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Saturday, July 20, 2013

NFL Position Battles: Washington Redskins

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NFL Position Battles: Washington Redskins
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

Today, on my fourth and final post of position battles to watch in the NFC East, we look too Washington. The Washington Redskins for so long have been the black sheep of the division. Could never get talent, a good coach and have been a basement dweller in the East for many years, never able to compete with the likes of the Eagles, Cowboys or Giants. But in came Shanahan and only a few years later has the 'Skins in the playoffs, a revived running game, a flourishing offense with Garcon going deep and suddenly the Redskins are no laughing matter. They have a very real shot of winning the division again and make some noise in the playoffs.

Tight End - Fred Davis is no Jason Witten and never was but is he very valuable to Washington. He is on the mend after tearing his Achilles and may not be ready for the season at least not 100%. So what are their options? Well aside from pursuing someone on the waiver they can look within. They drafted Jordan Reed in and he would be a good short term option, but given their tendency to run now with Morris and Griffin it may be incumbent of them to look at the bigger blocking style of Logan Paulsen. Either way these player will ultimately only be battling for second string but given Davis' increasing age it a worthy fight to watch.

Running Back
- In my Conference Preview I mentioned that I would make the argument that the NFC East has the best young group of running-backs in the entire league and I would love to discuss that further in the future. Still, Morris came on strong last year and is still a lock for the job. But who will back him up is a huge question mark and no I don't think RG3 is an option. I look for them to acquire some veteran off the waiver and maybe have him battle with a couple guys on the roster currently. Although there are no names here it is a worthy battle to watch since we only have a little sample of Morris and fear a sophomore slump for the bright second year man.

Wide Receiver - Last year Garcon become a Redskins and the pairing of the QB and WR was electric- until Garcon got a foot injury. They will need more depth at this position other than an ageing Santana Moss. Josh Morgan is a worthy number two but not the tallest nor most athletic receiver of the group. He is also coming off wrist and ankle surgeries,both of which must be healthy for any wide receiver to have success. Hankerson and Hernderson are both battling for Morgans spot to revive both of their careers. Look for there to be heated competition in training camp here.

Secondary - As I continue to write this article I am realizing that many players are hurt or coming off surgeries. That remains true for the secondary. Meriweather is coming off a torn ACL. Deangelo Hall is not The worst defensive back on the team to say the least but is hit and miss. Furthermore, they brought in E.J. Biggers as a free agent from Tampa Bay. This team was very bad last year in the backfield and will have to step it up to win the close games and can't count of RG3 to bail them out. Hall and Wilson will be the default starters, but if they don't preform off the ball they will be swapped out.

Wild on Sports Weekly Podcast - 7/19

Wild on Sports Weekly Podcast
Wild On Sports

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 British Open Players to Watch

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2013 British Open Players to Watch
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

Summer is now in full swing! We have reached the third major of the 2013 golf season as the best players in the world make their way to Muirfield Village (Scotland) for the 2013 British Open. This year's event will of course be headlined by the usual suspects -- Tiger, Phil, Rory, ect. Instead of telling you why Tiger and those guys are the odds on favorites again, lets take a look at some other players who may steal the spotlight this weekend...

Dustin Johnson
Arguably the best player in the game today not to have a major title on his resume. He has the complete game and incredible length to be dangerous on a links style course. He also has a win to his credit already this season to go along with three top 10's. If he stays in play off the tee he could be very dangerous this week.

Henrik Stenson
Stenson enters the week as one of the hottest players in the world. He has been tearing up the European Tour as of late. He finished T3 last week at the Scottish Open. Expect the hot play to continue for the Swede this week.

Zach Johnson
As hot as Stenson has been on the European tour lately, Z.Johnson has been equally hot on the American side. He led most of the way before losing in a playoff at last week's John Deere Classic. Know as one of the better ball strikers on tour, he has the ability to really get hot and go low any given week.

Louis Oosthuizen
He already has one British Open win in his career and has proven to be one of the best in tough windy conditions. If the wind kicks up and the weather gets tough watch out for Louis!

