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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Knee Jerk Reactions: NHL Free Agency

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Knee Jerk Reactions: NHL Free Agency
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Pierce

This off-season was a mess; I think the NHL needs to be given the biggest loser title. There were questions by everyone about how buyouts were going to work, when teams could talk to players, you had people being signed while others had to wait, and it just was an awful situation that really turned me off what usually is my favourite part of the year.

Some of the biggest moves were made by the normal names in the front office, and some were shocking. With the amount of money still skyrocketing, the league learned nothing and every team loses because of it. Because of this, any team that signs no one but their own, are automatically winners unless their signings were tragically awful. I cannot even think of an example.

Philly always seems to be making huge moves with their team, playing tightrope with the cap, and generally keeping everyone guessing. A team that was over the cap and had to buy out two of their biggest contracts just to make it work quickly signed the biggest name in UFA and went back over the cap. I like that they are aggressive, but they are over the cap and need to make a trade to get it fixed, until they do they are losers who will have a runner up for the best line in the league. This player was of course Lecavalier, who is a ppg guy, and the only true superstar on the market. He will be fun to watch with Giroux, who is a superstar himself. He was only on the market because the Lightning dumped him to get cap flexibility.

I think the Lightning really didn’t need the room this year, and considering in the past they turned down deals of blockbuster proportion for him, I think they might have to be a loser. I just don’t see saving 2.6 million while going from a superstar to Filppula as a good thing. If he signed him to 4 million I would say he did a great job, but he didn’t.
I also think Steve Yzerman was thinking he wouldn’t be alone in dumping 30 million dollars down the drain, and is looking foolish now that no one else dumped their toxic contracts. COUGH COUGH VANCOUVER COUGH!

Yeah Vancouver, there is a loser of a team. Not saying moving Schneider was a bad move, but at this point you are putting your fate in the hands of someone who you kicked while on the ground. Your cap is still in pretty bad shape, and you are shopping your best defenseman because you cannot trade any one else away. It was looking like you could have been a dynasty at one point, and it just fell apart so fast that there might be another riot.

Dallas had the newcomer of Jim Nill, who those who are deep into hockey know him as the understudy of Ken Holland, the once great GM of Detroit. For those who don’t know him, he was the guy who had final say in every Red Wings draft of recent history and has been responsible for some tremendous picks. He was promised the job in Detroit, and when Holland didn’t retire when he said he was going to, he took a job in Dallas and now we find him being the most aggressive guy in the league.

He has made two major trades, one getting Horcoff from Edmonton, and the other being a massive 7 player trade where he got a Seguin, a guy who was touted as a phenom and got to play for Boston and see a couple of impressive cup runs. He gave up Loui Eriksson in the process and several good prospects. It is a risky deal that seems like Boston won in the short run getting the best player as of yet in Eriksson, and they could win in the long run if Sequin doesn’t pan out. However in believed upside, Seguin should end up being the best player in the trade, and if he is that #1 center, then Dallas just bought the face of their franchise.
I think Dallas is a winner here.

Speaking of an aggressive move, The Ducks traded Bobby Ryan for Sifverberg, Noesen, and a 1st round pick. Sifverberg is a 22 year old who had a respectable .4 ppg in his first season with the Senators. He is a step down from Ryan, but could be a minor step down going forward. Noesen is a 20-year-old sniper who hasn’t played a professional game yet, but could be a scorer in the league. The first might be a mid round pick, so the Ducks get many good unknowns for a young Ryan who had one really good season. Cannot call either of them winners or losers, but Ottawa needed a superstar after losing Alfredsson to the Wings.

Speaking of the Wings, I will take this chance to say something to Ken Holland directly. Congrats on keeping to your plan of making the team bigger, younger, and increasing scoring by signing a 5'11 guy who got .24 ppg last year to a 4.9 5 year deal that will take a roster spot from one of the kids going forward. He replaced Filppula who over the last two years had . 68 ppg to Weiss' .62 ppg, and was an inch taller. An aging 5'11 guy will help that out on top of that who is really old, and got .55 ppg last year to replace a 27 year old who got .59 ppg and two more goals in his first season who you could have gotten for a lot less than 5.5 Million in Damien Brunner.

Holland sure is doing a great job. Good show old boy. Bonus, you let Val walk without trading away his rights or anything like that...

