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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie Watch

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Fantasy Football Rookie Watch
By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Justin Davis

This years draft was less than desirable for offensive skill positions but that doesn’t mean that some solid fantasy players aren’t out there. In standard draft leagues, depending on the site and type of league, a fantasy team consist of 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, 1 flex position (either RB or WR), 1 Tight End, 1 Kicker, 1 Defense, and 5 bench players. Now you cant draft a defense and kickers are usually late picks or undrafted so its not really important to cover them for fantasy football but the other positions can make or break your team.  The last two years have been pretty awesome for rookie quarterbacks with wide-outs and tight ends doing pretty will and the running backs being a bit less productive.  This year is going to be completely opposite so lets take a look at our skilled position players that can possibly impact your fantasy team this year.

Unfortunately, if you find yourself looking for a quarterback in late rounds this year, stay away from the rookies. A solid fantasy football player should already have a starting quarterback in the first 3 rounds or so anyways if your playing in a league that awards quarterbacks 6 points for a touchdown and there is no rookie QB that’s going to be on that level. As of now it looks like the only rookie quarterbacks that even have a chance of being starters this year are E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, and Matt Barkley. Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley are probably only going to get to be starters later in the season if Josh Freeman and Mike Vick start to suck it up, which is a high possibility, but they have virtually no chance of being opening day starters.

E.J Manuel will probably have a few games here and there with decent numbers but I don’t see him being a starter in fantasy football unless your normal guy is in a bye week. Hes probably worth taking as a last bench pick or in free agency if he’s still around if your normal bench QB gets hurt. E.J. has a pretty strong arm with decent accuracy but has been said to stare down targets and give away his throws because of the hitch in his delivery, giving the defender an extra second to get the jump on the ball. Manuel threw 18 interceptions in his last 2 years starting at Florida State which isn’t impressive playing in the ACC so I think his number this year, if he plays all 16 games, will be around 20. Nothing makes a fantasy team owner more mad than a fumble or several interceptions in a game and that’s what your going to get with Manuel. He does have the potential to throw for a decent amount of yards and touchdowns considering he has Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Scott Chandler, and Robert Woods to throw to so I think he might throw for around 3200 yards or so and maybe 20-25 touchdowns. All in all E.J. is probably going to get you around 15 points a game in a high scoring format and isn’t worth taking this year.

Geno Smith is the only other quarterback that may start all 16 games this year and that’s not going to be determined until more than likely a few days before the start of the season. With the thought that Geno will be the opening day starter, he still isn’t worth having as a number 3 quarterback on the bench that you will never use. I personally like Geno but he has absolutely nobody to throw to, no running game, and no line. The Jets did pick up a few linemen in the draft but nobody to help out in the running game and no extra receivers. Best scenario for Geno is if the young corps of backs show up this year with the addition of Chris Ivory, Santonio Holmes shows up like he knows how to, and Stephen Hill makes some noise. If that happens, Geno still isn’t worth taking but he could have a couple solid games throughout the season. The line is going to suck and allow for Geno to get pressured and have to play on the run most of the time. Geno is good at screen passes and quick throws, not looking for targets down field while rolling out and that is what hes going to have to do this year. Smith is known for being rattled under pressure and what more pressure is there than playing in NY for the great Rex Ryan and the circus that is the Jets. Stay away from Geno unless hes the only starter left in the league when you need a quarterback and even then, he might get you negative points.

Running Backs
Running backs might make some noise this year as we should have a few rookies getting an ample amount of starting time. I’m not going to cover the 3rd down backs and backups because there will probably be 8-10 of those guys this year from the draft but there should be a few actual starting guys with potential.

First up is Giovani Bernard who has a real chance at being a top running back in fantasy football. Bernard led the ACC in yards per game last year with 122.8, finished 3rd on his team in receptions with 47, and finish 4th in the nation in all-purpose yards with 198.1. With that being said he has shown that he is injury prone and might have some durability issues missing a few games last year with a knee injury and missed his entire 2010 season with a torn ACL. I think he is going to be fine this year and if he is, snatch him up as a number 2 or flex back option. The Bengals have just gotten better the last 2 years and this year shouldn’t be any different. Bernard has the possibility to run for 1200 yards and probably receive for another 300-400. I would put him in the 12-15 PPG type of back this year which is pretty good and see him being picked up in the 7th-9th rounds.

Another guy that has potential to get you some points this year is Le’Veon Bell. What do you get when you have the Pittsburgh Steelers and a big, mean, nasty running back? That’s right, a possible top tier runner. Everyone knows that the Steelers want to run the ball down your throat and with Bells size and running style, that’s what there going to do. I think Bell is has potential to be a 4th-5th round guy and a solid number 2 back or possible number 1 if your in a pinch on draft day. The Steelers are going to work Bell every game with 20-25 carries and Bell is going to average at least 4 yards per carry. Add in the fact that the receiving corps just got worse in Pittsburgh and I think Bell can be a pro bowler this year if he stays healthy. I see him gaining around 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns if not a little more.

Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball are other guys that will probably be starters for the Packers and Broncos respectively, but I would draft either of the two. Both are playing for pass first offenses behind great quarterbacks with great receiving corps. Both will have games that give good numbers but overall neither will have great seasons numbers wise. Keep a watch out if their playing a terrible team and your in need of a one week back and then maybe take a chance, but don’t take either unless that type of scenario comes up.

Wide Receiver
This years draft held a ton of talent at the receiver position but with their being so many playing that position in the NFL every week putting up numbers, few will have seasons that possess fantasy numbers that will be worth you drafting. The 3 guys that can help your team this year are Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter.

Tavon Austin has potential to be a number 1 receiver in fantasy football. After the preseason is where we will see for sure but I think hes worth a chance at a top guy after your sure thing receivers are taken off the board. The Rams offense isn’t the worst in the world and with a new young backfield and the loss of Danny Amendola, Austin is the new guy in St. Louis. Sam Bradford should have more time to throw as the Rams have been upgrading their line for the last years and he is a very accurate QB who can chuck the ball down field. Don’t be surprised to see Austin end up with 100 catches and 10 TDs this year. His small frame at 5’9 174 pounds will let him slip threw the defense with speed but he need to put on about 15 pounds in the off season do be able to take those hits across the middle that the Rams need him to take.

Cordarrelle Patterson is a relatively underrated receiver out of Tennessee with some serious speed. This guy has great size at 6’2 216 pounds and ran his 40 in 4.33 seconds. Patterson came to Tennessee from a junior college in 2012 and lit it up with over 1,800 al purpose yards and 10 TD’s. The guy has all the talent, speed, and size to be great but he still needs work on his route running and that could lead to some missed connections. Regardless, the Vikings lost Sidney Rice this year and picked up Greg Jennings so Patterson should step in as their number two and be pretty productive. I see him getting around 800 receiving yards with 6 or so TD’s and maybe slip in a couple rushing TD’s throughout the year as well. Take him as a flex or a good bench receiver late in the draft and you wont be sorry.

Justin Hunter is a wild card in my eyes. The Tennessee Titans have the most dramatic receiving corps lately and Hunter is going to come in and change all of that. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt can never be counted on and this year I think Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter could emerge. Jake Locker has some experience under his belt now and has shown that he has what it takes to be a starter in the league so Hunter shouldn’t have to worry about a bad quarterback and he played locally at the University of Tennessee so the crowd should love him. Justin is a tall receiver at 6’4 but is weighing in under 200 pounds right now so he needs to put on some weight do go along with him big frame. At Tennessee he had a great freshman year followed by a torn ACL in his sophomore year but came right back last year with over 70 receptions and a 1000 yard season. Hunter should fit right in and take on a role as a down field threat as he is quick with a 4.35 40 time and he also won the state title 2 years in a row in high school in both the high jump and long jump. I can see Hunter being the next Julio Jones type and have a breakout rookie campaign. Depending on how the preseason goes and the depth chart, I see Justin going as a number 2 receiver in most fantasy formats with around 9-14 points per week.

Tight End
Tight Ends in the draft this year went pretty high, but most went to teams who already have a solid number one ahead of them. I really only see solid fantasy numbers coming out of 2 this year and one of them is probably not one that you would expect. The two guys I see making an impact off the bat this year are Tyler Eifert who went to the Bengals in the first round and Jordan Reed who was picked up in the 3rd from the Redskins.

