Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL Predictions



DJ’s picks….

AFC

East: Patriots - Dolphins - Jets - Bills
North: Bengals - Ravens - Steelers - Browns
South: Colts - Titans - Texans - Jags
West: Broncos - Chargers - Chiefs - Raiders

Playoffs: 1. Pats 2. Broncos 3. Colts 4. Steelers 5. Chargers 6. Dolphins

AFC Champion: New England Patriots

NFC

East: Eagles - Redskins - Cowboys - Giants
North: Packers - Vikings - Bears - Lions
South: New Orleans - Panthers - Bucs  - Falcons
West: Seahawks - 49ers - Rams - Cardinals

Playoffs: 1. New Orleans 2. Packers 3. Seattle 4. Eagles 5. 49ers 6. Panthers

NFC Champion: New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl Champion: New England Patriots over New Orleans Saints

Awards:

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive POY: Jimmy Graham
Defensive POY: Darrelle Revis
Offensive ROY: Mike Evans
Defensive ROY: Jadeveon Clowney
Coach of the Year: Sean Payton




Lee’s picks….

AFC

East: Patriots - Dolphins - Jets - Bills
North: Bengals - Ravens - Steelers - Browns (PLAY JOHNNY)
South: Colts - Titans - Texans - Jags
West: Broncos - Chargers - Chiefs - Raiders

Playoffs: 1. Broncos 2. Bengals 3. Pats 4. Colts 5. Dolphins 6. Chargers

AFC Champion: Cincinnati Bengals

NFC

East: Eagles - Redskins - Cowboys - Giants
North: Packers - Vikings - Bears - Lions
South: New Orleans - Bucs - Panthers - Falcons
West: Seahawks - 49ers - Rams - Cardinals

Playoffs: 1. Seahawks 2. Packers 3. New Orleans 4. Eagles 5. Bucs 6. 49ers

NFC Champion: Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl Champion: Seattle Seahawks over Cincinnati Bengals

Awards:

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive POY: Jimmy Graham
Defensive POY: Gerald McCoy
Offensive ROY: Mike Evans
Defensive ROY: Jadeveon Clowney
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly




Andrew’s Picks

AFC

East: Patriots - Jets - Dolphins - Bills
North: Bengals - Ravens - Steelers - Browns
South: Colts - Texans - Titans - Jags
West: Broncos - Chargers - Chiefs - Raiders

Playoffs: 1. Broncos 2. Patriots 3. Colts 4. Bengals 5. Chargers 6. Jets

AFC Champion: New England Patriots

NFC

East: Eagles - Redskins - Cowboys - Giants
North: Packers - Bears - Vikings - Lions
South: New Orleans - Panthers - Bucs - Falcons
West: Seahawks - 49ers - Cardinals - Rams

Playoffs: 1. Seahawks 2. Eagles 3. Packers 4. New Orleans 5. 49ers 6. Panthers

NFC Champion: E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES

Super Bowl Champion: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES over Patriots (2004 revenge)

Awards:

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive POY: SHADY MCCOY
Defensive POY: Luke Kuechly
Offensive ROY: Brandin Cooks
Defensive ROY: Jadeveon Clowney
Coach of the Year: CHIP KELLY


Ethan Woy

AFC

East: Patriots - Jets - Dolphins - Bills
North: Bengals - Ravens - Steelers - Browns
South: Colts - Titans - Texans - Jags
West: Broncos - Chiefs - Chargers - Raiders

Playoffs: 1. Broncos 2. Colts 3. Patriots 4. Bengals 5. Ravens 6. Jets

AFC Champion: Denver Broncos

NFC

East: Eagles - Redskins - Cowboys - Giants
North: Packers - Bears - Lions - Vikings
South: Saints - Bucs - Falcons - Panthers
West: Seahawks - 49ers - Cardinals - Rams

Playoffs: 1. Seahawks 2. Eagles 3. Packers 4. Saints 5. 49ers 6. Bears

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl Champion: Green Bay Packers over Denver Broncos

Awards:

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive POY: LeSean McCoy
Defensive POY: J.J. Watt
Offensive ROY: Teddy Bridgewater
Defensive ROY: Darqueze Dennard

Coach of the Year: Rex Ryan



Dre Frye

AFC East
1. Patriots 12-4
2. Jets 9-7
3. Dolphins 8-8
4. Bills  5-11

AFC North
1. Steelers 10-6
2. Bengals 9-7
3. Ravens 8-8
4. Browns 3-13

AFC South
1. Colts 10-6
2. Titans 7-9
3. Texans 6-10
4. Jaguars 4-12

AFC West
1. Broncos 12-4
2. Chiefs 10-6
3. Chargers 9-7
4. Raiders 3-13
 
NFC East
1. Eagles 12-4
2. Redskins 8-8
3. Cowboys 8-8
4. Giants 2-14

NFC North
1. Packers 10-6
2. Bears 9-7
3. Vikings 7-9
4. Lions 6-10

NFC South
1. Saints 14-2
2. Buccaneers 10-6
3. Falcons 8-8
4. Panthers 6-10

NFC West
1. Seahawks 11-5
2. Cardinals 9-7
3. Rams 9-7
4. 49ers 6-10

 AFC Playoffs:
Wild Card:
Steelers > Jets / Colts > Chiefs

Divisional Round:
Patriots > Steelers
Colts > Broncos

AFC Champion:
Colts > Patriots


NFC Playoffs:
Wild Card:
Seahawks > Bucs / Packers > Bears

Divisional Round:
Saints > Packers
Seahawks > Eagles

NFC Champion:
Saints > Seahawks 
Super Bowl:

Saints  over Colts (Rematch of SB XLIV)

MVP: Drew Brees
OPOY: Lesean McCoy
DPOY: Earl Thomas
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly
Offensive ROY: Brandin Cooks
Defensive ROY: Ryan Shazier
Comeback POY: Robert Griffin III

Bold Predictions:

49ers will miss playoffs: tons of losses on defense with Bowman, Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald, Carlos Rogers, just too much turnover.

