll
  • Amazing that a team that didn’t make the playoff last season is No.2
  • That should tell you something, NCAA
  • Auburn and Oregon 6&7 makes sense.  You could flip it and it’d be fine.  Those are two teams that are gonna be entertaining, but may go the opposite direction of their likings.
  • LSU at No.14 is a tad high.
  • Georgia Tech, I think, got disrespected.  They should be higher.
  • Tennessee over Minnesota at No.25?  It’s hard to judge the final spot on the Poll, but I wasn’t sure Tennessee deserved it.

More College Football Preview to come…

Where Have the Mets And Blue Jays Came From?

This is Part 2 to Tuesday’s column.  We’ll talk about the August risers in this one. 

Toronto’s run isn’t shocking.  I think most of us saw it coming.  But no one could have predicted the amount of excitement the Blue Jays have produced in Toronto.  Same for the Mets in New York.  We’ll start there.

New York Mets

The week of the Trade Deadline, with that Monday being July 27th, was the week it turned for the Mets.  That can be perfectly recapped here.

Since, the Mets have been 13-7, with Washington 7-14.  So yeah, there’s been some shifting.  The Mets now own a 4.5 game division lead over the Nationals, thanks to a better offense and more-solid defense in certain spots.

The Mets moves have worked out.  Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .275/.306/.435 in August, but does have a high amount of strikeouts.  Kelly Johnson is performing about the same as Cespedes, including the strikeout problem.  But what’s made the Mets good this season is their pitching, which has been 3rd best in the MLB this month, per WAR.  The Nationals, not surprisingly, are 6th, but others problems have plagued that team.

Using stats to explain the Mets this month is hard.  They’ve gotten momentum, and are carrying it to a large division lead.  It’s really that simple.  It helps that people are believing in them, including their owners and fans.  New York’s playoff odds have soared to 69.6%, and their chances of winning the division are greater than anything else at 68.6%.  Washington’s odds have plummeted, and their chances of making the playoffs lean on them winning the division.

The Mets are the other side of what I wrote Tuesday.  Washington can’t say “They over-took us.”, because New York has played well when Washington hasn’t.  It’s not like Washington was winning games when the Mets were.  New York would’ve had to gone on a crazy streak had the Nationals kept playing at their June/July pace.

It’s too early to speculate how the Mets will fare in the playoffs, but we do know the playoffs are a crapshoot.  A crapshoot that, if you have pitching, you’re more likely to succeed in.  New York has pitching, and plenty of it.  They’re gonna go to a six-man rotation once Steven Matz gets off the DL.  Talk about resting guys for the playoffs…

Toronto Blue Jays

It’s not a shock that Toronto is where they are.  A lot of people saw this coming after their trade deadline.  The Blue Jays are again hitting an insane amount of home runs, with 26 in August already.  They have the best ISO (Isolated Power; This is the first time I’ve used it) in the MLB at .181.

Toronto’s hitters have been so good lately, that they’re only swinging when they need to.  In August, they’ve swung at 44.2% of pitches thrown to them, which is lowest in the league.  That’s amazing considering their baseball’s best offense.

The Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs since 1993, which is the longest playoff drought in the MLB.  The city of Toronto has been through a lot the last 10 years, with the Raptors struggles until 2013, and the Maple Leafs, well, they’re the Maple Leafs.  Toronto’s sports teams haven’t won a championship since 1993, when those Blue Jays did it.

Having the Blue Jays make the postseason would be huge for Toronto and the sport.  Those Blue Jays fans are insane, and for anyone who thinks baseball hasn’t made it Canada, they’re drawing in crowds (6th in the AL in attendance this season).  Toronto making the playoffs this year wouldn’t only be great for their town, but possibly for Montreal.

It’s a long-shot, but if the Blue Jays can make a run, and put a country on their back through October, when most Canadians are already trapped inside their homes due to that miserable time called Winter, it could put more pressure on the MLB to get two teams there.  There are people who want the Expos back.  People think they can make it.  I mean, crap, they’ll draw in more people than the Rays have in Tampa Bay!