Tyler Eifert has been projected to be the next big thing at the tight end position and I don’t have a reason not to agree. Going to the Bengals is a great place for him as he is going to a dynamic offense with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green plus the addition this year of Giovani Bernard. Dalton loves to chuck the ball down field to A.J. Green which is awesome but the problem is that he has been the only real threat on that receiving corps until now. Eifert is a huge target for Dalton now sitting at 6’6 250 pounds and has decent speed at a 4.65 40 time and has been commended for his great hands and ability to go up and snatch balls in tight spaces. Eifert will have an immediate impact in fantasy and would be worth a take as a number one tight end when your normal top tier tight ends have been taken. I could see him falling in around the 6-8 tight end taken and could fall to you late in the draft which would be a steal. Don’t be surprised to see Eifert with 80 catches and 8 touchdowns at the end of the season.

Jordan Reed is a wild card to me. He is going to a very dynamic offense that likes to stretch the field but will be playing behind Fred Davis. I see him having an immediate impact because the Redskins are trying to move to more two tight end sets and the wide receivers for the Skins are less than great. The Skins have Pierre Garcon but after that there is really no player that is consistent other than maybe Santana Moss who has injury issues and is at the end of his career. Fred Davis has finished his last two seasons under suspension from drugs and a torn ACL so his ability to stay on the field is uncertain. Davis also has gotten into trouble lately from getting into an altercation with a female in a night club so I don’t exactly trust his ability to make an impact when hes always in trouble. Reed is going to start off as a number two this year but will put up solid numbers on a team that can score on any possession and likes to get to tight ends in the end zone. Reed is constantly compared to Aaron Hernandez for his speed and athleticism and ability to be put into the slot which is another way Reed is going to get the ball. I think Reed could come out this year if he stays healthy with 700 plus yards and 7 TD’s. I see him as a solid backup in all fantasy formats and has the possibility on becoming your started a few weeks into the year.

Just like every year we will see guys that get drafted high and don’t produce as well as guys who get drafted late and make an immediate impact so projecting is always hard to do but these guys should be sure things. Rookie mini camps have started for 9 teams already and the season is gearing up so we will know soon if these guys pan out the way I project, or fall off the grid once the year starts.

An Ice Life - Officially Bunk

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An Ice Life - Officially Bunk
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Brian Peirce

This report is taken from the TSN.CA website and is credited to their staff:

Ottawa Senators defenceman Eric Gryba has been suspended two games by the National Hockey League for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller during Game 1 on Thursday.

Gryba caught Eller with a crunching hit at the blue line as the Canadiens forward was receiving a pass from defenceman Raphael Diaz.

Eller went airborne and slammed face-first down to the ice, leaving him bleeding profusely as trainers tended to him.

He left the ice on a stretcher and was taken to hospital with a concussion, facial fractures and dental fractures. He was expected to spend the night at the hospital, pending further observation.

Now if you haven’t seen it I am sure you can find it with a search, it was brutal. I decided to bring this up because I am in agreement with everyone else outside French Canada that this was a totally legal hit. Yet, someone in the NHL disagreed for some reason and many speculate that this has something to do with the also legal hit that Chara put on Max Pacioretty that got no suspension. I don’t single out the fans in Montreal as any different. I will be the first to note that there is some form of homer-ism for every single fan in every part of the world. Even the most diplomatic and highest profile hockey folks will find it hard to not find things more in line with the fan view. Montreal fans have a right to be mad about both hits, but it does not change that both were damage done by physics and not dirty hits.

I will say both were not totally clean, but both are 100% within the rules and clean to the extent that I do not for one second think at the speed of the game there was any design to hurt the opposing team. Yet, there is talk that there would be rioting if there was no suspension on one of the most clean hits I have ever seen. The feet were down the hips and shoulders made contact and the entire body hit Eller before his head whipped into what appears was Gryba’s back. He clearly lost his lucidity for a second and smashed his face hard into the ice, causing the most damage.

I write about this because that Montreal fans have the right to be pissed but it shouldn’t have happened as such. I can think of a dozen instances where clear mistakes in officiating or suspending have occurred in every way shape and form that caused much greater affect than the Montreal calls. I wish it wasn’t so hard to think of these instances, and I wish I couldn’t think of two instances of it in one series in this playoff round!

Here comes some more of my homer-ism. Please know that I am the type that will call out my own team and players honestly. I actually have been kicked off a hockey team for telling a ref the truth about a play that cost my team a goal. I am going to complain now about two non-calls against the Ducks against the Red Wings.

The first happened last night and nearly cost Detroit the hockey game and could have put them into a 0-2 hole. It was the most absurd no call I have ever seen and I only have seen it once because they haven’t shown it again anywhere and I can only assume that is because the league doesn’t want it under the microscope. I am pretty sure (my memory gets bad late at night when I am tired and angry) it was Corry Perry who late in a power play in the third period while down 4-2 who lost his stick. When losing that stick with about 16 seconds left in the power play went to the corner after a puck that Patrick Eaves was also going after. If he had his stick, it would have been his puck for sure but he didn’t have his stick.

He got to the puck to try to keep the play alive he grabbed Eaves stick with both of his free hands, and lifted the pick up preventing him from playing the puck. He lifted the stick so high up that the blade went above his head and Eaves fighting back almost got leveraged onto his backside as Perry kicked the puck leading to a goal seconds after the power play was over. We found out then that Perry is stronger than Eaves and the officials were not interested in calling a clear penalty at that moment for whatever reason. If they called the penalty the face-off would have been on the other side of the ice and when the goal was scored the Ducks would have been two seconds into being short handed, or more correctly, there would have been no goal scored. I strongly believe they didn’t call the penalty because the league prefers to give the team that is down a chance to get back in it for fear of bad ratings and looking to decide games.

The momentum gained and the way the Red Wings play with a lead made me immediately call that they would be playing in overtime. I think it is a fluke they didn’t lose the game and the series based solely on one really awful call. In fact, I have seen the Wings lose the Cup based upon a really bad call made based on making calls differently based on the climate of the series and game. I won’t get into that because it is in the past, I just want things to change and some consistency out of the system.

The other instance that happened in this series was way worse than the incidental injury to Eller in terms of negligence by the player. Again, there were little replays outside of the broadcast. A Ducks player, again I believe it was Perry, who went hard to the net and needed to side step Howard to avoid a big wreck. However, when he jumped to the side he stuck his shin out and clotheslined Jimmy in his head and dangerously put a blade close to the neck of the Wings goaltender. It is hard to say he did it on purpose, but I believe he did based on his body language. They called a penalty and the Wings didn’t capitalize, I think that there should have been a public announcement of a Shanahan investigation at least towards suspension. He might not have deserved a suspension but he needed to at least be threatened with one for a sense of consistency. I just bring this up because I fail to see why there is a suspended Senator while there is a free Duck. I feel either star power, city appeasing, or league posturing following an injury is the difference. I just would HATE to think that Howard needs to be injured for that suspension to happen as that would be backwards thinking.

One last thing out of anger as it drives me crazy that a player can grab another by the head and slam them into the glass and get less penalty than a legal hit. It drives me crazy certain players get called or not on reputation. It drives me crazy a player can invent new rules as they feel fit or get called on a different set of rules. I cannot stand that refs make calls based on the numbers on the center ice board. Someone has to call them out on it with regards to the exact instances I have seen. It drives me so angry that what I love most in the world lets me down. I am not watching any hockey tonight out of protest. I already have stopped buying tickets, including the Big House game, which I got a refund for after the lockout. As long as Bettman is in charge I assume nothing will change and this is getting me awfully close to giving up on the sport all together.

An Openly Gay MLB Player?

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An Openly Gay MLB Player?
By Wild on Sports MLB Insider Aaron Dorman

*Disclaimer - The thoughts and views expressed in this article are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the site*

This week, NBA Center Jason Collins announced that he was gay, becoming the first openly gay professional athlete in any of the four major American sports. His courageous announcement is just the tip of the iceberg, but begs the question when players in other sports will follow suit. I cannot speak for football or hockey, but it is no sure thing, despite the progression in social mores towards universal acceptance of homosexuality and gay rights, that a baseball player will come out anytime soon. Certainly not when players are publicly stating that they would never be able to play with a gay teammate, as Torii Hunter said at a press conference this winter.

Hunter was subsequently miffed when there was negative backlash in the press. If anything, he should be ridiculed, not criticized, for speaking his mind about the issue, since it’s almost certain that he’s playing alongside a closet gay player right now. If baseball demographics match that of the rest of America, there should be about 4 or 5 gay players on every baseball, give or take. Now, that number is probably a little lower, since there is probably a self-selecting aspect to a profession that is openly hostile to potential gay members, but as of now it would be nearly impossible to objectively assess such a thing. I believe it is very safe to assume that professional sports has plenty of gay athletes who thus far have not felt stating their sexual identity would be worth the fallout, which would likely involve ostracism, hate mail, intense press coverage, etc.

