A Glance at the AL East

We are almost at the 100-game mark for the MLB season, which leverages the rumors for October. Today, we take a look at the AL East, and the tight battle between Boston, Tampa Bay and New York. What will each team need to do to capture the division? What is Baltimore and Toronto failing at? Let’s take a look.

First Place: Boston Red Sox (54-42)

Chris Sale, after striking out the side (overthemonster.com)

It’s no surprise that Boston is in first place. Coming into this season, Boston added Chris Sale to its pitching rotation, which inevitably made the Sox one of the toughest rotations in the whole league.

In order to remain in first, the Red Sox pitchers need to continue to have great games on the mound. Rick Porcello, the 2016 Cy Young award winner, needs to step up and finish strong for Farrell. Porcello is 4-12 in 20 games, with 20 home runs against him, the most homers allowed off any pitcher in the clubhouse.

Finally getting back from soreness in his elbow, David Price needs to go back to his usual dominant starts like he is capable of. Other than that, Sale and Pomeranz combine for 21 wins and a total of 299 strikeouts.

With Brock Holt finally back as well, you will see this lineup ramp up and get on a hot streak. Dustin Pedroia is dominating the AL since the All Star Break, batting .379 with 8 RBIs.

Second Place: Tampa Bay Rays (51-45)

Logan Morrison after he launches a ball (draysbay.com)

After the Rays finished last, and stood 25 games behind in the AL East, they strive for a full change this season. They currently sit in second place, being only three games behind Boston. What’s working for them this year that failed last year?

Pitching has been the Rays’ claim to fame this season. As a team itself, Tampa Bay sits in 5th out of 15 teams in ERA. Guys like Chris Archer and Alex Cobb have stepped up big time, and Matt Andriese has helped too.

On top of that, Tampa Bay is hitting the ball very well this season. They sit in third in homers with 140, and fourth in RBIs with 433.

Logan Morrison is on fire, and has 26 homers and 61 RBIs, leading the team in both categories. Corey Dickerson is having a dominant season, starting in the All Star Game last week, batting .310 which leads the team in average.

If the Rays continue to hit well, you could see them go from last place to first place from one season to the next. Archer and Cobb need to be consistent on the mound to gain first place.

Third Place: New York Yankees (48-45)

Aaron Judge: The leader of this team so far this year. Judge is leading the team in every hitting category, with the exception of one category: doubles. Yes, he leads the team in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging percent, hits, at-bats, RBIs, triples, home runs, runs and hits. All that for one player.

Aaron Judge hits a HR 450ft+ (nypost.com)

The Yankees have been in a weird position. You think they should be the best team in the AL East due to the crazy statistics that Judge is putting up, but they are descending in the standings game by game.

They are 4-6 in last 10, not to mention that Judge has three hits on 29 at-bats, batting a whopping .103 since the All Star Break.

The Yankees were in first place not that long ago.

In order to get back on top, they need more pitchers to do their job. Masahiro Tanaka is 7-9, with a 5.33 ERA and 27 homers against. Tanaka is letting up too many hits. Montgomery is 6-5 with a 4.09 ERA and a opponents batting average of .247.

As long as Judge does not slow down, this Yankees squad is capable of doing damage to any team in the AL.

fourth place: baltimore orioles (45-49)

Eight games behind Boston, the Baltimore Orioles need to pick things up, quickly. A wild card team that finished just four games behind first place last season is slipping away. What isn’t working for them?

Machado’s controversial slide into Pedroia (baltimoresun.com)

Simply, their pitching is at an all-time worst. They sit in 15th out of 15 teams in the AL for team ERA. Their ERA of 5.07 is good for second-worst in the MLB.

Honestly, there’s no hope in Baltimore making the playoffs this season. Kevin Gausman holds a 6-7 record with a 6.11 ERA, while Ubaldo Jimenez is 4-5 with a 7.01 ERA. It’s not been the best season for these starters. Baltimore sits in last in the MLB in BAA at .279.

It is also time for Machado to ramp his game up. He is currently batting .239 with 76 strikeouts, the fourth most on the team. Machado finished the 2016 season with a batting average of nearly .300. He was the leader on the team for hitting, alongside Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis.

This season could turn out to be a total bust for the Orioles.

Fifth Place: Toronto Blue Jays (43-51)

The Blue Jays stand 10 games behind Boston, and safe to say, they have little to no chance to capture the division. The Blue Jays finished with nearly 90 wins last season, and one year later they are on the outside looking in. What’s wrong with them?

Toronto’s hitting has been the biggest problem this season. Guys like Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson are not producing like in previous years. These guys are big-name players, and have a combined average of .233. It’s been nothing like other years where these guys have been the top hitters in the AL, and even the MLB.

Bautista walks back the dugout, after striking out (sportsnet.ca)

Troy Tulowitzki is not doing his best, but is still lights out at short stop. Bautista is probably the biggest disappointment for this ball club. He is batting .230 with 97 strikeouts. Not to mention, he had four strikeouts this past Monday against Boston.

The pitching is sub-par. They are fifth in the AL for strikeouts, with a total of 825. Marcus Stroman has been their most dominant pitcher. Stroman is 9-5 with a 3.10 ERA. Other than that, they have no other pitcher that has helped keep a consistent pitching rotation.

The Jays aren’t looking good for this season.

 

 

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MLB trade deadline: What AL contenders must do to stay in first

Baseball is back and the second half push to the playoffs begins. The MLB trade deadline comes in the second half as well and is Christmas in July for baseball fans. Strategy, money and moves galore (hopefully).

This period is a chance for teams to either sell off parts in order to rebuild or make the trades necessary to help their squad make it to the playoffs and an eventual push for the World Series. These are the moves the teams currently in first place for their respective divisions need to make to remain in first by July 31.

Boston Red Sox

If you follow baseball or this team at all, then you know their weakest position currently is at third base. Pablo Sandoval has been anything but useful or even available and has been designated for assignment. Also they traded away Travis Shaw who is having an excellent season for another first place team.