Getting the Blue Jays into the postseason might have Canada more excited about them then hockey starting.  OK, that’s a long shot.  If that did happen, that’d be the Blue Jays PR Department’s best day in, well, forever.  Could you imagine baseball beating out hockey in TV ratings in late October, when hockey’s just starting up?

Yeah, that’d be pretty cool for a lot of people.  And as of right now, there’s about a 92.2% of that happening.

What’s Happened To The Nationals, Yankees, and Angels?

I wrote this column exactly a year ago.  At the time, it was the Tigers and Braves who had fallen off majorly.    This year, those two teams were out of the picture a long time ago.

It’s almost September.  We’re getting close to a month left.  This is not the time to fall off as a baseball team.  But these three teams have, and are now in holes that could be tough to climb out of.

Washington Nationals

Here’s the team that everyone is now freaking out about.  Why?  Because they had the highest expectations out of the three.  This was not supposed to happen.  This team was projected at 92 wins this season, per PECOTA.  And yet, for the 2nd straight year, they’re disappointing.

You could say there’s more excuses this year.  They’ve been down multiple starters for most of the year, guys like Denard Span and Anthony Rendon have missed much time.  However, they’ve got a super rotation, with six starters (that was the thought at the beginning of the year).  Doug Fister got moved to the bullpen after posting a 4.45 ERA and sub-par strikeout per nine rate.  Bryce Harper has been the best player in the NL this year, and has a 7.0 WAR, best in the MLB.

So what’s happening?  Well, in August, their offense has batted .232/.298/.373, significantly worse than prior months.  The pitchers are 4-12, and have a 5.23 ERA.  Everything’s collapsing, and you can’t really blame it on one guy, or part of the team.  Since the trade deadline, they’ve been overtaken by the Mets, who bought everything they’ve needed and are cruising.

The Nationals are 4.5 games behind New York in the NL Central, and are 9.5 back of a Wild Card spot.  How’s that possible?  Well, the three best teams in the NL record-wise are in the NL Central, creating a cluster that wasn’t there in July.  So really, if Washington wanted something to blame for their sudden collapse, they could blame it on the league.  But they should know it’s their problem.  It’s happened before.

New York Yankees

While the Yankees are still up a game on the Blue Jays in mediocre AL East, New York has taken quite the tumble lately.  On July 31st, the non-waiver trade deadline, New York was six games up on the Blue Jays and Orioles.  Now, on August 18th, Toronto sits a game back of the Yankees, with Baltimore four games back.

The Orioles best hope is the AL Wild Card.  I don’t believe they’re good enough to make a run for the division, and haven’t all season.  So they’re out of the division race.

It’s New York or Toronto.  As most predicted (including me), the Blue Jays have made a run.  That’s New York’s biggest problem.

Unlike Washington, the Yankees can blame others.  Toronto, since stocking up at the Trade Deadline, has been on fire, winning 13 of their last 15 games.  They’ve soared up the standings, and into people’s playoff predictions, like mine.

So what does New York have to do?  Well, stop having pitchers get hurt would be helpful.  Bryan Mitchell, in his 2nd career start, was struck in the face by a ball last night against Minnesota, and left the game in 2nd inning (he’s got a broken nose a result).  Michael Pineda is on the DL, leading to the call-up of Luis Severino.   The Yankees still have a top ten rotation per WAR, and have a 3.11 ERA in August.  Playing better defense would help, as their DRS is 28th in the MLB.  The terrible defense and issues on the left side of the infield has led them into trade rumors about Chase Utley.  Utley would contribute much on the defense side, but brings a liability to the plate.

This race is gonna go down to the last couple days of the season, and it’s gonna be great.  Toronto shows no signs of letting up, but I also expect New York to shape up here, making this race seem competitive again.

Los Angeles Angels

The Astros have been the biggest surprise of the season in terms of beating projections (sorry Yankees, Royals, and Twins).  And because of their shocking season, the Angels have suffered.

I’ve written about it before, but the Angels biggest problem have been the off-the-field issues.  There was the power struggle between Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipito, and then the C.J. Wilson controversy, which is settled by him having surgery.  They’re only hurting themselves.  If there was a stat for off-the-field distractions’ negatively impacting a team, the Angels would be first.

