The Draft!

The first round of the 2017 NFL draft was held last night.  Many things can happen leading up to the draft.  Plenty can happen during the draft, as witnessed last night.  Somehow the NFL has turned this into must watch TV.  They are brilliant for splitting the rounds up and creating more coverage of the event.  I also believe that having the 2nd round on the next day is great fore a few reasons.  It gives everyone, including fans a chance to reset.  The first round can be evaluated and the second round gains traction as fans realize team needs against what is available.  Holding the first pick tonight is a pretty valuable pick and I would argue more valuable than it used to be.  It can be an emotional night for fans, organizations, and players.  Overall, it is an awesome event that change a team’s fortunes for years to come.

 

The first pick was Myles Garrett and it was not much of a surprise.  However, things heated up right after that.  The Bears traded up to get a QB and some think that they got fleeced by the 49ers in the trade.  Many Bears fans did not seem to happy with the trade as you can see here.  Of course you have to love the rivalry with the Packers.  A Packers fan is laughing at what has happened. You also had the Chiefs trade up to get a QB and the Texans trade up to get a QB.  So 3 qb’s went in the first 12 picks when most experts felt this was one of the worst draft classes for quarterbacks.

The draft is also an emotional experience for the players.  Many have worked extremely hard to get to this point.  When you get drafted in the first round, you become a millionaire overnight.  How about this player drafted by the Falcons last night?  I would say he was pretty emotional to say the least!  I would imagine a few people were not thrilled with the choice of language.  However, what do you expect from a 22 year old that had a life changing moment?

Take a look here as the team’s are already being “graded” on their pick.  It is a pretty tough business when picks are being graded before they even step onto the field.  The Bears are getting killed for their first round pick in the draft.  I would think that a draft should be given 3-4 years before the final grade can be given.  The problem with that is sometimes the GM’s and coaches are not given that long to see the fruit of their labor.

Round one is in the books and it has created plenty of drama.  This happens every year and is certainly one of the reasons the event is so popular.  I also think that when you draft a football player he can help the team immediately.  Most of the time a baseball player of hockey player has some seasoning to do in the minor leagues.  Basketball players can offer an immediate impact, but there are only 2 rounds, not 7.  Regardless of your thoughts on the draft, it is certainly an event that will not be going anywhere as long as people continue to love their respective teams. Also, take a look here if you want an idea who your team might be able to get tonight.

 

–Victor Mandalawi

 

Our National Parks

The other day I read this article about some of our greatest National parks that are lesser known.  It made me think of our National Park system and how great it really is.  The really popular parks are that way for a reason, they are just amazing. I have only been to a few, but I hope to change that over time.  I can think of some that look just amazing on TV and in photos.  The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and The Great Smoky Mountains are a few to be mentioned. I wanted to take a closer look at a few of our parks and share the beauty they hold.

The first park I wanted to discuss is the Great Smoky Mountains.  I have been here and find it to be a fascinating place.  The wildlife is abundant and can be seen all over the area.  Black bears, elk, and white-tail deer are some of the wildlife that can be seen. There are many activities available to you like camping, hiking, fishing, and more.  Some people are unable to get out and hike to see the many amazing delights of the park. A great thing about the Smokies is that you can see many great things from the comfort of your car.  The Smokies are particularly beautiful in the fall when all of the leaves are changing. It is truly a wonder to be seen!

Grand Canyon National Park is quite the sight!  I have seen the pictures and feel it is an absolute must to get out there and visit at some point soon.  There are many more things to do at the park other than stare at the great expanse.  You can take a mule trip down into the canyon, you can also take a guided river trip.  

Can you imagine being on that raft?  It just seems that it would be an absolute must.  You might as well enjoy the canyon from bottom on the Colorado River. No matter how you view the canyon, I am sure it is amazing.

Our first National Park was Yellowstone National Park.  As with many of our National Parks, you can go hiking, fishing, and camping.  What sets Yellowstone apart from all of our other parks? How about Old Faithful?  It is the most popular of the many geysers at the park.  You can also see Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and Bison.  Seeing these animals in their natural habitat would be fantastic!  There are so many more things to see at Yellowstone, check out some of the park statistics and it might give you an idea of the size of the park.

I have been on quite a few vacations over the years.  Many have been trips to warm weather locations that includes a beach and ocean.  I have been aware of our tremendous National Park system for quite some time.  However, it seems the older I get the more I want to actually spend some time visiting.  If you really look at all of our National Parks, you would never have to leave our own country to find any type of trip you are looking for.  The United States is one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the World, we might as well enjoy it while we can!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The Playoffs are Here!

