Author Archives: William Martin

2017 Key Games For Week Seven In College Football

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Will Quarterback Baker Mayfield be able to help the Oklahoma Sooners get back on tract versus the Texas Longhorns?

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Starting Over In Motown

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From 2006-2014, the Detroit Tigers made five trips to the postseason which included collecting a pair of American League Pennants. But since then things have come apart for the Tigers with the bottom officially falling out this year. The Tigers limped to the finish line with a record of 64-98 for their worst season since 2003 when they went 43-119. Age and injuries finally caught up to the Tigers which led to general manager Al Avila having a good old-fashioned fire sale which included him trading outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks, longtime starting pitcher Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros, and outfielder Justin Upton to the Detroit Tigers as these moves symbolized what we should have seen coming for a long time.

The demise of the Tigers began in 2014 when they were swept in the American League Divisional Series by the Baltimore Orioles. Detroit lost the series in spite of the fact that they had three former American League Cy Young Award winners in starting pitchers Max Scherzer, David Price, and Verlander on the mound for them.

Scherzer would then become a free agent and he joined the Washington Nationals on a seven-year $210 million contract which left a huge void in the Tigers rotation. Without Scherzer, the Tigers struggled in 2015 which prompted former general manager Dave Dombrowski to trade Price as well as outfielder Yoenis Cespedes prior to Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. However the moves would lead to Dombrowski being released by the Tigers and replaced by Avila.

2016 would see things go better for Detroit as they went 86-75, but finished 2.5 games behind the Orioles for the final wild card spot in the American League. 2017 got off on the wrong foot for the Tigers as longtime team owner Mike Ilitch passed away at the age of 87. And with Ilitch no longer running the show for his beloved Tigers, the wheels officially fell off.

So after the Tigers finished tied with the San Francisco Giants for the worst record in Major League Baseball, they have now earned the first overall pick in next June’s MLB Draft. In trading some key veterans the Tigers have already shown that they need to get younger, but how far will Avila go with this philosophy over the winter?

Detroit already has $102 million committed to player salaries for 2018 with a large chunk of that attached to a pair of immovable contracts. For the last decade first baseman Miguel Cabrera has been integral to the success of the Tigers. Cabrera is a two-time American League MVP, while also winning the Triple Crown in 2012. Only Al Kaline and Norm Cash have hit more homers than Cabrera in a Tigers uniform as he has gone yard 324 times; however his best days now appear to be in the rear-view mirror.

Miguel Cabrera

At the age of 34, injuries are beginning to take their toll on Cabrera. During the past season it was revealed that Cabrera is dealing with two herniated disks in his back which explains as to why he just had the worst season of his Major League Baseball career. Cabrera is a lifetime .317 hitter, but he only batted .249 this season with 16 homers and 60 runs batted in. In 2014, the Tigers gave Cabrera an eight-year extension for $248 million. This contract runs through 2023 with Cabrera set to earn $30 million in 2018. And if Cabrera’s production is going to continue to decline, his contract is going to hamper the Tigers going forward.

Heading into the 2016 Major League Baseball season, the Tigers were desperate for starting pitching which led them to signing starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman to a five-year deal for $110 million. Zimmerman’s time in Detroit has been less than spectacular as in 47 starts with the Tigers, he has posted a record of 17-20 with an earned run average of 5.60. Zimmerman is 31-years of age, and as he is set to earn $24 million next season, the Tigers are stuck with his contract like bad credit.

In the case of second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Victor Martinez, they each have one year left on their respective deals which could make each of them tantalizing if Avila were to make them available to a contender at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings which will be held in December in Orlando. Trading Kinsler and Martinez would potentially take $19 million off of the books for the Tigers. However it is easier said than done being that Kinsler is coming off of his worst season at the plate as he only managed to hit .236, while Martinez will turn 39-years of age in December, and he is also playing on two bad knees.