While everyone believes Todd Frazier is the best and only option available for trade, I would like to look at another in Nick Castellanos.

MLB trade deadline

Courtesy of: Bleacherreport.com

The Detroit Tigers are having a very disappointing season and will most likely be sellers during the trade deadline for the first time in a long time. They also have arguably one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Most of their top players are in Double-A ball and below which means they have a long time to wait to see if they develop.

To speed up the process of their inevitable rebuild, they could and should be looking to trade away as many players as possible.

Castellanos is only 25 and is under team control until 2020 which means Detroit could ask a decent return. So why would the Red Sox make this trade?

To start, they would get a solid everyday third baseman that could grow with the young players they are building around now like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and more. Rafael Devers is still at least one or two years away and wont be able to help them win now. It is unlikely they would have to part with him to get Castellanos as well.

Castellanos has been in the league for four full years now. You know what you are going to get out of him, whereas you never truly know with a prospect. He has experience, making playoff runs with the Tigers and still has room to grow.

The Red Sox would most likely only have to give up two of their top 25 prospects, most likely ones in the teens and below. They may also throw in a PTBNL or just an extra pitcher to sweeten the deal.

Nick Castellanos would solidify the Red Sox third base problem not only for now but also for the future. Todd Frazier on the other hand may cost only one top 25 prospect but he would also be a free agent at the end of this year and has seemed to have trouble batting for average ever since he was traded to the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

It took the Indians awhile to catch up to the Twins, but they have taken hold of first and wont let it go for the rest of the season. This team can hit and is being led by its young superstars Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor while getting help from players like Edwin Encarnacion who struggled mightily to start the season but has figured it out.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: Sportsblog.com

Another strength of the World Series runner-ups is their bullpen. Their weakness? Outside of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and surprisingly Mike Clevinger, this team’s starters have struggled. Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin all have ERAs over 5.

There are many attractive options on the market for the Indians. The question will be how much are they willing to give up in order to get the starting pitching help they need?

Last year, they traded away Clint Frazier and a multitude of other prospects in order to get their stalwart setup man, Andrew Miller. That being said the Indians still have some pieces that they could trade. I highly doubt they will trade Bradley Zimmer as he is with the club now and making a solid contribution.

There are a multitude of options for the Indians to help make their second World Series run in as many years. I like Sonny Gray, but I think his asking price will be too high considering how he has pitched in the last two seasons. This leaves two options: Gerrit Cole and Johnny Cueto.

Both the Pirates and Giants respectively have been under-performing and it looks like they will have to be sellers. While Gerrit Cole is better, he and Sonny Gray have a similar problem. They are going to cost more than the Indians are willing to give.

That is why they could trade for Cueto. He has won a World Series and has been in Cy Young contention, but the Indians could get him for a bargain. He has not pitched extremely well this season and the Giants are desperate (or should be) for prospects as they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

The Indians could give up one top 25 prospect not named Zimmer or Mejia and two others right outside their top 25 for Cueto. He would be a great pickup and if he could find his form again, he could be a top of the rotation guy to help the Indians try to make it back to the World Series.

Houston Astros

The Astros were my World Series pick back in January and I am glad that they have yet to let me down. Their lineup can hit from 1 to 8 and Keuchel and McCullers make up an amazing top of the rotation.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: SFgiantsrumors.co

Brad Peacock is finally living up to his potential, whether he is in the bullpen or the rotation. While most are looking at the rotation, and they could improve there, Peacock may actually be a legitimate option that will help them keep their first-place standing. Also, Colin McHugh should be coming off the DL soon and can help to solidify the rotation.

The Astros are missing another reliable bullpen arm. We saw how important they were in last year’s playoffs and right now the Astros have a pretty good bullpen. But if they are going to want to make a real run, they need a great bullpen.

They won’t give up what teams gave up to get pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last season. Instead, they will go for options that are a small step down.

In steps another Giants player and someone who has been a crucial piece in their bullpen for a long time, George Kontos.

Kontos has a career ERA under 3 and he has been in many high-pressure situations, including helping the Giants win multiple World Series. While he is not a flashy pickup, he is a reliable one, and should be relatively cheap, as he’s still under team control until 2020.

The Astros would not have to part with any of their major prospects. They could easily throw the Giants one of their lower top 25 prospects and some cash or another lower level prospect with high potential.

Kontos would solidify the bullpen as the Astros head into October. His experience would help the younger Astros team and again he would cost a lot less than someone like Sonny Gray or David Robertson.

Conclusion

The trade deadline is an unpredictable time and has a major affect on the way the rest of the season and future seasons will play out. Look out for what first place NL teams needs to do in order to stay in first place.

 

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overwatch league

Esports Franchising has Begun: First 7 Cities for Overwatch League Revealed

The Overwatch community has been waiting for this day since the announcement of the Overwatch League back in November 2016 at Blizzcon. The first seven teams have been revealed today. They are Boston, New York, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Shanghai. This is not just a major announcement for Blizzard and Overwatch, but for the entire esports world.

What does this mean?

Esports has always needed to establish itself outside of just the online world. This began when LAN tournaments first starting popping up and continued on to full blown sold out stadiums for major tournaments and events. To many though, this was not enough. People still believe that esports are just a fad that will eventually die out, as most games can only stay popular for a few years. What esports have needed was a way to show that they were here to stay and today’s announcement signifies that Overwatch is the first game to answer that call.

Having teams play in cities will do many things for the scene. To start, it will allow for people who are already fans to view more games. Instead of tournaments and games just being held in one city every couple weeks, or online, these teams will play in multiple cities on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for however long they decide to make the season. League of Legends has already set up this method by playing Thursday through Sunday for EU and NA. As a side note, League is also franchising, so it will be interesting to watch how they react.

Also, when you ask traditional sports fans who their favorite teams are, they normally answer the teams in closest proximity to where they live or grew up. While esports fans have grown up with certain teams that may not be near them, new fans will be able to become more attached because they will be able to say, “I am a fan of the Los Angeles Immortals”. How great is that? People also have deep pride for their cities, which in turn translates to their sports and now esports teams. Naturally, people who live close to these cities and who have any interest in competition or video games will gravitate towards their closest team.

