We’re three weeks into the NFL season and our pick contest. Schaumburg Stu and Dan the Man tied for the lead in Week 3 at 9-7. Mr. Fantasy came in with a 8-8 record and I was under .500 at 7-9 for the week. For the season Schaumburg Stu has the lead at 29-19. Dan the Man is just one game out of the lead at 28-20. Mr. Fantasy and I are tied and under .500 at 23-25 on the year. Maybe I can get myself over .500 with a good Week 4.

The Houston Texans hold the early lead in the AFC South with a 2-1 record. The Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans are 1-2 with the Jacksonville Jaquars at 0-3. It’s a very winnable for the Texans, but their chances of doing that took a huge blow now that J.J. Watt is going to be out an extended period of time. There are reports that the Texans will place Watt on injured reserve (IR) today. That means Watt won’t be allowed to practice for 6 weeks and won’t be able to return to game action for 8 weeks. If Watt goes on IR the earliest he could return would b November 27th against the San Diego Chargers. As tough as it would be for the Texans to stay in contention with Watt gone 8 weeks there is talk that this injury may keep him out for the rest of the season. There’s a quote from a Texans team source that’s making the rounds saying “I do believe that he will miss the season, but with the new rule this year, if he were ready in December, he could come off IR”. Long shot. Watt missed all of training camp and the preseason after he had surgery for a herniated disk in his back in late July. The 3-time defensive player of the year and 4-time Pro Bowler played part of last season through the injury, before aggravating it late in the offseason. He also had surgery in January to repair five torn core muscles. Watt started all three of the Texans’ regular season games so far this season. Watt has 1 1/2 sacks, 1 tackle and assisted on 7 other tackles. Watt has never missed a regular season game in his 6-year career and when he missed practice on Monday Texans head coach Bill O’Brien called it “a day off”. The Texans did re-sign defensive end Antonio Smith to help in the place of Watt. Now if Brock Osweiler and the offense can step up in Watt’s absence maybe the Texans can compete in the AFC South, but if they can’t handle the extra pressure even if Watt returns in 8 weeks it might be too late for the Texans to get into the playoffs.

The Washington Nationals clinched the National League East division last week and where battling with the Los Angeles Dodgers to see who would host their opening round playoff series. Now the Nationals knew they would face the Dodgers and any other playoff opponent without inured pitcher Steven Strasburg, but in Monday’s 14-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos torn his ACL and is done for the season. Ramos was injured a throw to the plate where he had to jump to make the catch. There was no contact with another players, but when Ramos landed he torn the ACL. Ramos is over shadow in Washington by the Bryce Harper name and the season Daniel Murphy is having, but Ramos was putting up good numbers before he got hurt. Ramos played in 131 games and was hitting .307. Ramos had 22 home runs 80 RBI’s as well as 25 doubles. Now it’s not just the hitting the Nationals will miss. Ramos has caught 1096 1/3rd innings this season for a staff that has an ERA of 3.50. That’s the second best ERA in baseball. When Ramos caught the teams ERA is 3.46.

How will the Nationals replace Ramos. Jose Lobaton is the veteran option Dusty Baker could go with. Lobaton has played in 36 games for the Nationals this season and is hitting .226 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI’s. Washington does have another option in 23-year old rookie Pedro Severino.  Severino has played in 13 games this season and is hitting .333 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s. I’m sure both catchers will be on the playoff roster, but who’s going to get the at bats. Do you go with the veteran in the playoffs or do you take a shot with a rookie? Will have to wait and see what decision Dusty baker makes.

Now I mentioned Washington was already short handed with Strasburg out due to a strained flexor mass in his pitching elbow. There is a chance that Strasburg could be back before the NLDS, but it looks like they’ll be going into the playoffs without him, at least for the first round. Also added to the injury list is 2015 MVP Bryce Harper. Harper has been banged up all season and is now dealing with a thumb injury. There have also been reports that Harper has been dealing with a shoulder injury all season, but he has denied that. Either way he’s not playing like the MVP he was last season.

Now playoff related with the Ramos injury is the fact that he’s going to be a free agent this off season. He was looking at a pretty good pay day until this injury. now you have to ask yourself; what’s a team going to pay a catcher who’s recovering fro a torn ACL. With this injury happening so late in the season you have to wonder if his recovery will carry over into next season. What kind of a contract will a catcher who’s going to miss the start of the 2017 season get. If Ramos’ rehabilitation takes longer than expected he could be out until the All-Star break. Ramos is 29 and it will be interesting to see if there’s a team out there that’s willing to pay him will he’s doing his rehabilitation.

Have you watched any pre-season NHL yet? They just got the pre-season going this week and I’m going to check out some of the Chicago Blackhawks/Pittsburgh Penguins game tonight. Now with the World Cup of Hockey in the finals there are still a few guys that aren’t with their NHL teams. Since it’s pre-season and there are only 2 more possible games left in the finals those players will be back with their teams soon. Before you know it October 12th will be here and they’ll be dropping the puck in the regular season.

