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The 2014 MLB season is almost here! Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman brings you an in depth look at each of the 30 teams, prospects and key questions as we head towards opening day.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Time for a Change in the NFL

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Time For A Change In The NFL
By Wild on Sports Analyst Justin Davis

By now every fan of football has probably heard about Titus Young being arrested four times in a week, but he’s not the exception in the NFL. Over the years we have seen the NFL go from the underpaid superstar personalities of the 60′s and 70′s, to the flamboyant, arrogant, overpaid players that we see today. Obviously not all players of way back when were great people who did no harm and not every player today is arrogant and overpaid, but we have seen a change of personalities in the NFL for the most part. One of the biggest problems in my opinion right now is the amount of arrests and suspensions for NFL players. It seems like every week now there is a player somewhere out there being arrested for assault, DUI, resisting arrest, or drugs.

Since 2000 the amount of arrests of active NFL players is somewhere close to 700, give or take. I understand that in any job there are people who get arrests but for the NFL, its honestly unacceptable. A DUI, hey everyone makes mistakes and those things do happen, but they are still wrong and should no better. Assault on women, drug charges, resisting arrests, and other charges like that are unacceptable no matter what. I think the NFL is too lenient of players getting in trouble and it breeds a bad type of NFL. Most people would say that everyone deserves a second chance and for the most part I do agree but for a man making millions of dollars who is supposed to be a role model to children across the country, there is no second chance for a violent crime in my eyes. There is a database from U-T San Diego that keeps track of all arrests since 2000 and I would encourage readers to check it out. I looked at some of the arrests lately and they were for the most part, ridiculous. Just in the last 2 months there are arrest for breaking and entering, 3 accounts of assault and/or battery, 3 accounts of DUI, 2 accounts of possession of marijuana, 2 accounts of disorderly conduct, 2 accounts of resisting arrest, 4 accounts of public intoxication, 1 arrest in a prostitution sting, 1 account of 3rd degree assault, 1 account of risk or injury to a child, and now Mike Goodson was just arrested for drug possession and weapons charges. These numbers are just in the last 2 months and I bet there was more. Are these the types of people that you try to teach your children to grow up to be like? Are these players names on the back of the jersey that your son wears to the game?

I can only hope that the NFL opens their eyes and stops worrying about ratings and money for a minute and tries to clean up the game. I am a devoted fan like most other fans and I assure you, if you make suspensions longer, kick players out of the NFL, raise fines, and make it known that charges like these will not be tolerated, you will not lose the fans. You will lose the fans by letting these numbers get higher and letting thugs take over the NFL. If the numbers continue to rise and the players continue to get worse, the NFL will perish.

Link to the database: – http://www.utsandiego.com/nfl/arrests-database/

Hoopshysteria: Conference Semi's Ya'll

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Hoopshysteria: Conference Semi's Ya'll
By Wild on Sports NBA Analyst Talyon Perry

The Bulls may have ended Miami's streak but they couldn't stop the big three from walking all over them. The Bulls were destroyed on defense, in some times looking more like the Bobcats. They didnt help themselves by having several starters foul out in the 4th quarter. On the bright side, ESPN can finally cover something other than "The Return" of Derek Rose.

In the other Eastern Conference semifinal the Pacers and Knicks are in a 3-2 battle with Indiana in the lead. The Knicks have suffered in large part due to 6th man of the year J R Smith battling Flu-like symptoms; or Smith is just trying to save himself. The Knicks have no chance if they continue to play selfishly like they have been for the whole series. Carmelo seems to have graduated from the Allen Iverson school of basketball, taking almost half of this team's shots, most of which seem to be blindfolded.

The Western Conference has seen the first major upset of the playoffs with the Grizzlies taking down the defending conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder. This wasn't a surprised because of Westbrook's injury and Martin's inconsistency. The Grizzlies also dominated the paint thanks to Defensive player of the year Marc Gasol.

Lastly the San Antonio Spurs hold a slim 3-2 lead over the Warriors. Curry has been the pest player in the playoffs thus far but could be limited by his reinsured ankle. The Spurs have been good all series never letting things get too far out of reach and closing games very well. The Warriors only have a chance if Curry can overcome his ankle issues.

Bettman Laughing, Stern Crying

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Bettman Laughing, Stern Crying
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

For the NHL and NBA its boom or bust this time of year as we whittle it down to the final handful of teams in each league. Its time to make the big bucks! Regardless of the city, by now all games are sold out so ticket revenue is never an issue, the bigger ticket is the TV ratings. The ratings are primarily driven by two things -- markets involved and story-lines.

For the Gary Bettman and the NHL they have it all covered thus far. They have the West Coast tuned in with the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings. They have the middle of the country with two of the most storied franchises in the league in Chicago and Detroit. The Northeast is a buzz thanks to Boston and the New York Rangers. Then of course we have the face of the NHL in Sid the Kid down in Pittsburgh who, oh by the way, had a hat-trick last night. They even are holding onto a portion of the Canadian market thanks to the Ottawa Senators. Life is good at NHL headquarters.

For David Stern and the NBA the Opposite is true. The West is down to Memphis (west?) and San Antonio - a nice team but a few years past their prime. In the East you have Indiana (assuming we don't see a late series collapse) and the love 'em or hate 'em Miami Heat. No LA, no New York (probably), no Boston, no Chicago. God forbid we see a Memphis-Indiana finals. As ecstatic as Bettman and the NHL are, Stern and co. have to be equally disappointed. Best case scenario, Lebron and the Heat do their thing and steamroll the Pacers and Tim Duncan turns back the clock five years to lead the Spurs to a showdown with the defending champs. In all likelihood the Heat are 8 to 10 games, at most away from their second consecutive title. Unless we get Lebron, Wade, Bosh and company up on stag again with there "not 1, not 2..." we likely are in for what everyone expects -- little intrigue.

