July Sports Report
July is a tricky month when it comes to the sporting world. While it’s probably the most popular month of the year with school just being let out and summer vacations, July is a very slow month in the world of sports. Aside of baseball, the only other event to look forward to is the ESPY Awards. But, football is just around the corner so hang in there!
Congrats to the Cleveland Cavaliers and their captain, LeBron James on winning the NBA Championship! I’m sure you will have heard of this by now but the City of Cleveland has not won a title in 52 years until this one and it was the longest drought of any city in regards to world championships. That emotion you saw on LeBron’s face was real as he is from nearby Akron and returned to the city just for this reason. They also became the first NBA team to win the championship after being down in the series 3-1. What happened to the reigning champions from Golden State? Well, it was apparent the Cavs suddenly became more physical on both sides of the ball. They ratcheted up their defense and made it very difficult for the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to hit 3 point shots. From a local standpoint, the Cavaliers had 4 Jersey-bred players on their roster including coming-of-age stud point guard Kyrie Irving. Funny, when the Cavs were down 3-1, rumors started flying around that the New York Knicks were considering a trade that would’ve sent star Carmelo Anthony to the Cavs in a three team trade. By doing this, it would become apparent that the Knicks would then build around rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis. Now that the Cavs came back to win, I’m not sure if this trade is still in play. Too bad because the Knicks need to rid themselves of Carmelo and develop Porzingis with other young players in new head coach Jeff Hornacek’s system.
The end of July is also the end of the MLB trade deadline where a player doesn’t have to go through waivers in order to be traded. While a player can still be had after July 31st, it becomes more difficult because they must clear waivers first. What will the New York Yankees do? Buyers or sellers? The team, once against beset with numerous injuries, can barely get themselves to the .500 mark. They get there and maybe a game or two over, then they lose a bunch in a row to fall back under. The problem is that they have assets that can be a) useful to other teams who want to make a run to the playoffs and b) can bring back significant prospects or young talent to go with the studs waiting in their farm system. As of this writing, the Yanks find themselves 6 games back of the division-leading Baltimore Orioles and 4 games back from being a wildcard team. There is still plenty of baseball to be played and I can see making a push for the playoffs with their dominant bullpen. With the bullpen, getting some starters back and the back-end of their starting rotation pitching well, anything can happen in October. But they could also lose out on a great jumpstart to the next “phase” of their franchise by not shedding talent like Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and even catcher Brian McCann. These players could bring in top prospects and young major league talent that would accelarate the team to being contenders once again. Tough call for GM Brian Cashman to say the least!
Speaking of CC Sabathia, what a turn around in his pitching perfromances lately! With a ton of milage on that left arm, Sabathia is turning into more of a finesse pitcher by locating his pitches rather then blowing them by batters. So far this season, he has a 5-4 record with a 2.20 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 65 innings. He has entered into the conversation for AL Comeback Player of the Year and, as mentioned above, a potential trade piece. Considering how the end of last season ended with Sabathia cutting his season short to enter alcohol rehabilitation, it’s great to see him back on top again!
Bobby Guarente is the President of the I-95 Sports & Entertainment Network (www.i95sports.net). Follow him on Twitter: @i95sportsnet and @bobbyblackjack