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

 

 

 

Browns Win!

Normally, I would not really get too worked up over a football game in week three.  Especially when the winning team is not your favorite team.  However, the losing football team is my favorite so I was watching the game closely.  I wanted to briefly touch on the game from the Jets side, but mainly wanted to discuss the Browns getting a win for the first time in a long time.  We can also talk about the Browns having a rookie quarterback that came in and led them to a win. What does the future hold for these two teams?

The Jets won their first game of the year in convincing style, they lost their second game in a tough battle, and they just lost their third game to the Browns.  In fairness, this was a tough game for the Jets.  They were expected to travel into a hostile environment on a short week and win with a rookie quarterback.  That was a task that proved to be too tough for Sam Darnold!  Sam Darnold seems to be the type of quarterback that will end up making a difference for his team.  The question is, when will the Jets be good again?  Let’s check back in a few years.

As mentioned before, the Browns got their first victory in 635 days last night.  That’s right, 635 days!  That is a long time between wins, but the Browns fanbase was able to make up for the lack of wins with a great celebration.  Bud Light had a genius promotion by placing locked refrigerators around the city.  The premise was that when the Browns finally got a win, the refrigerators would be opened and the fans would get a free beer.

The Browns started the season by taking the Steelers into overtime and eventually tying them in a tough game.  In the second game at New Orleans, the Browns were in control until very late when Drew Brees led the Saints to a late win.  The Browns had plenty of chances to win, but suffered a few special teams issues that eventually cost them the game.  The Browns were thoroughly outplayed in the first half of the game against the Jets.  However, their starting QB, Tyrod Taylor was pulled with a concussion.  This meant that their number 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, was called into duty.  He led the Browns right down the field for a field goal.  Things continued to be bright for Mayfield as he led the Browns on 3 more scoring drives with the final one around the 2 minute mark being enough to win the game.  It looks like Mayfield will end up being named the starter next week.  I think Mayfield has enough talent to stay on the field the rest of the season and that should help the Browns get a few more wins this season.

Baker Mayfield seems to be a real talent and he may end up leading the Browns out of the gutter.  However, I believe this year’s version of the Browns is different.  They have plenty more talent and certainly seem to be headed in the right direction.  They would have earned a couple of wins this year even without Mayfield at QB.  They could be sitting at 3-0 if they would have made a few kicks in other games.  Is it out of the question that the Browns end up in the playoffs this year?  Can you imagine that story, winless last year and in the playoffs the next?  I know I will be watching, how about you?

—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

 

 

The LeBron Saga Continues!

There is no denying LeBron James is on the list of greatest basketball players of all time.  Where he is on the list is debatable.  He may end up as the greatest of all time and he may just enter the top ten and that will have to be enough.  His statistics will end up placing him near the top of the argument, but sometimes people use winning as part of the argument. This article has him listed as the 2nd best and his career is not over.  What if people talk more about LeBron leaving his team for another so frequently?  Would it hurt his legacy any?  Let’s take a look at what might be in store for LeBron next stint.

Unless you are living in a cave, you most likely know that LeBron is now a member of the storied Los Angeles Lakers.  What does that mean to the other teams in the NBA?  The team most effected would be the Cavs.  Here is a nice article talking about a plan B for the Cavs.  The oddsmakers changes were very dramatic.  Clearly, they do not think much of the team without LeBron and that makes sense.  However, I do not think they will be that bad.  I think they will struggle at first and then they will find a groove and end up being decent with a shot of making the playoffs.

What does LeBron being a Laker mean?  The first thing is will he be a bigger presence for the franchise than the legend, Magic Johnson?  Will LeBron try to run the team as he reportedly did in Cleveland?  I do not see LeBron being able to bully Magic.  Will he be able to push around Luke Walton, his young coach?  I do not think it will be the same as Cleveland and Miami, but I would not be shocked if that is what happened.  First, let’s mention that the Lakers are now a playoff team with the arrival of James.  Is the team good enough to compete for a title? I do not think so.  The supporting cast is actually pretty decent, but they are not named Durant, Curry, Thompson, Cousins, and Green.  The Lakers did sign a few decent players to one year deals.  I think they will be competitive this year, but they are also building for the future.  They will have a ton of cap room for players next summer(Leonard?) and their young players will have another year of seasoning under their belts.  There are plenty of questions this move brings and here is a nice article covering it.

Can LeBron end up as an all time Laker great?  I do not see it being possible because he only has 3-5 years left in the tank.  If he managed to win a couple of titles in that span it is possible, but I do not think that will happen because of the gauntlet known as the Western Conference. The bigger thing to me is I wonder if LeBron is tarnishing his legacy by moving around so many times?  I personally think he is.  He will end up in LA for 4 years, Miami for 4 years, and will end up with 11 seasons as a Cav.  I typically see the all time greats and also associate them with their team.  Clearly, LeBron will always be a Cav in the eyes of most, but it does hurt him a little.

LeBron could end up being the greatest of all time and he certainly is in the discussion.  He has won plenty of games and has been in countless Finals Series.  He will end up leaving a massive legacy but how will he be viewed?  He may be viewed as a trailblazer, changing teams is well within his right as a free agent.  Many players fought for those rights and he is exercising the option to do so.  He may also be viewed as a mercenary of sorts.  Changing teams when it is best for him.  I am not sure the story is complete as he has a few more great years left in the tank and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him in LA!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

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