2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

All but four teams  now know where they are drafting. Teams are looking to rebuild and get to the playoffs for the seasons to come. Here is the latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Cleveland Browns-Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen has had to carry UCLA this season and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good season to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury his sophomore year. The Browns have a new GM, who has no allegiances to anyone on the roster, which means DeShone Kizer is likely done as quarterback.

2. New York Giants- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Giants still need a head coach, so it’s hard to figure out what they will do. Maybe Eli Manning can mentor Sam Darnold for a year. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Some have Darnold much higher in mock drafts, but his decision-making won’t get too much better in the NFL.

3. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Bradley Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Indianapolis also doesn’t have a coach yet, but most importantly don’t have Andrew Luck healthy. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is one of the most complete running backs to ever come out of college and might be the best player in the entire class. The Browns tried to improve the defense in last year’s class, but now need to focus on the offense. With Rosen, a good offensive line and now Barkley, the offense should improve.

5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. The Broncos have a solid roster, but just need a quarterback to lead the team.

6. New York Jets- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Jets had a better season than anyone expected and now just need a quarterback to take them to the next level. Some people are questioning whether Jackson can play quarterback, but he showed improved accuracy this season and is a dynamic playmaker. He should be given a shot to play the position in the NFL and the Jets could use his talents.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Tampa Bay’s defensive line isn’t as good as it once was and they need some pass rushing help. Key only played eight games this season and had four sacks, but has proven in the past to be a good speed rusher.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Bears have some nice young pieces in Trubisky and Howard, but now need to get a weapon at wide receiver. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and produces even without the best quarterback play.

9. San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is the best cover corner in the draft. He had to really make his way this season, as he had to sit and wait his turn to get playing time. The 49ers got their defensive lineman and linebacker in the first round last year and can now get a good secondary player to go along with them.

10. Oakland Raiders- Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Oakland really needs to improve the interior of their defensive line and their defense in general. Vea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds.

11. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by onefootdown.com)

Adam Gase has said that Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback. There are other holes on the team, but they need to have better offensive line play if they are going to be successful. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.

12. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Bengals were able to go 7-9 with a terrible offensive line. They need help at just about every position and can start with tackles. They have taken tackles before in the first round, but they haven’t panned out. McGlinchey would’ve been a first round pick last year and the Bengals can get good value and fill a need with this pick.

13. Washington Redskins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Last draft, the Redskins got good value in Jonathan Allen and can do so again with Fitzpatrick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Fitzpatrick can play next to D.J. Swearinger next season.

14. Green Bay Packers- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. The Packers need to improve the secondary and make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again.

15. Arizona Cardinals- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Cardinals have to find a new quarterback now that Carson Palmer is retired. Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic to avoid pass rushers.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Ravens’ defense is really good, but the offense needs some work. Mike Wallace, Breshard Perriman and Jeremy Maclin aren’t cutting it for the Ravens. Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

James’ stock is falling, but teams will fall back in love with him again throughout the next few months leading to the draft. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position. The Chargers can use the help at safety and James would be a great addition.

18. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Reports have come out that it will be tough for Cliff Avril to play football again and Michael Bennett has said that he doesn’t think he’ll be back in Seattle. Davenport isn’t a household name because he played at UTSA, but he’s a good pass rusherwho fills a need.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by bleacherreport)

19. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

The Cowboys are seemingly always weak up the middle of their defense. Shutting down their opponents’ running game would allow them to control the clock like they love to do. Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed.

20. Detroit Lions- Billy Price, OG/C

Detroit hasn’t had a solid running game in Matthew Stafford’s tenure as quarterback. Some more balance on offense would make it even better. They may be able to achieve this if they improve the offensive line. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.

21. Buffalo Bills- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is the best linebacker in college football and does a little bit of everything well. His game is fueled by his speed. The Bills are thin at linebacker and Smith is a day one starter.

22. Buffalo Bills- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition. The Bills took Tre’Davious White last year and will likely want to get another corner to pair with him.

23. Los Angeles Rams- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State

Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, but need better outside pass rushers. Hubbard will not only provide that, but is also one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the class.

24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.

25. Tennessee Titans- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Johnathan Cyprien has been bad for the Titans this year, in one of their lone weak spots on the roster. Reid took a huge leap this season in terms of production and has put himself on the map for a first round selection.

26. Atlanta Falcons- Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Jackson has the potential to develop into a great cover corner. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.

27. New Orleans Saints- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Saints need to plan for the end of Drew Brees’ career sooner rather than later. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.

2018 NFL Mock Draft January 19

Ronnie Harrison (Photo by al.com)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jacksonville has talented young receivers, but due to injury have been spread thin at the position. Sutton is a bigger receiver who has put up big numbers in the AAC. As a team with not too many needs, the Jaguars can afford to spend this pick on a receiver.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they don’t have too many needs. Brown has great size for an offensive tackle and his father played in the NFL.

31. Philadelphia Eagles- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Another team that doesn’t have too many needs is the Eagles. They could use another linebacker for depth and a future starter. Jefferson was a highly-touted recruit that hasn’t reached his potential yet.

32. New England Patriots- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Patriots’ defense needs to be revamped. Edmunds is a linebacker who can do it all. He rushes the passer, covers and helps to stop the run.

 

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pacific division

Pacific Division Uprising

The Pacific Division is not often compared to the likes of the Central. However, this week’s power rankings have some new members in the top 10 that has the division making some noise.

The Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames all find themselves climbing the ranks of the NHL.

This is the first time the Pacific has had at least three representatives in the top 10 since October 19th (post week two of the regular season).

The depth does not compete with the Central..but they do have the conference leader (Vegas) and the same number of teams in this week’s top 10.

What do this teams do well? What do they need to work on? Are either of these teams a true contender?

Let’s do it.

Viva Las Dangles

pacific division

Photo from NHL.com

There is no team discussed more recently than the Golden Knights… and they deserve it.

