Thursday, November 12, 2015

The NFL Midseason Slant for 2015-2016 - Sorta Kinda Not Rookie Mistakes

I don't care if Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and Fallout 4 came out, you nerds. It's still football season, and a bunch of crap has happened.

Ah, we're already halfway through the NFL season. While we haven't been inundated with controversies surrounding domestic abuse (unless you're Greg Hardy), we have had our share of stories. For one, there are a BUNCH of rookies that are starting this season, and many of them have been making a big name for themselves as of late. Or, you could be Johnny Manziel and overstay your welcome as a sophomore. Anyway, another springing controversy is the referee calls throughout each game. It looks more and more like challenges are being too heavily relied on, or that it almost seems like game fixes are set in place. I'm not one for that, so I'm just going to say that referees could very well be getting blind, and we need newer blood soon.

While we have some rookies on the field and lack thereof on the referee crews, we're seeing a lot of mistakes. Some make room for growth, others make room for torches and pitchforks. Let's see where that has taken the 30 NFL teams over the past nine weeks, shall we?


(All results are as of Week 9... If you are reading this before Week 10's Bills/Jets game, the result does not apply.)



New England Patriots (8-0) - [snoring noise] This could have been completely different if Tom Brady's suspension was not lifted. He's been playing as well as he ever has, and he's had viable options for the pass in every single game. While the defense may let a few go via the pass rush, they're solid against any runs, and will snare any unwary QB. They never needed to worry about the run, but those options might come in handy in the future in case they encounter a good passing defense.
New York Jets (5-3) - While there are big names on offense, there seems to be a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of injuries that affect the team in small ways. However, the defense will keep them in games as long as possible. The Fitzpatrick/Smith QB duo is pretty steady, but their style switches are clashing with most wide receivers. Regardless, they have been going pound-for-pound with most teams in games. The bridge must be gapped.
Buffalo Bills (4-4) - A team of runners is going to effective due to the amount of options you have. However, a hole-y offensive line and a QB new to the first-string role in Tyrod Taylor, there are some jitters when it comes to rough defenses. Speaking of defenses, while the Bills can hold at the line, there's no saving them from prayers. Looks like the second half is full of passing offenses. Uh oh.
Miami Dolphins (3-5) - Well, y'see, they say that defense wins games, and with the Dolphins, that's all they can really rely on. While they've had some high-scoring games, they were all against teams much, much worse than them. Outside of that, there is an inconsistent offense that really doesn't rely on any tricks to pull off plays. In a rough division such as this, the rest of the season could be an uphill climb for the fish in South Beach.


Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) - [explosion noise] Good. Gravy. I won't lie--they're super fun to watch. Andy Dalton has never been a terrible quarterback, and since he has some versatile receivers in Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green, they're no stranger to putting the hurt on the opposition. The defense is clutch as well. While they may be familiar with giving up bigger plays, they don't go much further than that. That's all key if you're an undefeated squad. Let's see if a team from Ohio can finally do something fun in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) - With an early injury to Ben Roethlisberger (on top of another one from this past week) and a younger-looking defense, people thought the season was going to fall apart rather quickly. However, this offense is purely driven by the run, which brings it old-school. DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell have been clutch (Mike Vick can run too, I suppose), but they can only do so much. The defense needs more consistency, and hopefully that isn't too much to ask for.
Baltimore Ravens (2-6) - Uhh... Outside of two lucky wins, nothing has really gone right for these guys. If the offense falls apart (which it has badly during some games), the defense almost follows suit and gift-wraps the game to the opposing team. Maybe since they're playing most of their games at home from here on out, things could be different, but that remains to be seen.
Cleveland Browns (2-7) - Paging Johnny Manziel...! The team is a mess. Between injuries and really horrible defenses, it doesn't look so great for the other Ohio team. says something about the team trying not to "spiral out of control," and to be frank, they're kind of late to the party. This season is already out of their control, and it's time to do some healing.


[Oh's another division that has no team over .500 and I have to pretend that it's normal. Good grief.]

Indianapolis Colts (4-5) - This team isn't exactly terrible, as it didn't help their cause to have a rough first-half schedule against powerhouse teams (some still undefeated). With that said, things should be significantly different for these guys unless injuries make their way onto the main players of the squad, and that may have happened with Andrew Luck. However, with easier defenses to face soon, the new-bloods in the WR slots should have more room to breathe and shuffle routes. Now's not a time to rest, that's for certain.
Houston Texans (3-5) - Oh, how far the mighty have fallen. The thorn in the Texans' side is that they can't finish what was started. The offense may make a good showing, but pressure can get to them. Plus, the defense has a tendency to let big plays screw them up. Alas, if there's any more panic, the division could easily slip away from them.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) - Too many chances given equals automatic losses in my book. The defense has done that enough, and turnovers are a problem too huge for words. Dead serious. It needs a censor bar because the turnovers are so incredibly big and bad. Inability to get conversions on offense is almost as big of a problem here too. Ugh. Guys. Y'all ain't helping your cause when there's still people in Los Angeles that want a football team again.
Tennessee Titans (2-6) - Okay, yes, this is Marcus Mariota's rookie season, and he was last year's Heisman winner. Outside of that, it's almost time to jump off of that wagon and start fixing up the offense just so that his decent showings aren't spotty and cluttered with turnovers. While the defense shows some promise during games, they just aren't getting any offensive support.


Denver Broncos (7-1) - While this isn't Peyton Manning's strongest season at all, it does not matter in the least bit. The Broncos' defense is ridiculous, and by ridiculous, I mean you have probably reaped a ton of rewards on your Fantasy Football team if you have them. Despite a small hiccup this past week against the Colts, you aren't going to see these guys come up short on the way to January. What else can I say? You've got a full package (well, except in the run, but who cares when you've got Peyton?).
Oakland Raiders (4-4) - In a sudden plot twist, this team isn't entirely terrible like it was for a really long time. Okay, sure, the defense really leaves much to be desired (dead serious), but the offense is showing a ton of promise. Jack del Rio's hold on Derek Carr has been one of night-to-day beauty, and his versatility with receivers have kept them in games for the most part. The defense just needs to hold the opposition when it matters most. Pressure can be a killer, and it has been a factor in many close games.
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) - Injuries haven't been too kind to this team as of late, and they've gotten beaten a lot by the onslaught of powerhouse offenses like Green Bay, Denver, and Cincy. Although their record doesn't really reflect their efforts, it can be a testament to how streaky the team can be. While they're no stranger to scoring, its all dependent on how well the offense and defense shares the efforts week in and week out.
San Diego Chargers (2-7) - Fact: Philip Rivers is the most underrated quarterback of this era. Fact: This season does not show that previous fact at all. Defense, a weaker special teams than usual, and the slough of turnovers does not help the cause of the Bolts whatsoever. With a lot of divisional matches in their second half of the season, and there are quarterbacks coming up with just as much gusto, problems could arise really quickly.



New York Giants (5-4) - The team has had a ton of rough games, that's for sure. While Eli Manning has his case of occasional magic in the pocket, the other side of the ball is relatively weak and underdeveloped. The lone saving grace of the Giants' defense is their turnover ratio, as they may totally give a lot of yardage, but erase it at a moment's notice. With the return of nine-finger Pierre-Paul, leadership could return and make their trip through the rest of the season a little more assuring.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) - Ladies and gentlemen, Sam Bradford hasn't blown out a knee yet. Anyway, the defense has been getting stronger and more consistent as the season has progressed, and the offense has been riding that momentum. However, inconsistent drives and inability to convert have been a problem, and it's best to take care of that situation if they don't want more disappointment.
Washington Redskins (3-5) - I forgot about this team. Between a mix of injuries (especially to DeSean Jackson) and a lack of defensive stability, it's not a shock at all that the [insert team name here] haven't been making good showings at all. One thing is for sure, while they have a lot of divisional games coming up in their second half, there are also a lot of offensive threats thrown in the mix. That could be a big factor on whether this season will be a massive disappointment or not.
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) - After losing six games in a row, you tend to wonder how big of a factor Tony Romo is with this team. The loss of Dez Bryant in the beginning of the season didn't help matters, but the main factor is who was in charge at QB. While the running game has been making up for it (especially after losing DeMarco Murray to the Eagles), late game choking has been the norm for these guys. While Romo may be back soon, the damage may already be done.


Minnesota Vikings (6-2) - All things considered, this definitely isn't the same team from the past few years. While Teddy Bridgewater isn't seen as an elite quarterback, Adrian Peterson (yeah, that guy) has been an obvious force on offense. The team is also a classic example of teamwork, as an underperforming offense is helped by a stellar-looking defense. While the road to the top is going to be rough, both sides of the ball should have enough trust to take out the division.
Green Bay Packers (6-2) - To the common eye, this isn't a surprise. However, the team has actually overcome a lot of problems since the beginning of the season. Injuries to the defense have made gametime a bit shaky and stressful, and while Aaron Rodgers is doing his thing yet again, he hasn't had as much support lately from his fellow receivers. I know, it sounds like I'm reaching here, but in a tighter-than-usual division, there is much to be aware of before the next seven weeks arrive.
Chicago Bears (3-5) - If there is a team that consistently underperforms week in and week out, it's Da Bears. Watching unanswered points be scored against them is rather irritating, as there is so much to get from this team, but they aren't being utilized correctly. New coaching may be the difference maker here, but you don't want to point fingers at guys who have only gelled for barely a year.
Detroit Lions (1-7) - Oh, how far the mighty have fallen here. Matt Stafford may be a magical quarterback, but you can only go so far with one guy on your team that is performing at a decent level. Instead of scoring, they give the ball away and let the opposition score. Instead of holding teams at the line, they simply don't. Coaches have been fired like crazy over the past year, and Coach Caldwell is aware that the Detroit faithful are restless. This is ugly.


