Monday, July 22, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - GREEN BAY PACKERS

GREEN BAY PACKERS                                           

2018 Record - 6-9-1

Head Coach - Matt LaFleur

Newcomers for 2019 - Billy Turner (OL), Preston Smith (LB), Za'Darius Smith (LB), Adrian Amos (DB), Sam Ficken (K)

Keys on Offense - Back for his twelfth season as the Packers starting quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, who had 4,442 passing yards last year with 25 touchdown passes and only four interceptions.
The primary receivers are Davante Adams (111 receptions, 1,386 yards, 13 TD), Geronimo Allison (20, 303, two TD) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had 38 receptions for 581 yards and two scores. Jimmy Graham is the tight end and made 55 receptions for 636 yards and two touchdowns.
The running game features Aaron Jones (728 rushing yards, 5.5 ypc average and eight TD) and Jamaal Williams, who rushed for 464 yards (3.8 ypc average) and scored three touchdowns. Both of these backs can catch the ball as well. Williams had 27 receptions a year ago while Jones made 26 catches.

Keys on Defense - Top rookie draft pick Rashan Gary (Michigan) is expected to start on the end spot and will team with nose tackle Kenny Clark (six QB sacks) and outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (10 1/2 sacks) to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Other stalwarts on defense include linebackers Blake Martinez (five sacks), Preston Smith (four sacks with Washington) and Za'Darius Smith, who had 8 1/2 sacks with the Baltimore Ravens last season. The secondary has Tramon Williams and Jaire Alexander at the corner spots with Adrian Amos (two interceptions with Chicago in 2018) and possibly rookie Darnell Savage (Maryland) at the safety positions.

OUTLOOK FOR 2019 - The Packers fired Mike McCarthy and now have Matt LaFleur as their Head Coach. It will be interesting to see how he and Rodgers work together as it became obvious the relationship between A-Rod and McCarthy had gone sour.
The Packers are not used to losing, but they have endured two consecutive losing seasons and are anxious to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season. The key will be the offense getting back on track after faltering a year ago, finishing in the middle of the pack in total yardage (369 yards per game) as well as scoring (23.5 points per game). The offensive line must be better at protecting Rodgers, as they gave up 53 sacks last season.
The defense was up and down in 2018, finishing 17th overall (allowed 354 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring defense, allowing 25 points per game. The Packers got after enemy quarterbacks (44 sacks) but they also gave up too many big pass plays and made only seven interceptions for the season.
The schedule is a tough one and the Packers need to get off to a good start, especially with division foes Chicago and Minnesota looming large once again this year. Another losing season (7-9) is a strong possibility, but don't be surprised if this team finishes at .500 (or slightly better) and possibly challenge for a wild card berth.
If Rodgers is feeling refreshed this season (with new coach in tow) and can stay healthy, the Packers are always going to be in any game they play. They must be consistent on both sides of the ball and buy into what the new coaching staff is offering.
Stay tuned.

Week 1 - at Chicago
Week 2 - vs. Minnesota
Week 3 - vs. Denver
Week 4 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 5 - at Dallas
Week 6 - vs. Detroit
Week 7 - vs. Oakland
Week 8 - at Kansas City
Week 9 - at LA Chargers
Week 10 - vs. Carolina
Week 11 - BYE
Week 12 - at San Francisco
Week 13 - at NY Giants
Week 14 - vs. Washington
Week 15 - vs. Chicago
Week 16 - at Minnesota
Week 17 - at Detroit

Sunday, July 21, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - DETROIT LIONS

DETROIT LIONS                                                    

2018 Record - 6-10-0

Head Coach - Matt Patricia

Newcomers for 2019 - Trey Flowers (DE), Danny Amendola (WR), Jesse James (TE), C.J. Anderson (RB), Logan Thomas (TE), Tommylee Lewis (WR), Justin Coleman (DB), Rashaan Melvin (DB)

Keys on Offense - Matthew Stafford is back to quarterback the Lions after putting up fairly decent  numbers last season (3,777 passing yards with 21 TD passes and 11 interceptions) but the team struggled on offense due to lack of a running game.
Kerryon Johnson (641 rushing yards, 5.4 ypc average and three TD) and C.J. Anderson (299 yards with two TD in limited action with the LA Rams in 2018) will be the backs to carry the ball this year. Theo Riddick is the third down back and made 61 catches last season.
The wide receiving corps consists of Kenny Golladay (70 receptions, 1,063 yards, five TD) and Marvin Jones, Jr. (35, 508, five TD) while newcomers to the team will be Danny Amendola and Tommylee Lewis.
Amendola had 59 receptions with Miami a year ago and Lewis played sparingly with the Saints. The tight end is likely to be top draft pick T.J. Hockenson (Iowa) along with Jesse James (30, 423, two TD with the Steelers) while Logan Thomas, a free agent from Buffalo, will be on hand as well.