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How was your week

Posted: September 24, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in NASCAR, sports
Tags: , , , ,

What if I told you that your superstar quarterback would be suspended for the first four games of the season. I’m sure you’d  unhappy. Then as the starting quarterback the  #2 guy came in and the team went 2-0 in games that he started. I’m sure you’d be okay with that. Now throw I the #2 quarterback got injured in his second start and would miss the third week of the season. Now you’re favorite team is on to it’s third  quarterback in three weeks. Even as a fan you might think that they’ll suffer their first loss of the season in Week 3. Not only did that loss not happen, but they had a dominating performance to go to 3-0 After the game though there was a report that your third sting quarterback has a thumb injury. The injury was to the quarterbacks right hand, but it being reported as “not serious”. Now if this third string quarterback can’t play in Week 4 what would your favorite 3-0 team do under center for Week 4. Is it at al possible that they’d just go ahead and play the starting wide receiver who use to be a college quarterback in that game. Now when you look at this scenario you might find it hard to believe that this team could actual be 3-0 going into Week 4, but this is how the New England Patriots season has went and they are 3-0.

We all know the Tom Brady saga and he’s still going to have to sit out one more game, Jimmy Garoppolo played very well in his first two starts until getting hurt in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins. That left 3rd round draft pick Jacoby Bissett as the starter for Thursday night game against the Houston Texans. Add in to all this that you’re all world tight end missed the first two games with injuries and while he was on the field at times in Week 3; he was ineffective. I thought against a defense like the Texans that a third string quarterback wouldn’t be able to get a win against them. What do I know. Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick put together a game plan that Brissett executed perfectly as the Patriots cruised to a 27-0 victory over the Texans to start Week 3. I’ll be the first to admit that I picked the Texans to win the game and I did have some company as Schaumburg Stu and Mr. Fantasy also had Houston winning. That means Dan the Man was the only one who picked New England to win and he’ll go into Sunday as the only one of us at 1-0.

Brissett was just 11 for 19 for 103 yards. He was sacked once, but did not throw an interception. Brissett managed the game from the pocket and when he needed to run he did. Brissett ran 8 times for 48 yards and a touchdown. His 27-yard touchdown run was the Patriots first of three rushing touchdowns in the game. LeGarrette Blount handled the majority of the ground game for New England. Blount carried the football 24 times for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. Julian Edelman wasn’t productive as a receiver, but the Patriots didn’t throw the ball enough for that. He had just 4 catches for 38 yards, but he also ran the football 3 times for 14 yards. James White added 3 carries for 12 yards and Martellus Bennett added a carry for 6 yards to go with his 10 receiving yards on 2 catches. Danny Amendola had 2 receptions for 23 yards while Malcom Mitchell had a catch for 27 yards. Chris Hogan caught 1 pass for 3 yards and White had a catch for 2 yards as Brissett spread the football around.

Now what if Brissett’s injury causes him to miss Week 4. Does Edelman play quarterback like he did in college against the Buffalo Bills. Would you put it pass Bellichick to start a wide receiver at quarterback. He’s had linebackers catch touchdown passes and has played a wide receiver at defensive back. How about a wide receiver at quarterback. New England might as well have some fun with it in Week 4 as Brady will settled the position down after that.

Kevin Garnett announced his retirement after 21 seasons in the NBA. Garnett spent parts of 2 season with the Brooklyn Nets, 6 seasons with the Boston Celtics and 14 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Garnett won the league MVP for the 2003-04 season. He also won the All-Star game MVP that season. Garnett was drafted by the Timberwolves with the 5th pick in the 1995 draft. The Timberwolves traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007 for two 1st round draft picks, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair. Garnett won his only NBA Championship with the Celtics in 2007-08. After six season with Boston Garn along with Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White where traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, MaRshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace and three 1st round draft picks. A 2014 1st round pick, a 2016 1st round pick and a 2018 1st round pick. Garnett returned to the Timberwolves in February of 2015 when he was traded for Thaddeus Young. Garnett is a 15 time All-Star and has been voted All-League 22 times. Garnett has scored 26,071 points in his career good for 17th in NBA history. He’s 9th in career rebounds with 14662 and he’s 19th in career blocks with 2037. Garnett’s scoring average for his career was 17.8 points per game. It’s safe to say that Garnett is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

It’s race two of The Chase and the Sprint Cup series is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Bad Boy Off Road 3oo. Carl Edwards took the pole with a speed of 135.453 mph. Last weeks winner Martin Truex Jr. will start 2nd with Ryan Newman 3rd, Jimmie Johnson 4th and Denny Hamlin rounding out the Top 5 starting 5th. Remember if a Chase driver wins he automatically moves into the next round like Truex Jr. did last week with his win at Chicagoland Speedway. Will we see a Chase driver advance or will we see someone from out side of The Chase get a win. Maybe Truex Jr. gets his second win in a row and stops someone from moving into Round 2 of The Chase.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com the podcast is also available on TuneIn.com

You can find me on Twitter @Burketime

Schaumburg Stu won Week 2 in our NFL pick contest with a 10-6 record. Stu has started the season off with back to back wins. Dan the Man took 2nd with a 9-7 record. Dan and Stu where tied going into the Monday Night game, but sadly Dan went with the Chicago Bears while Stu had the Philadelphia Eagles. Mr. Fantasy and I where both 8-8 on the week. Overall Stu has the lead with a 20-12 record. Dan the Man is 2nd at 19-13. I’m holding onto 3rd place at 16-16 while Mr. Fantasy is residing in the cellar at 15-17. Can Stu win a 3rd week in a row? Or will Dan the Man win a week outright. At this point Mr. . Fantasy and I would be happy to break .500.

With the exception of the struggles they had right around the All-Star break the Chicago Cubs have been the best team in baseball. The Cubs have the best record in baseball at 96-55 and are the only team that has clinched their division. With 2 more wins or 2 Washington Nationals losses the Cubs will clinch home field through the National League playoffs. Sadly they can’t have home field advantage for the World Series as the American League won the All-Star game and that’s how home field for the World Series is decided.