The Team Owners

The announced team owners such as Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots), Jeff Wilpon (COO of the New York Mets), and even Noah Winston (CEO of Immortals) show that this league has a lot of promise. People like them do not invest without doing their research and the reported price of up to $20 million in major cities is not inexpensive.

https://www.gamblingsites.org/

Most, if not all, of the new owners have experience in owning teams either in sports or esports and thus they understand what it will take to make these teams successful. It also shows the trend of traditional sports owners, business individuals, and former players getting involved in esports is growing as well. If you would have told me a year ago that Robert Kraft was going to get involved in esports I would have told you, not a chance.

What these owners signify most importantly is that esports are here to stay. Owners would not invest in a league that was not well planned out and one that they thought would not make them money in the long run.

What Teams Go Where?

https://esports.yahoo.com/

So far we know that Immortals will be based in Los Angeles. Also it looks like that NRG will be in San Francisco as that spot was grabbed by Andy Miller and Misfits will be in Miami-Orlando due to Ben Spoont’s buy-in.

As for the other four teams, one can only guess for now. I believe that some established teams will either be bought up or completely new ones will form. For established esports brands such as Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Cloud9, and many others, one can imagine that they would either have to team up with one of the current owners or find a way to come up with the millions of dollars and establish their brands in their own cities.

For teams like Immortals, NRG, and Misfits, their establishment in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami-Orlando respectively means that if they buy into any other leagues (League of Legends) they will most likely have first dibs on these cities. Wouldn’t it be odd if Immortals had their Overwatch team based in Los Angeles and their League team somewhere else?

The league will not only consist of seven teams. As was seen before, this league will be global and consist of many different teams. It is most likely that they will start with a minimum of 10. If the league succeeds, then more will buy in and possibly at the locations that are pictured.

What is next?

There has yet to be an official date announced for when the Overwatch League will start. Many believe it will begin sometime in 2018 and all of the first season’s games will be played in Los Angeles until proper arenas have been built or at least teams have the rights to use certain arenas in the city.

playoverwatch.com

 

With esports arenas going up around the world one can only hope that we will see esports continue to grow. I have time and again compared what is happening now to the beginning of traditional sports like the MLB, NFL, NBA, etc. For esports fans this is just the beginning. We are at the dawn of stability and major growth for esports as our children will grow up with tradtional sports and esports teams to cheer for.


Featured Image Courtesy of: https://ginx.tv/

Information Courtesy of: overwatchleague.com

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Sports Cities Power Rankings: January 2017

Everywhere you look, there’s power rankings available for every in-season sport. However, it can be hard to find rankings on the top sports cities in the nation. That being said, it’s time to break out a new top ten ranking, and that ranking is the top ten sports cities in the nation.

How are these rankings done? Well, because this will be a monthly installment, the cities will change based on each of its teams’ performances. Take a look at this handy dandy list on what goes into rankings, from most important to least important. Some changes have been made from last month after listening to our valued readers’ opinions. Only the four major sports in the United States are accounted for in the rankings.

  • In-season professional team performance, with the team with a higher percentage of its season played getting higher priority
  • Out-of-season performance of a team
  • Potential to be better or worse as season goes on
  • Amount of teams a city or region owns

For a city to be considered, it must have two or more of the major professional sports in its area. Sorry San Jose and Portland, but you guys don’t count.

Teams that are technically located outside of their city name will be claimed by their closest city. Boston claims the Patriots, New York City claims the Jets and Giants, and so on.

Scores are an average of all totals from each sport. The scale is from one to five, with five being the best.

Now, let’s begin. Go ahead and light me up in the comments and on social media. As a writer, I’m always begging for the approval and validation of my readers.

  1. Boston- 4

For the second straight month, Boston sits atop the rankings. The Patriots have won six games in a row, including a 41-3 thrashing of the Jets on Christmas Eve. Fans of the Pats have plenty to root for, and a Super Bowl is within reach. The Celtics have won seven of their last nine, and they’ve shot up to third in the Eastern Conference standings. In hockey, the Bruins are still sitting in a playoff spot, but they’ve cooled off as of late. Even so, the Bruins beat the Sabres twice to end the month, sending the team into the new year on a high note.

  1. Pittsburgh- 4

The city of Pittsburgh rises three spots from last month, and their score is just as high as Boston’s. Pittsburgh sits below Boston (barely), and the margin between the two is almost zero. When it comes to the NFL, the Patriots get the edge. Although the Steelers have also won six games in a row, the Patriots did beat the Steelers earlier in the season, 27-16. Pittsburgh also has no NBA team, which hurts the city’s score. When it comes to the NHL, Pittsburgh has the second most points in the league, one less than the Blue Jackets, who have won 15 straight. Each of the top two cities have one team that is better than the other in a sport (Pittsburgh owns NHL, Boston owns NFL). Since Boston had a better season in the MLB than Pittsburgh, Boston keeps the top spot for another month, but barely.

Sports Cities Power Rankings

Kirk Cousins has helped lead the Redskins to a successful season. (Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

  1. Washington D.C.- 3.75

The capital of the United States is very close to being the capital of the sports world, too. The Washington Redskins are 8-6-1, and have had a very good year in a stacked division. In the NBA, John Wall is on fire, and has helped the Wizards to a 16-16 record, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals have the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and many believe the team is better than they’ve shown they are to start the season. D.C. sports are doing good for sure, but it doesn’t look like a deep playoff run will be made by any teams this season. A plethora of good but not great teams makes D.C. the most consistent city in the nation.

  1. Cleveland 3.67

When the Browns beat the Chargers on Christmas Eve, I became extremely hyped to write this article. The holiday season was awesome to Cleveland. On Christmas day, the Cavs defeated Golden State in their first meeting since winning the NBA Finals against them. The Browns still get the first pick in the draft. The Cavs look like they could still be better than the Warriors, even with Golden State’s acquisition of Kevin Durant.

