Archive | November 2013

Duke Nails Top Prospects

By Christian Pierre-Louis

In the mere span of a few seconds Friday afternoon, Duke became the likely favorite for the 2014-15 national championship. That’s what happens when two of the five best high school players in the country announce their decision to be Blue Devils. Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are both headed to play for Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. They chose the Blue Devils over Kansas and Baylor.

The two players always thought to be a package deal, never really wavered in that aspect of each one’s recruitment. Okafor and Jones didn’t play high school or AAU basketball on the same team, but represented USA Basketball together and became close friends from playing at elite camps and tournaments around the country. A couple of teams attempted to split them up, but it never worked. Despite various rumors to the contrary, Okafor and Jones followed through on their package deal.

 

Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor made a splash and signed with Duke (Via Adidas and AP)

Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor made a splash and signed with Duke (Via Adidas and AP)

Okafor, a 6-foot-11 center from Whitney Young (Ill.), is ranked No. 1 in most rankings including the 247Sports Composite, Rivals, and ESPN. He is an absolutely dominant force on the inside, and is the best back-to-the-basket player to come across the high school landscape in a very long time. He can get position on the interior, and then is able to score in a variety of ways. Okafor is also capable of passing out of double teams. He has terrific hands and is an outstanding rebounder.

Meanwhile, Jones, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Apple Valley (Minn.), is among the top five in all the major recruiting rankings. It became clear a couple of years ago that he would be the best pure point guard in the country, given his high-level basketball IQ and ability to run an offense and control tempo. Jones is a great passer with vision, but he’s also very adept at scoring in his own right. He has good range to the 3-point line and while he isn’t overly explosive, Jones can change speeds effectively.

Okafor and Jones join previous commit Grayson Allen in Duke’s 2014 recruiting class. Regardless of who stays and who goes pro from this year’s Blue Devil team, it’s certainly not a stretch to say that Duke will be the favorite heading into next season. Okafor gives them the most dominant big man in the country, while Jones is clearly one of the top point guards in the nation. Even if Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood decide to go pro, Krzyzewski will have the pieces to win a national title.

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Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.

This Weekend in College Basketball

Recapping the most important news from this past weekend

By Jared Bursky 

Future Stars Make Their Decision

Last Tuesday, we were able to get a glimpse of how dynamic freshmen can make an immediate impact in college basketball. We also saw extraordinary talents in Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle who represent the future of the NBA. Five ranked teams were in action Friday, including number one to be Michigan State, but that was hardly on the minds of many college basketball fans. Friday featured seismic announcements from four of the top high school basketball recruits in the country.

Committed to Duke

1. Jahlil Okafor (6-10, 265) ESPN 100 # 1

Chicago, Illinois

Whitney Young H.S.

Center/ Power Forward

2. Tyus Jones (6-1, 171) ESPN 100 # 4

Apple Valley, Minnesota

Apple Valley High School

Point Guard

Analysis

Duke will be loaded next year with Okafor and Jones coming in as a package deal. They are the perfect compliments. A pass first, true point guard and a dominant low post big man along with returners mean big things for Duke next year.

Jahlil Okafor and Tyrus Jones both chose Duke on Friday (Via ESPN, IconSMI)

Jahlil Okafor and Tyrus Jones both chose Duke on Friday (Via ESPN, IconSMI)

Committed to Kansas

1. Cliff Alexander (6-8, 225) ESPN 100 #3

Chicago, Illinois

Curie High School

Power Forward

Analysis

Illinois or Kansas? His choice was Kansas, but not before he mistakenly picked up the Illinois hat at first at his announcement. You know this one is hurting in Champagne, Illinois but for now, Kansas will plan on doing great things with Alexander.

Committed to Arizona

1. Stanley Johnson (6-6, 220) ESPN 100 #9

Fullerton, California

Mater Dei High School

Small Forward

Analysis

Arizona got Aaron Gordon in last year’s recruiting class, now they have another stud to follow. Johnson is a great scorer and has the tools to make an immediate impact in an Arizona program that seems to be back near the top.

Friday Action

MSU Survives Columbia

Michigan State, coming off a huge win in Chicago against #1 Kentucky, struggled with a tricky Columbia squad for thirty-five minutes. The Spartans were able to pull away in the final minutes and finished with a 64-53 win. The fact that this game was this close is shocking.