What they do well:

Kill penalties – (23-for-23 since December 19th)..

Win close games – (14-4-3 in one-goal games)..

Kick pucks out – (1.98 team goals against average and a .936 team save percentage).

What they need to work on:

The power play – (1 for their last 27 since December 19th, 17% overall/23rd in the league).

Are they a true contender? Yes.

The Knights have a number one goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and are 15-6-1 against current playoff teams. Vegas has posted wins against Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and Washington (the three other first place teams in the NHL). They currently sit at number two in this week’s power rankings and atop the Pacific Division.

Newly shark invested waters

pacific division

Photo from NHL.com

The Sharks are one of the newest members of the top 10 from the Pacific Division.

What do they do well:

The power play – (scored one PPG in 14 of their last 17 games/20-for-64 since December 7th, 23% overall/5th in the NHL).

Winning at home and on the road – (13-6-2 on home ice/11-7-4 on the road)..

Work their goalie tandem – (Aaron Dell/backup/1A goalie is 10-3-0 w/a 2.26 GAA and a .925 save percentage).

What do they need to work on:

Plus/minus – (11 players are in the minus column and are only +9 as a team).

Are they a true contender? No.

San Jose comes in at nine in this week’s power rankings and currently sit in second place in the Pacific. They hold a modest 10-8-2 record against present playoff teams and will most likely be playoff bound. However, the Sharks have a 2-7-1 record against teams with a better record than them. The Sharks are hot, but don’t seem deep enough to compete with higher ranked teams in the postseason.

The flames are hot…naturally

pacific division

Photo from NHL.com

Tied for the Sharks in points and more new members from the Pacific in the top 10 are the Calgary Flames. Coming into Thursday, this club is on a seven-game win streak (longest active streak in NHL).

What do they do well:

Special Teams – (During this streak they are 22 for 24 on the PK and 5 for 20 on the PP).

Road Warriors – (They are a league-best 13-5-4 on the road)..

Johnny Gaudreau – (15 goals/39 assists/54 points in 45 games)..

Balanced goalie tandem – (Smith/Rittich have a combined 2.25 GAA and .928 save percentage).

What do they need to work on:

Play at home – (Flames are a modest 12-11-0 on home ice this year).

Goal Differential – (Calgary is just +6 as a team so far this year).

Are they a true contender? Possibly.

The Flames come in at number 10 in this week’s power rankings. They have a solid 11-7-2 record against current playoff teams. Three of those wins have come against first place Washington, Tampa and Winnipeg. Calgary is led by a ferocious young core that can skate with anyone and will be a tough out come playoff time.

Don’t sleep on this one either…

We did just talk about the Central Division being the most ultra competitive division.

Although this is true, the Pacific is right up there.

This is a division with the leader (Vegas) having a 7-point cushion…but there is a log jam right in the middle with only three points separating second to fifth place.

The contender portion of this article may be true, but San Jose, Calgary and Vegas for that matter haven’t proven anything yet..LA and Anaheim are very much motivated to wreak havoc on the division with a great deal of hockey left to be played.

These three teams are hot..but all must be focused on staying hot all the way to mid-April.

 

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Nikola Mirotic trade

Three trade ideas for Nikola Mirotic

The Chicago Bulls are supposed to be bad. And at the start, they were very bad, starting a franchise worse 3-20 to begin the year. Since power forward Nikola Mirotic came back, the Bulls have won 14 out of there last 22 games.

Since he came back from facial fractures, Mirotic is averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game despite only playing 25 minutes a game off the bench. He is shooting a blistering 45.7 percent from the 3-point line and 49 percent overall from the field. Mirotic has added a much needed scoring boost off the bench to a unit that was at the bottom of the league.

For all the analytics people out there, his PER is 23.83. As a reference, the league average is 15.0. Mirotic is currently 15th in league in PER, higher than stars such as Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Andre Drummond. Now this isn’t to say he is better than those players, but it does show how valuable he has been when he has been on the court this season.

Since he has delayed the Bulls tank, this is the perfect opportunity to trade him. This is arguably the best he has played in his career, and his defense has also improved to the point where he is not a turnstile like in years past. He does have a no-trade clause because of the one-year Bird rights contract he signed this past offseason. Fortunately, good news has come out about this little problem.

“Mirotic and his representatives have made it known to the front office that he’d waive his no-trade clause if it meant being dealt to a playoff contender” – Chicago Sun-Times

With that in mind, let’s take a look at three trade scenarios involving Nikola Mirotic.

Utah Jazz

Chicago Bulls receive: Alec Burks, Jonas Jerebko, Dante Exum

Utah Jazz receive: Nikola Mirotic, Jerian Grant

Nikola Mirotic trade

(Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images)

This one would net the Bulls a few promising young players without jeopardizing cap space for years to come. Former fifth overall pick Dante Exum hasn’t lived up to expectations so far in his career. After suffering another injury in training camp when he hurt his shoulder, its time for a change of scenery.

Alec Burks would match salaries with Mirotic and provides great wing depth as he is big enough to play shooting guard or small forward. He is under contract for a little over $10 million for the rest of this year and next.

Jonas Jerebko would be a throw-in for the deal and can shoot well from three as a backup power forward. The Bulls would also trade Jerian Grant because they would be getting a point guard in return.

Detroit Pistons

Chicago Bulls receive: Jon Leuer, Detroit Pistons 2018 first-round pick

Detroit Pistons receive: Nikola Mirotic

This is the trade that might make the most sense for both sides. It would also help the Bulls immensely with draft position as the Detroit Pistons are currently tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls would have to take on Jon Leuer’s mammoth contract for the next two and a half years, but that is the price they will pay to get a first-round pick in this year’s stacked draft. This trade is all about receiving a draft pick, and helps them out in the future.