Shady McCoy will have over 2500 all purpose yards with 1800 rushing and 700 receiving

DT will be the best receiver in every statistical category with 100+ receptions, 15 TD’s and 1500 yds.

Robert Quinn will lead the league in sacks with 20+

Patrick Peterson will surpass Richard Sherman this year for best CB in the league because of his double digit INT’s

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World Cup Predictions

It's time for me to embarrass myself.

First group predictions, then elimination predictions, then award winners.

Group A: Brazil, Croatia

Hulk and Brazil should get through a
tough Group A.
This is a really balanced group. Host nation Brazil is a major favorite, and wont have to play Mario Mandzukic (Croatia's star striker) in the opener. They surely should come away with at least 7 points and win the group. Mexico vs Cameroon (much like US/Ghana) in their opener is massive. Each team knows that if they lose, they are pretty much done. Should be a fun game. I'll take Croatia to go through the group with the host nation. Ivan Rakitić isn't a house hold name, but he will be after this tournament. Paired with Luka Modrić and Mandzukic (for the final two games), the Croatians have too much star power to fall short.

Group B: Spain, Chile

Poor Australia. I mean really, the Aussies --usually a team that can fight for that second spot in the group-- are in for a rough month. Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile are all world class teams that share the same goal, winning the tournament. Spain beat the Netherlands in the 2010 final, and Chile has a roster stacked with underrated talent. A key to this group could be the health of Arturo Vidal (Chile). If he's good to go for the Spain and Holland match, Chile can win this group. They can also win the tournament. The Netherlands aren't the same team they were in 2010, and are very shaky at the back. Spain is older, and may run out of gas as the tournament goes on, but should have enough to get through the Group of Death. Give me Spain and Chile. (Poor Australia, goal differential could decide who goes through, or wins the group, so expect the men from down under to lose by at least three goals each game. Also winning is very important, because the second place team likely plays Brazil in the first knockout game)

Group C: Ivory Coast, Columbia

Will the Ivory Coast finally break through?
This group may not feature any "elite" teams but man will it be fun. All four teams have a solid shot to get out of the group. Columbia --who will not have their best player, Radamel Falcao due to an ACL tear a few months ago-- is the favorite despite the injury. They, like Chile, have a ton of talent and should benefit from playing on South American soil. I don't think Greece will score enough, and I'll take Yaya Toure and the aging but still talented Ivory Coast squad to have too much size for Japan (who have a very skilled midfield in Honda and Kagawa, but not a lot of D). The race for both spots will likely come down to the final day. This might be the most balanced group in the field.

Group D: England, Italy

England is known for laying an egg in the big tournaments, but I like this team a lot. They have world class skill, youth, a strong D led by Joe Hart, and something they aren't use to having. Little expectations. I think they find a way to win this star studded group. Italy is one of the European teams that I worry about coming over to South American, but I would like to think their trip to the Confederations Cup will help. Uruguay worries me. They are very old, and didn't play all that well in World Cup Qualifying. More worrying then that, the health of Luis Suarez. He is one of the top 5 players in the world. With him, Uruguay can make a deep run. Without him at 100 percent, they will struggle. He probably won't play a huge role in their opener, but thankfully for them they play Costa Rica, a team that will be lucky to leave Brazil with more then one point. This will be another fun group, and could come down to goal differential.

Group E: France, Switzerland

One of the easier groups to pick in my opinion. I like this France team. They took the 23 best team players instead of the best 23 (even though I love me some Samir Nasri). Paul Pogba will dominate this tournament. He's a beast. The Ribery injury hurts, but Antoine Griezmann will fill in and do just fine. Easy group, and France is due to make a run this year. The Swiss should come in second over Ecuador. They are a solid team with a great D and strong midfield. Ecuador played great at home in qualifying (Playing 28347321832765734658394624723198 feet about sea level) but struggled elsewhere is SA, so it may not be a huge advantage compared to other SA teams. Honduras stinks. They lost 4-2 to Israel just a few days ago. Not good.

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia

Another straight forward group. Argentina is loaded, led by Messi, Sergio Aguero, and Gonzalo Higuaín. Every game for them will fell like a home game playing so close to home. This group is easy too. Bosnia is a good side, but comes over from Europe and has never played in the world cup. That's a big disadvantage. They still have a very good team led by Dzeko and will be a threat for second. Nigeria will likely compete with them, but I'm not all that impressed with them. Maybe a strong start to the tournament over minnow Iran will jump start them. The game between Nigeria and Bosnia will be a fun one with a ton on the line.