What a shitty, shitty, shitty job he has done the last three years. If Jim Nill was the reason the Red Wings draft well, this team is going to be defunct in five years. He doesn't have the guts to make a good move, then gets into a panic and throws money into horrible contracts that hurt the team. He didn't even buy out the right freaking contracts, as they were thin at Defense and deep at forward and he bought out a defenseman. There were also far more defenseman available than forwards. I would like to say that if I could have any job that really exists in this world, it would be GM of the Detroit Red Wings. I would do it for free. Days like today make me think they should give me that job, because I could not possibly do any worse than Holland did today.

If you think I am wrong, let me just say this. As of right now, they have 2.3 million dollars left with 14 forwards and 6 defenseman signed to resign Brunner, Andersson, Nyqvist, Smith, or even Cleary. It is an impossible task, and will require trading someone, but whom can they trade but their good pieces? They are going to get worse. All of this when he could have just resigned Andersson, Brunner, Nyqvist, and Smith, letting youth be served. Ken Holland is the biggest loser of the day, and might be the biggest loser of the last three years when it comes to UFA and trades. If he didn’t get Brunner and DeKeyser, he would have it locked up.

The Leafs kept their own and added Clarkson. I think Clarkson is good and will help them win more games, but they did overpay for him and Bozak in my mind. It is hard to call this team a loser for it, but I don’t think I can call them winners either. They just feel like they have second-rate talent in too many positions that they won’t be able to move. You also have to think that they would have loved to make the Seguin deal if they didn’t have made one of the worst trades ever in moving that pick away. In an alternate universe, they might be winners. Here, we have to wait and see.

Phoenix is a winner, because they get to keep their team and added Riebero. I hate him so much, but he is hard to play against and is like adding a Shane Doan with no class to your team. The desert dogs might as well call themselves Scrappy-Doo now. They honestly would be losers, except for the feel good story that they get to keep their team. Unless you are one of the tea party people that wanted to chase them out of town with pitchforks, then you are a loser anyways.

Nashville is being Nashville, going after no superstars but building a solid stable of second-rate forwards to play in front of absurd defense. They won as soon as they got Jones in the draft, but adding Stalberg, Hendricks, and Cullen were solid move. They got it all for less than some people have paid one player. They are winners here, and might surprise people next year.

Montreal got Briere, who might be the best playoff player in the league and they are winners for that. New Jersey added Clowe and kept Elias for 10 million+ combined while losing Clarkson, losers there. Islanders got out from under DiPeitro, which finally takes them out of the loser column, but does not put them into the winning section. Columbus got Horton, which will not help them as much as they would think, but are moving in the right direction. Everyone else either just had minor signing so far that I don’t think are worth pushing them down or up, or they just kept their own for the most and are winners. Except for Winnipeg, they needed to do something and did nothing.

I am in a bad mood myself today; I hope that no matter what I say, you are happy with your team and their moves.

Friday, July 5, 2013

2013-14 MLB Free Agent Rankings 3.0

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2013-14 MLB Free Agent Rankings 3.0
By Wild on Sports Analyst Aaron Dorman

(Stats as of 7/03)

Just past the halfway point in the season it is time for another Free Agent Ranking. The list will change as players are signed midseason or move up or down based on their play. Signings could soon be impacted by the trade market. 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. Since it is already early July, we still continue listing possible destinations for each player.

1. Robinson Cano, 2b (.299/.376/.541). Another all-star, MVP-caliber season for Cano, ho hum. This year he’s practically holding the entire Yankees offense together all by his lonesome. Although his BA is down from career levels, he’s on pace for career-best HR and BB totals, so even though he’ll be 31 next year, there’s no reason for him not to expect a $200 million dollar contract. From the Yankees? I still think so. Jayson Nix can’t carry a lineup. The Dodgers are theoretically involved but recent rumors indicate they are more enamored with veteran Chase Utley. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 1) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: YANKEES, DODGERS

2. Sin-Soo Choo, of (.270/.419/.456) A recent off month has dragged his numbers down, particularly his batting average, but the newly robust plate discipline keeps his OBP good for second in the league and he’s still playing a tolerable center field, which will at least increase his flexibility (and expand potential suitors). Choo only has 27 RBI out of the leadoff spot and his power numbers could slide away from Great American Ballpark, but an outfielder with all the offensive tools Choo has is still worth top dollar. Like Cano he’ll be 31 next year. Who’s going to come forward this winter with a 5+ year deal? STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 2) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: REDS, METS, MARINERS, CUBS