Milwaukee Bucks

Chicago Bulls receive: Mirza Teletovic, Rashad Vaughn, 2019 Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick

Milwaukee Bucks receive: Nikola Mirotic, 2019 Chicago Bulls second-round pick

In this trade scenario, the Bulls don’t get a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but they do get a first-round pick in 2019, which is the next best thing.

They also would receive promising young shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, who could play a prominent role of the bench. Mirza Teletovic would be included to offset salary, and his 3-point shooting would help with the loss of Mirotic.

Nikola Mirotic

Bulls tank commander Cameron Payne (Source: Getty Images)

In any case, I believe that the Chicago Bulls should trade Mirotic while his value is at his highest. By trading Mirotic and getting the tank commander Cam Payne back from injury, it will help the Bulls get in better draft position to possibly draft Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Mohamed Bamba or Trae Young.

On a side note, the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight is the best thing to happen to the Chicago Bulls since Derrick Rose won MVP in 2011. It immediately cleared the way for rookie Lauri Markkanen to start at power forward, and he has taken that opportunity and ran with it.

 

 

Featured photo: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

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2017-18 NBA beef

All the NBA beef this season

The past week has been wild with lots of intense games and tempers that have flared. In the past, players have expressed disdain for bad calls and have beef with other players.

In this season, these situations have reached a pinnacle. There have been more fights, more ejections and more technicals than any other season in recent memory. There’s nothing more exciting than watching two guys who hate each other compete.

As outspoken NBA veteran Matt Barnes once said, “Violence isn’t the answer, but sometimes it is.”

Here is the guide to all the best beef so far this season

Draymond Green vs. Bradley Beal

2017-18 NBA beef

Players and referees attempt to separate Draymond Green and Bradley Beal as they fight. (Photo from SF Gate)

In a game on Oct. 27, Beal drove to the basket and had his shot blocked by Green. Beal hit Green in the back of the head and wrapped his arms around Green’s hands.

Their scuffle migrated from outside the lane to underneath the basket, where they both ended up on the ground surrounded by players on both teams.

Both were ejected and fined heavily. Markieff Morris and Carrick Felix were both suspended one game as well for leaving their bench.

Kris Dunn vs. Khris Middleton

At the end of the fourth quarter with 20 seconds left in the game and the outcome decided, Dunn threw Middleton down after he physically gained position in the post. Both teams and referees had to separate the two. Both players were ejected.

Rodney Hood vs. refs and fan

After Hood was ejected from a game for arguing with refs, his frustration reached a peak as he was walking past his bench towards the locker room. A courtside fan was recording him walking out, and Hood slapped the phone out of the fan’s hand. He was fined $35,000 for the incident.

Arron Afflalo vs. Nemanja Bjelica

2017-18 NBA beef

Afflalo gets put in a headlock after missing a punch. (Photo from SlamOnline)

In a recent game, Afflalo and Bjelica began pushing each other violently while getting ready for a rebound. Afflalo swung straight for Bjelica’s head, missed and was put in a head lock. Afflalo was suspended two games and ejected for fighting.

Ben Simmons vs. Kyle Lowry

With six seconds left in the game, Simmons visibly bumped a few members of the Raptors on edge. Lowry took the bump from Simmons personal, and both were ejected for yelling at each other.

Simmons told Lowry to meet him in the hallway and was looking to fight. Lowry later said this at a press conference.

“Put it this way: I was back there.”

It’s safe to say these guys don’t like each other.

Enes Kanter Vs. Lebron James

2017-18 NBA beef

Kanter doesn’t back down from LeBron. (Photo from SI.com)

In a game in New York, James pushed and unnecessarily got in the way of rookie Frank Ntilikina, and Ntilikina pushed James.

Kanter, being the instigator that he is, immediately rushed to help his rookie and got in LeBron’s face.

James Johnson vs. Serge Ibaka

In the third quarter of a recent game, Johnson was guarding Ibaka while the ball was being inbounded from the baseline. While the two began pushing each other, Johnson threw a punch at Ibaka’s head, and Ibaka reciprocated. Both were separated by a referee, and both were ejected.

James Harden vs. Mario Chalmers

With two minutes left in a tied game, Harden hit Chalmers with a very hard screen and knocked him to the ground. Chalmers began kicking at Harden’s ankles from the ground. Harden retaliated by pushing Chalmers, and both players were pulled apart before either could throw punches and escalate the scuffle.

LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Serge Ibaka

2017-18 NBA beef

Ibaka and Aldridge never back down against one another. (Photo from San Antonio Express News)

Aldridge and Ibaka have had a long-term beef. Three years ago, they got into a fight and have a tendency to be very chippy against each other. They once again expressed their disdain for each other.

Ibaka was seen pushing Aldridge under the hoop contesting for a rebound, and they both got into each other’s faces before getting separated by teammates. These veterans have bad blood between them.

Khris Middleton Vs. Steven Adams

By Steven Adams physical stature, he isn’t a man you want to get into a fight with, even for NBA players. In a game in October, Adams and Middleton seemed to get a bit chippy underneath the basket. Adams ended up with the ball in his hands after a bucket and handed it to Middleton, who threw the ball with force at Adams. Both players were pulled apart from each other and given technicals, but no ejections.

Kevin Durant vs. DeMarcus Cousins

2017-18 NBA beef

Durant and Cousins are both heated during the game. (Photo from Yahoo Sports)

In a game in December, both Durant and Cousins began bumping each other before an inbound pass. Things got escalated, and both players were issued technicals. Then both had to get separated from each other.

Both players were ejected. However, Cousins wasn’t done with Durant, as he tried to confront Durant on the way to the locker rooms. It will be interesting to see how the former Team USA teammates interact at the upcoming All-Star game.

Blake Griffin Vs. Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza vs. Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers

This scuffle has everything you could want with lots of former teammates involved. Blake Griffin and the Clippers got the best of the Houston Rockets on the court, but what happened away from the game is what sparked everyone’s interest.

