Blackout Bruno’s Wild Card Picks

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Published on : January 6, 2017

 

 

Oh snap, it’s Wild Card time. Deal me in and get me a drink. Seven and seven, please. Sorry about last post, I got New Year’s drunk, then angry drunk after the Lions game and time kind of got away from me. But I’m up and I’m ready to work. My final regular season record is 50-24-1. Pretty decent. Now, let’s flash ahead to the weekend and talk about the opening round of the NFL playoffs. These are Blackout Bruno’s Wild Card picks

 

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans

 

This game is such a crapshoot. Both crews are without their top QBs so who knows what will really happen. Someone has to step up. Because it’s so hard to call, I’ll rely on old stand by garbage about being at home and how much better the Texans are in Texas.

Winner: Houston

 

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

This is not the super awesome Seahawks crew that won the Super Bowl. They have been up and down all year. Russell Wilson and company normally take care of business at home but I can see how Detroit could surprise everyone. I don’t think you will find any sports pundit picking Lions but this will be a wild game to be sure. Look for Golden Tate to have an epic day and a late Matt Prater Field goal wins it.

Winner: Detroit 

 

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Dolphins are banged up. Matt Moore is starting and they are traveling to Pittsburgh to play outside, in the cold. Plus the Steelers have Antonio Brown, who can single handedly win you a game. I think Steelers win in a confident fashion.

Winner: Pittsburgh

 

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

 

Looking at the weekend slate, this screams to be the most intriguing matchup. Giants defense is a powerful unit. They should keep this thing close but I just know that stupid Aaron Rodgers is going to find a way to pull it off. Like he almost always seems to do.

Winner: Green Bay

 

Let’s hope these games excite and delight. Try mixing things up by trying a new cocktail. I love a good vodka martini. Up, dirty and with olives. Too boozy tasting for you? Go tiki and blend up some fresh fruit, fresh citrus juice with dark rum over ice. Maybe throw some coconut cream in there. Grab a straw, kick back and let’s hope Wild Card weekend is interesting.

 

Onward.

 

 


NFL’s Clutch Killers

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Published on : November 18, 2016

 

This one goes out to the true ballers. The teams and players that never say die. The stats and odds may be stacked against them but they laugh in the face of fear and pull off the impossible. But if you routinely pull off the impossible can we really call it impossible? Woah, intellectual brain freeze. Let’s get to know the NFL crews that are pure clutch.

 

The New York Giants

Coming off a 1 point win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, the G-men are now 6-3. Not bad, still chasing Dallas, even though they did beat them in week 1, but that seems ages ago. All 6 wins have been within 7 points. So the games they are winning are all being won in the fourth quarter. That takes guts. Giants are last in the league in rushing. So Eli Manning has t0 get some of the credit here. We all jump on him when he throws the pick but he is leading them to wins. And looking ahead they have Chicago and Cleveland. Both seem like very winnable games. The schedule after that gets brutal: at Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, at Philly, at Washington. We are going to learn a lot about New York in those last weeks.

 

 

The Detroit Lions

Matt Stafford is the new comeback kid in the mold of Favre or Elway. In all 5 wins, the Cardiac Cats were trailing in the 4th quarter and Stafford led them back. The arm of quarterback and the leg of kicker Matt Parter have been clutch all season. All these two need is 40 seconds (with or without time outs) to get down the field and boot the game winner. The world is finally taking notice of what fans in Detroit have seen Matt do this his whole career. Stafford currently has 25 game-winning drives in just 102 games played. That’s all fancy stat talk meaning don’t give him a last chance with the ball unless you are ready to lose.

 

Detroit can add some wins in their next four games where they play Jacksonville, Minnesota, at New Orleans and Chicago. After that it gets wild with all road games starting at New York, at Dallas and at Green Bay. Wow, who at the scheduling office hates the Lions? If Detroit is going to make the playoffs, it is because of Stafford and his killer instinct.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs

 

KC is 7-2 and winners of 5 straight. Unlike the teams mentioned above, the Chiefs have been winning late but not necessarily because of QB Alex Smith. Don’t get me wrong, he has been vital in the victories but they have found different ways to win each week. In week 10, Kansas City was down 17 to Carolina before they finally woke up. A few field goals, a pick six, a touchdown and a forced fumble led to a game winning kick that stole Christmas from the Panthers.

 

The AFC West is tight and KC plays 2 divisional games in the next 4 weeks. First it’s Tampa Bay, at Denver, at Atlanta, Oakland. The regular season ends for them with matchups with Tennessee, Denver and at San Diego. This crew will make the playoffs either as the division winner or a wild card.