Ernie Els
Ernie is both the defending Open Champion and the winner the last time the Open was held at Muirfield. Els seems to always be in contention at the British regardless of how he is playing coming into the tournament.

Sizing Up NBA Free Agency

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Sizing Up NBA Free Agency
By Wild on Sports Analyst Andrew Weflen

Nearly a month after LeBron hoisted his second straight title, the NBA finds itself getting deeper into free agent season. Sure, the big guys have found homes. Anyone even breezing past a sports channel saw Dwight heading to H town, joining Jeremy Lin and James Hardin forming a reputable playoff squad. And of course, we can't forget about Kobe "unfollowing" Dwight on twitter. Andrew Bynum found refuge in Cleveland, but how much longer are his knees going to last? At any rate, even though the "major catches" (if you want to call them that) are off the market, there are still quality players available that can play pivotal roles as both situational players and energetic sixth or seventh men. Lets take a peek at a few of these guys:

Brandon Jennings - Jennings contributions to the Bucks have certainly made a splash. There's no doubt he's quick and dicey playing the PG position, but honestly, 40% shooting last year? Com'on, dude. You're in the NBA. Because of this, I think teams will be hesitant to make an offer that excites the Bucks enough to ship him off. After all, he's still a restricted free agent. There's no doubt he can contribute (especially in transition), so expect to see some offers thrown at Milwaukee. I just don't think there will be any strong enough. A sign and trade will be more likely, in my opinion.

Nate Robinson - Who doesn't love the energy this little guy brings to your team? I shouldn't call him little, I'm confident he can out-lift me in every scenario. But seriously, he's energetic, he plays hard, and he isn't afraid of anyone. At least last season's Nate Robinson wasn't. Go back a couple years and he's streaky at best. Robinson needs to put together a couple seasons in a row like last year with the Bulls, and teams will come a knockin'. So who's the team that's gonna keep Robinson rockin'? Averaging just over 13 points a game last year with the Bulls, there's no doubt in my mind he's not going to be a free agent much longer. Is it finally time for Robinson to get more than a one year deal?

Kenyon Martin - Okay, so Kenyon didn't look excited with the Clippers (I bet he's regretting that now). But after New York scooped him up, didn't he look more energized? Martin showed there's till plenty of diesel left in the tank. Chris Anderson showed the NBA how impact-full the big guys can be, so why not take a chance on Martin? I know, I know, he's 35. But I think there's someone out there who saw the value of the Birdman, and think, "why can't this be Martin?" Well, why not? Throw him a one year deal and lets see what happens.

Greg Oden - Stop giggling. I know he's got the knees of 87 year old woman. But seriously, lets look at the upside here. He's still a big guy. He can still play D. What's the worst that can happen? Sign him on a low end contract, and make him a reserve. Clearly he's not going to be the superstar big man the entire state of Oregon hoped he'd be. Heck, I was even hoping he'd make superstar status all the way out here in the Midwest. Even though he's been inactive for a couple of years, look for Oden to have a presence out there, somewhere, in a key situation. He's still a wise defender, and he still brings a value proposition. You just never know. I'm not saying he will make this beautiful, heartfelt, comeback. I am saying there's still some sort of value in the big guy, even if it is for 10 or 12 minutes a game.

NCAA Sleeper Alert!

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NCAA Sleeper Alert!
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

With the college season on the horizon, the top-tier of quarterbacks has already been anointed, a group including Tedy Bridgewater; two-time defending national champ A.J. McCarron, and the defending Heisman Trophy Winner, Johnny Manziel. However, a small group of second-tier quarterbacks look ready to take the step necessary to challenge for a national championship, as well as a spot in the first round of the NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Michigan’s Devin Gardner, and Miami’s Stephen Morris all have the potential to be top-10 talents, but each have to show improvements this year.