When it comes to post season awards the Cubs should do quite well there as they have at least 3 contenders for the Cy Young award and 2 very good contenders for the MVP award. I’m not sure that Kyle Hendricks has the respect of the voters to win the Cy Young, but he has to be right there. Hendricks is 15-8 and has the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.06. Hendricks isn’t putting up huge strikeout numbers (161), but he also doesn’t walk a lot of guys (43); so his WHIP is under one at 0.96. Jon Lester is having a very good year as well and with an 18-4 record; he’ll have a shot at a 20 win season. Lester’s ERA is 2.36 and he’s struck out 184 batters after yesterday’s start; so he should reach the 200 mark for the season. While Jake Arrieta isn’t having as good of a season as he did last year; he’s still pitching well. Arrieta is 17-7 with a 2.96 ERA. While Arrieta should get some votes for the Cy Young I think some of the voters may hold the fact that this season doesn’t compare to last season against him. As good as Hendricks has been do you have Lester ahead of him for the Cy Young? As far as MVP goes you could pretty much put Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo name in a hat and pull one out for the award. Bryant is hitting .296 with 37 home runs and 97 RBI’s. Bryant also has an OPS of .950. Rizzo has very good numbers as well. He’s hitting .293 with 37 home runs and 104 RBI’s with an OPS of .939. Now you couldn’t go wrong with either guy as they are both having MVP type of seasons on a big time winning team. The fear might be that they cancel each other out in the MVP voting and someone else ends up winning the award.

You can look at all the numbers you want and those are the guys who win the awards. That’s the thing you need to do to win one of those, but on every team there’s an MVP that may go under the radar. On the Cubs this season their guy is easily Addison Russell. The 22 year old shortstop has played in 142 games so far this season. He played in 142 games all of last season. While it would be nice to see Russell’s batting average a little higher than the .245 he’s currently at, but is someone said that he’d hit 21 home runs and have 93 RBI’s so far I’m not sure if anyone would’ve believed you. When the Cubs need a clutch hit Russell is the guy they want to see at the plate. When the offense was this week what snapped them out of it on Monday night was a home run by Russell. It’s not just with the bat either; Russell is fielding 97% at shortstop. He has made 14 errors this season, but he is currently #1 in defensive WAR for National League shortstops. Russell was also voted to his first All-Star team this season and he should make many more of them through his career. Russell was a 1st round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2012. He was the 11th overall pick in the draft. The Cubs acquired Russell along with Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and cash considerations for pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzja. If you talk to any Cubs fan about trades you’re sure to hear about the deal that sent Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz. It’s considered the worst trade in Cubs history. Is the trade that brought Russell to the Cubs the best trade in team history. Now Russell won’t win the National League MVP and I’m not even sure if he’ll receive any votes for the award, but the Cubs wouldn’t be where they are this season without him.

I hope you’ve been scanning the waiver wire in your fantasy football league early this season because there have been quite a few injuries already this season. In Week 1 we saw Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers and Robert Griffin II of the Cleveland Browns go out with injuries that ended their seasons. In Week 2 there where some more big time fantasy names that where injured. The Chargers lost another key piece of their offense for the season when running back Danny Woodhead torn his ACL. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus ligament, but there re actually reports that he could play this Sunday. Sticking with running backs Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers will miss 1-2 weeks with a hamstring injury and Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is going to miss 3 games with a hamstring injury of his own. Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots was playing well filling in for the suspended Tom Brady, but he sprained the A/C/ joint in his throwing shoulder and will miss a couple for weeks. Josh McCown took over at quarterback for the Browns when RG II got injured. Now Cody Kessler will be the 3rd Browns quarterback to take a snap in a game this season as he takes over for an injured McCown. Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears injured his thumb during the Monday Night game and it looks like he’ll miss a few weeks. It’s being reported that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is questionable for this weeks game, but he’s been dealing with an ankle injury all season; so it’s tough to tell if this is something new or just the injury he’s been playing with. Hopefully you’ve been out on the waiver wire or making trades to replace these guys because there are a lot of quality fantasy names that are injured.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com or you can find the podcast anytime you want on TuneIn.com

I’m on Twitter as well @Burketime

How was your Week

Posted: September 17, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in Auto Racing, baseball, NASCAR, sports
Tags: , , , ,

The Chicago Cubs became the first team to clinch a playoff spot when the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals last Thursday night. You can call it a back in or however else you want to describe it, but with the lead the Cubs had in the division it they where going to win it one way or another.

The Cubs have 15 games left and there’s some good and some bad in that. The good of course is you can get your starting rotation set up in the order you want it. Another good thing is that you can get players like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo some rest heading into the playoffs. Both Bryant and Rizzo have played in 142 games heading into this afternoon’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. These last 15 games will also give the coaching staff a chance to look at the guys they’ll want to carry on the playoff roster. There’s always that last spot or two left on the playoff roster and while it may not matter as these players may not see the field you never know. The Cubs will also have a chance to get guys healthy. Jorge Soler left yesterday’s game with an injury that was reported as not being serious, but either way he’ll have time to get back to 100%. Pedro Strop should be returning soon and he’ll have some games to get ready to go for the playoffs.