Carolina Panthers (8-0) - With all of this offensive versatility finally showing its face, Cam Newton looks like a wizard in the pocket. With the first half schedule they had, things looked shaky, but they proved their worth, and they rarely screwed up. With an easier second half schedule, we're not going to see a sub-.500 team from this area. All cylinders are a-go, and if no injuries occur, the chances to see them go far in January look really good.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3) - Yes, they started 6-0, but it sort of looks like they got cocky and trickled off in the second half over the past three weeks. It isn't like they've choked or fallen asleep or anything, it's just that they start strong, and most teams that do that may burn out. That isn't to say that they aren't good anymore--because they still are--but it's time for them to play more tactical ball, and see if Matt Ryan can continue showing more versatility and for the defense to hold the line.
New Orleans Saints (4-5) - In the most unprofessional way possible, Drew Brees is amazing (herp derp) and the defense is lousy (herp de-derp derp). On paper, that is the best way to put it. In fact, the offense looks playoff caliber, but the defense is one of the worst in the league, and Rob Ryan may possibly be out of a job by the end of this season because of how poorly the team can hold and force turnovers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) - For what it's worth, Jameis Winston is having a great rookie season, and he's fortunate to have a veteran coach in Lovie Smith giving him tender, Lovie care. With him and Doug Martin on the run, things look promising for the offensive squad. However, while the defense is better than average, too many points are being scored on short, quick plays, and if that is curbed, the team could finish at a decent spot toward the end.


Arizona Cardinals (6-2) - I really like these guys. Even though there are a lot of mistakes scattered throughout the game, they have the ability to make comebacks and upset. Carson Palmer is having a great season, and the secondary is the scariest its looked since some guy named Kurt Warner was QB. While laurels shouldn't be rested on by this point, they have the tools to make a run for the playoffs. The defense needs to stay healthy. That is the main goal.
St. Louis Rams (4-4) - Despite a solid defense, the Rams have been blessed (rather, cursed) with an inconsistent QB in Nick Foles. Most of the time, that didn't matter because the running game was strong and kept the team in the game. However, with Todd Gurley shaky with injury, things could go sour. Although the second half doesn't seem to have as many formidable defenses to destroy the offensive line, it could be much better for the Rams and their staff.
Seattle Seahawks (4-4) - The 'Hawks start off strong each game, but they start running out of steam halfway through the third quarter. Although their defense is still formidable, the offense has been figured out, and games have been too close for comfort each week. Divisional games at home are going to be a big factor, of course, and the run needs to stay sharp. They may be down right now, but they aren't out by a long shot.
San Francisco 49ers (3-6) - This record does not fully explain the type of nosedive this team is taking at the moment. In fact, let me take you to the trainwreck play that took place in Week 8. Jim Tomsula in his rookie season as a head coach in the NFL has been a rocky one, considering he pulled the trigger late on pulling Kaepernick, but this is a purely hard learning experience (and reality check) not just for the coaching staff and the team, but the front office as well. No, I don't think they miss Harbaugh as much as people think, but this whole team is painfully unstable, and their win in Week 9 may have been a fluke.


While a lot of these analyses come as no surprise, we're bound to have an interesting eight weeks ahead, and hopefully we'll see some more growth.

See you again when we're done eating turkey, opening up re-gifts, and getting hammered when the clock strikes midnight.

-- Stephanie

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October: Such A Great Sports Month in North America, It's Scary


Aside from the fact that the greatest person alive was born in this month (I was going to say it was me, but for the sake of sports, let's say it's Mike Ditka or something), the month of October is the most insane month ever. You've got candy, horror movies, pumpkin-spiced everything, cooler weather (in most regions), foliage, and the fear of impending Christmas commercials. But not only do you have all of that stuff, you just happen to have all of the Big Four (and the stepchild MLS) playing at the same time. While two of the five sports are ending, another two are beginning, and the fifth is nearing the midway point. If you're a sports fan, you have no excuse to not be watching sports in some way.

(I actually took this picture!)
The sports you see throughout the month have their own representation, and you may have been familiar with these sightings already.

Shall we take a look at what we've got?

The Baby in the Cute Halloween Costume: NCAA Football Season
Ah, this is the time of year when you have a ton of college students dedicating their weekends to look absolutely goofy and have a reason to party. This is also the time of year when there are alumni of 25 years pulling their college gear out of mothballs to cheer on their alma mater. Due to the fast pace of the game, and the young men fighting for possible draft spots for the NFL, you can never go wrong with heartbreaks and excitement. Plus, it's one of the few things that commercialism hasn't destroyed...yet.

The Kid with the Eccentric, Hand-made Costume from Something that People Don't Get the Reference from: MLS
If there is a game (or the ending of a game) that will show you how ridiculously exciting the tail-end of the MLS season is, this is it from Thursday night. While there has been a bigger following of soccer in the United States, it will often be overshadowed by the ones above it. Regardless, this is a playoff series that you don't want to miss. I wrote about MLS' struggles for attention before. You can read it here.

The REALLY Loud Infant, or, the One Kid at Lunch that Throws Out Their Trash Yelling, "KOBE!": NBA
Although preseason exists for this sport as well as another, fists (or elbows, for that matter) don't really start flying until the last week of the month. Closet basketball fans come out wearing their worn-out Jordans and shootin' hoops while saying they can nail threes better than Stephen Curry. Not to mention that the debate of who is better between LeBron and Jordan starts firing up again as if it didn't skip a single beat. Despite possible overshadowing by their college counterparts in the month of March, the stage is theirs for several months to come, so October is a rather cool coming out party for the men on the hardwood.

The College Kid Worried About Academic Probation, or, The One ALWAYS Wearing the Scarf and Matching Furry Boots: NHL
Unlike the sport above, the NHL comes crashing into main play in the beginning of October. While there is a preseason that lasts about two weeks or so, it doesn't really matter (especially if you're ESPN). However, once it starts, it certainly starts. With the new and improved Overtime rules (3v3...that's right), the game really makes you want your heart to jump out. Oh, and because of the ice and cooler conditions, that's a perfect excuse for boots and scarf weather. See? I brought it back around.

The Disgruntled Barfly Who Just Raked His Entire Lawn This Morning, or, the Kid Running to the TV with a Bowl of Cereal to Watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Saturday Morning: NFL
We've been around for a little while, and though we may be tired and weary from the week's duties, we always have that one day to hang back in our fatigue or just get "totally hype" to sit in front of the television set for a couple of hours [for example, I was "totally hype" watching the The Joy of Painting marathon on Twitch for the past few days]. Since most Divisional matchups are gone for a little while, we've gotten the tougher pieces out of the way, but October is but a reminder that it's not how you start, it's really how you finish. Start gathering your strength again.

That One Person at a Party that Gets Their Second Wind and JUST WON'T QUIT, or, the Sophisticated Person at Your Job that Started Annoying You Three Weeks Ago: MLB
Ah, October baseball. If you didn't watch any of the 3,000 or so games that have been broadcast since April, then I guess now's the best time to do that. Sure, it seems like it goes on forever, and there may be some [batflip] fireworks in the process, but don't worry, it'll pass, and you'll start to miss the memories soon enough. On second thought, Joe Buck still carries over. So there's that second one.


Imagine having the choice of watching either sport at your disposal. This is the October of a sports fan in North America.

While we're going into the unpredictable November, we always have this month to eternally worship if pumpkins aren't quite for you. Sure, I get birthday cake too, so it's another reason for me to love it, but there are times to be proud to be a fan. We've enjoyed the memories, and we've enjoyed the numerous choices that have been had.

Now, go watch your episodes of The Walking Dead or something. I'm gonna continue watching sports.

-- Stephanie

(Oh, and Happy Halloween to you sillies.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

NFL: Not Feeling Logic, A Divine Comedy (Sort Of)

It isn't very often that sports make me want to put my head through a wall. However, the world of mass media makes me want to do that every time I look at it or hear it. It's a cruel world that I live in. Go ahead, take the red pill and read.

Warning: There are probably going to be times where you shouldn't take me seriously. I'm going to throw a lot of unnecessary jokes in here, but it's being done to drive at my point. Warning over.


My main forte is acting and writing. By default, I study and critique a lot of different approaches and styles that are presented in a character and the environment. A lot of my training comes from--you guessed it--watching sports. Selling a product takes a lot a bit of acting sometimes, especially if you're trying to sell your cause. However, the product I am about to mention here has become this ugly-looking Brundlefly that got seemingly worse. Maybe some people other than myself just like to watch the world burn...?

The effects of sports-related products and their shenanigans have been a slow burn. In fact, I remember writing a piece about how ESPN was truly becoming a juggernaut in college sports and were becoming an influence in alignment, among other decisions. You can read this gem from four years ago here (and realize that I've become a better writer...somehow).