Miller is probably the most recognizable of the three because of his season with Ohio State last year, which ended in a 12-0 record. Miller threw for over 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns as well as rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. Miller has shown he can break games open with his legs, but he needs to develop his passing game if he wants to replicate his success from last year. Miller needs to specifically improve his accuracy, after completing only 58% of his passes last year. Miller should be able to thrive in his second year under Urban Meyer and the fast offense that he likes to run. Miller has shown his toughness and his ability to win, but he and Ohio State will have a big target on their back after last season. Last season, Miller was able to play without pressure because of the postseason ban that Ohio State had, and thrived. This year, Miller will have the added pressure of playing a season in which each game means everything because of conference and BCS rankings. Ohio State is obviously extremely talented, and Miller will find himself in contention for the Heisman if he can replicate last year’s record while improving his personal statistics. He should be able to take advantage of a weakened Big 10 and weak out of conference schedule to pad his stats and elevate his standing in college football.

Devin Gardner has to be the most intriguing quarterback in college football this year, because of the raw potential he possesses and his pure athleticism. Gardner came in as a multiple threat player, with the ability to catch, run, and throw the ball. Last year, Gardner had a strong start to the season as a receiver until an injury to Denard Robinson forced Gardner into the starting quarterback role. In five games, Gardner threw for over 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as rushing for another 7. Gardner was able to reinvigorate the Michigan offense after everyone thought that the loss of Robinson would end the Wolverines season. People have been making Ryan Tannehill comparisons because of the position change and relative size. Gardner will have to continue to try to put on weight to solidify his frame, but he has a strong arm. He puts zip and a tight spiral on every pass, no matter the distance, but also has a strong arm, giving him the ability to stretch the field. His legs make him another threat, and with the offense shifting from Robinson’s quickness and agility, to Gardner’s speed and power running ability. Gardner, like Miller, plays in the weakened Big 10 and can use his talents to lead Michigan into the showdown with Ohio State. In reality, these teams could play twice for a place in the Rose Bowl, and if Gardner is able to lead Michigan to a Rose Bowl, NFL teams may take a risk on him in the Top 10 of next year’s draft.

Stephen Morris is likely a name you don’t know, but he may have the most talent out of any of the other college quarterbacks. Morris started his first full season last year for Miami, and put up big numbers, throwing for over 3,300 yards and 21 touchdowns, winning 7 games. Morris also only threw 7 interceptions, less than one per game; which is impressive for a first-year starter. Though Manziel has gotten all the headlines, Morris may have been the star of the Manning Passing Academy, showing off his velocity, as well as his touch. He even won the “air-it-out” competition, requiring him to hit moving targets, and managed to impress NFL with his intermediate and deep throws. Morris will start this season overshadowed by another ACC quarterback, Taj Boyd, but as the year progresses, Morris could be the most talked about quarterback in the country. He is looking to improve on his completion percentage this year, and has the ability to lead Miami to a bowl game after a two-year self imposed ban. The advantage Morris has over the other two is his stud running back, Duke Johnson, who is also a preseason Heisman contender. Having a strong running game behind him should allow Morris more time in the pocket, as well as the ability to improve his play-action pass game. Don’t be surprised if Miami climbs the ACC because of the strong play of Morris, and he finds himself in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fantasy Football Beasts of the NFC East

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Fantasy Football Beasts of the NFC East
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

The Football season is starting to ramp up. training camps are only days away and for many of you that means your fantasy football season draft is only several weeks away. Today we focus on the NFC East and rank the best fantasy options 1-12. Because IDP leagues aren't as common defensive players will slide down further.

1) Eli Manning - Over the past several years I have noticed a slight change from running back to quarterback values in fantasy. That doesn't mean to disregard a top tier RB over a QB because the QB position does have more depth from the elite to the second tier than does running back. It does certainly depend on how your leagues settings points are awarded but with the NFL such a pass happy one It is hard to overlook the success that Eli has had particularly when Cruz and Nicks line up.

2) Lesean McCoy - Arguably a top five fantasy back he has lightening speed, can cut on a dime as his twitter handle describes and his ability to catch out of the backfield it undeniably valuable in PPR leagues. Chip could also use him alot if Foles or Barkley start the season as a way to cement the offense.