During the game, there were lots of words exchanged between players and coaches, and tensions boiled over in the end of the game and after, with the Rockets very angry with some of the Clippers players.

After the game, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green, James Harden and Chris Paul reportedly went into the Clippers locker room through a secret back door that Paul knew of to confront Austin Rivers. Things got so out of hand, Los Angeles Police was called to de-escalate They even sent Clint Capela to the front door as a way of getting around security.

While some of the details are unclear, Ariza and Green were both suspended two games. Griffin was ejected in the end of the fourth quarter.

Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook

2017-18 NBA beef

The two former MVPs still have beef over Durant’s departure. (Photo from Youtube)

Probably the best beef on this list, the former teammates have quite a bitter rivalry after Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors.

Westbrook has been known for taking numerous petty shots at Durant since his departure. As two of the top 10 players in the NBA, there were lots of moments these two matched up against each other in their meeting in November at Oklahoma City.

The two continued to jaw at each other, with Westbrook being the main instigator, which escalated when Westbrook knocked the ball out of bounds from Durant when he was driving to the hoop. Westbrook and Durant headbutted each other and definitely exchanged some words. Battles between these two are must-watch games.

 

Featured image by ABC News

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NFL Conference Championship preview

NFL Conference Championship weekend preview and picks

We can only hope the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend is half as competitive as last weekend was. Three of the four games were nail biters, which made for some strange results in terms of predictions.

As has been the case throughout the postseason, games will be picked both straight up and against the spread. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. You can see last week’s picks here.

Last week: 1-3, 3-1 against the spread.

Postseason totals: 4-4, 5-3 against the spread.

Jaguars at Patriots

Three teams have gone into New England and won a playoff game in the Brady-Belichick era, two Ravens teams led by John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco and one of Rex Ryan’s Jets teams. All these teams had one thing in common: They ran the ball and were very good on defense.

With the top ranked rushing offense and a sack happy defense that has dominated all year long, Jacksonville certainly fits that bill. This will not be a simple coronation for the Patriots. Just because the Jaguars approach to winning games is fairly bland does not mean they do not deserve to be here.

That defense will keep this interesting for four quarters. However, there are three pieces of insurmountable bad news for the underdogs. First, Blake Bortles is still their quarterback. Second, Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback. Finally, Bill Belichick is not going to run 15-yard pass plays on 4th and 1 or run an onside kick with two timeouts and more than two minutes left like Pittsburgh did last week.

One of the biggest yet simplest reasons New England has been so good for so long is they never make in game strategy calls that leave even casual fans scratching their heads in the moment. As good as they are, the Jaguars needed a lot of help to outscore the Steelers last week. New England will not be so generous this week.

Winner: New England

Good bet: Patriots (-9) NE 31 Jac 20

Vikings at Eagles

Something has to give here. These two teams have mastered the art of the playoff choke job over the years. Now one of them is going to the Super Bowl.

At this point in this season, these teams are going about winning games the same way. They both rely on their great defenses to make up for limitations at quarterback. Make no mistake, Case Keenum and Nick Foles have limitations.

Foles only threw for 246 yards last week against Atlanta. However, he did not make a big mistake that crippled the team. When you have a defense that is capable of holding what was a hot Falcons offense to just 10 points, that formula is good enough.

NFL Conference Championship preview

Photo from espn.com

Keenum tried to make that crippling mistake with his late third quarter interception that sparked the Saints comeback last week. However, he and the Vikings were bailed out by a miracle finish that was more blind luck than anything else. There is no shame in that. Every Super Bowl champion there has ever been has required some degree of luck.

What this game comes down to is both teams will try to run the ball. It is hard to imagine either having much success against two of the best front sevens in football. So which average quarterback will do a better job of getting the ball to their playmaking pass catchers?

Well, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each caught over 60 balls in the regular season and accounted for several of Minnesota’s 10 third down conversions last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles pass catchers have virtually disappeared since Carson Wentz went out. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery had seven catches combined last week. They need to have somewhere around seven catches each should Philadelphia struggle on the ground in this one.

Moreover, if there is a weak spot on either defense, it is the Philadelphia secondary. They got torched by the lowly Giants twice this year.  There is no reason Diggs and Thielen should not carry their team to a home Super Bowl.

Winner: Minnesota

Good bet: Vikings (-3) Min 23 Phi 17

 

Featured image from chatsports.com

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Trae Young

Can Big 12 teams slow Trae Young down the second time around?

Well Trae Young is still leading all of college basketball in assists and scoring. However, now there are scouting reports, and most teams in the Big 12 have already gotten a taste of him.

Although his numbers are impressive, this is where the part of the schedule gets difficult. This is the time for Wooden Award candidates to show if they really are special. Conferences are ready to get another swing at Trae Young, and this is where numbers start to slow down a little for star players.

Can Big 12 teams slow down Trae Young the second time around? Or will his numbers continue to be off the charts?

Schedule

Oklahoma has played one of the hardest schedule’s in all of college basketball this season. They have played six games against ranked teams so far. They are 5-1 in those games and swept TCU, which has only lost four games all season.

Young has continued to put up numbers, but has struggled shooting wise to get them. He has also struggled with his increasing turnovers. He has had halves of games where he shoots under 30 percent, but still finds a way to get to 30 points and 10 assists. Young is finally seeing signs of struggle and proving that he might actually be human.

The truth is, Kansas State may have just shown the blueprint in how to contain and beat the Oklahoma Sooners. A team scoring over 92 points a game scored 69 points and never even got close to on track on offense. Young had 20 points and 6 assists, but turned the ball over a career-high 12 times. It seemed like the first time all season where Young didn’t help his teammates and instead hurt their production. He shot just 2-for-10 from three and went just 8-for-21 overall.

One of the biggest things that Young likes to do is get to the free-throw line. Like James Harden and other NBA stars, getting to the free-throw line is an easy way to not only get your shot on track, but also get some quick and easy points. Trae Young went just 2-for-4 from the free-throw line in the game against Kansas State. He did not leave his normal Trae Young impression on the game.

