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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Social Media: A Bane on NCAA Stars

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Social Media: A Bane on NCAA Stars
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

Once the college football season ended last year, the storylines surrounding A.J. McCarron and Johnny Manziel were much different than they have been in the past few weeks. McCarron will be entering his senior season at Alabama, and will be attempting to win his third national championship with the Tide, which would be unprecedented for a quarterback. Johnny Manziel was coming off of a season in which he captivated college football fans and even beat the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. He is on the short list of favorites for this year’s Heisman along with McCarron, and fans have been excited to see them play this year and how the season will play out, especially since Texas A&M will host Alabama on September 14th. However, as has been the case recently, social media has had a negative effect on how these players have been talked about recently.

McCarron’s life has become increasingly popular since the BCS National Championship Game, but not because of his play. ESPN commentator Brent Musberger was announcing the game, when the camera panned over a girl in the Alabama stands, who happened to be A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend Katherine Webb, and caused Musberger to gush over the broadcast with partner Kirk Herbstreit. Since then, Webb has covered the Super Bowl, filmed a reality show, and appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. As Webb has become a media sensation McCarron’s life has also been brought into the spotlight with her because of their relationship. On May 26th, a photo on Twitter showed a ring on Webb’s left ring finger and the media took off with rumors that she was engaged without verifying these claims. Webb has since come out and denied the engagement, but the fact that it was even a story shows the impact that a simple picture on social media, which is now everywhere with smart phones, Wi-Fi, and the various social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few. Last week, an Instagram photo surfaced of McCarron with model Margaret Wood, who was a friend of McCarron’s. She had stayed the night at McCarron’s because of a cancelled flight, and people exploded with theories that he was cheating on Webb. As it turns out, Wood was too drunk to drive so McCarron did the responsible thing and didn’t allow her to leave. Once again, the use of social media was used to direct attention to McCarron’s personal life rather than the upcoming season.

Johnny Manziel became a superstar overnight, when he led Texas A&M into the SEC and totaled over 5,000 of total offense and 47 total touchdowns, finishing with an 11-2 record. Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and seems poised not only for another run at the Heisman, but possibly a National Championship shot with A&M. However, if Manziel has one Achilles heel, it’s his use of social media, specifically Twitter, making his day-to-day exploits everyone’s knowledge. Pictures of Manziel have surfaced of Manziel with handfuls of money at a casino, and with a “tattoo” of the Texas Longhorn symbol, sending the “Twitterverse” into a frenzy. Manziel has become a media star, appearing at the Super Bowl, throwing out first pitches, and appearing on television talk shows. Recently, Manziel and former teammate Ryan Swope were in a music video, sparking the rumors that Manziel was paid for the appearance, which he wasn’t. Over the weekend, Manziel sent out a tweet, which he has since deleted, saying that he couldn’t wait to leave College Station because of some incident. While everyone jumps to his desires to go pro or transfer, isn’t it more likely that he was having a bad night and overreacted. While Manziel has to know that he has become a huge sensation and that everything he does is under a microscope, he is still 20 years old, and uses social media like many other users, to express his thoughts. Unfortunately, his thoughts are accessible to 370,000 followers and numerous media outlets.

Because the new age of social media is able to publish any thought that a person has, people need to have a general sense of what to publish and what not to. However, in cases of premier athletes, especially at the college level, they have to understand that their social media use is being followed by news companies, and that everything that they put on social media could end up being a story for ESPN later that day. Coaches are trying to help their players manage their social media usage, but with players like McCarron and Manziel, their superstardom keeps them in the spotlight. Hopefully for them, and college football fans, all of this unnecessary noise is drowned out by their performances in the upcoming football season.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Puckmania: Who's Ready for Some Hockey

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Puckmania: Who's Ready for Some Hockey
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

Ready to watch a real sport tonight?

Let me start by asking, who still believes the NBA isn’t rigged? Not that I’m a basketball guru by any means, but how that fourth quarter unraveled was a complete abomination. Not just for the NBA or its fan, but for any association that is deemed a professional sport. Travels wouldn’t be called unless someone stepped three or four times, sometimes they still wouldn’t be called. Both teams were given way too much leeway when it came to flops and other fouls- not that this differs much from any other contest involving the Heat. Nonetheless, the officials have to make the right calls in game 6 of the NBA finals. Since they didn’t, a larger anticipation dawns the Stanley Cup Finals tonight (as it should).