 

No one wants to play these types of teams. They keep hanging around all game and it almost seems over until something crazy happens. It’s a powerful x-factor that swing the fates of the postseason.

 

Heart attack.

 

 


NFL Halfway way report for 2016

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Published on : November 3, 2016

 

 

NFL Week 8 is in the books are we are officially halfway through the 2016 season. Damn, things are moving fast. Don’t blink because the postseason is around the corner. Let’s look back at the first part of the year and see what we’ve learned so far.

 

The Standings

The quickest and most superficial way to know a squad is by looking at their record. Who did they beat? Who did they lose to? Was it at home or on the road? These are all telling bits of information. Your current division leaders are:

 

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)

 

 

AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

AFC East: New England Patriots (7-1)

AFC South: Houston Texans (5-3)

AFC West: Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (both 6-2)

 

With Brady back under center, the Pats are the best team in the league. They are the first to 7 wins and should be the favorite in every game for the next 8 weeks. The Cowboys are the only other 1 loss team and they lead the only division where all members have a winning record. The NFC East is finally playing some good football. Houston and Minnesota both seems like crews that could get pushed out of their current standings. The AFC West should be a three horse race going down the stretch as Kansas City starts to string wins together. Stats aren’t everything but number of wins is still huge in the playoff picture.

 

Surprises

One of the biggest shockers of the year has to be the Oakland Raiders. The 6-2 record is nice but it’s the 5-0 on the road that makes you double-take. They are on track for their first playoff appearance since 2003. The second longest postseason drought in football (only the Bills have been waiting longer). I hope they get there. Either by winning the AFC West or locking up a wild card spot.

 

 

How awful the Carolina Panthers are. They are 2-5 and last in the NFC South. Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. I don’t think anyone, including Cam Newton saw that coming. Their D is weak, Cam is getting lit up and nothing is clicking.

 

The Cowboys getting it done with rookies at QB and RB in Dak Prescott and Ezekial Elliot. Enough with the Romo talk. Prescott is winning, you don’t mess with success. Let Tony ride the bench for awhile. Maybe he can come back during the playoffs just time to to throw an interception.

 

How average the Packers look. They are 4-3 but have lost to every team over .500 they have played. Eddie Lacy is on IR, they can’t run the ball and defenses aren’t giving Rodgers all day to throw. This football giant seems very killable.

 

Less Surprising

The Jacksonville Jaguars still suck. Many talking-heads hyped the Jags in the preseason as some sort of dark horse. Their offense (mostly through the air) worked last year and they drafted all these great defensive players but it’s not that simple and this franchise is still years away. Also, what’s with the jerseys in the photo below? They look like the knock-off/unlicensed NFL uniforms from Any Given Sunday.

 

 

The Steelers are good. Even without some of their stars, this roster steps up and fills holes. They started without RB Bell because of a suspension, then QB Roethlisberger got hurt, but Pittsburgh keeps winning. Look for them to make another playoff run.

 

Everyone on San Diego is hurt. I can just save this part and copy-paste it next year because it’s the same story every time. Tons of talent and potential, awful luck and injuries leaves Phillip Rivers in a hole fighting for his life. One almost has to wonder, what would the Chargers look like healthy? A bizarre and perverse thought. Don’t linger on it.

 

The Colts can’t stop anyone. They are wasting QB Andrew Luck. Every game, Luck is forced to throw it downfield because they are playing from behind. Great for fantasy, not for reality. Kind of reminds me of Matthew Stafford. Anyway, Indy needs to shore up both sides of the line and spend some draft picks retooling the whole defensive unit.

 

 

The best part about all of this is there is still time. 8 games is a lot. Go 6-2 over the second half and you may just be in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened. At this moment, I can only guarantee maybe 5 teams will make it. That leaves plenty of spots for your team. All they have to do is get hot.

 

Playoffs?

 

 


Detroit Lions vs Los Angeles Rams: My Kids Are Fighting

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Published on : October 15, 2016

 

I’m a life long Detroit Lions fan. No matter how much it hurts. I just can’t stay away. I know it’s bad for me, it ruins most Sundays but I love the stupid team. I moved to Los Angeles almost ten years ago and the Rams just relocated back to town. My love of football told me I could like two teams so I decided to adopt the Rams as my second football child.

 

So far, this hasn’t been a problem but the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) travel to the Detroit Lions (2-3) this weekend for a game both franchises need to win. Everyone is still in the playoff hunt (for now) and victories over conference opponents is huge when it comes to wild card standing at the end of the season. This may seem like an non-issue to some who support hometown over anything but the Rams are my way out of a bad relationship. This could be the perfect moment to break it off with the Lions and finally start fresh. Oh, what to do?