This spring belongs to the NHL. There have been 19 overtime game thus far in the NHL playoffs including arguably the best comeback in NHL history in the final game of the Boston-Toronto series. You have as many story lines as you have pages to put them on.

Buckle up your seat belts folks! We are in for a wild ride in the NHL. NBA, sorry, there is always next year.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sharks GM: Torres Hit Clean

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Sharks GM: Torres Hit Clean

Head injuries have been the talk of the medial sports world over the past couple of seasons as major talents have gone down across the four major sports with concussions. The leagues have done everything in their power to try to crack down on intentional head contact to minimize such injuries, strengthening rules and freely doling out fines and suspensions. A few nights ago the latest of the "suspension worthy" hits has thrown by the San Jose Sharks' Raffi Torres, a repeat offender. The hit itself injured the opposing player. After being announced on Wednesday that Torres would be suspended for the remainder of the second round of the playoffs, Sharks GM Brian Wilson had some harsh words regarding the league and their decision.

The following is a statement issued by Sharks GM Brian Wilson, courtesy of TSN...
San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson released a statement on Friday, regarding the Raffi Torres' suspension.
The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL in its efforts to remove illegal and dangerous hits from the game but we strongly disagree with the NHL's decision to suspend Raffi Torres.

Upon review of the incident, it is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit. As noted by the NHL, Raffi's initial point of contact was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on an opponent who was playing the puck. He did not leave his feet or elevate, he kept his shoulder tucked and elbow down at his side, and he was gliding - not skating or charging.

As stated in the NHL's Player Safety video, Rule 48.1 says, "A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted." Thus, with the use of the word "and", this rule clearly states that two elements must occur in order to violate the rule. Raffi absolutely did not target his opponent's head on the play. The call on the ice specifically acknowledged that the head was not targeted and nowhere in the NHL's ruling does it insinuate or suggest that the opponent's head was targeted.

Furthermore, the rule goes on to say: "However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered."

As evidenced in the video, just prior to Torres making contact with the opposing player, that player altered his posture to play a bouncing puck with his hand, placing himself in a vulnerable position.

Comparing the facts of this incident against the actual wording of Rule 48.1, it appears that the NHL has not only made an inappropriate application of this rule but is trying to make an example out of a player who is being judged on past events, one who has changed his game dramatically this season and taken only six minor penalties in 39 games.

We are proud of the work Raffi has put in to successfully adjust his game. Although it's unfortunate that Jarret was injured on the play, we feel this decision is grossly unfair to the Raffi, his teammates and our fans. However, Raffi does not want to be a distraction to his teammates and has decided not to appeal this suspension and we respect that decision.

The official ruling and explanation by NHL Director of Player Saftey Brendan Shanahan can be found here:  NHL.com Raffi Torres Suspension Explanation

Alright hockey fans, we have heard the NHL point of view and that of the team. Is the silence of Torres and failure to appeal to a degree an admission of guilt? Or is the NHL wrong with their ruling and targeting a repeat offender?

Wild on Sports Wins Big on Fanduel

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http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/229/560/229560622_640.jpgWild on Sports Wins Big on Fanduel

If you frequent our site there is no doubt you have seen an add or two from Fanduel.com -- one of our primary sponsors. From time to time they will throw us a fun little Free Roll to give our readers a chance to try it out and see what it is all about. We ran one back in April to kick off the baseball season and will certainly run others over the course of the year.

Well, a really cool thing happen last week that just goes to show how much fun the daily games at Fanduel can be without a huge amount of commitment or risk. Each week during the MLB season Fanduel is offering entry into the $1,000,000 DFBC 2013. There are thousands of dollars up for grabs even in the qualifying rounds.

Wild on Sports' own Jason Gillson tried his luck at the DFBC 2013 last week and turned his $10 entry into $200 and he didn't even win for the week! How many opportunities do you have to turn $10 into $200 or more just by playing a 1 day fantasy baseball game? Well, you can bet Jason will be back at it this week and you have a chance to join him in the winner circle.

If you have never played any of the daily fantasy games on Fanduel you don't know what you are missing. Give it a try today, you might be surprised just how easy it is to win!

Click the link below to see what Fanduel is all about!

Trouble in Paradise for Ochocinco

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Trouble in Paradise for Ochocinco
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

Courtesy of CBS Sports...
The Broward County (Fla.) sheriff's office has confirmed to CBSSports.com that former NFL star receiver Chad Johnson has an open warrant out for his arrest. TMZ.com reported earlier Thursday that Johnson is wanted for allegedly violating his probation by not visiting his probation officer.

The probation stems from a domestic violence incident last August with then-wife Evelyn Lozada when he was accused of head-butting her during an altercation in a vehicle. Eventually, Johnson pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge in a plea-bargain in which he was given probation and required to take a counseling course.

After the initial arrest, the first of Johnson's pro career, the Dolphins cut him, and Johnson hasn't played in the NFL since.

According to his Twitter account on Thursday, Johnson wrote, “Chilly in Pasadena.” That could mean he's not currently in Florida.

TMZ writes that the arrest warrant was issued May 7.
 What an incredible downfall that continues to spiral out of control for the former all-pro receiver. Lets just pause for a moment and look at his past three years....

2009-10 - Johnson or"Ochocinco" at the time cap off what was his seventh 1,000+ yard receiving season with Cincinnati, a year that would turn out to be his last a a Bengal and last a relevant football player.

2010-11 - Johnson is traded to the New England Patriots for a 5th and 6th round draft picks. Promptly signs 3 year extension. This is the end of anything resembling good news for Ochocinco the football player. He fails to make any sort of connection with Brady as the player, formerly regarded for his intelligence and "football IQ" fails to grasp the playbook and spends the majority of the season on the sidelines. He finishes the year with 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown -- all career lows.