So, what’s at stake tonight for both teams?

For Chicago, the level of momentum that they currently lack, will depend on the status of all star winger Marian Hossa. He is always a threat offensively and he is the last piece on their top line, which is arguable the best in the league. He is one of the Blackhawks biggest investments and likewise, one of their many offensive players whose clutch meter is off the charts.

The Blackhawks will go home down three games to one with a loss tonight. For those who want to say that they’ve already overcome a 3-1 deficit this post season, don’t forget whom they did it against- overpaid goalie, minor league quality defense, injury ridden, blah blah blah you get it. Case in point, Chicago was lucky they were down 3-1 to Detroit, because winning three straight against them is as easy as moving a Brent Seabrook with the puck to the faceoff circle. It will NOT happen again, barring Chara, Rask and Krejci don’t all go out with season ending injuries.

For Boston, the Bruins have won seven straight home games and haven’t faired much worse on the road since the first round. A win tonight will give them 3-1 series lead, but a loss will put them at a tie heading back on the road. Before this round, the Bruins haven’t been tied in a series since the first round. Now, I know that the playoffs vastly differ from the regular season, but if you followed the Bruins during the regular season, you will know how streaky this team was. From their white-hot start to their miserable finish, this team was either consistently good or consistently bad.

Not to mention if the Bruins get completely blown out tomorrow night (which seems very unlikely), I have a tough time believing that they find a way to rebound quick enough to stay as a contender in this series. *

The ratings should be through the roof, and I expect to see a plethora of Bruins fans at Magic Kingdom tomorrow. Rock the Black and Gold!

Oh, and screw the NBA.

* This won’t happen so don’t worry Bruins fans. Just giving an extreme scenario.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Trouble in Chi-Town

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Trouble in Chi-Town
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

After getting out to a 1-0 series lead to start the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a tricky situation heading into Wednesday night's game four. Losing two tight games to the Boston Bruins is just the tip of the iceberg. It was more or less expected going into the series that this one would go 6 or 7 -- fans thought so, the media thought so, even the teams by-in-large thought so.

The real trouble is not necessarily the result thus far, although they do find themselves in a virtual must win situation Wednesday night; the trouble instead is the personal on the ice.

In a very surprise last minute decision before game three, star winger Marian Hossa was scratched from the game with an appearent "upper body injury." Given the time of year any tidbit of injury news is about as vague as possible, but the news regardless of the extent is very serious if you are a Blackhawks fan. Hossa is tied for the team lead in point this post season with 15 (7 goals, 8 assists). More importantly, he is a key piece to what the other offensive talents around him are able to do.

Jonathan Towes has been a ghost in this series. Patrick Kane has had his opportunities but failed to capitalize. Case and point:  missing almost an entirely open net on a 3-on-1 during the third period of game three. No Hossa for any length of time means Chicago is going to need a heck of a lot more out of both of those guys offensively if they are to have any chance in solving the puzzle that has been Tukka Rask this postseason.

Boston’s disciplined, grinding, physical two-way hockey has been a major recipe for success thus far and has frustrated every team that they have played. Many thought going into this series that if there was a team that would find holes in that defensive system it would be Joel Quenneville's Blackhawk team.

One area that has clearly been an achilles heal for Chicago has been the power play. 0 for 5 again in game three. That puts them 0 for 19 in their last six games, a statistic that just cannot continue if Chicago wants to get back into this series. It is rare enough that Boston would give up five shorthanded opportunities. You have to capitalize on your opponents mistakes if you expect to win.

Coach Queeneville split up the dynamic duo of Towes and Kane, even for the majority of powerplay time in game three. One has to wonder if this match-up game of trying to keep one of them away from Bruins defenseman Zedno Chara is worth breaking up your most dangerous scoring tandem. It has not worked thus far as the two have combined for just 1 point in the series.

What ever the answer is, the Blackhawks need to find something different for game four. If they're going back to Chicago in a 3-1 hole on Saturday they might as well throw in the white towel. Troubles a bruin' -- its time to get back to the drawing board.