Since then, I've become older and a heck of a lot wiser about brands and products. The deeper you go into believing in a brand, the less likely you will see how ridiculous and silly it can be. When you're knee deep, it doesn't seem so staged. Admittedly, for a while, I had stopped watching sports shows. Even more, I've stopped watching the news altogether. The more and more I see it, it's almost like getting sucked into another matrix. As the great Kenny Rogers once sang: "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." Go ahead, you can keep on singing as I explain. After a while, you just have to say, "no mas," and run the heck away from all of this. Why? There is only so much in life that you can afford to take seriously.

Sports have their own media outlet of sorts, as the general public needs to know what is going on with their favorite teams and players around the league. However, certain body parts in this creature like to get pimples and ingrown hairs more often than not.

And this is the part where I mention the NFL.

Already known as the "No Fun League" by jocks and nerds around the world, thinking that they're funny and all, the NFL has slowly but surely become yet another interactive game of Chess for Dummies. I only say the "for Dummies" part because not everybody knows how to play chess. Anyway, as the NFL season unfolds, the drama and the staging keeps unfolding more and more like a spoiled onion, and it has become, fun to watch.

In general, the NFL has become a conglomerate all its own. You're either in or you're out. In the church of sports, American football takes up about five or six whole rows, while the other sports take up a couple of seats apiece. It also sits with its legs spread wide open while scratching the belly with one hand and stuffing the other hand in its pants much like Al Bundy before it.

Roughness and similes/metaphors aside, the magic of the NFL doesn't seem real at all now. It doesn't seem like the times of old where dudes are walking around with missing teeth and playing in sub-zero temperatures constantly. It looks more like a Hollywood film with each time you turn on a game. It has become a farce in of itself. The more you become a part of the drama and discussion, the further down the rabbit hole you fall.

Below are five main points on why I don't bother taking the NFL seriously anymore.

1) The commentary teams will always bring nonsensical business up.

Joe Buck aside (because America seems to love him so), you will constantly have to hear about lingering issues among players on and off the field. Some of them may have even happened five or six years ago, but we still have to hear about it. It's like they find it to be reverse psychology, or that everybody watching the sport at the time and is unfamiliar with the team has to be reminded of moot points that have nothing to do with what's happening down on the field. That, or these things are so incredibly important and crucial for the survival of the human race. Here are some brief examples:

Example 1: "[Insert team name here] has a vicious secondary, and the Giants' #1 receiver Victor Cruz may be a target due to a tender knee stemming from a season-ending injury from last year."
My response: That was last year. Plus, if his knee wasn't up to form, he wouldn't be playing.

Example 2: "Kirk Cousins, starting for the injured RG3..."
My response: As far as America is concerned, this is RG3 now. Anyway, this response always applies for someone replacing someone else. We could easily use this argument for Brandon Weeden replacing Tony Romo.

Example 3: "The rookie Jameis Winston [or Marcus Mariota]..."
My response: He's new and fresh, okay. But if he's playing like a seasoned veteran, there is no need. This also applies when a "mistake" is made. Even Jason Pierre-Paul makes mistakes, and he's a five-year vet with two Super Bowl rings. (For the record, I honestly wasn't referring to his fireworks accident.)

Example 4: "Sam Bradford has sustained two torn ACLs in consecutive seasons..."
My response: How long ago did these injuries occur? Is he walking? Excuse me while I groan.

Example 5: Obvious observation is obvious.
My response: Is your name Cris Collinsworth? But really--when an outsider sees an obvious catch or a clear holding call and can comprehend what happened, there is no need to explain it unless the player were catching a hot dog in mid-air or holding an adorable puppy that appeared out of thin air.

As you can tell, commentary can be rather irritating. In fact, not all games are meant to be filled with constant commentary. If you listen to radio broadcasts, you'll hear the crowd filling in the dead air. Why not on TV, too?

2) The ongoing wars (and meltdowns) between FanDuel and Draft Kings.

For those who don't follow sports at all--well, wait, why are you reading this then?--FanDuel and Draft Kings are a super-duper Readers' Digest version of fantasy leagues that most will join for an entire season. Instead of sticking by for an entire season, you pay a subscription, and at whatever point in a season, you can take part in a one-day draft, and you will earn money based on your successes. Of course, in the world of business, while you always need a competitor, the fantasy town isn't big enough for the two of them.

But the kicker is this: employees of either fantasy sports company have been creating accounts on their competitors' sites and have been using the information gathered from their own home base to win the cash and prizes. This, my friends, is a classic example of "the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer." It's like a bunch of kindergarten kids fighting over the scented Crayola crayons while you're in your own corner watching them as you color with your piece-of-crap RoseArt crayons. While the idea of the one-day drafts was fresh in the beginning, it's starting to take the shape of the "get rich quick" schemes, and the ones in charge of it are breaking it. Plus, it's getting rather annoying to know that they have enough money to run a 30-second spot at least three times during each commercial break.

[Note: They don't just cover football. They cover every sport as far as I know.]

3) ESPN and FOX Sports Network

I really don't need to say much more about this. To give you a decent visual of what ESPN and FSN does to NFL-related stories throughout the day, here is a really old YouTube video of a guy making Chinese noodles. I understand that people don't exactly watch the networks for 24 hours straight, but when it's the NFL, games are weekly, and things can often be repeated. It's a ton of ad nauseam and there isn't enough syrup of ipecac in the world to calm it down.

[And at last check, they still don't care much about hockey. Maybe that'll be another post someday.]

4) Obvious characterization of sports analysts.

Speaking of the sports networks above, we've got this to add onto the torture rack. Of course, sports networks are often seen as the male or sports-loving female's version of The View or The Wendy Williams Show, and I totally get that. However, some of the gushing love and bias that some analysts may have for specific players/teams can get rather nauseating. I'm looking at you, Skip Bayless. Oftentimes, these acts blur the lines between "fair and balanced" ethics and being totally hokey, and this leads to the offender to be just enough of an imp to aggravate the opposition to the point where they will turn full-blown hater all over social media. I've seen it before, and truthfully... It's a practice that is always in place for people to agree/disagree and have an opinion upon, but it's borderline fake and comical nowadays. Do we need more reasons to love Tom Brady and the heart of Tony Romo? Not really.

[Although, in reality, if you ignore them, they'll go away. But who listens to the rational one over here?]

5) Troubles with disciplinary measures and passive aggression.

You bet I'm going here. During the facepalm festival known as "Deflate-Gate," suspensions and fines were thrown on Tom Brady and other staff members of the New England Patriots, and the opinions of football fans and non-fans alike split the nation faster than the Coke/Pepsi wars. Numerous appeals and court cases later, Brady's four-game suspension was lifted, and he was able to start Week 1 against the Steelers. Usually, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, aka "The Most Powerful Man in Sports," attends the larger games of the season, including the kickoff to the regular season. However, he was nowhere to be found at Gillette Stadium, resulting in "Where is Roger" chants coming from the faithful around the stadium. Was he running scared? That is uncertain. However, a lot of people believed that he shied away from attempting to keep the suspension in place.

Plus, there are a lot of critics who find that more needs to be done in regard to players who have had run-ins with the law, especially when involved in domestic abuse charges. While this stuff isn't foreign to other sports, it's higher in nutritional value in the mass media's eyes, and a lot of these transgressions fall on Goodell in the end. The constant controversies that surround the NFL with fair playing practices and criminal charges have been frequent over the past five seasons or so, and it's almost become a soap opera that refuses to be canceled because Goodell won't make it so. Don't get me wrong, he's put on the man-pants before, but reactions of those around him as well as the fans have almost made him appear gun-shy.


Call me crazy, but after writing this piece (and reading it for errors), I feel like my life as a sports fan is a lie because it's slowly become a stage of corporate entertainment. Could you imagine if this existed in the days of Ancient Rome? [It sorta did, as far as blood money, but I digress.] Just think--there'd be some one-day draft for the rich people, and after a couple of giant scrolls displayed at ground level advertising some sort of male-enhancement herb provided by the Roman god Eros, the gladiators would try to kill each other, all while the Emperor sits above and checks the status of suspended gladiators that were supposed to be eaten by lions that week because they cheated somehow or got out and attacked women and children in the process. Like, things were still a show back then, but there wasn't an overdose of consumerism and the need to feed drama going on. Not even the Ancient Greeks had all of that business going on in their plays; they just acted because it was the thing to do.

It seems like it isn't so much about the game anymore, but the presentation of it and the constant need to keep people on the edge of their seats of anticipation.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

-- Stephanie

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2015 - Playoff Droughts are for Wusses

That awkward moment when the last post I published on here was the write-up for the midpoint of the MLB season. Uhhhhhhhhh I've been busy with other writing ventures. That's all I can say here. But that doesn't matter anymore. I AM HERE TO WRITE ABOUT OCTOBER BASEBALL, BLAST IT ALL!!

And it is finally the greatest time of year again.

Over the course of the week, we have seen playoff races go absolutely berserk, managers get fired, guys getting choked out, and champagne being shot everywhere. Who knows what the next three weeks will be chock-full of?

2015 MLB Postseason

Just like last year, the previous year's World Series champs are nowhere to be seen. While the San Francisco Giants made a good run, they were stopped dead by another team vying for revenge. One thing you're going to notice is that most of these teams really made the most out of the trade deadlines and nailed some great deals. Because of that, we're seeing giants of another form rise all throughout the league. It's gonna be a hot October for sure. Shall we begin?