There isn’t a ton of bad that goes with clinching early, but I think there are things that you have look out for. You have to make sure you don’t get complacent while your off. There is such a thing as too much rest; so you have to make sure the regulars stay sharp. I think the biggest thing that the Cubs will have to watch out for is when you have this type of lead and you get to cruise down the stretch is turning it back on again when the games count. You can add injuries in here, but you just never know when an injury is going to come up; so you can’t count that. Again there aren’t huge negatives with clinching early; it’s just stuff that the Cubs will have to look out for down the stretch.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup starts tomorrow at the Chicagoland Speedway with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400. There are 16 drivers who either won a race or qualified on points to make at Top 16. Chase Grid  Qualifying is this afternoon; so we don’t know who’s going to be on the pole, but they did have a practice session yesterday. Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest practice time, but there where four other Chase drivers right behind him. Carl Edwards was 2nd fastest with Denny Hamlin 3rd, Brad Keslowski 4th and Chase Elliott 5th. The NASCAR playoffs are starting.

We have our fantasy hockey draft coming pretty soon and while I know the top names I have a difficult time as the draft winds down finding that guy who can really help my team. It’s an auction style league; so there is some strategy on who to nominate when and try to make sure you land the guy you wanted. I found a couple of names that I think could help out a fantasy team later in the draft and I’m wondering what you think of them.

Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers. Bjugstad is coming off an injury plagued season in 2015-16. He played in 67 games and put up 34 points last season. Can he get back to the player that led the Panthers in goals like he did in 2014-15.

Thomas Vanek scored 18 goals and 23 assists with the Minnesota Wild last season. In July the Detroit Red Wings signed Vanek 1-year $2.6 million dollar contract. Vanek will be looked upon to halp replace Pavel Datsyuk. Vanek has scored 40 goals twice in his NHL career and is it possible he gets close to that with the Red Wings.

Maybe I could sneak a young rookie defenseman through in the draft. How about someone like Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev played the last 3 season in the KHL for CSKA Moscow. He was a KHL All-Star in 2015 and 2016 as well as being named IIHF World Championship All-Star team in 2016. I know it’s tough for a rookie to make a big impact on defense, but this is a player who while considered a rookie isn’t really a rookie. Hopefully the Toronto Maple Leafs can find some ice time for him.

There’s a couple of names I’m looking at. Feel free to send me a name or two your looking at later in your draft.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com You can also listen to the podcast anytime you want on TuneIn.com

You can find me on Twitter @Burketime

 

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and so is our Sports Time Radio pick contest. Schaumburg Stu and Dan the Man got off to a hot start both going 10-6 in the first week. I managed a .500 record at 8-8 while Mr. Fantasy starts the year off in the cellar at 7-9. I’ll try to remember to update you every Wednesday on how we’re doing. Feel free to play along and see if your picks are better than ours.

In the 2010 draft the Buffalo Bills thought they had found their feature running back when with the 8th pick I the 1st round they selected C.J. Spiller from Clemson. Spiller rushed for 1212 yards with 12 touchdowns, he caught 36 passes 4 of which ended in touchdowns. Spiller was also dangerous in the return game as he returned 8 punts and 21 kickoffs with 5 of those returns going for touchdowns. Coming into the NFL Spiller looked like a 3-down back which is something that is tough to find in the league now. Spiller averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his first pre-season and was named the Bills #1 running back. Spiller beat out Fred Jackson and Marshwan Lynch. Lynch was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks soon after Spiller was named the starter. Spiller played in 14 games his rookie season getting 1 start. He rushed for 283 yards and caught 24 passes for 157 yards and 1 touchdown. It wasn’t the offensive contribution that the Bills where expecting out of the #8 pick. Spiller did play well on special teams as he averaged 14.6 yards on 12 punt returns and 23.0 yards on 44 kickoff returns taking 1 back for a touchdown. Spiller started 11 games in 2011; rushing for 561 yards with 4 touchdowns and catching 39 passes for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. 2012 was Spiller’s best season as he rushed for 1244 yards and 6 touchdowns while catching 43 passes for 459 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2013 Spiller got close to his second 1000 yard season, but fell short at 933 yards. He had 2 rushing touchdowns and caught 33 passes for 185 yards. Injuries cut Spiller’s 2014 season short. He played in just 9 games and totaled 300 yards rushing, but no touchdowns, He added 19 receptions for 125 yards and 1 touchdown. That was Spiller’s last season with the Bills. Spiller signed a 4-year $16 million dollar deal  on at what seemed to be the perfect place for his skill set with the New Orleans Saints. Spiller started 2 games for the Saints on 2015, but played in 13 games total. He rushed for 112 yards, but caught 34 passes for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. You would’ve thought that with a full off season and training camp with New Orleans that Spiller might be looking at a big role in their passing offense. Sadly Spiller’s training camp was cut short as he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the final 2 pre-season games. When Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders rolled around the Saints made Spiller inactive for the game and went with veteran running back Travaris Cadet in that role. It shouldn’t of come as a surprise after being inactive for Week 1 that the Saints decided to part ways with Spiller by cutting him on Monday. New Orleans was carrying 6 running backs on their roster and sooner or later one of them was probably going to be released.

