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Predictions

WWE Battleground 2014 Preview

There was only one PPV big enough to get me to come back and write another column. And that PPV is WWE Battleground.
 
I’m just kidding, I’m on summer vacation and really, really bored. Free advice to all my Cena fans out there¬†(people 12 and under), go into the public education field. You get summers off, just do something productive with your time unlike me who has pretty much just been taste testing different brands of salsa. Back to wrestling, I’ve fallen victim to the post Wrestlemania lull. Yes, I’m still watching RAW, but the whole Daniel Bryan situation has gotten me pretty down as a fan. Hopefully Battleground will be a good show and the WWE will have some strong momentum going into Summerslam. On to the preview.… Read more...

We’re back everyone! A hastily-written 2012-13 NHL season preview

So, not so surprisingly, I’ve been somewhat quiet around these parts and though I’d rather not go into it, there was a really good reason why. That said, on Saturday at long last the puck will be dropping on the 2012-13 NHL season and there is just a ton of stuff to get excited about, to say nothing of the premier matchups (Chicago-Los Angeles, Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, New York-Boston) that we get on opening day alone.

However, given the consequences of the NHL’s work stoppage, rather than the full 82-course serving of a standard NHL season, we’ll be seeing a slap-dash truncated 48-game menu this time around. What’s even more wild is that the 48 games each team plays will be played entirely within a span of 99 days, which means less of a developed and cohesive performance all around and more of a frenetic breakneck scramble to make the postseason, which will be played out in full.

If anyone remembers last season’s 66-game NBA slate in which it seemed like the Knicks were playing about five times per week, this will be something like that. No one is entirely sure how different teams will respond to it, and as a result of the condensed schedule certain teams one might have expected to be title contenders (the Rangers, Detroit) might fall victim to exhaustion due to age or an aggressive style of play while teams not quite ready to make the jump (Edmonton, Florida) could take advantage because of their relative youth in the shortened schedule.

The important thing to understand, however, is that with only one other example of this situation to fall back on, no one is really sure how this will shake out, though if it ends the same way, I won’t really be complaining. Either way, it’s going to be kind of hard to predict who to bet on in the horse race, but because we need to fill these column inches, here is who might be Secretariat, and who might be Zippy Chippy.… Read more...

MLB: Bold and/or Reckless Predictions

MLB Opening Day is the best day of the year. The Fourth of July, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all have nothing on Opening Day. On the first day of the season, every baseball city in America has a legitimate chance to set course on a path towards the World Series (well everyone except those who root for the Cubs). Look at the champions over the last 10 years in the MLB and tell me if you would’ve correctly predicted: St. Louis, San Francisco, NY Yankees, Philly, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago White Sox, Boston, Florida, Anaheim, Arizona. Barring the normal Yankee dominance and a stint in their time as a ‘roided up Red Sox team, all those teams listed were not expected to win the whole thing on the first day of the season.

As a kid, I waited nervously for opening day. I checked spring training box scores and standings each morning in the LA Times. Now, as an adult (albeit a fairly irresponsible one), I feverishly read everything on the Internet about the upcoming summer of lazy days and double plays.
Everyone who knows anything about baseball can tell you the Dodgers are going to be a shitty team this year. We have the worst infield in the League and we still haven’t ensured that Frank McCourt is going to be out of lives forever (seriously, he still owns the parking lot/land in joint venture with Magic). So even though KOBEshigawa went through the trouble of doing a full season preview on the boys in the blue, I don’t see the point in guessing exactly how many players on our starting 9 will be hitting under .250. Instead, I would like to spend my time here with thegreatmambino making reckless predictions about the upcoming season that you will not get anywhere else…
Prediction 1: The Marlins AND the Pirates will WIN a playoff series
The Miami Marlins have been making a name for themselves this offseason. They no longer have to play in their cavernous hole of a stadium, and somehow they landed the craziest manager in baseball. Add that to a lineup that now has speedy (yet fragile) Jose Reyes, a rotation that boasts Josh Johnson (not crazy), Mark Buerhle (kinda redneck crazy), and Carlos Zambrano (batshit crazy), and you have a recipe for dominance. Granted, success in Miami will only come if this witches brew of talent can gel, but with the powerhouses in the East set to have down years (looking at you Braves and Phillies), a hot Ozzie-led squad will eek out a playoff series win this fall.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are finally going to do it this year. I live with a die-hard fan of the losingest team in baseball over the last 25 years and he has assured me that this season is the one! With the expanded playoffs and a Central that no longer has a Pujols or a Prince, the Pirates will finally put it all together and make it into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The playoff series they win… that first game to get into their series with Miami.
Prediction 2: This is the last season without a DH in the NL