2011-12 - Johnson is released by the Patriots. Signs a training camp deal with the Miami Dolphins. Shortly there after is arrested for domestic violence. Is then promptly released by the Dolphins ending his playing career. Avoids jail time but is put on probation.

May 7, 2013 - Violates probation. Tweets that he is Pasadena, confirming that he is outside of probation radius. A warrant is put out for his arrent.


What a turn for the worst for a receiver who was one of, if not the most explosive and dangerous outside threats in the game for the majority of the 2000's. What happens to these athletes? Is it a bad upbringing? A need to unleash pent up testosterone that you no longer can on the field? A few too many hits to the head?

Domestic violence and other off the field issues see to be a recurring trend for ex-professional athletes and seems to be more prevalent in the NFL than any other sport. Yes, the NFL does have programs set up in an effort to help these individuals transition into the next phases of their lives. But it time for the league to make a stronger stance and help its players be healthy members of society for their lives following football. That could start with coming up with ways to help avoid head injuries. What those steps might be are far beyond my comprehension but I would have to think that brain safety should be a top priority. Beyond that, there ought to be better programs to help former players, particularly those who could be suspected of questionable off the field habits, in setting their lives straight and living life to the fullest within the confines of the law.

The ball is in your court NFL. It is sad to see a player like Ochocinco fall down this path. Players before him have had similar fates. If it is going to be prevented moving forward it is going to be up to the league to help out its players.

Who's Umping the Umps?

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Who's Umping the Umps?
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman

Last week baseball teams were dealt a double dose of stupid from umpiring crews, two rare feats of incompetence which ended up having significant impacts on the games, effectively making the umpires participants through their human error.

In the first screw-up last Wednesday, Angel Hernandez made the wrong call on a Home Run off the bat of Adam Rosales during a game between the Athletics and Indians. The game would have tied the score at 4-4 but his Home Run was ruled a double. Replay showed that it was clearly over the fence but the umpiring crew made the outrageous decision to hold Rosales at second, maintaining that their mistake was the right call.

In the second incident, an umpire crew covering an Angels-Astros game failed to enforce a rule, and the Angels played the game under protest. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued correctly that Astros pitcher Wesley Wright had to face at least one batter before being pulled, but instead the umpires allowed the Astros to replace him with Hector Ambriz.

For the second error, baseball did suspend Fieldin Culbreth for several days and fined the entire crew. However, no action has been taken against the first offenders, save for a meaningless apology from major league baseball.

Why are these incidents so horrendous? For one thing, the Umpires lack of knowledge and/or integrity had an impact on the field. Even more importantly, they showed some real ugly hubris on part of the umpires, who apparently think they are more important than the game itself.

One article has already made the accusation that umpire Hernandez (who has refused to be interviewed directly) purposely kept the double call to protest against the Instant Replay on Home Runs:


I’m not sure if it is that sinister. However I do think that the umpires were well aware, after seeing the replay, of the right call, and instead chose to double down on their mistake because to change the call would have wounded their pride or exposed their human error. Many umpires feel that fans and players don’t properly appreciate the skill and expertise required to be an umpire, and no doubt the implantation of instant replay is a reminder of the encroaching threat against their livelihood by more objective high-tech means.

That said, if the umpires are afraid of being replaced, they could not have picked a better way to prove the anachronism of their jobs by ‘creatively’ bungling a home run call and demonstrating a lack of knowledge of baseball rules.

Umpires make many mistakes, some of which are glaring even when they don’t necessarily affect the outcome of a game. Recall Armando Galarraga’s perfect game that wasn’t, when the first base umpire Jim Joyce called a player safe at first base. But in that situation, Joyce was apologetic when shown the replay video. Here, none of the umpires have apologized or even acknowledged that they impacted the games.

So what should baseball do? If they are serious about the integrity of the game, a serious fine and/or suspension should be levelled against all involved. Hernandez’ crew in particular needs to be taught a lesson since apparently they think the umpires ‘pride’ is more important than making the right calls.

Otherwise, not only will we continue to see the occasional “activist umpire” display, but the integrity of the game will be undermined as more and more voices call for mechanized game calling, which will more accurate, but also less fun.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cam Newton Ready for Breakout

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Cam Newton Ready for Breakout
By Wild on Sports Analyst Justin Davis

In his first two seasons, Cam Newton has put up some astronomical numbers in passing and rushing. As a rookie in 2011 he threw for over 4,000 yards and ran for over 700 while scoring 35 total touchdowns, 14 of which were on the ground. Cam followed that up last year with throwing for almost 3,900 yards, rushing for over 700, and scored 27 touchdowns. In his second year, Cam dropped his numbers of interceptions from 17 to 12 but doubled his fumbles from 5 to 10. For some, this could be what you would call a sophomore slump but for most of us, this is called a great second season for a future superstar.

In this coming season Newton should be ready to start competing in the playoffs with a better overall team and I think that will boosts his numbers. Cam is known for seeming selfish and arrogant but gets down on himself when something bad happens. I do see this as Cam’s only real flaw in his game as we know about the Superman poses when he scores a touchdown, even when his team is down by three scores. If he can get a little more focused on the game and winning as a team, and not just an individual, Newton’s name and numbers will go even higher. Being 6’5 and 250 pounds, Cam is anything other than a normal quarterback. He is going to continue to rush the ball and he is going to continue to average over 5 yards per carry because no player on defense can really take him down easily. Mix that in with his ability to chuck the ball the length of the field and his physical attributes are remarkable. Newton’s completion percentage remains an issue as it is sub 60% but that is something he can continue to work on and perfect in the coming years.