National League Contenders

New York Mets (90-72) - This team has a lot of younger talent, and they're driven for power and success. Guys like Wright and mid-season gem pickup Cespedes have been here before and can easily balance out both nerves and uncertainly. At face value, their starting rotation is going to be a tough one to beat, and they're going to use every trick possible to keep the party going. Considering where they were in July, and how they were dueling with Washington, we're seeing a team getting hot, and you know what that means...
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2006, and I still think Carlos Beltran is standing where the plate was at Shea Stadium waiting for a good one to swing at... Nevermind--you'll see why.)

St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) - Every time I do this, I truly ask if there's ever any doubt that I won't be writing about the Cardinals here. Well, as it seems, that's never going to happen. This team as a whole is like a ninja. They pelt you with either really hard shots or a bunch of Chinese stars (aka "small ball"), and then their bullpen is just like "NOPE." As usual, these guys are going to be rough to get past. Luckily for them, their future opponent will be extremely familiar...
(Last time they were in the Postseason? lol I'm not even going to bother here.)

Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) - As expected, these guys get on base and they threaten by ways of speed and smarts, unlike most car chases you'll see in LA. In any case, these guys have been groomed for the stage, but it's a matter of whether the pitching is actually going to show up this time around. Heck, it's a running gag at this point for Clayton Kershaw. Maybe the others will pick up the slack? We'll have to wait and see.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? Last year, but their middle infielders were involved in their beatings in back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009. Take good care of Rollins and Utley, guys. I'm still crying on the inside over it.)

[Wild Card] Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) - What you see right now is what you're going to get. That isn't to say that the Bucs are a one-trick pony, but they've been following the same formula for quite some time, and they follow it to a T. If they want to advance, it's up to the pitching to stop oncomers in their tracks. Are we doing it for AJ this year? Sure. Why not?
(Last time they were in the Postseason? Last year, and that was a heartbreaker and a half.)
[Wild Card 2] Chicago Cubs (97-65) - I have to say this now--THE BACK TO THE FUTURE PROPHECY CONTINUES. *ahem* Anyway, this team is no joke. Remember the "sleeping giants" comment from last year? Look at this. Boom, awake. After many years of rebuilding and such, we've finally got a lineup that's ready to roll along with a fearsome rotation. Prepare for a slugfest on Wednesday. [Will we see a pitch get Schwarber'd?]
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2008--But let's be honest, it always seems like ages with these guys.)

American League Contenders

Toronto Blue Jays (93-69) - If there was one team that totally hit it big during the trade window, it was these guys. They're totally not the same team from the first half, and they don't want you to remember that kind of stuff. They come through in the clutch with guys like Donaldson, Pillar, and good 'ole Joey Bats, they have enough power and speed to make the plays. Canada's got a chance to show that baseball still matters up there, eh?
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 1993, when Joe Carter destroyed a ball low and inside and they went back-to-back in titles.)

Kansas City Royals (95-67) - They obviously have unfinished business.The lineup looks even more consistent and synchronized, and even more so, they have the capability to totally pound you late in the game and not think twice. Guys like Hosmer, Cain, Morales, and Moose are in top form as they were before, but now, they have the swagger that'll give them that extra boost toward the World Series. Even the pitching looks more stellar after the acquisition of Johnny Cueto. Simply put, I feel sorry for a lot of other teams right now.
[And if I could see more Paul Rudd, I'd be cool with that.]
(Last time--Oh, nevermind... I still think about that ninth inning, by the way. I almost lost everything inside of me that night. For real.)

Texas Rangers (88-74) - Excuse me while I put my eyeballs back in their sockets. Here's another team that is a totally different one from the first half, and admittedly, they did not look the least bit stable or healthy at first, but once people came back and after minor league [blood] sacrifices were made, they truly showed that they had the tools to get where they needed to be. They were never a lousy team to begin with--they just had to wait a little while, is all. (Hey, Cole Hamels.)
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2010, and most media outlets make it sound like they haven't been there since 1910. I wish I were joking.)

[Wild Card] New York Yankees (87-75) - Yeah, dude. They're back. They tripped and fell a little bit on the way, but they kept their composure the entire time. This team had a bit of "rebuilding" of their own, so it isn't entirely right to say that A-Rod was the sole reason the Yankees are playing well enough. Of course, we've got an "older-looking" team here yet again, but age almost always means wisdom.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2012--Yes, it's ACTUALLY BEEN that long. Oh...HI, CARLOS BELTRAN!)
[Wild Card 2] Houston Astros (86-76) - If you can still believe it, I'm still screaming like Schwartz' mother over here. This almost didn't happen, but this is a big sign that this team is willing to fight and capitalize on mistakes. Youth and inexperience may be a bit of a factor here, but many of these guys have to remember how they got there and why. Small ball might not be their main go-to, but if they don't want to face disappointment, they might have to channel that to move forward.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2005, when Craig Biggio and Roy Oswalt ruled the field, and Jeff Bagwell was on his way out.)



NL MVP - Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) - This was a bit of a no-brainer, considering that he was a huge driving force on the team for the entire season. At the ripe young age of 23 and putting up the best numbers of his career thus far, he's a definite shoo-in for the award.
Next Best Choice: Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)

NL Cy Young - Zack Greinke (Los Angeles Dodgers) - Now, hear me out on this one, okay? Record and ERA may be a big factor in determining the winner of this prestigious pitching award, but one thing that needs to be taken into account as well is consistency. Greinke has brought that the entire year and hasn't screwed up very much at all. How many consecutive scoreless innings did he have? Exactly.
Next Best Choice: Jake Arrieta (Chicago Cubs)

NL Rookie of the Year - Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs) - If you don't think he's deserving, you're a silly, silly person. He's shown consistency the entire year, and while he didn't burst out of the starting gate like most rookies did this year, he's been the iron man of fielding and hitting. That's good enough for me.
Next Best Choice: Matt Duffy (San Francisco Giants)

AL MVP - Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays) - This is definitely the closest AL MVP race I've ever covered. Both choices here have stellar and clutch offenses with little to distinguish the two. However, what it might come down to is how they have helped in getting the team to the Postseason. I hate saying that, but that's usually the final nail in the coffin.
Next Best Choice: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)

AL Cy Young - Dallas Keuchel (Houston Astros) - Stats-wise, he's got this in the bag. He's been tops almost the entire year, and he hasn't showed any signs of letting up.  I'd be more than surprised if this award doesn't have his name scribbled all over it by now.
Next Best Choice: David Price (Tampa Bay Rays)

AL Rookie of the Year - Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians) - If we're looking for the most solid, all-around performer, it's this guy. Not only can he master the small ball, he can flash the leather and get runs in. The lack of Postseason shouldn't really hurt his chances much at all.
Next Best Choice: Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)


Another season is done, and now I am forced to resort to playing MLB The Show on my PS3. Sure, I can watch other sports, but baseball is a special one for me, like it is with a lot of you who follow the sport. We'll all find a way to get by. Enjoy this October. After that, see y'all in February.

-- Stephanie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The 2015 MLB Midseason Slant - Speed Demons

Change is good. That is all--I have to say--about that.

For the better part of three months, we have seen a bunch of twists and turns occur in Major League Baseball. We've seen a number of suspensions, another unnecessary chapter in the story of Milton Bradley, the return of A-Rod, a new commissioner, a possible reinstatement of Pete Rose until he ultimately screwed it up for himself again, alleged "hacking" between St. Louis and Houston, more "this will be my final MLB season" announcements, and new implemented rules regarding the pace of the game.

We also got to see a new style of the Home Run Derby on Monday night. Each player was under a four-minute time limit instead of being given 10 "Outs" to work with, and my goodness, that was one of the most exciting things I had ever watched. If you didn't watch it, go find a replay. You won't be sorry.

It seems like just yesterday that the Super Bowl ended and baseball fans everywhere were counting down the days to the report of pitchers and catchers to Spring Training. And now, the day I am posting this, it's the day of the All-Star Game in Cincy. Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?

Let's take a look at some of the hits (and misses) that have been going on in Major League Baseball. You can take as long as you want--there's no time limit here.



Eastern Division

Overview: Don't ask me why, but I feel like over the past couple of seasons, the NL East has looked like a super weak link for the past couple of seasons. The race may usually be tight, but its against two teams that have "okay at best" records, and the rest sort of drop off.

Washington Nationals (48-39) – Patience is a virtue, as these guys are far gone from their rotten seasons and now in the cruising lanes of great talent, first place finishes, and pennants. Bryce Harper is a viable candidate for NL MVP this year, and you have Max Scherzer making a decent run for the CY. With good influences, all things will fall into place. It especially helps when you’re the only team in your division without a sub-.500 record away (albeit being AT .500).

New York Mets (47-42) – For a team that has dealt with injury (Hi, David Wright) and who has the lowest team batting average in the National League (third to last in team OBP), you can obviously tell that the pitching staff has been eating their Wheaties with these guys. Their rotation of Bartolo Colon, sophomore Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, and Noah Syndergaard (in Dillon Gee’s absence) have been absolutely tight and kept the team in contention. More plate discipline could give them a run at a Wild Card spot in late September.