  1. Oakland 3.67

Oakland is thriving, but the city has fallen on tough times to close the month. The Raiders lost MVP candidate Derek Carr for the season after he broke his leg on Christmas Eve. To make matters worse, the Warriors continued to fumble away leads to the Cavs. This time they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. Losing Carr is a huge hit to the Raiders’ playoff aspirations, and the Warriors losing to the Cavs really put a damper on the holiday season for the city.

Sports Cities Power Rankings

An All-NBA talent, James Harden has helped Houston become a darkhorse in the Western Conference. (Photo: Sporting News)

 

  1. Houston 3.67

For the second straight season, the Texans are going to the playoffs. For the second straight season, I don’t know how. This has helped propel the city into the rankings for the first time since the inaugural rankings were released. In the NBA, the Rockets are playing great basketball and have James Harden, who helps shape the face of the NBA. The Astros also had a pretty good season and have plenty of promise in the future.

  1. Chicago 3.5

The city of Chicago is enjoying its greatest success in the NHL. The Blackhawks are the best team in the Western Conference, and they won five games in a row during this month. The Bulls are barely in the playoffs, but they’ve got a chance to get hot to end January. Five of their final eight games are against teams under .500. The Bears are pitiful, but just like the Browns, at least they get a high draft pick. Of course, the Cubs will continue to get the city a boost after ending the city’s multiple baseball curses.

  1. Seattle 3.5

The final three spots in the rankings are the exact same as last month. Poised to make another Super Bowl quest, the city of Seattle is in the midst of a minor dynasty. The Seahawks are in the playoffs, but they’ve yet to get hot and string together multiple wins. With just one active team right now, Seattle’s overall score is hurt. The city’s only other team is the Mariners, who won a respectable 86 games.

Sports Cities Power Rankings

Eric Berry has been a shutdown defensive back, one year after defeating cancer. (Photo: Sporting News)

  1. Kansas City 3.5

The Chiefs are one of the best teams in the AFC, and have a real shot to advance in the playoffs. Alex Smith is the third-best quarterback out of AFC playoff teams and could realistically lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game. Just like Seattle, Kansas City has one active team in the NFL and one out-of-season team in the MLB. Seattle’s MLB won more games than Kansas City’s Royals, which is why KC is one stop below.

  1. Baltimore 3.5

For the second month in a row, Baltimore sneaks into the rankings at number 10. Since last month, not much has changed in the city. The Ravens have been eliminated from playoff contention since last month, but they still had a much improved season from last year. The Ravens certainly have something to build off of for next season. The Orioles are the city’s only other team and they had another good season, even though the playoffs didn’t end beneficially for them. All in all, Baltimore fans are enjoying a lot more success than a lot of other cities.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

The Philadelphia 76ers Only Have Two Stars, But Maybe That’s OK

As the season progresses, it’s becoming more evident that the Philadelphia 76ers simply don’t have enough of a core to build around. With the trade deadline less than two months away, it’s time for the team to start focusing on tooling for the future.

The Sixers have spent the past five years stockpiling assets at the top of the draft lottery. The result has been a logjam in the front court, and one that needs a solution before the trade deadline.

Monday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings serves as a decent benchmark for where this team is headed for the future. Former #3 draft pick Joel Embiid scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds with a plus/minus of +3. Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor (fellow highly drafted big men) were rendered ineffective and the team was outscored when they were on the floor.

Throughout the game, Embiid flashed the talent that has made him one of the best young big men in the league. Defensively he guarded the paint and the perimeter, recording two steals and two blocks. In the post, he showed finesse and bullied Demarcus Cousins in the paint throughout the game. Outside the paint, he flashed his three point prowess and showed some breakaway speed on fast breaks. Better yet? He’s been doing it all season.

 

Joel Embiid Highlights from Dec. 26th 

 

Noel only played 3 minutes during the game, a testament to the pileup of big men in the roster. When Noel has seen the floor, he has struggled to score and rebound. He is a prominent defender who just can’t seem to put it together on this team.

Similarly, Okafor has also struggled throughout the season despite his promising rookie campaign last year. His post game remains impressive, but his inability to rebound and defend against many of the first units in the league would make it difficult to build a team around him.

Interestingly, his game compares well to a fellow third overall pick, Enes Kanter. Both big men are able to score well off the bench despite their inefficiency on the other end of the floor.

Many teams around the league could use a scoring presence like Okafor. Talent dry teams like the Brooklyn Nets could use his presence to help inject talented youth into their lineup. Teams like Portland and Boston could use him to build depth off of the bench.

The problem, however, is that Philadelphia has lost their leverage over the past few years. Nerlens Noel becomes a restricted free agent after this year and Okafor has only one more year left on his deal. The addition of Dario Saric and the impending return of Ben Simmons has created a need to clear space in the Philly frontcourt.

Realistically, Simmons and Embiid are the only future starters on this team and Simmons hasn’t even seen a minute in the NBA yet. Regardless, it’s hardly time to panic about the team’s future.

Saric, along with Robert Covington and Sergio Rodriguez, look like they could be a nice presence of the bench in the future. Hopefully, the team can capitalize off of Okafor and Noel before the deadline this year. Most importantly, the 2017 NBA draft approaches quickly.

This looks like yet another lost season for the Sixers in the “Trust the Process” era. Hope, however, lies in the draft.

This looks to be one of the most promising draft classes in years with a plethora of potential stars in the NCAA right now. Additionally, many of the highly ranked players are guards and wings which are holes the Sixers desperately need to fill. They will likely end up with two top ten picks this year and will no doubt be able to find playmaking and scoring at the top of the draft.