But it will happen one day in the near future. Baseball was integrated over a decade before the nation at large, and similarly, it would be nice to see the sport take the lead once more on a progressive social issue. However, just like Jackie Robinson was no ordinary African-American player, the first baseball player to come out may be a calculated move, one designed to permanently make it okay to for players to be honest about their sexuality. And more personally, such a player might want to make sure that the historical significance of coming out isn’t outweighed by the risks. Therefore, here are some criteria to consider:

Break the homophobia barrier will not be like integration. There is no separate “gay league”, all the gay baseball players are already in the MLB, hiding in the closet. Nevertheless, it would be a significant precedent if a bona-fide star came out, as opposed to a bench guy or AAAA fodder. No doubt the stereotype exists that gay athletes are less ‘manly’ or capable of handling the rigors of professional sports. Therefore it would send a strong message if someone with a history of success came out, thus forcing people to challenge their beliefs: what do the value most, ideas about ‘appropriate’ gender relations or helping their team win?

Don’t believe that it would take a good player to make a difference? Read this article from “The Atlantic” about the “first” openly gay player in pro sports, marginal bench OFer Glenn Burke, who tried to be a role model but was shut out by the media. That’s not his fault of course, and times have changed since 1979, but nevertheless, it’s easier to imagine someone like him being marginalized as an outlier, not a trail blazer.

LONG-TERM CONTRACT: This is key. Most team owners value on-field talent over controversy or “team chemistry” issues; how many cheaters, wife beaters, drunk drivers, or just all-around jerks have been celebrated as they lead their team to a pennant? However, there is a notable exception: when the controversy might cut into sales or drive away a large portion of the fan base. Collusion in baseball is forbidden but ask Barry Bonds or Jose Canseco if that made a different at the end of their careers? I find it highly plausible, albeit deplorable, that owners would shy away from signing an openly gay player either because of their personal beliefs or fear that the backlash from the fans or the media would be too great to make it worthwhile. These are businessmen, after all.

And while it would be courageous for any player to come out of the closet, can you blame someone for keeping their sexual identity a secret with millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars on the line? It would be unfair to ask martyrdom from a player just open the floodgates.

Therefore, it would make sense for someone to come out only after they’ve probably been guaranteed most or all the money that they’re going to get. Such players could always be denied insider jobs like coaching or management after their playing career, but that could change with time and shifting cultural norms.

SUPPORTIVE MARKET/FAN BASE: Some cities have a larger and more active/vibrant/supportive gay community, mostly the big ones. I can imagine a player coming out in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco/the Bay Area, perhaps Toronto, maybe Seattle?? There’s probably about a dozen places that make sense. I could certainly understand being leery about coming out in a market like Philadelphia; one can only imagine unruly fans chucking batteries and dildos into the outfield. More conservative areas like Cincinnati or Kansas City may similarly contain a larger hostile element of fans. It will also be up to players to support their teammate, although that is something a manager/owner could enforce. And ironically, players may be more replaceable than fans.

On the other hand, a smaller market could be perfect for a gay player to ‘quietly’ come out, without a media circus making a huge deal of such an event. Particularly if it happened during the season. Some players just don’t want to have to deal with being hounded by the press, and most assuredly a gay star in New York would have a face-full of microphones for at least a few weeks (until the story died out).

Once again, this is a thought experiment. This is not attempt to define “boundaries” for a player to come out, it is just guessing about what would be circumstances conducive to such an event. The “fall-out” from Jason Collins’ decision has been quiet thus far, and it may happen that player will slowly and quietly come out with little fanfare over the next few years or decade(s). Maybe people in the coming decades will wonder what the fuss was all about. But right now, it looks like it will take a special player to overcome a sports climate that has not followed the military in shaking off “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

April's MLB MVP

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April's MLB MVP
By Wild on Sports Analyst Justin Davis

I almost woke up this morning and wrote about the NBA Playoffs, but then I realized that the Heat are dominate and everyone else is 2 levels down from there so I decided to write about baseball instead. April was a pretty crazy month with a lot of record setters between hitters and pitchers but who is the months MVP. The names that I believe would be in the mix are Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Bostons Dustin Pedroia, Washington’s Bryce Harper, Atlanta’s Justin Upton, and Boston's Clay Buchholz.

Chris Davis broke out the first 4 games of the season with 4 HR’s, 3 doubles, and 16 RBI’s which gave him a ridiculous jump on all the competition but has since slowed down. Obviously he was not going to keep up with numbers like that but he has stayed good throughout the first month of baseball. Davis leads all of baseball with 28 RBI’s ties for second in baseball with 9 homers, and sits in 3rd in batting averages with a .348. He doesn’t quite have the name to back him up yet but as long as he continues to play well and continue leading Baltimore with a winning record, that could change. I don’t see the Texas native continuing on this pace as he is a career .263 hitter and has never played more than 139 games in a season but I could be wrong. He would finish in 3rd for my Aprils American League MVP.

Finishing second in the American League is Dustin Pedroia. Petey has been very consistent all year hitting and has some pretty good numbers behind him, but also lacks in one very big one. Pedroia is sitting in 4th in the American League in batting average with a healthy .337 to go along with 19 walks and only 16 strikeouts. Anytime you have more walks than strikeouts, you have a solid chance at being a top tier player and those walks help him lead the AL in OBP with a .444. Dustin also is sitting in 3rd in the league with 6 SB’s and has a respectable 33 hits and 16 runs. The problem with Pedroia is the fact that he has no home runs. Not 1. I understand the he is very undersized but that has never stopped him in the past considering in his 6 previous years as a starter he hit 88 bombs. If he can start hitting for power while keeping up in some of the other categories, he can have a solid chance.

My American League MVP, and I guess Cy Young, would have to be big Clay Buchholz. Clay shared the lead in pitching with a 5-0 record in the month of April, and picked up win number 6 yesterday, with is a pretty remarkable stat. Buchholz pitched 37.2 innings during the month and only gave up 5 runs with a ERA of 1.19 with 39 strikeouts. This difference that I saw in Clay and guys like Matt Moore and Yu Darvish who could also be in the mix is that it looked like Clay dominated the opposition. When he pitches it almost seems like he doesn’t throw a bad pitch, that his earned runs have came off of the batters getting a lucky swing with their eyes closed. The other reason is that Clay has pitched at least 7 innings in every start this year while Moore has only gone over 6.2 once this season. Clay isn’t getting in enough innings for a win throwing a lot of pitches and then bouncing out. When he steps on the plate, you can guarantee that he is giving the relief pitchers a break.

In the National League I have Justin Upton finishing just shy of Bryce Harper in the April MVP race. Justin leads all of baseball with and impressive 12 homers, but only has 19 RBI’s and a sub .300 batting average at .298. He is a force every time he steps on the plate and the opposing pitcher has no choice but to throw perfect pitches. Justin has a NL league best 22 runs scored and 28 hits with only 94 plate appearances and has scored stolen 3 bases. Justin has the potential to have astronomical numbers but right now its seeming like its either all of nothing when he comes to the plate with his 12 homers and 30 strikeouts but his numbers are impressive all the same. He also has the fact that he plays for a NL East leading Atlanta Braves to help him out since being on a winning team helps out when it comes to a most valuable player award.

My National League MVP is the 20 year old Bryce Harper. This kid is only in his second season and is already living up to his potential and more. In the month of April he finished second in homers with 9 and lead the NL in batting average with a ridiculous .344. He finished 4th in hits and 10th in runs with only 93 plate appearances but those aren’t even the most impressive numbers. His league leading 1.150 OPS is the most ridiculous stat. His 9 homers, 6 doubles, 1 triple, and .344 BA with 14 walks together is whats helping that slugging number and on base percentage come out to what it is and it is truly remarkable. The other thing that Bryce has that other top guys don’t always have is incredible defense. Hes an outfielder so numbers like errors and assist are hard to gauge but runners are scared to stretch on him. They know that if you try to stretch a single to a double or try to go from second to home, you better have a big lead because his arm is powerful and accurate. Him great defense paired with top 5 numbers in almost every category is what make him Aprils NL MVP.

Who Is Playing QB In NY?

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Who Is Playing QB In NY?
By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Justin Davis

Who is playing quarterback for the Jets this year? Is it Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms, or maybe even Tebow gets called back after his release yesterday. This is the most disgusting, ugly, pitiful group of quarterbacks I have ever seen. Up until the draft I was rooting for McElroy to get the starting nod considering he was the only guy under center last year that looked remotely like he could actually win a game. Now with the addition of Geno Smith, who knows whats going on.