The Tigers also need to find a new manager as after four years the organization has decided to move on from Brad Ausmus. So far the Tigers are expected to interview a pair of veteran Major League Baseball managers in Ron Gardenhire and Fredi Gonzalez, but with the playoffs in full swing, nothing appears to be imminent in regards to Detroit finding their next skipper.

With the trade of Verlander as well the as elbow surgery for starting pitcher Michael Fulmer which will keep him out of action for 3-4 months, the Tigers pitching staff might have a different look to it in 2018. Detroit’s team earned run average of 4.24 was 11th in the American League this season which could be a signal as to what they’ll look for in next year’s draft. But the way that things are looking, it doesn’t appear that getting the Tigers rotation on track will be a quick fix which can be said about other aspects of their team as well.

The Tigers have enjoyed a solid run that the history books won’t properly recognize being that they never won a World Series Title over the stretch. Verlander and Cabrera will be locks to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, while they also helped to spark some life into what was a dormant baseball fan base in Motown. But now it is time to see how creative that the Tigers front office will get in regards to once again making Detroit a contender after the bottom fell out for them this year.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Another Missed Opportunity For Louisville

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Over the last three years the Louisville Cardinals have gone 26-13, while they are 17-7 within the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two of the last three years have seen Louisville finish ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press Poll as they have become one of the better programs in college football. But one thing that has hurt Louisville has been their inability to take care of business in the big games.

Since 2014, the Cardinals are 1-5 versus ranked opponents with their lone win coming at home last season versus the Florida State Seminoles whom they whalloped 63-20. And as the Cards have struggled versus ranked opponents, it won’t help the program’s chances to take things to the next level.

Following the national championship that the Clemson Tigers were able to claim last season, key players such as quarterback Deshaun Watson departed which made the road to an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship for Louisville in 2017 that much easier. And when Florida State sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season after suffering a patellar tendon injury in their first game, the conference crown was Louisville’s for the taking.

But Louisville has been unable to answer the bell as on September 16, they fell at home to Clemson by the score of 47-21, while this past Thursday saw them lose on the road to the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Cards are now 4-2 and 1-2 within the Atlantic Coast Conference. And with Clemson looking like they are not going to skip a beat, the Cards chances of winning the ACC this year are very slim.

Bobby Petrino

For Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino, this is another in a long line of disappointments in his coaching career. During Petrino’s first run at Louisville in 2006, his Cards had a chance to play for the national title until a late season road loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights changed that. The Cardinals would finish 12-1 which included defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Orange Bowl, but they were left to ponder what could have been. During Petrino’s tenure as the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, his best years were in 2010 and 2011 when his teams only lost a combined five games. But three of those losses came to the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers which prevented Arkansas from winning the Southeastern Conference, while his Razorbacks became the first SEC school to lose to the Ohio State Buckeyes in a bowl game. And after Louisville began 2016 with a record of 9-1, they would go on to lose their final three games by a combined 49 points.

Lamar Jackson

But it wasn’t supposed to be like this for Louisville in 2017; especially since they had junior quarterback Lamar Jackson under center as he is the reigning Heisman Trophy Award winner returning to school. Jackson is putting together another Heisman caliber season as he has thrown 14 touchdowns to just 4 picks, while combining for 2,500 all-purpose yards. However his teammates have been unable to answer the bell which falls into the lap of Petrino.

Petrino has been known for his wide-open offenses that score in bunches, but his teams have always lacked physicality regardless if he was running things at Arkansas or Louisville which always tends to show up in the big games. And if you watch the film of each of Louisville’s losses this season, they were defeated by teams that were more physical than them as they simply wanted it more.

So now that winning the Atlantic Coast Conference is out of the window for Louisville, how will they able to finish their season? The Cards will host the Boston College Eagles next Saturday. The Eagles should not pose that much of a threat to the Cardinals as they are 117th in the nation in total offense. However October 21st will see Louisville travel to face Florida State who has not forgotten about the 43-point beat down that they received last season. And the ‘Noles will be up for that contest regardless of who their starting quarterback is. After tangling with Florida State, the Cards will face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Virginia Cavaliers who are each improved teams this year, while their regular season finale will come against the Kentucky Wildcats who defeated Louisville last year.