Another struggling season seems to be yet another embodiment of “The Process” for the woeful 76ers, but the future appears to be much brighter. A new year could bring a healthy Ben Simmons and a limitless Joel Embiid. February could open up the roster for more young stars. The Process just may be coming along.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Sports Cities Power Rankings: December 2016

Everywhere you look, there’s power rankings available for every in-season sport. However, it can be hard to find rankings on the top sports cities in the nation. That being said, it’s time to break out a new top ten ranking, and that ranking is the top ten sports cities in the nation.

How are these rankings done? Well, because this will be a monthly installment, the cities will change based on each of its teams’ performances. Take a look at this handy dandy list on what goes into rankings, from most important to least important. Some changes have been made from last month after listening to our valued readers’ opinions. Only the four major sports in the United States are accounted for in the rankings.

  • In-season professional team performance, with the team with a higher percentage of its season played getting higher priority
  • Out-of-season performance of a team
  • Potential to be better or worse as season goes on
  • Amount of teams a city or region owns

For a city to be considered, it must have two or more of the major professional sports in its area. Sorry San Jose and Portland, but you guys don’t count.

Teams that are technically located outside of their city name will be claimed by their closest city. Boston claims the Patriots, New York City claims the Jets and Giants, and so on.

Scores are an average of all totals from each sport. The scale is from one to five, with five being the best.

Now, let’s begin. Go ahead and light me up in the comments and on social media. As a writer, I’m always begging for the approval and validation of my readers.

  1. Boston- 3.75
    Sports Cities Power Rankings

    Tom Brady is leading yet another high performing offense for the Patriots. (Photo: Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

After being ranked fifth last week, the city of Boston as rocketed to first place. With the Patriots in position to grab a first-round bye in the playoffs, its city is enjoying yet another fine football season. The Celtics currently sit at 10-7, and have won four of their last five. The Bruins are fighting for a playoff spot very early in the NHL season, and are 5-5 in their last ten. It’s safe to say the Bruins have a nice chance to work their way up in the Eastern Conference standing, which would keep Boston on top of the rankings for another month.

  1. Cleveland- 3.67

The Indians are now the punching bag of sports. After fans made fun of the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, the Indians promptly blew a 3-1 lead of their own. Regardless, the Indians made a Word Series, which is huge for the city. The Cavs just won the Finals, and they’re on pace to contend for a second-straight championship. Just like last month, the Browns are terrible. Actually, they might be even more terrible than last month. Again, they’re still in line for the number one pick in the draft, but we’ve all seen how well first-round picks work out for them, right, Johnny Manziel?

  1. Oakland- 3.67

The city of Oakland is enjoying some great sports right now. For those who are true Oakland fans and have not bandwagoned to the city in recent years, fans finally have encouraging teams to root for. The Raiders are currently on top of the AFC West, and are a prime contender to grab a first-round bye. Of course, the Warriors are the Warriors, but we won’t know exactly how great that team is for a while. The only thing weighing down the city is the A’s, but they’re not in season right now. All in all, the city of Oakland could be enjoying the makings of  two future dynasties.

  1. Washington D.C. Thanks to a huge uptick in play from the Redskins and Capitals, the capital of the United States has surged D.C. into the number four spot. The Redskins are 6-4-1 and have just one team on their remaining schedule that are over .500. The Caps are yet to catch fire in the NHL, but they’ve got plenty of time to get hot. Washington D.C. is in prime position to enjoy sports for the next couple of months, with the Wizards being the only exception.
  1. Pittsburgh- 3.67
    Sports Cities Power Rankings

    Le’Veon Bell has helped the Steelers’ offense to another successful year. (Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Steel City is enjoying a good bit of success right now, but Pittsburgh falls a spot due to some inconsistent play from both the Steelers and Penguins. Currently tied for first place in the AFC North and sitting at 6-5, I expected the Steelers to be much better this season. Their schedule to end the season isn’t easy, as they still have to deal with the Giants, Bills, and a bad but always tough Bengals team. The Penguins look to be in better shape, and time will tell how good that team is. All in all, Pittsburgh is still enjoying two very good teams play.

  1. Chicago- 3.5

After winning the World Series in epic fashion, the city of Chicago is trying to experience a sports high. The only problem with that is the Bears. Awful as they are, they seem to have talent every year yet still unachieved. Like the city of Cleveland, Chicago has just one team holding them back. The Bulls are 10-7 and third in the Eastern Conference, and the Blackhawks are dominating the Western Conference, four points in front of the second-best team in the Blues. With a World Series, quality NBA team, and Stanley Cup contender, Chicago is enjoying lots of success right now.

  1. Dallas- 3.5

The Cowboys haven’t lost a game since Week 1, and rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are not only in Rookie of the Year conversations, but also in MVP talks. Outside the Cowboys, Dallas doesn’t really have a contender in any other sports. The Stars are doing fine, but fine isn’t great. The Mavs are terrible, and with Dirk Nowitzki being hurt, the Mavs don’t even have their face of the franchise. The out of season Rangers give the city a boost as well, but the Cowboys are the only contenders for a championship it seems right now.

  1. Seattle- 3.5

The Seahawks have caught fire as of late. Prior to an ugly loss to the Bucs last week, the Seahawks had won (or tied) in seven of their last eight games. With just two professional teams in the city, Seattle only has one active team. With as hot as the Seahawks are, it’s hard to keep the city outside the top ten compared to others.

  1. Kansas City- 3.5

The Chiefs just picked up a huge overtime win over the Broncos this week, and they’re as hot as any NFL team right now. In their last 21 regular season games, they’re 18-3. Just like Seattle, Kansas City only has one active team right now. I like the Seahawks better than the Chiefs in the long run, so that’s why Seattle is a spot ahead.

  1. Baltimore- 3.5

With a surprise boost from last season’s performance, the Ravens are in contention to win the AFC North. They’ll have to get hot to end the season to grab a wild card spot, so the Ravens’ only real shot at the playoffs is through an AFC North title. It’s plausible, but I like the Steelers more. The Orioles just had a good season of baseball, and Baltimore has a good bit to look forward to down the stretch of the NFL season.