MLB Power Rankings - June 18th

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MLB Power Rankings
June 18, 2013

Make it six weeks now that the St. Louis Cardinals sit pretty as kings of Major League Baseball and #1 in the Power Rankings.  The Red hot (pardon the pun) team out in Cincinnati jumped up five places in this week's rankings after winning seven out of their last ten. The Boston Red Sox held steady at #3 while the Atlanta Braves and Oakland A's round out the top five. Don't look now but the next big leapers very well could be everyone's off-season darlings north of the boarder. Toronto has won six straight and seems to be cleaning up in inter-league play. With plenty of baseball left and the eventual return of Jose Reyes the Blue Jays could have a say in the wild card race before all is said and done.

Where does your team rank this week?

1. St. Louis Cardinals (44-25, last week No. 1)
2. Cincinnati Reds (42-28, last week No. 7)
3. Boston Red Sox (42-29, last week No. 3)
4. Atlanta Braves (41-28, last week No. 2)
5. Oakland A's (42-29, last week No. 6)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28, last week No. 8)
7. Baltimore Orioles (40-30, last week No. 11)
8. Detroit Tigers (38-29, last week No. 9)
9. Texas Rangers (38-31, last week No. 4)
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-32, last week No. 10)
11. New York Yankees (38-31, last week No. 5)
12. Colorado Rockies (37-33, last week No. 13)
13. Tampa Bay Rays (36-33, last week No. 12)
14. San Francisco Giants (35-33, last week No. 14)
15. San Diego Padres (35-34, last week No. 18)
16. Washington Nationals (34-34, last week No. 15)
17. Cleveland Indians (34-34, last week No. 19)
18. Kansas City Royals (33-34, last week No. 17)
19. Philadelphia Phillies (33-37, last week No. 16)
20. Toronto Blue Jays (32-36, last week No. 23)
21. Minnesota Twins (30-36, last week No. 20)
22. Seattle Mariners (31-29, last week No. 26)
23. Los Angeles Angels (30-39, last week No. 24)
24. Los Angeles Dodgers (29-39, last week No. 22)
25. Chicago White Sox (28-38, last week No. 21)
26. Chicago Cubs (28-39, last week No. 25)
27. Milwaukee Brewers (28-40, last week No. 27)
28. New York Mets (25-39, last week No. 28)
29. Houston Astros (26-44, last week No. 29)
30. Miami Marlins (21-47, last week No. 30)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mickelson Chokes, Again

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Mickelson Chokes, Again

It was supposed to be the ultimate feel good story. Father skips practice round to be home for his daughter's 8th grade graduation. He then jumps on a plane early the morning of the first round and arrives with a game we have only seen glimpses of over the past couple of season. He jumps out to a first round lead and is everyone's favorite going into the weekend. The storybook ending would be a tournament win on Sunday, Father's day, his birthday; the picture perfect finish.

The ending was not so rosy and sweet for Phil Mickelson on Sunday. For the sixth time he finished in 2nd place at the US Open.

After making was appeared to be a miracle shot, holing out from fairway on #10 for eagle, it seemed as if it was fate, not the grizzled 43 year old, that was willing the ball into the hold.

Instead it was heatbreak, again; a repeat of 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009. He was right there. A putt here, a better decision there, maybe a bounce or two. Nope.  He had a 10 footer to tie the lead on 15, missed. He had a look at it again on 17, miss there as well. He put his tee shot on 18 into the hellishly thick rough on the left side, was able to gauge it out just short of the green but the magical wedge did not come through.

"If I had won today, or if I ultimately win, I'll look back at the other Opens and think it was a positive play,'' said Mickelson. "But if I never get the Open, then ... every time I think of the U.S. Open I think of heartbreak.''

Heartbreak seems to be the name of the game for Mickelson.  At 43 you have to wonder just how many more opportunities there will be.

"This could have been the big -- a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the U.S. Open and the tournament that I'd like to win after having so many good opportunities,'' said Mickelson. "Playing very well here and really loving the golf course, this week was my best opportunity [to win an Open].''

And the wait continues for that elusive US Open silver jug. Until next time it will once again be "what could have been." What is, is another choke in only Mickelson-esk fashion.  

