We are at Mid-Season!

After this weekend just about every team in the league will have played around 80 games.  Baseball teams are scheduled for 162 games, so clearly 81 is the exact halfway point. Teams just hit that number at a slightly different pace.  I think this weekend is a great time to stop and take a look at how the season has progressed as a whole.  What teams are playing well, what players are playing well, and how the Yankees are looking are a few of the things I want to cover.

A few months ago I wrote about the Yankees quest for 28.  I mentioned that the Red Sox, Yanks, Astros, Indians, and a surprise team should be the front runners for the playoffs.  These predictions seem to be holding true and the surprise team emerging is the Mariners.  I felt the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals would be the class of the NL and so far I am incorrect on all 3 of those teams.  However, I do think that by the end of the year the cream will rise to the top and those teams will make the playoffs. You can look at the current standings here.

Player statistics can vary all year long.  Players are prone to slumps and hot streaks, but usually by the end of the year the law of averages takes hold.  Many times players that look great now, end with a major slump and on the other side certain players are “second half” players.  Many of the typical stars like Trout, Altuve, Ramirez, and Lindor are performing well.  I think that Judge and Stanton are going to get heated up and have a monster second half.  The NL has some players that are having real breakout seasons.  Guys like Javy Baez, Scooter Gennett, and Brandon Crawford are playing above any predictions made about them before the season started.

Being at the halfway point and having a weekend series with the Yankees and Red Sox seems to be fitting.  Check out this great article to see some amazing numbers about the teams.  Both teams have not won 100 games in the same season, they both have first year managers, and they both have 17-1 runs this year.  Clearly this will be a fun series to follow.  Check out this article claiming the Yankees will win the division.  Winning the division is very important, no team wants to play the one game play-in battle between wild cards.  The Yankees do have a few things in their favor like strength of schedule and an all-time great bullpen.  I think that bullpen can win them plenty of playoff games if their starters can hold up!

The halfway mark is not really celebrated or marked as much as it should.  The All-Star game is usually reserved for that even though it is a little past the technical games played number.  Spending this weekend and the next couple of weeks leading up to the break is a fun time for me.  The season has really started to take shape and the major players will be shuffling for playoff position.  Of course my eye will mostly be on the Yanks as they compete for 28!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

2018 NBA Draft

Last week I wrote about the season being over, but not all of the way. That is because the draft and free agency will play a huge role in the following season.  The draft was last night and there were plenty surprises, steals, and trades.  A draftee’s mother even made news last night, but not for something she said just the way she looked.  Let’s take a look at the draft results, some of the trades, and any other news that may have surfaced during the evening.

The Phoenix Suns had the first pick in the draft and they selected Deandre Ayton.  That was not a surprise pick at all.  Marvin Bagley from Duke went number 2 to the Kings.  The next pick was Luka Doncic, he played professionally in Europe last year.  Jaren Jackson went at number 4 and the top five was rounded out by Trae Young. The Young pick might have been the first pick deemed as somewhat controversial.  Many pundits did not have him slotted that high.  The next five picks were Bamba, Carter, Sexton, Knox, and Bridges.  All of these players seem to have plenty of talent and upside.  The issue is figuring out which one will end up being a star.  Teams that get lucky and find a true star player get a huge advantage, they then do not have to spend so much in free agency to get a similar caliber player. Many of the players will become solid role players in the league and that will be a bonus.  However, when players are busts, it can really set a team back.

The NBA draft is always full of trades.  So many in fact that they are extremely difficult to keep up with.  You see trades this year between teams that involve other teams picks from years ago.  Lets take a look at some of the bigger trades in this years draft.  The Mavs traded up to get Luka Doncic.  Their trade partner was the Hawks, they received Trae Young and a future first round pick.  Seems like that could end up being a huge deal for either team, just depends on who picked correctly!  Mikal Bridges was selected by his hometown 76ers but was traded to the Suns a little later for a player and a future 2021 first round pick of the Miami Heat(I told you this can get crazy). There were plenty more trades if you can keep up!

According to a few experts, here are the winners of the draft.  They seem to think the Mavs moving up to get Doncic was a real bargain for them.  The Nuggets were able to grab Michael Porter Jr in the middle of the first round.  Many believe he was a top 3 talent, but people are worried that his back issues will derail his career.  The Celtics were able to grab another top tier talent late in the first round because of heart and hustle questions. In other news, Luka Doncic’s mother seems to be a real beautiful women.  She may have been the surprise of the draft and even a current player felt the need to comment about her.

The Draft is a great event because almost every team is able to make selections that offer hope for the future of the franchise.  I also enjoy it because some of these picks will be the stars of the game down the line.  The seeds of a team are planted during the draft so hopefully your favorite team was able to grab players that will develop into the future of your franchise.

 

—Victor Mandalawi

A Champ has been Crowned!

I last wrote about the NBA here.  Since that time, two more rounds have been completed and a champ has been crowned.  Let’s take a look at both of the Conference Championship Series and the Finals Championship Series.  The last 4 teams in were not a surprise and the winner of each series is not a surprise.  Is it possible to call Golden State a dynasty?  Is LeBron a failure for not winning more championships?  We might not see any more games, but does that mean the season is over?

In the Western Conference it was no surprise that the Warriors were playing the Rockets.  Many would have argued that the winner of this series would almost certainly have ultimately won it all.  Winning this series would have been the toughest battle for either team.  It ended up being a great series lasting 7 games.  The Warriors were able to win on the road behind the strength of a great 3rd quarter.  The Cavs played the Celtics which might have been a surprise considering the injuries incurred by the Celtics.  It is also a surprise that the Cavs needed all 7 games to finish of the Celtics, but they won in 7 on the road behind the strength of a great second half defensive effort setting up the 4th time in a row the Cavs will have played the Warriors in the Finals.

In the Finals, game one was a thriller. Cleveland was on the road and had a chance to “steal” the game at the end.  The Cavs had a free throw attempt to take a lead with a little over 4 seconds remaining.  The free throw was missed, but JR Smith from the Cavs got the offensive rebound.  Instead of putting the ball back up for the possible win, he essentially dribbled out the clock sending the game into OT.  I knew immediately that they had no chance of winning in OT and essentially the series was over.  Losing in that fashion has to be deflating, especially for a team that is not in the same class as the Warriors. The Warriors ended up sweeping the series with relative ease winning their third title in a four year span.

Winning three titles in four years has to qualify you as a dynasty, especially in this era of free agency.  This particular season does not rank highly on the list of greatest teams, but 3 of these recent seasons have ranked in the top 19.  Of course these lists can be displayed in a number of different ways to propel one team or another to the top.  All I need to know is winning 3 out of 4 is an awesome feat.  The year they lost was the year they set the all-time record for wins in a regular season.  It took a herculean effort by LeBron to steal that series.  That leads me to Lebron, he has been to 8 straight Finals, which is an awesome accomplishment.  However, he has only won 3 of those 8 so he will have a few people claiming he is not the greatest.  I think it shows his level of greatness by just getting there.  His teams in Cleveland have not been that good as he has carried the load.  Regardless of his winning percentage he will finish as one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all-time!

The season is officially over now that the Finals are over.  Does that mean the season is over?  Of course not!  The draft is around the corner and free agency will begin soon.  Teams can re-shape their roster in a hurry during this period.  It will also be a spectacle just to see where LeBron ends up playing next year.  In the end, the season was a success as it offered plenty of entertainment and drama.

—Victor Mandalawi