Atlanta Braves (42-47) – Injuries have not been very kind to this team at all. A lot of games have slipped away from them on the road, and even some of their seasoned vets are looking a bit shaky from the turn of events. The one big guy to look at is Nick Markakis, who has been the most consistent, hard-hitting force on the team. Pitching has been steady, but the bullpen is kind of scary in the bad way. This second half could be rough.

Miami Marlins (38-51) – Everybody hop on the Stanton Express! WOO-WOO. No, but really, if you care to know, the guy to really watch on this team is Dee Gordon (he’s Flash Jr for a reason, gosh dang it) because this bro is absolutely DANGEROUS at the plate and on the bases. I mean, c’mon, Ichiro dropped off—someone has to pick up the pace. Wait, I’m supposed to talk about the team? Oh. The team is middle of the pack in all stats, but they’re so disgustingly inconsistent on all fronts that it becomes hard to watch them at times.

Philadelphia Phillies (29-62) – Imagine that. My hometown team is this year’s basement squad. They kind of deserve it too. Poor management all across the board, and the inability to get disciplined players that aren’t their veterans (even Chase Utley is having a horrible year) has been a real thorn in the team’s side. On pace to lose 115 games this year? Yep. (Phillies fans are already waiting for the Eagles season to start.)

Central Division

Overview: This division never fails to impress. While there might be newer teams making a strong showing, the bottom teams are still making a run to make this a scramble for the entire division. A knock-down, drag-out brawl is always welcome, and this could be a division for the ages.

St. Louis Cardinals (56-33) – Injuries haven’t slowed this team down one bit. With the lowest team ERA in the National League, they’re backed by a starting rotation consisting of Jon Lackey, Michael Wacha [WAKKA WAKKA], Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez. The offensive threesome of Jhonny Peralta, Kolten Wong, and Jason Heyward (with a consolation prize always going to Yadi and Holliday) have been providing fireworks that are clearly seen from the archways. As usual, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with from here on out this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates (53-35) – This team is definitely one for contention. In fact, they have been for a while, but they have more chutzpah than in years’ past. Andrew McCutchen is having yet another amazing year,  and it should also come as no shock that the pitching staff is looking as terrifying as ever, led by the immortal AJ Burnett in his final Major League season. Filled with a slough of veterans and young dudes alike, this is a great formula to take a playoff spot and hold it ransom for some Pirate booty. See what I did there? The injury bug is always one to worry about, but as usual, health is key to keep going into the summer.
[NOTE: They’re currently atop the Wild Card Standings.]

Chicago Cubs (47-40) – While they’re not as green as they once were, there are still a couple of things they need to work on if they want to make a strong run for October. Health and consistency is a huge thing here. Some guys aren’t playing enough, and even though they make good showings, sometimes “hot and cold ball” isn’t the best thing to immerse oneself in. That aside, the starting rotation gets a gold star, with strong pitching from Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, and a gold star for Anthony Rizzo. That kid’s gonna go places. I’d like to see the Cubbies make the playoffs, that’s for sure. They’re due. Actually, they’ve been due since 1908, but that’s beside the point.
[NOTE: They’re currently Team #2 in the Wild Card Standings.]

Cincinnati Reds (39-47) – Outside of the big names on the team (Toddfather, Votto, Bruce, Phillips), there haven’t been very many big showings from the rest of the offense. The backups need a lot of work.  And outside of the starting rotation plus Aroldis Chapman, there’s much left to be desired. It’s rather obvious that the crowd is one of their biggest strengths, as they haven’t been faring well outside of The Great American. At this rate, there might not be a lot of cheering when it comes to playoff baseball. Then again, at least they cheered for something… After all, Todd Frazier won the Home Run Derby Monday night.

Milwaukee Brewers (38-52) – This team can be very sloppy at times. Defensively, there are a lot of holes (almost literally), and the pitching staff isn’t necessarily helping matters very much on that front. The one thing keeping the team afloat is some timely (and often powerful) hitting from guys like—yeah, you guessed it—Ryan Braun. The Brew Crew certainly isn’t what it used to be, and its best that the second half is used for rebuilding purposes, especially on the front of the starting rotation.

Western Division

Overview: This team is pretty much like if "The Heavy" of a mob had a baby with a bunch of ninjas. We have some of the best hitting, pitching, and plate discipline here, but not all teams in this division have the luxury of harnessing all three qualities. We all have that one clumsy ninja in the group. C'mon, Beverly Hills Ninja should have taught you that.

Los Angeles Dodgers (51-39) – Evidently enough, money does buy you happiness…or does it? Clayton Kershaw and clear CY candidate Zack Greinke certainly can. Their patience at the plate is also a key aspect of the team, as they don’t take much crap from opponents, and it ultimately works in their favor. The team appears to be clicking on all cylinders at home, and they’ll certainly be buyers for more workhorses now that the trade deadline is upon us. Don’t expect a slowdown or an early exit for these guys. Slow and steady may win the race, but swift and tactful also wins the pennant race.

San Francisco Giants (46-43) – According to the Twitterverse, this team is doing horribly. I don’t understand it. In fact, while there are some issues here and there, the team is getting its strength back in offense (Hunter Pence, duh) and the pitching is looking stronger than ever. Plus, the plate discipline is as equally precise as their Southern Californian brethren. If you expect anything less from Joe Panik and Buster Posey, you may have a problem. There has been a lot of changing of the guard in the rotation, but that shouldn’t be a source of panic. Their bullpen has remained consistent and healthy, that’s gotta mean something, right? They’re champions, for Pete’s sakes—they’ll always find a way to win.

Arizona Diamondbacks (42-45) – Holy crap, Paul Goldschmidt. He is obviously at the helm of a team that is still trying to find its footing not only in a consistent offense, but a hunched-over pitching staff. In fact, that’s actually been a rough problem for the former green-and-purples since Dan Haren was traded off to the great beyond. And the kicker is, once they get that settled, they can be clear contenders. Once the days get hotter in Arizona, so should the pitching arms. Consider them a dark horse for the Wild Card.

San Diego Padres (41-49) – For what it’s worth, they try. They really do. However, the team is a bit older, and their plate discipline is pretty much poo-poo. The pitching staff isn’t doing a terrible job—in fact, they’re keeping up as best as possible; however, there really shouldn’t be any excuses for management to find decent coaches to enhance the talent. They’ve had these issues in the past, and they’ve been unresolved. I think it’s time for an overhaul at Petco Park.

Colorado Rockies (39-49) – Here is the team with the highest team batting average in the National League. But the pitching staff is the pits with loads of injuries and well…yeah. John Axford’s been pretty consistent, and Jorge de la Rosa hasn’t been TOO shabby, but the rest is rather laughable. Outside of that trainwreck, the usuals of Blackmon, Tulo, LeMahieu, CarGo, and Arenado have been leading the fronts on offense. In fact, they’re the “one side of the field” wrecking crew. But offense doesn’t always win games…


Eastern Division

Overview: We tend to see a lot of good matchups from this division, but so far, we've also seen a lot of "tripping up the steps," as it were. while there's a lot of promise from each squad, everybody still has a long way to go, no matter whether they're above or below the .500 mark.

New York Yankees (48-40) – The impressive part about this is, is they’re doing this without Jeter. But A-Rod has also returned to the squad, and he has been a valuable part of this offense. However, this hasn’t entirely been an offensive show; in fact, it hasn’t even been much of a pitching spectacle, either. What’s happening here, ladies and gentlemen, is a sweet case of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Things have been fair and well in the Bronx, but dodging close calls only lasts for so long. This second half is one of separating the men from the boys.

Tampa Bay Rays (46-45) – Unlike the Yanks, the Rays’ pitching staff is a little more polished, especially in the realms of strikeout pitchers. While they may give up the big hits more often than not, the stellar defense makes up for a less-than-promising and inconsistent offense. This does not mean that they don’t have a snowball’s chance in Chris Berman’s basement, but the more promising and patient at-bats everyone gets, the better off they’ll be. Look at Evan Longoria. He knows what’s up.

Baltimore Orioles (44-44) – O my. That’s a lot of different guys that love to swing the bat and miss…and miss a couple of games at that. It’s rough too, because the starting rotation isn’t doing a shabby job—who’d have thought that Bruce Chen still had it in him after all these years? Being at .500 isn’t a bad thing at the All-Star Break, but when you’re in a heated division like the AL East, your crap has to get together, and silly at-bat mishaps can’t happen. The decent rotation can’t be wasted at a time like this.

Toronto Blue Jays (45-46) – With a few injuries here and there and a case of star-power from guys like Josh Donaldson and Mark Buerhle, they’re not in a rough enough spot to worry. However, the lack of run support during games (especially since RA Dickey has officially been figured out) doesn’t mean that the hitting is poor—in fact, it’s one of the best in the AL. The bullpen and some of the rotation has been rocky. They may be dealing soon enough for a stronger rotation—that is, if that can afford to in a tight race like this.

Boston Red Sox (42-47) – Oh, Bahhstin, what happened? While small ball tends to win games, the pitching staff hasn’t been keeping up their end of the bargain. The days may be gone of seeing David Ortiz as a consistent man at DH in favor of young blood that have been fighting to make a name for themselves in Beantown. Heck, even Mike Napoli is under the Mendoza line. We might need a new breath of life here before things ultimately get worse.