Keys on Defense - Trey Flowers comes over from New England to play defensive end and he had 7 1/2 QB sacks last season for the Super Bowl champions. Romeo Okwara (seven sacks) is another stalwart along with Damon Harrison (3 1/2 sacks) up front while Devon Kennard anchors the linebackers. Kennard had seven sacks and along with Jarrad Davis (six sacks) is a big part of a defense that was tenth overall last season, giving up 335 yards per game.
Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay each had three interceptions and will be the key to the secondary unit again this season. Rashaan Melvin comes over from Oakland to provide depth.

OUTLOOK  FOR 2019 - The Lions, under first year Head Coach Matt Patricia, finished in last place in the NFC North division in 2018 and will look to do better this season.
The running game was 23rd overall last year while the passing attack was 20th as the team averaged a paltry 327 yards per game and just over 20 points scored per game. That has to improve if Detroit wants to have any shot at getting out of the basement. Stafford was fair last season, but has shown the ability in past seasons to put up big numbers.
The defense was pretty solid (ranked tenth overall and also tenth against the run and eighth against the pass) but the secondary only made seven interceptions all season. The Lions can get after the quarterback and had 43 sacks (11th in the NFL) in 2018. Patricia insists on an attacking defense and now has a familiar face (Flowers) on the defense.
The likelihood is another losing record, but an 8-8 finish for the Lions would be better than the last place results in 2018. Detroit is looking to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.
If the offense can muster up some better production and the line can protect Stafford, this team should improve and with some breaks, maybe challenge for a wild card spot. One never knows from one season to another these days around the NFL as far as turnarounds go.

Week 1- at Arizona
Week 2 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 3 - at Philadelphia
Week 4 - vs. Kansas City
Week 5 - BYE 
Week 6 - at Green Bay
Week 7 - vs. Minnesota
Week 8 - vs. NY Giants
Week 9 - at Oakland
Week 10 - at Chicago
Week 11 - vs. Dallas
Week 12 - at Washington
Week 13 - vs. Chicago
Week 14 - at Minnesota
Week 15 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 16 - at Denver
Week 17 - vs. Green Bay 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

2019 NFL Team Preview - CHICAGO BEARS

CHICAGO BEARS                                                   

2018 Record - 12-4-0

Head Coach - Matt Nagy

Newcomers for 2019 - Mike Davis (RB), Buster Skrine (DB), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (DB), Ted Larsen (OL), Cordarrelle Patterson (WR/KR), Marvin Hall (WR)

Keys on Offense -  Bears QB Mitch Trubisky will be in his third season and he showed real signs of progress last season, throwing for 3,223 yards. He had 24 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions and also showed he can run when needed, gaining 421 yards with three rushing touchdowns.
Tarik Cohen gained 444 yards on the ground and averaged 4.5 yards per carry with three touchdowns, but his best was receiving (71 receptions to lead the team) out of the backfield and he scored five more touchdowns on receptions. Along with Cohen, the Bears will have rookie David Montgomery (Iowa State) and free agent Mike Davis, who rushed for 514 yards (4.6 ypc, four TD) and also had 34 receptions, one for a score.
The receivers are deep with Taylor Gabriel (67, 688, two TD), Allen Robinson (55, 754, four TD) and Anthony Miller, who had seven TD receptions to lead the team in his rookie season. Miller snared 33 catches for 423 yards. The tight end is Trey Burton (54, 569, six TD). Cordarrelle Patterson, Marvin Hall and rookie Riley Ridley (Georgia) will be in the fold in the passing attack.

Keys on Defense -  Linebacker Khalil Mack is the heart and soul of the defense, getting 12 1/2 sacks last year while pumping up fans and teammates alike when he signed as a free agent just before the season opener. The rest of the linebacking unit is solid with Danny Trevathan (two sacks and two interceptions), Roquan Smith (five sacks) and Leonard Floyd (four sacks).
Defensive End Akiem Hicks had 7 1/2 sacks and anchors the front line while the secondary is a ball hawking unit featuring safeties Eddie Jackson (six INT, two for touchdowns) and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who had three picks while splitting time in 2018 with Green Bay and Washington. The corners are Prince Amukamara (three INT) and Kyle Fuller, who tied for the league lead with seven interceptions. Buster Skrine comes over as a free agent to add depth.