Saturday Action

Wisconsin Rallies against Green Bay

The Badgers overcame a seven point second half deficit to defeat Green Bay on Saturday. Green Bay junior Keifer Sykes scored a career high 32 points but it wasn’t enough against Wisconsin, who was lead by Frank Kaminsky’s 17 points.

Battle of Defense: #10 Ohio State shuts down #17 Marquette

52-35? Sounds like Peyton Manning just lead the Broncos to a win. However, Ohio State limited Marquette to 35 points due primarily to the great performance of Aaron Craft (10pts 7 reb 10ast 2stl). Marquette shot just 19% from the field in the defensive struggle.

Sunday Action (Upset City Edition)

Indiana State over #21 Notre Dame

The Sycamores had five players score in double figures as their balanced attack outlasted Notre Dame 83-70 in South Bend. Notre Dame received solid production from their starters but the bench could not contribute much as the Irish were sent to their first loss.

Belmont shocks #12 North Carolina

Another upset on the road. Belmont went into Chapel Hill and defeated the Tar Heels 83-80 on the shoulders off J.J. Mann (28 points). UNC got a terrific effort from James Michael McAdoo who had 27 points and 13 rebounds. This was one of three home losses on the day for teams in the ACC.

#7 Michigan Falls in Ames

Not that this was not an upset; Michigan is a very good team, but Iowa State does have something brewing in Ames. #7 Michigan’s Mitch McGary made his season debut Sunday but in a losing effort, as the Cyclones defeated them 77-70. Melvin Ejim led Iowa State with 22 points.

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Jared Bursky is a freshman Physical Education major at SUNY Cortland. He was a Captain and starter for his high school basketball team and is pursuing coaching basketball at either the high school or college level. He roots for the Isles, Yanks, Jets, and Knicks but his favorite sport to watch is college basketball. You can follow him on twitter at @jbhoops10

NFL Predictions Week 11

By Matthew Wieselthier

Sunday:

1:00 PM ET

Jets 24, Bills 13

The Jets are arguably the most surprising team this season.  After being projected as one of the worst, the Jets are in playoff contention, and there is one big reason why.  The “Sons of Anarchy.”  The defensive line for the Jets, comprised of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson, has tortured quarterbacks and offensives in general with the pressure they’ve put on QBs.  The offense should also get a lot stronger this week with WR Santonio Holmes and TEs Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow returning from injuries (suspension for Winslow).

Buccaneers 28, Falcons 24

The Buccaneers may have looked bad most of the year, but the past few weeks, they have started to look like a decent team.  The Falcons, on the other hand, are the most disappointing team this season, going from Super Bowl favorites to the favorites for a top 5 draft pick.  The Buccaneers have looked like a good team since Mike Glennon took over at QB.  The one thing they needed was a W.  They got that last Monday versus the Dolphins, and the momentum should continue into this week.

Lions 31, Steelers 16

The Lions have looked very strong the past few weeks.  We can say this over and over again.  Matthew Stafford has looked very strong, a big thanks to WR Calvin Johnson.  The Lions new two-headed rushing attack of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell has been stellar.  If anything goes wrong with the Lions offense against the tough Steelers defense, the terrible Steelers offense should help them out.  There has been no running game from the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t looked great either.  The Lions should have ease in taking this game.

Calvin Johnson is active this week and should continue to impress (Via Thoughts of a Jeanius)

Calvin Johnson is active this week and should continue to impress (Via Thoughts of a Jeanius)

Eagles 34, Redskins 31

The Eagles are on a nice hot streak.  Nick Foles has looked great in the past few weeks and so has LeSean McCoy in the running game. Meanwhile, the Redskins are exactly where they were last year.  3-6 last season, the Redskins racked up a 7 game winning streak to win the NFC East title.  The Redskins are once again 3-6 and things are once again looking gloom.  A miracle happens once, not twice, and not this year.

Cardinals 28, Jaguars 14

The Cardinals are another team in the running for most surprising team this season.  Their most surprising player is RB Andre Ellington, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, is still sharing time with Rashard Mendenhall, but still taking advantage of his time and showing why he deserves to be seriously considered as a decent RB in the league.  The Jaguars are still one of the worst teams in the NFL despite upsetting the Titans last week.  Don’t expect that fact to change against a tough NFC opponent.