With the release of Spiller the Saints have more than $40 million in dead money counting against their salary cap; by far the most in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns are second at $28.1 million. That number includes their other big free agent signing from 2015, cornerback Brandon Browner, among several others.Spiller will count $4.5 million against this year’s cap, then another $2.5 million next year.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are 3 games under .500 at 70-73 and it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting one of the National League wild card spots this season. Pittsburgh had been in the wild card game the last three seasons. With the playoffs out of reach the Pirates decided to shut their ace down and placed pitcher Gerrit Cole on the 60-dat DL. Cole came off the DL after three weeks to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. Cole pitched 2 innings giving up 5 runs on 4 hits while walking 4. Pittsburgh lost that game to Philadelphia 6-2. This time Cole is headed to the DL with right elbow posterior inflammation. This is Cole’s 3rd trip to the DL this season. Cole finishes 2016 the season with a 7-10 record in 21 starts and a 3.88 ERA. Cole was coming off his best season in 2015 when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, made the All-Star team and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award balloting. Cole is 26 years old and is the future of the Pirates rotation. He has a career 47-29 record with an ERA of 3.16. With the Pirates out of the playoff race it’s in their best interest and Cole’s to shut him down and allow him to be ready to go come spring training in 2017.

You can listen to Sports Time Radio on BlogTalkRadio.com you can also find the podcast on Tune.com

You can also follow me on Twitter @Burketime

 

Torture 201-State of the Art

Posted: September 11, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in sports

No one ever said the San Francisco Giants went about the business of baseball in the conventional manner. No, I think we are in agreement here. They rack up a whole passel of victories, and then set records for futility. Seriously? The worst record in MLB since the All-Star Game? Take the Chicago Cubs, for instance. They appear to be doing it right.
They stormed out the gate, sagged before the All-Star Game, and then came roaring back with a vengeance. They are currently 41 games above .500. The Cubs seem bent on a course which will net them their first world series title in forever. 

Only two days ago, the Giants were down to single digits, when it came to win/loss difference, 74-65.

No, if the Giants went about baseball in the conventional manner, there would be no need to attach the label “torture” to the team. I used to argue that Giants baseball was not torture-that it was simply National League baseball, at its finest.

Now I amend my sentiments and take a step back, and say that if the term “torture” were to apply, it would not be to the games themselves, but rather, the manner which the Giants go about the business of making the playoffs.
In both 2014 and in 2016, they managed to accrue the best record in baseball, at least halfway into the season, before falling heavily into disrepair, and staggering to the depths of their collective souls.
In 2014 the Giants sneaked in as the number ten seed and took it all. We have yet to see how things turn out in 2016, except to say that San Francisco is still ahead of both New York and St. Louis for the first wildcard slot.
At this time they are still in the driver’s seat. Bruce Bochy is the same master of his ship that he has always been, the same port in a storm that he has always provided for his team. He is the best manager in baseball-sorry Joe-as his record of success indicates, and nothing has happened to change that.
The Giants have what the Cubs do not have: They have the taste of success imbedded in every stitch of the fabric of the organization. The San Francisco Giants are success. Pure and simple. For a team to take it all is so challenging, it defies comprehension.
Therefore, for a team to do so three times in five years, is exponentially that much harder to accomplish. And yet, the Giants are this team, and still have numerous components of that 2014 team in the fold. You cannot convince me that none of this makes a difference.

I would never boldly predict a Giants victory this season-that is incredibly foolish, in light of how capricious the baseball gods can be. That is asking for disaster. No, all I will do is state that the Giants are right where they want to be: in contention, with only 21 games left to play.

Have you noticed that Hunter Pence has gotten hot? He tied a franchise record by scoring eight runs in the last two games. Do you know what an impact this individual has on the Giants? I do not have to say anything, because his actions speak quite eloquently for themselves.

How about Buster Posey and his three rings? What single player on any given team, plays as prominent of a role in the success of a team, than the catcher? None. He is involved in every play, in the thought process behind every play, and he is the one calling most of the shots.

Buster Posey is the best in the business, rated so by the powers that be, and you know something? It wasn’t even close. http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/ranking-the-best-15-catchers-in-major-league-baseball-for-2016/ 
Specifically, what this poll said was, “Easy and obvious choice.” 

Does the name Madison Bumgarner “ring” a bell? It ought to, his performance in the 2014 World Series, being the stuff of legends. 

All the Giants need is a ticket into the show, which they currently possess, and anything can happen.

Because it has.  

Mark ONeill

How was your Week

Posted: September 10, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, NASCAR, sports
Tags: , , , ,

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in 1st place in the National League West. This may still come as a bit of a surprise to some people as the San Francisco Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star break. The Dodgers have capitalized on the terrible second half of a season the Giants are having and have built a 4 game lead in the division over the Giants. I think a lot of people thought the Giants would right their ship and over take the Dodgers for 1st place, but that hasn’t happened yet and with around 20 games to go it’s looking more and more like it won’t.

On Friday night the Dodgers got some much needed help for their starting as Clayton Kershaw return. Kershaw hadn’t pitched for Los Angeles since June 26th. Kershaw threw 66 pitches over 5 innings giving up 5 hits and 2 runs (both earned) while striking out 8 against the Miami Marlins. Kershaw did take the loss as the Marlins took the game 4-1, but more importantly for the Dodgers there where no after effects from Kershaw’s outing and he should be in the starting rotation for the rest of the regular season and of course the playoffs. Kershaw should make 4 starts the rest of the season with his next one being September 13th or 214th against the New York Yankees. There’s talk of the Dodgers going to a 6-man rotation down the stretch.

Kershaw return became even more important for the Dodgers as Scott Kazmir who was also close to returning from injury had a set back and has had to go back on the disabled list. The Dodgers are also waiting for Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy to return from injury. With all their injuries the Dodgers have used 15 different starting pitchers this season. Will Kershaw’s return and the acquisition of Rich Hill along with Kenta Maeda be enough to help the Dodgers make a playoff run?