In games that Young has drastically less than 10 assists and more than four turnovers, the Oklahoma Sooners are going to struggle. Against West Virginia, Young had 29 points and five assists. He also had eight turnovers to go along with those five assists.

Seeing him twice

Trae Young

Trae Young taking it into the TCU defense. (Photo from Tulsaworld.com)

The Big 12 is starting to become familiar with the explosive Trae Young. He is getting a lot more attention, and teams are learning that he wants to play fast. They are slowing the game down and attempting to cut down on live ball turnovers.

What’s crazy about Young seeing TCU two times already is he was actually better the second time around.

In the first matchup, Young had 39 points on 9-for-23 shooting and 15-for-18 from the free-throw line, He also added four rebounds, 14 assists and seven turnovers.

In the second time around, Young had 43 points on 15-for-27 shooting and 3-for-7 from the free-throw line. He added 11 rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers as well.

For a team that’s well coached and has seen Young twice, TCU got torched by the young guard. What does that mean for the rest of the Big 12 and stopping Young and the Sooners?

How to slow the Sooners down

It’s definitely not easy to do so, but slowing Young down is a five-person job. One thing that has been done is getting the ball out of Young’s hands early in the possession.

Making the offense run through someone else means that Young isn’t as involved. Obviously Young is the most dangerous with the ball in his hands. He shows that to us with his scoring and assisting statistics.

Another thing that’s vital is chasing him off the perimeter. Obviously that’s easier said than done due to his extended range, but it’s always better to give up twos against bigger guys than to give up threes where he is most comfortable.

The most important part is slowing the game down. Young loves to get out in transition and getting easy baskets because of it. If a team controls the speed of the game, he gets frustrated and is more likely to try and force things. He gets frustrated and looks to make plays that are tougher because the way he plays is taken away.

Don’t let him get to the free-throw line and get him in a groove easily from the stripe.

Moving Forward

Even though Oklahoma has stumbled as of late, they are still in the thick of the Big 12. Young is one of the toughest people to guard in all of basketball, and it is going to be tough for almost every team from here on out moving forward. Trae Young is the best guard in America right now, and it takes a whole team to contain him on any given night.

 

Featured image from USAtoday.com.

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NBA Finals rematch

It’s time to stop hyping up Cavs-Warriors matchups

After the Golden State Warriors’ 118-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, it is officially time for the NBA to stop trying to make us care about regular season matchups between these two teams. Almost every NBA Finals rematch has simply not lived up to the hype the NBA has tried to stir up over the past three years.

This rivalry was forged in the fires of the NBA Finals. It wasn’t born of constant division clashes or bad blood between players. In fact, Cavs and Warriors players are almost always very nice to and complementary of each other and their play. Before the game on MLK Day, LeBron James literally hugged Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, the people he should hate the most on this Earth.

Since it was born on one of the biggest stages in sports, it’s hard to care about what these teams look like against each other until they’re back on that stage. The only exciting thing about these games the past three years has been the conversation about potential finals storylines. That’s a fine reason to watch a game during a random Wednesday in November, but it’s not good enough to justify the marquee matchups on the NBA’s most important days.

Recent history

Since Cleveland and Golden State first met up in the finals in 2015, the Cavs have won exactly one regular season game against them. It was an admittedly exciting and contentious one-point win on Christmas Day in 2016. But it is still only one game.

NBA Finals rematch

Kevin Durant dunks during Monday night’s game (Photo by David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

To find another Cleveland regular season win during the rivalry, you would have to go back to Feb. 26, 2015. Even counting this one is a stretch, because this was before they had met up in the finals. The NBA didn’t even know it was a rivalry yet.

 

For the sake of sample size, let’s count those two matchups in 2015 towards this exercise.

Including the finals matchups, the Warriors have won 17 of the 26 games these two teams have played. That’s a win percentage of .654 over three-plus years. Considering the teams are in different conferences, that’s complete dominance. It seems even more dominant when you look at it under the microscope that the NBA has forced upon the games.

Not counting playoffs, the Cavaliers are 2-6 in eight tries in the regular season since LeBron returned to Cleveland. That’s not exciting. It’s not something the NBA should plan its entire Christmas Day slate around.

Points

In the regular season matchups, the Warriors have beaten the Cavs by an average of 18.3 points. The Cavaliers have won their two matchups by just 6.0 points.

NBA Finals rematch

Durant guards James during a Christmas Day game. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

Since Kevin Durant arrived on the West Coast, the Warriors wins are by an average of 15.3 points if the playoff matchups are included. The Cavaliers have won just twice (again, including playoffs), by an average of 11.0 points. However, that is a bit misleading, considering one of those wins was by 21 points in the finals game where Cleveland scored 49 points in the first quarter and had 86 at halftime.

What does this all mean? It means that when the Warriors win, which is most of the time, they’re almost always winning by over 10 points.

Sure, games can end up with a lopsided score during garbage time that makes them seem less competitive than they are. But with a sample size this large, these numbers don’t lend themselves to putting these games on days where fans are already watching the NBA (i.e. MLK Day and Christmas).

Solutions

No one can blame the NBA for wanting to use these games to boost viewership and sell ad time at a higher price. That’s business, and finals rematches are a proverbial cash grab in that respect. But people wanting to see these games isn’t the problem.

The thing that’s most glaring about forcing these finals rematches down our throats is that fans are going to watch these games. People who know and care about the NBA are compelled to tune in to see if they are going to be surprised by the outcome.

NBA Finals rematch

Curry and Durant celebrate during the NBA Finals. (Photo by Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

The real power that these games have are drawing in casual fans, and sometimes even non-fans. Those people are going to tune in on Christmas Day, regardless. So why not save your supposed “big guns” for late February or mid-March, when even hardcore fans might be yearning for something else to watch?