3. Jacoby Ellsbury, of (.298/.361/.404) Since mid-May, when I called him a “poor man’s Michael Bourn”, Ellsbury has improved to no less than a middle-class man’s Michael Bourn (or just Michael Bourn) as he hit .360 in June. Ellsbury is still showing no power and just average plate discipline, so his value could fluctuate from month-to-month based on his hits on balls in play. His 33-for-36 SB rate is pretty nice, that and his defense, and the legacy of 2011, will keep Ellsbury in line for a crazy contract. The Red Sox, burned by the recent memory of Carl Crawford, are unlikely to keep him. STOCK UP (previous rank: ‘honorable mention’) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: MARINERS, CUBS, GIANTS,

4. Brian McCann, c (.262/.357/.503). The steady and unspectacular McCann has put his injured 2012 behind him and is the underappreciated, power-hitting catcher of old. McCann may never have the power or BABIP spike to be an MVP candidate, or even an all-star in a league with Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, but he could be a long-term solution for a team at catcher. The Braves may be comfortable with Evan Gattis going forward next year, but that’s a big risk on a one-dimensional player. McCann could be the best catcher to change hands via free agency since another Brave, Javy Lopez, signed with the Orioles in 2005. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 3) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: YANKEES, RANGERS, TIGERS

5. Carlos Beltran, of (.304/.345/.539) He’ll be 37 next year, but after three healthy years in a row, it looks like Beltran may have passed the point where he could have predictably declined, due to age, and he could be a reliable power threat in an outfield corner reasonably well into the future a la Raul Ibanez (but better). His walk rate is down, but his power numbers are up; he currently ranks 5th in HR and 7th in Slg %. The fact that Beltran has lost so much speed and athleticism and is STILL a major asset speaks to just how talented he was in his prime, and whoever signs him next is getting a Hall-of-Fame level talent, IMO. Has John Jay’s slump created a window whereupon Beltran re-ups with St. Louis and Oscar Taveras plays in center next year? Such a thing is now possible. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 7) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: CARDINALS, YANKEES, RED SOX, PHILLIES, GIANTS

6. Chase Utley, 2b (.279/.348/.510) Utley’s been on fire since coming back from a brief injury in early June. Over his last 48 AB, Utley has a .674 Slg %. The games he missed point to a player who may never step in for more than 120-130 games a season going forward, but if in that time Utley can hit .280 with power and defense, he’s still arguably the best 2b in the NL when he plays and that means he’s due for a high annual salary over the next few years. If the Phillies don’t trade Utley, is that a sign they will keep him? Hard to say, only because he figures to have several prominent suitors. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 5) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: PHILLIES, DODGERS

7. AJ Burnett, rhp (4-6, 3.13 ERA) Although recently sidelined by injuries, Burnett was the ace of the Pirates’ staff, a team that was the first in baseball to 50 wins. At age 36, his 10.0 K/9 would be a career high and with his stuff still intact, Burnett offers the highest upside of any free agent pitcher…provided he goes someplace where the city environment/media culture doesn’t get to his head. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 4) POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: BRAVES, ANGELS, DODGERS, BLUE JAYS

8. Tim Lincecum, rhp (4-9, 4.66 ERA)
Since the last ranking, his walks have come down and his component ratios are right in line with 2011…when he won 13 games with a 2.74 ERA. So why is he still struggling so badly? His stuff has declined, for sure. And that’s made him more hittable. But buried under all those base runners is a mid-rotation starter, or perhaps a high-end closer if Lincecum would prefer to dominate there. The Cy Young winner might be gone, but a canny buyer might that what he is is more than good enough, particularly on a one-year deal. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 6) POSSIBLE SUITORS: ANGELS, BRAVES, DIAMONDBACKS, PHILLIES, GIANTS?

9. Hiroki Kuroda, rhp (7-6, 2.95 ERA) Don’t bet against the 39-year-old control artist’s ability to keep flinging strikes and winning ball games until he actually stops doing so. Kuroda, like his current teammate Andy Pettitte, will let nagging injuries and family concerns dictate when he calls it quits, and that also limits his suitors. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 9) POSSIBLE SUITORS: YANKEES, DODGERS, ANGELS

10. Ervin Santana, rhp (5-5, 2.84 ERA) Speaking of strike throwers, Santana is arguably having his best season of an up-and-down career, having turned in the stingiest walk rate of his career thus far at 1.8 BB/9, the first time it’s been under 2.8 since 2008. He might have to keep doing this all year to secure a long-term deal, but don’t put it past Santana who has quietly enjoyed a nice career, reaching the 100-win mark this past month. He still averages 92 mph on his fastball, so his stuff is still in good shape. The Royals have rewarded players like this in the past, so don’t count them out of the bidding. Other interested teams would probably be those looking for a mid-rotation starter to anchor a young and/or unproven and/or inconsistent pitching staff. STOCK HOLDING (previous rank: 8) POSSIBLE SUITORS: ROYALS, PHILLIES, PADRES,…ANGELS?

