Draft Deadline Decisions: Dropouts and Draftees

The deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA Draft and remain eligible for collegiate competition was Wednesday, May 25th. Some decisions were made that will greatly affect the upcoming season of college basketball. Here is a list of some of the most notable draft decisions and the effects that the player staying or leaving will have on the school:

 

Josh Hart, Villanova

Hart’s return means that Villanova is in excellent shape for the upcoming year. They certainly will miss Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. Arcidiacono was the team’s leader in assists as well as the third leading scorer. Ochefu was the team’s leading rebounder as well as fourth leading scorer. What the team brings back with this decision, though is a multi-faceted guard. Hart averaged 15.5 points per game, 6.8 rebounds and also 1.2 steals per game.  He is a very dynamic player on both ends of the floor. He will be complimented by Kris Jenkins decision to return as well as the continual growth of Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. Top recruit Omari Spellman could also play a role. Villanova is in a good spot for the upcoming season, and with this return, is a top ten team to start the season.

 

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall

Isaiah Whitehead is a devastating loss for the Pirates. (Photo courtesy of nytimes.com)

Whitehead’s decision to stay in the draft was the second most important decision in Big East play, next to Josh Hart’s. Last season, Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals each contest.  Seton Hall loses one of their most dynamic players and will be a completely different team without the guard returning for his junior season.

 

Malik Newman, Mississippi State

Malik Newman was set to be one of the first one and done players in Starkville.  Now, not only is that no longer a reality, but also ESPN’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that Newman is looking to transfer from Mississippi State.  He came in under Ben Howland as one of the most highly touted recruits in the nation, but had a relatively lackluster, injury plagued freshman season. Newman’s return would bolster the recruiting class that Howland put together along with other returnees Quinndary Weatherspoon and I.J. Ready. At this point, Newman has asked for a release to transfer.

 

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

Much like Villanova, Nigel Hayes’ return completes a prolific off-season for the Badgers. There were a lot of questions about this team last season with the retirement of coach Bo Ryan, but a Sweet 16 run put a stop to those. Wisconsin returns several key players, in addition to Hayes: Bronson Koenig was the second leading scorer on the team and also added shooting range that kept defenses spread out. He demonstrated this in the tournament game against Xavier. Ethan Happ is looking to build on a phenomenal freshman year in which he averaged 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Hayes returns as the clubhouse leader in scoring and assists and he is also the second leading rebounder behind Happ. Wisconsin is a complete team and will be in the top 5 in the preseason rankings due to this return.

 

 

Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

Clemson should be ecstatic to return a player the caliber of Jaron Blossomgame. (Photo courtesy of foxsports.com)

The aptly named player had a flourishing junior campaign and will grace the ACC with one last run.  He showed improvements across the board.  Blossomgame averaged 18.7 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds as well as 1.3 blocks. Not to mention that his percentage from behind the arc skyrocketed from 28.8% to above 40%.  Clemson will return three double-digit scorers in Blossomgame, Donte Grantham and Avry Holmes as well as third leading rebounder Sidy Djitte. While the team may not be the most powerful in the ACC, the Tigers will undoubtedly have something to roar about come Tournament time.

Melo Trimble, Maryland

Melo Trimble was not projected to be a first round pick but coming back may not have been the best decision for him. Trimble was the team leader in scoring and assists, but he is the only of the top five scoring options to come back to College Park. After the losses of Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon per eligibility as well as Robert Carter and Diamond Stone to the NBA draft, Mark Turgeon’s squad looks extremely depleted in comparison to the team that began last year at a fiery 15-1. Trimble will attract a significant amount of attention from opposing defenses and it will be left to the incoming freshman class to carry the weight of the team.

 

Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher, Oregon Ducks

There should be some sort of celebration in Eugene because the Oregon Ducks are one off the biggest winners at the Draft Deadline. Their core of Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, and Chris Boucher all three declared and all three have decided to return to school. This immediately makes Dana Altman’s team the team to beat in the PAC-12 for the upcoming season. The team is losing Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin, but this decision gives them three of their top four scorers on a team that already achieved a number one seed. These are also three of their top 5 rebounders, and Boucher was second in the NCAA in blocks this past season. The bar will be set very high for them next season.

NL East Weekly: 5/23-5/29

This week saw a lot of divisional clashes within the East, providing ample opportunity for a lot of teams to move around in the standings. But nothing ended up shifting in the East this week, but the Marlins have finally caught the Phils and tied them for the third spot 3.5 games back of the Nationals.

With the Odor vs. Bautista punch fading into the distance, the Mets had to rekindle another 2015 playoff flame on Saturday, when starter Noah Syndergaard threw behind Chase Utley, who made a hard slide into then Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in Game Two of the NLDS in 2015. Guess it just goes to show you that baseball players can have selective memories. They can forget an error in the field they made just half an inning earlier when they’re at the plate, but they can also remember actions taken almost eight months ago in another season entirely.