OUTLOOK FOR 2019 -  As long as the team stays healthy, as they did last season, they should be in a good spot to win a second consecutive NFC North division title.
Head Coach Matt Nagy made believers out of his players in the system and team philosphy last season and will look to repeat the effort. Although defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left to become the top man in Denver, the team will have Chuck Pagano this season to run the defense.
His style is aggressive and the team thrived on pressure defense a year ago, leading the league with 27 interceptions while also topping the NFL in scoring defense (17.7 points allowed per game), run defense (8o ypg allowed) and ranking third in total yards allowed per game as well as ranking third with 50 quarterback sacks.
The offense will look to Trubisky to show even more leadership as he matures under the system Nagy runs. The Bears averaged 26.3 points per game last year (9th in NFL) while finishing in the middle of the pack in yards per game (343.9) which was 21st in the league. With a solid receiving corps and two new running backs to go along with the electric Cohen, the offense should continue to get better.
Of course, let's not forget the kicking game.
The Bears were victims of a subpar kicker a year ago, and it cost them dearly in the Wild Card game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Soldier Field last January when Cody Parker had the infamous "double doink" missed field goal as time expired in a 16-15 defeat.
This team is solid, especially on defense and should repeat as division champions. Look for a 11-5 finish with the tougher schedule this time around. The big question is whether the Bears can advance in the post-season and reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 seasons.
It just might happen.

Week 1 - vs. Green Bay
Week 2 - at Denver
Week 3 - at Washington
Week 4 - vs. Minnesota
Week 5 - at Oakland (in London)
Week 6 - BYE 
Week 7 - vs. New Orleans
Week 8 - vs. LA Chargers
Week 9 - at Philadelphia
Week 10 - vs. Detroit
Week 11 - at LA Rams
Week 12 - vs. NY Giants
Week 13 - at Detroit
Week 14 - vs. Dallas
Week 15 - at Green Bay
Week 16 - vs. Kansas City
Week 17 - at Minnesota

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

Can anybody stop those New York Yankees?  How about the Cleveland Indians or the San Francisco Giants while we're at it.
Those three teams are without a doubt the hottest teams going in Major League Baseball.
The Yankees swept the Tampa Bay Rays this past week in The Bronx and have opened up a commanding nine game lead in the American League East division. The Rays at one point this season held a huge lead in the American League Wild Card chase, but now find themselves on the outside looking in as the Indians and Oakland A's have passed them for the two post-season spots.
Both Cleveland and Oakland have gone 8-2 in the last ten games with the Tribe winning six straight games after dropping two of three games last weekend to the A.L. Central leading Minnesota Twins. The Twins have seen their once 10 1/2 game lead at the end of June drop to just a measly three games over the Indians following their 5-3 loss to the A's on Friday night. The Indians blasted Kansas City, 10-5 on Friday and have taken advantage of a softer schedule by beating up on the Royals and Detroit Tigers this week.
In the A.L. West, it has turned into a two-team race as the Houston Astros continue to lead the A's for the division lead by 5 1/2 games. Texas and the Los Angeles Angels are further back and will likely have to look to the wild card race if they want to make the post-season.
Over in the National League, the San Francisco Giants have risen from the dead and are actually a .500 team (49-49) following their second consecutive extra inning victory against the New York Mets, winning 1-0 on Friday night. In fact, the Giants are just two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the senior circuit.
The surging Washington Nationals are the top dog in the wild card race and have split the first two games of a huge four-game series in Atlanta against the first place Braves in the N.L. East race. The Braves have a 6 1/2 game edge over the Nats and 7 1/2 games over the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the National League Central, the Chicago Cubs have suddenly caught fire, winning their third straight game on Friday in a 6-5 decision over the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies have gone 8-2 in their last ten games and have a 2 1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and three games over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Red Birds won a wild road game in Cincinnati on Friday night, rallying from a 7-0 hole to win 12-11. The Cardinals scored ten runs in the sixth inning to help provide the difference in the final outcome. Meanwhile, the Brewers dropped to third in the division race as they lost in Arizona, which snapped their three-game win streak.