Sports cities power rankings: November 2016

Everywhere you look, there’s power rankings available for every in-season sport. However, it can be hard to find rankings on the top sports cities in the nation. There’s always rankings on the top teams in the NFL during the winter, but what if we looked at the overall sports cities power rankings?

That being said, it’s time to break out a new top ten ranking, and that ranking is the top ten sports cities in the nation.

So, how are these rankings done? Well, because this will be a monthly installment, the cities will change based on each of its teams performance. Take a look at this handy dandy list on what goes into rankings, from most important to least important.

  • In-season professional team performance, with the team with a higher percentage of its season played getting higher priority
  • In-season college performance in football and basketball
  • Out-of-season performance of a team
  • Potential to be better or worse as season goes on
  • Amount of teams a city or region owns
  • Slight weightage for college teams in the area

For a city to be considered, it must have two or more of the major professional sports in its area. Sorry San Jose and Portland, but you guys don’t count.

Teams that are technically located outside of their city name will be claimed by their closest city. So, Boston claims the Patriots, New York City claims the Jets and Giants, and so on.

Scores are an average of all totals from each sport. The scale is from one to five, with five being the best.

Now, let’s begin. Go ahead and light me up in the comments and on social media. As a writer, I’m always begging for the approval and validation of my readers.

  1. Cleveland- 3.8- Fans in Cleveland are no longer deprived of rooting for a successful sports franchise. Bar the Browns, and Clevelanders get the privilege of rooting for the 2016 NBA champions, the 2016 AL Pennant winner, and, in some cases, the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s easy to complain about the Browns, but they are in line to get the number one pick of the NFL Draft. However, the Browns organization is about as successful with drafting as an umbrella is at peeling a banana. Overall, life isn’t too bad outside of Sundays in Cleveland, OH, and the Indians are on the verge of winning the World Series.
    Sports Cities Power Rankings

    Dak Prescott (4) and Ezekiel Elliott (21) could become one of the most dynamic duos in sports. (Photo: The Dallas Morning News)

  2. Dallas- 3.8- It’s surprising to see Dallas so high on the list, but the city has plenty to root for. The Cowboys are 6-1 and look poised to fight for a first-round bye all season. They also have an incredibly bright future. Although the playoff outcome wasn’t what the Rangers wanted, they still won 95 games and took the AL West crown. The Mavericks will need a new face of its franchise, but they still made the playoffs and won 42 games. In the NHL, it’s quite early, but the Stars are 3-4-1 and in position to fight in the Central Division. The state of Texas has multiple colleges to root for, and none of which are located in Dallas, so they don’t get much credit in collegiate athletics.
  1. Boston- 3.4 Boston was the city I expected to see at the top of the list prior to my evaluations. With the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins, Boston has enjoyed a lot of success recently. However, the city’s closest university, Boston College, had a combined 0-25 conference record in football and basketball in 2015. The football team is 4-4 this season, but that’s still nothing to get excited about. The Celtics are also popular picks to win a lot of games this season, but they haven’t done it yet. If it wasn’t for the minor scoring weightage for college sports, the city of Boston would have the highest score.
  1. Pittsburgh- 3.75
    Sports Cities Power Rankings

    Evgeni Malkin helps lead the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo: Pittsburgh Sporting News)

Another team I didn’t expect to be this high is Pittsburgh. However, when delving into the city’s sports, they root for a perennial Super Bowl contender in the Steelers, and the defending Stanley Cup champion in the Penguins. The Pirates weren’t terrible, but they did finish five games under .500 at 78-83. The Pirates could be going downhill with the demise of Andrew McCutchen, but hockey and football seems to always be a constant in the Steel City.

  1. Seattle- 3.7

Sitting atop the NFC West with a comfy 1.5 game lead over the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks look primed to make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. On top of that, the Mariners won 86 games this season, just missing the final AL wild card spot. Fans of the Washington Huskies have plenty to root for as well. It’s not so bad in Seattle. On top of all that, Seattle seems to be the most popular city for relocation or expansion in the NBA – rightfully so.

  1. Detroit- 3.4

The city of Detroit is anchored by having no terrible teams right now, and by college sports. With Detroit being just 50 minutes away from Ann Arbor, Detroit fans get to root for one of the fastest-rising college football programs in the University of Michigan. Not only that, but the Tigers missed the playoffs by just three games, the Pistons made the playoffs last season, and the Red Wings are one of the best hockey franchises in the NHL.

Sports Cities Power Rankings

Derek Carr is giving Oakland fans plenty of reasons to be happy. (Photo: AP)

  1. Oakland- 3.25

Luckily for Oakland, the city is carried by the Dubs. Blowing the first ever NBA Finals 3-1 lead is nothing short of embarrassing, but they’ve still got the most star power in the NBA. The Raiders are finally rising with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack commanding the offense and defense. Baseball is the only thing bringing the city down, as the A’s won just 69 games last season. By November, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oakland rise on the list.

  1. Houston/San Antonio-  3.25

These two cities had to be paired together, as San Antonio’s NBA organization cannot be left out, and Houston is the closest city to them. With the Spurs and Rockets carrying the city, there’s not much to be giddy about. The Texans are simply terrible, and overpaid a below-average in Brock Osweiler. With nearly no body of work, yet money that would make even Donald Trump squirm, Houston will regret their decision to pay him so much. The Astros are up-and-coming, but underperformed with 84 wins last season. If the two NBA franchises can produce playoff runs, look for this pair of cities to rise on the monthly.

  1. Chicago- 3.25

Other than the Cubs being in the World Series, the city of Chicago is somewhat average. Yes, they do get the Blackhawks, who sit at third in the Western Conference, but the Bears are bad, and the White Sox and Bulls leave much to be desired. In college sports, Chicago doesn’t have much going for them, however they have a very broad college spectrum. Overall, the Bears hold this city back from being ranked higher.

