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A Tribute to Derek Jeter

By Brett Malamud

The day that Yankees fans have been dreading for the entire season is finally here. Tonight, Derek Jeter will take the Yankee Stadium field for the final time. After being officially eliminated from playoff contention in yesterday’s game, today’s game will strictly be about Jeter. I view the loss yesterday as a positive thing because in my mind, the Yankees have been out of the playoff hunt for a few weeks now. By losing yesterday, it allows the Yankees a final night at home in which they can properly honor and thank their captain. Could you imagine if they won yesterday and their playoff hopes were still alive? There would be no focus on Jeter, but rather the game, which of course is the way Derek would want it. But instead it’ll give fans a night that they’ll probably remember for the rest of their lives.

The Yankees have been doing a promotion called “#OneWordFor2” in which fans, players, and managers describe Derek Jeter in one word. While I don’t think I can only come up with one word, I’d like to give a few words that best describe Derek.
Heart
I’ve never seen a athlete play his sport with more heart than Derek Jeter. Day in and day out, Jeter gives it his all. From hustling on every ground ball, to that iconic fist pump, nobody has more heart than him, and nobody ever will.
 
Legend
Jeter will most likely be a first ballot hall of famer, and could very well be the first player to be unanimously voted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame. His five rings help him with this category too.
 
Two
There’s only one number two out there that people will remember and that’s Derek Jeter. When his number is retired by the team (next season?), It’ll mark the final single digit number to be retired by the Yankees.
 
Yankees
When I think of the Yankees, my first thought is Derek Jeter. Derek has been the face of the Yankees for twenty years. He’s been a Yankees fan for his entire life, even when growing up in Michigan. Derek also puts the Yankees before himself, and doesn’t like being the lone man in the spotlight. When asked about himself, he’s been known to always bring it back to the team. In fact, he announced his retirement online so that it didn’t have to be all about him.
 
Irreplaceable
Sure Jeter can be replaced when looking at this season’s statistics, but there’s never going to be a player of his class, attitude and demeanor. The way Jeter handles himself on and off the field cannot be replicated. Many players try to mold their characters based on Jeter, but nobody can truly be the same.
Derek Jeter will finish an iconic career this weekend (Via Getty)

Derek Jeter will finish an iconic career this weekend (Via Getty)

I’ve been a bit upset over the past few days, watching Derek play out the homestretch of his career. Derek Jeter has been my favorite athlete for my entire life. I’ve never watched a Yankees team that didn’t have Jeter on the roster. Derek has been a huge inspiration to me both on and off the field. Watching the Yankees play while Jeter was injured last year was a bit tough, and I knew that Jeter’s career would be soon be over, but he taught me to never give up and to battle back when the odds are against you. He taught me to put the team before yourself, and that if you try hard enough, your dreams will come true. Tonight marks the end of an era, for both Derek and myself. Derek will always be my role model, and I’m always striving to be the kind of person that he is. He will always be my favorite athlete, and I’ll miss him dearly.
So with all of that, here’s my top ten favorite Derek Jeter moments:
10. 6/3/03- The Captain Becomes The Captain 
Derek was named the 11th Yankees captain in history, and would go on to be the Yankees’ longest tenured captain.
9. 7/28/13- Back with a Bang
Jeter came back from injury last season by crushing the first pitch he saw for a home run.
8. Jeffery Maier
I’ll never forget this moment either. Thank god there wasn’t instant replay at that time.
7. 9/21/08- The Final Game at Yankee Stadium
Derek gave one of the most memorable speeches you’ll ever see.
6. 7/9/11- 3000th Hit
Derek took David Price deep and homered for his 3000th hit.
5. 11/1/01- Mr. November
A huge walkoff home run that took place just after midnight on November 1, earning Derek the nickname, Mr. November.
4. 10/13/01- The Flip
I remember watching this game live on television and at the age of 7, I knew that it was one of the greatest defensive plays I’d ever see.
3. 7/1/04- The Dive
One of the more iconic plays that I’ll remember. It came in one of the greatest regular season games you’ll ever watch.
2. 2000 World Series
One of the first World Series in which I watched every out of every game. In first grade, the Yankees-Mets rivalry was strong, and so I knew it would be a series that I’d remember. Of course, my guy Derek won the MVP in that series and I didn’t have to bother with the Mets fans in school.
1. 9/11/09- Hit Number 2722
An excerpt from my Letter to Derek Jeter: “No hit will be bigger to me than hit number 2722. It came on September 11, 2009, the eight-year anniversary of the tragic attacks. It drizzled all afternoon and the game was in danger of not being played. I came home from school that day and my dad surprised me with tickets. I was so excited and I ran to my room to put on my Derek Jeter jersey. This could be the night that Derek passes Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees all time-hit leader. But as I hopped in the car, the drizzle became worse and my dad said, “I think we should turn around and go home.” I grew upset. “No!” I replied. “We have to go. If there’s a rain delay, we’ll just walk around the stadium. We have to go! It’s Derek Jeter and he has a chance to make history.” My dad complied and we proceeded to Yankee Stadium. There was a rain delay but we waited it out. You hit the ball down the right field line, and history was made. That is one moment I will never forget and I’m thankful that I was a there to see it in person.”