Texans 37, Raiders 17

Isn’t it about time that Case Keenum got his first victory as a starting QB in the NFL?  He has played fantastic since getting the job, holding a 105.1 passer rating and throwing 7 TDs with no interceptions.  The Raiders have their own QB issues.  Starting QB Terrelle Pryor is out with a knee injury, prompting the first start in the career of Matt McGloin.  This is a very interesting matchup of previously undrafted QBs starting against one another.

Bears 23, Ravens 10

The Bears have a nice situation in which they can trust their backup QB when Jay Cutler gets injured.  Josh McCown has been quite successful this year, throwing for a 60% completion percentage and a 103.2 passer rating.  The Ravens still don’t look that great and against a tough Bears defense, that fact shouldn’t change.

Browns 27, Bengals 23

The Browns haven’t played two games against the Bengals in a season since 2002.  That fact may change with the way both teams have been performing recently.  Since putting on an offensive show versus the Jets in Week 8, the Bengals have dropped two straight games against teams they should have dominated (Dolphins and Ravens).  Now they play another division rival and need things to change before their bye week with a struggling Andy Dalton.  The Browns have a chance to shock everyone with a win this week.  They are in second place in the AFC North and have a chance to be one game back after this week.  QB Jason Campbell has been very successful since taking over in the Cleveland QB debacle.

4:00 PM ET

Chargers 32, Dolphins 17

The Chargers are another team on the rise and surprise this season.  QB Philip Rivers is having a comeback season with 18 TDs to 7 interceptions and a 105.9 passer rating and looking like the Rivers of old back when the Chargers were a regular playoff favorite.  The Dolphins also looked like they were on the rise until they lost to the previously winless Buccaneers on Monday Night, not even showing up in the first half and looking dreadful all night.

Giants 24, Packers 13

The Giants may be the luckiest team in the league at the moment.  After starting off 0-6, the Giants have taken down 3 straight either bad or injury riddled teams.  This week, they get another injured and limping team with the Cheese heads.  The Packers not only lost QB Aaron Rodgers, they lost their backup QB Seneca Wallace to injury last week.  Scott Tolzein is making his first career start and he won’t have the Packers best check down target/tight end Jermichael Finley, who had spinal fusion surgery since being put on the IR, possibly ending his career.  The Giants are getting very lucky.  Don’t expect that to last much longer though.

Seattle 38, Vikings 14

The Seahawks were looking like they were on the decline, playing close games against not great opponents, headlined by having to squeak out an OT win versus the Buccaneers.  They finally came back last week in an absolute destruction of the upsetting Falcons.  Expect that to continue because the Seahawks are a top team with a top defense and a solid offensive attack against a horrible Vikings team who have not much upside.

49ers 27, Saints 25

The 49ers are very strong and arguably still underrated after losing such a tight game against the Panthers last week.  QB Colin Kaepernick is back to being a top QB after a weak start to the season.  The defense is also very strong, as shown last week when they held a strong Panthers offense to only 10 points.  The Saints are very strong too, but tough defenses haven’t had that much trouble in stopping them.  That fact should stay the same this week.

8:30 PM ET

Broncos 20, Chiefs 14

The two top teams in the NFL going against each other on Sunday Night.  What more can anyone ask for?  The Chiefs and their top defense in the NFL are going face to face with the Broncos’ top offense.  The Chiefs are arguably the worst 9-0 team ever, that being that they haven’t played anyone with a winning record.  But at the same time, the Broncos have only played one team with a winning record in their only loss of the season to the Colts.  Peyton Manning is still the best QB in the league and that should propel the Broncos to victory in this AFC West showdown.

Monday:

8:30 PM ET

Panthers 35, Patriots 24

The Panthers are arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now.  They have the 2nd best defense and their offense is just getting better and better.  The Patriots are still the walking wounded on the defensive side and Tom Brady has looked awful this entire season.  Don’t bet against the hot streak.  Carolina should be able to bring home the W in this week ending primetime showdown.

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Matthew Wieselthier is the Sports Director at WPOB 88.5 FM, Plainview.  He is also the PA announcer at all sporting events at POBJFKHS.  You can follow him on twitter at @wieselsports66.