Matt Harvey’s probably wishing he could return to that season, as the struggles continue on the hill for the young Mets ace. Luckily he wasn’t struggling alone this week, as closer Jeurys Familia may have had some flashbacks to the 2015 postseason himself, with some of his closing performances last week.

Some guys that weren’t in the postseason last year are making some big noise at the plate, as two Marlins hitters hit above .500 this week, and really catapulted the Marlins offensive effort. Meanwhile, some veterans on teams atop the division are showing that they’ve still got some pop in the bat, with seasoned veterans David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth all belting bombs last week.

Now lets take a closer look at how each team is doing in the NL East…

1. Washington Nationals (30-21)

The Nationals offer a bit of a mixed bag of news that can be taken from last weeks seven games. While they did drop two of three to the Mets, evening the season series at 3-3 so far, they got some help from the Dodgers to remain atop the division.

Anthony Rendon is beginning to find his rhythm at the plate, hitting .385 in his last 15 games. Photo courtesy of rantsports.com

We’ll start with the good news: the hot hitters remain on the upswing, with Daniel Murphy continuing to keep his batting average in the .390s, and Anthony Rendon continuing to trend in the right direction. Rendon has hit all four of his 2016 homers in May, hitting .290 on the month after a .242 April. Another bit of good news appears to be Bryce Harper; who has regained a bit of his power swing, hitting two homers last week, doubling his May total. And Harper wasn’t the only one who got a hold of a few pitches last week; 14 homers were hit by eight different Nats players last week, including a surprising three by Ryan Zimmerman. Washington hitters might be hitting their strides at the right time, and the success of Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon at the plate looks to be contagious.

The bad news is that Harper is still sputtering at hitting for average, and the walks weren’t there to boost his OBP either. Harper hit just .167, bringing his season total to .245 and his May total to .205. Lucky for Harper, May is almost over, and hopefully whatever has been troubling him at the plate will begin to fade as June rolls in. Another bit of sour news is that Ben Revere continues to be inconsistent with reaching base as a leadoff man. Revere is hitting just .182, with a .232 OBP, and unlike his cohort Curtis Granderson of the Mets, he doesn’t make up for it with power: Revere has just five homers in his entire career.

The same good news/bad news situation can be seen on the pitching staff as well. Tanner Roark continues to look stellar against teams not from Miami, but his offense was unable to provide him with enough run support to avert him the loss. Roark gave up just two runs, one earned, in seven innings against the Mets on Wednesday but was still shouldered with the loss. Stephen Strasburg remains unbeaten as a Nationals starter, picking up wins eight and nine last week on the back of more impressive performances on the mound. The same can’t be said for Gio Gonzalez, who got shelled in both of his performances last week, giving up 13 runs in 9.2 innings against the Mets and Cards combined. His ERA jumped nearly two points, from 1.86 to 3.57 last week. Ace Max Scherzer had similar troubles on the mound, with walks being his undoing against the Cardinals on Friday. Scherzer allowed just three hits, but walked four men and allowed five runs in his loss.

The Nationals look to rebound this week against two very different teams. Their pitchers could have some confidence-boosting starts in Philadelphia, where the Phils offense continues to struggle, while the bats can look to continue (or begin in some cases) some hot streaks against the Reds in their first June series starting Friday.

2. New York Mets (28-21) 1 GB

The Mets evened up the season series against rival Washington at the beginning of last week to pull within 0.5 games of reclaiming the division lead. They failed to take the lead and ended up dropping half a game further back after a rough series vs. the Dodgers. The struggles for the Mets remain the same as they have all year. Matt Harvey is continuing to have the worst season of his career, and the Mets offense keeps hitting a lot of homers, but still isn’t providing a lot of run support.

David Wright, of all people, led the Mets bats in hitting last week. Now, that isn’t a quip against Wright as a player, so much as that is my surprise that he did it in just three games. Wright hit three homers and brought in five RBIs, but missed three games due to neck injury. While the extent of the injury won’t be known until Tuesday, manager Terry Collins fears Wright may spend time on the DL because of it. Another bat that has been fairly quiet this year is Juan Lagares. This is in part due to his not seeing as much playtime as some of his fellow outfielders, but he made the most of it this week: hitting his first two homers of the season and hitting .400 on the week. On the opposite end of that spectrum was first baseman Eric Campbell, filling in for the injured Lucas Duda. While the offense as a whole has done well in compensating for Duda’s loss, Campbell had a rough go of things. He hit just .050 last week, his sole hit being a homer against the Nationals.

The majority of the Mets rotation looked strong last week. Steven Matz threw another gem against Washington on Wednesday, with a career high eight shutout innings. Noah Syndergaard didn’t allow a run either, albeit he was ejected after just 2.1 innings for throwing behind the back of the Dodgers’ Chase Utley on Saturday. Bartolo Colon continues to quietly hold down the fifth-spot, delivering two strong starts and picking up a win last week.