Honorable Mention: Josh Johnson and Matt Garza
, rhps. These guys have both dealt with significant injuries recently but currently look healthy and are posting solid numbers. Together they represent the best combination of (relative) youth and upside on the market this upcoming winter, but buyer beware: these are not solid bets for 30+ starts. Will one or both accept a one-year, high-salary deal to prove they can maintain a solid stretch of health?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Ace in Detroit?

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New Ace in Detroit?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

If I told you before the season started that a Detroit Tiger's pitcher would start the season the reaction for 99% of you out there would be something a long the lines of "man that Justin Verlander is good." Well, I won't debates you there -- Verlander is one of the great pitchers of this generation but standing here on lovely 4th of July he checks in at a mere 8-5. Not too shabby when you pair it with a 3.77ERA and a little bad luck in the field behind him, but nowhere near the performance of another Tigers starter.

Ok, I know the suspense is killing you...

Max Scherzer is 13-0.  Just let that sink in a little bit.

For the first time in 27 years there is a 13-0 pitcher in Major League Baseball.  The last to do it? Some guy named Roger Clemens back in 1986. Yawn.

In all seriousness, Scherzer is not getting nearly enough credit for the incredible start he is getting. Sure his 3.09 ERA is just 10th in the league but his team is winning games. In a season where the nearly unquestioned ace of the Tiger's staff has been anything but his usual automatic self, Scherzer has stepped to the plate (no pun intended) to really carry this Tiger's team on his back. Without him Detroit very likely would be looking up at the Indians from a bit more than a 1/2 game deficit.

To give you some prospective...

Best Undefeated Start to a Season
By SP in Live Ball Era (Since 1920)
Pitcher Start Season
Dave McNally 15-0 1969
Johnny Allen 15-0 1937
Roger Clemens* 14-0 1986
Max Scherzer 13-0 2013
Ron Guidry* 13-0 1978
*- Won Cy Young that season
--ESPN Stats & Information

Some pretty impressive company on that list. He is almost a lock at this point to get the starting nod for the AL in the All-Star game. Cy Young? As that list shows us, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet, but if you are awarding a 1st half pitching MVP Scherzer is your man and the Tigers #1 man as well.

Position Battles: Philadelphia Eagles

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Position Battles: Philadelphia Eagles
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

The Philadelphia Eagles will be commencing their training camp in just a couple of weeks. Unlike the past camps with Reid, however, Chip Kelly has moved training camp from Bethlehem to Lincoln Financial Field. It is a move that I like because know instead of a heavy three hour drive it'll be a more manageable two or so hour drive. Much like in OTA's I am sure Chip will make sure that this training camp is a lively one by way of loud music, smoothies, and up tempo drills. That is what we can expect from Chip Kellys side of it but what can we or should be expect in the way of players jockeying for playing and starting positions? Lets look at a couple position battles that should be heating up soon.

Quarterback - This is an obvious one, but just because it is obvious lets not underscore how imperative this battle will be. There are five QB's in the system right now; Vick, Foles, Barkley, Dixon and G.J. Kinne. Kinne will probably get cut and Dixon will be sent to the practice squad. That then leaves us will 3 quarterbacks that have a shot for opening game. You can read my full analysis here and why I think one QB has an edge over the other two.

Safety - The Defensive back unit has been incredibly underwhelming the past couple of years and it hasn't really improved much since Chip has come here. Here are the contenders; Allen, Coleman, Anderson, Chung, Phillips, Sims, Wolf. Yep that's a lot and all of these guys are serviceable but not going to make you jump up and down. I think Allen, Coleman and Phillips will all be strong contenders, the second tier should consist of Anderson, Chung and Wolf. Wolf is a new draftee and has a good chance to outshine the older veterans. We will see, injuries will be a big concern (ie: Allen, Phillips) So they will have to monitor their conditions and if they can avoid the doctor.