Finally, the Baseball Hall-of-Fame in Cooperstown, NY will induct six new members on Sunday
afternoon as Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees relief pitcher), the late Roy Halladay (pitcher), Edgar Martinez (Seattle Mariners DH), Mike Mussina (pitcher) and holdovers Harold Baines (OF/DH) and Lee Smith (relief pitcher) will enter. Rivera became the first player ever to receive a unanimous vote for the selection.
The Hall is a MUST visit for any baseball fan and yours truly thoroughly enjoyed my one visit there five years ago in early July.

AL STANDINGS (through July 19)                                   NL STANDINGS (through July 19)
East                                                                                     East
New York 63-33                                                                 Atlanta 59-40            
Tampa Bay 56-44                                                               Washington 51-45
Boston 53-45                                                                      Philadelphia 51-47
Toronto 37-62                                                                     New York 44-53
Baltimore 30-66                                                                  Miami 36-59

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 59-37                                                                  Chicago 53-44
Cleveland 56-40                                                                   St. Louis 50-46
Chicago 43-51                                                                      Milwaukee 51-48
Kansas City 36-63                                                                Pittsburgh 45-51
Detroit 29-64                                                                        Cincinnati 43-52
West                                                                                     West
Houston 62-37                                                                      LA Dodgers 65-35
Oakland 56-42                                                                      Arizona 50-48
Texas 50-47                                                                          San Francisco 49-49
LA Angels 50-49                                                                  Colorado 46-51
Seattle 40-60                                                                         San Diego 46-51   

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

The All-Star Game took place in Cleveland this past Tuesday and the American League won, 4-3 as Indians pitcher Shane Bieber won the Most Valuable Player award, striking out the side in the fifth inning. Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was credited with the win for the A.L. while Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw took the loss.
There were only two home runs hit in the game. Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon hit one out in the sixth inning to bring the N.L. to within 2-1. Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo smacked a solo homer in the seventh inning as the A.L. drew out to a 4-1 lead.
The National League scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning against Indians reliever Brad Hand to account for the final score. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, which included a strike out to finish the game.
The teams around the league got it going again on Friday and the story of the night was the Los Angeles Angels, playing in their first home game since pitcher Tyler Skaggs tragic passing on July 1. The Angels all wore number 45 (Skaggs jersey number) and beat the Seattle Mariners, 13-0 behind a combined no-hitter by Taylor Cole and Felix Pena. Angels OF Mike Trout hit a home run and had six RBI to pace the rout before an emotional crowd. Following the game, the players laid their jerseys on the pitcher's mound in honor of Skaggs.
The Minnesota Twins beat the host Cleveland Indians, 5-3 on Friday as they rallied from a 3-1 deficit to put a little more distance between the teams in the A.L. Central race. Cleveland had cut the deficit from ten-plus games down to just 5 1/2 games at the All Star break.
The Texas Rangers won the first two games of a four-game set against the Houston Astros, including a 9-8 comeback win on Friday night. On Thursday, the Rangers shut out the Astros, 5-0 to get back on the winning track after a recent slump before the break.
In the National League, the Washington Nationals, behind stellar pitching by Stephen Strasburg, shut out the host Philadelphia Phillies, 4-0 and are the top team in the wild card race as the "second half" of the season gets going. The Nationals have been one of the hottest team in the majors since the end of May.
The Chicago Cubs got a clutch single from OF Jason Heyward in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3 on Friday afternoon. Pirates OF Starling Marte smashed a three-run homer to tie the game in the top of the eighth. Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth inning for the save.
In a rematch of the 2018 World Series, the Boston Red Sox blasted the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-1 as shortstop Xander Bogaerts  hit a three-run home run and pitcher Eduardo Rodrgiuez fanned ten batters to pace the easy win at Fenway Park.

AL STANDINGS (through July 12)                                   NL STANDINGS (through July 12)
East                                                                                     East
New York 58-31                                                                 Atlanta 55-37            
Tampa Bay 53-39                                                               Washington 48-42
Boston 50-41                                                                      Philadelphia 47-44
Toronto 34-58                                                                     New York 40-51
Baltimore 27-63                                                                  Miami 34-55

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 57-33                                                                  Chicago 48-43
Cleveland 50-39                                                                   Milwaukee 47-45
Chicago 42-45                                                                      St. Louis 44-45
Kansas City 31-61                                                                Pittsburgh 44-46
Detroit 28-58                                                                        Cincinnati 41-47

West                                                                                     West
Houston 57-35                                                                      LA Dodgers 60-33
Oakland 51-41                                                                      Arizona 47-45
Texas 50-42                                                                          Colorado 45-45
LA Angels 46-46                                                                  San Diego 44-46
Seattle 39-56                                                                         San Francisco 42-48  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Major League Baseball - All Star Break