LA’s offense has tanked in August, as they rank 28th by batting WAR in the MLB.  They’ve made moves to boost it, but so far it hasn’t made an impact.  The Angels have a very decent bench, with a surplus of utility and power.  It’s a mechanics thing for LA right now; guys just can’t hit in one of the most important months.

The Angels’ pitching has been pretty average all year, and has kept that trend through August.  There are guys who could step up, such as Jered Weaver.  Weaver’s had a down year compared to his amazing 2012 year and solid 2014 campaign.  His WAR’s never been lower in his career.  An increase in production would help the Angels majorly.

The Astros aren’t going away, as they have a 2.5 game lead on LA right now.  The Angels are playoff caliber, I mean, they have the front-runner for the AL MVP.  Only half a game out the Wild Card, LA has to keep it together.  A slip can cost them more than they ever imagined, especially in the crowded AL.

Again, they’re only hurting themselves.  Like Washington, there’s no one to blame.

Part 2 coming sometime later this week about the latest risers in baseball…..

How Much Do Managers Mean To A Team?

Baseball managers are weird.  They wear the same uniforms as their players.  They usually don’t say much.  Some would say they don’t get enough credit.

Baseball managers make decisions during the game that can flip the contest.  Like pull a pitcher, or make a pinch-hit substitution.  Their decisions in game are what matter most in their job.  But, the wrong decision can cost them a game.

These decisions are what we use as a barometer to judge a manager’s performance.  We can also use analogies to judge a managers’ performance, or at least simulate an in-game decision.

That analogy is my school district’s grading system.  Yup, you probably just shook your head.

My school’s grading system works like this:  There’s summative and formative assignments.  Formative assignments are things like classwork, homework, quizzes…. AKA the little things.  They account for 20% of your total grade.  Summative assignments are things like tests, projects, and bigger assignments.  That makes up 80% of your total grade.  Bottom line:  Study for your tests.

Before I go any farther, let me say a couple things.  I’m not insulting the grading system.  I’m simply using it in analogy to try and prove it’s faults.  I’m not completely opposed to this certain grading system, but I do believe it needs work.  It’s nothing like I’ve ever had before, and that says a lot coming from someone who’s been educated in four different states.  Putting 80% of a kid’s grade on a single chapter test seems like too much, especially since we’re only sophomores in high school.  Anyone can have a bad day;  I’ve had bad days before, where I bomb a test or something.  It happens to everyone, and when it does, it’s wrong to tank a grade because of it.

Back to the baseball end of this, managers’ in-game decisions can sway a game, kinda like how a summative assignment can swing a grade majorly.  Here’s an example:

There’s two men on base.  Two outs, bottom 8th, the home team is down 6-5.  They want to close it out in the top of the 9th.  The away team’s pitcher has blown a big lead.  The manager is contemplating what to do.  From here, there’s two scenarios:

  1. He leaves the pitcher in.  The pitcher then gives up a bases clearing double and it’s 7-6.  The pitcher then comes out.
  2. He pulls the pitcher, and puts a bullpen guy in.  The reliever gets them out of it.

In No.1, this could be blamed on the manager or pitcher.  Had the manager pulled him, the double was less likely to occur.  The pitcher still gave up the hit, but numbers would say pull him, especially after what he’s already given up.  In that case, it’s the manager’s fault.

So how does this compare to a grading system?  Well, if the manager is a student, then an ill-fated decision/assignment can cost you.

A student has a big, summative test.  They study and study.  They sits down to take the test.  It’s Friday.

Monday.  The test comes back.  D.

Since this was a summative assignment, that D accounts for 80% of his grade, which pretty much drops their grade to a D.  And that student is screwed.


Because once you blow the lead, you’ve got one inning to gain it back, and chances are you won’t.

Same with this test.  Once you’re in a hole, with your grade at a D, it’s very hard to get back.  You can’t do extra credit to raise it, because those assignments are a mere 20% of your grade.

And say you ace your next test.  It’ll bring it up, but not much.

That’s the next example:  Making a right decision when you’ve already gotten yourself in a hole.

Take the same manager.  After not pulling the pitcher, he makes a move, putting in a pinch-hitter for a struggling player in the top of the 9th.