Louisville is still in a very good position to make their eighth consecutive bowl game, however this was supposed to be their year. But as Clemson is still looking like the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Miami Hurricanes as well as the Virginia Tech Hokies are on the verge of once again becoming national powers, while the Seminoles are looking to get back to flexing their muscles, the chances of Petrino having one of the top programs within the conference could soon be dwindling. And when it’s all said and done, Louisville will look back at 2016 as well as 2017 and wonder what could have been.

Source: Cfbstats.com

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The Captain Is Taking Over South Beach

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Jeffrey Loria

Earlier this year Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made it known publicly of his intentions to sell the team that he has owned since 2002. And earlier this year it was also reported that former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was part of a group that intended to purchase the Marlins from Loria. This finally came to fruition when it was announced in August that Loria would be selling to Jeter’s group which includes former asset manager Bruce Sherman and current Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan. And now for the folks in Miami who support the Marlins could finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief due to the new regime.

With the exception of the Marlins winning the World Series in 2003, Loria has mismanaged this franchise which included him suckering the City of Miami as well as Dade County into giving him the funding for a new stadium only to turn around and have himself a good old-fashioned fire sale not long after Marlins Park opened in 2012. Loria is reportedly getting $1.2 billion for selling the Marlins which is a far cry from the franchise being valued at $137 million when he took over the organization in 2002. Loria is a shrewd businessman as his ability to profit from selling the Marlins has been driven up due to local television deals that the franchise has as well as Marlins Park which is a state-of-the art baseball stadium that included them hosting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game this past July. But now that Loria is taking his money and running with it, the Marlins will actually have the chance to compete.

Derek Jeter

We know about Jeter’s prowess on the baseball diamond as for 20 years he was the shortstop of the Yankees as well as being the face of that franchise. Jeter’s time with the Yankees included winning five World Series Championships, taking home the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award in 1996, and collecting 3,465 hits. With Jeter in the lineup, the Yankees never had a losing season, while they only missed the playoffs three times. And now that Major League Baseball’s team owners have approved the sale of the Marlins, you can expect some of that vintage Jeter magic to rub off on his new team.

Sherman will have the title of Marlins owner, while Jeter will be the CEO and this gives him the opportunity to build the team in his own image. Jeter already has everyone within the Marlins organization on pins and needles as he appears ready to hand out pink slips in the mode of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Giancarlo Stanton

The Marlins already have building blocks in place which includes outfielder Giancarlo Stanton who led Major League Baseball in home runs this season with 59. The Marlins shocked the baseball world in 2014 when they signed Stanton to a 13-year deal for $325 million as it went against the frugal Loria’s nature. Most people expected the Marlins to trade Stanton sooner rather than later. And although that Stanton is currently the Marlins best player, would Jeter be ready to pull the trigger on a deal to ship the slugger out of town in order to free up salary as well as bring back more assets?

This move by the Marlins with Jeter being on board with the franchise has the potential to have a similar impact as to what we saw when Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973. Steinbrenner was able to wake a sleeping giant and since then the Yankees have gone on to win seven World Series Championships which is by far more than any other Major League Baseball franchise over that stretch. Grant it that the Marlins don’t have the history that the Yankees have, but this ownership change will results in a much needed culture change in Miami.

Since the Marlins came into existence in 1993, they have never had the combination of having a dedicated owner, a contending team, and a great ball park all at the same which now changes. You might as well get accustomed to referencing to the Marlins as the Yankees of the South, and it won’t surprise me to see the franchise once again incorporating pinstripes into their uniform which they did from 1993-2011 when they were known as the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins just wrapped up their eighth consecutive losing season as this became the status quo under Loria. But with a new captain running the ship in Jeter, things will be changing on South Beach sooner rather than later.