Wide Receiver - The Eagles didn't draft a wide-out during the draft meaning they seem to be satisfied with their current crop. We have Desean, who should benefit from a high tempo Kelly offense, then, Maclin, who is in the last year of his rookie contract. He should play well for a big contract then we have Cooper, Avant, Cunningham,Demaris Johnson and Arrelious Benn who will all fight for reserve spots.

Running Back
- Obviously McCoy is the main man, one the the premier backs in the league he will go into the season that way. After that is gets a little dicey. We could presume that Bryce Brown would get a back up role after having a stellar couple of games in relief for McCoy. After Brown you have a guy that I really like in Dion Lewis, he is very much like McCoy with his vision and shiftiness, which is understandable why they would want Brown to back McCoy up simply as a change of pace. and finally there is Chris Polk, we keep hearing great things about him, but very rarely do I see any film on him. I will take their word for it, but would suggest to you that he will be put on the scouting team. And mixed into all of this is Fullback, Stanley Havalli.

So there are four positions that I will be watching with excitement as training camp winds up to see who ends up on top. What are your thoughts regarding these battles for positions? Who has an edge? Let me know! Comment below.

I also want to let you know that I had the unique and exciting opportunity to be a guest co-host on the Micheal Bonner Show. We discussed mainly the NBA draft, Hernandez and the Celtics,Nets trade. I encourage you to listen in!

You can read more of Jared's work at  http://instantre.blogspot.com/

Goodbye Big East Football

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Goodbye Big East Football
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

This is personally a sad day for me because I grew up with Syracuse football, watching the recent good times with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, and the very bad times during the Greg Robinson era. However, the Big East has been falling apart since 2004, when a chain reaction started with Miami and Virginia Tech leaving for the ACC, and Boston College a year later. With West Virginia leaving last year, Syracuse and Pitt leaving this year, and Rutgers and Louisville leaving next year, the remaining schools are a shadow of the former Big East, with Connecticut being the only original Big East School left. The football schools lost a battle with the basketball schools within the Big East that don’t have Division I football programs, and were forced to change the conference to the American Athletic Conference. Though recently the competition in the Big East was the running joke in college football, the Big East should be remembered as a strong and competitive conference in the NCAA.

When the Big East formed in 1979, it consisted of Boston College, Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Syracuse. It added Seton Hall the next year, and then added Pitt in 1982. The inaugural Big East football season took place in 1991, after the conference members decided they wanted to become a major football conference, adding Rutgers, Miami, Temple, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. Miami was one of the top teams in college football at the time, after being named national champion in two of the previous four years. Miami went undefeated that year and was named co-national champion with Washington, who also went undefeated that year. Rivalries between West Virginia/Virginia Tech, Miami/Boston College, Miami/Virginia Tech, and Virginia Tech/Syracuse drove the Big East during the 1990’s, with Miami, VT, WVU, and ‘Cuse being the only teams to win Big East titles between 1991-2003. With the implementation of the BCS Bowl System, the Big East was given an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game. Three of the first five BCS Bowls that the Big East champion played in were National Championships, with Virginia Tech losing in 2000, and Miami winning in 2002, and then losing the next year to Ohio State. However, the quality of play diminished once Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC.

In 2005, after losing the conference’s three premier teams, the Big East was looking to add new members in order to fill the conference and keep the automatic bid. The Big East added Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida to their football conference, and each team has had an impact on Big East Football. Cincinnati won back-to-back Big East Championships under head coach Brian Kelly, and went 12-1 in 2009, with its only loss coming to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. South Florida has struggled recently, but was ranked as high as #2 in 2007, and have produced some quality NFL players, most notably Jason Pierre-Paul. Louisville has also won two Big East titles, including last year’s, and upset the heavy favorite Florida in the Sugar Bowl. While the top two or three teams in the conference were competitive, the conference as a whole was not, and led many people to question why the Big East received an automatic bid. However, the Big East has won its last two BCS Bowl games and Louisville is a team that is receiving national title hype this year with Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback. Unfortunately for the fans, this year will be the last that we haven’t the Big East represented in football.