Another solution could be slating one of the matchups for very early in the season, October for instance, and then slating the other one for the spring. After the All-Star break and trade deadline, both teams will more than likely have the identity that they are going to carry into the playoffs. If the NBA is really concerned with giving the fans a playoff atmosphere, then let the Cavaliers, who like to build and fill in gaps through trades, finalize their roster.

Of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that these two teams will meet in the finals again, which is hardly a guarantee this season. Having the games before the trade deadline could be a good plan because the Cavs can see what holes they need to fill to be competitive with Golden State in June.

One of the teams will be there, but we’ll have to wait and see whether or not these marquee matchups were just the final blow to Cleveland’s confidence, or motivation to not get embarrassed on the national stage yet again.

 

Featured image by Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports

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Larry Walker Hall of Fame

Larry Walker by the numbers

One of the most complete baseball players of this generation, Larry Walker could do anything on a baseball field. He hit for average, winning the batting title three times. He hit for power with over 380 home runs. He was an outstanding fielder with seven Gold Glove Awards. He could even run the bases with 230 steals to his name.

Yet somehow, he has come up short on the Hall of Fame Ballot for seven straight years. Last year, Walker received just 21.9 percent of the vote, which is not very close to the 75 percent mark. Some may hate on the fact that his career was cut short due to injuries, or even the fact that his best years were played in Colorado, the most favorable hitting park in the MLB. But when it comes down to the numbers, Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer.

The Come-up

As a kid growing up in Canada, Larry Walker liked to play hockey more than he did baseball. Walker dreamed of becoming an NHL goalie and would always practice with his pal, Cam Neely. Some NHL fans may have heard of him. Since his high school did not have a baseball team, Walker would only play a few baseball games in the summer.

Larry Walker Hall of Fame

(Photo from The Trading Card Database)

At 16, Walker tried out for two Junior A hockey teams, but was cut from both. From this point on, baseball became his main focus. In fact, Walker can be credited for dramatically increasing the popularity of baseball in Canada. The shorter summers in Canada made it hard for Walker to get the experience he needed, but he clearly made it work.

Walker made this statement in an interview according to Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).

“I’d never seen a forkball, never seen a slider. I didn’t know they existed. I had never really seen a good curveball. In Canada, as a kid, we’d play 10 baseball games a year. 15 tops. Some pitchers had a thing they’d call a spinner, but nothing like this. Baseball just wasn’t big. The weather was against it. Nobody ever played baseball thinking about making the major leagues.”

Walker also was unfamiliar with a lot of the rules in baseball, further showing his lack of experience.

Although Walker went undrafted (Canadians were not yet eligible to be selected in the MLB draft), Montreal Expos scouting director, Jim Fanning, saw potential in him at 18 years old when Larry was playing for the Canadian team in the World Youth Championships in Saskatchewan. Fanning was in awe when Walker hit a home run with a wooden bat, mainly because all of the others players were using aluminum bats. He was signed as an amateur free agent to a contract worth $1,500, which is $3,457.9 in USD today.

Pro Ball

In his first spring training, Walker showed right away that he was not used to the pitching. He was looking for a fastball every time and would swing at basically anything. In the New York-Penn League, an independent league team made up of rookie league prospects who got cut, Walker hit .223 with two home runs in 62 games.

After this disastrous season, Walker was sent to the Florida Instructional League to develop his game. A tough, hardworking kid, Walker wound up becoming a top prospect in the Expos’ system. As a 19-year-old in A ball, Walker hit .288, with 33 home runs. The following season, in AA, he hit .287 with 26 home runs and stole 24 bases. He struck out over 120 times in both seasons, which wound up being something Walker never did in his 17-year MLB career.

After missing the 1988 season due to reconstructive knee surgery, Walker was sent to AAA, and it was clear he was ready for the show. For a kid who barely played baseball growing up, Walker ended up alright, hitting 380 home runs and making around $110,466,931 in the big leagues.

Numbers never lie

Larry Walker Hall of Fame

(Photo from SI)

Walker played for the Expos, Rockies and Cardinals. As an Expo, he had two seasons in which he finished in the top 15 in MVP voting. In 1994, during the strike season, Walker hit .322 with 19 home runs, a league-high 44 doubles, 86 RBIs and stole 15 bases in just 103 games. Had the season not been cut short, Walker was on pace to hit around 30 home runs, 69 doubles, 24 steals and 135 RBIs. In his six seasons in Montreal, Walker made one All-Star team and won two Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award.

His best seasons were, by far, as a member of the Colorado Rockies. He made four of his five All-Star teams as a Rockie and was named the NL MVP in 1997. Among position players in 1997, Walker was clearly the best player in the league. He led the league in WAR at 9.8, and his stats were outlandish. In 153 games, Walker hit 49 home runs and batted .366 with a .452 OBP, a .720 SLG and a 1.172 OPS. He led the league in all of those categories except batting average, finishing second behind Tony Gwynn, who hit .372.

Players to have a season of BA>=.365, HR>=49, OBP>=.450 and SLG>=.710 YEAR(S)
BABE RUTH 1920, 1921
LARRY WALKER 1997

 

Players who had seasons of: BA>=.350, HR>=35, OBP>=.420 and SLG>=.600

PLAYER NO. OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 8
LOU GEHRIG 5
LARRY WALKER 3
TED WILLIAMS 3
JIMMIE FOXX 3
ROGERS HORBSY 3
ALBERT PUJOLS 2
BARRY BONDS 2

Even in his later years as a member of the St Louis Cardinals for his 37 and 38-year-old seasons, Walker continued to find success. In 144 games with the Cardinals, Walker hit .286 with 26 home runs. In 2004, in his only World Series appearance, Walker hit .357 with two home runs and three RBIs.