After Teddy Bridgewater was injured the Minnesota Vikings season was in a bit of turmoil. Minnesota went out and traded a 2017 1st round draft choice and a conditional 2018 draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford. Minnesota kicks off it’s season on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. That meant Bradford had a little over a week to get the Vikings offense down and be able to make audible calls. Minnesota’s head coach Mike Zimmer had kept it quit on who the Vikings starter would be for Week 1. Zimmer even said yesterday he had made a decision on who would start, but wasn’t going to announce it. There are now reports out there that Shaun Hill will make the start Week 1 against Tennessee with Bradford as the #2 quarterback. During practices this week it looked like Hill would get the start. Hill took the majority of the first team snaps on Monday and Wednesday with both quarterbacks getting an equal share of snaps at Tuesday’s practice. Do to the timetable of the trade Hill getting the start shouldn’t be a big surprise. The question should be; how long will Hill be the starter? I would think that Bradford is the starter for the Week 2 Sunday night game against the Green Bay Packers.

Tonight is the last night for a driver outside the Top 16 to punch his or maybe her ticket to The Chase with a win. Denny Hamlin starts on the pole tonight for the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond International Raceway. Kyle Larsen starts 2nd with Matt Kenseth 3rd. Jamie McMurray goes off 4th with Kurt Busch rounding out the Top 5. McMurray is the first driver in the starting line up who doesn’t have a win this season, but  McMurray is currently hanging on to a spot in the Top 16. Chase Elliott and Austin Dillion are the other two drivers who would qualify for The Chase on points right now. Elliott starts tonight’s race 34th while Dillion starts 8th. McMurray has a 22 point lead over 17th place Ryan Newman while Dillion is 31 points ahead of Newman and Elliott has a 39 point lead on Newman. Kasey Kahne is the 18th place driver 44 points out of The Chase and it’s looking like Kahne will need a win to get in. Kahne has won a race at Richmond before, but it was back in 2005. Could Kahne or another driver without a win on the season pick one up tonight and grab a spot in The Chase?

Kyle Busch starts the defense of his Sprint Cup title as The Chase starts September 18th at the Chicagoland Speedway with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400.

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Let’s Call it Wednesday

Posted: September 7, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in sports
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I hope you’re ready for it; because it starts tomorrow. That’s right the Carolina Panthers are at the Denver Broncos in a rematch from last seasons Super Bowl to kick off the NFL season.

Now both teams should bring top defenses to the game, but the offenses from each team will look a little bit different. The biggest change for the Broncos is under Center. Peyton Manning did retire after the Super Bowl win and it looked like Mark Sanchez was going to take over at quarterback. The Broncos signed Sanchez as a free agent, but he didn’t play all that well in the pre-season and ended up being released. Now the Broncos did draft Paxton Lynch in the 1st round of the draft, but he’s not the starter either. Denver is going with Trevor Siemian. Siemian is in his 2nd season with the Broncos; he took 1 snap last season, but it was a kneel down. Siemian is making his 1st career NFL start against one of the toughest defensive in the leagues. Siemian still has a pair of top wide receivers to work with in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Virgil Green is the starting tight end, but he hasn’t really broken though in the passing game. C.J. Anderson was resigned in the off season and should get the majority of the carries when the Broncos run the football. Now there has been a lot of talk that the Broncos like rookie Devontae Booker; so expect him to get some carries as head coach Gary Kubiak is known to use more than one running back. As a new quarterback Siemian will have some weapons to work with; so as he goes so should the Broncos offense.

Now the biggest change for the Carolina offense is health. They’ll get wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin back after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Tight end Greg Olsen was dinged up pretty much all of pre-season and may start the regular season injured. Olsen produced as the feature receiver in Carolina’s offense last season and they need him to be healthy to start the season. Ted Ginn Jr. looks like the receiver teams thought he would be years ago and Devin Funchess will also catch some passes for quarterback Cam Newton. Newton should be an MVP contender this season. Jonathan Stewart is the #1 running back for the Panthers, but Mike Tolbert is still on the roster to get those tough yards and short touchdowns. If Newton continues to mature as a quarterback and if his legs are good to go the Panthers look to have one of the top offenses in the NFL and should be the NFC front runner to got to the Super Bowl.

On the defensive side of the football Denver did lose defensive tackle Malik Jackson in free agency this off season, but they where able to work out a long term deal with Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Miller will man the strong side linebacker spot and cause havoc for quarterbacks league wide. DeMarcus Ware is going to start the season on a play count, but you can bet he’ll be on the field in all passing situations. The other key for the Broncos last season was the defensive backfield. Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and T.J. Ward all return in the secondary where they’ll be joined by Darian Stewart. Denver’s defense should be one of the better ones in the NFL and with a young quarterback it may be counted on to keep them in games early in the season.

Josh Norman was the top cornerback in the NFL last season as part of this Panthers defense. He signed a big money deal with the Washington Redskins; so the Panthers will have to replace him. James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Robert McClain, Teddy Williams and Bene Benwikre will be the guys looking to fill that role. Luckily the secondary may be working with the best group of linebackers in the NFL. Luke Kuechely is the top linebacker in the NFL and Thomas Davis is very good as well. Shaq Thompson fills out this trio of linebackers and his play will dictate how this group is ranked. Kony Early played well in the Super Bowl, but will that carry over into this season. It’s a good group and should be one of the top defenses in the NFL.