Group G: Germany, USA

Another balanced group where anything can happen. I detailed why I think the US will get through in my US piece so check that out...Anyway, Germany despite some injuries is still the odds on favorite and could win the tournament. They will get at least 7 points and should win the group. The US needs to get four points from the first two games and hope they can squeak a point vs the Germans -or lose by one goal-- and go through on goal differential. This group is one of few where all four teams have a good shot to get through --along with C-- so it will likely come down to the last day. If Portugal can adjust to the conditions, and Ronaldo is Ronaldo, the Americans are in trouble, but I don't think Portugal has enough time get him back to 100 percent and adjust to the conditions in time. US/Ghana winner could decide it all.

Group F: Russia Belgium

I think Belgium could make a very deep run, but I also think they could struggle early in the tournament. A lot of these predictions are somewhat "chalk" but here is a mini bold pick. The Russians find a way to win the group on goal differential. Both get seven points as South Korea and Algeria wilt out early. Maybe deep down someplace in my brain I'm thinking this because I want the US to have an easier opponent if they come in second, I don't know. But this would certainly be a surprise.

Knockout Rounds: 

Round of 16:
Could France make a run??


Brazil over Chile, Ivory Coast over Italy, Spain over Croatia, Columbia over England, France over Bosnia, Germany over Belgium, Argentina over Swiss, USA over Russia.

Some surprises here on paper. This is the last hoorah for this golden generation for the Ivory Coast, and I think Toure will help them sneak past Italy in a classic game. If the US gets Russia, I like their chances, if they get Belgium they are done. Hopefully they play one of the two though, thats my only wish (GET THROUGH THE GROUP BOYS!). Many would be a bit surprised to see France in the final eight, but I really like their team and youth.

Round of Eight: 

Brazil over the Ivory Coast, Spain over Columbia, Germany over France, Argentina over USA

Pretty much all chalk here, but man this would be awesome. The best four teams left. Two best South American teams vs the two best Euro teams.

Semifinals:

Brazil over Germany, Argentina over Spain

Talk about GREAT TV. Two monster games filled with stars, goals, and story lines. Brazil on home soil will be so tough for a Euro based team to best. They are on a mission, and we saw a glimpse of how they would deal with such a situation when they ripped apart Spain in the confederations cup final last summer. In the other game, I like Argentina to outlast Spain in a classic 4-3 game. So much talent. Messi would have even more motivation (as if he needs more) if we went against many of his Barca teammates for a spot in the final. Will Spain even last this long? Old legs.
Will Neymar deliver for Brazil? I think so. 

Final:

Brazil over Argentina 3-2

Higuain slots home to open up the scoring and Argentina takes a 1-0 lead to the half. Messi scores a second just out of the break to go up 2-0. Brazil then makes its run as Hulk scores two and ties it up in a 15 minute span, the second coming in the 77th minute. Argentina presses for the winner and Brazil launches a counter with Neymar scoring the winner in the 89th minute. ENJOY!

Golden Boot: Aguero, nine goals.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

USMNT World Cup Preview

--Lee Kunkel
--@Kunkel5

(Today, I'm posting my USMNT preview with the World Cup just two days away!!!!! I'll have a broader preview and predictions out tomorrow on the tournament as a whole.)

The greatest spectacle in sports is upon us. It's been a long four years since South Africa 2010 and much has change around the globe, on and off the soccer field, but that tournament, the first on African soil, will be one I will never forget.
Pandemonium!
(NY Mag)

I liked soccer entering June of 2010. I LOVED it when the calender turned and July had passed (along with the tournament in which the Spaniards took home the crown).

If you're an American soccer fan --whether it be a die hard like myself, or a novice like the June 2010 Lee Kunkel-- the date June 23rd, 2010 was one for the ages. Landon Donovan gave us what many consider the greatest moment in US Soccer history with a late winner against Algeria that propelled the US into the knock stages.

Not only do I remember the goal, I remember EVERYTHING around me. Great times, great times.

Now the USA needs to build on it in Brazil. So let's get to it!


Roster, Group Outlook, Program Outlook
When the US roster was released, it was more about who wasn't on it then who was. Jürgen Klinsmann shocked just about everybody when he cut Landon Donovan from US camp and left him off the World Cup roster.

My thoughts? There isn't a universe --whether it be back in 2010, now, or two weeks from now-- that Brad Davis is a better soccer player then Donovan. BUT, JK's job is not to name the best 23, it is to name the best team. Donovan wasn't part of that group. End of story (Oh, he also quit the team at the start of WC qualifiers, seemed to clash with JK since his days a Bayern Munich, and has openly admitted he isn't in great shape because of his age).

As for the guys that are going to Brazil, I couldn't be happier. This is, far and away, the best collection of players the United States has ever taken to a World Cup.

Much of the USA success will depend on Bradley.
That's a good thing.
It all starts with Michael Bradley. Make no mistake about it, and don't be fooled by the MLS move (for a tonnnn of cash and "you're THE man" role at Toronto FC) Bradley could make the roster for every country in the world, and play for any club team in the world. Not saying he would start or have a massive role for Brazil or Manchester City, but he could play. He's the best individual player the US has ever taken to a World Cup in my opinion.

Around him are some great pieces.

Jozy Altidore (who had a down right awful season at Sunderland) seems to have his confidence back. He scored two goals in the USA's win over Nigeria this past weekend, and has played great his last two games. Jozy always plays a lot better for his country, and last year broke a long scoring drought at the start of the summer against Germany. He then went on a tear scoring in five straight games for the US, three in WCQ, and scored an incredible hat trick at Bosnia.