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

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Belief In Queens?

By Jack Allen
Going into the 2014 season, New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson expected 90 wins coming from his ball club. As a fan, your mindset is very different. Since 2008 (The last winning season for the Mets) the Mets have struggled. They have made few strides and have had some, but extremely memorable glorious moments. First, the inaugural season at Citi Field in 2009, Johan Santana throwing their first no-hitter, and some great young starting pitching such as Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Jeremy Hefner.

In 2009 the Mets finished 70-92. In 2010 they finished 79-83, 2011 they finished 77-85, in 2012 they finished 74-88 and the same in 2013. So if you’re a fan you might expect the team to get to .500, maybe clinch a wild card playoff birth. 90 wins might seem like a stretch. On July 2nd, the Mets were sitting at 37-48. Since then they’ve gone 12-7. Putting them at 49-55 giving them a realistic chance for a possible wild card birth. They currently sit 7.0 games back in the wild card to their division rival Atlanta Braves. With plenty of baseball to be played (58 games), the Mets having small margin for error. They turn to Jacob deGrom today to go for the series split in Milwaukee to close out a ten game road trip


 

Jack Allen is a writer for dabuzzza.com. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Queens Park Rangers, and West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball. His favorite athletes are David Wright, John Tavares, Geno Smith, Allen Iverson and Charlie Austin. He is a very passionate and determined fan. You can follow him on twitter @JackAllen99.

Two Top Mets Prospects To Debut Against Yankees

By Dan Lagnado

The Mets have decided that the time is right to begin bringing up their top young pitchers. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will start the two Subway Series games at Citi Field. Montero was recalled and Jenrry Mejia pushed to the bullpen when Gonzalez Germen was placed on the DL with a virus. deGrom was supposed to make his debut out of the bullpen but in a surprising twist, the Mets placed Dillon Gee on the disabled list as well, creating an opening for deGrom in the rotation. These decisions are both aggressive and surprising.

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In years past, the Mets have lasted into later in the season before calling up their top pitcher. This was the case in both 2012 and 2013 when the team was handling Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler very carefully. In addition to potential innings limits, the delayed call-ups also delayed free agency for the player by a year. With both Montero and deGrom coming up in mid-May it is likely that they will both face arbitration a year early.

These moves, along with the promotions of Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell show that the Mets want to be competitive this year. This is another stark difference from the past few years. There was no reason to rush Harvey or Wheeler to the bigs because there was nothing to play for. So despite the team’s struggles (though the permanent struggles didn’t set in until later in the year) were not as big of a deal. The Mets have been planning for the future for a long time and the facts are that the future is almost here.

Despite the arrivals of Montero and deGrom, don’t expect to see the biggest gun around Queens just yet. With the arrivals of two young pitchers, the need for arms has been filled. That means Noah Syndergaard is destined for a few more months in Las Vegas. Of course his arrival could be accelerated if an injury occurs, even then it is unlikely as the Mets have both Mejia and Daisuke Matsuzaka who are capable of starting in an emergency.

When Gee and Germen return from the DL, the Mets will have a decision to make. Two players will need to be removed from the roster if to make room for Montero and deGrom. The likely targets will be the struggling veterans in the bullpen: Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth. They earned an extra two weeks in Queens but only time will tell what Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson choose to do.