Last week I wrote about the Best Week in Sports.  Of course it did not disappoint.  The Masters came down to a playoff between two great players.  In the end, Sergio Garcia pulled out the win for his first major tournament victory.  Set aside last week’s greatness and in comes another contender.  The NBA and NHL both have started their playoffs for their respective championship. The long grind of the season has ended and it is playoff time.  We will discuss the NBA this week and possibly the NHL next week.

The NBA starts their playoffs on April 15th.  This article is a really good primer to get caught up on what is upcoming. Will the Cavs and Warriors meet again in the NBA Finals?  They  certainly have the firepower to do so.  Lebron James has been to 6 straight NBA Finals.  The Cavs finished the season not playing their best basketball, but a team can certainly turn around their play in the playoffs and make a deep run. The Cavs have the talent to get it done and when you have LeBron on your team, you always have a chance to win it all. I would think LeBron will  make it to the Finals for a 7th straight year.  Can anyone in the Eastern Conference give the Cavs a run?  I believe the Celtics and Wizards have a chance to knock them off but they will have to play very well.

In the Western Conference there are plenty of very good teams. Of course, the best team is the Warriors and they are the favorite to get back to the Finals.  The Spurs are a very good team as well and certainly have a chance.  All of the teams in the Western Conference are good, just some more than others.  I would like to think the Warriors are on a mission to get back to the Finals and avenge their loss from last year.  They have added another piece to their team, Kevin Durant, and he can clearly carry a team if needed.  The Warriors had the best record in the league and I believe there is a reason for that.  They are the best team, but sometimes the best teams do not always win.  Here are some predictions from the experts.  As you can see not all of the experts picked the Warriors.  I guess that is why you play the games!

The NBA playoffs could take roughly 2 months to complete which seems like forever, but it will go by pretty fast.  Each passing round will bring better competition and it will eventually be must watch television! Not that anyone cares, but I am predicting nothing new.  I think the Warriors will play the Cavs in the Finals and I think the Warriors will win this time around.  That would give them a 2-1 advantage over the Cavs.

–Victor Mandalawi

The Best Week in Sports!

It is time to celebrate.  Am I celebrating our Independence Day?  Nope, but it is quite possibly the best week in sports.  On Saturday, two Final Four Games are played.  Major League Baseball starts with a couple of games on Sunday.  Monday evening the National Title game is played. More “opening day” baseball games are played on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday marks the first day of a full slate of baseball games.  It also is the annual par 3 contest at The Masters Tournament.  That means on Thursday, The Masters starts and runs through Sunday.   So in the span of a week, you have the National Title game, baseball begins, and the greatest golf tournament of the year are held. It is hard to top that trio of events.

On Saturday, the Final Four games were played.  Gonzaga was able to hold off South Carolina and North Carolina squeezed by Oregon to advance to the title game.  In the title game, North Carolina was able to get the victory to clinch the title.  Last year North Carolina was beat on a last second shot in the title game and this year they were not to be denied.  Good for them!  You feel for the other participants, but there is only one winner.  The game was somewhat tough to watch based on the amount of whistles, it seemed to lack any flow.  Even though it was tough to watch, it held drama as always.  We now have to wait roughly 345 days for the next tournament. I can’t wait!

Opening day in Major League Baseball has changed over the years.  It used to be that games started on Monday.  In recent years they decided to put a game on Sunday evening usually with the World Series Champs.  It seems now that they have a few games on Sunday, it makes sense to capitalize on the day being open.  Games are then played on Monday.  You also get a handful of games on Tuesday that are considered opening day games in their respective cities.  That has somewhat watered down opening day, but it is still a great happening.  The season is 2-3 days old and there have already been quite a few great plays.  Check out Almora’s catch and Baez’s game ending play. I cant wait for 6 more months of plays like that!

Finishing the great week is the Masters golf tournament.  In my opinion it is the greatest of the major tourneys but of course that is a great debate.  I tend to like it because of the beauty of the course, the tradition, and the excitement it can provide.  Unfortunately, the par 3 contest had to be canceled based on weather.  Hopefully, the remainder of the tournament will play without delay or weather issues.  This is also the first time the tournament will be played without Arnold Palmer being around in over 60 years.  The course will be handing out badges commemorating Arnie’s Army.  It is an awesome event and I can not wait for the weekend to watch it.

When you put these three events in this close of a proximity it creates a great feeling.  Whether you enjoy these sports or not, it is great to see them.  They gain so much interest from regular fans and that is makes them so popular.  Even if you absolutely hate these events, you can take solace knowing that these events usually mark the beginning of warmer weather.

–Victor Mandalawi