  1. Toronto- 3.2

Last, and technically least on the list is a city outside the United States. Toronto houses just two professional teams, but both of them are pretty solid. The Blue Jays took a wild card spot and snuck into the playoffs, only to be beaten by an eventual World Series team in the Indians. Their basketball team isn’t too shabby, with the best backcourt in the NBA, besides Golden State. In the NHL, the Maple Leafs sit towards the bottom of the basement in the Atlantic Divsion, but it’s too early to write off any team in the NHL yet.

 

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“From Our House to Yours”

2016-17 Big East Basketball Preview

On the heels of Big East media day there is a lot of buzz surrounding the conference that produced the 2015-16 champion, Villanova. A conference compiled of non-FBS football schools finally had its major breakthrough.  However, there is still plenty to talk about 2016-17.

They’re Back!

So you thought Villanova was a one time deal? Wrong.  Despite the major losses of Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono the Wildcats are still very much a threat.  They were the overwhelming pick for the top spot in the preseason poll. Jay Wright’s reigning champions return the preseason player of the year in Josh Hart, championship hero Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson. Jenkins was voted preseason First Team All-Big East and Brunson was given honorable mention.

Kris Jenkins and the Wildcats cut down the nets in Houston. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

Kris Jenkins and the Wildcats cut down the nets in Houston. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)

The team returns six players that played in all 40 games.  This includes sophomore Mikal Bridges. A highly touted recruit, Bridges could be the one to replace Arcidiacono’s production after a productive first tour. The team did take a serious blow in their quest to fill the void left by Ochefu.  Five star recruit Omari Spellman likely would have been in the starting five for the Wildcats, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible. This makes Eric Paschall the only notable addition to the team.  A Fordham transfer, he is the former 2014-15 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. He did practice with the team last year, thus is familiar with the system.

Despite the departed pieces of the current champs, Nova will have a successful season.  There is no reason that they should not win the regular season conference title. Even with all of the talent concentrated at places like Duke, Kentucky and Oregon, the Wildcats should be in the running for another NCAA title. At minimum they should make the Elite Eight. Anything other than that would be a let down.

Other Contenders

The Xavier Musketeers finished second in the preseason poll, right where they did in the 2015-16 standings. The Musketeers had an early exit from the NCAA Tournament due to Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig’s fall-away jumper in the second round. Chris Mack’s team loses two big bodies in Jalen Reynolds and James Farr, as well as former Indiana transfer Remy Abell.

Trevon Bluiett (5) and Edmund Sumner (4) are two of the best returnees in the Big East. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)

Trevon Bluiett (5) and Edmund Sumner (4) are two of the best returnees in the Big East. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)

The team does return Big East preseason first teamers Edmund Sumner and Trevon Bluiett. The two were the leading scorers on the team in 2015-16. Bluiett showed improvements in several statistical categories including a seven percent increase from deep to 39.8%. Sumner is an excellent distributor and will lead the team at the one this year while still grabbing more than three boards per game. Another key returnee would be Myles Davis, however his status for the season is uncertain as he is under an indefinite suspension. The team did add three  four star recruits, as well as Florida A&M transfer Malcom Bernard who averaged 14.4 points and 7.0 rebounds along with 2.3 steals per game. Bernard could help the Musketeers on both ends of the floor in place of Abell.

Third in the poll are the Creighton Blue Jays who added Marcus Foster from Kansas State. After sitting out the 2015-16 season, Foster is ready to contribute. Foster would be on the receiving end of Maurice Watson Jr. The former transfer is a prolific creator for those around him. Watson Jr. led the Big East in assists last season after transferring from Boston.

With no notable recruits Foster, Watson Jr. and fellow returnee Cole Huff will be counted on to lead the team in 2016-17.  All three are transfers which have become a key part of Greg McDermott luring players to Omaha. Senior Isaiah Zierden will also play a key role.  He was among the teams leading scorers last year and his advanced stats show that he also had an impact on the defensive end.

Creighton Blue Jays Transfer Players
Player Former School
Maurice Watson Jr. Boston
Marcus Foster Kansas State
Cole Huff Nevada
Kaleb Joseph* Syracuse
*Not eligible for 2016-17 season.

Georgetown, Seton Hall and Butler are all possible contenders, but not likely to make much noise.  Seton Hall won the Big East tournament but lost Isaiah Whitehead early to the NBA. John Thompson’s Hoyas did not even crack the AP top 25 last season. Butler lost two program staples in Roosevelt Jones and Kellan Dunham to graduation.  Of these three, Butler had the most success last year, but also lost the most going into this season.

Off the Map

The Providence Friars were a power packed team in 2015-16. Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn left early for the NBA as they should have. Dunn was one of the most prolific point guards in the country as a junior. Bentil stepped up and led the team in scoring and rebounds.

With their exit, Providence loses nearly half of its 74 points per game. They will rely on Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright for their team identity.  The only other notable addition is four star recruit Alpha Diallo. Diallo possesses the ability to move the ball on the wing, but will need to improve his shot if he wishes to impact the Friars season. The degree of difficulty to replace two talents like Bentil and Dunn likely means a rebuilding year for Providence.

 

Should Riot have been more ambitious selecting venues?

Riot was in charge of the process of selecting the venues for Worlds and I am sure they selected a group of people that their sole objective was to organize the S6 World Championships. That being said, one of the most important aspects was to select the locations that the matches would take place in. This team from Riot had access to a lot more information that I  do, therefore, will be omitting information because quite frankly, I do not have access to it. Nonetheless, I will offer a critique as an outsider as whether or not Riot chose the best locations that were available. Riot probably looked at dozens of locations and venues, and the venues they chose had a lot of thinking and logical reasoning that I am ignorant of, our job is to evaluate why Riot chose the venues it did, and whether they could have done a better job at it.
Even though Riot has no doubt chosen good venues for Worlds, it leaves a feeling of disappointment that the venues exclude an extensive part of the NA population. The southestern, the central portion of the US, and Canada were all left out without the chance of attending our favorite event of the year. Once again Riot probably took this into account, and for one reason or another decided that those were not ideal locations. However, one still wishes that the world championships would have hit areas that have never had access to competitive League.