The Miami Marlins entered play last night 5 games out of the 2nd wild card spot in the National League. Before last nights 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies the Marlins activated 1st baseman Justin Bour and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from the disabled list. Both player pinch hit in last nights game. Bour drew a walk on 4 pitches while Stanton single in his at bat. The loss last night did drop the Marlins to 6 games back in the wild card race and with just 23 games left in the regular season and three teams to get past; is there enough time for the Marlins to get into a wild card spot? I don’t think the Marlins can get there. Here’s the rest of their schedule and you can tell me what you think. They wrap up their series with the Phillies today then the Los Angeles Dodgers are in Miami for 3 games. Then it’s on the road for 3 against the Atlanta Braves and then 3 in Philadelphia. The Marlins return home for 3 against the Washington Nationals,3 against the Braves and 3 against the New York Mets. The finish the season with 3 games in Washington against the Nationals. I don’t think they have a very favorable schedule and they are still dealing with some pitching injuries. Don’t forget that Wei-Yon Chen, Adam Conley and David Phelps are all still on the disabled list. They do still have Jose Fernandez in the rotation, but he can’t pitch everyday. Can Andrew Cashner, Tom Koehler and Jose Urena support Fernandez enough to get the Marlins in the playoffs; sorry I just don’t see it.

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How was your week

Posted: September 3, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in NASCAR, sports
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We had the first of two Sports Time Radio fantasy football drafts last night. This was the traditional snake style draft. Dan the Man got the 1st pick in the draft and used it to select Antonio Brown the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver. Brown has pretty much been the #1 ranked player; so it was a good choice by Dan. I ended up with the 16th pick and Mr. Fantasy ended up picking 19th out of 20 teams. It’s always fun to get that first draft out of the way. Now tonight we have out suction style draft. It took a while, but I’ve gotten the hang of these auction drafts. When we first started doing them I would end up with quite a bit of money left over. There are still times I look at the prices and just can’t believe that someone is paying that for whatever player is on the board. So we had a Friday draft, a Saturday draft and then Mr. Fantasy and I have a draft on Monday morning. Yes you read that right we’re doing a fantasy football draft on Labor Day.

In case you where wondering how the 1st round fell for me I took Dez Bryant the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver with the 16th pick. I had to decide between Bryant and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks. It was a tougher choice than I thought it would be. I think Bryant is still one of the top receivers in the NFL and I know he might suffer a little bit without Tony Romo, but I think he was the better choice. Cooks is a good receiver as well, but I think he’s more a function of the Saints offense. I know there where a lot of people who liked Dak Prescott. I just hope he throws the football to Bryant.

It was announced yesterday that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the remainder of the NASCAR season. Earnhardt Jr. has missed the last 6 races and will skip the final 12 as well due to the concussion like symptoms he’s suffering from. It’s believed that Earnhardt Jr. suffered the concussion when he was involved in a crash June 12th at the Michigan International Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports announced that Jeff Gordon will drive the #88 car this week at Darlington. Gordon along with Alex Bowman will finish the season behind the wheel for Earnhardt Jr.In addition to Sunday’s race, Gordon will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 for races at Richmond (Sept. 10), Dover (Oct. 2) and Martinsville (Oct. 30). Bowman will drive at Chicagoland (Sept. 18), New Hampshire (Sept. 25), Charlotte (Oct. 8), Kansas (Oct. 16), Talladega (Oct. 23), Texas (Nov. 6), Phoenix (Nov. 13) and the series finale at Homestead (Nov. 20). With the missed races Earnhardt Jr. fell out of the Top 16 in points and even if he was to return for this weeks race at Darlington or next weeks race at Richmond he’d have to win one of those two races to get into The Chase. Earnhardt Jr. has been undergoing regular evaluations at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program and is being treated for issues related to balance and focusing on objects that are at a distance while moving his head. On August 5th at the Watkins Glen race Earnhardt Jr. spoke with the media and said he wants to continue racing. Earnhardt Jr. is under contract with Hemdrick Motorsports for the 2017 NASCAR season. He is son of seven-time Sprint Cup champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr. has never won a Sprint Cup title, with a best finish in the season standings of third in 2003. After missing The Chase for two consecutive seasons, he has enjoyed a career resurgence with five consecutive Chase appearances from 2011 to 2015.

At first it didn’t look like the Los Angeles Dodgers would be bringing Yasiel Puig back to the majors as a September call up. Now they did decide to add Puig to the roster when it expanded to 40 players. Puig got the start in right field for the Dodgers and hit 5th last night against the San Diego Padres. Puig spent a month at Triple-A Oklahoma City before returning to the Dodgers line up last night. Now the Dodgers did end up losing the game 4-2 to the Padres, but Puig went 2 for 4 and upped his batting average to .263 on the season. Puig was placed on revocable waivers last month by the Dodgers. One team claimed Puig on waivers, but it was never reported who that team was. It is being reported that the team was the Milwaukee Brewers and they where interested in sending the Dodgers Ryan Braun as part of a Puig trade. The Dodgers decided to hang onto Puig and have said that if they do trade him they would wait until the off season so they could talk to all the teams interested in him.

http://m.mlb.com/gameday/padres-vs-dodgers/2016/09/02/448874?#game_tab=box,game=448874,game_state=final

In other Dodgers news Clayton Kershaw is schedule to make a rehab start today for the Class-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes today. Kershaw is scheduled to throw 50 pitches in this minor league rehab outing. Kershaw has been out since June 26 with a lower-back injury, and it is possible he could return to the  Dodgers on the club’s next road trip. While Kershaw is the big name pitching at Rancho Cucamonga today Brett Anderson is also going to pitch in their game today following Kershaw to the mound. Rancho Cucamonga has been a popular landing spot for rehabbing Dodgers players this season. Los Angeles has put a record tying 27 players on the disabled list this season. Now depending on when Kershaw actually returns he could make up to four starts for the Dodgers. The Dodgers are currently in 1st place in the National League West. They’re holding a 2 game lead over the San Francisco Giants coming into Saturday’s action. Just imagine what adding a pitcher like Kershaw would do for your stretch run and playoffs.