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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

MLB Staff Picks

The smell of peanuts and cracker jacks is in the air. After 152 days since the Red Sox walked off the field as champions, baseball is back. Our picks are in for this year’s fall classic. Here they are:

Writer

Pick

Brett Malamud

 I’m taking the Yankees over the Dodgers. Both teams have proven this offseason that they want to win now. The Yankees unloaded after missing the playoffs by opening their checkbook and spending close to $500 million. The additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka immediately make the Yankees a legitimate threat. But don’t think they’re the only team spending the big bucks. The Dodgers passed the Yankees for the MLB’s highest payroll, ending the Yankees 15 year streak, by spending $235 million this season. All and all I’d say Derek Jeter better start spreading the news that his final season will end with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Sam Breiter

 As an extremely optimistic Mets fan with nothing but the highest expectations, I’m always going to take my team. So along with my Mets, I’m taking the rival Yankees. The Mets have young talent in there rotation, and a growing lineup. They may make a huge move by the deadline, and Zach Wheeler will suprise people this year. Yankees, because they spent money this offseason and are clearly doing anything to win a year after missing the playoffs

Dan Lagnado

 In the NL I’ll take the Dodgers and in the AL I’ll take Detroit. Dodgers win a six game series behind Kershaw and Greinke who each win two games

Josh Halilej

 Tigers over Cardinals. Lots of solid pitching between the two of them. I think Justin Verlander comes back big this year and comes out as the Tigers’ #1 with Rick Porcello having an awesome year too finishing ahead of Max Scherzer in the pitching rotation. The Cards are going to need Yadier Molina to manage the pitching staff well, but they just don’t have the overall offensive firepower that Detroit does with the addition of Ian Kinsler. Watch out for the Rangers though if they can have someone aside from Yu Darvish step up in their rotation.

Seth Schuster

 Red Sox over Dodgers. Only a little bit of bias plays into this one…Both are great teams with amazing young talent. With the recent resurgence of John Lackey, John Lester, a healthy Clay Buchholz, and a young and very talented Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox will be the 2014 World Series Champions. With the leadership of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli, look for the Sox to make a push for the repeat.

Ben Ozur

 Rays vs Dodgers. There’s no explanation for why the Rays are good every year, but the undeniable fact is that they are. However nobody is on the Dodgers level in terms of overall talent. Despite multiple holes including infield depth and major league ready pitchers in the minors, their superstar talent everywhere else will cover that up.

Ryan Gillman

 Dodgers over Tigers. The Dodgers are armed with a wealth of talent and the largest payroll in history. Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

Sam  Iryami

 Nationals vs Tigers. Nationals win. The Nationals have the best pitching rotation in baseball with the front four being Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister. Pitching wins games. Although the Tigers have a great all around team, the team is full of veterans. However, they are definitely a contender for the World Series because of their many stars such as Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Max Scherzer. Both teams have unbelievable pitching and hitting, but I have the Nationals taking home the trophy in this one.

Zach Pokorny

 Dodgers vs Angels, but I’d pick the Angels because Mike Trout is amazing
Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

We hope everyone enjoys Opening Day and stays locked in to Dabuzzza here and on our twitter page this MLB season. We know we will.

2014 MLB Predictions

By Dan Lagnado

National League

East: Washington Nationals

Coming off a disappointing season in which the Nats were 10 games behind the first place Braves, I expect a bounce back season and 95+ wins from the Nationals. An improved starting rotation with the addition of Doug Fister and a lineup without a weakness, the Nats and first year manager Matt Williams can make a run in the playoffs.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Last year’s National League champions continue their regular season success led by a batch of young starters. The loss of Carlos Beltran is minimized by the arrival of Jhonny Peralta and the Cardinals have a good chance to defend their title.

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers simply have too much firepower to not win this division. They won the division by 11 games last season and there is no reason for them not to repeat unless the team is decimated by injury.

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Clayton Kershaw hopes to lead the Dodgers deep into the playoffs this year (Via USA Today)

Wild Card 1: Cincinnati Reds

The NL Central is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball with three teams making the playoffs last year. I think the Reds jump up a spot from WC 2 to WC 1 in the upcoming season behind the strength of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Another reason for the improvement is that Pittsburgh’s dream run last year does not have the same impact this time around and they drop off enough for the Reds to overtake them down the stretch.

Wild Card 2: San Francisco Giants

In a bounce back year the Giants will finish second in their division and take the second Wild Card position. The starting rotation will return to its former glory and the addition of Tim Hudson will add stability to a rotation that already contains Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

American League

East: Boston Red Sox

This was not an easy decision but in the end I have to stay with the defending champions. A solid pitching rotation returns intact and the playoff experience will help this team retain their division title.

Central: Detroit Tigers

Even with injuries to Jose Iglesias, the Tigers are still the team to beat in the AL Central. Miguel Cabrera is coming back healthy and new acquisition Ian Kinsler will provide a big boost at second base. Joe Nathan will provide a boost at the back of the bullpen and Justin Verlander should be back healthy.