That pinch-hitter gets on base, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate.  That’s a successful at-bat.

But do we credit the manager much for making that move?  Stats would say that’s a great move by the manager, as the struggling player had a less likely chance of getting on base (it’s really common sense).  But, managers don’t get credit for moves like that.  It’s not their problem, it’s the media’s.  The media doesn’t make a big deal out of a manger’s right decision, but does make a big deal out of a manger’s wrong decision.

The media revolves around things that are great and things that are terrible.  A manager’s correct decision doesn’t get much media attention, because it’s not either of those, it was, well, just solid.  Part of it is the lack of baseball coverage, and, for lack of a better explanation, most people just don’t care enough about that decision.  It’s only people who really love the game that care.

Back to the analogy, the manager’s right decision doesn’t give him true credit, since no one really notices.  Say you ace your next test after that dud of one.  Guess what!  You’re still screwed.  It’s set up so that once you’re in a hole, you can’t get out.  It’s very, very hard to regain that what you once had.  Just like in baseball, it can be hard to come back, especially after blowing a big lead.

I think the 80%/20% system is rigged in a certain direction.  It’s basically 20% positive, 80% negative, when it comes to summative assignments.  A high grade on a summative assignment could raise it 20%, but a bad grade could drop it 80%.

Manager’s value to a team vary, based on their in-game decisions.  There’s no real way to prove a manager’s true value.  It varies, depending on when they screw up.  It’s like the grading system.  You’re grade depends on when you screw up, and when you do, there’s nothing to save you.  Something’s wrong with that.

This column was written by Hunter, and express his and only his views.  The scenarios presented are based of his own experiences, and don’t account for anyone else, who may not care as much as he does about a grade.  Hunter hopes this column will change the outlook on his school’s grading. 

Geno Smith’s Injury Is So, So Jets

As I usually do, when a big story breaks, I take to Twitter.  But after Tuesday’s news of Geno Smith having a broken jaw, I had no words.

Geno Smith has a broken jaw resulting from a locker room fight with IK Enemkpali.  The injury will keep him out 6-10 weeks, which is absolutely killer to the Jets, who planned on being at least a little bit better this season.

If I had a hot take for this, it’d be: “This is so, so Jets.”

And it is.  It truly is.  The Jets are known for things not going their way, and being terrible, and anything that’s not good.  This is just another one of those crazy situations with this team.  It never ends.

It probably could have been avoided.  First of all, the fight, which resulted in Geno Smith being punched (not sucker punched; that was the original report; it has changed), was sparked after a $600 plane ticket IK Enemkpali bought for Geno to attend his football camp wasn’t fulfilled.  Geno never made it to the camp, due to a family issue.  IK thought he deserved a refund from Geno.  But really?  Sure, $600 is a lot of money, but you’re an NFL player.  You make millions.  I’m pretty sure you’re okay.

What’s even stranger is the fact that IK Enemkpali even has a football camp.  This is a name I hadn’t heard of since Tuesday morning.  I had no clue who he was.  How in the world does he have a football camp?  Good football players should have football camps.  Players that kids have heard the name of (like Rod Woodson!  I attended his football camp in 5th grade).

Ryan Clark came out and said that IK has always been uptight about money, and that this wasn’t the first time IK and Geno had spat over money, which adds a some more fuel to the fire.  However, the fact that Geno was even invited to the football camp is strange, as these guys had a friendship before Tuesday’s fight.

This whole thing is so screwed up.  I couldn’t say that enough when talking to other people about it.  I’ve never seen or covered anything like it.  It’s just strange, but then again, it is so, so Jets.

As for the football side of this, I mean, if the AFC East wasn’t confusing enough this year.  The Patriots could be without Tom Brady for the first four games.  The Bills have no actual quarterback, which immediately takes them out of contention.  The Jets are now down their starter, which actually might be a good thing, depending on how you feel about Geno Smith.  Then there’s the Dolphins, who honestly look like the division favorites.

It’s a mess, which isn’t anything new in the AFC.  The Jets have two other quarterbacks on the roster:  Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Bryce Petty.