 

 

So far the teams have been weird opposites. Rams lost week 1 while the Lions won. They each changed directions with LA winning three in a row for a 3-1 record. While the Lions dropped winnable games to the Titans, Packers and Bears for a 1-3 mark. Week 5 saw another reversal where Detroit edged out Philly, and Los Angeles fell to Buffalo. What will happen Sunday? Are the Lions still trending up? Will the Rams right the ship? I feel like no matter who I pick I’m going to lose.

 

The Los Angeles Rams have a solid defense but the real threat is them running the ball with Todd Gurley. The RB could spell disaster for a Lions unit that has had trouble getting off the field and keeping folks out of the end zone all year. On the flip side, Rams may not be able to stop Stafford and company from racking up so many points that LA has to abandon the ground attack and force the ball down field.

 

 

My football brain says the Lions come out fast (again) at home after a big win and maybe play enough of a full game for a decently sound victory. My heart always wants the Honolulu Blue and Silver to win but it’s hard to pick them each week. I can also see flashes of how it could all burn down. I dare not even say my negative predictions aloud in case they come true and haunt me.

 

I’m trying to love the Rams. They are my new thing but the Lions are my blood. An LA win will be great for the organization as they grow in their new (old) market but I don’t think I can celebrate any part of that. Loyalty is a funny thing and you don’t get to choose family.

 

Sophie’s (almost) choice.

 

 


A Case of the Mondays: Detroit Edition

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Published on : September 26, 2016

 

 

This Monday is a tough one for Detroit sports fans to swallow. The Motor City collectively limps into the week after one of the tougher Sundays in recent memory. Both the Tigers and Lions had big games, and both teams failed to come ready-to-play, leaving fans (or at least this one) wondering why they put themselves through this pain. The Tigers, in the middle of a race for the second wild card spot, played the Royals at home. The Lions, trying to rebound from a painful loss in a game that they should have won against the Titans last week, traveled to Lambeau Field to play the Packers.

 

Both team started off slow and were punched in the mouth by the opposition. Both teams got it together eventually and made a game of it, but lost in the end. It was too little, too late.

 

 The Royals celebrate the Tigers demise.

 

Neither the Lions nor Tigers deserved to win yesterday, yet they had the chance to steal the game away. That should be encouraging, but that doesn’t mean that fans should overlook the fact that these teams are flawed, and aren’t getting a lot of help from the guys that are running the show. That’s right, both of these professional sports teams located in Detroit have coaches or managers that just aren’t very good.

 

It’s already pretty well documented how I feel about Detroit Tigers’ manager, Brad Ausmus. He just hasn’t been all that good during his time with the Tigers. He inherited a team that was in the middle of years-long domination of the AL Central and has had a hand in the teams underperformance ever since. The team started this season with an awful 15-21 record, but somehow managed to hang around long enough to be competing for the second wild card spot. With yesterday’s loss, the team now sits 1.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles for that last playoff spot. Ausmus deserves some credit for helping the team stick around this long, but also deserves the blame for not getting the most out of a roster with some serious talent.

 

 “Promise me you’ll write after they can my ass.

 

Same goes for Lions’ coach, Jim Caldwell. In his first year with the Lions, he took them to the playoffs with a 11-5 regular season record. After a brutal playoff loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, he followed 2014 up with a 7-9 record in 2015. In this, his third year with the team, he is off to 1-2 start following a game that the team pissed away against Tennessee and the debacle in Green Bay yesterday. He has shown a lack of ability to get his teams motivated and the blame for the sloppy play and penalties almost certainly lies with him. If it’s not the head coach’s job to make sure his team is properly prepared then whose job is it?

 

No one really expected this Lions team to go win in Green Bay, but the fact is the Packers aren’t that good. If the Lions had come ready-to-play and didn’t have to dig themselves out of a 31-3 hole, maybe they could have done it. If the 34-27 final score is any indication of what this team is capable of, then maybe they will be alright. But not if their coach doesn’t get them to come out and play for all 4 quarters.

 

 The Packers came out strong and hung on for the win.

 

No one really expected this Tigers team to make the playoffs. When you start the season like that and then go on to have a 2-13 record against the division leading rival, Cleveland Indians, playoffs seem like a pipe dream. But the Tigers are still in the hunt. Sadly, with only 7 games to play they start a 4-game home series against the Indians today, likely spelling an end to those wild card hopes.

