Baseball is in full swing, the NBA and NHL crown champions and the NFL prepares for another great year. Let’s take a look around to see what’s going on the world of sports at the halfway point of 2016!
Though it’s still early in the Major League Baseball season, it looks like Theo Epstein might soon be called “The Curse Buster.” (Sounds like a character on Game of Thrones, huh!) After bringing 2 World Championships to the Boston Red Sox, including the first one in 2004 that ended the 86-year “Curse of the Bambino,” Epstein now holds court in Chicago as leader of the lovable, loser Cubs. The Chicago Cubs, owner of the “Curse of the Billy Goat”, haven’t won a World Championship since 1908. That’s now 108 years! But these aren’t your grandfather’s Chicago Cubs today. They are led by one of the best managers in baseball, Joe Maddon, who is known as a player’s coach and does a lot of “out of the box” things like a DJ in the locker room to keep his players loose. They arguably have the best pitcher in baseball in Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has been THE pre-eminent shut down pitcher since the middle of last season. In fact, over his last 29 starts his record is 24-1 with a 0.98 ERA. Has there been a more dominant pitcher like this in the history of the game? The Cubbies also have veteran starters Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jason Hammel while boasting young hitting talent like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant to go along with Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. If the team is still in first place by the time the Bears season rolls around in September, it’ll be ALL Cubs, ALL the time on TV.
As of this writing, the defending NBA Champions Golden State Warriors are in a battle for their playoff lives against the Oklahoma City Thunder. When you read this the NBA Finals will be in full throttle. But for the sake of the Warriors spending all of that extra energy breaking the Chicago Bulls 70-12, they better be in the Finals. To me, breaking the Bulls record and NOT winning their second consecutive title merits an asterisk next to the record. With the Thunder playing the way they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them there and exacting revenge on LeBron James, who beat Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and team while playing for the Miami Heat.
Is it me or does the entire New York metropolitan area tune out the NHL once all of the local teams are out of the playoffs?
In the WHY???!!!??? Department, the New York Knicks have hired former NBA player and Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek to be their new head coach. This is really a head scratcher folks. Hornacek was an OK first time head coach in Phoenix who ran an up-tempo offense there. He does NOT run the triangle which is supposed to be the pre-requisite for boss Phil Jackson. Plus the team, at this point in time does not have the players to run Hornacek’s offense. It seems to me that wholesale changes are coming up to and including Jackson heading back home to LA.
Are you ready for another summer of endless Deflategate stories? With Tom Brady suspended once again and his legal team (along with the NFLPA) probably up to the Supreme Court, this story seems to go on forever. This has always been a personal vendetta for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and if in the latest set of appeals Brady wins again, will he just let it die?
Last thoughts on the local team’s NFL Draft. The New York Giants reached a bit on first round pick Eli Apple (great name for this area though!) who they could’ve dropped back and added an extra draft pick. He might still be a great player but the value wasn’t there. I loved the New York Jets first round pick Darron Lee for the Giants at number ten so know I get to see do great things on the opposite time slot most Sundays. I do LOVE the Giants’ second round pick WR Sterling Sheppard who should be fun to watch every week with ODB!
Bobby is the President of the I-95 Sports & Entertainment Network (www.i95sports.net) based here in Northern New Jersey. Interact with Bobby on Twitter: @bobbyblackjack or @i95sportsnet Follow him!!!!