 

Seasons in the Top 10 by Statistic

STAT NO. OF TOP-10 APPEARANCES
WAR 3 (1ST in 1997)
Batting Average 6 (1ST in 1998, 1999, 2001)
OBP 6 (1ST in 1997, 1999)
SLG 8 (1ST in 1997,1998)
HR 5 (1ST in 1997)
OBPS 8 (1ST in 1997, 1999)

Here are two tables to illustrate how amazing this guy was.

PLAYERS WHO, FOR THEIR CAREERS, HAD: BA>=.310, HR>=380, OBP>=.400 and 2B>=470
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
LARRY WALKER
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG
STAN MUSIAL

 

PLAYERS WHO, FOR THEIR CAREERS, HAD: TB>=3900, OPS>=.965 and SLG>=.560
BARRY BONDS
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
JIMMIE FOXX
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG
LARRY WALKER
JOE DIMAGGIO
ROGERS HORNSBY

 

Featured image by SI.com

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Jarrod Cann 2018 NFL Draft profile

2018 NFL Draft Profile: Jarrod Cann

Jarrod Cann was an all-around great high school athlete, but he didn’t start playing football until his senior year. With such a small sample size of games and film to look at, how did he make it to an NCAA Division I FCS school like Central Connecticut State University? It has been quite the ride to say the least.

Coming out of high school, Cann did not have the grades to play at the Division I level just yet. Originally from Delaware, Cann went to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia to get his grades up.

By the time he became eligible, he had missed the recruiting cycle. Cann had a few options. He could play at the Division II or III, but he couldn’t afford it and he did not want to pay with a big student loan.

Instead, he went the JUCO route and attended Nassau Community College in New York. It was at NCC that Cann switched to the safety position. Up to that point, he had played receiver. After playing really well at safety, Central Connecticut State University was willing to take a shot on Cann and offered him a scholarship.

Cann had a successful career at CCSU. In three seasons, Cann has totaled 169 tackles and five interceptions, four coming this past season.

Cann really became a leader at CCSU. It was an something his coach pushed him to do, especially his senior year.

Jarrod Cann 2018 NFL Draft profile

Cann brings a lot more than football to the table. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin Photography)

“It was a turning point for me,” Cann said. “I really got to talk with the guys, back and fourth. Try to lead more people from the position of where I was. I think that was the greatest thing I’m going to get out of that.”

Cann hopes the journey will continue to the NFL. In preparation for the draft, Cann is still getting up at 6 a.m. to practice with his team. He is also doing individual sessions with a trainer that helped prepare his cousin and Cleveland Browns safety, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, for the NFL.

Cann believes his leadership is one of his biggest attributes and is something an NFL team would appreciate about him.

“I’m definitely a leader,” Cann said. “If I come in, I would definitely lead in all aspects. Personality wise, physically on the field. I do it for my team. I do everything with a family perspective on things. I’m a big family guy.”

To Cann, football is more than just a game. He wants to help his teammates grow and be a positive influence in the locker room.

“I feel like overall, it is more than just a game,” Cann said. “I feel like I really connect with people. I feel like I can help change lives with that.”

As far as play on the field goes, one of the comments Cann has gotten from most of his coaches is that he plays hard and physical.

“I play with my heart out there,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to get that strength and the speed. I have all the physical tools to go out and make big plays out on the field.”

Cann brings a lot to the table. Whichever team picks him will be getting more than just a football player.

Jarrod Cann Scouting Report

Cann isn’t the tallest at 5-foot-11, but is well-built at 205 pounds. He has enough strength that not a lot of receivers will have an edge on him if they try to play physically. While he has good strength, his biggest asset is his speed.

His speed is at a track-level and really helps him on the football field. He has great range and can be seen zipping across the field to make plays after the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands. Even if he is out of position, which isn’t frequent, Cann will be able to make up for it with his blazing speed.

He can cover man to man well and when in zone coverage, does a good job reading the quarterback. Cann offers decent run support and is a sure tackler, who lays the occasional big hit on opponents.

While getting drafted isn’t 100% guaranteed, Cann’s speed should be able to get him in the door with an NFL team. He played well against Syracuse, which should help prove to teams he can play against higher levels of competition.

Full interview for Jarrod Cann:

*Josh Burris interviewed Johnson, while Joe DiTullio provided the scouting report.

Featured image by Steve McLaughlin Photography

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New York Yankees all-time roster

New York Yankees all time roster

The New York Yankees have set the mark in baseball that looks as if it will never be matched. The Yankees have 27 World Series titles while the next most has just 12. With those championships comes a great deal of extraordinary talent.

For the purposes of this list, players will only be designated to the positions they play. Outfielders can only be used in the outfield, while the designated hitter spot can only be taken by someone who played designated hitter for the majority of their time with the Yankees.

With that said, lets take a look at who their ideal roster with all these legends would be. Keep in mind that the accolades mentioned for these players are only applicable to their time with the Yankees. The dates next to their name is their time with New York, not just their time in the majors.

Catcher: Yogi Berra (1946-1963)

18x All-Star, 13x World Series Champion, 3x AL MVP

The Yankees have several legendary catchers. From Bill Dickey, Jorge Posada and Thurman Munson, the Yankees have had an excellent catching core. However, there is no doubt that the best catcher in Yankees history is Yogi Berra.

Berra is known for his quick wit and powerful bat. What some people may not know either is that Yogi Berra has won more World Series than any other team in baseball other than the Yankees. He is not only a great catcher in terms of his ability, but a great face to put on the franchise. Berra was entertaining on and off the field, and is one of the greatest ballplayers to ever play the game.

First Base: Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Lou Gehrig is a legend of his own alongside his teammate, Babe Ruth (NBC Connecticut)

7x All-Star, 6x World Series Champion, 2x AL MVP, Triple Crown (1934)

The Iron Horse was perhaps the best part of the historic 1927 Yankees. He also gave one of the most iconic speeches of the 20th century. He stated he was the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” during his retirement speech due to what is now called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gehrig may be one of the best hitters to ever play the game, as his career .340 batting average along with 493 home runs proves that.