The MLB has been run by a bunch of drunks for decades. Each league used to have power beyond anything you can imagine in any other professional sport. So much so that one league plays by entirely different lineup rules. This has been allowed to continue for decades for no apparent reason other than the fact that the AL prefers winning a lot, and the NL has cited tradition/purity in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the DH, but with the new way the MLB has set up the schedule for 2012, the DH has to go. Currently, almost every single baseball league in the world uses a DH (all minor leagues, Japan, Latin leagues etc.).

Teams are soon going to be playing interleagu
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Super Bowl Preview: The Anxiety of History

Many of you know — or at least assume from the name — that I’m mostly here to talk to you about hockey. I do love hockey, this is true. As a fan of the New Jersey Devils, I’ve been a dedicated and largely satisfied fan for most of my life. Their recent struggles aside, before last season the Devils hadn’t missed the playoffs since before I hit puberty, and in my lifetime I had seen three Stanley Cups, which isn’t too shabby. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when the Devils missed the playoffs for the first time last spring, but as I later discussed with a coworker who was equally as dedicated to his Detroit Red Wings, watching the postseason was, well, fun. And without stress. And kind of enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather see my Devils in the playoffs than not, but there is a dirty little secret about professional sports that the Leagues and teams would probably prefer you don’t know: It’s not fun to watch your team in the playoffs. Not one bit.

I bring this up because in 48 hours, the first sports team I ever fell in love with — and the one I probably like more than any other — is going to roll for all the marbles in Super Bowl XVLI when my Giants take on the New England Patriots. As I found four years ago, there is no greater high in sports than when your team wins an unexpected championship against a truly great foe in the waning seconds, but the anxiety leading up to those moments can be excruciating, and this time around the stakes are the same, but the expectations are wildly different.

The Giants are a hot team riding not just a strong defensive front but a quarterback who has finally manifested and fulfilled his promise as one of the top signal callers in the League — one with a wide receiving corps that has shredded foes on its playoff run. The Patriots are still a good team, but they are not a great one and they no longer have a perfect 18-0 record blinding the masses from the fact that they are flawed and mentally exhausted by the pressures of perfection.

That changes the perception — and the inherent anxiety — because now the Giants are not just scrappy underdogs, they have expectations from a significant segment of their fan base, the media, and evidently themselves as the last week’s bluster has shown. That adds up to me writhing with knots in my stomach for two weeks after the momentary joy of getting through the NFC Championship Game, which was almost certainly the most angst-inducing, emotionally exhausting football game I’ve ever watched.

Of course, even if it’s angst-inducing for us fans, none of this really matters, for the exact same reason that I told a friend of mine last week when he was worried about being over-confident that it didn’t matter.

We’re not playing.

There are only 106 people who can have an impact on the physical action on the field as players and only a handful more that can do it as coaches or front office personnel. We won’t be performing. We will only be watching. And really, in the end, that may be the worst part about it, having an emotional investment without having any control. But in the meantime we can pretend to have an impact, which we do with an endless series of overanalysis, video dissection, storyline invention and predictions that all add up to ceaseless noise.

Far be it from me to refuse to add to that cacophony, however. So here we go, in as simple a way as possible.

When the Giants have the ball
See, this Eli Manning feller. He’s really pretty good. And after last wee… Read more...