Big East football has been around for over twenty years, and provided two national championships along with eight BCS Bowl wins to its fans. Some of the players and teams that played in the Big East were the greatest of their era, and the Big East will be remembered proudly. Everyone should take the chance to watch one Big East football game this year, before its too late.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MLB Power Rankings - July 2nd

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MLB Power Rankings
July 2, 2013

With the best record in Major League Baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates are the #1 team in this week's Power Rankings. No, that is not a misprint. If you have been living under a rock for the past couple of month you have misses some very good baseball out at PNC Park. The Pirates are 28-13 at home this season and have won 9 in a row. That is going to get you at or near the top in just about any rankings. The St. Louis Cardinals have finally fallen from their perch at #1, a position they held for nearly two months. The Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Oakland A's round out the top five.

Don't look now but those underachievers out in LA are starting to come around. The Angels have won six games in a row thanks to the red hot hitting of Mike Trout. Their NL counterparts have been on a tear of their own going 8-2 in their last 10 games. Whether it is too little too late for the Dodgers remains to be seen but it sure is fun to watch Yasiel Puig swing the bat.

Speaking of underachievers, the Detroit Tigers have lost seven of their last 10 and now sit a half game behind Cleveland in the AL Central. Those two will begin a very important four game series starting July 5th. Sure, it is still pre-All-Star break but any series with your direct playoff competition can have major implications down the road.

Where does your team rank this week?

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (51-30, last week No. 3)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (49-32, last week No. 1)
3. Boston Red Sox (50-34, last week No. 2)
4. Atlanta Braves (48-34, last week No. 6)
5. Oakland A's (48-35, last week No. 5)
6. Texas Rangers (48-34, last week No. 7)
7. Baltimore Orioles (47-36, last week No. 9)
8. Cincinnati Reds (46-36, last week No. 4)
9. Detroit Tigers (43-37, last week No. 8)
10. Cleveland Indians (44-38, last week No. 13)
11. Tampa Bay Rays (43-39, last week No. 14)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-39, last week No. 10)
13. New York Yankees (42-39, last week No. 11)
14. Washington Nationals (41-40, last week No. 17)
15. Toronto Blue Jays (40-41, last week No. 12)
16. Colorado Rockies (41-42, last week No. 18)
17. San Diego Padres (40-42, last week No. 16)
18. San Francisco Giants (39-42, last week No. 15)
19. Kansas City Royals (38-41, last week No. 20)
20. Los Angeles Angels (39-43, last week No. 22)
21. Philadelphia Phillies (39-44, last week No. 19)
22. Los Angeles Dodgers (38-43, last week No. 26)
23. Minnesota Twins (36-42, last week No. 21)
24. Chicago Cubs (35-45, last week No. 28)
25. New York Mets (33-45, last week No. 27)
26. Seattle Mariners (35-47, last week No. 23)
27. Chicago White Sox (32-47, last week No. 24)
28. Milwaukee Brewers (32-48, last week No. 25)
29. Houston Astros (30-52, last week No. 29)
30. Miami Marlins (29-51, last week No. 30)

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

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

Now that we’re a little over the half-way point in the season it looks like some teams finally are getting into the swing of things like the Angels who have gone 7-3 their past ten games, Dodgers who have gone 7-3 their last ten and even the Marlins who have gone 7-3 who have improved their overall record to 29-51. That’s not saying much, but it’s a vast improvement from where they were a few weeks ago, and with the return of Giancarlo Stanton, maybe the Marlins can surprise critics with half a season to go. The Pirates were the first team to 50 wins this season while overtaking the Cardinals for first in the NL Central. Only five games separate the top and bottom teams in the NL West which will be a fight until the end of September. Whereas seven games separates the first and second place team in the NL East. Yasiel Puig continues to make a push for the all-star team, and he’s making it difficult for managers and fans to keep him off the team. If he makes the team he will have only played only a month and a half of baseball, but he can help the NL team win should the game become close. Max Scherzer also became the first pitcher to go 12-0 or better to start a season since Roger Clemens in 1986 which makes him the favorite to start for the AL squad in New York for the all-star game.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Matt Harvey SP NYM- Surprising baseball fans across the nation to start the year, Harvey has posted an even 2.00 ERA on the season while only losing one game. In the past week though Harvey has pitched 13 innings while allowing only one run and striking out 17. He’s a strong candidate to start for the NL squad for the all-star game, but if he continues to get poor run support it could cost him a shot at the CY Young award.