The real struggles this week on the hill came from Matt Harvey, which hasn’t been as much of a surprise given the season he’s having. The real question is what Harvey will do in his upcoming start against the White Sox. The Sox have been struggling as of late, meaning Harvey could really get a boost in the confidence department with a strong outing this week. If things go south, Harvey may spend some time with triple-A Los Vegas. The guy whose struggles came as a surprise last week was closer Jeurys Familia. Familia surrendered six runs in two appearances against the Dodgers. He actually got the win against the Dodgers on Friday, despite giving up four runs. He gave up two on Sunday and took the loss. His season ERA jumped over two points in the Dodgers series, from 2.01 to 4.07. With how consistent Familia has been, I assume he’ll bounce back if given the opportunity against Chicago. If he doesn’t do so, then his role as closer may begin to come into question.

The Mets host a struggling White Sox before heading to Miami for three games this week.

3. Philadelphia Phillies (26-24) 3.5 GB

The Phillies were the latest victim of the Chicago Cubs, who have just torn through the East (as well as the majority of other teams to be fair) in 2016. Chicago is currently 8-1 against the NL East, with their only loss coming against the Braves so far. While the Phils struggles against the Cubs are merited, they also only managed to scrape one game from the Detroit Tigers last week.

While the Phillies may not have gone deep as much as the Mets or Nats did last week, their one multi-homer player, Tommy Joseph, continues to be a welcome sight at first base and the plate. Joseph and the Phils longtime first baseman, Ryan Howard, had the same amount of plate appearances last week. The two statlines tell the story of why the Phils called Joseph up in the first place. Howard was 2/18 with a run scored and eight Ks. Joseph was 6/19 with two homers, four RBIs, a stolen base, and five Ks. While it had been apparent that Howard was on the downswing over the past few seasons, the Phils had been reluctant to give Joseph a chance before this season. Perhaps that extra time in the Minors helped Joseph develop into the quality hitter he’s proven to be since coming to the Bigs in mid-May. Only time will tell if he can provide what Howard could in his prime, but he’s off to a good start.

Elsewhere in the lineup for the Phillies, young bats continue to be the story. Maikel Franco is beginning to bump his average in the right direction, proving he can be a reliable situational hitter, and not just a crush it or strikeout slugger. Odubel Herrera is arguably the most productive and consistent leadoff man in the division, hitting .320 on the year and notching four RBIs in the series against Detroit, three of those coming on a homer on Wednesday. Young outfielder Tyler Goeddel hit the second homer of his career last week, and 29 year old (which makes him an old man on this Phils roster) Peter Bourjos hit his first homer on the year in Wednesday’s win as well. The Phillies have a lot of strong up and coming players, and if they’re able to nail down the pitching some more (they very well could with the #1 overall pick in the upcoming Draft) I could see the Phils being a Cubs-like team in a couple years.

The Phillies starters looked shaky at best on the mound last week. Only Aaron Nola managed to scavenge a win, thanks to some uncharacteristic run production on Wednesday. Nola is 3-1 in May after a 1-2 April. Aside from Nola, only Jeremy Hellickson managed to provide a decent outing on the hill: three runs in seven innings with seven Ks. Hellickson still suffered the loss in that one, however, as the Phils mustered just one run of support. Adam Morgan lasted just four innings against the Cubs, and has now taken the loss in three consecutive starts. Vince Velazquez didn’t make it to the sixth inning in either start, mustering just four innings against the Tigers and 4.2 against the Cubs. He allowed three runs to Detroit, although his offense got him out of the loss in that outing. He also surrendered seven runs to Chicago over the weekend. Those two outings put a damper on what was an otherwise respectable May for Velazquez.

The Phillies host Washington for three games, and then host Milwaukee for another four games this week.

Miami Marlins (26-24) 3.5 GB

The Marlins have finally moved into position to pass the Phillies and begin to look further up the division at New York and Washington. This is due in large part to some of the Marlins younger hitters going absolutely berserk at the plate last week.

Marcell Ozuna hit .536 last week. Photo courtesy of sun-sentinel.com

Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich both hit over .500 last week. This isn’t necessarily uncharacteristic for the team, as they haven’t struggled to get men on base so far this year. The trick for them has been getting those runners home, which Miami a did much better job of last week. That said, it’s still encouraging to see these young Marlins bats produce the way Ozuna and Dietrich are. What isn’t so encouraging is Dietrich getting hit in the back of the head with a foul ball on Sunday in Atlanta. Dietrich drove in four runs, two of them coming on a homer, in Sunday’s game before he left. X-rays have come back negative, which is good news for Marlins fans and hopefully we’ll be seeing Dietrich back in action and continuing to produce at the plate. Ozuna passed team slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the team’s lead in RBIs last week, and he’s dangerously close to having the team triple-crown lead. Ozuna is hitting .344 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs, with two of those homers and four of those RBIs coming last week.