People forget he is just 24 years old, and already has 70 caps, 23 goals, played a huge role in the Yanks win over Spain (2009 Confederations Cup) and played in a World Cup (2010). No striker has scored for the US in the World Cup since Brian McBride carried the US in 2002. I think that drought is over in Brazil, thanks to Jozy.

The rest of the squad it littered with MLS stars and some great European club based talent. Out of the MLS group, expect captain Clint Dempsey (who is in great form for the Seattle Sounders) Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Kyle Beckerman to all have big roles for Jürgen Klinsmann. All could play in high level leagues throughout Europe. Guys like this (and Omar Gonzalez/Brad Davis/Chris Wondolowski) have stayed home and really helped elevate the stateside league.

The player that has everyone talking currently is German-American Fabian Johnson. He has been on a tear for club and country as of late. The Bundesliga product has found a home a right-back, and is great at launching the attack, but can also track back and help the defense. He will be instrumental in Brazil, and is the second most important player behind Bradly.

Anchoring the defense will be Everton goalie Tim Howard (who just played his 100th game for the US this past weekend). Howard is in coming off his best season ever, and is in the prime of his career. One could argue he is a top 10 goalie in the world at this very moment. In front of him will be another Barclays Premier League product, Geoff Cameron. The Stoke man had a great season and should pair nicely with Besler.

Jermaine Jones will join Beckerman and Bradley in the midfield. He doesn't always make the smartest decisions, but he's a guy who plays as hard as anyone, can get forward and spring the attack, and will track back and halt a counter. The US needs a big tournament from Jones if it wants to have success.

The rest of the roster has some very good talent and balance. Ale Bedoya had a nice season in the top French league for Nantes and could start a few games in Brazil. He is a nice outside midfielder that can play both sides of the ball. John Brooks and Timmy Chandler --two other German American's-- could be huge off the bench. They both had strong campaign's --particularly Chandler-- in the Bundesliga.

The young Johnnsson could be just the wild card the US needs.
Aron Jóhannsson, Mix Diskerud, DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green are all youngsters that could have an immediate impact like Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley (who is back for his forth World Cup and could start at leftback) had for 2002 team.

Overall, this a very talented group of guys, with a nice mix of youth, speed, talent, and experience.

Now to the group.

Ughhhh :(

For as nice as the soccer Gods were to us in 2010, they were equally as mean and nasty this time around. I won't sugarcoat it, the US *could* play three near perfect matches, and lose all three games. It's that hard.

Germany is one favorite to win the tournament. Portugal has the best player in the world. Ghana has eliminated us from TWO straight World Cups and might be the best team from Africa. But, as my loving dear mother once told me, "things can always be worse Lee Thomas..."

Once again, Mom is right.

The US could be in group B with Chile (a loaded dark horse playing on home continent soil), Spain, and the Netherlands (the two teams that met for the 2010 title). Not a chance in hell we make it out of that group. So it's not all doom and gloom.

Truth be told, we're the reason this group is so hard. We were the best team from our pot, so we were always looking at a difficult road. But that's just the thing, it's the World Cup. It isn't supposed to be a cake walk. And quite frankly, I think the US will get out of this death trap.

Massive game, both team needs 3 points.
Start with the first game June 16th vs Ghana. Disregard the past history vs the Black Stars. Should the 38th ranked team in the world (though fifa rankings are so stupid) really scare us? I don't think many would be all that terrified of Ghana if the history was not there. Four years is a long time. Ghana is a solid team (much better then their ranking shows) but not near the team they were in 2010, and they aren't as good as the US. They are very susceptible at the back. The US will get chances. If the Yanks don't turn it over in their half (Ghana kills team by pressing and getting the ball close to their goal, and hits you on a quick counter), US 2-1.

Then there is Portugal (ranked fourth, but like Ghana that is inaccurate). No way they are that good. Cristiano Ronaldo is a star, and if he's really on, Portugal can win this whole tournament (See the playoff against Sweden PUT THE TEAM ON MY BACK BRO). If he's not on though....(They barley got past Sweden, a team that doesn't have much outside of Ibra).

Not to mention, Portugal is the type of European team that could really struggle in South America, particularly against the USA. That game will be played in the middle of the Amazon in Manaus. High 90's, insane humidity = massive advantage for the Yanks.

CR7 has been battling a variety of injuries, hasn't played in any of Portugal's friendlies, and won't be in top shape when the tournament kicks off in a few days. He looked very pedestrian in the Champions League final a few weeks back (his play, not his muscles, which he showed to the whole world). This is one of my bold predictions, I think Portugal flames out and finishes last in the group.

JK and the crew hold possession (Portugal will give you the ball because they like to get out and counter with Nani and CR7) and wear down the Portuguese. As the game wears on, they wilt, and the US gets a late goal to win it 1-0. A draw here may even do too.

As for Germany, not much to say. They are stacked. If they want to tear up the US (or Ghana and Portugal) they likely will. Losing Marco Reus hurts, he was maybe their best player, but they plug Ozil (Arsenal) Kroos (Bayern), Gotze (Bayern), Lahm (Bayern), Schürrle (Chelsea), Müller (Bayern) or their next young stud, Draxler (Schalke) into the lineup. Just an embarrassment of riches. I guess it may help the US that they play Germany last. Maybe they take it easy on us and rest some guys with the group wrapped up. All I know is the US better not wait until it's last game to make a move.

