Not only are they in the World Series-which begins next Tuesday (October 27) – the upstart team from New York swept the hard-trying Chicago Cubs to get there. During the baseball pre-season I figured the Washington Nationals had the best pitching in the major leagues. Boy – was I ever wrong…. The team with the best pitching in the major leagues are these New York Mets. They have young arms…each and all of them capable of brushing the fabled 100-miles per hour fast ball past the chin of any adversary. Start with Matt Harvey, then add Noah Snydergaard plus the likes of Jacob DeGrom and Stephen Matz…and wow – you have a World Series Contender. Snydergaard ended with a 97.1 MPH average – topping all major leaguers with at least 100 innings pitched. DeGroom finished at 95.0 average, Harvey at 95.9 and Matz – who didn’t have enough innings to qualify at 95.0.
Tyler Clippard has been around major league mounds for over five years.. The 6-4 right hander was first traded to the Nationals and about three months ago sent him to the Mets. His comment after watching the Mets pitching staff was, “I don’t think anybody’s really seen anything like those guys.” The Los Angeles Dodgers thought they had the pitching comparison because they could trot out Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Ha!! The New York crew needed five games, but they still whipped the Dodgers.
Then they were expected to box to Chicago’s Jake Arieta. Never happened. Instead it was the Mets with the wins of 4-2, 4-1, 5-2 and the clincher on Wednesday night. No one knows who will be facing the Mets beginning Tuesday Night. The Kansas City Royals had it all wrapped up – this before they fell apart 7-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday Night. Now, we all have to wait until Friday night to see if the Royals can clinch the American League title…or wait until Saturday night when it will all be decided by a seventh game.
Kansas City opened the series with three wins out of the first four games….but the Jays have bounced back with 11-6 and 7-1 verdicts. Anyway, it should be all over in the AL soon. I figured the Jays would come out on top mainly because of hurler David Price plus the solid hitting of the Canadian team. However, KC made a believer of me and just about everyone else with their early charge. Now, I don’t even have any idea of which club will be representing the American League. But, now that I’ve been following everything a bit closer I think Kansas City would be just as good. The only thing is this – the Royals do not have top-notch pitching staff. In fact, you do have to wonder how they got this far with the throwers they do have- Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura, and Edison Volquez. None of ‘em scare anybody. Kansas City has exceeded all of its pre-season expectations. Whether it’ll continue to do as is quite problematical. We’ll all know by the time I sit in front of this typewriter again….
Meanwhile, there is football!!!! And – ahem – before that…college basketball!!!! That’s right the bounce and pass game. The first pre-season polls have been published. In the Amway Coaches Pill, guess who is on top??? North Carolina – that’s who!! The TarHeels were a 26-12 team a year ago. They boast a lineup with no less than six McDonald All-Americans. North Carolina opens its campaign November 13 (hey – that’s my birthday!!!) versus Temple. Kentucky, with head coach Rick Pitino undergoing all sorts of trouble, is ranked No. 2 – the Wildcats expected to obliterate Albany in their opener Nov. 13. No. 3 is a surprise to me….Maryland!!! The Terrapins – ranked No. 1 on one college publication – take on Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 13. Duke is rate No. 4: the Blue Devils – who won the NCAA title a year ago – meet Siena in their opener. No. 5 is Kansas – a 27-9 team a year ago. The JayHawks open versus Northern Colorado. Rounding out the top ten in the preseason poll is Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Villanova, and Arizona. I like college basketball as much as I do college football. And November 13 is only 22 days away.