The best players in Major League Baseball are gathering this week for the All Star Game, which will be played on Tuesday, July 9 in Cleveland, Ohio.
It is time for the annual All Star Break around the game of baseball, but on a sad note, the following week saw Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs pass away suddenly on July 1 at the age of 27 while the team was on a road trip against the Texas Rangers. The two teams cancelled the game that evening before getting back at it again the following night.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played a pair of games last weekend in London, England and the Yanks won both games (17-13 and 12-8) as they continue to pace the American League standings entering the break. They have a 6 1/2 game lead on the second place Tampa Bay Rays in the division and also have the best record in the American League.
The Cleveland Indians are heating up and don't look now, but they are just 5 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the A.L. Central race following a two-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds this weekend. The Tribe has won six straight games following a pair of 13-0 losses on successive nights to the lowly Baltimore Orioles. Also, Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco (who hasn't pitched since May) has been diagnosed with leukemia.
In the AL West, the Houston Astros lead the surging Oakland A's by 7 1/2 games and the suddenly reeling Texas Rangers by nine full games heading into the All Star break. The Astros will have three position players starting in the game as Alex Bregman (third base) and outfielders George Springer and Michael Brantley were chosen by the fans for the starting lineup.
Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves continue to lead the East division race, but the Washington Nationals, led by stellar pitching and timely hitting are back in the fold and in second place, six games behind Atlanta at the break. The Philadelphia Phillies are 6 1/2 games back in the chase.
The N.L. West is all Dodgers as the boys from L.A. have a 13 1/2 game cushion. Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger has 30 home runs and trails Milwaukee's Christian Yelich (31) for the home run lead. New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has also belted 30 round trippers and is a National League reserve on the All Star team.
In the N.L. Central, the Chicago Cubs limp into the break with a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers while the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are right there as well. Even the fifth place Cincinnati Reds are the thick of the division race, trailing first place Chicago by just 4 1/2 games.
The All Star Game should be another good one as the Home Run Derby takes place July 8 with the teams then playing on July 9, looking to entertain the crowd in Cleveland. Then it's on to the second half of the season. 

AL STANDINGS (All Star Break)                                   NL STANDINGS (All Star Break)
East                                                                                     East
New York 57-31                                                                 Atlanta 54-37            
Tampa Bay 52-39                                                               Washington 47-42
Boston 49-41                                                                      Philadelphia 47-43
Toronto 34-57                                                                     New York 40-50
Baltimore 27-62                                                                  Miami 33-55

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 56-33                                                                  Chicago 47-43
Cleveland 50-38                                                                   Milwaukee 47-44
Chicago 42-44                                                                      St. Louis 44-44
Detroit 28-57                                                                        Pittsburgh 44-45
Kansas City 30-61                                                                Cincinnati 41-46

West                                                                                     West
Houston 57-33                                                                      LA Dodgers 60-32
Oakland 50-41                                                                      Arizona 46-45
Texas 48-42                                                                          San Diego 45-45
LA Angels 45-46                                                                  Colorado 44-45
Seattle 39-55                                                                         San Francisco 41-48   

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

Break up the Texas Rangers . . .   They have won six consecutive games and have closed a once seemingly insurmountable gap and are just 4 1/2 games (four in the loss column) behind the Houston Astros in the American League West division.
The Rangers' Joey Gallo has been heating up, slamming a pair of home runs in a recent game during the team's hot streak. Meanwhile, the Astros have been struggling while losing seven of their last ten games. They were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a two-game set this week and were outscored 25-2 in those games.
Speaking of the Pittsburgh Pirates, they have been the hottest team in the National League (8-2 in their last ten games) and are back in the thick of the N.L. Central division race, trailing the first place Chicago Cubs by just four games. That entire division has a meager 5 1/2 game gap between the five teams from top to bottom.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will do battle over in London, England this weekend in a  two-game set at London Stadium, which will feature a make shift baseball field set up in a soccer stadium with the center field fence being just 385 feet from home plate.
The Bronx Bombers continue to dominate the American League East division and have even overtaken the Minnesota Twins for the best record in the junior circuit. The Yankees are 9-1 in their last ten games and lead the fading Tampa Bay Rays by a full seven games in the division race.
The Twins lost to the Chicago White Sox, 6-4 on the road Friday night, but still have an eight game lead over the second place Cleveland Indians, who were pummeled by the league worst Baltimore Orioles, 13-0 on Friday at Camden Yards in Baltimore. The Tribe is in the thick of the wild card chase in the American League, trailing the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays by only 1 1/2 games for the two post-season spots. The Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels are all right there as well in the race as the season reached the halfway point.
The Atlanta Braves have also opened up a good sized division lead in the N.L. East, leading the slumping Philadelphia Phillies by 5 1/2 games and the surging Washington Nationals by seven games. The Nationals have played themselves back into post-season contention (wild card race) by reeling off a hot streak in June. It's a log jam in the wild card race in the National League, with nine teams separated by just 4 1/2 games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to keep things on cruise control as they have a 12 game lead in the National League's West division, along with a league best 56-28 record. The Colorado Rockies cooled off the Dodgers in a 13-9 home victory on Friday night. Close behind the second place Rockies in the N.L. West are the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks.