2013 American League Award Winners

By Dan Lagnado

Gold Gloves

C-Salvador Perez KC (1st win)

1B-Eric Holmes KC (1st win)

2B-Dustin Pedroia BOS (3rd win)-Winner Wilson Defensive Player of the Year

3B-Manny Machado BAL (1st win)-Winner Rawlings Platinum Glove Award

SS-J.J. Hardy BAL (2nd win)

LF-Alex Gordon KC (3rd win)

CF-Adam Jones BAL (2nd win)

RF-Shane Victorino BOS (4th win)

P-R.A. Dickey TOR (1st win)

Silver Sluggers

C-Joe Mauer-MIN (5th win)

1B-Chris Davis-BAL (1st win)

2B-Robinson Cano-NYY (5th win)

3B-Miguel Cabrera-DET (2nd win)

SS-J.J. Hardy-BAL (1st win)

OF-Mike Trout-LAA (2nd win)

OF-Adam Jones-BAL (1st win)

OF-Torii Hunter-DET (2nd win)

DH-David Ortiz-BOS (6th win)

Comeback Player of the Year

Mariano Rivera-RP-NYY

Mariano Rivera had his number retired to mark the end of an illustrious career (Via AP)

Mariano Rivera had his number retired to mark the end of an illustrious career (Via AP)

The Sandman adds to his hall of fame career. Coming into the 2013 season we weren’t even sure if we would see Rivera at all. Coming off of knee surgery at age 43, some people thought he would retire in 2012. Others felt that even if he did come back he wouldn’t be the same old Mariano. They couldn’t have been more wrong. In his final season, Rivera posted 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA, both better than his career averages. Mariano, much like a fine wine, just gets better with age. Of course we will not be seeing Rivera closing games for the Yankees anymore. However, he left us all with the message that if you want to succeed enough, age is just a number and injury just a minor speed bump in life’s successes. There really was no other option for this award.

Rookie of the Year

Wil Myers-OF-TB

There was always a lot of hype around Wil Myers. However, when the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in a trade for their ace pitcher, the pressure mounted significantly. Myers only played for just over half a season, but boy did he make an impact. Myers led all rookies in doubles (23), extra-base hits (36), OPS (.831) and RBI (53). In addition to that Myers added 13 homeruns, and a .293 batting average. He helped to lead the Rays to a playoff birth where they would lose to the Red Sox in the ALDS. And he’s only going to get better as his career goes on. Myers is actually the third Rays player to win the award in six years, following the footsteps of Evan Longoria and Jeremy Hellickson. Look for Myers to develop into a top-level outfielder.

Manager of the Year

Terry Francona-CLE

Let me take you back to two seasons ago. The Red Sox had just gone through one of the worst late season collapses of recent memory. There was a potential scandal looming with the rumors of beer and chicken wings in the clubhouse. Francona was basically run out of Boston by an angry mob. After a year in the studio, Francona decided it was time to return to the dugout. The Cleveland Indians were coming off a season where they finished 26 games under .500 and 20 games behind the division winning Tigers and 25 games out of the Wild Card. They were certainly a team in need of a fresh start and a new face. Francona had won two World Series titles in Boston and the Indians upper management felt that this experience with winning teams could take them into October. The Indians won 92 games this season, claiming the top Wild Card spot and only barely missed winning their division. The 24 win turnaround tied a franchise record. This turnaround was sparked by Francona’s appeal and ability to recruit free agents and find players that he thought would provide a good trade value. This was a hotly contested award between Francona and his old pitching coach and Red Sox manager, John Farrell but in the end the voters deemed Francona the more worthy recipient. (It is worth noting that voting takes place before the playoffs. Whether that had an impact on the results we can never know.)