3) Robert Griffin
- He truly is Vick 2.0. Faster, more accurate, and better instincts he is absolutely incredible. A constant question and fear of mine as it is with Vick is can he withstand injury? If healthy he is a goldmine of fantasy points, but I would fear picking him to high, have an inadequate back-up and me messed up for the rest of the season.

4) Dez Bryant - He is a diva, but so talented. I really couldn't are less what you do Monday through Saturday so long as your bring me big points come game day.

5) Demarco Murray - A question mark with him is his durability, but if healthy he is a top ten rb in the league with great speed and vision.

6) Tony Romo - Let me just put it out there. I don't trust Romo. To me he is lie Phillip Rivers - great potential and ability but can never seem to put it all together. Last year I thought Rivers hada great chance to do some greats things. He failed to do so. This year I feel the same thing about Romo but am I brave enough to act on it?

7) Alfred Morris
- He came out of nowhere last year and barring a sophomore slump he makes the NFC East one of the best running back divisions.

8) Victor Cruz - Because Eli is the best QB in the East and because of the new contract extension given Eli should utilize Cruz alot.

9) Jason Witten
- Suffered a ruptured spleen and still came back to play. He is a monster, so consistent and reliable. I would been fortunate to have him on my team and I am sure he will remain a top TE in the league for several more years. With the Jimmy Grahams, Vernon Davis and Gronks of the league Witten can go unnoticed for several picks just waiting for you to pick him up.

10) Hakeem Nicks - Still a big threat and a great duo for Eli he will cause mayhem for any defense with his size and speed.

11) David Wilson - The new running back for the he could be a little bit of sleeper in the later rounds. The Giants seem confident enough in him to trade away Bradshaw and basically tab Brown as the starter. He will be a good change of pace alternative to Eli throwing.

12) Desean Jackson -
I put him here over several others including Austin, Jason Piers - Paul and any of the potential QB starters for the Eagles. Desean is a hit and miss type of guy. He did get a new on contract so that might keep him happy but don't bet the house on Desean to put up great number week in and week out.

Read more of Jared's work at  http://instantre.blogspot.com

MLB Power Rankings - July 17

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MLB Power Rankings
July 17, 2013

 Well, here we are at the All-Star break. As you would expect, the team with the best record in baseball at the mid-summer break sits atop our MLB Power Rankings this week. The St. Louis Cardinals check in with a record of 57-36, good for a .613 win percentage. Last week's #1, the Pittsburgh Pirates drop one spot after a rough weekend series against the Mets. The Red Sox, A's and red hot Tampa Bay Rays round out the top 5.  Speaking of the Rays, they are the hottest team in baseball having won 12 of their last 14 going into the break. As you would expect after a run like that, they are this week's big climbers, up five spots from #10 to #5.

Where do your team rank this week?

1. St. Louis Cardinals (57-36, last week No. 2)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-37, last week No. 1)
3. Boston Red Sox (58-39, last week No. 3)
4. Oakland A's (56-39, last week No. 4)
5. Tampa Bay Rays (55-41, last week No. 10)
6. Texas Rangers (54-41, last week No. 5)
7. Atlanta Braves (54-41, last week No. 6)
8. Cincinnati Reds (53-42, last week No. 7)
9. Baltimore Orioles (53-43, last week No. 8)
10. Detroit Tigers (52-42, last week No. 9)
11. New York Yankees (51-44, last week No. 11)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (50-45, last week No. 12)
13. Cleveland Indians (51-44, last week No. 14)
14. Washington Nationals (48-47, last week No. 13)
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47, last week No. 18)
16. Philadelphia Phillies (48-48, last week No. 17)
17. Toronto Blue Jays (45-49, last week No. 15)
18. Los Angeles Angels (44-49, last week No. 16)
19. Colorado Rockies (46-50, last week No. 20)
20. Kansas City Royals (43-49, last week No. 19)
21. San Francisco Giants (43-51, last week No. 21)
22. Seattle Mariners (43-52, last week No. 23)
23. Chicago Cubs (42-51, last week No. 24)
24. New York Mets (41-50, last week No. 25)
25. San Diego Padres (42-54, last week No. 22)
26. Minnesota Twins (39-53, last week No. 26)
27. Milwaukee Brewers (38-56, last week No. 27)
28. Chicago White Sox (37-55, last week No. 28)
29. Miami Marlins (35-58, last week No. 29)
30. Houston Astros (33-61, last week No. 30)