AL STANDINGS (through June 28)                                   NL STANDINGS (through June 28)
East                                                                                      East
New York 52-28                                                                 Atlanta 49-34            
Tampa Bay 46-36                                                               Philadelphia 43-39
Boston 44-38                                                                      Washington 41-40
Toronto 30-52                                                                     New York 37-46
Baltimore 23-58                                                                  Miami 31-49

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 52-29                                                                  Chicago 44-38
Cleveland 44-37                                                                   Milwaukee 43-39
Chicago 38-41                                                                      St. Louis 40-40
Detroit 26-51                                                                        Pittsburgh 39-41
Kansas City 28-54                                                                Cincinnati 37-42

West                                                                                     West
Houston 51-32                                                                      LA Dodgers 56-28
Texas 46-36                                                                          Colorado 43-39
Oakland 44-39                                                                      San Diego 41-40
LA Angels 42-41                                                                  Arizona 42-42
Seattle 37-49                                                                         San Francisco 35-46  

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

The New York Yankees have become Major League Baseball's hottest team as they ran their winning streak to seven games with a 4-1 home game decision against the slumping Houston Astros on Friday night. The Bronx Bombers finally have their main lineup intact as outfielders Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are back along with OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton following long stints on the injury list.
The Yanks enjoy a 4 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East division, thanks to a three-game sweep of the Rays earlier this week in New York. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are sneaking back into contention as they have won eight of their last ten games and are only 2 1/2 games behind the Rays for second place.
The Minnesota Twins suffered two losses at home (three-game series) to the Red Sox this past week but still hold a commanding nine game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central race. The Tribe has been hot lately, winning seven of ten games and are getting some of their starting pitching back into the fold following some injuries.
In the AL West, the Houston Astros have lost six consecutive games (two game series setback against Cincinnati and dropping first two games of four game set at the Yankees this weekend) and have seen their lead over the Texas Rangers drop to 7 1/2 games. The Oakland A's and Los Angeles Angels are in hot pursuit of the Rangers for second place in the division. Speaking of the A's, they lost starting pitcher Frankie Montas (9-2), who this week has been suspended 80 games for a PED violation.
Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves have opened up a 4 1/2 game lead on second place Philadelphia in the East division. The Washington Nationals have put together a five-game winning streak and are finally on the brink of the .500 level, trailing the Phillies (five straight losses) by only two games in the race.
The Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team to 50 wins as they have won four in a row and have a comfortable ten game lead over the Colorado Rockies, who are fresh off a road sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week.
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox split two games at Wrigley Field this past week and the Cubbies have a 1 1/2 game lead in the NL Central race over the Milwaukee Brewers, who have dropped five games in a row. The St. Louis Cardinals are only two game back in the Central battle while the surging Cincinnati Reds (six consecutive wins) are back in the fold, just 4 1/2 games out of first place as they took two from Houston and have won the first two games of a four-game weekend set in Milwaukee.
The All Star Game voting ended its first ever "primary vote" by the fans this week and the finalists for the eight position playing spots will be voted on this coming week for the game being played on July 9 in Cleveland.

