Heading into the 2016 major-league baseball playoffs, the San Francisco giants were considered one of the favorites to advance to the World Series. The Giants were fan favorites and expert picks due to their recent successes that includes winning 3 championships in the past 7 years. Their goal of winning another title seemed to get off to a great start after they won the Wild Card game in the National League Playoffs over the New York Mets. While they started off great, a recent news article (http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/page/playoffs16_nldsgame3sfchc/nlds-chicago-cubs-san-francisco-giants-mega-preview-win-game-3) has pointed out that the Giants are in a tough fight against the Chicago Cubs.
On Friday and Saturday night against the Cubs, the Giants got off to a tough start. In Game 1 of the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Cubs ended up scoring a key run in the bottom of the 8th inning and held on to win a tight game by the score of 1-0. During Game 2, the Cubs started off quite hot and ended up winning by the score of 5-2 despite losing their starting pitcher early in the game due to injury.
After the first two games were played in Chicago, the series now has shifted to San Francisco where the Giants will host Game 3 on Monday night and potentially Game 4 on Tuesday night if the Giants are able to win on Monday. Monday night has a lot of potential to be an absolute classic matchup. The Giants will be led by Madison Bumgarner who is well regarded for being one of the best playoff pitchers of all time. The Cubs, on the other hand, will be led by Jake Arrietta who is the reigning Cy Young award winner.
If the Giants are able to get by the Cubs in Game 3, they still have a tough road ahead as they will have to win both Game 4 and Game 5 in order to advance. The winner of the series will end up facing either the Washington Nationals or the Los Angeles Dodgers in National League Championship Series.
Coming into the 2016 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders were considered by many NFL experts to be one of the teams in the league with the most potential for improvement. While they fell short of team goals last year, the Raiders are led by a number of young stars including quarterback Derek Carr, receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and linebacker Khalil Mack. According to a recent news article (http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Five-Questions-Answered-In-The-Oakland-Raiders-Win-Over-The-San-Diego-Chargers/e5445694-b1d8-47db-bdb4-01ae0dca6795), the first five weeks of the NFL season have shown just how good the Raiders can end up being.
On Sunday, the Raiders were very dominant offensively and ended up beating division rival San Diego Chargers by a score of 34 to 31. This win helped the Raiders to improve their record to an impressive score of 4 wins and 1 loss. The most impressive feat for the Raiders is that they were once again led by their young stars. Derek Carr is considered by many to be a top-tier quarterback and he as able to throw two touchdown passes, one of which went to Amari Cooper.
Thanks to the win, the Raiders now look like they are ready to take over the Denver Broncos as the top team in the division. The Broncos looked great to start the season, but struggling to play without their starting quarterback, Trevor Simien. In his replacement, Paxton Lynch was not able to get control of the offense and the Broncos lost at home to the Atlanta Falcons.
After yesterday’s win and the Bronco’s loss, the Raiders are now tied for first place in the division and actually own the tiebreaker over the Broncos. If the season was to end today, the Raiders would actually own the top seed in the AFC Playoffs. While the Raiders have gotten off to a very good start, they doe have a number of tough contests ahead of them. The team will still have to play the Broncos twice and need to continue to play well in order to win the division and make the playoffs.
The San Francisco Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break. Standing at 57-33 going into the midsummer classic, they were three games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, meanwhile, have continued their resurgence to potentially break the longest championships drought in all of sports at 108 years. The Giants, on the other hand, have had issues merely winning games. The Giants now stand at 80-72 locked in a three way tie with the Mets and Cardinals. That means their record since the break is 23-39. Barely winning half of their games, this collapse is starting to rival one of the greatest of all time. The Cubs, on the other hand, sit at 97-55 looking by far the most dominant team in all of baseball. The most recent team to lead the majors going into the All-Star Break and finish under .500 after the break would be the 2006 Detroit Tigers, who went 34-38. That team was barely under .500 and still made the World Series. The Giants, on the other hand, are in danger of missing the playoffs entirely. This would be unheard of.
What has contributed to such an epic collapse? Most people point their finger at the bullpen. The Giants bullpen has almost resembled a minor league patchwork of arms at times. Fans feel like it’s more likely the bullpen will blow the lead rather than somehow put a zero on the board. This lives the manager Bruce Bochy looking like a child who consumed too much sugar, rapidly moving from one arm to the next just trying to find someone who can even get outs.