If we have learned anything from the years of Rex Ryan being a Head Coach it is that no matter what should happen for the good of the team, hes probably going a different direction. This dude actually has a tat of Sachs tebowing on his arm. What the hell is that all about? A coach cant do that in any sport at any level no matter what. Rex Ryan is not going to be the Head Coach of the Jets forever so when that day comes when hes looking for a job, that stupid tattoo might seem pretty stupid. The biggest decision that Ryan is going to make thus far in his coaching career should be who is going to be the starting QB this year. His back to back AFC Championship appearances don’t matter, his winning seasons don’t matter, his great defenses in Baltimore and N.Y. don’t matter. What matters is how the Jets get back to being a winning team and the first piece to that puzzle is making a good decision on who the starter is. The problem still remains that even with the pick of Geno Smith, the Jets still don’t have a QB to start the season.

David Garrard is way past his prime and never paned out to be what he was supposed to after a breakout season in 2007 where he threw 18 TD’s and only 3 INT’s. The thing is that that was his 6th year in the NFL and he never had receivers to throw to after that. He ended his starting days after the 2010 season where he had a pretty decent season owning a 90.8 passer rating and throwing 25 TD’s in 14 games. He since has not thrown a pass in a regular season game and likely has lost all his motivation and confidence to be a starter again.

Matt Simms is somehow on the roster and has a 0.0 percent chance of being a starter. He played for two colleges for a total of 3 years throwing a combined 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in his college career. He also hasen’t played a down in the NFL in his short career.

Greg McElroy looked good in his two appearances last year but has a small sample size as it was the only two games he has played in his career. He had a quarterback rating of 79.2 which sounds pretty low but guess what quarterback has never ended a season with a QB rating that high? Thats right, Mark Sanchez. McElroy honestly has never had a solid shot against the golden boy Mark Sanchez and last year also had to compete with Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, he also has about a none percent chance of starting this year either which leaves the last two quarterbacks on the roster to compete.

Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith? Sanchez was taken way to high and is from USC where quarterbacks are projected to win MVP and inevitably never produce at the NFL level. Geno Smith was taken in the 2nd round but was projected to go pretty high in the 1st and had a great college career. Both are known to be fragile and crumble under too much pressure but Geno Smith still hasen’t had time to develop into a starter, where Sanchez has played 4 complete seasons now. Geno is a boom or bust type of guy who people root for and Sanchez is the current 22 time in a row Not top 10 award winner with his famous “Butt Fumble”.

I personally think that Sanchez is a waste of money and a waste of effort who has had his chances. What excuse does he have? Hes had great defenses, great pro bowl receivers, a decent running game but the excuse is that they were in different seasons and never together. Well guess what? Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees ect. never had all of those at the same time either. The difference is that they had what is took and they lead their teams to the Super Bowl. Sanchez doesn’t own the “intangibles” that we always hear of. He doesn’t have the skill set, he doesn’t have the will, and he doesn’t have the heart to be a starter. Thank God I’m not a Jets fan so I don’t have to worry about the career average 71.7 QB rating having thing that is Mark Sanchez possibly starting for my team this year. Hopefully Rex Ryan continues to enjoy that career average 55.1% completion percentage all the way to the exit when he losses his job for putting Sanchez as the starter and Geno on the bench. We all know its going to happen, its inevitable, Rex Ryan can’t not start Mark Sanchez.

MLB Weekly Walk-off

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MLB Weekly Walk-off
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

It’s a month into the season and already teams are making headlines that you wouldn’t expect to. The Boston Red Sox who own baseballs best record thus far have shocked many with their pitching staff. The Tigers along with the Red Sox are set to challenge the 1998 Chicago Cubs record for strikeouts by a pitching staff in a season. Mets catcher John Buck is off to one of the most surprising starts of any player this season. Buck has already hit nine homeruns and 27 RBIs this season when his season averages the past couple years are 14 homeruns and 49 RBIs. On the other hand, Astros starting pitcher Philip Humber is wishing to start the season over. Humber has been known for throwing a perfect game as a member of the White Sox, but Humber has lost all six of his starts this season posting a 7.58 ERA. His future doesn’t look too bright either as he has a matchup with Justin Verlander in his next start. Still, a great deal of the season left for Humber and other slumping players to pick it back up for the remainder of the year.

Studs of the Past Week
1. Carlos Gomez OF Mil- Posting seven multi-hit games in the past nine, Gomez has been a surge to the Brewers offense that is looking for someone else besides Ryan Braun to do the heavy lifting. The Brewers didn’t know if they were going to get a powerful bat from Gomez to start the season, but they may have their answer now. Gomez has hit three homeruns his past six games and is always a threat to steal a base as he has four stolen bases in his past three games.

2. Jordan Zimmerman SP Wash- It’s not Stephen Strasburg that is making headlines in D.C., but rather Zimmerman who has already thrown two complete games this year compared to zero last season. His past two starts he has compiled 17 innings pitched while only allowing three hits and a walk. He won both those games with only three runs of support as well.

3. Miguel Cabrera 3B Det- Big shocker here, Cabrera is already at the 30 RBI mark while hitting a cool .373 on the year, picking up where he left off last season. He has five multi-hit games in the past week. He leads the MLB with 41 hits, so expect Cabrera to have a repeat performance of last year as he is capable of putting up the highest numbers possible.

Duds of the Past Week
1. Josh Hamilton OF LAA- Unable to get out of his funk, Hamilton is only hitting .216 this season, but has mustered a couple homeruns. In the 19 inning extravaganza with the A’s he went 0-8 with three strikeouts. In his last 32 at-bats he only has six hits which doesn’t add up with the contract he signed at the beginning of the season. The Angels are off to a lowly 10-18 start which is going to force them to win a lot of games come end of summer. If they want to win any games, Hamilton has to put up significantly better numbers.

2. Adrian Beltre 3B Tex- Although Beltre’s last three hits have all been homeruns, it seems as if he forgot to hit for average over the past week. The fact is, Beltre has only gone three for his last 24 and dropped his average from .250 to .215. He’s far from the .321 he hit a season ago, but he should get his average back up around .250 or .275 in the next few weeks.

3. Joey Votto 1B Cin- Votto isn’t having a bad season or really didn’t have a terrible week last week. He is only putting up average numbers compared to what was expected of him at the beginning of the season. Votto hasn’t hit a homerun in over a week and only has 11 RBIs on the year. He should be getting a lot more opportunities hitting out of the three spot for the Reds for the rest of the season.

Sleepers for Next Week
1. Omar Infante 2B Det- Called by some as the best number nine hitter in baseball, Infante has put up above average number compared to his stint with the Tigers last season. He won’t put up the highest power numbers, but hitting .300 with 15 homeruns and 60 RBI isn’t out of the question especially if manager Jim Leyland decides to move him around in the batting order.

2. Matt Joyce OF TB- After hitting four homeruns in his past five games that was enough for Joyce to land on this list for the week. Joyce always is a threat to hit for power; it’s just been the playing time that’s been a problem for Joyce in a crowded Rays outfield. As long as he’s able to cumulate at-bats Joyce has the capability of hitting 20 homeruns this season.

3. Scott Feldman SP/RP CHC- Feldman was a hidden gem with Texas, but then signed with the Cubs as a fill in starter or long reliever. He went 2-0 his past couple starts pitching 15.2 innings while only allowing three runs. As long as he can keep his ERA below 3.50, Feldman can secure a spot in the rotation and can possibly win 10-12 games.

Best Match-ups Next Week

Kansas City vs. Baltimore- This will be a true test to the Royals durability to stay atop the AL Central. Baltimore is on track to contend for the AL East once again, but is forced to win because of the surprising starts by the Red Sox and Yankees.

Yankees vs. Rockies- Let’s see how the Bronx Bombers handle themselves in the Rockies. Coors Field is known for allowing a mass amount of homeruns and the Yanks should take advantage and take the series between the two teams.

Atlanta vs. San Francisco- The Braves have been depleted with injuries to Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward among others, but slowly are finding their identity while winning games. Winning on the West coast will be a true testament to their lineup.

Hoopshysteria: Get Out the Brooms

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Hoopshysteria: Get Out the Brooms
By Wild on Sports Analyst Talyon Perry

We are two weeks into the NBA Playoffs and the broom has already come out as Miami swept Milwakee and San Antonio swept the Lakers. The first upset has also happened with the Warriors beating the Nuggets in 6, thanks to Stephan Curry playing at a MVP level.