Dietrich and Ozuna weren’t the only Marlins hitters to rack up the ribbies last week. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Cole Gillespie also both hit above .300 and had at least 4 RBIs. Hechavarria hit .375 with four RBIs and hit his third homer of the year last week, while Gillespie had five homers and hit .333. The backup first basemen, Miguel Rojas and Chris Johnson also both had four RBIs when filling in for Justin Bour this week.

Jose Fernandez continues to dominate for the Marlins on the mound, while the rest of the rotation continues to be difficult to predict. Fernandez continues a scorching May with seven innings of one run ball and 12 punch outs. On the month, Fernandez is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 50 strikeouts in five starts. He’ll have a chance to up those numbers (or down them in some categories) with a start on Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh. Wei-Yin Chen gave up five runs in 5.2 innings against the Rays on Monday, but followed it up with five innings allowing just one run against the Braves on Sunday, with neither outing earning a decision. Adam Conley continues to be hit-or-miss, allowing just two runs but lasting just 4.1 innings against the Braves on Friday. Meanwhile Tom Koehler fell victim to the Marlins worst offensive day against Tampa, taking a loss while surrendering only two runs in seven innings.

The Marlins stay home all week: hosting Pittsburgh for four games before the Mets come to town for another three.

5. Atlanta Braves (14-35) 15 GB

While the Braves were able to win their second weekend series in two weeks, they were swept by the Brewers at home during the week, which always stings. I guess it’s a good thing that the Braves are leaving Turner Field next year, as The Ted has not been kind to them in 2016. Atlanta is 4-21 at home so far. While we’re still a long way out from any potential record setting, I don’t think that’s the kind of note the Braves want to head to Cobb County on.

Jeff Francoeur once again hit well, going an even .500 at the plate last week. Gordon Beckham is another guy who has turned it on in the past couple of weeks, hitting two homers and driving in six men while hitting .300. The only other Brave to leave the yard last week was Tyler Flowers, who saw  the majority of the action behind the plate, with one dinger and three RBIs. Nick Markakis continues to slump at the plate, but still managed to drive in four men last week. Ender Inciarte is slowing turning his batting average around with a .316 week. Inciarte missed almost a month on the DL, returning on May 7th; he’s hit just .238 on the month, which isn’t where the Braves want him if he hopes to reclaim the leadoff position.

Some more bad news from Atlanta: shortstop Erick Aybar has been placed on the DL with a bruised foot. Aybar was acquired as a part of the deal that sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels. On the season, Aybar is hitting just .182 with six RBIs and two stolen bases. Daniel Castro and Chase D’Arnaud are currently splitting time in the position.

The young Braves rotation is continuing to settle down, and saw decent outings from the pitchers throughout the week. Julio Teheran is unable to catch a break, allowing one run in seven innings against the Brewers but being stiffed a decision. He also drew a loss on Sunday with his worst outing in May, giving up three runs in 5.1 innings. Do not let Teheran’s record fool you, though, he’s had a great May statistically. Teheran, while just 1-2 this month, has just a 1.38 ERA and 37 strikeouts, alongside just nine walks in six starts. Mike Foltynewicz also saw his efforts go unrewarded, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings against the Brewers Wednesday, striking out seven men.

Aaron Blair and Williams Perez also had respectable no-decision outings. Blair, returning from triple-A Gwinnett, allowed two runs in 5.2 innings against the Marlins on Saturday. Perez delivered a quality outing, allowing just two runs in six innings of work against the Marlins on Thursday. Jason Grilli didn’t allow any runs in three appearances totaling 2.1 innings of work, although none of them in save situations. Grilli and Teheran remain the Braves hottest trade pieces as the season rolls on.

The Braves play four games at home against the Giants before heading to LA to play the Dodgers for three games.

Players of the Week in the AL Central: 5/23-5/29

The American League Central really started to get competitive this week. The White Sox are currently on a six game skid to move from first place to third. Kansas City has won their last three games to claim the top spot. The rest of the division held serve, with the Indians staying in second and the Tigers and Twins rounding out the bottom of the division. Here are five position players and five pitchers who did the most for each team in the division:

  1. Kansas City Royals (27-22)

    Wade Davis has proven again that he is a premier closer in baseball. Photo courtesy kansascity.com.

Pitcher: Wade Davis

The Royals played six games on the week and Davis managed to pick up three saves to get them to first place. He had five strike outs and no earned runs allowed, to add to his impressive season. With 14 saves and a 0.92 ERA, Davis is in great position to win the Reliever of the Year Award.

Position Player: Salvador Perez, C

Perez only played five games on the week, but still managed to pick up ten hits. His .526 average led the team, and he added four RBI. His power numbers were solid, as he hit two doubles, a triple and a home run.

2. Cleveland Indians (26-22)

Pitcher: Corey Kluber

Kluber had one start this week, going seven and one third innings against the White Sox and picking up a win. He only allowed one run and struck out 9 batters.

Mike Napoli had a great all-around week for Cleveland. Photo courtesy cleveland.com.

Position Player: Mike Napoli, 1B

Napoli hit .318 on the week, but the amazing thing was his power numbers. His three home runs and nine RBI generated some much needed offense for the Tribe. The two stolen bases for Napoli were the lone ones of the season.