Central Division

Overview: What is usually a one-man division has now become a source of possible Wild Card fever. While there may be a bit of a lead going on, it's still anybody's division, and that says a lot for a division that is mostly quiet throughout the season compared to the others.

Kansas City Royals (52-34) – With the way they’ve been playing, you’d think they want to go back to the World Series, eh? From the looks of things, they have the magic to do it again this year. Despite minor hiccups here and there, especially with minor injury issues, this team has the consistent hitting power, and the bullpen is also pretty strong at times as well. Every team is going to lose once in a while, but this team won’t quit and won’t give up stupid victories to the opposition. Oh, and one last thing… MOOOOOOOOOSE.

Minnesota Twins (49-40) – This is a welcoming sight to see, considering the numerous problems that plagued the team and the front office over the past several years. Joe Mauer has found his home at first base, and because of his adjustment, the offense and plate discipline have returned via leadership. With that noted, they’ve been going pound-for-pound in run differential, and even though they’ve had their share of streaks, they’re making a name for themselves as a scrappy team that won’t settle for less. It has been a while for them, and they want to make these slugfests count.
[NOTE: They’re currently atop the Wild Card standings.]

Detroit Tigers (44-44) – While this shouldn’t be seen as something to panic about, the Tigers appear to be cooking a bit slower than usual. I mean that in the pitching department. Oh, trust me, there’s nothing wrong with the disgustingly powerful hitting staff that has the highest team average in the AL; the only problem is, aside from David Price, the team hasn’t been very strong pitching-wise. Even Justin Verlander looks like half of the pitcher he was in previous seasons. Defense wins games, but you need good, precise pitching to carry on to a possible fifth AL Central title.

Cleveland Indians (42-46) – The team is neither here-nor-there. A player to definitely take a gander at is Jason Kipnis, who has been a viable piece of the offense. Unfortunately, whether there has truly been problems, has been run support, especially for last year’s CY winner Corey Kluber. While there haven’t been very many fireworks with this club for a while, there’s a slim chance we’re going to be seeing any come the end of September. There may be a slight problem in management, too, but any persisting issues remain to be seen.

Chicago White Sox (41-45) – While there are a lot of bright spots in the rotation and in the starting lineup like Sale, Abreu, Samardzija, and Cabrera, injuries and suspensions haven’t been very kind to this squad. They’re not floundering at all, but they’ve also been dealt a rough hand in the first half of the season. While they may not be contenders, they’re perfect candidates to play the spoiler. Whether they’re going to make a bigger impact than their NL brethren, well… I don’t think that’ll be the case this year.

Western Division

Overview: This division always surprises me in some way. You'll see why in a little bit. In my time of writing these, I've come to learn to expect the unexpected, especially in the AL West. And by golly, this time is no different at all.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (48-40) – Now, you might just be a straight-up silly person if you thought the Angels would be anywhere else in the standings. They’ve been riding a hot streak of good fortune for the past couple of seasons; however, this is the part in a timespan when the rubber meets the road and we see who the weak links are and who is helping the team grow. In his semi-older age, Pujols is still performing, and we’re still seeing MVP-like numbers from Mike Trout. We’re also seeing definitive strength out of the rotation. However, there are some patchy spots in the lineup, and it might be time to check up on them.
[NOTE: They’re technically in first place because they’ve played lesser games, and their winning percentage is higher due to that. Math.]

Houson Astros (49-42) – You know that scene in A Christmas Story when Schwartz’ mother starts screaming “WHAT?! WHAAAAAT?!” That was totally me. It’s been a long time coming for this organization, especially since they were basement material since almost the last time they went to the World Series (ten years ago, in case you didn’t remember). The obvious Achilles’ heel of the team is the offense, where Jose Altuve is the only guy who is performing extremely well on a consistent basis, and the team leads the AL in strikeouts which is no bueno. Even so, the pitching staff (and even the bullpen) looks really fresh and steady. Could we see a shocker and look at them in October? It’s been ten years too long, but this young team can’t afford to get big-headed in any regard.
[NOTE: They’re currently Team #2 in the Wild Card standings.]

Texas Rangers (42-46) – Prince Fielder is having arguably the season of his career, and well… It doesn’t look like anybody else on that team wants people outside of the fanbase to know. We’ve also seen a few hits and misses (literally) on the pitching staff, aside from starting rotation men like Yovani Gallardo, whose record doesn’t show what great material he’s been dealing. Granted, this team got hammered—and I mean HAMMERED—by the injury bug, but no amount of health can regain consistency once we see which player is actually the best fit for the lineup. It’s a sticky situation, but somebody’s gotta go through it.

Seattle Mariners (41-48) – While they have bright spots in the starting rotation and in the starting lineup, we can’t get away from the fact that we can’t get on base to save our lives most of the time. Big hits are great and all, but that tends to tire out more than you’d think. Just look at the pitching staff, for instance. They’re in the middle of the pack, but there are times when they need a little more rest or a little more time to warm up than usual. Basic stuff, really. But when the only thing going for you at times is King Felix himself, it should be a wakeup call for something. The call hasn’t been answered in quite some time, and it doesn’t look like it’ll get any better anytime soon.

Oakland Athletics (41-50) – It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish. I have a feeling that the bullpen didn’t get that message this year. A lot of leads have not been kept by these guys, and it’s hurt them a couple of times. It also doesn’t help that the hitting hasn’t been as strong as it has been in seasons past. There are strong showings by Reddick, Vogt, and Lawrie, but with spotty injuries, we haven’t seen a whole heck of a lot of support outside of them. We could see a more fierce side to them after the All-Star Break, and we could very well hear those saxophones again with them as a come-from-behind Wild Card contender. Baby steps.


That about does it for me here. With the dog days of summer on our toes, it's almost time to start warming up for more hard-hitting sports action not just from baseball, but from other sports as well. But savor it now, it could speed by you in an instant.

No. Seriously. It should still be, like, March.

Until next time...

-- Stephanie

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Slant on Sunday - Gender-Bend It Like... Solo?

I almost wrote about this case in February, but I'm awfully glad I waited.

Over the past year, we have seen a number of domestic violence cases coming to light. The most notable ones came from NFL players, such as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. It is a social stigma that men are usually the perpetrators of domestic violence cases due to their size, strength, and gender role in a relationship or household. Nobody usually thinks that a woman would be capable of doing such an offense. Well, it today's era of feminism, women are equal to men in just about every way, including having the capability to be accused of domestic violence.

Before you continue reading, I am going to throw up a disclaimer that I am going to be saying a lot of stuff here that you probably aren't going to like. Most of the editorial here might not even have to do about sports, but about the psychology behind this and how this case should not be ignored. If you disagree with what I say, that is your opinion, and I am glad you have one. However, this is mine, and neither opinion is right nor wrong. Plus, I doubt you're going to hear a lot of female opinions about this. Let's be honest.

During the summer of 2014, U.S. Women's Soccer star Hope Solo was arrested in Washington State on charges that included domestic violence against her half-sister Teresa Obert and her nephew (who was a minor at the time). After reports that she was drunk and had attacked her nephew--who had a foot and over 100 pounds over Solo--and later fended off and attacked her sister-in-law (despite taking an alleged shot to the head with a broomstick), the charges against her were dismissed in mid-January.

Once the case was dismissed, Solo had made an appearance on Good Morning America and spoke with Robin Roberts on how she was falsely accused and was the clear victim of this case. She had alluded to being categorized with Ray Rice, and how it had hurt her. Obert was allegedly disgusted with Solo's remarks and called her a liar about the incident. On Sunday, ESPN's Outside the Lines had broadcast reports that not all of the facts have been presented, and that the Hope Solo case is far from over. This all comes the day before the U.S. Women's Soccer team kicks off their FIFA Women's World Cup journey against Australia. Funny how things are situated, eh?

Would this be the first time she is a supposed victim of assault? It's possible, but unconfirmed. In 2012, before her marriage to former Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens, he was arrested on accounts of physically assaulting Solo, but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. That aside, they were married the next day. Outside of this, Solo is no stranger to the public eye as far as poor decision-making. She had to serve a 30-day suspension in January after getting into the car with her intoxicated husband and arguing with police soon after the incident.

While there is much speculation and a small amount of evidence that represents a dispute, apparently there is a lot more that we do not know about this night last summer. The case, according to reports, was only dismissed due to errant procedures and issues regarding Obert and her son not appearing in court. This case could fire up again as early as September.

As of this writing, there are no suspensions, and she is participating in the Women's World Cup as scheduled.

(cracks knuckles)

Can we all see the double standard in this entire debacle? It's like we're protecting women because of this rise in feminism. Give me a BREAK. I'm normally not the type of person to get upset at something like this, but this is quite a disgrace. She's had run-ins with the law and she's had quite a mouth on her, and the fact that she dusted herself up on GMA and with her philanthropy business, it's not going to take away from the fact that she has an attitude and an alleged problem with her temper. Plus, I could also go further in explanation by saying that she married the wrong kind of guy too if she wanted to clean up her act. He's had a bunch of allegations against him, including a rape and assault case. Awesome, right?