My Pick: Second in the group, but another tough game in the round of 16 vs Belgium, who beat us 2-1.
Best case: Finish second in the group, hope to get an upset in group H and play Russia, make a run to the final eight (where Messi would likely take on the US).
Worst case: No points in what amounts to too tough of a draw.


Program Outlook

As Americans (or maybe humans as a whole, I've never been thrust into another countries sports culture) we tend to overreact. A lot. Look at the NBA Finals just this season. Game 1: LBJ is a bum who can't hydrate and the Heat are done. Game 2: The King is going to carry Miami and the old Spurs are donzo.

Same goes for the World Cup. While I'll agree that every player, coach and team is judged on their performance in this tournament, we can't put too much weight on it, especially given the group.

Hard to argue Klinsmann's success
to this point.
In the past four years under Jürgen Klinsmann we have won at Mexico, got a point at Mexico in WCQ, topped the Hex with ease (winning every home game), won the Gold Cup, grew the player pool to a point where the best American player of all time isn't on the WC roster and it's justifiable, beat the Italians (away), Bosnian's (away), Germans, Nigerians, and Turks, tied the Russians (away) and went on the longest win streak in USMNT history.

It's been a great four year cycle and things only look better on the horizon. The 2018 roster could be stacked with top level euro league talent (Julian Green!!). The MLS is growing in success and popularity (Spain and Brazil will have an MLS player on their roster, and both should feature in the tournament). The media actually covers soccer like a major sport.

Do I hope the World Cup performance reflects all of this? YES. But that may not be the case. If we come home with just one point (Gulp, or less), please America, don't throw out the past four years. The future is bright. (PS, this also goes the other way too. If we make a surprise run to the semifinals, we aren't all of a sudden a top four world power)

As I wrap things up, clear your calenders for next Monday around 6pm, grab your favorite American beer, gather your friends, and get ready for a stressful but amazing two hours.

"Go Go USA" as my man Ian Darke would say.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions:

Opening Day is tomorrow, so I decided why not post some picks and predictions. Feel free to email me your picks, including divisions, wildcards, WS picks, league MVP's Cy Young's and ROY's. A sentence or two on your boldest pick and WS pick would be fine along with the picks...

Email: ltkst2@mail.rmu.edu

Lets's get it started.. Lee Kunkel picks:
American League

East: Baltimore
Central: Detroit
West: Los Angeles
Wildcard: Tampa, Boston
Champion: Baltimore

National League

East: Washington
Central: St Louis
West: Los Angeles
Wildcard: Milwaukee, Cincinnati
Champion: Washington

World Series: Baltimore over Washington

MVP: (AL) Mike Trout, (NL) Ryan Braun
Cy Young: (AL) David Price, (NL) Jose Fernandez
Rookie of the Year: (AL) Xander Bogaerts, (NL) Billy Hamilton


Reasoning: I'm going with Baltimore in the East. Yes, I'm biased as many of you know, but I've done this for a couple of years now, and I have never taken the O's to win the division. The Wildcard maybe (okay always), but not the division. The East is once again loaded. I could see every team but Toronto winning it, and I think the Jays are still a viable Wild Card contender. Whoever does take the East will be well prepared to make a run in the playoffs.

Detroit should run-away with the Central. Cleveland could push them, and the Royals have a loaded pitching staff, but I still think Detroit has the best roster, and Joe Nathan should sure up the bullpen.

The West is also tough. Oakland has already lost a few starters to injury, and Bartolo Colon left for the Mets. I think the Angels, with a bounce back year from Big Albert and MVP year from Trout, finally get Trout to the playoffs. Texas will be right there too, and Seattle, after a huge offseason, will be in the hunt.

In the NL, I think the East won't be much of a race. Of course I said that last year, and Washington fell apart, but this year their really isn't a team that matches up with them. The Braves were the team to beat a few weeks ago, but the season hasn't even started and their pitching staff has been devastated by injuries. The Marlins are much improved, and Jose Fernandez is a top three pitcher in baseball in my opinion at age 2, but they don't have the experience or depth to compete for the division.

The NL Central will once again be a lot of fun. As you can see from my predictions, the Brewers/Braun are my bold pick of the year. The pitching is good, and I love the Garza addition. They will need to find some depth in the bullpen, and develop a few backend starters, but I think the top of the rotation is due for a big year.

As for Braun, he's my MVP pick. I have no idea if he would actually get selected even if he hit .600, 300 rbi's and 180 homeruns because of the roids and perception from last season, but I think he will have a lot to prove and comes out on fire. He may not be the most liked guy in the league, but let's not forget he is one of the best all around hitters in the sport.

As for the rest of the division, there are a lot of good teams. St Louis is loaded once again. They could be picked to win the World Series every year and you would have a good shot at being correct. I think they may be the best organization in sports all things considered.

Cincinnati lost a few key players, and Aroldis Chapman could be out awhile after that nasty face injury. I like Pittsburgh, but can they pitch that well again? Cutch would be my MVP pick if I couldn't take Braun. This race will be a lot of run, especially if I'm remotely accurate on the Brew Crew.

The west might be the worst race in baseball. The Dodgers have everything after another big spending offseason. They're going to have an all star outfielder on their bench every night. The staff is loaded, the pen is deep, and they found a way to get all that talent out of Hanley Ramirez. Maybe the pitching in San Francisco or Arizona can keep pace for awhile, but the Dodgers should cost into the playoffs with the west wrapped up.