One of the main stories of the playoffs is injuries. Warrior forward David Lee finally made the playoffs and gets injured in game 1. The OKC Thunder also took a hit after they found out Russell Westbrook will be out for the remainder of the playoffs -- have lost two games since the announcement -- and we are still hearing the constant rumors about Derek Rose returning, even though he was cleared to play almost 2 months ago.

On the court action has also heated up with two more potential upsets...

The two matchups are between 4 and 5 seeds so they aren't huge upsets, but could impact the championship picture. The LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies are one of these matchups. Once considered a title contender, the Clippers are now in a fight for their lives just to get out of the first round. In the most physical matchup in the playoffs (thanks to Randolph and Griffin) the Grizzlies have controlled the pace over the last few games, and could end soon.

On the East Coast, the Bulls and Nets are currently tied at 3-3 but neither team is playing to their potential. The Bulls have the edge in this series thanks to the unexpected production from Belinelli. Expect a great battle from all teams as they try to save themselves from elimination.

Until next time, enjoy the games this weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jags Lose Blackmon

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Jags Lose Blackmon

After having a huge breakout season in 2012, Justin Blackmon will be watching his Jaguars teammates from the sidelines for at least the first four games of 2013. For the second time in past year the player the Jags so highly coveted that they trade up to #5 overall in 2012 to draft him, has failed to comply with the league's substance abuse policy. 

For all the good that he brings on the field, this is the third time since arriving on the NFL radar as an Oklahoma St. standout in 2010 that he has faced some form of legal trouble that may dramatically effect his wallet (DUI's in 2010 & 2012). This time around he will miss four games checks. A loss, but not a financial crushing blow. What will ultimately be a much bigger blow is this suspension voids future guarantees in his contract and opens the door to the ability for Jacksonville to cut Blackmon without having to pay him a penny more of the roughly $10million left on his deal.

"It's very disappointing," general manager Dave Caldwell said on a conference call with reporters. "We understand that this isn't all going to be an upward trend and we're going to have setbacks. To be honest with you, things like this are frustrating because it's an avoidable situation. That's what's real concerning and frustrating. At the end of the day, we're going to have 53 players on our team on opening day and we're just moving forward and we're not slowing down."
As for Blackmon himself, he had the following to say, "I've made a mistake and I have no excuse," he said in a statement. "I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and preseason with my team, and during the suspension, I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team."
So now a team who already is in a bad place in terms of actual talent on the field will be without arguably their best playmaker.

It is going to be another long season in 2013 for the Jags.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MLB Free Agent Watch 2.0

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MLB Free Agent Watch 2.0
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman

A month of baseball has gone by, and that makes it a good time for WOS’ second rankings of future free agents. The list will change as players are signed midseason or move up or down based on their play. These rankings also assume that certain players will have their option picked up and thus not be eligible for the list, such as Ben Zobrist. Also, as we move into the later part of the season, we’ll also include predictions of where they might end up after the season.

1. Robinson Cano, 2B
(.328/.378/608) Cano is playing like his usual all-star self, anchoring the Yankees lineup and surprising start. He finishes April with 7 HR and 17 RBI, and still looks like the best second baseman baseball. There has been little word lately on how his new agents will affect negotiations, but I still believe that the Yankees will not allow him to leave the Bronx. He is probably looking for, and deserves, a long-term deal north of $200 million. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 1)

2. Sin-Soo Choo, RF
(.340/.484/.557) Choo has really taken his game to a new level this year, leading the league in OBP and holding his own in center field. His walk rate is not up significantly, as he is taken ball four in 13.6% of his PA, up from an 11.5 career mark. A lot of his OBP spike is coming from a fluky TEN HBP so far this year (his career-high is 14). However, his K% is way down, to 15.6% of PA this year from a career mark of 21.1%. His extra contact thus far has led to more base hits. Whether or not this is a career year, he looks like an elite player and could now be in line for a six or seven-year contract from potential suitors. STOCK UP (previous rank: 2)

3. Chase Utley, 2B (.290/.345/.505) Utley has long been the unsung hero for the Phillies, and had been dogged by injuries the past few years, but right now is healthy and productive. Right now it looks like he has more or less returned to being the best second baseman in the National League, the only downside to his game being reduced range in the field (according to fangraphs.com, he is on pace to have his worst fielding season since his rookie year according to the UZR fielding runs stat—of course, it’s a small one month sample size). On the FA market he’d command a short term contract but one with a high annual salary. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR)

4. Tim Lincecum, RHP (2-1, 3.64 ERA) It has not been a great year for free agent pitchers so far but Lincecum stands out as he’s rebounded from his first few starts and looks like a solid workhorse again, even if he may never again be as good as he was from 2008-2011. Lincecum’s velocity is still down a little but his 9.71 K/9 is spot on for his career mark of 9.76. He walks a lot of batters but if he can continue to fool hitters at such a strong rate he will continue to be a good starter. My guess is he’ll wind up commanding more money than he’s worth, and the Giants will have a tough decision to make by the end of this year. STOCK UP (previous rank: 9)

5. AJ Burnett, RHP (2-2, 2.83) Ladies and gentlemen, your current NL strikeout leader! When Burnett was with the Yankees, he was inconsistent, frequently wild, and overall too much of a project to untangle. The Pirates deserve a lot of credit for believing in his stuff and there may have actually been something to the pundit chatter that New York and the pressure had gotten to Burnett’s head. He’s looking solid for the second straight year, and although he’s in his mid-thirties now a team in a mid-range or smaller market, one that won’t be such a pressure cooker, could do worse than overpay for his services for the next few years. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR)

6. Carlos Beltran, OF (.286/.333/.524) Another solid start providing capable middle-of-the-order power without fanfare. Ho hum. Beltran’s HOF case inches forward as he continues to age well. His defense has been marginal this year but it’s still April, he’ll need a season’s worth of reps in RF before we know if he’s really lost a step. The one red flag is his 6.8% walk rate, which would be the lowest since his rookie year (when he won a ROY award for his troubles). It may be too early, however, to say he’s being less selective than usual; he’s swinging at pitches at the same rate as last year. There’s not much reason to think he can’t due this for at least a few more years. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 6)

7. Ervin Santana, RHP (3-1, 2.00 ERA) Santana is making the Royals look pretty smart right now, as he is putting his terrible 2012 behind him and looks like a different pitcher right now. With just 5 BB in 31 IP, he’s refurnished himself as an extreme control pitcher, on pace to best his career mark of 1.9 BB/9 which he set in 2008. If this is the “new” Santana he’ll command a significant deal as he’s only 31 next year. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR)

8. Phil Hughes, RHP (0-2, 4.67 ERA) Pitching is always in short supply and Hughes will hit the market next year as a 28-year-old with playoff experience and a solid track record. Ignore the bad ERA for now: his 5/25 BB/K ratio in 27 IP indicates a pitcher who can eat up innings in the middle of a rotation. He may be due for a contract similar to what Edwin Jackson received last offseason, as his profile is very similar. Like Jackson, if he doesn’t get a long-term offer he can probably sign an expensive one-year deal with a contender. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR)

9. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (3-1, 2.79 ERA) Another Yankee! Kuroda is off to another great start in a park that is murder for pitchers. He’s healthy, productive; one of these years the 38-year-old is due to implode but until he does, teams need to assume he’ll provide a quality veteran presence, and oldsters like him can often be bargains since buyers are always wary of those nearing 40. STOCK UP (previous rank: NR)

10. Brian McCann, C (DL) This is what I wrote last time, and nothing has changed: “McCann will not play until late April or May, but as someone with an all-star track record at a premium position, he is still someone to keep an eye on. Hopefully when he comes back he will be over the problems that led to a down year last season. Before that, he was an underrated player, as his consistent overall game made him one of the best catchers in the league. Raise your hand if you knew he’d hit 20 HR in six out of the last seven seasons? He’s still young enough (29) to return to being the .280/.350/.475 player he was pre-injury, and that’s worth a decent contract.” STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 10)

Honorable Mention: Roy Halladay- Halladay continues to mystify, although his miserable start has turned into more of a roller coaster ride, as he rattled off three straight quality starts, only to give up 8 runs tonight to the Indians in less than 4 innings. His ERA now stands at an unsightly 6.75, but his striking out batters again and it may take another few months before anyone knows what kind of pitcher Halladay is for certain. One thing that it is safe to assume, however: he is no longer worth $20 million, which means he will hit the market at the end of the year.