West: Texas Rangers

The arrival of Prince Fielder and Alex Rios and the first full season of Jurikson Profar will key the Rangers to a division title. Yu Darvish looks to follow up a dominant year and cement himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a competitive division that goes down the wire, the Rangers will edge out the division.

Wild Card 1: Oakland Athletics

The A’s continue their recent success by locking up another playoff birth, this time by Wild Card. Despite injuries to the starting rotation, Oakland does have enough young pitching to get them through the season effectively.

Wild Card 2: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels’ power bats finally get it together and make it into the postseason. Mike Trout once again will be one of the best in the league and Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols finally get it together in the American League to carry the Angels to success.

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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

The Eventual Impact of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard

By Dan Lagnado

By now it is no secret that the Mets have significant depth when it comes to starting pitching. As it shapes up now, the projected rotation to start the season will consist of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan (most likely). Matt Harvey has announced via Twitter (@MattHarvey33) that he intends to pitch in 2014. Jeremy Hefner will also be returning from Tommy John Surgery this summer. And we all know that Montero and Syndergaard will be added to the rotation this season as well.

That gives the Mets five more starters than they need. So the question is who’s low on the totem pole and ends up wearing a different jersey in 2015 and who stays to take on other roles?

Let’s assume that Harvey returns to his typical self, following his rehab. He clearly stays in the rotation as the ace. If Wheeler’s development goes as it should and he improves in his first full pro season he will also remain in the rotation. Jon Niese was given a 5-year extension in 2012 and so will be under contract for 3 more seasons. I don’t see him going anywhere as long as he stays mostly healthy. Bartolo Colon was just given a 2-year contract this past offseason. At age 40+ there’s no guarantee he chooses to stay for the second year but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, I can’t see him choosing to retire. Syndergaard and Montero are both considered highly touted prospects. Syndergaard gets more of the hype but Montero will be called up sooner. The rumors are that Syndergaard is untouchable so he’ll be with the team. What does this mean for Rafael Montero? I don’t see the Mets parting with such a big talent. He can easily take Colon’s starting spot when that contract expires or if someone is moved. Jeremy Hefner has shown the ability to come out of the bullpen and pitch well so he might be moved there when he returns. Matsusaka and Lannan most likely will not be sticking around. One of them will either agree to go the minors to start the year or void their contract and the other will be either sent down or released when Montero is called up. Dillon Gee is an interesting case. He pitched pretty well last season and if he pitches as well this year he could be trade bait around the deadline. The Mets could certainly get a decent prospect in a position of need for Gee and there are always teams looking for quality starting pitching. Jenrry Mejia could also be used as a piece in a trade. He is competing for the 5th starter sport this spring and has shown that he has a lively arm. He’s also still a young, raw talent despite previous arm troubles.

So what are we looking at for 2015? The starting rotation could looks something like this:

  • Matt Harvey
  • Zack Wheeler
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Jon Niese
  • Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero

I can understand some of you might ask, “would the Mets consider trading Niese as well? He’s more of a proven major league talent maybe you could get more for him”. Well it’s possible of course, but in my opinion it’s important to have a lefty in your starting rotation, especially because of how often the Mets have to deal with Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman and Adam LaRoche.

So there you have it. This is what the Mets must do with an extreme excess of starting pitching in an organization that is just about ready to compete in a top-heavy division.

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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

2014 New York Yankees Preview

By Christian Pierre-Louis

Welcome back baseball fans!

The 2014 season is upon us and we have all waited patiently for the national pastime to begin once again. The New York Yankees open up spring training today down in Tampa, Florida and for the first time since 2009 there are a number of questions with this team. As you should know at this point, the face of the Yankees, heck, probably the face of baseball for the past two decades, Derek Jeter plans to retire at the end of this upcoming season. Who will replace him is one of the many questions that needs to be examined as the team opens up camp.

The 2013 season was one full of frustration for the team and the legendary shortstop who only played 17 games coming off of a fractured ankle. One thing to look out for is whether or not he can stay healthy in his final season. He has work tirelessly this offseason to heal and gain strength back in his lower body, but at the same time he will be 40 years young this June and he cannot play every day in the field as he used to. The Yankees need to find another option at short just in case the injury bug comes back to bite Jeter. Is that answer Eduardo Nunez? The young infielder hit .260 with three home runs and 28 RBI last season, but he struggled in the field.