The latest NFL Power Ratings have not changed. New England holds the top spot followed by Green Bay and Cincinnati. The Pittsburgh Steelers – despite starting a third-string quarterback this weekend – are rated No. 6 with the Buffalo Bills wallowing in No. 15 spot and the staggering Cleveland Browns no better the No. 22. Holding up number 32 are the Tennessee Titans. My “experts” tell me that the Bills will squeeze past the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars 27-21 this coming Sunday. Buffalo is a 3-3 team at this moment. And nobody really knows who will quarterback this club Sunday…. Cleveland will take its 2-4 mark into St. Louis to face the 2-3 Rams. And guess what????? The Rams will hang a 27-10 trimming on the Browns – regardless of who is directing the Cleveland attack form the quarterback slot. Yes, the Rams are last in the NFL in total offense, but hey – they are playing the Browns. ‘nough said.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are being forced to employ “youthful” Landry Jones as the signal caller this weekend when they go up against the Kansas City Chiefs – a reeling 1-5 club. But, Jones has shown he knows what to do with a footballs. Plus, the Steelers have more than just a few guys who know how to catch a football. Let’s pick the Black and Gold to register a 23-13 triumph. The most interesting NFL affair this weekend should take place in New Jersey when the Giants tangle with the Cowboys.
Look for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make a stronger drive for the NBA title this year now that they have signed a good rebounder in Tristan Johnson.
Did you read what I did??? New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly stated that he “has no plans to retire soon”…and that he “hopes to play another ten years….” The last time I looked Brady had just come past 38 years of age….hmm.
Most surprising team in the college football ranks???Why, that would have to be Iowa. The Hawkeyes will take a 7-0 mark into their off-week this Saturday. Looking at the remaining contests – Iowa could go undefeated this year – ending at 12-0. Alabama continues to lead the College Sagarin Ratings with Baylor No. 2 and TCU No. 3. Ohio State is only No. 5. Pitt is No. 35 on the Sagarin and Penn State woeful No. 55. The Nittany Lions are being accorded a six-point edge over Maryland – remember don’t bet on it…this Saturday.
And a final note…I voted (a write-in) for Hillary three and seven years ago. I haven’t found anyone I would vote for today….
No, I’m not talking about LeBron James’ chances of leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA crown. Nor am I commenting on Alex Rodriguez’ hopes of getting past Babe Ruth in the major league overall home run chase — the Babe is currently49 round trippers ahead of A-Rod. And I’m not mentioning Adrian Peterson’s decision of whether or no he’ll be playing running back for the Minnesota Vikings again this coming fall.
No — what I am talking about is American Pharoah….and whether or not will he win the Belmont Stakes and with it the almost elusive Triple Crown. The Pharoah, who just squeaked by in the Kentucky Derby but romped by seven lengths in the Preakness, goes after the very long Belmont this Saturday in New York City.
Now — everyone connected with the Sport of Kings is very much aware of the big problem. The Derby is a mile-and-a-quarter race and the Preakness is a bit shorter at a mile and three-sixteenths. The Belmont Stakes is a whopping mile-and-a-half…much too long for the average race horse. Plus this is the third high pressure race for American Pharoah in justfive weeks…too many in such a short time for almost any four-legged runner.
There is one more factor — at least this year. Trainer Bob Baffert decided to work out American Pharoah at Churchill Down in Kentucky the past two weeks rather than at Belmont Park. A lot of veteran horse people say this was the wrong thing to do as it did not give the Pharoah any knowledge of the track he’s going to run on this Saturday. Baffert said he has done it both ways — and he thinks his way is the best for this horse.
Anyway American Pharoah arrived at Belmont Park on Tuesday to begin getting ready for the big one on Saturday. The field won’t be as large as first thought. The initial thinking was 12 horses would be vying for the verdict. However first two owners backed out and the latest is that two more decided it wasn’t worth the effort — not to mention the wear and tear on the animal.
So, as of right now it appears that only eight horses will be in the chase. Right now the horse that is expected to challenge American Pharoah is Frosted. This entry ended fourth in the Kentucky Derby — but since he passed the Preakness he should be well-rested for the Belmont. A horse named Materiality is rated third in the Belmont at 6-1. Personally, the horse that the Pharoah should be somewhat leary of is named Frammento. Sure, he’s a long shot 30-1…in fact, he’s the longest shot in the race.