Others with stock up:
John Buck C, Mark Reynolds 1B

Others with stock down/moved off the rankings: Jacoby Ellsbury OF, Gavin Floyd RHP, Josh Johnson RHP, Mike Morse 1B/OF, Hunter Pence OF

See Version 1.0 Here

MLB Power Rankings - April 30th

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MLB Power Rankings
April 30, 2013

The Boston Red Sox, owners of the best record in baseball at 18-7 and winners of five in a row claim the top spot in this week's MLB Power Rankings. The Atlanta Braves, who had previously held the #1 ranking for three straight weeks drop to second. Texas, New York (AL) and Colorado round out the top five. The big fallers this week are the Oakland A's and surprise (for the wrong reasons) Washington Nationals, falling five spots apiece to 12 and 15. The red Hot Arizona Diamondbacks make a charge up the rankings raising by seven spots to #7. Where does your team rank this week?

1. Boston Red Sox (18-7, LW #4)
2. Atlanta Braves (15-9, LW #1)
3. Texas Rangers (25-16, LW #3)
4. New York Yankees (15-9, LW #9)
5. Colorado Rockies (15-10, LW #2)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (15-10, LW #12)
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-10, LW #14)
8. Baltimore Orioles (15-10, LW #13)
9. Kansas City Royals (13-9, LW #8)
10. Detroit Tigers (13-10, LW #18)
11. St. Louis Cardinals (14-10, LW #11)
12. Oakland A's (14-12, LW #6)
13. Cincinnati Reds (14-12, LW #7)
14. San Francisco Giants (13-12, LW #5)
15. Washington Nationals (13-12, LW #10)
16. Milwaukee Brewers (12-11, LW #17)
17. Minnesota Twins (11-10, LW #16)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers (12-12, LW #20)
19. Tampa Bay Rays (12-13, LW #19)
20. Philadelphia Phillies (12-14, LW #23)
21. New York Mets (10-13, LW #15)
22. Chicago White Sox (10-14, LW #25)
23. Cleveland Indians (9-13, LW #22)
24. Seattle Mariners (11-16, LW #26)
25. Los Angeles Angels (9-15, LW #21)
26. Chicago Cubs (9-15, LW #27)
27. San Diego Padres (9-15, LW #28)
28. Toronto Blue Jays (9-17, LW #24)
29. Houston Astros (7-18, LW # 29)
30. Miami Marlins (6-19, LW #30)

First Step Towards Acceptance

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Jason Collins reveals he is gay on the cover of Sports Illustrated
First Step Towards Acceptance
 I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.

If you have been living under a rock for the past 24 hours then you missed what will go down as one of the most important announcements of a generation. Jason Collins, center for the Washington Wizzards, made a major announcement via the cover of Sports Illustrated Monday announcing that he is -- as he put it -- "the first openly gay athlete in a major sport."

Its a big deal. It took a lot of courage; bravery similar to that of Jakie Robinson breaking the color barrier. But being brave and being a smart business man in today's world does not always go hand and hand. Collins is slated to be a free agent once the NBA playoffs are complete. The league and his former teammates will all say the right things, but what does that do to the dynamic of the locker room? How does it impact his ability to find work for the 2013-14 NBA season?

"That's kind of mind-boggling. I think I talk about that. That, you know, I never set out to be the first," said Collins in a Tuesday morning interview with ABC. You're sort of waiting around for somebody else to … raise their hand. I'm ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, 'OK, come on, guys.' It's time for someone else in the room to raise their hand and say, 'You know what? Yeah, so big deal. I can still play basketball. I can still help the team win, and that's what's most important."

The reality of it is that there are more than likely mutiple gay athletes in each of the four major sports. Their reasoning for keeping with sexuality a secret is probably different for each of them but it all comes back to acceptance and tolerance. There are several female professional athletes that are openly gay without making headlines or causing national outcries. Britney Grimer, arguably the best female basketball player in the world has been openly gay for several years. Sure, she gets asked about it from time to time, but it is generally accepted and an after thought amongst her peers.

The NBA is much more in the spot light. There are always going to be a handful of bad apples talking behind people's back in the locker room or fans screaming and yelling homosexual slurs from the crowd. Now is as good a time as ever to turn that page and put all that negativity aside. The public out cry to tolerance and acceptance has come pouring in across the country and sports universe. Twitter is blowing up with support and well wishes...

Neil Patrick Harris wrote: “Bravo, @JasonCollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that’s saying a lot.”
Rosie O’Donnell wrote:  ”Thank you Jason Collins – for being the first one – knocking down doors !!!
Ellen De Generes wrote: “@NBA center @JasonCollins34 is the 1st out player on a US major league team. I’m overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love.”
Andy Roddick wrote: “Props! @jasoncollins34
Kobe Bryant wrote :”Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others
Martina Navratilova wrote: “Well done Jason Collins- you are a brave man. And a big man at that:) 1981 was the year for me- 2013 is the year for you:)”
Chelsea Clinton wrote: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. http://bit.ly/ZLei9F
Former US President Bill Clinton wrote: “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend. http://wjcf.co/154piCi
Dwayne Johnson wrote: “Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward. “.
Elizabeth Banks wrote: “Amazing story! Thanks brave @jasoncollins34: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
Diablo Coby wrote: “Congrats, Jason Collins, and thank you!” which was retweeted by singer Katy Perry.
It is time to finally turn the page and treat everyone as equal. Whether you are white, black, yellow, green blue, gay, straight, both, neither -- it should not matter. We are all humans. They are all professional athletes. To each his own.

NHL Mock Draft 1.0

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NHL Mock Draft 1.0
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr
You may have heard that the NHL draft lottery was last night. If you didn’t, all teams retained their projected picks except for Florida (1) and Colorado (2) who ended up switching picks. Different teams will need to focus on what kind of player they should take in this draft, which is reportedly very top heavy in talent. Since draft selections 15-30 have not been determined at this point, my following predictions will only contain the first 14 picks of the first round.

1: Colorado: D Seth Jones

2: Florida C Nathan Mackinnon

3: Tampa Bay LW Jonathan Drouin

4: Nashville LW/RW Valeri Nichushkin

5: Carolina C/RW Elias Lindholm

6: Calgary C Aleksander Barkov

7: Edmonton D Nikita Zadarov

8: Buffalo C Sean Monahan

9: New Jersey C/RW Hunter Shinkaruk

10: Dallas D Rasmus Ristolainen

11: Philadelphia D Darnell Nurse

12: Phoenix D Ryan Pulock

13: Winnipeg LW Anthony Mantha

14: Columbus D Josh Morrissey 

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Ice Life: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

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An Ice Life: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Brian Peirce

Eastern Conference and way too early finals predictions:

The east is going to be wild in that the powerhouses are always playing well, but the first round might not be as much contended as in the west.

1 Pittsburgh v 8 Islanders
This is going to be a bloodbath. The Islanders are a team that has come a long way, but no one can consider them even close to the team in the hills. Even if Crosby and Malkin didn’t play a game in this series Pittsburgh would still have the edge at every position except for top center as Tavares is the third best player in the series. I just cannot see a way for them to win besides the biggest meltdown ever. I am not going to say it will be a sweep for sure, but this has the mark of sweep on it.

I don’t want to watch a single minute of this series, but since it seems like NBC has a strict policy of only playing the Penguins on TV I have a feeling I will be searching on the internet for other games to watch. As Pierre loves to do, we will end up hearing all about that team in every single game they cover anyways. Wake me up when it is over.

2 Montreal v Ottawa
This really upset me when it finally was set in stone to see these two teams meet in the first round. Do not get me wrong, this will be a grand series. My issue is that the Penguins have had the road cleared for them through this as both of these teams would have been extremely hard outs for them. I initially had Montreal as my Eastern Conference champion and now I have to worry about them making it out of the first round.

Ottawa proved they are a tough team after Cooke assassinated Karlsson about 10 weeks ago. Losing the best defenseman in the league on a young team built around low scoring strategies should have doomed them, even more so when losing the hottest goaltender in the league. My fantasy team was destroyed by these losses, but Ottawa was not. They got better and then they got both of these pillars back just in time for the playoffs.

Ottawa has the better goaltending and the better defense while Montreal has the better offense and the better team overall. It just is going to be a fun set of games that could go either way. I really think that there was a way that these two could have been fighting for the Stanley Cup finals down the road, but now one will have to go home early. I am going to for love of one of my favourite teams and because no one else will make this call, say the Senators are going to win in 7 games. Grab some Molson and enjoy.

