With two weeks in the books, NFL football is officially in full swing, and we can make some more meaningful judgements than after just a single game. Here’s what I noticed this week:
Seven long months without the joy of football are finally a thing of the past. Week 1 provided us fans with some much deserved good football. The NFL’s opening weekend had it all: underdogs pulling off big upsets, wild comebacks, and games that went down to the last play. It is unwise to jump to conclusions after only one week, but there are plenty of things to take away from the first week of football.
It’s been quite a week for both the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, though the two teams have seen very different results. The Mets, currently riding a five-game win streak that included a sweep of the Nats, are back in first place in the National League East for the first time since early June, despite the returns for the Nationals of injured starters Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Many factors allowed the Mets to sweep the Nats this weekend, including their fireballing young trio of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, the overall – and sudden – ineptitude of the Nats’ offense (see figure below, courtesy of ESPN, for an overview), the addition of two-time Home Run Derby champion and 4.2 WAR outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a suddenly-deep Mets lineup, and the magma-hot bat of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who had an incredible run that saw nine home runs hit in an eight-game span, and was awarded co-National League Player of the Week for his efforts.
According to the Sports Industry and Fitness Association, during 2008-2013, baseball participation rates declined by 2.3 million, or 14.5%. Similar data has been reported by Little League baseball, which claims that participation fell 6.8% from 2008-2012. These reports do not bode well for the future of America’s pastime or any other baseball-related business. In recent years, various theories have emerged for why kids are not grabbing their mitts and heading off to baseball diamonds. Currently, Major League Baseball is studying methods for speeding up the game to foster more quickly-paced games. However, there are a multitude of diverse, comprehensive reasons for baseball’s slide which are not being fully addressed.
Tuesday night, Knicks fans across America sighed (or screamed) at the same time, when it was announced their projected-2nd draft pick would actually be 4th – making them the only team in the lottery to actually lose ground. Missing out on the two consensus top-pick big men in Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor is a tough pill to swallow, especially when the Knicks won’t get their first choice of a consolation prize, but there is plenty of reason for looking up in New York this offseason.
Finally, we are just one day away from the NFL’s main offseason event. Fans’ hopes are as high as they get, speculations continue to swirl, and those that are fortunate enough to have tickets are preparing to let their boos be heard when Roger Goodell takes the stage. For this mock draft, we are assuming no trades are made, and each team makes their own pick.
Now that the NCAA season is over and the first round of the NBA playoffs has begun, most professional basketball fans are focused on the now rather than the future. However, plenty of GMs are spending their playoff time looking over film from this past college season, breaking down statistics and play styles to find their next potential franchise player. This year especially will feature one of the most interesting drafts in recent memory, with the Thunder receiving their first lottery pick since James Harden and the T-Wolves “earning” their 10th lottery pick in as many years.
When deciding who to pick, there are two popular stances to take: selecting a player based off of their performance at the previous level, or choosing someone with tremendous physical attributes that signal a promising “upside.” Admittedly, these aren’t the only factors teams take into consideration when drafting a top pick, but they’re the most observable traits to measure and analyze. Looking at the top rookies from the past three NBA seasons, what carries more weight: athletic traits or collegiate success?
Rivalry renewed? LeBron and the Celtics have had many a playoff run-in, including his last few games as a Cavalier (the first time). However, this time doesn’t feel quite the same, with Rondo, Allen, Pierce, and Garnett all gone. These new Celtics, though, are nothing to sneeze at, and will have a chip on their collective shoulder in an effort to spoil Cleveland’s renaissance season.
“If anybody else gets that award, we need to have an investigation.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers clearly thinks his center, DeAndre Jordan, is the favorite for defensive player of the year. Averaging ridiculous rebound and block totals, Jordan has a good shot, but is far from the favorite, as other candidates – both at the rim and on the perimeter – have (probably more) compelling cases. Doc, consider this the investigation.
The Internet was set ablaze last night when news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills agreed in principle on a trade that would send the 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy to Buffalo in exchange for 2013’s third leading tackler Kiko Alonso. Many were shocked to see the Eagles part ways with their most productive player on offense, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards four out of the last five seasons, for a linebacker coming off an ACL tear. Before writing this trade off as a complete disaster for the Eagles, let’s take a look at the evidence.