Fantasy Outlook: Philadelphia Eagles

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Fantasy Outlook: Philadelphia Eagles
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

The Philadelphia Eagles are an intriguing team for several reasons. A new coach, cloudy QB situation and a lack of veteran leader presence only makes it more difficult to safely project and analyze this Eagle team specifically the offensive segment from a fantasy standpoint. Obviously there is no QB on the Eagles roster of Vick, Foles, and Barkley that I would take in the first 4-5 rounds with confidence of performance in any draft. However, the man that starts under center for the Eagles will prove critical to the overall effectiveness and play of the surrounding core group of players. The concept isn't new and should remain a rigid guideline for all fantasy footballers in selecting and analyzing offensive weapons during a draft and it follows like this; How the QB throws is how the team flows. It isn't rocket science but often overlooked. The higher caliber of QB so often will the support around him be better. Therefore, since we know very little about our starting QB and at what level of play we can expect it is all speculation from here on out until reports from training camp start to roll in. That said this is exactly what Fantasy Football is all about - speculation, projecting, and even guessing. So quickly we'll run down some players that may or may not affect how you draft or view them with the team in your upcoming Fantasy Football campaign.

LeSean McCoy - He should have a great year regardless of the QB, with his unique ability to catch out of the backfield his value climbs dramatically in PPR leagues. Additionally, if Vick is in the backfield, though he may get fewer overall carries the opposing defense will have a tougher time identifying the runner and play which could provide a slight edge and provide an element of surprise for LeSean. On the other hand, Foles and Barkley, with limited experience may rely on McCoy more for carries in crucial spots which in turns means that McCoy would get more carries resulting in more yards and in the redzone; more scores. Of course to look at the downside the more times he is utilized would mean the wear and tear on his body could prove detrimental and result in injury. Fantasy Football is a high risk high reward game and it is up to you to find that perfect balance.

Wide Receiver - The wide-out position leaves something to be desired here. They, to my frustration, still lack a big,tall,aggressive, tough receiver that can go over the middle, over the top of a defender and snag those difficult catches. They lack a no-doubt-about-it-go-get-it receiver. So the main guys here are Desean, Maclin, Avant and Cooper. Avant and Cooper are taller while Jackson has to prove his toughness and durability and Maclin is playing for a contract. However, in this case I once again hearken back to the QB competition. Vick has the strongest arm, most experience, knows the playbook and his receivers tendencies, but despite all of that he has the most inaccurate arm of the favored trio. Barkley is unproven and had a dismal Senior year at USC. Foles has one year of experience and played well in a limited role lat year when Vick was hurt but will he face a Sophomore slump? Certainly Desean's speed is a huge asset to spread the secondary but too inconsistent for my liking with certain match-ups. he is like a home-run hitter, when he is hot he is unstoppable..but when the balls aren't flying he is a mess. I would consider him as a flex and bye week replacement in most leagues. Jeremy has the most potential and is playing for a contract extension. He isn't the fastest or tallest and is a pretty average receiver though more consistent than Desean and possibly less injury prone. I would think about drafting Maclin for a 3rd receiver spot in the middle rounds maybe trade him and others for a package for an area that you need help in. Unless a miracle happens Avant and Cooper should never even be considered for a roster spot on your fantasy team. Cooper will be targeted more than probably any other wide-out in the redzone, just because of his superior size to the others. Avant has tremendous hands and is very reliable on down and short to medium passes.