2. Kenley Jansen RP LAD- It’s odd to see a relief pitcher on this list, but when it happens there is a reason for it. For the time being he has taken over for Brandon League in the closer role who has struggled with a 5.83 ERA on the season so far. In the past week Jansen has posted four saves, one win and a 1.80 ERA. If he continues at this pace he will be the closer for the rest of the year and has the potential to notch 20-25 saves for the season.

3. Michael Cuddyer RF Col- I can’t leave someone off this list who is in the midst of a 27 game hitting streak. Cuddyer is batting .346 on the year and has four homeruns in the past week, keeping the Rockies afloat in the NL West. Cuddyer can play first base or right field which makes him a valuable asset with injuries hindering the Rockies. The hitting streak will eventually end, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cuddyer put up a .310-.320 average by the end of the year.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Albert Pujols 1B LAA- Luckily for Pujols, the Angels are making a comeback without the help of Pujols. He has stayed out of the limelight for now, but if he doesn’t raise his average another 25-30 points before the end of the season it’s going to be panic time in LA. He has only gone 3 for 27 in the past week dropping his average below the .250 mark on the year. A batting order change might be in store for Pujols if he doesn’t improve soon.

2. Evan Longoria 3B TB- A DL stint might be in store for the Rays star third baseman as he continues to experience pain in his left foot. Longoria has only gone one for his last 12 and if the Rays want to make a push for the playoffs he’s got to heal quick and get back into the form he was in before his injury. He’s got the potential to hit 30 homeruns this year, but Longoria has had a history with lingering injuries so Rays fans should feel some sort of nervousness until he’s back and healthy.

3. Pablo Sandoval 3B SF- The Giants have fallen to forth in the NL West and some of the blame should go to Sandoval who has been hitless in his last 15 at bats before Sunday. His power has gone down since last year only hitting eight homeruns so far and a modest .275 batting average. He doesn’t have an RBI in the past week and if the Giants want to make it back to the World Series Sandoval is going to have to hit a lot better than he’s hitting now.

Top Pickups for Next Week

1. Ryan Flaherty 2B/3B Bal- The Orioles have used Flaherty only as a backup before he went on a tear this past week. He will more than likely split time with Alexi Casilla at second base, but manager Buck Showalter will be more than happy to leave Flaherty in should he put up numbers like he did this past week. Flaherty can play all over the infield which makes him that much more valuable should players need a day off or go on the DL.

2. J.B Shuck OF LAA-
Many don’t realize it, but Shuck has played a major role in the Angels recent success lately. Starter Peter Borjous has been on the DL and that has let the rookie shine in the outfield. He leads all rookies in average hitting .297 (excluding Puig), but has yet to hit his first major league homerun. When Borjous comes back he may split time with Shuck in the outfield, but until then Shuck should get all the starts and I’ll predict he hits his first homerun in the next ten days.

3. Juan Francisco 1B/3B Mil-
Since Francisco left Atlanta and picked up by the Brewers, he’s been average, but he hit homeruns in three straight games in the past week and now that there is no pressure on him to fill Chipper Jones’ shoes in Atlanta he may settle down in Milwaukee and turn into an alright hitter. He’s only hitting .232 right now and being an everyday player he has the potential to hit 20 homeruns and accumulate 50-60 RBIs by seasons end.

Top Matchups Next Week

Tigers at Blue Jays- The Tigers have gone into a little slump since sending closer Jose Valverde down to the minors and the Blue Jays are revived and ready to make a run in the AL East with the return of Jose Reyes this past week. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers can keep the AL Central division lead with Cleveland right on their back.

Cardinals at Angels- The Angels are on a bit of a run, but let’s see if they can keep it going against one of the National League’s best teams. They should be able to win the series seeing it’s at home, but this matchup will determine if the Angels are good enough to contend for a playoff spot.

Rockies at Diamondbacks- Anytime there is an inter NL West matchup for the rest of the year it will probably be on this list considering how tight the division is amongst all five teams. It just so happens that these two are at the top of the division, but by the times this series comes around and finishes they may be third and fourth.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Ice Life: 2013 NHL Draft Recap

Wild on Sports
An Ice Life: 2013 NHL Draft Recap
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

There were two stories in this year’s draft that were worth noting.

The biggest winner of the draft has to be Nashville. While MacKinnon and Drouin would be my top two players without a doubt, Seth Jones is a rare breed of defenseman. Nashville didn’t need a defenseman, but it was their strength with Suter and was weakened a bit when he left. Seth Jones should have gone to Colorado so he could play for his home, but Colorado had the first pick and Jones was the third best player according to most. They didn’t make a trade so they went with the consensus number one. Not a big story, but then Florida went with the fourth best player in the draft instead of LW Drouin or Seth Jones.