3. Chicago White Sox (27-24)

Pitcher: Zach Putnam

Putnam appeared in three games, without allowing a run. His five innings pitched and .125 batting average against made him the most impressive pitcher of the week for the White Sox.

Austin Jackson was the only bat who produced for the White Sox this week. Photo courtesy southsideshowdown.com.

Position Player: Austin Jackson, CF

The bats went cold for the White Sox this week, but Jackson tried his best to keep them hot. He hit .462 with 4 RBI. His 12 hits for the team were four more than the next highest player on the team.

4. Detroit Tigers (24-25)

Justin Verlander had a great start this week for the Tigers. Photo courtesy stack.com.

Pitcher: Justin Verlander

There were plenty of pitchers who could’ve been the pitcher of the week for the Tigers, but Verlander led them all with ten strike outs. He only gave up three hits in eight innings against the Phillies. His two walks allowed showed how precise he was with the ball this week.

Position Player: Victor Martinez, DH

Martinez had a blistering-hot week by hitting .500 with 11 hits. He didn’t draw any walks, but did add six RBI to help the Tigers stay in the race for the American League Central.

5. Minnesota Twins (15-34)

Pitcher: Fernando Abad

Abad threw 3.1 innings in four relief appearances on the week. His two hits allowed and .167 batting average against helped the Twins win four games this week.

Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano couldn’t stop hitting home runs if they tried this week. Photo courtesy twincities.com.

Position Player(s): Joe Mauer, C and Miguel Sano, RF

Both Mauer and Sano crushed the ball this week. They both finished with four home runs and seven RBI and hit home runs in three straight games. Without their offensive output, the Twins wouldn’t have won four out of six games on the week.

Spieth Claims First Victory in Home State of Texas

Last week, Jordan Spieth’s sporadic play cost him the AT&T Byron Nelson. This week at the Dean and Deluca Invitational, he made it a point to not let it happen two weeks in a row. Spieth finished the tournament with a 5-under 65 to put his aggregate score at 17-under-par 263, three shots ahead of Harris English.

Spieth fought his way through the first nine and managed to make nine straight pars. After rounding the turn to take on the back nine, Spieth slammed his foot on the gas and notched three straight birdies. Spieth’s only error on the day was a bogey on the par-3 13th hole where he pulled his tee shot into the bunker on the left and then missed the green on his shot from the bunker. After pars on the 14th and 15th hole, Spieth hit a second wind and birdied another three consecutive holes to finish out his round.

Trouble nearly struck Spieth late when his second shot on the par-4 17th found the right rough. Somehow, Spieth was able to land his third shot on the fringe and have it roll straight into the cup to put him two strokes ahead of English with only one left to play. Spieth didn’t need to birdie the par-4 18th but he did so by sinking 34-foot putt giving him his first win in his home state of Texas.

This weekend’s win give’s Spieth his eighth for his career. He’s not even 23 yet.

Next week, the PGA Tour heads to Muirfield Valley Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. David Lingmerth will attempt to defend the title he claimed from Justin Rose in a 3-hole playoff last year.

The Unfair Case of Divisional Alignments in Ohio High School Football

Down in the small town of Chillicothe, Ohio, just off the highway, there sits a school that holds the only Tank mascot in the country. That’s high school, college, or pro. For four years this is where I played my high school football, my final season being just last year. But this isn’t about my playing history.

It’s about an unfair system that needs to be changed.

You see, Unioto High School has had football for 52 complete seasons.  And in 52 complete seasons, the Sherman Tanks have never been to the football playoffs.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some good seasons. In 1967, the U went 10-0. In 1981 they went 9-1 with their only loss coming on a failed fourth and goal play late in the fourth quarter. They got in neither of those years.

But the biggest travesty may have been 2014, when I was a junior and eight teams from each region got to go to the playoffs. We went 8-2. But we could have gone 9-1, it still would not have been enough to get in over the two 7-3 teams that came in seventh and eighth or even the 6-4 teams that were ninth and tenth.

Why? Because the OHSAA bases their divisional alignments solely on the male student body attending a school. We have 229 boys attending our high school, good for division four of seven in the state. Do you know how many of those boys play football? 29. That’s 13 percent participation, and I think most will agree not nearly enough players to compete with top end D-IV schools. But a D-VI school just up the road from us draws a participation of 43 percent with 52 out of 121 boys (numbers from OHSAA.org and chillicothegazette.com). And they beat us consistently, one of the reasons being the greater number of people to rotate in for fresh bodies.  

Why don’t we draw a lot of numbers to our football team? Some of it is laziness, but a lot of it has to do with the dominance of our other sports programs. We’ve won our conference all-sports banner 22 of the last 24 years. Our golf, cross country, basketball, and track programs dominate like Ohio State playing in the MAC. In my class the last four years, a ton of great receivers played cross country, three elite defensive backs played soccer, a lineman played golf, and another top-flight receiver decided to “focus on basketball”. Paint Valley, the school I mentioned from earlier, is dead last every fall in both golf and cross country. There’s nothing else for top athletes to do when the leaves change if they want to be a part of a winning program.