Spurs In Control

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Spurs in Control
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

It seems like every night a new hero emerges. Game one it was Tony Parker and the miracle shot. In game three it was Danny Green and an endless barrage of 3-pointers. There was more of that in Sunday night's game five but the spotlight was on yet another Spur; this time Manu Ginobili.

Ginobli broke out of what has seemed to be a playoff long slum to throw down 24 points to go along with 10 assists as the Spurs cruised to a 114-104 victory and commanding 3-2 series lead. It has been a long time coming for the Argentine who made his more traditional off balance circus shots that left Miami's defense puzzled all night.

Perhaps the biggest story this series has been the play of guard Danny Green. Green broke the NBA finals record for three pointers in a series Sunday (ironically previously held by now Heat guard Ray Allen). Green, who signed with San Antonio off the scrapheap in March of the 2011 season, now has 25 three-pointers in the series passing Allen's old mark of 22. His clutch shooting very well may have him at the top of the finals MVP discussion.

What has been puzzling has been the way Miami has approached Green defensively this series. Tony Parker said it best, "I can't believe he is still open at this moment in the series. They are still playing me tough and doubling Timmy (Duncan). Danny is wide open. He is shooting the ball well. If you leave Danny open he is going to make threes."

And three's he has made. Miami now has to make adjustments. If they don't they are going back to their death in South Florida. In this back and forth series the hot hand usually wins his team the game. The Spurs have had that hot hand in Green thus far, and as result have control of the series.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

18 Game Season?

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18 Game Season?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Davis McGregor

Once again Rodger Goodell has come to the podium with more unpopular news. This time is a little bit different however. The fans are loving what he has to say while its all the players that are having the problem.

Commissioner Gooddell and the rest of the NFL finally decided to review the entire idea of a pre-season this year. Stating that, ” I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable,” and that the pre-season is not of those valuable events for one simple reason. Pre-season sucks.

It’s understandable why teams like to have these exhibition games. They show which players are, and more importantly which ones aren’t, playing up to expectations. And it’s also understandable why the players are so against it too. It’s come to the point where you can barely watch a football game without seeing someone be carried of the field with one injury or another, unless it’s a preseason game however. Players aren’t going 100% in these games so someone being injured in much less likely. If the NFL were to kick two games over from the pre-season to regular season, then that would just add more names to the IR at the end of the season.

One voice that has been speaking out against this move is veteran linebacker James Harrison. He criticizes Goodell and the league as a whole by calling them out for taking the extra money brought in by these games over the safety of players, something Goodell claims to have as his priority. Harrison should know this in particular due to all the fines handed out to him by the commish for late hits and unnecessary roughness. Imagine the money he would rack up in fines if he had an extra pair of games to continue head hunting quarterbacks.

No the preseason isnt the most exciting thing in the world but it does serve a purpose. It allows undrafted players to get a look by the coaches and it allows the rookies to get into the rhythm of an NFL game before they really count.

Bottom line is that as boring as preseason games are, they’re a necessity to the league and moving games to the regular season will cause nothing but confusion and injuries. But for now all Goodell has to say is that, “All options are on the table,” and talks will continue with the NFLPA.

MLB Weekly Walk-Off - Back at it Again

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MLB Weekly Walk-Off
Back at it Again!
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

The best team in the MLB is starting to form and they have one of the best run differentials through 65 games in MLB history, matching them with the Braves team from the late 90s. The St. Louis Cardinals have once again stunned MLB fans with no name players such as Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso and closer Edward Mujica who only had four career saves before the 19 he’s already put up this season. He only has induced one walk this season which is good for tops in the league in K:BB ratio among closers. The NL West is taking their stand as the most exciting division in baseball. Besides the top and bottom being only separated by nine games, there was a second NL West brawl which included the Diamondbacks and Dodgers last week. The Padres and Dodgers got into a bench clearing brawl earlier this year when Carlos Quentin and Zach Grenkie went at it. Ian Kennedy was suspended for 10 games for his actions in the brawl which will cost him two starts. The Diamondbacks surprisingly lead the division as of today, but that could easily change in the next week. Also, Yasiel Puig is still blazing on the Dodgers batting .487 in 11 games.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Hunter Pence OF SF- Pence has surprisingly turned into one of baseball’s biggest base stealing threats. He had a minimal five steals last season, but has turned in 13 so far this season. Even in the past week Pence has three steals and a couple homeruns while batting .423. Pence could be a 30-30 threat if he stays on this pace the rest of the season, but that could be in doubt given Pence’s history.