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2017 Key Games For Week Six In College Football

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Will quarterback Trace McSorley be able to help the Penn State Nittany Lions avoid the road upset against the Northwestern Wildcats?

 

 

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There’s No Place Like Home, Or Is It?

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For more than 50 years the Chargers called the City of San Diego home. And although that the Chargers were never able to win a Super Bowl Championship in the 6-1-9, they provided plenty of excitement for their fan base which included the “Air Coryell” offense of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, to the AFC Championship team in 1994 which included Hall of Fame middle linebacker Junior Seau. But all of that love was replaced by ill will when Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced his intentions this past January to move his club from San Diego to Los Angeles. Spanos had been seeking a new stadium for years from the City of San Diego which never came to fruition, and thus he decided to hop on Interstate-5 took take his club to L.A.

The plan is for the Chargers to share a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in Inglewood once it is completed with the Rams who returned to Los Angeles in 2016 after they spent 21 years in St. Louis, Missouri. Until the stadium is complete, the Rams are playing their home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum which was their home from 1946-1979 before they moved to nearby Anaheim, while the Chargers are playing at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The Coliseum is able to accommodate more than 93,000 fans for football which the Rams have been unable to fill. The Chargers have also had issues in selling out their temporary home which only seats 30,000 people. But the Chargers issues are much worse off than that of the Rams.

In three home games this year the Chargers have failed to sell out once, while some of the seats have tarp over them. In each contest at the StubHub Center, there have been more fans in the stadium supporting the opposing team which was magnified during the Chargers loss this past Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles as the stadium sounded more like Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Initially the Chargers played one season in Los Angeles before they moved to San Diego in 1961, which is a far cry from the Rams who played in the L.A. area for nearly 50 years before leaving for St. Louis. For nearly 15 years there was a growing contingent of people who wanted to see the Rams return to Los Angeles which the National Football League finally came to grips with in 2016. However the NFL was hell bent on having two teams in the L.A. market which is currently blowing up in their faces like the Hindenburg.

Los Angeles is not ready, nor will they ever fully accept the Chargers. And it doesn’t help the situation that the Chargers have begun this season with a record of 0-4. The Chargers are well on their way to a third consecutive losing season which would have gotten lost in the shuffle in San Diego, but not under the Hollywood spotlight.

Yahoo Sports recently published an article about the National Football League possibly sending the Chargers back to San Diego. According to the article, the NFL never wanted to lose the San Diego market. But after Spanos had tried for years to get a new stadium in San Diego, he saw no other alternative for his franchise but to move to Los Angeles.

Having the Chargers in Los Angeles has not sounded right ever since it was announced and after three home games it has been illustrated for the viewing audience. Putting the Chargers in Los Angeles is a classic example of greed by the National Football League as there has been a solidified fan base in San Diego which now feels betrayed, while the team is now playing in a city that has shown that they don’t want them.

The Chargers still have five home games this season which includes contests versus the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders. These teams all have established fan bases which means that the StubHub Center will continue to sound like a visiting stadium for the Chargers.

Winning could make fans in Los Angeles warm up to the Chargers more, but this team cannot get out of their own way as they’ve consistently found ways to lose games in recent history which included their first two games this year as kicker Younghoe Koo missed a field goal in the waning seconds of each contest.

Dean Spanos

But it would be ironic if the National Football League were to send the Chargers back to San Diego, especially since there is no love lost between the city and Spanos. However a return to San Diego for the Chargers would mean that NFL must acknowledge that they made a mistake which is something that does not happen that often, while there would also be the issue in regards to who would then help the Rams foot the bill for the new stadium in Inglewood.

This saga is far from over as the Chargers could be playing “musical stadiums”. But one thing for sure is that the National Football League and Spanos have clearly outsmarted themselves.

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