Another option the Yankees could go is to sign free agent SS, Stephen Drew. The shortstop is still without a home this season after helping the Red Sox win the World Series last year. Although he batted .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI, he is great in the field and a good clubhouse guy. Whether or not the Yanks will reach out to him we will soon see.

The losses of many important players from last year’s team will impact this year’s team greatly. Mariano Rivera, who was the greatest security blanket in the history of finishing ballgames, is gone; Andy Pettitte, who was one of the most consistent, reliable Yankee pitchers to begin ballgames, is gone; Robinson Cano, who came up through the system as a teenager and blossomed into one of the most valuable players in the game, is gone. The infield is unresolved and troublesome; as of now Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson are starting at second and third respectively. Roberts used to be one of the best second basemen in the league, but he has spent much of the last five years on the DL. Kelly Johnson is a good defender, but at times his offense is a little suspect. Also, how will Mark Teixera come back? He injured his right wrist during preparations for the World Baseball Classic and was eventually diagnosed with a partially torn tendon sheath. He hit .151 in just 15 games before undergoing season-ending surgery on July 1.

With all that said, still the Yankees could win 95 games in 2014.

The front office has spent half a billion (!!!) dollars this offseason to put a winning product on the field and they expect no less than a championship with this roster even with all the losses stated above.

The outfield is outstanding with the additions of Jacboy Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, also holdovers such as Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano will be key in the success of this team. Beltran is one of the best clutch hitters in this generation and Ellsbury wreaks havoc on the bases. Soriano’s power will be much needed again this season and the combination of Gardner and Ellsbury will add a different dimension to the offense. The outfield defense is now much improved now that two of the fastest players in the league will patrol left and center. Beltran is no slouch in right as he has a rocket from out there and can gun people out. Behind the plate, the Yankees added Brian McCann this offseason and he is a major upgrade for this team. His offensive numbers will be like nothing we have seen in the past few years at that position for the Yanks. His leadership and fire will help the team and the young pitchers on the staff such as, Tanaka, Pineda, and Nova.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has put together another contender in 2014 (Via Getty Images)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has put together another contender in 2014 (Via Getty Images)

Speaking of the pitching, the starting rotation has questions to answer themselves. How will star free agent signee, Masahiro Tanaka, translate to the MLB? Will CC Sabathia return to form? What version of Hiroki Kuroda will we see; the one pre August 15th or after? Well, it all starts with Sabathia, who struggled last season with different injuries and ended the season on the DL. He and Kuroda will have to perform to take the pressure off of Tanaka. Ivan Nova should look to continue his success off of last season and continue to develop into a quality pitcher. Following Nova will be a combination of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno all fighting for the 5th spot. The best scenario would be for Pineda to get it because he is only a few years removed from being considered one of the best young pitchers in the game.

The bullpen also has questions and has competition between at least a dozen unproven names. David Robertson has been given the role of closer following Rivera. Clearly, fans cannot expect him to duplicate what Mo did, but he can be a quality closer if he limits his walks and locates his pitches. Now, who will replace Robertson as the set-up man? That spot is up for grabs, but as of now it looks like Shawn Kelly will get the opportunity. His stuff is at times electric, but he looked tired by the end of last season, so time will tell. The Yankees also signed Matt Thornton, who before his arm trouble was a great reliever for the White Sox.

The 2014 Yankees team is one of promise, but also one that is full of questions. It will be very interesting how this team unfolds this spring going into the season. All the hype and attention will be on Tanaka and Jeter, but it will be the role players that will define this team and help lead them to a 28th World Series.

Here is a look at the potential team roster on opening day:

Lineup        Player         POS

1       Jacoby Ellsbury    OF

2       Derek Jeter                   SS

3       Carlos Beltran     OF

4       Brian McCann      C

5       Alfonso Soriano   DH

6       Mark Teixera        1B

7       Kelly Johnson       3B

8       Brian Roberts      2B

9       Brett Gardner      OF

Possible Starters:

Starter        Player         POS

1       CC Sabathia        SP

2       Masahiro Tanaka SP

3       Hiroki Kuroda      SP

4       Ivan Nova            SP

5       David Phelps       SP

6       Michael Pineda     SP

Closers/Setup:

Player                 POS

David Robertson  RP

Shawn Kelley       RP

Matt Thornton     RP

Bench Hitters (may include/exclude guys not on 25-man roster):

Player                  POS

Ichiro Suzuki       OF

Brendan Ryan      INF

Eduardo Nunez    INF

Francisco Cervelli         C

Austin Romine     C

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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.