I will not be surprised to see Cam start showing up in the MVP races as early as this year if he can lead his team to the playoffs which will be a difficult tasks. He will be facing Atlanta and New Orleans twice a year in the division and if the Panthers can manage to upset those teams and a few others, the will be in the playoffs and I would love to see Cam in the playoffs. Could you imagine the energy that guy is going to bring to a game when he actually has a winning record. That attitude and selfishness is either going to go out the window and he will become more of a team player, or it will get even worse which could cause him to actually have even better numbers and still lead him to winning. I’m not willing to say he’s one of the best yet, but I think this year could be the year that my opinion changes.

Most Unlikely of Candidates: AL Central

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Most Unlikely of Candidates: AL Central
By Wild on Sports MLB Analyst Aaron Dorman

A look at the potential landing spots for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. In this edition we look at the the AL Central. What will it take to land the talented youngster?

1. Indians trade ss Asdrubal Cabrera, rhp Danny Salazar, and ss Dorssys Paulino for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Cabrera could be traded for prospects after he went to Miami, and it has been speculated that he’s on the trading block anyway. Danny Salazar is a flame-throwing prospect on the rise in AA, while Paulino is a teenage tool shed hitting below .200 in low-A. The Indians will miss Cabrera but can use Mike Aviles as a capable stopgap until either Jose Ramirez or Francisco Lindor replace him. The Indians look like a contender this year and Stanton could provide that extra boost to put them over the top. Currently only Carlos Santana looks like a star going forward for Cleveland.

WHY IT WON’T: Cabrera is a difficult piece to trade in the middle of a playoff race. He’s off to a slow start but shortstop is currently the most difficult position to get offense from and the drop off from him to the next guy is enough to nearly mitigate the arrival of Stanton. Lindor could be ready next year and he’s a top prospect but Cleveland wants to win in 2013. Meanwhile, Miami might prefer to do without the extra step of trading away Cabrera, when other teams could offer them a top prospect.


2. Royals trade 1b Eric Hosmer, rhp Jason Adam, rhp Kyle Smith and of Bubba Starling for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Having emptied their minor league ranks for James Shields this winter, the Royals don’t have tremendous depth from which to deal from, but they still have a nice collection of high-upside guys in the lower minors to give away in a deal. Meanwhile, Hosmer is in his third year but is starting to stall as an everyday player. His rookie season gives confidence that there is still a batting star within, but his lack of power and insufficient on-base skills make him more of a project right now, and Kansas City has legitimate playoff aspirations this year. Considering he is still just 23, Hosmer would be a fair centerpiece for a Stanton deal. The other guys are all a few years away but look like prospects for now.

WHY IT WON’T: Is Hosmer too much of a project at this point to be dealt? Even if Miami sees a .300 hitter in him, those two years of service time lost loom large for a team that doesn’t seem to anticipate ever keeping a player past free agency. Hosmer has now slugged .350 in over 650 at-bats since the beginning of 2012. Meanwhile, Kansas City lacks a great prospect to complement him in a deal with the exception of Kyle Zimmer, who I imagine they’d prefer to keep. It is hard to imagine a collection of prospects from within the Royals’ system that could match other team’s offers.


3. Tigers trade of Nick Castellanos, rhp Rick Porcello and of Tyler Collins/Dan Fields for of Giancarlo Stanton (and rhp Ricky Nolasco??)

WHY IT WORKS: Nick Castellanos is not quite major league ready, off to a slow start at AAA, but if he works out his issues, he could be an adequate replacement for Stanton next year. Porcello is no longer a prospect by any means but he’s still just 24 years old and perhaps a switch to the National League could untap some of his potential. He still throws hard and other teams were inquiring about him prior to the season. Collins and Fields are both athletic outfielders performing well in AA right now. The Tigers have dealt with Miami before and have shown they are not afraid to deal any amount of prospects for a young star. Stanton would be an awfully scary addition to a lineup: Cabrera, Fielder, and Stanton? Tigers, Tigers, and Tigers?? Oh my.

WHY IT WON’T: Detroit may have a difficult time putting together a truly competitive package for Stanton, as Castellanos is their best prospect and he pales in comparison to what some other teams could offer. Detroit currently has no great need for Stanton; they have plenty of high-profile stars performing, it’s really the back-end of the roster-another starter, an extra reliever, etc-that could use some work to help separate them from the pack.


4. Twins
trade of Aaron Hicks, inf Eddie Rosario, inf Jorge Polanco and rhp JO Berrios for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Minnesota might have the best collection of position player prospects in the game right now and dealing from some of that depth could land them Stanton. Hicks is just starting to play up to his potential after a dreadful 3-for-50 start to the season, and while he will never be the player that Stanton is, he could eventually contribute as a solid regular providing a little bit of everything-speed, defense, power, on-base. Maybe a poor man’s Mike Cameron? Rosario and Polanco are talented youngsters in A-ball who are a few years away but have breakout potential. JO Berrios was a top pick from last year who’s put up tremendous numbers in the lower minors but scouts still see more of a no. 2 or 3 starter, though that could change as he continues to show progress with his off speed pitches.

WHY IT WON’T: Minnesota just isn’t good enough right now to make a play for Stanton. It’s also not their modus operandi. Terry Ryan’s regime prefers to develop their stars in house, and they have plenty to work with. They’re also stocked with high-upside outfielders. Beyond Hicks and his fellow rookie Oswaldo Arcia, there’s also Byron Buxton, considered to be the best athlete in last year’s draft. If the Twins make a deal, it would more likely be for young pitching, as even in the minors, only Berrios and Nationals import Alex Meyer look like solid bets to be rotation material.