Cy Young Award

Max Scherzer-SP-DET

The second Tigers’ pitcher to win the award in three seasons, Scherzer earned 28 out of 30 first place votes. It’s pretty hard to argue with this decision. Scherzer won his first 13 decisions before taking a loss and ended the season at 21-3 (only 8-3 in those last 11 decisions. Must have got in a slump). He was the only pitcher to reach the 20-win plateau this season. His ERA was 2.90, which is an impressive number for any pitcher in any given season (considering that 3 or less runs in 6+ innings is a “quality start”). He was also the only starter in the MLB to allow less than a base runner per inning (.97 WHIP). He also had 240 strikeouts, for a rate of 11.078 per nine innings and an average of 6.22 hits per nine innings. In addition ,Scherzer led the AL in wins above replacement at 6.2, which would have made a huge difference in the playoff race. Scherzer was no doubt the best pitcher in the AL this year and at only 28 years old, look for him to continue to climb in the rankings over the next few years.

MVP Award

Miguel Cabrera-3B-DET

And now for the debate that has neither end nor answer: Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera. This is now the second year in a row that Cabrera has beat out Trout for this award. It’s a question of offensive prowess vs. five-tool player. The answer however, does get clearer, at least for this season, if you look closer at the season. Cabrera led the MLB in batting average and broke his personal record by hitting .348, 18 points higher from his historic triple crown last season. He hit the same 44 homeruns as in 2012, and would have led the league in that category as well had it not been for the emergence of Chris Davis. He had 2 less RBI than last season but still put up the ridiculous amount of 137. He also led in OBP (.442) and slugging percentage (.636). And he did it all while injured. Cabrera had been suffering from multiple injuries dating all the way back to June. The most serious of these was a groin injury that required surgery this offseason. Had he not been injured, it’s very possible we could have been talking about a second straight triple crown. That is an argument that is just about impossible to look past. It’s true that Trout has the advantage in defense, stolen bases, extra-base hits and some of the new sabermetrics that analysts and scouts like to look at. However, many people consider the success of the team as a whole an important factor in MVP voting and in that aspect the Tigers were much better than the Angels. Looking at all of these factors it is clear that Cabrera deserved to win, and with a greater margin than his victory last year. And he’s only 30. Cabrera will be giving pitchers nightmares for many more years to come.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

2013 National League Award Winners

By Ben Ozur

One of the most underrated times of the sports year- the MLB offseason. All of the blockbuster trades and huge names signing with new teams as free agents, wow. It’s also fun to discuss and debate different awards that players won or should have won. I don’t think we’ll see as many angry discrepancies this year as we did last year with the AL MVP race, but it’s still been a fun ride. Today, I will be reminding you who won each of the major awards in the National League. For each of the awards (with the exception of the first 2, because there are just too many winners for me to defend or fight each one), I will explain who I believe should have won and why. I only disagree with one, but I will still explain the reasoning behind each.

Gold Gloves [position- player (team) (# award)]

P- Adam Wainwright (STL) (2)

C- Yadier Molina (STL) (6)

1B- Paul Goldschmidt (Ari) (1)

2B- Brandon Phillips (Cin) (4)

3B- Nolan Arenado (Col) (1)

SS- Andrelton Simmons (Atl) (1) *also won Rawlings Platinum Glove

LF- Carlos Gonzalez (Col) (3)

CF- Carlos Gomez (Mil) (1)

RF- Gerardo Parra (Ari) (2) *also Wilson Defensive Player of the Year

Silver Sluggers [position- player (team) (# award)]

P- Zach Greinke (LAD) (1)

C- Yadier Molina (STL) (1)

1B- Paul Goldschmidt (Ari) (1)

2B- Matt Carpenter (STL) (1)

3B- Pedro Alvarez (Pit) (1)

SS- Ian Desmond (Wsh) (2)

OF- Andrew McCutchen (Pit) (2)

OF- Michael Cuddyer (Col) (1)

OF- Jay Bruce (Cin) (2)

Andrew McCutchen took home a Silver Slugger Award and the NL MVP (Via SI)

Andrew McCutchen took home a Silver Slugger Award and the NL MVP (Via SI)

Comeback Player of the Year

Who won: Francisco Liriano (Pit)

My pick: Liriano

Hard to have a better individual story than Liriano. Coming up with the Twins as a co-ace with Johan Santana, Liriano showed great poise. Throughout his Minnesota tenure, he was seen as one of the top pitchers in the AL, including a 2011 no-hitter against the White Sox. Then came 2012, and Liriano just looked lost. He got demoted to the bullpen and eventually was traded to those same White Sox. His ERA for the year sat above 5, and when the Pirates signed him as a free agent, everyone questioned what they were thinking. What they were thinking was that he could return to his early Twins form, and he did just that. You’d be hard-pressed to argue against Liriano for this award.