 

Mondays can be rough, especially with Sundays like yesterday. The Tigers season might be wrapping up in similar fashion to how it started, with a whimper. The Lions season is just starting off and has already given fans plenty of reasons to drink. Both teams have coaches that could very well be gone next year. And most fans probably wouldn’t be mad. This Case of the Mondays goes to you Detroit. Hopefully this week will be better than the last.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXVII: The Cubs Clinch and I Heavily Insinuate That Madison Bumgarner is a Racist)

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Published on : September 23, 2016

 

The Cubs were going to celebrate at Wrigley last Friday, no matter what happened. After dominating the NL Central for the entire season, the Cubs became the first team in the Majors to clinch their division last Thursday. But it happened in pretty anticlimactic fashion, following a 5-4 loss to the Brewers and having to wait for the Cardinals to also lose in San Francisco later that night. So Miguel Montero’s 10th inning walk-off homer on Friday was just icing on the cake. Now the celebration could look organic. And they could destroy their new, state-of-the-art clubhouse with champagne, knowing they’d earned it.

 

But there were still 15 regular-season games left to play. And unlike in years past, just making it to the playoffs isn’t going to cut it this time around. This time, the Cubs have expectations.

 

You did it guys!

 

Maybe Saturday’s 11-3 loss to Milwaukee was just a bad hangover. But losing 3-of-4 to the shit-ass Brewers initially made me wonder if it’s better to rest and relax the rest of the way or to stay sharp, even at the risk of injury. If you look over at Boston, the Red Sox started September two games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East. And since then, they’ve braved the Clusterfuck Death Match, going 14-5 so far this month and 10-3 against division rivals. And now they look like THE team to beat coming out of the American League. The Red Sox took the ‘stay sharp’ route and it’s worked out pretty well for them. Not that they had any choice.

 

Joe Maddon says he still wants 100 wins and home field advantage against the rest of the National League (going 3-7 would accomplish both). But you also have to remember that this is a team whose worst stretch was going 9-15 in that grueling 24-games-in-24-days run before the All-Star break. And their best run was probably going 17-5 in April, following a lazy 11-18 Spring Training. I prefer the latter. And so does Joe. So rest up, boys. Let’s pretend it’s springtime. This goddamned curse isn’t gonna reverse itself.

 

The AL East

The Red Sox have won seven games in a row, which hardly seems fair. That 4-game sweep of the Yankees effectively murdered the Baby Bombers’ season. And it looks like they might do the same thing to the Orioles before they leave Baltimore. Hanley Ramirez is the hottest hitter in the American League. David Ortiz is the the third-hottest hitter in the league. And almost everything is clicking for them as a team right now. They’re doing so well, that seemly every bone-headed sportswriter in America wants to throw postseason awards at every player on the team. All week long I heard that Mookie Betts was the front runner for the MVP and that Rick Porcello was leading the pack for the the AL Cy Young. At least that means they’re shutting the fuck up about Zach Britton winning the Cy for the time being, but still. How MVP-y and Cy Young-ish are Betts and Porcello right now? First, let’s look at the MVP race’s most-probables.

 

AL MVP           WAR    wOBA
Mike Trout              8.7    .418
Josh Donaldson     6.9    .402
Jose Altuve            6.5    .392
Mookie Betts          7.3    .379

 

Since the award is for the entire year, I’m giving you their stats for the entire year. And based off of those stats, alone, you can clearly see that Trout has had the best season. But Mike Trout happens to play for the Los Angeles Angels, who are tied for last place in the AL West. And that hurts everyone’s brains because they don’t understand how baseball works.

 

 Sorry, but it should be Trout.

 

You: But how can Trout be the best player if his team stinks?

 

Me: A) I’m showing you actual concrete stats that should already answer that, but B) It’s not Mike Trout’s fault the Angels are bad. They’d be much, much worse without him in the lineup. Just like any team would be better with him. But there are 8 other guys on the field with him at all times, 8 other guys in the batting order and 24 other guys were on the roster the whole year. There’s plenty of opportunities for everyone else on the Angels (not named ‘Mike Trout’) to suck.

 

If you look at the Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedoria are also top 10 overall players in the league this season. David Ortiz has also been the best hitter in the league. Hanley has been top 15 in hitting. Xander Bogaerts has had a good season too. On the other hand, the Angels’ next best player after Trout is Kole Calhoun. That’s not Ruth-Gehrig as much as it is Ruth-Kole Calhoun. And since I also know that you’re about to argue that Rick Porcello should be the Cy Young winner, it makes even less sense that Betts would be more valuable to his team than the three gentlemen actually having better seasons.