Fitzpatrick has been named the starter by Todd Bowles, which is too bad (more on that later).  In 12 games started last year for Houston, he threw for 2,483 yards, 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.  The Texans were 6-6 in those games.  So, the Fitzmagic didn’t really pay off, because those stats were a lot better than I remember.  New York has a lot of talent.  They have some offensive weapons, and a killer defense.  Still, this is not a 10 win team, even if the Fitzmagic is present.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been a viable starter.  He’s always been exactly what the Jets are using him for:  A fill-in.

The most interesting thing Todd Bowles said was that, once Geno is healthy, that the job may not be his.  That’s basically saying that, if Fitzmagic is present, then the job is still Ryan’s.  Which is fair, and fine.

For Jets fans, this could two ways:

  1. “We’re so, so cursed.”
  2. “Yay, no more Geno!”

This isn’t great for Geno at all.  This was his make or break season, and now he’s gonna be out close to half of it.  It doesn’t seem like the Jets are sorry for Geno.  Todd Bowles was pretty pissed Tuesday.  I don’t blame him.  The Jets didn’t think they’d win 10 games with Geno, but probably thought they’d be much better, thanks in large part to the possible Tom Brady suspension.  Now, eight games or less seems likely.


You guys know.  I’ve been on the Bryce Petty bandwagon for awhile, ever since his first years at Baylor.  I thought it was the perfect pick for the Jets in 4th round.  Petty has a insanely strong arm, and great pocket presence.  His only question:  Can his game translate?  Baylor’s offense was high powered, fast, and different from anything else.  The biggest question was if Petty could go from that to a more NFL styled offense.  It was a chemistry thing.

I think the Jets are making a mistake not giving Petty a chance.  Reports are that he’s had a rough first Training Camp, but again, he’s a rookie.  A rookie that went in the 4th round, not 1st overall.

If the Fitzmagic doesn’t exist this season, then the Jets should consider Petty to start.  I mean, why not?  It’s already a lost season!

We do this every year with the Jets.  Not bad, but not great.  They’re just kinda there, like a certain 14 MLB teams right now.  And they’re gonna be just kinda there all season.  But they will make headlines.  No one will doubt that.

On Aldon Smith’s release….

Sucks to be you, 49ers fans!  I taunted a couple 49ers friends after the release, just because this was supposed to be the year they became the first team to host the Super Bowl in their home stadium.  Trust me, two years ago, that was the hope, and the belief.

And look at where we are now with this team.  Everyone is gone.   You wanna run through them?  Yeah, that sounds fun!

  • Chris Borland
  • Mike Iupati
  • Frank Gore
  • Michael Crabtree
  • Jim Harbaugh
  • Anthony Davis
  • Andy Lee
  • Justin Smith
  • OC (Greg Roman)
  • DC (Vic Fangio)
  • Patrick Willis
  • Aldon Smith

Good lord!  This team was in the Super Bowl three years ago!  And now they’ll be lucky to win seven games!

The Aldon Smith release really didn’t surprise me.  He’s had trouble in the past, and obviously hasn’t gotten help.  This has been going on since he was drafted, and cutting him was the right decision by the 49ers.  Smith’s celling was so high, not to say that’s it’s not anymore, but Smith can’t worry about football now.  He has to take the next year (which is probably how long he’ll be suspended) to get help, then worry about football again.

On yesterday’s court meeting between Tom Brady and the NFL….

The biggest thing that came out of yesterday’s court meeting was this sketch, which is so, so bad.



Talk about deflating.   His face looks deflated.

Anyways, the judge ripped into both sides yesterday.  I mean, neither side had great answers for the questions asked.  This judge doesn’t want to make a ruling on this.  He wants the two sides to figure it out in settlement talks, which would diminish Brady’s suspension.

Whether Brady did anything or not, the NFL continues to look worse and worse in this case.  Dragging this out to August is one thing, but the people and evidence that has came out against the NFL has been insane lately.  Some people are tossing grenades, some are making simple, damaging statements.

The most disturbing thing about DeflateGate is the league’s opposition to getting it over with.  Roger Goodell’s whole job is to help prevent scandals like this.  All he’s done during his tenure is make them worse.