Just because a woman is, by primary nature, a caretaker and soft figure, that does not mean that we should be protected from the law as well. No matter whether she was the victim or not, she isn't helping her cause by getting suspended after mouthing off to an officer earlier in the year. A "Facebook apology" isn't great, either. There is some guilt in that as well. When it came to the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases, the suspensions were handled swiftly even before there were any court cases to be heard of. The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and FIFA should have more of a hand in this, as this not only affects the PR (c'mon, FIFA's had enough already), but it also casts a disgusting shadow over the U.S. Women's team. It doesn't matter that she is arguably the best female goalkeeper in the world. She has a case--currently dismissed or not--to handle, and she can only say "no comment" for so much longer.

We all know that she is a competitive woman, and she is very much in shape for her job; however, you know she might be a problem when she causes a stir during the 2007 World Cup and her teammates had allegedly shaded her for her comments about Briana Scurry being started over her during the World Cup Semifinal. Regardless of whether statements are retracted or lead to a requested apology, those words should never have been said in the first place. It's like she doesn't have that "self-control" filter when it comes to things.

The only thing that I can say in opposition to this is that Solo's nephew--who I am going to name Bob because he was a minor and his name wasn't released--is doing an absolutely horrible job in keeping his mouth shut amid the allegations. I understand that Bob wants to make it clear that Hope Solo is, in his point of view, a criminal. However, there is no need to put her on blast on social media. I know you were allegedly attacked by her, but let it be handled in court, okay? Everyone will find out without you being the leader of the blame. That's all I'm going to say about that boy.

In conclusion, much like other court and crime-involved cases, I absolutely can't stand this story. It shouldn't even be ongoing. Solo should be suspended until the investigation and court case ceases. Rice and Peterson weren't allowed to play, even though the only difference between them and her is that there was clear evidence against them. While you can't use previous actions as evidence that she is capable of causing havoc, that has to be taken into account, and she won't be able to hide from the media much longer now that ESPN has this huge beef on her.

As a woman and a former athlete, I'm going to say this: Don't protect her because she's a woman. She's in question, and things need to be done about that now.

-- Stephanie

(The base article used for this post can be found here: CLICK ME!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Slant on Sunday - Haymaker-weather

I realize that I haven't written anything here in over two months. To be quite honest, nothing has really jumped out at me in the sports world. However, I can't let this one go. These opinions are mine. Don't like them? Oh. Okay. I'll love you anyway.

Since the 1890's, one sport has been deemed one of the most violent and most unique sports to ever exist. Long before martial arts left the particular regions of Asia, everyone settled an altercation in one way: their fists.

Boxing was a common sight in North America, even before professional wrestling became more mainstream among the people. Shoot, men did it outside of the ring for money and for show. Early boxing matches didn't even have gloves, for cripes' sake. For the next century, boxing went from being extremely popular, to a thing of the past that may come on at 2AM for willing viewers. Mixed Martial Arts is becoming the more popular sport in North America, and boxing is not a much-talked about phenomenon, unless if you're an avid watcher of NBC Sports' Boxing Night in America or ESPN's Friday Night Fights. However, this slightly changed when a dream fight originally concocted in 2009 came to fruition Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are arguably the two biggest names in boxing world today. Mayweather's undefeated record and Pacquiao's multiple title wins have been huge stories all throughout the 2000's and 2010's. These clash of boxing titans were sure to bring the house down since Mayweather was pinned down for it after six longs years of waiting. But was it worth the hype and would it make boxing a topic at the dinner table and bars again?

Before this fight, there was a heaping metric ton of controversy all around the bout. For those who aren't familiar with Mayweather, he's had quite a history of domestic violence cases against him, and none of his cases led to any specific resolution to them. Allegedly, he had barred three journalists--one of which was ESPN's Michelle Beadle--who had covered his cases and were against him. The public relations representative (who cracks me up, by the way) did a terrible job of trying to clear that fact up. Not only that, the money value of the fight and the winnings that he and Pacquiao were going to receive (on top of the whopping $100 pay-per-view price) was deemed as preposterous. Plus, the Internet community likes to jump on the fact that Floyd Mayweather is somewhat illiterate. I could go on and on about the controversies, but then this would turn into an ethics post that would not be worth reading unless you were totally into politics and morality and such.

I digress.

After the fight, I'd read a lot of reactions over social media--believe me, there was a lot, and reactions weren't that hard to find--and those who are involved with either mixed martial arts or boxing praised Mayweather for his boxing "art" of evasion and how he made every punch count [according to statistics, his punch accuracy was higher than Pacquiao's]. The huge point of this is simply: there is strategy in boxing, but this was never meant to be a form of martial arts. Sure, you can evade, you can strategize, but the original point of the sport was to make sure your skill, speed, endurance, and accuracy of punches was so great, that you either knock out your opponent, or had enough credibility to be deemed the winner of the fight by decision. Taking all of 12 rounds to do something that could have lasted eight or nine (especially with Pacquiao's alleged nagging shoulder) was the problem that most "outsiders" to any sort of involvement in organized fights had with Saturday night.

But, all things considered, this is the main argument for the sport now: the game has changed. Because of the risks and spoils, the sport has become a lot more strategic and counter-heavy than it once was. Defense has taken more of a front seat, and leaving the slugfest era in the dust. Why is that? It's not just for the money, but it's also for "the art," as some people call it. They would much rather show a display of evasion and "smarts" than more offensive pushes. Thanks to YouTube, I (along with thousands of other people, it seems) did a little digging to find classic matches to see the overall differences between Saturday night's fight and ones from long before. I found a gem from 40 years ago between an undefeated George Foreman [Grill] and an older Muhammad Ali--that's right, I'm talking about "The Rumble in the Jungle."

Considering Ali's age--he was 32 at the time, which was considered older in that age--and the fact that Foreman took down the two guys who had defeated Ali (the lates Joe Frazier and Ken Norton), this fight seemed like it was not only one of redemption, but of: "Oh man, how great is he if he took down the two men that took me down in two rounds?"

You're going to notice something very interesting here--Ali is evading and moving around and stalling the same way Mayweather did in his fight with Pacquiao. However, the major difference is that Ali still took the opportunity to wear down Foreman through any kind of punch (regardless of accuracy) instead of having Foreman wear himself out. It proved to be a good strategy. [I'm not spoiling this fight for you if you've never seen it before.] What Mayweather did was bide energy and punch sparingly, and take advantage of his wider reach over Pacquiao.  This ultimately led to the fight going to the decision of the judges.

Now... I present to you this little gem. Not a lot of you may know this, but Mayweather was also an Olympic fighter as well...

At this level of boxing--one that Mayweather actually specializes--punch accuracy actually counts here in a point-based system. While there was a lot of controversy surrounding this bout, you can tell that the only kind of defense that exists here is parrying and dodging. No stall bait here, my friends.

Because of the kind of fight that occurred, a lot of people were disappointed. In fact, a lot of people were expecting an amateur-style fight where both men would go out punching like in the Foreman/Ali fight; instead, it was the total opposite. People on Facebook and Twitter were saying things such as: "When's the next time Ronda Rousey fights? I bet she could put Mayweather in an armbar and make things right. Yeah, MMA is better." The type of match left a bad taste in people's mouths, and because of the numerous opinions of so many, this may not look good for the future of boxing in the United States. It doesn't matter that the film Creed (a.k.a. the next Rocky movie) is coming out in the Fall, or that we have boxers going to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. What matters the most is that the sport has fallen by the wayside in favor of the more physical, less dancing-filled MMA giants like UFC. These two big names failed to deliver what the lesser-informed masses wanted, and what the people are talking about now are the controversies surrounding the match instead of the match itself.

I won't go so far as to say that "boxing is dead," but the changes it has undergone over the past ten years and the situations surrounding the sport, the judging, and the spoils of it haven't meshed well at all with viewers in North America. Boxing is trying to reestablish itself as a separate entity to MMA, and still try to be a big draw at the same time, but unfortunately, it seemed like a way more glitzy Oscar-styled Super Bowl that I was watching. It certainly wasn't the stuff I watched with my father on Friday nights 10-15 years ago. The game has definitely changed, whether it's for the better or not remains to be seen. It was never meant to be an art in the category of MMA; it was meant to be a sport of wit and power, with minor focuses in evasion and defense, because the main point was to knock your opponent down in any way possible. It's certainly an awkward time for boxing in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and it could be costly.

The aftermath of the fight seems to be a massive cleanup, and when we least expect it, we're going to hear about the domestic violence cases again and allegations that the fight was fixed. Because that's the way the sports world works today. The only thing that could really bring the masses back into boxing again is to see younger guys come in and take out these titans. That's what guys like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield did in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's. It's time for a new breed, and more faces to make things interesting again.

Well, that's the way I see it, at least.

-- Stephanie

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I don't like to think that I'm an emotional person with things like this, but I can guarantee you that I cried a little bit when I typed this out. People feel accomplished when they travel or they get a job that they've worked very hard to achieve. For something like this, I feel like I've made a personal accomplishment.

I remember exactly what was going on when I created this blog. It is as vivid as a sweet childhood memory, or a horrible event like a death in the family. I remember the way my bedroom was situated. I remember the purple walls (good feng shui, my friends), the shelves, the television playing an Olympic hockey game. I didn't think that five years later, I would be using this same exact site, doing the things I had intended to do here.

After five years of memories outside of the blog and within this blog, I've learned a lot about the journey of life. I read the first 15-20 posts on this blog, and I can laugh hysterically, because I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a dream, and I wanted to fulfill it. It wasn't the exact thing, but there's a major plan for everyone. You're following a path that you can't create an ending for, because you can't build something at Stage 20 when you haven't even stepped on Stage 1 first.