Second Base: Robinson Cano (2005-2013)

5x All-Star, 1x World Series Champion, 5x Silver Slugger, 2x Gold Glove Award

Cano is one of the best power hitting second basemen of the 21st century. He has had sustained success and landed one of the largest contracts ever with the Seattle Mariners.

Cano was a perennial MVP candidate with the Yankees, finishing in the top six in voting for four seasons in a row. He has remained healthy through the years and can hit for power with the best of them for middle infielders. Don’t be mistaken, he can also flash some leather. He may not have as many World Series titles as other people on this list, but he fits right in with them.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez (2004-2016)

7x All-Star, 1x World Series Champion, 2x AL MVP

Here we go. Perhaps one of the most controversial figures in baseball history. Rodriguez’s career is plagued by performance enhancing drugs and a negative reputation. For the purposes of this list though, we will leave the controversies in the rear view mirror.

Rodriguez signed the largest contract in sports history with the Yankees in 2004. His best year was in 2007 when he hit 54 home runs and a staggering 156 RBIs. He hit at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in the first seven years of his Yankees career. Despite all the hate that is steered his way, he had one of the greatest careers on the field in baseball history.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter (1995-2014)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Not many would debate Derek Jeter being the face of the Yankees success in the 21st century (MLB)

14x All-Star, 5x World Series Champion, 5x Gold Glove, 5x Silver Slugger, AL Rookie of the Year (1996)

What else is there to say? The Captain fits right in there with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as one of the best to put on the famed pinstripes. He is in the Yankees top ten list for batting average, runs, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBIs, walks and extra-base hits.

Surprisingly enough, Jeter is the only Yankee to reach 3,000 hits while in a Yankees uniform. Phil Rizzuto won more titles in New York, but Jeter was a key cog in the 1990s and early 2000s powerhouse in the Bronx. The future Hall of Famer will go down as the greatest shortstop of all time.

Left field: Mickey Mantle (1951-1968)

20x All-Star, 7x World Champion, 3x AL MVP, Triple Crown (1956)

Mickey Mantle played his career in center field. However, it is too difficult to leave him out of the starting lineup. Mantle and DiMaggio are right on par and their careers coincided with each other, so the center field spot was taken care of by hall of famers for over 30 years.

Mantle holds the record for most home runs in the World Series with 18 over his career. His triple crown year in 1956 is also one of the greatest seasons in Yankees history.

Center Field: Joe DiMaggio (1936-1942, 1946-1951)

13x All-Star, 9x World Series Champion, 3x AL MVP, Record 56 game hitting streak

All of DiMaggio’s stats have to be taken with a grain of salt. Not because he cheated or anything, but because they are lower than what they could because of World War II.

It cannot be stated enough how incredible DiMaggio and Mantle were in center. You cannot go wrong with either guy, but someone has to have the upper hand. If it was not for the war, DiMaggio may have the clear path to deserving the center field spot of Mantle. However, even with the time off, he proves his position with his nine World Series titles and his unbreakable 56 game hitting streak.

During that famed summer of 1941, DiMaggio set what may be the most unbreakable record in baseball with that 56 game hit streak. No player has come within 10 games of that hit streak since he set it. With this day in baseball too, it is unlikely that it will be reached again.

Right Field: Babe Ruth (1920-1934)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Babe Ruth may be the best to ever play the game (Fameology)

7x World Series Champion, AL MVP, AL Batting Champion (1924), AL ERA Leader (1916)

The Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the Behemoth of Bust. Babe Ruth is widely considered to be the greatest to ever play the game due to the fact he could pitch and hit with the best. He was the first player to really introduce home runs to baseball at all as well. He brought the game out of the dead ball era and revolutionized the game of baseball all together.

Ruth is a big reason for who the Yankees are today. He is an immortal that would be found on the Mount Rushmore of baseball, and we will likely never see a player like him in our lifetimes.

Designated Hitter: Don Baylor (1983-1985)

2x Silver Slugger

There are plenty of guys that could fit into this designated hitter role who didn’t play the position. The designated hitter was not introduced until 1973, so the only people in this position are people who played a majority of their games at DH.

The late Don Baylor was only with the Yankees for three seasons, but he left his mark at DH during those three years. He provided some pop to the lineup but only eclipsed the .300 mark once.

As stated before, there are greater Yankees hitters of course. However, Don Baylor is the best to occupy the DH position.

Starting Pitcher: Whitey Ford (1950, 1953-1967)

10x All-Star, 6x World Series Champion, Cy Young (1961)

The Yankees have a staggering amount of Hall of Fame pitchers that could take the mound for them. However, Whitey Ford shines above them all. He leads the Yankees in several career stats such as wins, pitcher WAR, starts, strikeouts, and innings pitched.

He has the most experience as a pitcher in pinstripes, and was the best at it while doing it. Despite the fact that the Yankees have so many other pitchers that could top this list, Ford was an easy choice.

Closing Pitcher: Mariano Rivera (1995-2013)

13x All-Star, 5x World Series Champion, 5x Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, All time saves leader

Mariano Rivera is the greatest closing pitcher ever. The role wasn’t really established until the 70s and 80s, but since then there is no doubt he has been the best.

He had one of the best cutters the game has ever seen which was devastating for left handed hitters. Rivera was also one of the best pitchers to ever play in the postseason. He was the World Series MVP in 1999 and established himself as the go to guy at the end of games. He was also the last player ever to wear the number 42 as it was grandfathered in after baseball retired it for Jackie Robinson.

Everybody else on the roster

Starting Rotation: Andy Pettitte, Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Ron Guidry

Relievers: Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage, Dave Righetti, John Wetteland, David Robertson, Dellin Betances

Bench: Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, Dave Winfield, Bernie Williams

 

Featured image from NY Daily News

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