Tight -End - I actually really like our TE group. If Vick is the QB, like last year Celek, or Casey will have to come in as an extra blocker or safety valve.Casey looks to be featured in the backfield as HB. Either way you slice it neither TE will make a significant impact, but the potential is there, particularly if Barkely or Foles start you make seen an increase in targets for the TE's because typically younger QB's will seek their TE isf the rush gets to them. So it is worth keeping your eye on the waiver wire depending who the QB is and who else is on the market.

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

(TE)bow Time

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(TE)bow Time
By Wild on Sports Analyst Davis McGregor
 From an interesting and winning career in Denver, to an uneventful one in New York, Tim Tebow has landed in New England for his next stop. Now unfortunately for Timmy he wasn’t even the Jets starter with Mark Sanchez as his competition so going toe to toe with Tom Brady for the QB spot has a zero percent chance of success. But maybe starting in a different position wouldn’t be the craziest thing to happen.

For the last two years tight end Rob Gronkowski dominated the Patriots offence hauling in 2,117 of Brady’s 10,000 passing yards. The Gronk captured a majority of the attention on this prolific Belicheck commanded offence, but the number two tight end wasn’t letting him steal the whole show.

Straight from The Swamp, Aaron Hernandez allowed the Pats to boast the greatest TE tandem in the league. They blew everyone expectations out of the water in their 2011 rookie season and continued to electrify in 2012. The bets of them doing that again though? About as good as betting on Tebow beating out Brady for his starting spot.

This isnt something due to a lack of physical skill either, it’s much more of a lack of mental skills. The two are total idiots, plain and simple. Now everyone, including Belicheck knew Gronkowski was a party animal going into it, I mean he did go to “Ball So Hard” University after all. But lately Gronk has been looking like the Pope compared to his counterpart Hernandez.

Starting June 26th, life for Aaron Hernandez has gone straight down hill. Now facing murder charges for the death of Odin Lloyd as well as another shooting dating all the way back to his Gator days. With so much tragedy following Hernandez and the injuries and immaturity of Gronkowski the once dominant tight end duo seems to have come to an end in New England. Or has it?

We all know Tebow’s days as a passer are done, but what about his days as a receiver? At 6’3, 250lbs he lines up right about the same as most tight ends around the league. An impressive 4.7 40-yard dash time at the combine does nothing but help his case. If Gronk goes down with another injury, and Hernandez gone it puts Michael Hoomanawanui on the spot to take over which, along with the loss of Wes Welker, doesn’t bode well for the Brady Bunch.

Tim Tebow coming in to save the day has always happened with him under the center but why not from the tight end spot? He knows the pass protection from working as a quarterback and knows the innate preferences of a passer for their receivers.

Now I’m not trying to push the point that he could start over most tight ends in the league in a fair tryout but with the particular circumstances that have kept Hernandes and Gronkowski off the field, Tebow just might have a shot here. Belicheck has a way of using players in different roles to help create success and this might be his next example of just that. Short of the mass attention that would be sure to follow this move, there isn’t much of a reason not to. Sorry Belicheck but if Gronk goes down then Tebow’s gotta come up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Debate: MLB All-Star Selection

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The Debate: MLB All-Star Selection
By Wild on Sports Analyst Anthony Cortese Jr.

MLB All–Star Selection Breakdown: The Debate on the Influence of Voters
Year after year one of the main arguments surrounding the monumental All-Star Game is the player selection process. On one side you have fans that want to see all their favorite players go head to head, and on the other there are players and managers looking to secure home field advantage for the World Series. For those not familiar with the way players are selected here is a quick overview: The starting lineup is voted on by the fans, then the players-vote will determine the next 16 players (eight pitchers and one backup for each position), followed by the managers selection of starting designated hitters.

Once the voting process is finished there is great discussion behind “why wasn’t this person picked,” or “how did this player make it on the team.” The 2013 season showed no changes. It was a repetition of snubbed players and pity rule acceptances. For example, the question still remains on why L.A. Dodgers Rookie right fielder, Yasiel Puig, was not chosen by either of the three tier ballots.

