Monthly Archives: September 2017

MLB PLAYOFF PREVIEW COMING THIS SUNDAY 

Being that this is the last week of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, I’m going to switch things up a bit.

I will not be publishing a baseball blog this Wednesday.  This coming Sunday,  post-season baseball takes center stage as I preview the Wild Card matchups and the Division Series’. Football will return next Sunday October 8th.

See you on Sunday!

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IT WAS A CRAZY FOOTBALL SUNDAY

I spent this past weekend deep in enemy territory relating to the Dolphins-Jets rivalry.   Actually, my family and I were visiting with my parents and brothers and their families in New Jersey.  I spent much of the early part yesterday’s NFL schedule at my brother’s home in Bloomfield, New Jersey which is in earshot of Met Life Stadium.

OK, so I may have come off a little dramatic with this opening since my brother and nephew are actually Giants fans.  Part of the mystique that is the rivalry between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets is that it is something of a family squabble. Almost everyone in the New York area knows, or is related to, someone in South Florida, and vice-versa.

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The heated rivalry between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets is the NFL’s version of a family squabble.

 

I will spare everyone of my opinion regarding the National Anthem, although the undertone throughout yesterday’s schedule stemmed from President Trump’s remarks on Friday night.  Some say it presented a distraction to some players yesterday, whether or not that is the case it made for an epic Sunday.

The weekend actually began with a shootout between another set of rivals.  With the Rams returning to Los Angeles last year, the battle of California and the NFC West was reborn.  The Rams and 49ers played a dramatic game on Thursday night that was a failed two point conversion away from a 41-41 score headed for overtime.  The Rams 41-39 victory in the Bay Area was just the beginning.

 

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The re-relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles has re-ignited the Rams-49ers rivalry.

 

While my family was visiting in the shadows of Met Life Stadium, my brother and sister-in-law invited my family and parents for lunch yesterday.  The 1:00 games made for some interesting lunch table conversation.

First and foremost on the minds of myself, my wife, and my daughter, was the events taking place inside Met Life Stadium.  As we passed the stadium along New Jersey’s Route 3, we were following the events on our cell phones.  In the time it took to get basically from one side of the Meadowlands Sports Complex to the other, the Jets had taken a 17-0 lead.  The Dolphins would never recover.

The game between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions ended on a controversial call.

 

Our family has represented the likes of the Giants, Jets and Dolphins for years.  My dad is a fan of both teams, but primarily gravitated to Gang Green.  My older brother, who hosted yesterday’ proceedings, and my nephew are Giants fans.  As for myself and my family the Dolphins are king and the Giants are the prince.  Last year, when we welcomed our son-in-law to our family, the Detroit Lions entered the mix.  Matt was raised in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan, and has Lions blue in his veins.

While the Jets were beating up on the Dolphins, the conversation at the lunch table turned to the Giants battle with the Eagles in Philadelphia, and the Lions-Falcons game in Detroit.  The Lions seemingly had the go-ahead touchdown when Matthew Stafford completed a pass to Golden Tate.  The football appeared to break the plane of the end zone, but upon further review the touchdown was overturned.  The ending to the Lions game was the topic of conversation well into our flight back to Fort Lauderdale.  Matt’s father didn’t even want to discuss the turn of events that cost Detroit a win.

Then there was the Giants, oh boy, the Giants.  This one I witnessed for myself while watching on the TV in the kitchen.  Total mismanagement of the final two minutes and two time outs ended the latest Big Blue debacle.  Why were they running when they should be doing out-patterns?  Why did 20 seconds run off the clock without a timeout being called?  Why wasn’t a time out called at all???    The agonizing end of the game culminated with a Jake Elliott 61 yard field goal.  It was a meltdown almost of Joe Pisarcik proportions.

The day culminated with an interesting scene inside Terminal A at Newark Airport.  It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wearing Dolphins colors.  In fact, there were more travelers wearing Dolphins gear than Jets and Giants jerseys.  While I was waiting on-line to sit down at a restaurant while waiting to board my flight, I felt a strong pat on the back.  It was a random Jets fan who said something to the effect of “Bad game for you guys.”  I countered by saying, enjoy it, it could be your only win this year!

It all returns to the family squabble that is the Jets and Dolphins.

THE FALL SPRINT IS IN FULL SWING

It’s been three weeks since we last talked baseball.  Part 2 of a football preview and Hurricane Irma put America’s pastime on the back burner.  Miss three weeks, you miss a lot!

Since we last talked baseball, the Indians won 22 in a row, and the Dodgers lost 11 straight.  The Dodgers have cooled off for the first time since June and have gone 5-16 since my last baseball blog.

 

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The Cleveland Indians set a modern-day record with a 22 game winning streak.