You don't see the small steps in life. Why? Because you're in the moment; you're enjoying the ride. You might be looking at another staircase, thinking that this is going to lead you somewhere else. I will admit this: I thought this was going to lead me to getting a job with ESPN. If you told me that I was going to go back to acting after college and begin screenwriting within three years of writing in this blog when I started, I'd have laughed at you and asked where you happened to buy some decent weed. No, I'm not working for ESPN, and I'm not working for the Phillies like I had so hoped, but I gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience elsewhere. Because of my writing, I've met a lot of very close friends. I've learned enough about sports and people that helped toward my own self-enrichment, because I'll be honest, I wasn't in the best of places at the time in which I started The Sports Nut Blogs. I've gained strength as a writer, so much so that I have written sketch comedy, a piece that gained the attention of The American Outlaws (imagine sitting at a tavern for dinner with your best friend, and seeing your site blow up...that'll make you have a beer or two), a number of pieces for another sports website, a piece that was performed by my alma mater's theater group in their Fall show, and a number of other works itching to be brought to life.

The Sports Nut Blogs gave me confidence in the abilities that I have.

I never wanted to monetize this site. Why? This is a tool. This is my dojo. Even when I was nowhere near a computer or laptop or tablet, I was writing down ideas on paper, or I was pounding out an entire MLB midseason slant on my iPhone. I take this seriously. This is a job, and I even declare it to be so on my LinkedIn profile. Some of the greatest jobs (even careers) are things that you do not get paid for. This is a service to myself, and it might be a good laugh or insight for anyone else who reads it.

The feeling I have in my stomach right now? I don't know if I can put it into words. But you know what? I'm going to do the best I can to describe it, because finally, after five whole years, I can call myself a writer.

This is the feeling that you get when you find out that you got a really good grade on a test that you studied hard for but you thought you had screwed up. Mix that feeling with finding out that a person that you were madly in love with--yet you were afraid to tell them--that they've had a lover of their own for quite a while. Mix those two feelings with the feeling of when you're standing on the edge of a somewhere while on vacation, feeling every breeze and sound and sight, and you're at total peace. It truly is a mix of emotions, but it hits every single level, takes you out of your comfort zone, and it takes you for a ride that you are ever so thankful for.

I've learned a lot about a soul's purpose, and how people are considered "late bloomers," and how many of my friends still consider me a "baby" when I feel like I'm a 45-year-old in a 24-year-old body. I feel like I've run out of time about 90% of the time, because it seems like the world around me is accomplishing their goals much faster than I am. But you look at people like Julia Child, who didn't become as renowned as she did until she was 40. Then you truly ask yourself this question: "When do you really know when you've 'made it?'" I might not be a famous sports broadcaster or Oscar winner or a superhero in a known business field, but you know what? I've made it. I've finally figured out who I am. I've figured out what makes me happy, and what I should do with my life in order to keep creating happiness for myself. It's been here all along, and I've been manifesting it in this blog.

The Sports Nut Blogs helped me find myself.

People will sometimes journal in order to help get their feelings out. Not only did this get my feelings out, I found a new side to myself that was informative, but also "stupid funny" to the point where I didn't believe the kind of humor I'd throw out there, regardless of how bad it was. I wasn't afraid of that, and I started taking that outside of the Internet, and if I didn't, I wouldn't have networked with and met the people that I have over the past five years.

Because of this blog, I have also branched out into screenwriting too. The ability to tell a story and to convey a message has bled into this blog as well, so my style of journalism is certainly...awkward to say the least. However, that doesn't matter. What matters the most is that I am doing something that makes me incredibly happy, and I have gotten much stronger with it. Regardless of who reads this blog, I hope that they are entertained and impressed with what I have talked about, and that they have seen that I have a deep love for sports, as well as a deep love for writing these things.

I'm a writer.

I've decided that after today, my "AZ" signature will be retired. Heck, my name is even in the "About the Author" section. If I want people to know who I am, I shouldn't hide behind a username anymore. I've hid long enough. It's time to write even more.

I'm here to stay, and the world of sports will be rocked even more.

-- Stephanie

(I made it, Mom and Dad.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Go! And Make It Snappy!

The concept of time is a strange one, as those who consider themselves "conscious" believe that time is an illusion. Well, it can be depending on how you're spending it.

Let's be honest... How long does a sporting event usually last? About three hours or so, right? But, of course, athletes aren't playing for three hours straight. Heck, their breaks between gameplay aren't even all that long. Are we wasting time? Well, we very well could be, and it looks like baseball is going to make a change to that.

As announced to the mainstream media Friday morning, new rules in Major League Baseball will be incorporated this season. While they aren't as exponentially large as say, instant replay, they will not only adjust the way we watch the game, but see how teams adjust to the lesser amount of "freedom" they can have when it comes to movements and warming up. Two rules that were incorporated include: adjustments to the instant replay rule (shocker), and a rule that was tested in the Fall Leagues--the batter's box rule. The third rule, which the post is ultimately about, has to do with time management in the game.

The rule states as follows:
In truth, this rule has been enforced slowly but surely over the past several years. The time for pitchers to transition from pitch-to-pitch on the mound has been closely watched for a while, and it has become a problem for both the pitching, and the fluff between.

Is it a good move? It's way more of a yes than a no here. Why? I can't begin to tell you how many people I have spoken to in my 7+ years of willingly talking shop with people that I have been told that baseball is the slowest and least exciting sport because of the long pauses between each pitch and play. Due to a lot of the fast-pacing of its other Big Four brethren, it does contain more pauses and more monotony than, say, hockey. Before you go asking: "But what about the pauses between each play in an NFL game," note how I said the word "monotony" above. Different plays can occur in that time clock period in football, while the same event is almost always occurring in baseball. Why prolong the same action with a variant flair on it?

Despite that point, a type of rule like this could be a blessing in disguise for the NFL, considering games are nearly three hours in length, and only an average of eleven minutes are dedicated to play execution.

I remember going to the Army/Navy football game a few years ago, and how I would dread each time I heard a referee proclaim, "Media timeout." It was cold, and I sat up in the higher levels of Lincoln Financial Field with my family. This was me by the end of the game, even though I was bundled up:

In this world of funding, sponsoring, and advertising, you can't really stop the plethora of commercials pertaining to beer, local stores, movie previews, and insurance companies. However, those can be curbed so that you're not watching only five minutes of game before commercials, or seeing a kickoff return and then another minute of that same guy at a bar being suave with the glass of beer he can't drink on-screen due to media regulations. When you're at home, that's an opportunity for you to get food or go to the bathroom. When you're at an outdoor game, a venue where you run the risk of facing the elements, you will be sarcastic in saying: "I'm dying of suspense out here." Come on--this rule is great for not having to sit out in the rain in a poncho that you had a total ball in opening while waiting for the next pitch in total dread. Sure, the overall atmosphere may make a difference, which makes it seem like the pace of the game isn't as big of a deal during a football game. But what if you're losing by a lot and the weather is beyond lousy? Game, set, and match, naysayer.

The change in pace is going to be a test for production crews--both the television crews and the stadium crews. Veterans who have been working games for years are going to feel quite a difference in pacing, but if they're that professional, the change will be a smooth and welcoming one. However, there is a question and concern for this rule: Who takes the hit (as receiving a fine for a rule break) if the pace of the game is affected, the stadium crew, or the television crew? I guess we could find that one out sooner than later.

These kinds of changes aren't going to be overly noticeable, but they will guarantee that we're not having long pauses between the actions occurring on the field. Honestly, the only group that will likely take any kind of hit from this rule to shorten time is the sponsors. They pay good money for :30 spots, and if they're not all in within a time frame, they could certainly pull out or downsize on a deal. Of course, that would be a bigger deal in a national telecast, but when it comes to local telecasts, the deals aren't as immense or as crucial. Larger networks that show more than sports do exist, like WGN. However, those guys may broadcast more than one team as well, and advertising costs will work in their favor since they have more programming to give spots to. See? The rule change looks more reasonable than not.

Would this rule benefit other leagues? It could. In regards to other sports like soccer, the halftime break is necessary, as the coverage for each half is nonstop. In hockey and basketball, breaks between each period or quarter are usually very rare, and are very short when they do occur. For sports like football and baseball, the pacing is extremely inconsistent, and it got out of hand in baseball. Because the NFL is already having a lot of issues in other regions of the game, a pacing regulation may not ever occur, and even if a rule does come to pass, it could face a huge backlash with the defense claiming: "These men need longer breaks between each play to prevent further injury." I feel like I can see the future with things like this, and it's rather sad.

In conclusion, this rule is definitely going to help Major League Baseball with pacing, and consistency in play. A watched pot never boils, so continually waiting for something to happen isn't going to be much fun anymore. Sports are supposed to be well-paced and full of some sort of action. It isn't supposed to be chess. Watching games this year might be a little different, as there won't be as many ear-grating diatribes from commentary on television, and you're not going to sit for a longer stretch at the ballpark. I say it's a win for the good guys here.

Slow and steady doesn't mean you'll win the race--efficient and steady means you will, especially if you're watching a game.


All sources of rules came from the MLB Public Relations Twitter page (@MLB_PR).