3 Washington v 6 New York
These are two teams that feel like should have been lower seeds. Washington got hot as anyone in the league but still feels weak, even though they have gotten great goaltending and a bunch of goal support. The Rangers feel even weaker than the Capitals, and their big name goaltender has not looked elite for some time now. I get the feeling that the Caps will have their way here because, even as the Rangers are the better team, the best players for the Caps have been playing the best for them. I don’t see that in New York, and while it could change, I think Washington will advance because of it. I think they will win in six games.

4 Boston v 5 Toronto
This is just like the Montreal series in that the tough outs will have to play each other too early for me to be happy about it. Toronto is not a terrible team, as shocking as that statement can be it is true. They could win this series against a team in Boston that is considered a powerhouse of recent years. Boston seems to be lacking drive, and it might have to do with there being so much talent without enough room for it all to develop properly. That being said, they have the best goaltender in the East for my money and a solid group that I just cannot see the Leafs taking out. I am going to say Boston in 6.

I also think that the Boston bombings will get a city ready to jump at something good happening. I think the Bruins will be that catalyst and they are going to be my pick out of the East. I thought that there would be a scenario where Boston played the Canadians in the East, but now I have to think it will be Boston and Pittsburgh and the Pens winning that match up. I just really hope that isn’t the case. I will go instead with Boston beating the Senators with my heart over my brains.

I would be happy with an LA and Boston final, so that will be my pick, though it is far from a sure thing. I would assume a 7 game series if that happens, it would end in Beantown which would mean hockey would get 15 minutes of fame while the news channels all talk about bombings and a city healing and all that heartstring reporting. I do think that this is the closest I have ever seen teams in parity so I am not going to rule anything out. Both Detroit and Ottawa are huge dark horse candidates. Boston and LA are true powerhouses that didn’t win a division title. Penguins and Blackhawks are juggernauts, plus the Habs and Ducks are beasts that should not be discounted. This is why I just do not think there are many safe bets this season. I just won’t be like everyone else and crown the Penguins right off the bat. They might be the best team, but I have seen teams like this fail before.

An Ice Life: Western Conference Playoff Preview

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An Ice Life: Western Conference Playoff Preview
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

Western Conference playoff preview… I am going to miss the simplicity of saying Western and Eastern conference.

I go by the gut when it comes to analyzing these series. I was really spot on last year, getting the Stanley Cup Champion right and getting all but two of the first round series right. Of course, this is my first year blogging so you have to take or leave my word for it. I doubt I will get it as right this time around. It is college try time.

1 Chicago v 2 Minnesota
Well in the West we have the top seed going deservedly to the Chicago Blackhawks and they get the short travel of facing Minnesota. This is going to be fun to watch.

Chicago has better goaltending and a better top six, but not by that much. I would have to say that Toews and Hossa are the best two players in the series without a doubt. I believe that Minnesota has better role players but the depth is similar in quality. I have a hard time knowing who really is going to win this, but I have to believe it is Chicago. Now Minnesota won’t roll over, but they could lose in five or seven. If it goes to seven, the Wild could win it because it is closer than some would think. Just bet on Chicago.

2 Anaheim v 7 Detroit
This is going to be a fun series for me because of the rivalry between me and my cousin from Orange County. The Ducks are better than they have been and have a great shot at making it to the Finals, however they are a team whose identity is tied to making boneheaded penalties in the name of being a rough team. They minimalized it with depth that is better tied to skill than goon-ery.

Now Detroit played awful for most of the year, but they are playing super hot and had to win four straight to make the playoffs. They have the better goaltender and their top three players have been hot. If they can keep it up, I have to imagine they will beat the Ducks. The only reason Detroit is in the playoffs is that they won a huge two game series on the road at the pond earlier in the year. The ducks have the better defense, but DeKeyser could balance it out. The Wings have high level depth now so the longer the series goes, the more likely it is that they will win. It might be that I am a homer, but I totally think Detroit wins this in six.

3 Vancouver v 6 San Jose
This is the hardest series to call in the West. Both are just teams that strike you as having serious faults that you cannot put your finger on. I think San Jose has far more weapons at their disposal, but the Sedins are deadly. Goaltending is pretty close to equal here based on this season. This is a coin flip of a series. I just feel that San Jose is the better team here. Either way, I don’t see these teams going the distance. Vancouver would have to improve their defense and secondary scoring to go anywhere. I am going to pick San Jose in 7

4 St. Louis v 5 Los Angeles

This will be another great series. St Louis is a dangerous team that could awaken and take out anyone in a series, but they have to get their act together and get the type of goal tending that they had last year in order to go anywhere.

You can say the same for the Kings, as they have not been as strong as they were when they won the cup, even though they are a better team in most regards. I think Quick and company will wake up and play harder and be the toughest team to out. I have them in the Conference finals and have no reason to doubt they can win it all again. I expect them to beat the Blues in five.

My picks for the Western Conference finals initially will be Chicago and LA, with the Kings moving to the Finals for the second time in a row. I just think they are the best top to bottom with one great goaltender, who is getting better at the right time.

Puckmania: Let the Playoff Begin!

Wild on Sports
Puckmania: Let the Playoff Begin
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

Before I begin my first round predictions, I would like to make it publicly known that I will be representing WOS at the NHL entry draft this June at the Prudential Center. So make sure that you stay tuned to our twitter page (@WildOnSports) for the most accurate NHL draft updates as they happen!

But alas, the playoffs are here! So lets talk about playoffs.

The Leafs, Isles and Wild are all appearing in the post season for the first time in at least five seasons. The Bruins, Capitals, Sharks and Red Wings are all making their annual Stanley Cup bid. Whether teams are slumping into the postseason or heating up at the right time, it’s all systems go for the teams remaining in these final two months of the shortened hockey season.

And on that note, here are my first round predictions:

Eastern Conference:

Penguins (1)
Islanders (8)

Despite being the leagues most dominant team for most of the season, the Penguins and their fans are not under-estimating this years New York Islanders- and why should they? They are arguable the hottest team coming into the post season. That being said, their age and postseason experience (or lack of) won’t be enough to over power the worlds best hockey team. New York should keep it close, and this series will help the Islanders build some confidence for playoff entries down the road.
Penguins win

Canadiens (2) 
Senators (7)

Perhaps this decision comes with a little bias? As a Masshole, I hate the Canadiens with every fiber of my being, but then again Montreal is slumping badly into the playoffs. And how can you not help but appreciate what Ottawa has done this year? I’m a strong believer of the idea that with a healthy Anderson, Karlsson, Spezza and Alfreddson all year round, this team would have won the Northeast Division. Ottawa winning this series shouldn’t be considered an upset.
Senators win

Capitals (3)
Rangers (6)

I’m glad everyone is back on board the Ovechkin bandwagon, because he is going to do wonders for Washington against New York, and others in the Eastern Conference. Holtby-Neuvirth is hot, Lundqvist-that other guy is not. This is going to be a land slide.
Capitals win

Bruins (4)
Maple Leafs (5)

I had to give this prediction a lot of thought. Neither team is standing out right now in any positive sort of way, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the Bruins just don’t let up many goals, especially on the PK. That seems to be Toronto’s specialty. If Phil Kessel does well in this series, maybe that changes the outcome, but I don’t believe he shows up.
Bruins win

Western Conference:

Blackhawks (1)
Wild (8)

I don’t know how in depth I need to go here, honestly. Chicago is just another worldly better and more anxious to get the ball rolling, Minnesota… say what you will, this team still needs work IMO.
Blackhawks win

Ducks (2)
Red Wings (7)

I hate the fact that Detroit is here in the first place. This team is probably the least deserving of the remaining 16 to be a playoff team. Putting the 2013 Detroit Red Wings and the Stanley Cup in the same sentence should be a crime, but I’m sure they’ll find a way to upset a fantastically improved Anaheim squad. My fingers are crossed that I’m wrong with this one.
Red Wings win

Canucks (3)
Sharks (6)
I’m a sucker for this San Jose team. They are an incredibly difficult team to beat at home and Vancouver has been too streaky for my liking. Goaltending consistency is just never there for the Canucks and Special teams are a strong point for the Sharks. Joe Thornton, will you show up this year?
Sharks win

Blues (4)
Kings (5)

I wasn’t fully aware that the Blues managed to earn the 4 seed and truthfully, I’m questioning the worthiness of that seed. To me, Los Angeles is a much more all around complete team than the Blues. Then again, I said thought that about the Bruins last year against the Capitals. In the end, the series will be narrowly decided, but I’d be pretty surprised if St Louis actually pulls of the series win. 
Kings win

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

Wild on Sports
MLB Weekly Walk-Off
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

Past Week in Review
The MLB seems to have evened itself out up to this point in the season. No one is running away with anything, especially in the AL Central where the division is still separated by three games. Only a few teams seem to have already given up on the season. The Marlins, Padres and Astros have only managed 18 wins between the three of them thus far, and it looks like these teams will be in the cellar for the majority of the year. Surprisingly enough, the A’s still have the best offense in the MLB with the most runs scored up until this point even with Yoenis Cespedes on the DL for the past two weeks. He will be activated in the coming week. In fact, the A’s have scored more than double the runs the Marlins have scored thus far. After a big home sweep of the Tigers last weekend the Angels appeared to have shaken off their beginning season slump, but proceeded to lose three of the next four games. Braves outfielder, Justin Upton was the first to hit double digit homeruns after him and his brother, B.J, hit back-to-back homeruns against the Rockies last Tuesday night. He’s only six homeruns shy of his season total from last year. In a surprise series of events, the Tigers called up Jose Valverde from their Single-A affiliate to close games for the big boys. Valverde wasn’t signed by anyone in the off-season after becoming a free agent and the Tigers were in need of a closer after hopeful Bruce Rondon didn’t work out as they had hoped. As the weather heats up, so should Valverde’s pitching.