AL STANDINGS (through June 21)                                   NL STANDINGS (through June 21)
East                                                                                      East
New York 48-27                                                                 Atlanta 44-32            
Tampa Bay 44-32                                                               Philadelphia 39-36
Boston 42-35                                                                      Washington 37-38
Toronto 27-49                                                                     New York 36-40
Baltimore 21-55                                                                  Miami 28-46

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 49-26                                                                  Chicago 41-34
Cleveland 40-35                                                                   Milwaukee 40-36
Chicago 36-37                                                                      St. Louis 39-36
Detroit 26-45                                                                        Cincinnati 36-38
Kansas City 26-50                                                                Pittsburgh 34-40

West                                                                                     West
Houston 48-29                                                                      LA Dodgers 52-25
Texas 40-36                                                                          Colorado 40-35
Oakland 40-37                                                                      San Diego 38-38
LA Angels 38-39                                                                  Arizona 38-39
Seattle 34-46                                                                         San Francisco 32-42  

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

While the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros have been coasting along in their division races this season, the American League East race has been much tighter, evidenced again on Friday when the Tampa Bay Rays overtook the New York Yankees once again for the top spot (half-game lead) following a 9-4 win against the Los Angeles Angels while the Yankees were drubbed by the Chicago White Sox, 10-2. ChiSox rookie slugger Eloy Jimenez had a pair of three-run home runs in the win and Sox starting pitcher Lucas Goilito won his tenth game of the season.
The wild card race is much more interesting in the American League as the Texas Rangers have come from nowhere in recent weeks to grab the second spot. The Rangers have gone 17-10 since May 17 and have a slight edge over the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Oakland A's, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels with just 3 1/2 games separating them all.
Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves are the hottest team going and now have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the East division race. The Braves won their eighth consecutive game as they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday night to stun the Phils, 9-8. Atlanta scored seven runs in the final three innings to overcome a 7-2 deficit.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won for the second night in a row in come-from-behind fashion against the visiting Chicago Cubs, 5-3 on Friday as they roughed up Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks to secure the victory. The Dodgers have a 10 1/2 game over the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in the N.L. West race.
In the N.L. Central, the Cubs and Brewers continue to be neck and neck with Milwaukee up by one game for the top spot. Both teams lost on Friday night. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals are creeping back up in the division race as they won a pair of games from the host New York Mets to get back to within 3 1/2 games of first place.

AL STANDINGS (through June 14)                                   NL STANDINGS (through June 14)
East                                                                                      East
Tampa Bay 42-27                                                                Atlanta 41-29            
New York 41-27                                                                  Philadelphia 38-31
Boston 37-34                                                                       NY Mets 33-36
Toronto 25-44                                                                      Washington 32-37
Baltimore 21-48                                                                   Miami 24-43

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 46-22                                                                  Milwaukee 39-30
Cleveland 35-33                                                                   Chicago 38-31
Chicago 34-34                                                                      St. Louis 35-33
Detroit 25-41                                                                        Pittsburgh 31-38
Kansas City 22-47                                                                Cincinnati 30-37

West                                                                                     West
Houston 47-23                                                                      LA Dodgers 47-23
Texas 37-32                                                                          Colorado 36-33
Oakland 35-35                                                                      Arizona 37-34
LA Angels 34-36                                                                  San Diego 34-36
Seattle 30-43                                                                         San Francisco 29-38 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Toronto Raptors Win NBA Title

The Toronto Raptors, led by series Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard, defeated the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, 114-110 on the road to take Game Six and win the
Raptors players celebrate the team's first ever NBA title.
2018-19 NBA Finals. It's the first ever NBA championship in the team's history.
The Raptors squandered a chance to wrap up the Finals in five games on Monday night in Toronto as they lost a one-point decision to force the sixth game back in Oakland and give the Warriors a chance.
But on Thursday night, the Raptors were not to be denied as the Warriors, already without Kevin Durant (torn Achilles tendon), lost Klay Thompson to a knee injury in the third quarter. Toronto showed resolve and rolled to the win as Leonard earned his second NBA Finals MVP in the last six years.

            Congratulations to the TORONTO RAPTORS -  2018-19  NBA CHAMPIONS !!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

St. Louis Blues Win Stanley Cup

The St. Louis Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup title, defeating the host Boston Bruins, 4-1 in Game Seven.
The Blues were dead last overall in the NHL standings in early January and made a coaching change and have since been the best team in the NHL. The Blues blew a chance to seal the deal at home on Sunday night, but on this night in Beantown, the St. Louis Blues are celebrating their first ever Stanley Cup title.