The other thing that makes this system flawed is the way the playoffs are scored by computers. Points stem from the divisional placements of the teams you beat and the teams they beat. So if you are stuck in a conference playing teams with student population densities the levels of which Alaska would be disappointed with (which can still turn out good teams when the kids actually come out) you can have a great season and get Lance Armstronged in the computer points.

In 2015, 8-2 Logan of Division II finished in tenth place while Lake at 6-4 finished in sixth place to get into the playoffs in Region five. In Region nine (division III), three different 7-3 schools finished behind Bishop Watterson for the final seed of eight. And in division IV’s Region eleven, 5-5 Ursuline finished fifth while 8-2 Firelands scraped by in eighth, yet 7-3 teams Streetsboro and Field missed the postseason (thanks to joeeitel.com for those rankings).

Quality of opponent should matter, yes. But does it account for two, even three games difference in record? No. If a team goes 8-2 and misses the playoffs they should be in a lower division, end of story. That isn’t right.

So, since this is just a rant without any proposal for a solution to the problem, here is what I think the division calculation system should look like:

  • 42.5 percent based on male student body (this should still be the number one factor due to a larger talent pool, but it should not be the only factor)
  • 32.5 percent based on average roster size over the previous five seasons (actual numbers, but not the largest factor since greater numbers don’t always equal greater talent)
  • 15 percent based on playoff appearances in the last ten seasons (if a school is never making the playoffs, they are in too high a division)
  • 10 percent based on the competition a school typically plays (this will help level the playing field of potential points for teams, but it should be the smallest factor with the smallest direct effect on team quality).

Does this sound complicated? Yes, but anything done right takes time to compute.

The other thing I like about this system is that it allows for more fluctuation between divisions, as you move up when you improve your overall team quality instead of when your school gets bigger. Some may argue that as a bad thing, but the greatest systems in the world are successful due to their ability to change with the times. I would point to the United State Constitution as a governmental example.

Is my system perfect? No. No system is, and I’m sure there’s a much better way to align schools than some biased eighteen year old’s angry musings. But there is definitely a way better system out there than what is currently in place.

Top Five NFL Coaching Rants of All Time

Just about every sport but football is on center stage this holiday weekend. Thus, I thought it would be a good time for a light hearted article. Here are my top five NFL coaching rants of all time. This is purely subjective and all my opinion. This is the kind of thing everyone has a different take on.

#5 “You Think You Know”- This is not the only time Jim Mora Sr. will appear on this list. His infamous “playoffs” rant is overrated, but this is gold. I love when coaches put the media in their place. No one really know what goes on behind closed doors in the NFL, good, bad, or indifferent. This is a good metaphor for life too. Mora almost speaks like he is giving a church sermon here. It is oddly fascinating. Here is the video from the Big Easy Bloopers YouTube channel.

#4 “Ditkith” – The coach of the ’85 Bears made no effort to keep his interaction with the media PG. In some ways, his pressers overshadowed a Hall of Fame playing and Super Bowl winning coaching career. Here, he takes what sounds like an unruly fan mispronouncing his name and runs with it. What follows is legendary (as seen on the Jeff Dirksen YouTube channel).

#3 “Didley Poo”- Back to Jim Mora Sr. for another gem. Here, he tries admirably to keep this rant PG, but fails miserably. To his credit, he always told it like it was when he was coaching. Notice, winning coaches never produce legendary soundbites. The NFL’s YouTube channel even included the “playoffs” rant in this video.

#2 “You Play to Win the Game” – Another classic here from 2002, it will be on Herman Edwards’s tombstone. I have no idea what the original question was, but the answer will live forever. I am so glad the NFL including the entire thing on their YouTube channel.

#1- “They Are Who We Thought They Were”- For me, this is a no-brainer. After an unbelievable Monday Night collapse against the heavily favored Bears team, Cardinals coach Dennis Green did not exactly give the Bears much credit for the win. Green was a very successful coach in the league for a long time, but all anyone remembers in this clip from the Best Sports interviews, rants, and conferences YouTube channel is Green’s rant. Side note, I am super bummed that Green attempting to exit the press room through the wrong door is not included.

There is my list folks. I hope this added some laughs to your holiday weekend. Did I leave any obvious ones out?

Real Madrid Takes Home the Champions League Trophy

Real Madrid won their 11th Champions League Trophy in dramatic fashion, scoring early in the match and converting all five of their penalties at the end of the match.

 

The game started off with a huge fifth minute save by Jan Oblak off a touch by Casemiro off a free kick from Gareth Bale.

 

Defender Sergio Ramos scored in the 15th minute off a Toni Kroos free kick flicked on by Bale. There was an offside shout from the Atletico players, but not called by the side judge.