5. White Sox trade their entire farm system for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: You’d figure out of an entire farm system you’ll get some nice players, right? Maybe some big leaguers if everything breaks right?

WHY IT WON’T: Such presumptions are what you’d expect from a normal farm system, but the White Sox have ‘developed’ a particularly barren, fallow crop of players currently wallowing among their four full-season teams. Chicago is in a pretty ugly place right now when it comes to depth and long-term success. Then again, scouts said the same thing before last year and out of nowhere came two rotation arms in Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago. So maybe there are diamonds in rough, but not nearly enough for Stanton.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Ice Life: Round Two

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An Ice Life: Round Two
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Brian Peirce

I am going to recap the first round and preview the second in one shot, for your enjoyment.

An interesting first round has ended in marathon fashion. A record number of overtime games and a couple of series that went to seven games made this an extremely entertaining first round, unless your favourite team went down. There certainly is reason to believe that anyone can win the whole thing now that every team showed some form of weakness, with the exception of the Sharks who already are known as chokers.

Personally, I missed on some of the series. The biggest mistake I made was thinking the Islanders had no chance or that Vancouver had a chance. I also totally got it wrong thinking the Rangers were going to lose, and that was the only round I got wrong in predictions. I got seven out of eight of the winners’ right, which was the same as my last year predictions. I might as well keep it going with my second round preview.

Boston v New York

Boston beat Toronto to get here
It only took the background of a bombing and a historic come back down three goals in the third for ESPN to cover hockey on their supposed “Sportscenter” show. What a wild, wild game for the Bruins to come from behind and win. I did not think Toronto stood a chance and they had to go and steal the final game of the series. Patrice Bergeron needs to be the biggest story in sports right now, considering that he has had serious concussion issues in his career.

He has held in and recently returned from a fourth concussion when I thought his career was over two concussions ago. On top of that, he is one of the classiest players on any team in the world. He managed to tie and win the biggest game of the year in all of hockey and gave Boston original six bragging rights and a date with New York. He has established himself as the soul of the Bruins well before this win, but lifted the hearts of an entire city. He is a major reason why I picked the Bruins to win the cup. I will admit that I had turned the game off. I was thinking of how to write about how impressive Toronto was as well as eat my crow when I heard the game was now tied.

Toronto fans should not feel down. Boston was the better team on paper and had all the experience and the better goaltender coming in to the series. After the series, you have a goaltender that played better than Tuukka Rask did in Reimer, and he was almost was benched at the deadline. Toronto was a joke of a team that did not deserve any respect until this series. Now there is a core of players who will be hungrier, and they have a shot at the playoffs next year in what I believe to be the hardest of the new divisions.

New York beat Washington
New York got here by going into Washington in game seven and beating the team that was supposed to be too hot to touch. Henrik, who I thought was off even though he had a very good season that will see him finish third in Vezina voting, turned up the level of play. I thought Holtby was a better goaltender all around in this moment in time, but Lundqvist stepped up and proved me wrong. Staal gave a go at returning but might not be totally healthy yet. Regardless, his survival from a brutal eye injury will inspire the team going forward.

The Rangers proved themselves capable of shutting down big scoring and being gritty, enough to dominate in a road game seven. There is little reason to doubt them going forward as their goaltending is elite and they have a rough forward core that can score as a whole. The blue shirts are a dangerous team, and surprisingly for the first time in 40 years will play the Bruins in the playoffs. This is going to be a good series.

Boston is a powerhouse of a team that now has awakened, much like the sleeping bear. Rask is the better of the two tenders, but not in experience or the performance of the first round. This makes predicting this series difficult, if not impossible. It is going to be another duel between the pipes, though Rask has the better defense in front of him. The Rangers will target Lucic and his play will have a big bearing on the results, mostly if his temper gets the best of him. I think the Bruins have more skill, but don’t think that is all that will decide this round.

If Henrik stays the way he was in the first round, this will be no contest. I just assume that Rask will get slightly better and Lundqvist will get slightly worse. I am going to have to pick Boston in seven games. I still think they have what it takes to go the distance and I do not see the Rangers winning on the road as they only managed to do it in game seven, and I cannot see them doing it in Boston this year.

Pittsburgh v Ottawa

Pittsburgh beat the Islanders
The Penguins beat the Islanders 4-2, yet it felt like they were going to lose the series for a moment there. In fact, it took benching their franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (one of my favourite names to say in hockey) for Tomas Volkoun to get past the upstart Islanders. I don’t think any goaltender looked as bad as Fleury did and they were lucky to have inked Volkoun who had New York’s number.

Just like Toronto, the Islanders shook the banner of the loser with their play in the first round. They managed to win two games against the most powerful offense in the league. They did it in shootout fashion, but the next round will not be like that for the Pens, because they drew the Sens.

Ottawa beat the Habs
Montreal was the second best team in the East. Ottawa was not as well put together as the Habs on the front end, but they were better on the backend. When Karlsson came back from a catastrophic Achilles injury to play only 10 weeks after he was brutally assassinated, (more to come on that) the Canadians were in serious trouble. Montreal could have beaten any other team in the first round, but not the Senators. This is because Price needed to out duel Craig Anderson, and it just couldn’t be done. If Anderson and Karlsson weren’t injured most of the season, they likely would have walked away with both the Vezina and Norris trophies, respectively. I know because I had them both on my fantasy team.

Anderson is a goaltender that has been near the top of the league in total saves every single year he has played as a starter. He can carry a bad team, and the Senators are not a bad team. The team defense and rough depth overwhelmed the Canadians and they were done so fast, leaving a well-rested Ottawa team and a goaltender with a .950 save percentage.

Of course, they managed to line up the Penguins on different nights than the Chicago series, now NBC can get their top ass kissers to nationally televise both of the series and say Sidney Crosby’s name every single night of the week. They start the show tonight and it will be an interesting series.