On the NFL to Los Angeles, which is gaining much steam… 

The NFL has made it clear.  They want two teams in Los Angeles, but only one stadium.  That proposal seems like a done deal, with the Raiders and Chargers combining on plans to build a stadium to share.  Neither the Raiders or Chargers are getting new leases done, and have no plans for building new stadiums in their respective cities, yet.

The Rams have also been subject to move to Los Angeles, but out of the three teams talking about relocation, the Rams are the only one with a proposed stadium in their current city.  However, owner Stan Kroenke has purchased land in the LA area (in Inglewood), the former spot of the Hollywood Racetrack.  Kroenke’s proposal is huge, and looks pricier than the stadium in Carson.

It’s a matter of leases and new stadiums, but if I had money on it, I’d bet the Raiders and Chargers fulfill the Carson Stadium plan.  It makes sense, and is a better site than the one in Inglewood (in my opinion… I’ve unintentionally been by the Carson spot).

In terms of timing, I would be surprised if a team is playing in LA by next season.  No stadium would be ready by then.  What makes most sense is to keep whatever two teams are moving in their cities till a stadium is ready.  Moving a team now would put them in a temporary spot, like the LA Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl.

I’d expect an official announcement soon as to what’s happening, but for now, San Diego and Oakland fans better enjoy their team now.


The Problem With Baseball Broadcasts

John Kruk was a good baseball player.  Three All-Star Games, an exact career batting average of .300, and 100 home runs.  He played from 1986-1995.  Pre-Moneyball.  Pre-sabermetric.

So one would say, “It’s okay if he’s not aware of sabermetrics.”  Fine.  But what he doesn’t realize, is that now, everything that’s happening on the field is based off of them.

During a game I was watching last week, that had Kruk as one of the announcers, a home run was hit.  A bomb.  I can’t remember the player, because I forgot what teams were playing, but this ball was crushed.

After the home run, ESPN showed a graphic that displayed the launch angle, ball speed coming off the bat, and measure of the home run.

Kurt went “I’m not sure what all that means.”, as the play-by-play announcer read through the statistics displayed on the screen.

It’s not just Kruk.  It’s almost everyone in a baseball broadcast booth.  Why?  Because sports media companies like color analysts who played the game.  Who’re experienced with baseball.  The guys who still have a “classic ” view on the game, not a sabermetrical view.

That’s why Tom Verducci is a huge step for sports media.  He’s a writer.  He’s got no MLB experience.  He’s a baseball writer who’s got a voice good enough for a broadcast booth.  But do you hear him talking about sabermetrics in the booth?  Not really.  Perhaps it’s his producers telling him no, or his own decision.

The point: We need someone in the booth with a knowledge of sabermetrics, because what’s happening on the field is based off of it.

ESPN has put Jonah Keri on Baseball Tonight, which again, is huge.  But I can tell the true Jonah Keri, the writer Jonah Keri, hasn’t came out on the show.  I don’t know whether the producers are him telling not to, but I do know that we need some influence of sabermetrics on baseball broadcasts.  It makes fans more educated, and announcers more educated on the game they’re covering.

Except for beat writing, sabermetrics are everywhere in baseball writing.  And people are opposed to it.  They claim “It affects the integrity of the game.  This isn’t how baseball is supposed to be played or understood.”.  Yeah, but do you understand that every MLB team is using them?  And that 75% of the things happening on the field are based off of them?

Saber metrics are changing the way people think.  How players think.  How GMs think.  How teams as a whole think  It’s not changing how announcers think…. yet.  But someday, it will.

So, Who Are The MLB’s True Playoff Contenders?

The Trade Deadline has passed.  We’re hitting the homestretch of the baseball season.  So, who’s gonna be in the playoffs?

We can’t answer that, but we can figure who’ll be in a strong position to make them, and who’ll be on the fence coming down to the last week of the season.

To do this, we’re gonna go division by division, ruling teams out and leaving the door open for others.

AL East:

  • New York Yankees
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Boston Red Sox

We knew coming into the season that this division was gonna be great, or really bad, or very mediocre.  And turns out, it’s very mediocre.