Rookie of the Year

Who won: Jose Fernandez (Mia)

My pick: Fernandez

I get it; Yasiel Puig was a national sensation since his call-up in early June. His numbers suggested he could’ve been an All-Star, despite only having one month of big league experience (I completely disagree with this belief, but that argument is for a different time). Pretty much any other year and Puig would be the hands-down ROY. But not this year. Shelby Miller was also an excellent story, winning the 5th spot in the rotation on the last day of Spring Training over best friend Joe Kelly. What people will always remember about his season was his game against the Rockies, when, after giving off a single to lead off the game, he retired the next 27 consecutive batters. He may also be remembered for only pitching one inning in the entire postseason as a way to make it seem like he wasn’t actually shut down when he really was. If he was in the American League, he’d definitely win this award. But neither of these two finalists stood a chance against Jose Fernandez. Had it not been for a guy named Kershaw, he’d probably win the Cy Young award too. Like Miller, he won the last spot in the rotation at the end of spring training, and only because of injuries in the rotation to Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi. He only pitched above A-ball in 2012, but you couldn’t tell by watching him this season. With a 5.79 H/9 ratio to lead the MLB, an elite 9.7 K/9, and the second lowest ERA in the majors at 2.19, it can clearly be seen that, this wasn’t just one of the best rookie seasons of all-time, this was one of the best pitched season in many years (well, of course, besides Kershaw’s year this year). If anybody saw him at the All-Star game this year, there wasn’t a pitcher that made you say “wow” like the way everyone did for Fernandez. His stuff was absolutely electric, like it was all year. And, oh by the way, his 1.19 home EAR ain’t too shabby either. And keep this in perspective: the only 2 players younger than Fernandez to make their MLB debut with the Marlins – Miguel Cabrera and Mike (at the time) Stanton. Either of those guys sound familiar?

Manager of the Year

Who won: Clint Hurdle (Pit)

My pick: Hurdle

The Pirates were the most fun team to follow this year. After 21 consecutive losing seasons, a North American professional sports record, and after not making any huge offseason moves (with the exception of acquiring Mark Melancon from Boston in the Joel Hanrahan trade), the Pirates were again expected to settle towards the bottom of the NL Central. A team that starts and ends with Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates were seen as a one-man team to begin the season. Clint Hurdle turned this team’s attitude around. He made each of the other 24 guys on that team feel as important as the runner-runner-up for the NL MVP in 2013. They all stepped up, and the Pirates were a huge success. They finished in 2nd place in the division, earning the first Wild Card spot. They beat the Reds in the Wild Card game and took the eventual NL Champion Cardinals to the maximum 5 games of the NLDS. This team had all of the fight in the world, and Clint Hurdle deserves much of that credit. Fredi Gonzalez and Don Mattingly were worthy finalists for the award, but neither could possibly be seen as a more deserving winner for this award than the Pirates’ skipper.

Cy Young

Who won: Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

My pick: Kershaw

Dare I even make an argument about this one? Saying that anyone but Kershaw is deserving of the award is like voluntarily running into a cage of hungry tigers; you’d be incredibly stupid to do so. He was the only pitcher with an ERA under 2 (at 1.83). That’s not a typo, either. He also led the NL with 232 strikeouts and the MLB with a .915 WHIP. Having this discussion is just silly, really. It seems that the only person who wouldn’t agree with this is the only writer who didn’t give him a first-place vote. (Ironically enough, he gave that vote to Adam Wainwright. This guy is the writer for the Cincinnati Reds.)

MVP

Who won: Andrew McCutchen (Pit)

My pick: Paul Goldschmidt (Ari)

Just to start off: the one argument I don’t want to hear about who is a more deserving MVP is whoever has the highest WAR. If the player with the highest WAR in the league is the MVP, then Ben Zobrist would be a two-time AL MVP. Yes, Ben Zobrist. And Carlos Gomez would be the NL MVP this year. I don’t think anyone would agree with either of those statements (sorry, Rays and Brewers fans).