This isn’t the only issue. The sheer dearth of power in the Giants’ lineup remains a major hole. Buster Posey recently endured a homeless streak that lasted over 40 games. Hunter Pence has watched his slugging percentage plummet as well. It’s difficult to win games without production from the meat of the lineup.
While this seems like a death spiral for one of the most storied franchises in sports, the Giants not only have a shot at the wild card. The Dodgers have had their own struggles. Nothing would be finer for Giants’ fans than to snatch the division from their hated rival and this is still very possible.
The Los Angeles Rams have just returned to the West Coast, after spending the last few years in St. Louis. The NFL is looking to relocate the franchise yet again when the 2018 season kicks off, at least for a week.
New details have emerged about the league’s plans to have a game open the 2018 season in China and the two teams that are most likely to play in that game appear to be the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. As Yahoo Sports reports, the NFL might have decided the Rams don’t have the right to say no to the game abroad, since they were just allowed to move home cities.
While those in China are likely quite excited about the prospect of being able to watch an NFL game live, those in the US are looking at this kind of travel as little more than a massive hassle. The league has talked about reducing that hassle by making the game take place in the first week, though there are is still going to be quite a bit of jet lag in this scenario.
It doesn’t appear there are going to be volunteers for the game, which is why the NFL is pushing a team like the Rams, who is seen as owing it a favor. Players understand this is part of the job, but there is usually a pretty decent amount of complaining precisely because the game is going to interrupt their usual practice routine.
Critics of the plan to open the 2018 season in China have also pointed out it’s a bit disrespectful to the core base of NFL fans. The league insiders have talked about making the Los Angeles Rams the home team in this game. As a matter of practicality, that means the team is only going to have seven home games in the 2018 season.
That seems like an odd move for the league to do, for a team that will play its first season in Los Angeles this year. It would seem likely the team would like to continue to build it’s local fan base back up, by having as many games as possible in its home stadium. The China season opener isn’t a done deal, but the league has said it would like to find a way to make it work.
Hunter Pence, the right fielder of the San Francisco Giants, has had a painful year so far. In June Pence tore his right hamstring, so badly that he required surgery and missed almost two months. Then just last week he fouled off a pitch that freakishly bounced off the ground and then right back into his cheek. Luckily he only missed one game.
Last night Pence was yet again involved in a freak play. For those who don’t know, AT&T Park in San Francisco, the bullpens are on the field. It is probably the only flaw in an otherwise beautiful baseball park. In parks that have bullpens on the left and right field foul lines it adds an extra element of danger to the corner outfielders.
In the top of the 5th inning, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison came to plate with a man on second, 2 outs, and his Pirates leading by one 3-2. During his at bat, Harrison fouled off a pitch to right field. As he made the long wrong past the foul line, Pence tumbled on the bullpen mound (luckily nobody was warming up at the time) and buckled. That in itself would have not been newsworthy if not for the fact that after he fell there is no way that Pence should have made the play. See the insanity here.
Watching it in real time the first thought is “Oh, no. Is he okay?. Please don’t be hurt.” The fact that he caught it is almost an afterthought at first. It looks like it’s a fluke, that the ball just happened to land in his glove after the fall. Then when you watch it in slow motion you see how the catch is no fluke. When he tumbles and lands on his back his eyes never leave the ball until it lands safely in the leather.
With Pence’s wiry flaming beard and hair and crazy look in his eye, this catch is vintage Pence. It’s determined, incredible, and a little insane – just like Pence himself.
One of the UFC’s most dynamic fighters, Conor McGregor, had a sit down dinner Wednesday night with UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC president Dana White at the quite classy Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The dinner comes after McGregor was struck from the UFC 200 card last month for refusing to participate in required promotional advertisements for the event. However, it seems there was no love lost (at least between McGregor and White) as they were seen embracing one another with a hug before entering the hotel for dinner.
After the dinner McGregor responded positively with the media regarding the sit-down stating the men all have a good relationship and sometimes emotions come into play when they shouldn’t in the business world.
McGregor’s emotions were likely elevated and got the best of him when the UFC mandatorily requested McGregor to appear in Las Vegas to shoot the promotional advertisements while he was back "home" in Ireland training for UFC 200. McGregor’s previous fight with Nate Diaz in UFC 196 entailed a poor showing after Diaz, taking the fight on less than two weeks’ notice, submitted McGregor in the second round.
The UFC failed to officially comment on the dinner meeting between the McGregor and the UFC’s two top dogs. However, if White’s twitter is any indication of how the meeting went it’s a good sign as he posted a pic of himself and Fertitta on the jet with a smiley face the morning after.