2. Ervin Santana SP KC- He is one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the game today, but when Santana is on point he has the potential to dismiss any MLB team in the league. The past week though, Santana has pitched 14.2 innings while allowing only two earned runs and striking out nine, which was good for two wins. He plays for the Royals which won’t net him too many wins, but Santana could easily finish .500 or just over it.

3. Starling Marte OF Pitt- Since Jun. 8 Marte has eight hits in 17 at bats lifting his average ten points, but Marte has quietly racked up 20 steals for the Bucs in their lead-off spot on the season including five in the past week. Paired up with Andrew McCutchen, these two have the potential to rack up 75 steals combined which will make for a nice threat if the Pirates make the play offs. Look for Marte to climb the ranks in the steals category in the NL and be at the top by the end of the season.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Yoenis Cespedes OF Oak- The injury bug has made its way to Oakland and Cespedes over the past week. Cespedes has experienced hamstring tightness which has allowed him to only gain two hits in the past week lowering his average to .236. Cespesdes has also seen a decrease in his speed only stealing two bases so far this year. Cespedes should pick it up to where his average is around .250-.275, but his base running will probably continue to stay where it is.

2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B Ari- I know I praised Goldschmidt not too long ago on here, but that’s not the case in this week’s installment. He’s only gone three for his last 26 lowering his average almost 30 points. It was inevitable that Goldschmidt was going to come back down to earth from his amazing month of May. He should level out as a .300 hitter which Diamondback fans should have no problem with as he did lead them to the top of the division thus far.

3. Matt Moore SP TB- Moore went from a possible all-star game start to possibly not even making the team. His past three starts have been dreadful, and that’s an understatement. He’s tallied 12.1 innings while allowing an astonishing 19 runs after he only allowed 14 in all his previous starts. If the Rays want to make a run at the playoffs Moore better figure out what is wrong and fix it quick or this could be a long season for him.

Pickups for the Next Week

1. Rick Porcello SP Det- In years past Porcello hasn’t been a fan favorite in Detroit due to the high expectations. He’s pitched well, but when you have to pitch behind Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer sometimes good doesn’t seem that good. In his last two starts Porcello has gone 2-0 while allowing one earned run in 13 innings. For the moment Porcello is actually pitching better than Verlander, but don’t expect that trend to continue.

2. Adam Dunn 1B OF CWS- If your fantasy baseball team is lacking power, look no further than Dunn who has the potential to take the ball out every time he comes to the plate. Dunn is batting only .181 on the season but that’s higher than the .156 it was at a week ago. He has hit four homers in the past week for the White Sox who have been struggling to put runs up as of late, but if Dunn can raise his average to even .220, that could mean 30 homeruns for the big man.

3. Tyler Colvin 1B OF Col- Colvin hasn’t put up monsterous numbers since being called up, but he’s one of the Rockies most prized prospects, and already has a couple homeruns in his 18 at bats this season. He’s not going to put up numbers like Puig, but Colvin has the potential to hit 15-20 homeruns and gain 50-60 RBIs if he continues to start for a majority of the rest of the season.

Top Matchups for the Next Week

Pirates at Reds- This is a battle for the two spot in the NL Central. The Pirates feel they have something to prove after last year’s meltdown and the Reds want to prove that they can make it out of the first round of the playoffs for once. Both teams are still on the rise so something has got to give in this intense series.

A’s at Rangers- The A’s have reclaimed the top spot from the Rangers in the AL West so the Rangers will be looking for some retribution in this series, especially at home. It’s a four game set, but I’m sure the tone will be set early on in this series with each team still in the top half of the league as far as team ERA goes.

LA Dodgers at Yankees- This is next week’s top interleague match up as Puig makes his first trip into Yankee Stadium. It will be interesting to see how Puig handles the pressure in the Big Apple, and finally if the Dodgers can get their engines going. Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are still on the DL so the Yankees should take full advantage of the Dodgers misfortunes.

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