World Series Winner: Baltimore

In my opinion, Baltimore has the best lineup (certainly the most powerful) in all of baseball with Nelson Cruz on board. Davis might not be as good as he was last year, but he will once again be in the MVP discussion. Wieters, Hardy, and Markakis all had slightly down years last season, and Jim Johnson blew too many saves. I like this bullpen a lot, and I think people over rate the closer role. You can find a guy to fill that void as the season goes on. Look a Koji in Boston.

They also have the best defense once Machado comes back (and I think he elevates his game once again this season becoming one the leagues best all around players). The pitching is much improved with Ubaldo on board, and Tillman could be the front end ace they so desperately need. I think Dylan Bundy could have a huge impact on their rotation come July. Maybe not Michael Wacha good, but Gerrit Cole good.

Oh, they're also my favorite team.

What do you think will happen, send me your picks at ltkst2@mail.rmu.edu and ill post them in here. Come late October we can go back and see who got the most right.

Andrew Heiland:

AL
East: Baltimore
West: Texas
Central: Detroit
Wildcard: Tampa, Boston
Champ: Baltimore

NL
East: Washington
West: LA
Central: St Louis
Wildcard: Cincinnati, San Fran
Champion: LA Dodgers

World Series: Baltimore over LA

MVP: Trout, Harper
Cy Young: Wainwright, Price
ROY: Jon Schoop, Kolten Wong

Explanation: Baltimore is the GOAT of the MLB in 2014

Dre Frye:

National League Standings:

East: Nationals
Central: Pirates
West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Cardinals, Padres

NLDS:
Dodgers over Pirates
Nationals over Cardinals

NLCS:
Dodgers over Nationals

American League Standings:

East: Orioles
Central: Tigers
West: Rangers
Wild Card: Rays, Royals

ALDS:
Rangers over Orioles
Rays over Tigers

NLCS:
Rangers over Rays

World Series:

Rangers over Dodgers

Offseason Awards:

AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL MVP: Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

AL ROY: Jose Abreu
NL ROY: Billy Hamilton

The boldest of the bold prediction:

This is the moment you have been waiting for! Only one other person knows this and that is DA GOAT that is Chris Cappella and it is because I don't want the criticism from my friends, especially Grasso, for saying this because it is monumental.  With all this being said here is the prediction:

This year I believe the 56 game hit streak is broken by someone.  Why do I say this? Because of the fact that it just is "impossible." Last year the Pirates were the best story in baseball and this year, the broken streak will be it easily.  It's easy to point to Miguel Cabrera to do it because I say what is he going to do next. Chris said if it happens it could be Robbie Cano. Point is it will break and I wholeheartedly believe it will be Miggy but it could also be Cano, Trout, Cutch, or even Bryce.

Brandon Stoneburg:

AL:
East-Rays
Central-Tigers
West-Rangers
WCs-O's, Red Sox
Champ-Tigers
MVP-Miguel Cabrera
CY-David Price
ROY-Xander Bogaerts

NL:
East-Braves
Central-Reds
West-Dodgers
WCs-Nationals, Cardinals
Champ-Reds
MVP-McCutchen
CY-Kershaw
ROY-Billy Hamilton

World Series: Tigers over the Reds

Chas Roth:

American League

East - Red Sox
Central - Tigers
West – Athletics
WC – Rays
WC – Angels

League Champion – Tigers
MVP – Mike Trout
Cy Young – Justin Verlander
ROY – Xander Bogaerts

Trout finally gets the MVP he’s deserved for the last two seasons and pushes the Halos into a playoff spot. Yankees miss the playoffs because of injuries/worst infield in baseball. Rangers and Royals narrowly miss playoff berths.

National League

East – Nationals
Central – Cardinals
West – Diamondbacks
WC – Reds
WC – Dodgers

League Champion – Nationals
MVP – Paul Goldschmidt
Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg
ROY – Oscar Taveras

Much like Trout in the AL Paul Goldschmidt powers the D-Backs to the playoffs and earns himself MVP. Strasburg outduels Kershaw for the Cy Young. Pirates miss Burnett’s veteran leadership, Liriano has a down year and miss out on the playoffs in the final week of the season.

World Series: Tigers over Nationals

Cabrera continues on his otherworldly hitting pace and their top three is too much for Strasburg and Zimmerman. Joe Nathan battens down the weak spot of the Tiger team. Miggy gets his second title and is MVP of the series.

Joe Haefner:

DIV WINNERS:
AL EAST: Tampa Bay
AL WEST:Oakland
AL CENTRAL: Detroit
NL EAST: Washington
NL WEST: LA
NL CENTRAL: Cardinals

Wild Card:
NL: Pittsburgh & Atlanta
AL: Boston & KC

WS:
Oakland WINNER IN 7 VS. Cardinals

MVP:
NL: Cutch
AL:Trout

CY YOUNG:
NL: Wacha
AL: Justin Verlander

ROY:
NL: Taillon
AL: Tanaka

Zach Lash:

AL East- BOS
AL Central- KC
AL West- OAK

NL East- WAS
NL Central- STL
NL West- LAD

AL WC1- NYY
AL WC2- CWS

NL WC1- ATL
NL WC2- CIN

AL Champ- BOS
NL Champ- LAD
WS Champ- LAD

AL MVP- Miggy
NL MVP- Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young- Gimme James Shields lol
NL Cy Young- Stephen Strasburg