The biggest x factor is the goaltending. I always will pick based on goaltending when in doubt, but this series isn’t in that big of doubt. The Penguins are the better team in almost every regard. I think Ottawa has the best leader in Alfie, the best goaltender, and the best defenseman. The Penguins have the best five forwards in the series and Letang who is the best defender when healthy. Penguins have better depth of skill, while Ottawa has better depth of grit and heart. Ottawa has the better coach, the better fans, and the better system. Penguins have the top two scoring centers and a player who wants it more than anyone in Pascal. Something has to give in this series, and I think it will be the refs.

I always think the refs have too much power in deciding the series, and I think they have a formula they use to be consistently “fair.” The refs always call more early in the series to try to control the violence, and they tend to favor whichever team is acting less goonish to start. There is always at least one game that the refs make more calls for the bigger market team. They always hide this by using liberal amounts of makeup calls to keep the penalty tallies close. This means the special teams are extremely important, as is the discipline in the start of the series.

This could all be a huge problem for the Senators. They don’t score much on the power play while the Penguins score at will. They also have to deal with punks like Cooke who they owe a world of hurt to for the aforementioned dirty play on Karlsson. As much as I would like to see him physically removed from the series, or even the league, Cooke must be left alone now. He is an idiot who will try to get those power plays for the Penguins and if the Senators many tough players can just ignore him, the calls will go their way. The best they can hope for is that no calls are made, because anything will get a makeup call to balance it out and the Pens will benefit from having more calls overall.
If you are following me, what this means is that the longer the series goes the better the Senators chances at escaping, because the calls will go in the Penguins favor until the end when the whistles will disappear. This also goes for inside the game as well, where Ottawa will benefit if they can have a goal lead in the final minutes of the game, rather than a two-goal lead with the third period to go. They will also benefit by either forgetting the Cooke business to when all hope is lost, or when they have a four-goal lead with minutes to spare. I personally wouldn’t touch him until next season.

Beyond the zebras, the Senators need not let this get away from them. The goaltending is their strongest suit, which means close games benefit them more, and if they go into Pitt and are blown out in the first two games, they might be swept. However, if they let three goals over two games and win one of them, they could win the whole thing in six or seven games. I think the Senators have the best chance at beating the Penguins right now, and if the Senators played, the Penguins in the first round as I was hoping for, Crysby would be teeing off right about now. I think the Pens are the favourite here, but they will never be my favourite. I am pulling for the Sens in seven, so that is what I am going with.

San Jose v Los Angeles

San Jose beat Vancouver
The Sharks dismantled the Canucks in quiet fashion. There isn’t much to say here about this, except that in the battle of two chokers the Sharks did not choke. They are well rested and buoyed by the victory over the Canucks. It wasn’t even interesting.

Los Angeles beat St. Louis
Los Angeles had a tougher time than I thought they would against the Blues and I think that helped them. The Kings are a fully developed team that is deep and strong, but they always start slowly and seem to lean too heavily on one part of their team at a time. They won the Cup by getting on Quick’s back too often. I saw the Blues challenge them across the board when they shouldn’t have and I saw the Kings respond while picking up momentum. This Kings team is better than the one that won the Cup, and thanks to the first round, they are better still.

This is going to be a California affair that most of the country will ignore due to sleep deprivation. That might be a mistake if the Sharks truly have shaken off the curse they seem to be under, because then it would be a great series. Both teams have hard players that fight for the puck while having the skill to make plays happen.

Niemi has been better than Quick on the year, so much of this series is going to depend upon whether or not this stays the same. I could go point by point, but this is a balanced series and I said the Kings were going to win the west before, so I might as well insist that they will win this round. I do think they will win, but it might be a hairy six game series.

Chicago v Detroit

Chicago beat Minnesota
I think the Wild lost the series more than Chicago won it, but that isn’t a slight against the Hawks, who look to be the strongest team in the playoffs. The Wild didn’t stress them and that might weaken the Blackhawks. One this is for sure, they are better rested than the Red Wings

Detroit beat Anaheim
Anyone who reads me knows I am a Wings fan, but this series pushed that to the limit. It was a seven game series that left me feeling that neither team deserved to move on. It made me feel that Zetterberg and Pavel deserved to move on, and that Perry and Getzlaf deserved to be locked in some sort of jail. Etem impressed me and so did the fact that so many rookies contributed for the Red Wings. The only lesson to be learned is that the Ducks could win the Cup with these guys if they only would grow up and play more like the guys who are elite leaders like Toews, Pavel, and Bergeron. Zetterberg also has shown that he wants to win as a Captain.

The second of the second round original six match ups will be a knockdown, drag out war. The Hawks are the only team that Detroit actually considers a true rival in my opinion, which means a lot when you were on the top of the league for so long. The Blackhawks hate the Red Wings more than any other team, and the fans chant in classless manner “Detroit sucks.” The Hawks have Red Wing killers in their depth, and two of the top five two-way superstar forwards. They have two of the top goaltenders in the league and no glaring holes. Every single projection will have the tired Wings losing to the Chicago team.

I will then just state the reason why the Wings may not lose to Chicago. I think Pavel and Zetterberg have shown they are more clutch than anyone in the league. They pushed this team to four overtimes of which three were wins, and a game seven with the youngest Wings squad in a long time. The defense is improving rapidly over the year, as is the offense. The weaknesses that kept the Wings from winning before were the lack of hungry puck hounds that hunted down loose pucks and kept the puck possession system going. They seem to have a few more of those with Nyqvist, Eaves, and the new look Abdelkader.