 

Atletico put some pressure on around the 30th minute and earned a corner but were unable to put a chance on target.

 

Real keeper Keylor Navas had great save by off a volley from Antoine Griezmann in the 35th minute.

 

The final five minutes of first half Atletico had a long run of possession. The end of the first half could not have come at a worse time, they had solid build up play and got off a few shots.

Antoine Grezmann missed a crucial penalty for Atletico early in the second half. Photo courtesy goal.com.

Just off the second half kick Pepe fouled Fernando Torres in the box for a penalty. Greizmann missed the penalty off the bottom of the crossbar bouncing out past the box.

 

Daniel Carvajal was injured in a tackle and had to be subbed off for Danilo.

 

Atletico had a run of close chances right after the substitution putting three shots just off target.

 

Karim Benzema had a shot off a counter attack in the 70th minute, but was closed down well by Oblak. He was then taken off for Lucas Vázquez.

 

Real had a great run of shots drawing Oblak out of his goal but Bale couldn’t put the ball past any of the Atletico defenders in goal. On the ensuing possession Juanfran had a great cross to half-time substitute Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco to equalize at 1-1 in the 79th minute.

 

At the end of stoppage time Sergio Ramos took out Carrasco on a counter and earned a yellow. Gabi’s reaction to Ramos not getting a red card earned him a yellow. The ensuing Atletico free kick was cleared by Madrid ending regulation 1-1.

 

In extra time Real had a good chance off a corner that Ronaldo put into the ground and bounced harmlessly into the hands of Oblak. Then there were a few good chances for each team but no goals.

Ronaldo scored the last penalty to seal the win for Real Madrid. Photo courtesy businessinsider.com.

In penalties each team made their first three and Real made their fourth before Juanfran puts his off the post. Ronaldo put home the final penalty to win the trophy 5-3.

FC Cincinnati vs. Crystal Palace: Why it is Bigger Than You Thought

FC Cincinnati and Crystal Palace are playing a friendly match on July 16, 2016 at Nippert Stadium. Yes, you read that right: the first year,third tier, American team FC Cincinnati is playing F.A. Cup finalists and European side Crystal Palace. This gives Crystal Palace three games in North America, along with MLS clubs Philadelphia Union on July 13 and the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 19.

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew dancing at the F.A. Cup Final. From nayachohan.com

For FC Cincinnati, this is a huge coup beacuase it is their first season, and they set the league attendance record in their second home game and broke it again in their fourth home game. FC Cincinnati is exceeding expectations in every category from attendance, to on the field play, where they are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference.  Their first goal was even on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10. They have also gotten international attention from the Guardian.com.

The MLS has to be taking notice of FC Cincinnati’s success and this is where getting Crystal Palace is even more important. FC Cincinnati is the only USL club to host a Premier League team and one of two teams outside the MLS (the second tier NASL Carolina Railhawks are hosting West Ham United.) Their home game attendance average is 17,462 over their first four home games and they have 20% of the total USL attendance. They are also averaging more fans than six MLS teams.

FC Cincinnati striker Sean Okoli scoring the first home goal in club history. From Cincinnati.com

While getting into the MLS is still a long shot, it is better than when I last discussed it here. The MLS is expanding from their current 20 teams to 23 by 2018 with teams in Atlanta, Minnesota, and Los Angeles, with a team pending a stadium deal in Miami to take them to 24.

 

Some of the same problems persis: they don’t have their own stadium, they play on artificial turf and there are a lot of cities that are vying for the next round of expansion. One big plus on the stadium front is that FC Cincinnati is paying for renovations being made to the first few rows in the horseshoe to make for a longer playing surface.

 

While many fans are getting excited for the Crystal Palace to come play in Cincinnati, it could just be a step in getting the MLS in Cincinnati. With the MLS expanding to 28 teams in the future, by 2022 or 2024, this could be the stepping-stone needed.

Royals Set to Showcase Impressive Depth Amid Injuries

Image Courtesy of MLB.com

Image Courtesy of MLB.com

On a 1-0 pitch from Luke Hochever to Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Kansas City Royals lost the contributions of two 2015 All-Stars from their lineup.

Mike Moustakas has been ruled out for the season (torn ACL) and Alex Gordon is expected to miss roughly a month with a fractured scaphoid bone in his wrist.

This collision is the type of thing that could ruin a season, but, the Royals have more depth than some in the national media are giving them credit for.

The Royals cannot possibly find another Moose or Gordo out of nowhere, but what they do have is several young players set to be given an opportunity to shine.

Starting at third base, the Royals have Cheslor Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier, and Whit Merrifield who could replace Moose in the lineup.

Cuthbert has received most of the reps at third so far and has been serviceable. His .254/.266/.349 slash line in 16 games so far is not particularly impressive, however, he has flashed a plus glove at the hot corner while holding his own against Major League pitching.

The other more tantalizing option is the possible arrival of the 8th pick in the 2013 MLB draft in Dozier. Dozier, who has struggled at times in his minor league career, looks to be putting it all together in 2016.