It was noted by baseball purists that Puig has not played enough games this season (37 of the Dodgers 95 games), to qualify for a spot on the ballot. Puig’s batting skills in the first six weeks of his big league career would argue against this unwritten rule. It is hard to argue with setting Puig aside, with the likes of, Carlos Beltran, Gonzales and Bryce Harper in the NL lineup. All three players have shown All-Star performances fans are accustom to watching. Even despite Haper’s injury, causing him to miss some games, his numbers are still decent hitting .265 with 13 home runs, 29 RBI and six stolen bases.

There is no doubt that the selection process has some quirks. Why should fans be given the majority of responsibly in the selection process? The fact of the matter is fans seem to have a large stake in the sport, from a business perspective. To be clear, they’re the ones supporting the sport, buying tickets, and purchasing memorabilia. So to include those dedicated fans every year will ensure their loyalty to the sport. There should be no confusion when it comes to knowing the sport from a strategic perspective, players and managers take the crown; but the fans are given an outside perspective that provides a slight advantage when it comes to voting.

Make no mistake that after all the arguments and complaining, on either side of the debate, millions of fans, spectators, and analysts will be watching this year’s All-Star Game. Overall, there will be 30 players making their first All-Star appearance, of which all should be applauded for making the 2013 teams.

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

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

With the unofficial halfway point of the MLB season upon us, we can all finally take in everything we’ve been a witness of up until this point. The defending World Series Champion Giants have found themselves eight games under .500 and are in danger of not making the playoffs. The Reds, Pirates and Cardinals have all won 53+ games, and after only 85 at bats total from Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez the Yankees have found themselves only six games back in the AL East with a series against the division leader Red Sox to kick things off after the all-star break. The Tigers haven’t been able to pull away in the AL Central on account that the Indians keep hitting homeruns. Terry Francona’s group has been rejuvenated after a disappointing end to the 2012 season. With every team having around 70 games left in the season and the trade deadline approaching it’s going to become clear which teams are going to cash it in, or which teams will make a serious run at a division title or wildcard spot. The first half has been full of surprises like the Pirates, A’s and Red Sox and I’m sure that there will be other teams to surprise us all in the second half.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Shin-Soo Choo OF Cin
- A very early MVP candidate, Choo is letting the Indians know why it was a mistake to let him go. His numbers may seem average on paper, but he has the potential to go 20-20 which he has done twice in his career already. Choo closed out the first half with five straight multi-hit games including a homerun and two steals. He will continue to lead off for the Reds, and should they not plummet in the second half, Choo will get his share of at bats going forward.

2. Zach Greinke SP LAD
- It’s funny to look back on it now that Greinke is clear of injuries, but he had the most thrilling first half of any MLB player in the first half. He found himself in the middle of two bench clearing brawls one of which led to a DL stint, and aside from all that distraction, he’s posted an 8-2 record with a 3.49 ERA. His last 16 innings pitched he’s allowed zero runs, four hits and struck out 17 batters.

3. Tim Lincecum SP SF- Of course just like Homer Bailey, Lincecum earned this spot by pitching the second no hitter of the MLB season just 11 days after Bailey pitched his. Lincecum was the losing pitcher against Bailey and his no no, but he proved he still has the potential to be an elite pitcher in the league with his own no hitter. His last couple starts have been good for 24 strikeouts and only three earned runs. The Giants are going to need his help bad if they want to slide their way back into the division title race.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Alex Gordon OF KC- Part of the reason why the Royals hold the leagues current longest losing streak is because of the lack of production from their lead-off hitter. Since June 9 Gordon has only one run scored and one RBI. A guy with the potential to go 20-20 likely won’t as he only has nine homeruns and five steals this season. The bright side is that the Royals can still make noise in the AL Central, but it may be easier said than done in the Royals case.

2. Stephen Strasburg SP Wash
- Never thought to see Strasburg on this list, but his past couple starts have not been the best. His last start against the Marlins, he only lasted two innings while giving up seven runs which will make National fans cringe as the Marlins are one of the worst teams in the league. He’s 5-7 right now, but he should get back over the .500 mark. He only had six loses all of last year so he’s got something to prove in the second half of the season.