Boston did nothing at the Trade Deadline that made it seem like they’re planning to contend.  It’s been a lost year.  They were the division favorites; sometimes the expectations can take advantage of you.  That’s what happened to Boston.  They haven’t been able to pitch or hit, and have a sub-par outfield.  We’ve been through this already.  This is the time of year where we start to only care about the contenders.  Boston isn’t one of them, and they haven’t been all season.

The rest of this division is anyone’s guess.  The Yankees sit 5.5 games up on the Orioles and Blue Jays, and 7.5 games up on Tampa Bay.  Out of anyone in the remaining four, Toronto looks the scariest.  They went all in at the Trade Deadline, grabbing more offense and an ace.  This team has a run in them, and man, are they a likable team now.  They’ve got an insane fan base behind them.  They haven’t made the playoffs in 21 years, the longest current playoff drought in the league.   Their playoffs odds have risen to 57%, per FanGraphs.

The rest of the division has much lowers odds.  The Playoff Probability chart hates Baltimore’s chances, at 24.7%.  They’re even lower on Tampa Bay.

The Rays were one of baseball’s best stories in the first half, but have now tapered off and are 7.5 games back in their division.  However, they’re only two games back in the AL Wild Card race; a race that I’ll get into later, because it’s completely insane.

Due to that 2nd Wild Card, you have to leave those four teams in the race.  You can’t count them out.

AL Central:

  • Kansas City Royals
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cleveland Indians

What was supposed to be one of baseball’s best divisions has faltered.  The Indians got off on the wrong foot to the season, thanks to a horrid defense.  I was never high on the White Sox, and saw this coming from the start of the season.  And just lately, Detroit became the latest victim to the surprising Twins and rolling Royals.

Detroit sold at the deadline, which is a cover-up way of saying “We’re done.”.   That leaves the Twins and Royals, who’s playoffs odds couldn’t be more different.  The Royals have a 98.5% chance of making the postseason, per FanGraphs.  That’s insane, but still trails the Cardinals’ numbers.

They’re 8.5 games up on the Twins in the division, which leaves the Twins in the middle of the jumbled AL Wild Card.  Minnesota won’t be winning the division, and are now having trouble keeping their WC spot.  A leaky bullpen has been their biggest problem, and even after trading for Kevin Jepsen, they still have issues.  Minnesota’s bullpen has been in use quite a bit this season, since they don’t have any starters that they can rely on too much.

Minnesota won’t be winning this division.  Since that’s the case, it’ll be a true fight to make the playoffs.

AL West: 

  • Houston Astros
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Texas Rangers
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Oakland A’s

Another very mediocre division….  The Astros now have a three game lead on the Angels in the AL West.  The slide since the All-Star Break has hurt the Angels, but hasn’t dropped their playoffs odds drastically.  They’re still at 64.8%.  Houston’s surprise season has bolstered them to high playoffs odds at 95.3%.

The biggest issue for Los Angeles has been off-the-field distractions.  First, the power struggle between Jerry Dipito and Mike Scioscia, which concluded in the unlikely way of Dipoto losing his job.  Now, a strange story surrounding starter C.J. Wilson, and whether he’s truly hurt or not.

Total hot take on that coming….

I think it’s ridiculous for other players to wonder or not whether a guy is hurt, especially a pitcher with an elbow.  Sure, the Angels need him, but this is a pitcher’s elbow we’re talking about.  It’s not a sprained ankle that won’t go away.  Pitchers should never screw around with this, and it’s plain mean to speculate otherwise.

Anyway ways, these type of distractions have been the Angels’ biggest problem.  Their tough division doesn’t help either.

It’s gonna be Houston or Los Angeles winning the division.  The loser will be getting a Wild Card spot.  Both teams are too good.

But then there’s the Rangers, who may or may not be contending this year.  They’re only two games back of the Wild Card; just another example of how clustered it is.

Just because they landed Cole Hamels at the deadline doesn’t mean they’re wanting to make the playoffs.  That move was about the future, and the possible super-rotation they could have in the next few years.  There’s better teams in front of them, and no one good behind them.  That’s not a great sign.

Again, at this point, it’s tough to say who will and won’t make the playoffs, but I think this division, as of now, is only getting two teams.