The Blackhawks have had the better top two lines since they got the Hossa, but the Wings have usually had the better bottom six lines. This feels the same, but I don’t see where the Wings have the defense to match the top two lines. They could win games on depth if the Euro twins match the output of the big three of Chicago. Jimmy Howard is also a better goaltender by himself than Crawford, even though Crawford had better numbers. If it comes down to goaltending, Detroit will win.

This is going to be a series where the winner is the team that plays together, from top to bottom, more consistently. Leadership plays into that, which favors the Wings, but so does how much youth is on the team and that favors the Hawks. As much as I hate to say it, I do not see the Wings winning this. I want to say they will lose in six games. I think that if it makes it to seven games you will see the best game of the entire playoffs and the Wings could win. I feel the Wings are going to stress Chicago the way the Ducks stressed the Wings. I predict the Kings and Blackhawks are going to meet in the Conference finals and start the new rivalry that will define the West.

MLB Power Rankings - May 14th

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MLB Power Rankings
May 14, 2013

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Puckmania: Game 7!

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Puckmania: Game 7!
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr

“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”

April 29th, 2013

I’m surprised to see how accurate this prediction has been, sans Kessel, but many other factors have come into play during this series. The resurgence in the play of Leafs goalie James Reimer, who has suddenly found control in his rebounds and found a way to stay on top of the puck. The leafs defense has kept Bruins forwards away from the front of the net and zeroed in on their scoring chances. The Seguin-Bergeron-Marchand line has been completely shut down and of course, Phil Kessel has been very productive through the first six games of this series.

The series will be decided tonight in Boston. The winner moves on, and the loser tees off at 9:30 tomorrow morning- if this happens to be the Bruins, Claude Julien may be looking for a new job.

Is this fair? No, not at all, however, the power of sports media in Boston has such a strong influence on the course of it’s executive decisions that the Bruins may not have a choice but to look for a new leader behind the bench.

This is not the first time Julien is on the hot seat before a game 7. Two years ago when the Bruins played the Canadiens in the first round, the Boston media was hyping the importance of that game to the point where many believed a loss would be the end of his tenure.

So, if the Bruins lose tonight, which I think they will, I seriously hope Claude Julien gets another chance with this team. A lot of people under estimated the Maple Leafs in this post season and that should not be put on the coach. If anything, that should be put on the Boston media which completely dictates the minds of those who are incapable of making up their own.

Cubs Lock Up Rizzo

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Cubs Lock Up Rizzo
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

There is not a whole lot of good in Cubby Nation these days. The team checks in at 15-22, good for last place in the NL Central. Want a little more salt in those wounds? Well, I could remind you that the Cubs organization has not won a World Series in over 100 years. Yes, that is a 1 with TWO zeros. It is seemingly more and more unlikely that any Cubs fan who saw the last WS victory will be with us to see the next.

Sorry Cubs fans. Hate me yet?

Well, before you start sending in all the hate mail and death treats I have a bit of good news for you...

As of Sunday night, multiple media outlets are reporting that the Cubs have reached an agreement with first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a seven-year, $41 million contract extension. The deal includes two option years that could bring the total value in the neighborhood of $70 million

Rizzo is one of, if not THE only bright spot on the Cubbies roster at the moment. He leads the team with .280 average, 9 HRS and 28 RBI. Rizzo was acquired from the San Diego Padres prior to the 2012 season in a deal that sent pitcher Andrew Cashner to southern California.

Rizzo really is a very talented offensive presence. He has looked very good in short stints in both 2011 with the Padres and last season with the Cubs, but most of his playing time over the past few seasons has been at the AAA level, not ML. The only question is can he sustain it for an entire season? That is a big commitment to a guy who spent half of last season in AAA. In this case however, the risk and unusual contract for a young player very well may be worth the it long term. Theo Epstin and Jed Hoyer drafted Rizzo back in 2007 with the Red Sox. They both got to watch his development first had for several years before shipping him to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. If anyone knows what he is capable it is them.

There you go Cubs fans! A little tidbit for you to get excited about. OK, you can go back to hiding now. We will see you again for the 2nd pick in June's draft.

2013 NFL Draft Grades: Detroit Lions

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Draft Grades: Detroit Lions
By Wild on Sports Analyst Davis McGregor
The Draft has come and gone and the choices made by professional General Managers all hit the microscope by the fans. Almost everyone becomes a critic around this point of the year claiming they could be a much better GM. Those claims won’t be too quiet in Motown either.

First round picker Ziggy Ansah is nothing but a bag of questions at this point. Hailing from Ghana, the BYU graduate has only played football for two years. Spending most of his life on a soccer field, Ansah didn’t strap on the pads until 2010. Who would’ve thought just a few years later he would be going to the Detroit Lions as a first round pick.

Defensive end was a strong need for the Lions but picking up Ansah strictly on his athletic ability is a little shaky. A sheer lack of experience is why I’m not toatalluy sold on him yet. He does have a huge upside however.

There really doesn’t seem to be a ceiling on Ziggy’s abilities. He has flashing speed and knows how to use that to get to the quarterback. Alongside Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley they three should do some devastating damage to passers around the league.

Detroit had one of the worst pass defenses around the league last season. Picking up Darius Slay out of Mississippi State was a solid pick but a bit of a stretch in my opinion. Coming off that knee injury he is a bit of a risk just like Ansah. Slay has impressive size and speed to hang with some of the biggest and fastest receivers in the NFL. I’m still waiting to see how this arthroscopic knee surgery turns out to put too much hope into him. If all goes well he can be a starter on the defense and hopefully turn them around.