           St. Louis Blues  -  2018-19 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS

NBA Star Tony Parker Calls It A Career

The Spurs "Big Three" of Duncan (21), Parker (9) and Ginobili (20) brought four NBA titles to San Antonio.
The last remaining player of "The Big Three" for the San Antonio Spurs during their glory days of winning NBA championships is calling it a career.
Tony Parker, who was drafted by the Spurs back in 2001 from France, played 18 seasons, 17 of those with San Antonio, announced his retirement from the game on Monday.
For whatever reasons, Parker opted to play with the Charlotte Hornets in his 18th and final season this past year.  However, he will be forever tied to "The Big Three" era along with future Hall-of-Fame players Tim Duncan (retired following 2015-16 season) and Manu Ginobili, who retired last year following the 2017-18 season.
Parker is a future Hall-of-Fame player himself and was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. The Spurs won it all in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 with Parker playing the point guard spot.
Parker, Duncan (center) and Ginobili celebrate Spurs NBA title in 2014
In fact, T.P. won NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honors when the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the 2007 NBA Finals.

Congratulations on a great NBA career and four NBA championships . . .

Rest well Tony, you have earned it.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Major League Baseball - Week In Review

The Minnesota Twins bounced back from a brief slump which saw their American League Central division lead drop to under ten games over the Cleveland Indians as they won, 5-4 in Cleveland on June 6 which saw outfielder Max Kepler slug three home runs. The Twins currently own baseball's best record and have a 10 1/2 game lead over the Indians.
The Houston Astros won a 4-3 nail biter in 11 innings against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, increasing their lead over the second place Texas Rangers to ten full games. The Oakland A's knocked off Texas, 5-3 on Friday and are in third place in the A.L. West race.
The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays continue to be neck and neck in the A.L. East division, separated by just one-half game. The Indians toppled the Yankees, 5-2, spoiling the season debut of Yanks' shortstop Didi Gregorious, who had been sidelined by off-season surgery. The Rays beat Boston, 5-1 in Fenway Park behind stellar pitching by Yonny Chirinos, who went eight innings while limiting the Bosox to just two hits.
Over in the National League, the Chicago Cubs rode eight solid innings by pitcher Cole Hamels, who allowed no runs, three hits, only one walk and ten strikeouts in a 3-1 win at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the N.L. Central division. The Cards slipped to 3 1/2 games back while Pittsburgh is five games back after getting hammered by the Brewers, 10-4 on Friday.
The Philadelphia Phillies remain two games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East after a 4-2 win over Cincinnati on June 7. Outfielder Jay Bruce, acquired from Seattle last week, socked his fourth home run since joining the Phillies, who lost starting OF Andrew McCutchen for the season to a knee injury on June 3. The Braves kept pace with Philly as they rolled the Miami Marlins, 7-1 on Friday. Braves rookie pitcher Mike Soroka improved to 7-1, going eight innings while allowing only three hits and lowered his ERA to 1.38 in the win.
Over in the West division, the first place Los Angeles Dodgers are still on cruise control, leading Colorado by nine full games, even though they lost 2-1 at San Francisco on Friday night. It was the first loss of the season for L.A. starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who had not lost in 21 consecutive starts dating back to last season.
The second place Rockies beat the New York Mets, 5-1 while third place San Diego defeated the Washington Nationals, 5-4 as they rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against Nats closer Sean Doolittle. The Arizona Diamondbacks blasted the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-2 to get back to the .500 mark and stay close to Colorado and San Diego in the National League Wild Card chase.
There were two big signings this week as the Chicago Cubs agreed to a three-year deal with closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel while the Atlanta Braves inked starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel to a one-year deal. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles selected catcher Adley Rutschman (Oregon State) with the first pick in the MLB Draft on June 3. Kansas city took shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. (high school player from Texas) with the second pick and the Chicago White Sox made first baseman Andrew Vaughn (California) the third overall selection. 

AL STANDINGS (through June 7)                                    NL STANDINGS (through June 7)
East                                                                                      East
NY Yankees 39-23                                                               Philadelphia 36-27            
Tampa Bay 38-23                                                                 Atlanta 34-29
Boston 33-30                                                                        NY Mets 30-33
Toronto 23-40                                                                      Washington 28-35
Baltimore 19-44                                                                   Miami 23-38

Central                                                                                Central
Minnesota 42-20                                                                 Chicago 35-27
Cleveland 32-31                                                                   Milwaukee 36-28
Chicago 29-33                                                                      St. Louis 31-30
Detroit 23-37                                                                        Pittsburgh 30-32
Kansas City 20-43                                                                Cincinnati 28-34

West                                                                                     West
Houston 44-21                                                                      LA Dodgers 43-21
Texas 32-29                                                                          Colorado 33-29
Oakland 32-31                                                                      San Diego 33-31
LA Angels 30-34                                                                  Arizona 32-32
Seattle 27-40                                                                         San Francisco 26-36