But, it’s those kind of horses that always seem to come out of nowhere and pull off a completely unexpected upset. Frammento was 11th in the Derby, but trainer Nick Zito says this of his horse…”He looks like a Belmont horse.” Jockey Mike Smith said of Frammento…”He’ll run all day” — meaning the 1 1/2 miles doesn’t scare him. I’m pulling for American Pharoah — mainly because I’m getting tired of how long it’s been since there has been a Triple Crown winner. We’ll all know what will happen — oh, around 6:30 p.m. or so on Saturday.
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DESPITE THE OVER-KILL, not everyone is talking about or even interested in Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner. In fact — it’s not even news. Although I do wonder…does he (or she) still have to shave???
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THE OVER-PAID MARK TEIXEIRA is finally starting to look like the player who became a New York Yankee seven years ago. Wednesday (June 3) Teixeira slammed his 16th home run of the season, and now owns an American League -leading 41 RBIs. However, he is still lacking in the hitting average department with a .241 mark.
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I SEE WHERE THE Washington Nationals — one of my pre-season picks to win just about everything — finally squeaked into the National League East Division lead with a 29-22 won -lost mark. One reason is that Bryce Harper is starting to show what has been expected of him…the young man hitting .325 while leading the way in round trippers with 19 and 45 runs-batted-in.
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HEY, DID YOU KNOW that Betty White is 93…and is still in demand on the teevee tube??? That’s impressive…
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THE YANKEES ARE going to have to do something about second base. They gave the job to Stephen Drew — plus a $5,000,000 contract. The 32-year old, who has been in the big leagues for 10 years, has been a big flop with the bat. He currently owns a .165 batting average. From everything I’ve read, the New York team has no one in the wings, with the exception of mediocre-fielding Jose Pirela. Plus, the guy who took over for Derek Jeter as shortstop–Didi Gregorious — is around .230. Of course, the one-time Bombers have their best hitter–Jacoby Ellsbury — on the disabled list…with catcher Brian McCann also somewhat hobbled with a sore right foot.
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ACCORDING TO A study by Voya Financial…”60 percent of retired U.S. workers said they had to stop working unexpectedly. “Hmmmmm….I know the feeling…
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IN ANSWER TO A QUESTION from a steady eader…no — I am not going to make a prediction on the outcome of the NBA Championship…which began Thursday (june 4) night in Oakland. Both teams have what it takes to win.
Naturally, I’m pulling for the Cavaliers.
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I GUESS IT WASN’T too surprising to see that Novak Djokovic knocked off Rafael Nadal in the French Open the other day. Sure it was only Nadal’s second defeat in 72 career affairs on the orange courts at Roland Garros. But it was a fairly easy win — 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 — over the nine-time French Open champion. Plus, Djokovic is the No.1-ranked men’s tennis player in the world.
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I WATCHED MUCH of the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants Wednesday afternoon. The Bucs are now in second place in the National League Central Division with a 29-24 card. Better yet, Andrew McCutcheon has raised his batting average to .293. The Pirates leader has struggled with the bat during the first quarter of the season.
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THE U.S. OPEN — the 115th version of one of the top golf tournaments in the country –will get itself played starting June 18th. This year’s event will be held on Chambers Bay course… near Puget Sound. And, from the info I get, it will be one of the toughest tests of golf this year. Naturally, the talk (although it’s getting fainter) is still about Tiger Woods. The one-time “most feared player on the links” hasn’t played in a tournament in three weeks–finishing 69th in The Players Championship. Once No.1 in the world — the Tiger is now ranked No. 172.
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THE LATEST BASEBALL power ratings have the Pittsburgh Pirates in 8th place and the Cleveland Indians ranked No. 17. St. Louis regained the No.1 spot with Kansas City second and the Los Angeles Dodgers third.
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AND A FINAL NOTE…Hey — I don’t have a “final note” today.