With these two big question marks its hard to give a definitive grade on these players without seeing them play in the big leagues. As they are right now though, I give the Lions a B and hope that these risky picks play out well.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

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

This past week in baseball offered a few teams, and players who have gone streaking for the good or for bad. The Padres who were projected by many to finish in the bottom of the NL West found themselves winning four straight, enough to keep them out of last. Although three of those wins were against the Marlins, the little win streak is enough to keep spirits high in San Diego and maybe it is something to build off of for the rest of the month of May. The Dodgers on the other hand may want to hit the panic button soon. They lost seven straight, and have lost Hanley Ramirez once again who landed on the DL earlier last week. It won’t get much easier for the Dodgers either as six of their next eight games are against the Nationals and the Braves. Mark Trumbo of the Angels also put together a nice string of homeruns from Apr. 29 through May 7, homering in six out of eight games racking up 11 RBIs during that stretch. The Angels are still slumping though having only won two of three games in Houston who is trying to stay out of the cellar in the AL West. There are still a lot of questions to answer in LA between the Dodgers and Angels as to why they are doing so miserable, but with time either they will improve or moves will be made.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Paul Goldschmidt 1B Ari- In the 2012 season Goldschmidt made a name for himself hitting 20 homeruns and stealing 18 bases. His 18 steals ranked among the top of first baseman, which makes him such a rare find if you were able to draft him. In the past week he’s raised his average over the .310 mark while hitting four homeruns and stealing a couple bags. Goldschmidt should be a 20-20 threat again this season ranking among one of the top first baseman.

2. Jason Kipnis 2B Cle- Hitting only around the .220 mark Kipnis actually raised his average almost 40 points since the end of April. In the past week only Goldschmidt has hit more RBIs with 11 to Kipnis’ 10. Kipnis is also a dual threat with a chance to steal a base anytime he gets on. Second basemen have come at a premium this season for MLB teams so the Indians should be thankful they have one of the better ones. Kipnis has a few multi-hit games in the past week and the Indians hope he can keep it going while they have fought to only a game back of the AL Central Division lead.

3. Felix Hernandez SP Sea- After signing a huge contract with the Mariners, some though they paid too much to keep Hernandez around, but the Mariners organization wants to prove everyone that the product is worth the money put into it. In his past four starts Hernandez has gone 4-0 allowing only two earned runs in 30 innings pitched, which is no surprise to baseball fans. His ERA stands at 1.53, and he is once again a legitimate CY Young threat. If he can avoid losing games due to the Mariners dismal offense he should finish in the top three of the CY Young voting.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Billy Butler 1B KC- The Royals have gone on a bit of a skid the past week, and you can give some of that blame to Billy Butler. Still holding their own in the AL Central, Butler shouldn’t see a cut in his playing time or see a move in the batting order. He’s seen a recent 40 point drop in his average falling below the .250 line. Butler should pick his power back up though as he plays every game and has only missed two games since the start of 2011. He only has three homeruns this season, but should knock out 20-25 before the season is over if the Royals want to be a legitimate contender in the AL Central.

2. Brett Lawrie 3B
Tor- The Blue Jays expected Lawrie to breakout this season as part of their brand new lineup, but it has been far from that this season and even more the past week. He only has a couple hits in his past 24 at-bats and only has one double this season. His last extra base hit was a homerun, but that came all the way back on May 2. Overall, the Blue Jays have fallen way short of expectations, but there’s enough blame to go around the whole Blue Jays lineup, not just Lawrie.

3. Yovani Gallardo SP Mil- For being the opening day starter for the Brewers, Gallardo has been a bit of a disappointment through the first month compared to how he ended the year last year. In his past two starts Gallardo has only pitched 10 innings and allowed seven runs. Gallardo did win three straight from Apr. 18-Apr. 29, but that has been the only bright spot this season for him. If he wants to reach the 16 wins he did last year he will need to make adjustments to his game and receive help from the Brewers offense.

Pickups for the Upcoming Week

1. David Hernandez RP Ari- Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz received terrible information the past week that he will need surgery on his elbow and will likely be out the whole 2013 season. That leaves the closer duty up to Heath Bell and/or David Hernandez. Heath Bell will get first dibs at the job, but should he mess up once or twice Hernandez will be right there to pick up the scraps. Hernandez saved 15 games between the 2011 and 2012 seasons when Putz wasn’t able to go so he has experience at the position. If you have a roster spot available it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in Hernandez on a long term basis.

2. Will Venable OF
SD- Unfortunately for Venable, he’s not an everyday player for the Padres but if he keeps batting the way he has the past week he shouldn’t have any problem finding himself at-bats the rest of the season. In his past 14 plate appearances Venable has clubbed three homers and stolen three bases. He played 148 games last season so he’s used to being an everyday player. Venable is a threat to steal 20-25 bags given the opportunity, but his power numbers might not be the same as he only hit 18 homeruns total between 2011 and 2012.

3. James Loney 1B TB- Loney has been a pleasant surprise for the Rays this season as they expected him to just be a part-time player off the bench, but given his hot bat as of late Loney has gotten a chance to play every day the past week. His average has sky rocketed to .376 and he has four multi-hit games in May. If his hot bat continues he should become the Rays everyday first baseman down the road.

Best Matchups in the Upcoming Week

Kansas City vs. LA Angels- The Angels are still looking to climb their way into any sort of playoff or division race while the Royals have stunned a lot of people by making their way near the top of the AL Central. This should be a close series with the Angels still having much to prove.

Washington vs. LA Dodgers- The Dodgers much like the Angels are still struggling, but the Nationals still want to solidify themselves as a force in the NL. They were the hands on favorite to win the NL East and were picked by some to win the NL. They aren’t close to either as Strasburg along with the rest of the Nationals want to turn it up going into the next month of the season.

Detroit vs. Texas- Both teams have been powerhouses in their division up until this point in the season, and both have held off hot teams to maintain their slim divisional leads. This could be a future playoff matchup with each team able to make the case they have the best rotation in the league.

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