Recap: Who’s left in the AL? (Current division leaders on top)

  • New York Yankees
  • Houston Astros
  • Kansas City Royals

  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Texas Rangers


NL East:

  • New York Mets
  • Washington Nationals
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Miami Marlins
  • Philadelphia Phillies

Welcome to the NL, where predictability rules.  Everything is pretty simple here, and isn’t crowded.

Talk about a true division race.  The NL East is the tightest race at the top in baseball right now, with the Mets up one game on the Nationals .  The playoff odds like the Nationals much more than the Mets, due to their preseason projection and experience.  Washington’s odds sit at 73.1%, while the Mets’ at 38.3%.

Playoff odds don’t take the standings into consideration as much as other statistics.  They care about offense, defense, pitching, and sabermetric totals.  They like talent, and they like teams that are closer to their preseason projection.  The odds aren’t fond of the Mets because they’ve blown away their preseason projection.  Really, the playoff odds think the Mets are a fluke, still.

In this division, the Mets and Nationals are all that matter.  Unlike other divisions though, the loser of the race has a better shot at the postseason, due to the minimal crowding in the NL Wild Card race.

NL Central:

  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Milwaukee Brewers

Arguably the best division baseball, the NL Central has three teams above 50% for the playoffs.  That’s pretty dang good.  And I won’t be shocked if all three teams make it.

The Cardinals are blowing everyone away, and are close to locking the division up.  Pittsburgh’s only 5.5 games back, but St. Louis is on another level, and have been all season.

The Pirates have came on as of late, and made some minor, but nice moves at the trade deadline.  The Pirates were a team prior to July I wasn’t interested in.  They were boring.  Then July hit, and now I love watching that team (Screw you, rain delays!  (In reference to last night’s game) ).  They were in the NL Wild Card Game a year ago, but lost to the World Series Champion Giants.  It’s possible we could see that matchup again.

That would leave the Cubs out, which is a bummer.  I want the Cubs in the playoffs.  I want them in the NLCS.  OK, let’s slow down.  Here’s why:




Oops on the grammar error in that tweet….  Twitter isn’t like Facebook where you can go in and edit a post.

They have to make the playoffs first, which is an easier task in the NL.

If the Cubs get the second Wild Card, that would leave the Giants and Mets out, assuming the Pirates get the No.1 spot.  The NL is about who’s better than who.  Not who’s gonna get left out due to a crowded race.  That’s where the Cubs, Mets, and Giants find themselves.

NL West:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • San Francisco Giants
  • San Diego Padres
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Colorado Rockies

It’s the runner-up in the Division Of Mediocrity Sweepstakes.

The Padres and Diamondbacks are the teams that fuel it.  Both teams are just kinda there.  They aren’t bad.  They aren’t good.  They’re just kinda there, hanging in.  Neither team did anything at the Trade Deadline to signify their plans the rest of the season.  The Padres were expected to sell, but ended up keeping everyone.  I guess A.J. Preller thinks this current roster can make the playoffs.  Hahahaha.  The Diamondbacks did nothing either, and were expected to be buyers.  However, they should have sold, or at least I thought they should have.

The difference between Arizona and San Diego is their expectations for this season.  They’re totally opposite, yet they find themselves at the same spot in early-August.  Arizona was projected to suck, and San Diego was projected to dominate.  Yet, they’re both here.  At the same spot:  Mediocre

The good teams in the division are no surprise.  The Dodgers are three games up on the Giants as of this morning.  However, the playoffs odds aren’t high on the Giants.  Their playoff probability stands at 35.9%, which seems very low.  The odds seem to like the NL Central more, perhaps it’s due to the higher level of competition within the division.  The Giants are in the NL Wild Card race, and will be till the last day of the season.

It seems we do this every year.  The Giants are in the Wild Card hunt.  Some people like them, some don’t.  The odds hate them.  They end up making the playoffs and kill everyone else.  It happened last year.  I’m not saying it’s gonna happen again.  I’m just warning you.

Recap: Who’s left in the NL? (Current division leaders at the top)

  • New York Mets
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Chicago Cubs
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Washington Nationals

Playoff Odds are current through Monday.  Standings are current as of this morning.