Studs of the Past Week
1. Nelson Cruz OF Tex- After Hamilton’s departure in the off-season, Cruz knew he would have to fill the gap the best he could, and he finally looks to have gotten his big bet going this season. He has 12 RBI since Apr. 21 along with three homeruns. If he can keep steady around the .300 average mark, it can prove fantasy dividends for owners of him. Also, Cruz would like to keep his strikeouts down from the inflated 140 Ks he had last year. Cruz is capable of 25 homeruns and a high average if he only strikes out around 100 times this season.

2. Jason Grilli CP Pitt- Grilli converted all four of his save opportunities the past week and hasn’t blown one all year yet. Grilli also has eight strikeouts in those four saves last week. He’s only allowed three hits and four walks all year. The setup man turned closer has been a saving grace for the Pirates who let former Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan go to the Red Sox over the offseason. The Pirates are looking to contend for a division title this year and if Grilli can keep pitching like this, he is on the verge of a 30-35 save season.

3. Matt Kemp OF LAD- After Kemp was on the duds list last week, he finally got the wheels turning this past week as expected. He upped his average from .174 to .266, hit his first homerun and stole three bases last week. Another upside to this is that a majority of the Dodgers’ games last week were on the road. Hopefully Kemp can keep up this trend and not fall back on the trend he was on to start the year. Kemp is still a 20-20 threat, and barring any injuries should still be the main source of the Dodgers offense.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Carlos Gonzalez OF Col- Essentially flip-flopping spots with Matt Kemp from last week, Gonzalez has found himself in a funk after only going two for his past 24 with only three RBIs. The Rockies have lost three of their last four as a result of Gonzalez being himself. Let’s see if skipper Clint Hurddle juggles the lineup a bit and moves Gonzalez from the third spot in the batting order. He just might need a day off or two to set his mind straight.

2. B.J. Upton OF Atl- Aside from hitting a homerun early in the week, Upton only has two hits to his name over the past week, both singles. Upton has seen his average plummet to .150 for the season and has had an average above .200 all year. Upton has batted everywhere in the batting order, but manager Freddi Gonzalez seemed to have liked Upton batting second, but that might change quick if Upton continues to struggle. Hopefully, Upton can get that average above .200 and keep batting second in the lineup. He’s still a threat to hit 15-20 homeruns, but don’t hold your breath.

3. Cliff Lee SP Phi- After a surging start in which Lee allowed two earned runs in 16.2 innings and a 2-0 start, he allowed eight earned runs in his past two starts going 0-1. His ERA jumped from 1.08 to 3.03 after those starts. His past starts were against the Pirates and Cardinals, legitimate playoff threats. If the Phillies expect Lee to be one of their prime pitchers for the rest of the season he better start producing more quality starts against good teams or else Lee could end the season being under .500, just like last season.

Sleepers for Next Week

1. Nate McLouth OF Bal- He didn’t begin the season as a starter, but that has changed over the past week as McLouth has compiled eight runs scored and four steals. He’s hitting leadoff and playing left field for the Orioles, and should continue to accumulate at-bats as long as he stays consistent hitting leadoff. He has yet to homer, but is a threat to steal 25 bases this season and hit 10-15 homeruns. Pretty good for a guy overlooked in many leagues still.

2. Peter Bourjos OF LAA- Bourjos was supposed to be the Angels big leadoff threat last season, but a sub .200 average to start the year led Bourjos to the bench and the world got a chance to meet Mike Trout. Had Bourjos hit like he has this year thus far, we might have had to wait to see Trout play. Now there’s room for both in the outfield. He’s considered one of, if not, the fastest player today and is a threat to steal a base from anywhere on the paths. He’s riding a seven game hitting streak upping his average from .250 to .313.

3. Edinson Volquez SP SD- I bet many are questioning why Volquez is on the sleeper list when he was drafted in pretty much every fantasy baseball league. Truth is he was most likely dropped by those managers after his horrific start going 0-3 and an ERA that climbed to 11.68. Over his past couple starts though, Volquez has settled down dropping his ERA to 6.39 and allowing only two earned runs over his past 13 innings pitched. This could be a major steal if you’re in need of a starting pitcher. Patience is the key when dealing with a pitcher like Volquez. He will have ups and downs, but while he’s up, snag him while you can.

Best Upcoming Match-ups of the Week

Nationals vs. Braves- This matchup is between the best that the NL East has to offer except the Nats are only 11-11. They were projected to win the division so a road series win here will quiet critics for the time being

LA Angels vs. A’s- The Angels are still trying to reach the .500 mark and this tough road series in Oakland may produce even more of a set back because the A’s still have the best offense in the league and Cespedes is expected back before next week.

Chicago White Sox vs. Royals- The Royals are sitting atop the AL Central for the moment, literally as the division could have a new leader after any given day. It would be a statement though if the Royals can get a series win versus the White Sox, a team expected to contend with the Tigers for the division crown.

A Not So Ice Life

Wild on Sports
A Not So Ice Life
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

I just had to write about this potential story even though there is the biggest Regular season game since the 90s for the Detroit Red Wings being played in Dallas. Detroit has already lost big, in a fashion that blows away any game or playoff streak. It is an epic mistake, which is 1000 times worse than making a bad trade, and so much worse than the bad contracts signed in the past year by GM Ken Holland. The Detroit Red Wings have made the type of mistake that could cripple the future of the franchise, and I as a fan have never been angrier.

What happened? Well Darren Dreger is reporting that on Monday, Jim Nill Assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings and prized front office mastermind will become the GM of the Dallas Stars. If this report is true, they will have lost a member of the team which has been so valuable that they have promised him Ken Holland’s job as soon as he retired. This guy is considered by some to be better than Holland in terms of player evaluation, and in the very least he has been targeted routinely for the better part of a decade to be a GM. This is where the anger comes from in this news.

After Hakan Andersson, no other member of the team is credited with helping shape the excellent drafting history of the Red Wings. Holland gets credit for some blockbuster trades and signings, but Nill was said to be the mastermind of the futures and someone Holland trusted so much he would block other teams from even talking to Nill for the job. This is considered a very “dick move” to block someone from job opportunities and makes a team look awful to do it normally, but Jim was supposedly promised the big job in Detroit as soon as Holland retired. They may have even told him as early as a year ago that they wanted him to stay here, and promised it once again. The worst of it is that while they kept him under his contracts here, promising him the keys, Holland kept saying that he was looking to retire when Lidstrom retired.

If you kept people from promoting your guy, and promised him a job with a date in mind you have to give that guy the job. You are only as good as your word. It seems apparent to me that when Ken Holland did not retire, Nill got stabbed in the back and now is going to Dallas to take a worse GM job. Ken Holland had an awful post Lidstrom year, and his signings in the off season are the worst ones, in my opinion, I have seen in Detroit. He should have retired as he said. I assumed that he would retire after this year, but he made no indication and now it seems that he can’t retire because now because they have to try and find the next-next guy now.

As I write this, the Wings are in a 0-0 tie in Dallas, and Columbus just got a goal against waived off and fans are getting antsy about a 22 season playoff streak. The smart fan should be more worried about the next 20 years without Nill than a one-year streak extension that likely will lead to an early playoff exit anyways. An organization that usually is the classiest and smartest when dealing with their own has done a 180 from that reputation. If that doesn’t scare you as a Red Wings fan, I think you know nothing of hockey. Nill will never say a bad thing about Detroit, but I will apologize anyways. I really wish you were handling the offseason this year instead. I trust you far more now than I do the great Ken Holland.

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