 

You: But Trout is playing meaningless games. Mookie Betts is in a pennant race and his games mean more.

 

Me: Mike Trout does this in pennant races too. Because this is what Mike Trout does every single year. And are the Mariners, Rangers and Blue Jays still in contention? Because that’s who the Angels have played in 16 of their 19 games in September. Trout’s hitting .310/.446/.500 in the month. Betts is hitting .289/.337/.382. Thank you for sharing. Now go put your head down.

 

AL Cy Young     WAR  FIP    ERA
Corey Kluber            5.2    3.19    3.11
Rick Porcello            4.7    3.44    3.08
Masahiro Tanaka      4.7    3.50    3.07
Chris Sale                 5.2    3.38    3.23

 

The Porcello argument looks a lot more legit than the Betts one. But it just bothers me that people are looking at Porcello’s 21-4 record as some sort of a tie-breaker against Kluber’s 18-9. But I can clearly look at those numbers I actually care about and say, with zero controversy, that Kluber has had a better season than Chris Sale. I cannot do the same as easily for Porcello.

 

 It should probably be Kluber too.

 

Roger Clemens won the MVP and Cy Young for the Red Sox in 1986. Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Lonborg both took home the hardware in 1967. And Betts and Porcello may repeat the feat this year. Even though they shouldn’t. Also, Wade Boggs should have won the MVP in ’86. And Dean Chance should have won the CY in ’67. Wait. That Boggs line defeats my purpose, doesn’t it? Anyway, right now I’d give it to Trout and Kluber.

 

The AL Central

With a broken right hand for Carlos Carrasco and a flexor strain for Danny Salazar, the Cleveland Indians went from being dubbed, “This Year’s Mets” to actually resembling this year’s Mets (so maybe we could call them, “This Year’s This Year’s Mets”?). Salazar could come out of the bullpen for Cleveland in October, but their own beat writers think this thing won’t go past the ALDS.

 

There’s still time for a few more disappointments.

 

I keep looking at the Wild Card standings and see the Tigers a game back of Toronto for the second spot. But every time I believe in the Tigers, they let me down. Maybe it’s lucky for Detroit that the Jays have only taken one series in September and all of their remaining games are against the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox. The Tigers actually beat the Indians on Sunday (2-13, baby!) so maybe they can make something of their four remaining games against the Tribe with three of them NOT facing Kluber.

 

The AL West

The Rangers are going to clinch the division any day now. And they’re hitting, so who needs pitching, right? Right? Cole Hamels has a 9.88 in September. Yu Darvish hasn’t been much better (7.47). And actually, Martin Perez is their only starting pitcher with an ERA under 5 this month. Yuck.

 

The NL Wild Card

Jacob deGrom is done for the season. So that ‘easy’ Mets schedule going forward (7 against the Phillies, 3 against the Marlins) is a little deceiving. Especially since they’ve cooled off (swept by the Braves?) and Ender Inciarte is robbing their walk-offs. At this point in the season, the Mets’ rotation was supposed to be Syndergaard-deGrom-Harvey-Matz-Wheeler with Big Sexy coming out of the pen. Now Thor is the only one left standing, with everyone waiting on pins and needles to see if Steven Matz actually starts on Friday.

 

 It’s on you, Thor.

 

The Cardinals’ remaining games are with the Cubs, the Reds and the Pirates (who are back above .500). And those Reds and Pirates games are in St. Louis, where the Cardinals hate winning.

 

The fun part about the third team in the equation, the Giants, is that they have no reason to be optimistic either. Their bullpen still sucks. Johnny Cueto and Brandon Crawford just got hurt. They finish their season with three against the Dodgers (Kershaw-Hill-Maeda). And by that time, Madison Bumgarner could be in jail in San Diego because some Latino made eye contact with him while he was grouchy.

 

Yeah, I went there. I know MadBum and Yasiel Puig have a bit of a history. But this ‘Protector of the Game’ shit has gotten really old. Madison Bumgarner is a hillbilly from Hickory, North Carolina. He has a history of losing his derpy redneck cool whenever a black or brown player does, well, anything. And I’m pretty sure there’s a basket of deplorables he can go climb in to after the Giants’ epic collapse is complete. Stop looking at me, swan!

 


Okay. That’s gonna do it for this week. If you need more baseball from me, check out “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon on iTunes. The Cubs’ Magic Number for home field is 3.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXIV: Wake Me Up When September Ends)

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Published on : September 2, 2016

 

 

The Royals might be going back the World Series again this year, after all.