This is a nice debate. This wasn’t a runaway contest by any stretch of the imagination – or at least it shouldn’t have been. It’s not outrageous that Goldschmidt didn’t win it, but I think he was easily the most deserving candidate. What was outrageous, however, was that he didn’t even receive a single first-place vote! He led the NL in HRs, RBIs, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, total bases, OPS, OPS+, and intentional walks. He was also 4th in the NL in hits, on-base percentage and plate appearances, 3rd in walks, tied for 3rd in runs scored, and 2nd in runs created and AB/HR. He was also one of only 4 players in the MLB to earn both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger (Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Yadier Molina). And let’s put the argument that only playoff-bound players are eligible for this award. He cannot affect what his team could do. (By the way, if you want to make the argument that he can affect his offense, the Diamondbacks actually scored 51 more runs than the Pirates. The Pirates’ pitching is the only reason they made it to the playoffs.) Paul Goldschmidt is at the top or very close to it in so many offensive categories that it is nearly impossible to say that he wasn’t a better offensive player that McCutchen. He also won a Gold Glove, unlike McCutchen, so his defense was actually better, too. Yadier Molina also had a phenomenal season, but he didn’t play enough games to get much of my consideration. When you put it all together, it should be clear that Goldschmidt should’ve won the award, and maybe even ran away with it.

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Thursday Night Football Preview: Colts vs Titans

By Matthew Wieselthier

It took a while, but we finally have a seriously important Thursday Night Football Game.  This week, the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) visit the Tennessee Titans (4-5) in a crucial AFC South matchup.

Since beating the previously undefeated Denver Broncos in Week 7, the Colts haven’t looked the same, escaping Houston with a comeback win versus the Texans in Week 9 and getting demolished at home by the St. Louis Rams.  The Colts look to expand the running game with Trent Richardson and Donald Brown, but in the end this team relies on their QB, Andrew Luck.  Luck has been sacked 7 times in the past two games and has been running for his life all season with his pocket collapsing.  He has also had a great deal of issues since losing his favorite WR Reggie Wayne to a season-ending ACL injury.

Andrew Luck leads his troops into Tennessee for a Thursday night matchup (Via AP)

Andrew Luck leads his troops into Tennessee for a Thursday night matchup (Via AP)

The Titans are right on the outside of the playoff picture in the AFC at the moment.  Their big issue has been the health of their quarterback.  A 3-1 start to the season with QB Jake Locker is just a thing of the past.  Locker has been on and off the bench with injuries and his replacement, former Bills starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, has not been a suitable replacement.  The team does have one offensive thing to be happy with, and that comes in the revival of their star RB Chris Johnson, who has started to come back to life this season.

Both teams are in need for a win.  The Titans to stay in the AFC Wild Card Race and the Colts to raise their confidence back up since their upset of the Broncos.  The Colts will leave the Volunteer State with a victory in this AFC South matchup, 27-17.

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Matthew Wieselthier is the Sports Director at WPOB 88.5 FM, Plainview.  He is also the PA announcer at all sporting events at POBJFKHS.  You can follow him on twitter at @wieselsports66.

Ed Reed to the Jets

By Brett Malamud

Yes, you read that correctly. Nine-time pro-bowler safety Ed Reed agreed to a contract Thursday morning with the New York Football Jets. The move comes one day after Reed cleared waivers, after being released by the Houston Texans. The 35 year old will reunite with his former coach, Rex Ryan, who was with him in Baltimore. Ryan has always praised Reed in the past, calling him “the best safety that’s ever played.”

Ed Reed meets with the media Thursday afternoon. (Via Kimberly Martin/Newsday)

Ed Reed meets with the media Thursday afternoon. (Via Kimberly Martin/Newsday)

The Jets are currently 5-4 and are coming off their bye week. At the moment, the Jets hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. They will play the 3-7 Buffalo Bills on Sunday and Reed will be available to play. The following week should be interesting, as the Jets will head into M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to play the Ravens. In what should make for a good storyline, Ed Reed will play his second career game against his former team. Reed will play alongside Jets safeties Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry (another ex-Raven), although it is not clear who will be the starters. The addition for Gang Green should definitely help though as the J-E-T-S continue their playoff chase.

Was signing Reed a good move for the Jets? Let us know in the poll and in the comments.

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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy