Bowl Season is Upon Us!

The College Football regular season and conference championship games are in the rear view mirror.  This means it is time for bowl season!  Bowl season has always been my favorite time of the season, but it has lost its appeal over the years.  There are so many games now that the postseason seems watered down.  Now that a 4 team playoff decides the National Champion there are only three games that really matter.  I am sure the players, coaches, and fans of any particular team do not agree with me but 40+ games does not seem like much of a postseason. Regardless of my thoughts the games will be played so I wanted to take a  look at some of the more intriguing games and match ups.  I also wanted to look at the 2 semifinal games.

As mentioned previously, there will be over 40 games.  It will be impossible for us to watch them all, but here are a few that I think will be fun to watch.  The Music City Bowl should be entertaining.  The game will feature Purdue vs. Auburn.  These teams are both better than their record shows and they have the capability of beating just about any team in football.  The Camping World game will feature West VA vs. Syracuse.  This game features two teams that are high octane.  This could end up being one of the most prolific offensive games of the entire bowl season.  The Rose Bowl will feature Washington vs Ohio State.  Ohio State narrowly missed making the playoffs and they have plenty of talent.  If they play well, they should handle Washington easily.  What makes this game interesting is that it will be Urban Meyer’s last game as the head coach of Ohio State.  Another game I am looking forward to will be LSU vs. UCF.  UCF has not lost in two years and has been held out of the playoffs both years.  LSU will be a formidable opponent.  If UCF can handle them easily, they will certainly be making a case for themselves.

The semifinal games have the potential for great entertainment.  At the same time, I would not be surprised if they were both blowouts.  The games will be played on Dec 29.  Notre Dame will be playing Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.  Both teams have made quarterback changes during the season and seem to be better for doing that.  The Clemson DL is dominant, will the Notre Dame offensive line hold up?  These two teams have not played all that much, the last time they met was in 2015.  The game was played in hurricane conditions with Clemson holding on at the end.  In the other semifinal, two storied programs will meet.  Alabama vs Oklahoma is sure to be a shootout.  The teams will feature the most likely Heisman winner and runner-up as their QB’s lead their respective teams.  I think the Alabama defense will be able to get a few stops, but will Oklahoma be able to play good enough defense to have a shot?

I believe that Clemson and Alabama will win their semifinal games and end up squaring off again in the National Championship.  Here is a pretty good article that has the same prediction as mine.  The article also offers predictions for every bowl game so it is worth a view.  I am looking forward to less than 10 of these games and I am sure I am not alone.  It is impossible to watch and follow this many games and quite frankly some of the games are not worth watching for the general public.  However, these games are not necessarily meant for me or the general public.  The games are a nice reward for the team and fan base.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

Mid-Point of the Season!

The NFL is in week 10! This means that every team in the league has played at least 8 games with many playing 9.  The significance of this is that the season is halfway over.  A few months ago I wrote about the season here.  As you can see, there is a reason the games are played.  We can make predictions, but they are only going to be partly correct.  I wanted to take a look at how the season has played out for the teams to this point.  I also want to look at some of the individual performances that have made their mark on the season so far.

In the AFC, is it a surprise that the Patriots are 7-2 and on top of the AFC East?  The Patriots started slow at 1-2, but have won 6 in a row to show everyone they are still the class of the division.  In my opinion, as long as Brady and Belicheck are around they will be in contention.  The Steelers and Texans are on top of their divisions.  That is probably not a surprise in the eyes of many.  The Chiefs being in the lead may not be a surprise either, but it is a surprise that their young QB has led their offense to dominance.  The Wild Card teams would be the Chargers and Bengals as of now, but I am sure there will be some changes in the next two months when the season is wrapping up.

In the NFC, there are a few surprises that many might not have seen coming. The Redskins are leading the NFC East and the Bears are leading the NFC North.  The Redskins might start trending down the rest of the season because they have had staggering injuries on their OL.  The Bears are intriguing in the North.  They still have 5 divisional games left on their schedule and if they can win the majority of those games they will have a leg up in the division race.  The Rams and Saints are the leaders in their divisions and that is not a surprise to anyone.  The Wild Card slots could end up being filled by the Panthers, Vikings, Eagles, and a few others.

Quarterback play is usually what propels teams to greatness.  It seems to be no different this year.  Pat Mahomes has been phenomenal while Brees and Brady have been their typical steady hands.  When a QB plays great and their team is very successful, that is a recipe for MVP votes.  Some other players that are in the running for MVP would be Todd Gurley of the Rams.  He is having a monster season with 16 total td’s in only 9 games as their running back.  Philip Rivers is also having a nice year while pulling the Chargers to playoff contention.  Saquon Barkley should run away with the Rookie of the Year award even though the Giants have been very underwhelming.

As usual, the NFL has delivered major entertainment halfway through the season.  Teams that were expected to play well have while other teams have surprised.  You also have players that always perform to a high level doing their thing, while some young guns have stepped up and are displaying their talent.  As mentioned earlier, you can’t give awards and win games without playing them.  I know the first half has delivered and I can’t wait for the second half to start.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

The NBA Season has started!

 

This is a busy time of year for sports fans.  Major League Baseball is halfway through the playoffs while NFL Football and NCAA Football are well underway.  If you did not notice, the NBA season started on Tuesday.  There were two games and both were marquee match-ups.  The first game saw the Celtics and Sixers while the other featured the Warriors opening the season at home and they were presented with their Championship rings.  Now that the season has started I wanted to take a look at what teams will be contenders, what players will compete for the MVP award, and teams that have made significant changes to their rosters.

How will the season play out this year?  Check out this great article giving a preseason power ranking complete with variables for each team.  The article really gives best case and worst case scenarios for each team.  I think it is a very nice primer for the season.  If you can not read it all, certainly find your favorite team and give it a look.  On paper, the Western conference seems to be stronger than ever.  There will be a couple of pretty good teams that don’t make the playoffs.  The Eastern conference is not as deep.  I would think they are top heavy with 3-4 very strong teams and not much else after that.  Now that Lebron is a Laker, the Cavs will not be winning the Eastern conference.  That will at least provide viewers with a different finals match-up for the first time in years!

What player will win the MVP?  Last year James Harden won it while averaging 30 plus points and almost 9 assists a game.  Winning back to back MVP’s is difficult but not unprecedented.  Stephen Curry recently repeated as well as LeBron winning 4 out of 5 in a stretch.  With Durant and Curry on the same team, they will most likely “steal” votes from each other and even though LeBron should win it every year, voters get “tired” of voting for the same player every year.  I think Lebron can win the MVP, but he will have to be very special and lead the Lakers to a much higher finish than many people think.  One of the hot names is Giannis Antetokounmpo and this article gives a pretty good reason as to why he can win the MVP.  It is an interesting name and I can’t make an argument against him.

Every off-season NBA teams can drastically re-shape their roster and this off-season was no different for plenty of teams.  The Lakers added Lebron, Rajon Rondo, and a few other pieces.  They will certainly be a much better team.  I do not think they will compete for a ring but they will be a better team.  The Celtics did not really make any moves, but they will be getting Heyward and Irving back from injury.  When you add those two players to a team that made the conference finals it is a big deal.  The Raptors were able to pick up Kahwi Leonard, will he be enough to put them over the top?  The Warriors added Cousins to an already loaded roster.  Will there be enough basketballs and minutes to go around?

The beginning of any season is always a fun time for fans.  Some fans lose hope pretty quickly while others are treated to special seasons.  Hopefully your favorite team will provide you with plenty of entertainment.  However, if your team stinks you can always watch the rest of the league.  The players in the NBA are so talented that you can watch any game and you should be entertained.  When the marquee match-ups are on you can guarantee plenty of highlight type plays.  I am looking forward to the season and I am going on a limb predicting that the Warriors will win it all, again. OK, maybe it is not a limb…

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

 

 

Big Weekend in College Football!

 

I could probably write an article about it being a huge weekend in college football every weekend.  However, this weekend seems different to me.  It might be because of a massive showdown in the Big Ten or another match up of top ten teams in South Bend.  The Big 12 and Pac 12 both have early season battles featuring top 25 teams.  Duke and Kentucky are both ranked in the polls, wait is this football or basketball?  Let’s take a look at the weekend ahead!

West Virginia is just outside of the top ten and they are playing Texas Tech at home this weekend.  The computers seem to think that Texas Tech will emerge victorious, but I am not sure of that.  Playing in West Virginia will not be an easy task, their offense will not be as seamless in a hostile environment, unless they jump on them early and quiet the crowd.

I mentioned that Duke and Kentucky are in the top 25. It is not too big of a surprise that one of them is ranked, however, for both of them to be ranked at the same time is quite the surprise.  That is for good reason, it has not happened since 1957, over 60 years ago! Check out this article for a little context.

On Saturday night in Happy Valley, the Big Ten East could possibly be decided.  This game could also decide playoff contenders.  It may be too early to discuss those benchmarks, but that is what makes college football so fun and entertaining, every week matters. The game I am discussing is Ohio State visiting Penn State in a “white-out” game.  Seeing that atmosphere makes me want to be there for Saturday’s game.  Both teams have great offenses and very capable defenses.  The game will surely be a shootout, but I have a feeling home field advantage will be hard to overcome for Ohio State.  I think Penn State will end up victorious in a very close game.

The #7 Stanford Cardinal will invade South Bend on Saturday night to take on the #8 Fighting Irish.  This is another huge game with National title game implications.  These teams are ranked highly, but they do not seem to be juggernauts like OSU or Penn State.  Stanford beat Oregon last weekend, but was flirting with disaster before a huge turnover and touchdown completely changed the game and Stanford came roaring back.  Notre Dame was able to handle Michigan early on, but they seemed to struggle at home vs. Ball State and Vanderbilt.  Which teams will show up on Saturday night?  I think it is tough to say, but I do know that winning in South Bend at night will be a difficult chore for Stanford.  The last game at Notre Dame featuring top ten teams was very memorable, the “Bush Push“.  Hopefully this game can live up to the hype.

Predicting the winners of these games is very difficult, there are many factors involved.  I think it is especially difficult considering the players are not professionals.  Here is an article with predictions for each of the four big games this week.  While I can not really predict the outcomes of the games, I can certainly enjoy them.  I believe these games all have playoff implications and will go a long way in helping decide who is left standing at the end of the year.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

The Season is Coming to a Close!

The baseball regular season has roughly 2 weeks remaining and it will produce plenty of drama down to the wire.  Baseball is a marathon season that is full of ups and downs.  Many times you can predict the winners of a division, but you can also bet that there is always a surprise team.  A few months ago I wrote a mid-season article and not a lot has changed since it was written except for one surprise team!  I wanted to touch on the division races as well as the wildcard races.  Who will end up in the playoffs and who will be sent home?

Let’s take a look at the American League races.  In the AL East, the Boston Red Sox have ran away with the division and they are on their way to winning 110 games or more.  If they manage that feat, they will end up in pretty strong company.  They will join an elite group of teams and end up having one of the most wins for a season in history.  The Indians have a stranglehold on the AL Central.  They have had a nice season, but the division is not very good and they have been able to sleep walk through the regular season.  The AL West is very competitive this season.  The Astros are currently in the lead by 3.5 games and they should end up winning the division.  The team in second place currently is a surprise team, the Oakland A’s. Very few, if any, people would have predicted they have such a strong season.  The three division winners will await the winner of a one game playoff.  Barring something miraculous, the game will feature the A’s and the Yankees.  It is a very scary game as anything can happen in a one game play in scenario.

The National League is not quite as concrete as the AL.  It looks as if the NL East should be wrapped up by the Braves because the Phillies have really faded down the stretch.  The NL Central is not wrapped up at all, just ask the Cubs!  The Cubs have held the division for some time now, but the Brewers have been chipping away while the Cubs have struggled down the stretch.  The Cubs currently lead by 1.5 games over the Brewers.  You can also make an argument for the Cardinals.  They are in 3rd place, but they are within striking distance, being 4.5 games out of the lead. The NL West is also a 3 team race.  The Rockies have a 1.5 game lead on the Dodgers and a 4.5 game led on the Diamondbacks.  Sorting out the divisions will be dramatic enough, but remember that two of those teams will end up in a wildcard slot.  There are 4 teams with a legitimate chance of getting the wildcard, but only 2 slots!

As mentioned before, the season is an absolute grind.  There are always ups and down for every team.  The Yankees have a chance to win 100 games and many would have thought their season was a roller coaster ride.  The American League does not have that much drama compared to the National League.  You can see many of the scenarios in this fantastic article.  Normally with a season that is this long you do not feel the intensity of the game.  I think that will change starting this weekend and all through the playoffs.  I am not sure who will eventually win the races, but it sure will be fun watching!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

NFL Football is Just Around the Corner!

Last week I wrote about College Football getting started and this week it will be all about the NFL getting started!  The season officially starts next Thursday with the defending champion, Philadelphia Eagles, hosting the Falcons.  That is a great game to get the season started and the rest of the weekend is full of other great match ups.  I wanted to take a look at a few of them and some other games throughout the season that could end up being very important.  I also wanted to look at some of the players that could have great seasons possibly leading to MVP honors.  What rookies will make an impact for their teams?  What teams have the most talent “on paper”?  Finally, what teams should end up on top at the end of the season?

As mentioned before the Eagles open the season on Thursday.  On Sunday there are some great regional games with the Steelers playing the new look Browns.  New England is opeing with a tough game against the Texans.  The night game features the storied rivalry of the Bears vs. the Packers and we will finish on Monday with 2 more games.  One of the games will feature the Rams vs the Raiders.  Opening week should prove to be very entertaining. Thanksgiving day will bring us three divisional games that could decide the fate of some teams.  Christmas Eve we will be treated to a Broncos vs. Raiders divisional showdown.

When playing any sport, especially football, your health plays an extremely important role in your performance.  Aaron Rodgers is coming back healthy this year so he will have a leg up on being the MVP.  He is the best QB in the league and QB’s usually win MVP awards.  He also was recently paid very handsomely!  Check out this article to see what other players will have a say in the MVP race.  You will see many of the familiar names like Brady and Brees but there are a few new names on this list like Zeke Elliott and Deshaun Watson.  Some great defensive players that you could see on this list would be Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa.  Rookies also play an important role on teams.  Here are a few that should make their mark: Barkley, Chubb, Smith, and maybe even Sam Darnold!  I would like to think that a few guys named Luck, Watt, and Rodgers will come back strong this season after their injury woes from last year, so they will be competing for comeback player of the year honors.

One great thing about football is that almost every year a team makes a surprising run and ends up in the playoffs.  What teams can do that this year?  On paper, many of the usual suspects are predicted to finish the season strong. In the AFC, those teams are the Patriots and Steelers.  I think the rest of the playoff spots will be up for grabs.  A lot of things will need have to go a team’s way for them to end up on top.  I think the NFC is not as wide open.  There are some very strong teams like the Vikings, Falcons, Packers, Rams, and Saints.  One injury could derail a season and one rookie making an impact could propel a team to greatness.  I can’t even guess who will win it all, but Sports Illustrated thinks that the Falcons will.

The NFL is always entertaining for many reasons.  You can follow the traditionally strong teams and you can also bet that an upstart will join the teams at the top.  The league is full of great players that do phenomenal things.  The season is full of ups and downs and that can create plenty of excitement.  When you add up all of these ingredients you end up with one great season.   I can’t wait!

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

College Football is Almost Back!

Last season ended on January 8th with the Alabama Crimson Tide as the National Champion.  It seems as if that game was just played and we should not be thinking about another season starting so soon.  Well, the season starts in less than a week.  I have not followed much in the “offseason” and wanted to take a look at the teams favored to win it all and the players that will make a splash this season. I also wanted to take a look at some of the marquee games on opening weekend this year.

The season technically starts tomorrow, but there are only a handful of games being played and none by a team in a power conference.  The first ranked team to play will be UCF and that is in a primetime slot on Thursday night.  However, a Big Ten battle with Purdue and Northwestern will probably be the most watched game of the evening.  Friday will be a slow evening, but we will get to see Stanford play their first game.  On Saturday, the games will heat up and we will get to see FAU and Lane Kiffin take on Oklahoma.  The best game of the day will most likely be Washington vs. Auburn.  Both teams are ranked highly and an early win will help propel them to a higher rank.  Normally you would not have a Sunday or Monday game, but the NFL does not start until the following week so we get to be entertained with Miami vs. LSU on Sunday night with Va. Tech vs. FSU on Monday.  Anyone that has missed the sport will surely be able to get their fix with 5 days in a row of prime time games being played.

What players will be competing for the Heisman Trophy this year? Here is a pretty good list of players that have a shot at winning it.  Bryce Love from Stanford is first in line since he was the runner up last year.  He ran for over 2,000 yards last year but it would be really hard to beat that number this year.  Taylor from Wisconsin is another running back that has a shot to hit the 2,000 yard mark since he could be running behind the best line in the country.  Some other players will certainly enter this conversation as the season unfolds.  It usually helps the player if his team is in the running at the end of the year.  Just remember that the Heisman Trophy does not always go to the best player.  As you can see in this article, there are a ton of great players that won’t even be mentioned to win the trophy.

What two teams do you think are at the top of the Power Rankings? No surprise that it is Clemson and Alabama.  The Big Ten may have something to say about those top teams as they have Ohio St, Penn St, and Wisconsin that figure to be very strong.  Will the Urban Meyer Saga effect Ohio St?  Only time will tell.  The SEC will also have strong teams with Georgia and Auburn.  Michigan and Michigan State round out the Big Ten, but they can only have so many good teams.  Eventually they just beat each other up and their records won’t be good enough to get to the final four.  The Pac-12 has nice teams with Stanford, USC, and Washington. At some point a team not listed here will make a run and it will be fun to watch.

Before we know it the season is upon us.  I cant wait to see what teams will survive the gauntlet of the regular season and conference championship games to earn the right to be in the final four.  Last year was the first year for it and it was very entertaining.  Are your teams favored to make a run?  What players will produce enough during the season to get them in the Heisman conversation?  I know I can’t wait for it to all begin!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the baseball hall of fame and now it is time to write about the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  The enshrinement takes place in Canton, OH and the NFL preseason usually kicks off during that weekend as well with the annual Hall of Fame Game.  This year the game featured the Bears and the Ravens, which is fitting considering the players being enshrined.  This year the Hall inducted Brian Dawkins, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, and Jerry Kramer.  All of these people are very deserving and I wanted to take a look at their respective careers.  Also, does it surprise you that controversy surrounded T.O.?

Ray Lewis is probably the most accomplished member of this class.  He played for 17 seasons and was able to make 12 Pro Bowls.  We was a member of an all decade team.  He was able to win the Super Bowl twice while being the MVP of one of those games.  All 17 of his seasons were played for the Ravens and clearly he is at the top of the list of all time great Ravens.

Brian Urlacher played 13 seasons for the Chicago Bears and was an athletic marvel.  He was very unique because of his combination of speed and size.  He played in 8 pro bowls and was also a member of an all decade team.  He was a defensive rookie of the year and also a defensive player of the year.  Urlacher is joining all time great Chicago Bears like Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.  Did you notice he has hair now?

Brian Dawkins played for 16 seasons and made 9 pro bowls.  He played the majority of his career in Philly and finished the last three years in Denver.  He was a great player that was associated with plenty of winning teams.

The next two players are wide receivers and they have been known to be controversial throughout their career.  That really did not change during the enshrinement process. Randy Moss was a game changing special talent.  He scored over 150 touchdowns and had more than 15,000 receiving yards.  Both are awesome accomplishments.  He is taking heat for his tie at the enshrinement ceremony.  Terrell Owens is another WR that made the Hall this year.  Just like Moss, Owens was able to compile massive numbers during his career.  He has also been a controversial figure throughout this career with many different antics. He may have saved the most controversial act as his last by bucking the tradition of giving the enshrinement speech in Canton.  Owens gave his speech from his College, bypassing Canton altogether.

The last three members include two veterans committee choices in Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile.  Both players were very deserving and probably should not have had to wait this long.  The other selection was Bobby Beathard.  He is considered one of the best talent evaluators of all-time. His teams have won 4 Super Bowls over the years.

I am fortunate enough to have watched most of these players make their mark in the league, especially the 5 younger inductees.  They are all special players in their own right and certainly deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.  Some may not admit it, but it has to be very gratifying to be among this group.  Their hard work paid off and they reached the pinnacle of their profession!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

2018 Baseball Hall of Fame

On Sunday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will induct 6 more players to their fraternity.  Anyone that follows baseball knows that getting into the Hall of Fame is a great honor.  It could be argued that it the hardest Hall of Fame to get into of all the major sports.  However, that argument is for another day.  There are two players Alan Trammell and Jack Morris that were elected by the Modern Era Baseball Committee.  The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected four other players including Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome.  Let’s take a brief look at their careers and who has a chance to get elected next year.

Here is a great article that gives reasoning why each of these inductees should be in the Hall of Fame. I was able to see all of these players at some point of their careers and I wanted to share a few reasons that stick in my mind as to why they are deserving inductees.  Starting with Alan Trammell, he was the type of player that was more than capable but was never flashy.  He was just one of those guys that always seemed to get the job done. Trammell made it to the Majors at the age of 19, so clearly he had something special.  One statistic that I recently read about him puts him in elite company.  It is this: he was the first player to ever hit at least .340, 28 homers, 100 rbi while playing more than half of his games at SS.  It has only been done one other time and that was by A-Rod.  Jack Morris was a teammate of Alan Trammell and was also a modern era selection.  In looking at Morris’s raw statistics, many would not think he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.  Morris really made his case with postseason performances.  He won 2 games for the Tigers in 1984 in winning the World Series.  He also won 2 games for the Twins in winning the 1991 World Series.  Morris also quite possibly won the most famous game in World Series history, pitching a 10 inning shutout.