 

 

At the beginning of the week, the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and the Orioles were all postseason-bound teams coming out of the AL East. Unfortunately for one or (probably) two of them, there’s still a month left of baseball. And in that month, all three of those teams (plus rookie phenom, Gary Sanchez, and the Yankees) will play each other enough times and beat up on each other enough times that it will leave the door wide open for a team or two from the Central (the Tigers and/or the Royals) or the West (the Astros and maybe even the Mariners) to sneak into October. Let’s just take a look at how many times the Eastern contenders play each other the rest of the way.

 

– Blue Jays vs. Orioles. 3 games.
– Blue Jays vs. Yankees. 7 games.
– Blue Jays vs. Red Sox. 6 games.
– Red Sox vs. Orioles. 7 games.
– Red Sox vs. Yankees. 7 games.
– Orioles vs. Yankees. 6 games.

 

And that’s not even taking into consideration that the AL East doormat Rays have the best ERA in the league since the All-Star break. They’re also good for 6-7 games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees (and three more with the Red Sox). It’s going to be brutal. On the other hand, that amount of intra-divisional games that will take place for the Royals and Tigers with the mediocre White Sox and the lowly Twins, who have lost 13 straight. And the Astros and Mariners get to play the A’s and the Angels, who also suck. The East is going to fade. And it’s already starting to happen, as the Tigers have tied the Orioles for the second Wild Card slot after the O’s lost two-out-of-three to the Jays.

 

 

The only difference between the other Wild Card contenders and the Royals is that the Royals happen to be the hottest team in the American League over the past month. Since we last spoke, the World Champs rattled off 9 wins in a row, took two-out-of-three from the Red Sox and have won 18 of their last 24 games. And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but they’ve managed to go to the World Series the past two years. They know how to get there. And they just won’t die. They are Grigori Rasputin holding a plate of slow-cooked ribs, Steven Seagal bebopping to Charlie Parker. I hate to tell you this, but the Royals will probably be back, projections be damned. And we’re just gonna have to get used to it. We’re gonna have to get used to that stupid rally mantis too.

 

Let’s go around the league.

 

The AL East

So who’s in and who’s out? Well, I think  the Blue Jays are going to win this division. Jose Bautista is back. Aaron Sanchez is rested. And Josh Donaldson is red hot. If you’re betting on anybody in the AL East, that’s your pick. The easiest team to dismiss has always been the Orioles. All along we’ve wondered how long their home run hitting offense could outpace their pitching problems. And that was before Chris Tillman went down with a shoulder injury. They’ve been proving people wrong all year, but I think they’re done. Not that anybody shows up at Camden Yards to care.

 

So the biggest question mark in the East is Boston. People talk about their bullpen like the sky is falling. 70% of their September schedule is on the road. Steven Wright has given up 9 runs his last 10 innings. And Adam Benintendi’s season might be over. On the bright side, Dustin Pedroia is healthy for the first time in years and got 11 hits in a row at one point last week. Mookie Betts is probably the 4th-best player in the league and also became the third player in Red Sox history to hit 30 home runs in a season before his 24th birthday (after Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro). And David Price has a 2.14 ERA in his last four starts. Not to mention that he’s actually 6th in the league in WAR and also 6th in FIP. Your guess is as good as mine. That road schedule though…

 

The AL Central

 

With the Tigers and Royals hot on their heels, the only consistency for the Indians has been Corey Kluber. Their lauded starting rotation had a 5.68 ERA in August, which is second-worst to the Twins in the American League. Kluber’s August ERA was 2.43 and has been 2.04 since the break. On the season, he leads the league in FIP is (barely) second in WAR and is 5th in ERA. That’s your Cy Young, folks. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people. Here’s you: “The American League Cy Young race is a jumble!” Here’s me: “Why don’t you just look at the stats and pick the best guy?” It’s Kluber.

 

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention GUARANTEED RATE FIELD coming soon to the South Side of Chicago. “Hey, youz guys wanna catch a Sox game over at GUARANTEED RATE FIELD?” Just rolls right off the tongue, you know?

 

The AL West

I just want to remind everyone that the first week of the season, I picked the Blue Jays, Royals and Rangers to win their divisions and took the Indians and Astros in the Wild Card. And right now I feel pretty good about my picks, give or take the Tigers. The Rangers just took three-out-of-four from the Indians and swept the Mariners, effectively ending Seattle’s playoff hopes yet again. The Rangers also have a surprisingly-good record against teams above .500, which bodes well for them in October. Because I’m also going to will that Rangers-Jays rematch series to happen. Come on!