AL ROY- Boegarts
NL ROY- Billy Hamilton

Matt Heiland:

Division Champs:

Boston Red Sox (AL East)
Detroit Tigers (AL Central)
Texas Rangers (AL West)
Washington Nationals (NL East)
St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central)
Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West)

Wild Cards: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants

American League Winner: New York Yankees

National League Winner: St. Louis Cardinals

World Series Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

Awards:

AL MVP – Mike Trout
NL MVP – Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young – Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young – Jose Fernandez

AL ROY – Xander Boegarts
NL ROY – Archie Bradley

Chris Cappella:

WS: Texas over LA
Playoffs:
AL: Texas
Detroit
Tampa Bay
Baltimore
Boston

NL: Nationals
St. Louis
LA
Cinncy
San Diego

MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Jose Fernandez
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
Rookie: Nick castellanos, detroit

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mid-Season Baseball Predictions

July first is here. With that comes the mid-season mark. What a first half it has been. Crush Davis in Baltimore, Puig madness in LA. The resurgence taking place in the Burgh, and in Boston. The fall (and now rise) of the star studded Toronto Blue Jays, and much more.

Now that June is in the rear view mirror, it's time to layout the second half and take a stab at who will be playing in October. Here are the standings as of right now.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings (Via ESPN)

It all starts in the AL East: It's the best division in baseball top to bottom. All five teams were over .500 a few days ago, and all five will likely be at least a game or two over .500 by the all star break. The Red Sox and Orioles appear to be the front runners, and I really like Tampa Bay (Davis Price back this week). All three teams have a solid lineup, and are getting some solid players back over the next few days/weeks. Baltimore just got Brian Roberts back, they get Nolan Reimold back Tuesday, and Wei-Yin Chen soon after. Boston will get their ace Clay Buchholtz back soon, and have been able to keep Jacoby Ellsbury and Big Papi in the lineup. I'll take Baltimore to take the division. They have the better bullpen, and will be a complete team if they can add a top of the rotation guy at the deadline. With that said, Boston and Tampa will be there up until the last day. I expect two teams to make the playoffs. Toronto won't be far behind, but really dug themselves a deep hole, and I question their pitching. They don't have the bullpen that Baltimore has, or the rotation that Boston and Tampa have. The Yankees injuries are starting to add up. They really need Jeter, Grandy, and any third baseman back ASAP.

The AL Central is much more clear. The Royals will hang around, but this is a two horse race. The Tigers and Indians will battle it out for the division crown, and I don't think the loser will make it. The AL East/Second place West teams are too strong. Ultimately, the Tigers should win this thing. Their lineup might be the best in baseball, and the rotation is stacked (Verlander has been great, and isn't the ace at the moment. That's saying something). They need (!!!!) to find some bullpen help, including a closer. Cleveland may be this years version of the 2012 Orioles. They don't really do anything great, but they come up with clutch hits, and don't blow games. With that said, the Orioles were extremely lucky to make it to the postseason, so I wouldn't bet on the Indians making it.

Remember how the AL West ended last year? Pure craziness. I think were in for more of the same. Oakland and Texas are so solid (and this year they get to beat up on the Astros). Once again this race should come down to the last days of the season. I like Oakland's rotation a ton. They don't have many weaknesses. They also can really hit the ball. Josh Donaldson has been a great find, and they have good balance up and down the lineup. Oakland does this every year. You can never put your finger on how they do it, but they do it. A's take the division. Texas will be in a dog fight for a wildcard spot. The Angels have the talent to make a run and get back into this thing, but they are nine out, and I cant see Oakland or Texas fading. Without a dominant rotation, I don't know if the Angels can make a run at it.

Final AL thoughts: Baltimore wins the East, just ahead of Tampa and Boston (Side note; Tampa and Boston finish tied, leading to the always awesome one game play in.). Detroit takes the Central by 10 games. Once the Tigers get the pen figured out, I believe they pull away. The A's take the West but it comes down to the final game. Rangers get the wildcard.

AL: Oakland, Baltimore, Detroit. WC: Texas, Tampa/Boston (I'll take Boston in the one game playoff, but it would come down to the pitching match up.)

The National League isn't as exciting, but does feature some very good races. Lets start with the NL East. The Braves are certainly the team to beat. They lead the division by 6.5 games, and the second place Nats have been insanely inconsistent. They get Bryce Harper back tomorrow, and that should be huge for the lineup. Washington has two pitchers (Strasburg/Haren) are in the top three for worst run support. If they start hitting, and stay healthy, they can make a run. In the end, the Braves should win this thing. Atlanta has a strong team, and after the loss in the wildcard play in last year, they know the importance of winning the division. The Phillies, Mets and Marlins are all toast.

While the AL East may be the best division top to bottom, the NL Central has the best teams at the top. The Pirates (Yes Pirates) have the best record in baseball led by their strong rotation, and the Cardinals and Reds aren't far behind. Let's start with the Bucs. The losing season drought is over. They're 21 over on July first, and play in the same division as the Cubs and Brewers. No way they don't finish over .500. The next question, can they make the playoffs? I say.... YES. The rotation is very good, and will get Burnett, and Rodriguez back at some point. They have depth, and Gerrit Cole is a stud. I really like the lineup too. Cutch isn't playing bad (.292 average), but he hasn't gone on that tear where he carries the offense for a few weeks like we know hes capable of. Marte gives the team a dimension they haven't had in the past, and Russell Martin has been a great signing, not to mention Pedro Alvarez is playing like a first round pick. Bad news for the Bucs? The Cardinals are simply a better team, in my opinion the best in baseball. The Cardinals pitching staff is just as good, and they have a potent lineup to match. I expect St. Louis to take the division. The Reds will be there all year long too. This race will be great to watch. Only the Nationals stand in the way of the NL Central getting three teams into the playoffs.