In 44 games so far this season in the minors Dozier has already hit 12 HR’s and driven in 36 runs while slashing .300/.367/.582.

Cuthbert rightfully will get the first opportunity at third base. If he fails to seize the job, or struggles at the plate, the Royals will pull the trigger on Dozier and give the youngster a chance to showcase his power at the Major League level.

Another option at 3rd base could be the super utility man Merrifield. In his first seven major league games Merrifield has hit an impressive .370 while logging starts at second, third, and in left field.

Merrifield made a strong push for a bench job out of spring training before falling short to Reymond Feuntes and Terrance Gore to start the season. Now given the chance to contribute at the major league level amid injuries, the 27-year-old rookie looks poised to make the most of his opportunity.

Dozier has the highest upside of the bunch, and if he continues to mash in Omaha he will certainly force the Royals hand. If that ends up being the case, Cuthbert and Merrifield could help take over the second base job where veteran Omar Infante’s contract continues to look like a mistake.

Moving on to shorter void that Alex Gordon’s injury has opened, the Royals also have several options at the corner outfield spots.

Currently on the big league roster Jarrod Dyson, Brett Eibner, Merrifield, and Paulo Orlando are all capable of playing both corners and should fill in well in Gordo’s absence.

Jorge Bonifacio and Fuentes are also producing well in AAA and even Dozier has logged 8 games in left field in 2016.

The former Brazilian track star Orlando has been destroying the baseball of late. Seen mostly as a role player, although this could just be a hot streak, Orlando is trying to prove he deserves and everyday job with his .390 batting average and solid defense in right field.

Dyson, who is also probably best suited as a role player, is a known quantity at this point. He provides elite speed on the base paths and elite defense in the outfield while providing zero pop with the bat. He may be best suited as a 4th outfielder, but he’s nothing to scoff at as an everyday player either because of those 2 elite tools.

Eibner, who went 1-3 in his major league debut with a run scored, has proven that he can hit AAA pitching with great numbers at the highest level of the minors over the past 2 seasons. Finally it was enough for the Royals to give him a chance, and should he harness his power, he could end up as the everyday right fielder even after Gordo’s return.

Looming in the minors is Bonifacio who was once regarded as one of the Royals better prospects. After several down years in the minors, Bonifacio looks to finally be putting in together with AAA Omaha this year.

Through 45 games he has crushed 9 HR’s and driven in 37, all while hitting .318. Much like Dozier at the hot corner, Bonifacio has the highest upside of the list of potential corner outfielders, and should he continue to hit in AAA, will be given the opportunity to showcase his skills in the Royals lineup.

The foul pop up off the bat of Cabrera could have been devastating for the Royals. Instead, because of the impressive depth that Dayton Moore has compiled, it is an opportunity to see what else the Royals have to offer.

With question marks at second base, third base, and in the corners of the outfield the Royals have plenty of options to find consistent production.

The infusion of new players could be exactly what the Royals, who are off to a sluggish start in their World Series defense, need. With several options at each key opening, someone should take reigns of the open big league jobs.

It’s matter of who will emerge, not a matter of if someone will emerge for the now crippled 2016 Royals.

Molder Holds Lead as Play Suspended at Dean and Deluca

The start of the second round of the Dean and Deluca Invitational was suspended for over five hours due to rains in the area that pelted the course the night before and well into the morning. Play started shortly after noon but was brought to a halt on Friday evening due to darkness.

Bryce Molder, who currently leads the event at nine-under-par, will start his day a little earlier than usual on the 15th hole. Molder will look to eradicate the double bogey he had the par-4 12th hole and attempt to play as well as he has on the front-nine at Colonial Country Club. Molder has managed to notch 11 birdies and has yet to bogey a hole on the front nine. I would say that the back nine hasn’t been so kind to him but he’s only gone 2-over-par thanks to a double bogey on the 12th hole which isn’t great but his play on the front nine will definitely help pick up the slack. Now, it’ll be a question of if Molder will be able to put together 2 more quality rounds to capture his first win since 2011.

Molder had a spell from October 2015 to March 2016 where he couldn’t seem to put together quality rounds, missing seven of 10 cuts. Before this week, Molder hadn’t been outstanding, finishing on average in 27th place, but he definitely regained command over his game somewhere in between the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Since the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Molder hasn’t missed a cut but he also hasn’t cracked the top-five since November 2015 at the Sanderson Farms Championship so it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue to play at this level or if he’ll succumb to those surging up the leaderboard. Molder will start the process of finishing the second round at 7:30 AM CT.

The hometown favorite, Jordan Spieth, has one again found himself at near the top of the leaderboard but he’s also struggled late in tournaments this year posting seven rounds over par in the third and fourth day. Spieth current sits tied for third with Patrick Reed at seven-under-par and it could be assumed that he’s trying to avoid a repeat of last week’s fourth round struggles at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Spieth’s day three grouping and tee time has yet to be released.

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