 

The NL East

Want to know who my opening week NL picks were? I took the Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers in the divisions. And I took the Mets and Giants in the Wild Card. And maybe since the Royals decided to get back in to the discussion, the Mets decided to get hot too. I know Jacob deGrom’s last two starts have been awful. And Steven Matz might get shut down for the season. But nobody should want to face Thor in the Wild Card. That team’s best-case-scenario staff is still horrifying.

 

 

And just in case any Nationals fans starts to freak out about Stephen Strasburg’s elbow, they should just direct their attention to what Max Scherzer has done his past two outings (5 hits, 1 walk, 21 K’s, 0.12 ERA over 16 innings) and feel a little better. Also, unless last year was a freakish anomaly, don’t we have to assume Bryce Harper is a sleeping giant right now? Just don’t look at his career stat line. Because this year looks pretty similar to the Harper of 2012-2014. And not at all like 2015.

 

The NL Central

Kris Bryant is the NL MVP. He leads the Majors in WAR. And he leads the league in wOBA. Plus, that home run in the 10th inning at Dodger Stadium led the Cubs to another win in a month where they went 22-6. Kyle Hendricks also leads the Majors in ERA with a 2.09. It’s been 1.34 in the second half, 1.28 in August and 1.21 at home on the year. This is a guy that throws 87 miles-per-hour. He’s a pleasant surprise on a staff that also includes Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, who have also been top 10 pitchers in the league. Oh, and did you see Addison Russell’s catch against the Pirates on Wednesday? Wow. The Cubs are gonna shore this division up in the next week or two.

 

The Cardinals still hold the second Wild Card slot, which I hate. But they also don’t win at home (30-37) and don’t have a clear starter for the Wild Card game (I’d go with Carlos Martinez, but I’d guess Mike Matheny picks the struggling Adam Wainwright). Sure, they’re high up on rookies Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver. And Jedd Gyorko leads the league in home runs since the All-Star break. Actually, the Cardinals are tied with the Orioles for the most home runs in the Majors since the break. We’ll just have to wait and see if that’ll be good enough to hold off the Mets, Pirates and Marlins over the last month.

 

 The NL West

 

Well, the Dodgers have stayed in first place, despite every pitcher on their team (including the best pitcher on the planet) being hurt. If you’re counting at home, they’ve had 27 guys on the DL this year, which ties a Major League record set by the last place Boston Red Sox in 2012. But I’m guessing they lost a lot of sympathy when they traded away Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher, A.J. Ellis (and his .194 batting average) for Carlos Ruiz. Why they would you create any drama or make Kershaw cry when their team is playing well is beyond me. I don’t care how much they struggle against lefties. You keep Kershaw happy. Or however happy a guy can be watching from the sidelines with a herniated disc.

 

Believe it or not, the Giants still have the worst record in baseball since the break. The Twins have lost 13 in a row and the Giants would still be a game back in the loss column since July 12th. They’re not scoring runs. They have problems at the back of their rotation. And Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto had ERA’s in the 4’s in the month of August. Matt Moore (and his 133 pitches) came within a Corey Seager bloop of no-hitting the Dodgers last week, and holy shit was that a pleasure to watch with Vin Scully making the call. But they’d better hope MadBum and Cueto can figure this out. Or that Kershaw stays on the sideline. Or that they also don’t get passed by one of the other Wild Card hopefuls in the league. Maybe they only win in even years that end in 0, 2 or 4. You ever think of that?

 

Okay. That’ll do it for this week. Next week, I’m sure we’ll have some mathematical eliminations from the standings (looking at you, Braves, Twins, Brewers and Reds). And if you need more baseball, you can always check me out on “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon on all the podcast things. Until then, the Cubs’ magic number is 16.

 

 


Roger Pretzel’s Review ‘N Brew: Wild Card Weekend

Written by :
Published on : January 13, 2016

 

 

In this little corner Roger Pretzel will review his favorite play of the week along with a thoughtful review of what beverage he was imbibing at the time.

 

 

Wild Card Weekend: The Butt Reception

 

VIDEO: HERE

 

We all remember Mark Sanchez’s infamous Thanksgiving day “Butt Fumble.” Well, be prepared to meet his overachieving little brother the “Butt Reception.”

 

Hope you all had a good Wild Card weekend. I sure did. The Texans got thumped by the Chiefs despite, J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork trying to push their way in for a touchdown, Blair Walsh inconceivably chumped a game-losing gimme field goal, and bedlam broke out as the Bungles self-destructed in a horrific conflagration of failure.