 

Since we last spoke, the Indians have clinched the American League Central, the Astros rebounded from Hurricane Harvey and clinched the American League West.  The Washington Nationals sewed up the National League East, and those Dodgers, despite their recent skid have nailed down a playoff spot.  The Dodgers magic number now stands at one.  They have failed in two attempts this week to clinch the National League West.

The American League East race could add yet another chapter in the fabled Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.  As of this writing, Boston leads the Yankees by 2 1/2 games.  The Sox still have eleven games to play,  New York has ten contests remaining.  They have already concluded their season series.  The Yankees  hold a comfortable seven game cushion in the American League Wild Card race.

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The Yankees and Red Sox are looking at another epic battle for the American League Eastern Division Championship.

 

About that American League Wild Card race, the Yankees (or Red Sox) will win the fist Wild Card, past that it remains a free for all!  As of this writing, the Minnesota Twins are clinging to a one game lead over the Angels.  A total of FOUR games seperate those Angels and the Baltimore Orioles.  The  Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays stand in between the Angels and O’s.  As the late voice of the New York Mets, Bob Murphy used to say “fasten your seat belts!”

The Milwaukee Brewers refuse to fold.  The Brew Crew has been hanging around both the National League Central and National League Wild Card races all year.  With eleven games remaining, Milwaukee trails the defending World Champions Cubs by 3 1/2 games in the Central race.  The Brewers are also 1 game behind the equally surprising Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot.  The Arizona Diamondbacks consistent lead in the NL Wild Card race was also unexpected.

 

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The Milwaukee Brewers are still hanging around in the National League playoff hunt.

 

So here we are on September 20th with 3 divisions still undecided, a number of possibilities in the American League Wild Card chase, and a playoff appearance from two of three surprise teams in the National League.

Oh, and Giancarlo Stanton is now sitting on 56 home runs.

I will be back next Wednesday, barring any natural disasters.  It should be an interesting week in the 2017 pennant chase.

THE OPENING FOOTBALL SUNDAY THAT WASN’T

I would like to begin today’s blog by letting everyone know that me and my family have come through Hurricane Irma just fine.  We never lost power in our suburban Ft. Lauderdale home, although my daughter and her family were without electricity until this past Thursday night.  They stayed in our home until power was restored.

Irma must not have been a football fan.  Not that there is ever a convenient time for a major tropical cyclone to hit anybody, but this lady couldn’t have had any worse timing! The gall of a super force of nature to strike on NFL’s opening Sunday!

 

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Hard Rock Stadium in Miami , where the  Dolphins were supposed to open the 2017 season against their cross state rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday.

 

The 2017 NFL season was supposed to begin at Hard Rock Stadium, with the Miami Dolphins playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  As the storm approached, the decision was made to move the game, so much for a home opener in South Florida.  Rumors began circulating about where and when the game would be played.  Atlanta and New Orleans kept being mentioned as possible neutral sites.  The Bucs and Dolphins do share a bye week, but the NFL originally balked at the prospect of both teams playing 16 consecutive weeks.  The problem with moving it to a neutral site was the fact that the Dolphins already are playing a home game against New Orleans in London.  This would mean the Dolphins would only be home in Miami six times and would play all four NFC South opponents away from Hard Rock Stadium.  The game was moved to November 19th despite the prospect of playing without a bye.

Hurricane Irma started to take aim at the entire state of Florida on Friday night.  It spent most of Saturday hugging the northern coast of Cuba and hurling its feeder bands towards South Florida.  The thick of the storm approached the Keys during the night Saturday into Sunday.  Many lost power here in South Florida as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning.  At my house we were very lucky, we never lost power, but we lost our access to TV and internet around 4:00 Sunday morning.  That created a football fan’s nightmare!  We didn’t get TV or internet back until Tuesday evening.

Not only were the Dolphins not opening at home, they weren’t playing at all.  Not only were the Dolphins not playing but most of the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach were now cut off from the rest of the football world!  Having my Michigan raised son-in-law Matt staying with us , we were focusing on whatever news we could get via the ESPN app on my cell phone regarding the Lions opener vs. the Cardinals.  Matt was in contact with his dad and brothers in Michigan who were actually able to relay the proceedings at Ford Field to us.

 

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Just one of many damaged structures in Cudjoe Key, where Irma made landfall on Sunday.

 

Yes, last Sunday was the football opener that never happened for most of the state of Florida, but there are more important things than football.  So many awful stories, the devastation in the Florida Keys was painful to watch.  Saturday and Sunday were very scary on a personal level, we spent what seemed to be countless hours watching tree limbs fly past our living room window.  We spent what seemed to be an eternity listening to wind gust after wind gust.  Thank God we were only inconvenienced by no access to NFL’s opening Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins will be part of a bit of history as they open their 2017 season this afternoon.  The now Los Angeles Chargers play their first home game outside of San Diego as a member of the NFL when they host Miami.  The Chargers  played the 1960 American Football League season in Los Angeles and left for San Diego the following season.