In the NL West, it's a pure mess. The Dodgers have been huge underachievers but are only four games out. Yasil Puig has given the team a shot in the arm, and so has Hanley Ramirez. The "first place" D-Backs are only three over, and there aren't too many believes. The Rockies need to get Tulo back, but have a shot. I like their lineup a lot. Cargo is an MVP candidate, and Cuddyer  has been a man on a mission. The defending champs just don't seem to have it this year, but remain only 2.5 out. Any team can win this thing, but I think it will come down to the Dodgers and Rockies. I like being bold, so I'll take the Rocks. That lineup, when healthy is lethal. In that park, their pitching "doesn't really matter." They can out slug anyone.

Final NL thoughts: I can't wait to watch the Central race play out. It should be amazing. It's great to have baseball back in Pittsburgh, and it will be fun to watch that team win that 82nd game, and beyond. The West will be a great race, but don't expect the winner to finish with 90 wins. 85 could get the job done. In the East, the Nats may be the only team that has a chance to steal a wildcard spot from the Central.

NL: St. Louis, Atlanta, Colorado. WC: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

-- Lee Kunkel

-- @Kunkel5

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Coron Williams is transferring to Wake Forest

Coron Williams is transferring to wake Forest. (p/c: Justin Berl)
In some shocking news, Robert Morris shooting guard Coron Williams has deided to transfer from Robert
Morris to Wake Forest. Williams was one of two players to play in all 35 games this season and averaged 24.7 minutes per game, 9.1 points per game, and shot 41.6% from three. All in all, Williams started 71 career games and played in 107 at RMU.

Andrew Chiappazzi of ColonialsCorner.com has a more complete write-up on the process, we encourage you to give it a read. Here is a small glimpse:
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said the machinations for Williams to transfer began two weeks ago, when he said Williams came into his office and told him he'd like to play his last year closer to his Midlothian, Virginia home. Toole said Williams wanted his family more involved, and he'd like to explore a transfer that would also challenge him.
"As much as we'd like to hold him hostage, we can't do that," Toole said.
Robert Morris helped Williams explore his options, and when Wake Forest offered a scholarship, he accepted. Toole said the lure of playing in the ACC also excited Williams.
Williams will be able to play right away for Wake Forest because of the NCAA's fifth-year transfer rule. Student athletes who redshirt for one season and finish their undergraduate course work in three and a half years can transfer immediately to another school for their final year of eligibility.
I'm happy for Coron. He gets to play in the ACC, the big boys of all big boys in college basketball. I do have some reservations about how his game will transfer in the ACC, but that's for another time.

So now RMU has lost Velton Jones, Russell Johnson, and Coron Williams. Those are three of the best players in the history of this program. Besides losing a sniper from beyond the three point line, there are some other parts of Coron's game that we're going to miss. His leadership was going to play a huge role on this team.

Maybe the most underrated part of Coron's game was his ball-handling. Remember who would run the point when Velton was injured and Anthony Myers-Pate needed a breather? That was Coron. Who takes that role this year if Myers-Pate gets hurt and freshman Kavon Stewart struggles? It would be nice to have a security blanket like him. It doesn't sound like Toole is expecting any more departures but who knows if something changes. I wouldn't be shocked to hear if Mike McFadden or Lijah Thompson didn't come back.

Robert Morris loved to knock it down from three last season. I already thought this team was going to run more through the big's this year anyway but now it doesn't have much of a choice. Don't get me wrong, the likes of Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones (and even Myers-Pate can knock it down when he has his confidence) will get RMU going from thre, but expect to see Mike McFadden play a bigger role on this team and for freshman Jeremiah Worthem to play a huge role right away.

Speaking of Karvel, here's some good news!




--Chris Cappella
--@C_Cappella

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Night Links:

It was a busy weekend in the sports world...and an even busier Monday.

Mike Freeman from CBS Sports on why Matt Barkley ended the "stay or go?" argument for college athletes. Link: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/22166756/barkleys-big-accomplishment-ending-the-stayinschool-argument

The Big 10 is already done with the "Leaders"and "Legends" divisions. Moving to a more natural east and west. Link: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9220734/big-ten-schools-ok-realignment-9-game-schedule

Jason Collins became to first "big four" athlete to come out while actively playing. His story. Link: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/?sct=hp_t11_a1&eref=sihp

Great documentary detailing RMU's upset win over UK a month back was released today by NEC FrontRow. Link: http://necfrontrow.com/video.php?NEC-Documentary-Short-NECPride-Moon-Magic-1699

Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets. Link: http://espn.go.com/new-york/nfl/story/_/id/9222945/new-york-jets-tim-tebow-debacle-was-jets-worst-move-ever

We also had the NFL draft, NBA playoff action, and the NHL season come to an end, not to mention some intriguing soccer going on across the pond. Oh yea, the MLB is heating up (except the Angels, they are still ice cold) as we approach summer!..... Enjoy all the action!

--Lee Kunkel
--@kunkel5