The next 4 guys earned over 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.  Chipper Jones is one of the best 3rd basemen to ever play the game.  He played a huge role for the Braves during their awesome streak of playoff appearances.  He was able to compile massive numbers in the process and was a no doubt first ballot selection.  Vlad Guerrero made it in on his 2nd try.  His numbers are great but many argue they are not great enough.  He retired earlier than most great players do, so his numbers were not so large.  I think it is pretty simple with Vladdy, when you watched him you knew he was special and a certain Hall of Famer.  Jim Thome was also a first ballot player.  He is more typical of the modern day players with plenty of homers, walks, and strikeouts.  Thome ended up with massive numbers and even though he was basically a DH the numbers are just too massive to overlook.  Trevor Hoffman was able to get into the Hall of Fame on the strength of one of the better change-ups in the history of the game.  He was able to compile over 600 saves.  Look at the consistency there! You would have to average 40 saves for 15 straight seasons to get there.  That is an awesome number that is certainly worthy of the Hall of Fame.

In my opinion, all of these players are more than deserving of the recognition they are receiving this weekend.  I personally was able to see all of them play and some of them are fixtures in some of my great baseball memories.  Who will get inducted next year?  Mariano Rivera will be a no doubt selection, but it will get cloudy after that.  Andy Pettitte has a shot as does the late Roy Halladay.  Before I get ahead of myself thinking of next year, I want to enjoy this year’s celebration of all-time greats!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

 

 

The All-Star Game!

The MLB All-Star game will take place on Tuesday in Washington DC.  MLB has really turned the All-Star break into quite the event.  Obviously the game is played, but you also have the always fun Home Run Derby on Monday.  On Sunday they play the futures game, which showcases the great young talent spread throughout the minor leagues.  I wanted to touch on the game itself along with the participants of the Home Run derby.  Who is the favorite to win the derby?  Who is playing in the futures game and how many will turn into future stars in the majors?

The Futures game will take place Sunday evening and it includes top prospects from all 30 Major League teams.  The format is pretty neat as the teams are split up as Team USA and Team World.  Here is a great article covering many of the prospects and their predicted arrival date in MLB will be.  Normally, I would spend most of the time discussing the Yankees prospects.  Unfortunately, I can’t really do that because only one is listed.  The article feels as if Justus Sheffield will be called up within the next month to help bolster the starting rotation.  Nothing like getting thrown into the fire!  I also noticed that names like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Bo Bichette are listed.  They sound familiar because they are children of former players. I also know that the Blue Jays have Vlad Guerrero Jr, the son of the great Vlad Guerrero.  It is not entirely foreign to see the children of players make it to the Majors, but here are three that seemingly have a chance to be great.

The Home Run Derby will be on Monday evening.  Here is a pretty neat article and graphic that will help you with the participants.  There are a few big time names in this list and a few names that you would not necessarily think should be in here.  The hometown favorite will be Bryce Harper.  He is having a down year, but he still has the potential to create alot of memories.  Another interesting name in the derby is Javy Baez.  He is very fun to watch and it would not surprise me if he put on a show.  Another Cub that is intriguing would be Kyle Schwarber.  He has a chance to be the guy that hits the 500 foot homers we all love to see.

The actual All-Star game will be played Tuesday evening.  The outcome of the game really does not matter anymore, but the game still has plenty of meaning to the fans.  Here are the rosters for each team. This article claims that the AL has plenty more high end stars. Not so fast though! The NL is winning interleague games so far this season, so who knows which league is better.  There are always players that get “snubbed” and here is a list with this years snubs.  Blake Snell was the hot name when it came to being snubbed but the article points out the rules of the voting and it makes the snub easier to understand.

So with all of that information, who will win the game?  To be honest, it does not really matter.  What I do know is that the All-Star break is great for your favorite team, allowing most of the players a well deserved break.  It showcases the great players around the league that we sometimes do not have a chance to regularly see play.  We also get to see mammoth homers in the Home Run Derby.  Who does not like watching great players hit homer after homer?  We also get to see the future of the game on Sunday evening with the Futures Game.  All of these events shine a bright light on the game and I will be watching!

—Victor Mandalawi