Finally, today’s opener will be a tough one for me and my family.  It will be the first one without my son, Justin.  As many of you know, he passed away this past February.  Every Sunday morning during football season, we would discuss the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL.  This year just wont be the same.  The past couple of years, Justin wore a Ryan Tannehill jersey on gamedays, it will be my honor to carry on his tradition this season.   I always had a tradition of my own.  I would wear team t-shirts and jerseys on gameday  throughout the year, but if Miami lost a game, I would wear a different shirt the following week and so on.  This year, win or lose I will be donning the number 17 aqua jersey for Justin.

Justin’s remembrance went beyond football this weekend. My daughter Megan is a thriving member of the Crossfit community here in Broward County.  Yesterday  morning, Crossfit LPF, Megan’s home gym conducted a memorial workout of the day (known as a WOD in Crossfit jargon) to remember Justin and bring awareness to the suicide epidemic that seems to be hitting today’s young adults.  Robin, myself, and our granddaughter Madeline were all in attendance. Donning Justin’s jersey today will cap off a memorable, yet difficult, opening weekend.

I dedicate today’s blog, the NFL season, and the Miami Dolphins season to Justin’s memory, mental disease awareness and suicide awareness.  Any lives that can be spared would be a victory.

 

 

NOTICE TO MY READERS 

Due to technical difficulties created by Hurricane Irma hitting South Florida,  my blog will be on hiatus. 

Myself and my family all made it through the storm without any major damage or difficulty. Unfortunately I am currently without wifi and I’m publishing this message from my cell phone. 

Hopefully I will resume next week.

NFL PREVIEW PART 2-THE NFC

Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to tell my fellow Floridians and everyone else in the path of Hurricane Irma to please follow any directions given by local authorities.  Please make sure you have plenty of water and supplies on hand. Good luck to everyone who is  riding out this storm. Please take this storm seriously!  I pray we all stay safe!

When last I left you, we had previewed the American Football Conference, tonight we look at the National Football Conference.

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Will Dak Prescott continue his success after an amazing rookie campaign?

Let’s begin in the east.  Last year there was a changing of the guard in Dallas.  Rookie Dak Prescott took over the reins from future hall of famer Tony Romo.  Prescott, along with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott shocked the NFL with a 13-3 record.  Will these wonder rookies carry their success into their sophomore year?  Elliott will play in the Cowboys opener on Sunday and then begin a six game suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident.

Meanwhile, the New York Giants have added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham, Jr. in Eli Manning’s arsenal of targets.  The Cowboys and Giants should be a touch and go battle beginning with their tilt on Sunday night.

The Northern Division could turnout to be a crap-shoot.  With the exception of the 3-13 Chicago Bears the “Black and Blue Division” was separated by a total of  2 games last year. Will Matthew Stafford’s record contract extension motivate him to lead the Detroit Lions to a division title?  Will Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers repeat as champs?  Can the Minnesota Vikings become the first team to play a Super Bowl at home?  Lots of questions in an interesting division.

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Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

 

In the Southern Division, the big question to this writer surrounds the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.  Will the second half implosion in last year’s Super Bowl result in a hangover?  Can Matt Ryan and Julio Jones reprise the magical seasons that they both had in 2016?

 

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Can Adrian Peterson revive the New Orleans Saints?

The New Orleans Saints signed future hall of famer Adrian Peterson during the off-season.  Can Peterson and Drew Brees revive the Saints and make them a playoff team again?  Speaking of Super Bowl hangovers, will the Carolina Panthers return to their dominant form from 2015?  Finally, due to Hurricane Irma, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opener in Miami has been moved to their bye week in November.  Will the Bucs run out of gas playing 16 games without a break?

The Western Division has a top tier and a bottom tier.  Will Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson lead the Seattle Seahawks to another division title?  Will Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals unseed them?  Who will hit a harder bottom, the Los Angeles Rams or the San Francisco 49ers?

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Can Richard Sherman lead the Seattle Seahawks defense to another division title?

 

So now it’s prediction time.

Eastern Division:

  1. NY Giants       12-4
  2. Dallas              12-4
  3. Philadelphia    7-9
  4. Washington    4–12

Northern Division:

  1. Green Bay    10-6
  2. Minnesota     9-7
  3. Detroit           9-7
  4. Chicago        4-12

Southern Division:

  1. Atlanta           11-5
  2. Carolina          9-7
  3. Tampa Bay     8-8
  4. New Orleans  5-11

Western Division:

  1. Seattle              11-5
  2. Arizona            10-6
  3. LA Rams          5-11
  4. San Francisco 2-14

Wild Card winners Dallas and Arizona

NFC Championship  Green Bay over Seattle

Super Bowl  Green Bay over New England

Yes, Aaron Rogers will defeat Brady & Company in Minnesota this February!