3. Jose Bautista OF Tor- Just when we thought the Blue Jays might make a run in the AL East, they have gone back to their old ways in the past week, and that’s partly due to Bautista. He’s gone two for his last 25 that included a four strikeout game and has seen his average drop from .271 to .254 during that time. Bautista will more than likely hit 30 homeruns, but if you watched only this past week, you wouldn’t even think it.

Sleepers for This Week

1. Chris Archer SP TB- Archer has gone 2-0 his last couple starts including a complete game shutout of the Astros in his last start. He wasn’t originally in the rotation to start the year, but has worked his way in posting a 2.96 ERA this season, and with the Rays surging as of late he hopes to be a big part in their run to try and make the playoffs.

2. Wily Peralta SP Mil- The overall numbers on the year for Peralta aren’t great, but he has only allowed one run in his past three starts as he has lowered his ERA from 6.08 on June 16 to 4.61 now. The Brewers are out of any playoff race, but Peralta could either be a bright spot that the Brewers invest their future in or good trade bait come deadline time. Either way Peralta has the potential to keep pitching above average.

3. Luke Scott DH/1B TB- In the midst of a 10 game hitting streak Scott, along with Archer, has been hidden gems for the Rays. In that hitting streak he has three homeruns and eight RBIs. The Rays are 11-2 their past 13 games and as long has a hot bat he will be in the starting line-up for Joe Madden on a day to day basis.

Top Matchups for This Week

American League vs. National League- After winning 12 of 13 all-star games the American League has dropped the last three games only scoring two runs total. With the National League winning the past three World Series titles it’s arguable that it may have been because the American League didn’t have home field advantage because of losing the all-star game. Jim Leyland and his team are looking to switch the trend starting this year.

Pirates at Reds- Kicking off this series will be a pitcher’s duel between the rejuvenated Francisco Liriano and Reds star Mike Leake. This series will set the tone for the second half as these teams will more than likely battle it out until the end of September to see who might win the division or win the wildcard spots.

A’s at Angels- The Angels are still 11 games back of the A’s in the AL West. There’s no better time to start chipping away at that deficit than right after the all-star break, at home nonetheless. If the A’s end up sweeping the Angels, that might be the start to the downfall of another disappointing season for LA.

NHL Thriving Despite Lockout

Wild on Sports
NHL Thriving Despite Lockout
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

Remember when the NHL announced that it would not reach a CBA agreement in time to start the season? What about the following dozen or so times they didn’t reach their deadlines? Do you remember when Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr and bunch of other league executives locked themselves in a conference room all night until they came to terms on a new CBA, then announced the NHL would have a 48 game season? What about everybody saying they are done supporting the NHL and the fraudulent care of its fans and it’s overpricing on tickets and apparel, do you remember that?

If you didn’t remember one of, or any of the prior, it’s probably because of the storylines that followed Opening Night on January 19th. And frankly, I don’t blame you for forgetting.

Say what you will about Gary Bettman. I for one think he would make a better Commissioner in the NBA where it’s accepted to favor certain teams. But what he did on the night of January 5th and into the morning of the 6th epitomizes the fact that the fans are what mold the league together. He, along with league and player executives locked themselves into a conference room with pizza and soda, just like many had suggested they should, and worked non-stop to work out a deal.

By the time Gary took to the press and announced the NHL and the leagues PA had come to an agreement, many people we’re still sleeping. And when they woke up to the video of his press conference, they saw a very tired Bettman. For people who love the game as much as I do and knew that they would watch the first game once hockey came back, that tired, close-eyed look is exactly what I had wanted to see from the commissioner for a long time.

Since that day, the NHL has thrived and is now getting considerable spotlight in the sporting world. Some are even placing the NHL right next to the NBA, which is a substantial compliment for the ‘last place league’ of the four major American sports. Next year, expect the same level of competition, dramatics and dedication, for the league AND it’s incredible fans.

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