legends
I was highly disappointment to find out that the venues are small, and that two of the venues have already been used before. The finals will be a the Staple Center and the semifinals will be at Madison Square Garden. The disappointment comes from the fact that it seems that Riot is unwilling to try new venues and new places for this World Championships, there is an added mystery and excitement to having the Worlds championships at a new place. In the case of selecting the venues it is useful to draw insight from traditional sports. When the FIFA soccer World Cup was held in South Korea and South Africa, those were much more exciting venues than Germany and Brazil because they had already held a World Cup, even though it was more than 30 years ago.
S3 Finals were in the Staple Center and S5 Na LCS spring finals were in Madison Square Garden, these venues have recently been used for competitive League, and it seems that S6 Worlds should have been in different locations. There are hundreds of great venues in the U.S that are of equal or better quality for such event. The only time that I think a venue is exciting when it holds an event of this magnitude more than once is when it is an anniversary. The Olympics originated in Olympia, Therefore commemorating Greece with the 100th anniversary of the Olympic games could be exciting for spectators. The Soccer World Cup was first played in Uruguay in 1930, there has been talks about having the final in the same stadium in 2030 to commemorate such occasion. Even though Uruguay is not developed enough to organize a FIFA world Cup, it would be great if the final was played in the same stadium it was played a 100 years ago.
League of Legends is a young game, it probably will not last 100 years, but it is still a young game. I do not think there is any added excitement to having the finals played in the same stadium that it was played 3 years ago. That being said, there is added excitement to having the Finals venue located in a city that has not had access to League like Austin or Boston. Therefore, it was disappointing to find out that Riot did not get out of its comfort zone and chose venues that have recently been used.

olympia
I particularly love big stadiums. When I was a kid, managing a big stadium, or perhaps owning one was my dream. Riot has stated that they like smaller and closed venues because the atmosphere of the venue can be better transferred to the online stream. After S4 worlds finals were held in a stadium with a capacity for forty thousand people in South Korea, Riot realized that even though the atmosphere was good, it was hard to transfer that energy to the stream. Therefore, ever since then, Riot have chosen smaller and closed venues. I completely understand and agree with their observations, however, my criticism would be that a big venue that is closed, could transfer the energy just as well as a smaller one. I can be biased here, but it seems one of the factors that influenced S4 worlds being so low in energy was the crowd. We have learned that Westerners are much louder when it comes to fanaticism for traditional sports and Esports than their Korean counterparts. There are too may great options in America that would make for a great live and online experience. Even though the Cowboys stadium is a little ambitious, I am sure League could fill that stadium and provide for an awesome online experience.

wiki2

 

The Chicago Theater only has capacity for four thousand people and it was chosen as the venue for the quarterfinals. I am having a hard time compromising so much capacity for the idea of a great online stream. The NA LCS holds about four hundred people and even though is in a studio setting, it just does not provide the energy one wishes it did because it just does not have enough people. I know for a fact that if I was in charge of selecting the venues I would have rejected anything that had less a capacity of ten thousand people, even for group stages. I just do not think that as great as a venue can be, if it does not have people in it, it just cannot have a great atmosphere.
The fact that worlds will be held in the West is a positive because I think NA and EU have shown that they are better live audiences than the Korean ones. I am even happier it will be held in NA and that the finals are on a Saturday because that means that you will see me at the Staples Center on October 29th.
I wish Riot would have been more ambitious with the capacity of the venues they chose. I wish Riot would have been more willing to explore different options in different locations, and I really wish NA wins Worlds this year.

Facts and photos courtesy of riotgames.com, tripadvisor.com and chicagolakefrontcarnivalmuscfestival.com

NBA All-Star Weekend

The NBA All-Star Weekend won’t disappoint. Photo: youtube.com

Football doesn’t entertain us with the Pro Bowl but the NBA sure does entertain us on All Star Weekend. If you’re a little disappointed from watching the Pro Bowl, cheer up because All Star weekend is coming up. That said, it is time to preview the event that always has us talking about an amazing display of three point shooting, creative, high-flying dunks and flashy plays in the All Star game.

The events start at 8:30 est. Saturday, February 13th on TNT.

Taco Bell Skills Competition: This is the first major event of the night and typically this event is for guards and a few small forwards, but for the first time ever the skills competition will include front court players. There will be eight participants: Jordan Clarkson (Los Angeles Lakers), Isaiah Thomas (Boston), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota), C.J. McCollum (Portland), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Draymond Green (Golden State), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento) and defending champion Patrick Beverly (Houston). The finals will come down to Draymond Green and Isaiah Thomas in my opinion and will be much more entertaining by including front court players.

Prediction: Draymond Green. Draymond is very talented and versatile and he will show case his versatility by winning this competition.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest: This is the second event and there are eight participants: Devin Booker (Phoenix), Chris Bosh (Miami), J.J. Redick (Los Angeles Clippers), Kyle Lowry (Toronto), Kris Middleton( Milwaukee) , Klay Thompson (Golden State), James Harden (Houston) and defending champion Steph Curry (Golden State). I believe the finals will be between J.J. Redick and defending champion Steph Curry. Steph Curry is on top of the world and currently the best player in the NBA. I believe he will defend his title.

Prediction: Steph Curry. He is the best shooter in the league and he will prove it again in this competition.

Verizon Slam Dunk Contest: The main event on Saturday night has shown us that humans can fly over the years. There have been so many players who have shown amazing talent and dunking over the years, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and maybe the best of all time, Vince Carter. Most of these players participated in this before becoming superstars. It is a stepping stone to stardom. This year the four participants are: Andre Drummond (Detroit), Will Barton (Denver), Aaron Gordon (Orlando) and defending champion Zach LaVine (Minnesota). I think a lot of people will learn about Will Barton and he will make it to the finals and go up against Zach LaVine.
Prediction: Zach Lavine: This man can defy gravity. His is super athletic and is going to be a star in this league one day.  I believe he will defend his title and go back to back in Toronto.

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