 

Program note.  I will be on hiatus this weekend.  Originally it was for a little R&R, but a lady named Irma had other ideas.  I will be surrounded by friends and family as we ride out this hurricane over the weekend.  I am hoping all will be well for me to resume Wednesday Night Baseball after the storm.  I will try to keep you, my readers, posted.

 

NFL PREVIEW-PART 1, THE AFC

Labor Day weekend is upon us!  Baseball teams have raised their rosters to 40 men, the fashion world tells us not to wear white anymore, and the summer is about to unofficially end.  That can mean only one thing….IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON!

Football began for real this weekend with a full slate of college games.  This coming Thursday night the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open the NFL season by hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots will open the NFL season on Thursday night.
This morning’s article will be the first of two parts.  I will give you my take on the American Football Conference today, on Wednesday night it’ll be the National Football Conference’s turn.

Let’s begin in the East.  Will the New England Patriots win this division for a ninth straight time?  The last team other than the Patriots to finish first in the AFC East was the Miami Dolphins in 2008.  That broke a five-year New England winning streak.

If anyone is going to interrupt the Patriots current domination of this division it could be a revamped Miami Dolphins.  Ryan Tannehill’s season ending injury might actually open the door for new blood running Miami’s offense.  The last time Jay Cutler teamed up with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphin’s fill-in starter had a career year.  Jay Ajayi proved last year that he could be the best runner on South Beach since Ricky Williams.  Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and a healthy Devante Parker will provide explosive targets for Cutler.

New England’s loss of Julian Edelman for the season might not slow Tom Brady and company down.  The Patriots seem to reinvent themselves when the injury bug strikes.  Last year the Pats shook off Rob Gronkowski’s injury riddled season to win the Super Bowl.  Yesterday New England acquired Phillip Dorsett from the Indianapolis Colts to fill in for Edelman.

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Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the class of the AFC North.

 

In the Northern Division, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the odds-on favorites.  Will Ben Roethlisberger remain healthy this year?  Will featured back Le’Veon Bell continue to be one of the best runners in football?  If the Steelers can stay healthy it looks like this division is theirs to win.  The Ravens and Bengals seem to be a step behind Pittsburgh.  The Cleveland Browns could be flirting with a winless season.

The Southern Division could be the most interesting in the conference.  Can the Tennessee Titans pull off a division championship in a rather weak division?  Could the combination of Marcus Mariotta and Demarco Murray be enough to lead the charge in the South?

 

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Can J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans finish a Cinderella story in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey?

 

A storybook finish would favor the defending division champion Texans.  J.J. Watt has been in the news lately, because of the $13 million that he has raised for his neighbors in Houston as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  A Texans division championship would be an unbelievable ending to a season that is beginning amid a natural disaster.

Last time we saw the teams in the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders fan base watched their dream season go up in smoke when quarterback Derek Carr suffered an ankle injury. Carr showed up at camp completely healthy and ready to lead the Raiders to a division title  The Raiders were in the news during the off-season with two major stories.

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Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

 

Marshawn Lynch has come out of retirement to join the Raiders.  The Raiders also announced during the off-season they will move to Las Vegas in 2020.  Will the Raiders leave the Bay Area as Super Bowl Champions down the road?  This team is by far the class of the AFC West.  The Kansas City Chiefs have a shot at making the post-season as a wild card winner.

So here are my AFC predictions for 2017:

Eastern Division:

  1. New England    13-3
  2. Miami                10-6
  3. Buffalo               6-10
  4. NY Jets               2-14

Northern Division:

  1. Pittsburgh     11-5
  2. Baltimore        9-7
  3. Cincinnati       7-9
  4. Cleveland       1-15

Southern Division:

  1. Tennessee       10-6
  2. Houston            9-7
  3. Indianapolis   6-10
  4. Jacksonville    4-12

Western Division:

  1. Oakland         12-4
  2. Kansas City   10-6
  3. Denver           5-11
  4. LA Chargers  3-13

 

Wild Card winners:  Miami, Kansas City

Conference Championship: Oakland vs. New England

Conference Champion: New England

 

So, there you have it, do you agree??? Any thoughts???? On Wednesday night I tackle the NFC.

A program note, as a result of this double blog to kickoff the NFL season, Wednesday Night Baseball will not publish this week.  Additionally, I will be on hiatus next weekend to spend time with friends and family.  See you Wednesday!