 

During that strange, dark evening in Cincinnati there were some truly nasty head hits, Big Ben got his shoulder busted, and a couple of shameful penalties stitched up the game in the Steelers favor. Martavis Bryant’s acrobatic reception in the third was the game’s first touchdown and put a serious hurt on the trailing Bengals. Seen in broadcast the catch didn’t look particularly remarkable, but when slowed down one gets a jaw-dropping view of Bryant juggling the ball through his legs as he flips forward in order to prevent it from touching the turf.

 

It’s as good a catch as I’ve seen all year.

 

 

Wild Card Weekend: A Whole Case of Cream Ales

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The first of these I ever had was Genesee Cream Ale, which is not surprising seeing as how Genny is still the biggest name in the game. Smooth, light, and damn satisfying this was a beer made for crushing can-after-can on a lazy football Sunday. As its name suggests, cream ale uses a top-fermenting yeast (making it an ale), but was designed specifically to taste like a lager, and is often chilled during the second phase of fermentation like a lager.

 

 

 photo Robin-Hood-Cream-Ale-Labels-Pittsburgh-Brewing-Company_47630-1_zpsuzxd7lbo.jpg

 

From a basic historical standpoint, cream ale came about because most early American brewers were German, and as such they popularized the motherland’s idea of a crisp, clean, and refreshing beer in this country. Ales tended to be fruitier, burlier, more challenging, more English, and sometimes cloying, so the brewers who were working with lots of ale yeasts decided to make their ales taste more like the beers that were most popular on the current market.

 

 photo beverwyck-irish-cream-36-36-flat-top-1_zpsmlv9kuxa.jpg

 

Eventually cream ale fell out of vogue when king lager completed its domination of big beer in the latter half of the 20th century, but now with the explosion of craft brewing, plenty of folks are trying their hand at this uniquely American brew style.

 

 photo dartmouth-cream-ale-label_zpsyvezzeby.jpg

 

So despite the weird sounding name, there’s nothing to fear from a chilly cream ale. Order one up and tell ‘em Roger sent you.

 

 


The NFC Least

Written by :
Published on : December 27, 2015

 

 

Are you ready for another .500 division winner? Washington is now the the NFC East champ after beating the Eagles 38-24. Maybe an 8-8 Skins team can get the honor of getting destroyed by the Seahawks or Vikings as they host the wild card.

 

Currently, Washington is 8-7 with a 3-2 record in the division. Giants and Eagles both have 6 wins and Dallas brings up the rear at 4-10. Apparently, average is enough to secure a home field playoff game. This group gets coverage like no-other and I’m unfortunately adding to it. Or at minimum, trying to highlight that they shouldn’t always be featured on the big networks. No matter what. Below is a quick breakdown of the “powerhouse” NFC Least.

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

As a Dez Bryant fantasy owner, this year has been rough. I kept him on the bench while he got healthy, hoping him and Romo would tear up the second half of the season, just as many Dallas faithful prayed for. That never really worked out. Now, Kellen Moore, of Lions’ 3rd string QB fame, is starting under center. It’s a mess in Jerry World. Which college player with a checkered past will they draft next?

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

In the 40-17 loss to the Cardinals, RB DeMarco Murray had only 2 attempts for 3 yards. That’s inexcusable. Philly is one of the most Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde teams we have. They either drop 40 or more often then not, get 40 dropped on them. Coach Chip Kelly may get pushed out of office. Everyone talks about the offense but it’s the defense that can’t stop anybody. Who cares how many plays you can run if you can’t tackle on the other side of the ball?

 

New York Giants

 

Even with WR Odell Beckham Jr playing amazing, this offense hasn’t been great. They are now out of the post-season hunt so OBJ’s suspension doesn’t really matter to anyone besides fantasy owners. Once again, we will hear whispers of coach Tom Coughlin maybe losing his job. Like we have heard for the last ten years. It should be fair to note that since Peyton is out, Eli should be more powerful. Kind of like a weird Highlander type situation. Eli absorbs all the Manning power. And if Peyton returns then Eli will drop off. Simple Archie-nomics. But even that magic can’t save the G-men now.

 

Washington Redskins

 

They aren’t great but…….DJax is back! Four TD’s in the last six games has added the spark this crew needs. They can kind of run the ball with either Alfred Morris or Matt Jones and their D has mostly held up. But QB Kirk Cousins is the reason this team still has life. He has limited his turnovers and started to build some nice chemistry with the likes of Reed, Garcon and Jackson. I don’t see this franchise making much of a run towards the Super Bowl but I don’t think anyone picked them to win the NFC East either. Also, they should change their name to something less offensive. Seriously.

Last question is, which wild card team is going to get the chance to beat the Skins? Because they will lose in the first round.

 

Please, prove me wrong.

 

 


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