Tampa then took Drouin, which is a great addition. He could break 100 pts as a rookie if he plays with Stamkos and St Louis. He has that kind of ability. He played with two future players in RW Frk and C MacKinnon who went last year to Detroit and first overall, respectively in Halifax. He only put up 41 goals and 64 assists in 49 games and dominated his way to a Memorial Cup championship. He made MacKinnon and Frk better by being a great passer. Playing with St Louis and Stamkos should be the same set up he is used to in Halifax.

Jones fell into the Preds lap, and they will play him next to Weber right away. This is going to make both of them better. No one could have seen this coming, and they truly have the best and most obvious luck in the draft.

The other story was Cory Schneider getting traded for the 9th pick. The goaltender that Vancouver decided was a better fit than Luongo and slightly cheaper was moved instead of the awful contract of Roberto. I cannot believe they got such a high pick for a goaltender and cannot believe that they are going to try to keep Lou as their goaltender. This is a huge risk and the nucks had no choice but to do this or buy out the contract of Luongo. I think this was a lose-lose trade for both teams, which never happens.

Is 2013 the Return of the Gators?

Wild on Sports
Is 2013 the Return of the Gators?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

In 2009, Florida won its second BCS National Championship Game in three years, and was at the upper echelon of college football with stars like Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow leading the team under head coach Urban Meyer. However, after Tebow left Florida for the NFL and Urban Meyer stepped down from coaching, there was much uncertainty in Gainesville. Florida hired Will Muschamp away from Texas, where he was there “coach in waiting” and Muschamp has Florida playing great football again. After a disappointing 2011 season, the Gators went 11-2 last year, only losing to Georgia and Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. This year could be Muschamp’s most important and he has the players and overall talent to fight for a national championship.

The Gators start the season ranked #9, with four other SEC teams ahead of them. The Gators have a relatively slow start to their schedule, with games against Toledo, Miami, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. SEC rivals always play each other tough, but Florida should be able to handle the weaker teams without much issue. Florida’s most important game will be October 12th, a game they will play against LSU, in Baton Rouge. If the Gators can win that game, it could lift them to finish the season, with games against elite teams like Georgia and South Carolina, as well as the rivalry game with Florida State. However, if Florida loses, they could carry it into their game two weeks later against Georgia, which will determine their place in the SEC East. Florida closes the season at South Carolina, home vs. Georgia Southern, and home against Florida State. Muschamp is 1-1 against the Ol’ Ball Coach, and will need a second straight win in order to make it into the SEC Championship game. The game against Georgia Southern will give the players a relative break from competition before their matchup with Florida State. For the Gators to be in the national championship conversation, they will need to win the SEC East so that they can get a spot in the SEC Championship Game, as it is likely that the winner of that game will go to the National Championship Game.

Muschamp’s team is once again loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball to lead the Gators through the SEC. This will be Jeff Driskel’s second year starting for the gators, and was able to win 11 games last year, without putting up huge numbers. However, with starting running back Mike Gillislee gone to the NFL draft, Driskel will be expected to air the ball out more this year. Unfortunately for Driskel, Florida has an extremely young receiving corps, and will take time to develop. With five weeks to prepare before their showdown with LSU, the receivers should be able to develop rapport with Driskel; by the time Florida plays LSU. Florida will have to replace Gillislee and are hoping that Trey Burton can live up to the hype that surrounded him when he was recruited. On defense, Florida will have to replace dominant DT Shariff Floyd, but they have a good mix of veteran and young talent to produce a solid rotation on the defensive line. Florida also returns starting corner backs Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, who are already generating draft buzz even before the year starts. Florida’s biggest question on defense will be replacing their linebackers, but they have a young linebacking corps, and some five-star recruits coming in to fill the gaps. Florida’s defense needs to utilize it strong cornerback play, which will allow the pass rush more time to get to the quarterback.

Florida is heading into 2013 with high expectations and their season will likely come down to two games, Georgia and South Carolina. These three teams are expected to battle all year for SEC East supremacy. While Georgia is the preseason favorite to win the East, Florida will get to play them at home, which will give them a better opportunity to win the game. If Florida can beat both South Carolina and Georgia, expect them to face the SEC West Champion for not only the SEC Championship, but also a National Championship shot.

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