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Did the Minnesota Vikings season end yesterday at practice? During a non-contact drill at practice yesterday quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down. Bridgewater dropped back to pass during a drill, planted his foot and immediately went down. Trainers rushed to his side and began inflating an aircast. After an examination and an MRI Bridgewater was diagnosed with a dislocated knee and a torn ACL. The Vikings reported it as complete tear to his ACL and other structural damage, but there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage. As I’m sure you can guess that this injury ends Bridgewater’s season before it even officially started. Bridgewater was headed into his 3rd season as the Vikings quarterback and with the improvement he made last season there was talk that he’d break out this season. With Bridgewater as there starting quarterback the Vikings where expected to challenge the Green Bay Packers for the top spot in the NFC North. Now you just have to wonder if Minnesota can be a playoff team.

What do the Vikings do at the quarterback position. 36 year old Shaun Hill was Bridgewater’s primary back up. Hill appeared in 3 games for the Vikings last season, but has played in just 46 games over his 10 year career. Hill has been a back up through most of his career, but he did play in 9 games for the then St, Louis Rams in 2014. Hill’s best season was 2010 when he played in 11 games for the Detroit Lions. Hill threw for 2686 yards and 16 touchdowns in those 11 games. Is Hill the guy that the Vikings want as their starting quarterback for 16 games this season? Minnesota us expected to resign quarterback Brad Sorensen if he clears waivers. Sorensen and Joel Stave would play quarterback in the Vikings final pre-season game this Thursday against the Los Angeles Rams. If Hill isn’t going to be the starter for the Vikings who is out there.

Could the Vikings reach out to someone like Michael Vick; who isn’t currently on a NFL roster. There are some teams with depth at the quarterback position; so maybe there’s a trade the Vikings could make. Minnesota attempted to sign Nick Foles, but he chose to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs. Would the Chiefs be willing to deal Foles or their other back up Aaron Murray. Even if the Chiefs moved a quarterback they would still have some depth as they drafted Kevin Hogan from Stanford in the 5th round and he could serve as the 3rd quarterback. The Cleveland Browns are reshaping there roster; so maybe Josh McCown is available. Maybe Josh isn’t the McCown the Vikings go after, but could it be Luke McCown of the New Orleans Saints. The very first name that came up when the injury happen was Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. I’m not sure if the Vikings would want to bring in that kind of a distraction to a contending team and don’t forget Kaepernick has quite a few years left on his deal; so what would you do with him when Bridgewater returns next season. Now the name I haven’t heard that was actually brought up on the Tuesday edition of Sports Time Radio was Mark Sanchez. The Denver Broncos named Trevor Siemian there starer this week, but would they be willing to deal Sanchez. He’s a quality back up quarterback and the Broncos may hold on t him since this is Siemian’s first go round as a starter. So there are some options for the Vikings depending on which way they want to go. It’s just a little disappointing that they have to go this route at all.

If you’ve ever listened to the NASCAR segment on the Sunday edition of Sports Time Radio you’ve heard Chris Olmstead (BeyondtheFlag.com) and I discuss Kyle Larson just about ever week. He always seemed to be a threat to win, but never quite got there. It was getting to the point that people where starting to change there thinking from when will Kyle Larson get his first win to if Kyle Larson will get a win. Well Sunday at the Michigan International Speedway Larson won the Pure Michigan 400 for the 1st win of his Sprint Cup career. On a restart with 9 laps to go Larsen was on the inside of leader Chase Elliott. Both drivers where looking for their first win and both drivers spun their tires on the restart. Larsen got a little more help from veteran Brad Keslowski behind him than Elliott did from Sprint Cup series rookie Ryan Blaney and was able to take the lead. The race stayed green for the final 9 laps and even though Elliott was able to get himself into the 2nd place spot he was unable to challenge Larsen for the win.

The victory gives Larsen not only his first career win, but a spot in The Chase. There are 13 drivers locked into The Chase as long as Chris Buescher can stay in the Top 30 in points. Right now Buescher is just 7 points ahead of 31st place David Ragan. If 13 drivers are locked into The Chase with wins that means there are only three spots for drivers to get in on points. That is of course if we don;t get a first time winner in one of the final two races and that driver grabs a spot in The Chase. As of right now Elliott, Austin Dillion and Jamie McMurray would be the 3 drivers to make The Chase on points. McMurray has a 15 point lead on Ryan Newman for the 16th and final spot in The Chase.

There are just two races left for a driver to win his way into The Chase. This week the Sprint Cup series is at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles Southern 500. Then on Saturday September 10th the regular season wraps up at Richmond International Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400. Could we actually get two more first time winners or will three guys find a way to point themselves into The Chase. The Chase itself actually starts close to home for me. They’ll be at the Chicagoland Speedway for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday September 18th.

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