Best Black and Gold QB

By S. Samek

Quarterbacks are the main position for any football team. Both on and off the field the quarterback can be the face of the franchise. ESPN has taken to naming the best Qb’s for each team.

 I will be looking at my vote for the Pittsburgh Steelers best signal caller.

The fans voted and Ben Roethlisberger was number one over Terry Bradshaw. The NFL Nation vote had Bradshaw as the winner. http

Roethlisberger is a winner of two super bowls. He has thrown for 46,814 yards and has 301 touchdown passes with 3,804 completions. All of these are top marks in the history of the Steelers.  Add in five Pro Bowl invites and an AP Offensive rookie of the year and you have a true talent.

Bradshaw is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He led the Steelers to the playoffs from 1972 to 1979. During the 1978 season He was named AP Most Valuable player. Only Steeler to ever do so. Bradshaw has thrown 212 touchdowns and competed 2025 passes for 27,989 yards in 13 NFL seasons.

The key stat though, four super bowl wins against Roethlisberger’s two. Championship wins matter a lot in these debates and do here. The 1989 Hall of Famer is the best QB to wear the black and gold. Roethlisberger can be in the conversation, as he has the edge over Bradshaw by stats, but doesn’t have the big wins. Big Ben should join Bradshaw in Canton when his career is done though.

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Summer Jams

NBA Summer happenings.

By S. Samek

The NBA has named a champion. The draft is coming to a close and its, not quite time for training camp and summer league. Still need a basketball fix check this out.

Ice Cube has started a 3 on 3 league called Big3. Each team features former NBA players as captains and coaches.  Each team as a full roster and unique logo and uniform. Eight teams make up the league.

 

To make things more interesting the league also offers a fantasy option for fans. A bit ridiculous why not. Though a positive note is the format is set up like a tour. Numerous cities get to host games, leading up to the championship in Vegas. http://www.big3.com/tickets. Kids under 13 can get in free with an adult ticket purchase as another nice gesture of the league.

Games are competitive too. In the opening weekend, all three games were under 10 points in differential. With two games having a margin of victory under five.

Another option for hoops this summer is the Champions League.  This league has 16 entrants. The league also emphasizes fans and celebrates and former NBA players. For example, Snoop Dog serving as an owner and commissioner in the league.  Which is super cool, seeing that Snoop has experience running his own football youth league and is being active in this new league. LA fans can also try their hand at being an owner in this league as stated here.

This league is standard five on five action. Tickets are very fan friendly. A $25-dollar seat also includes a meet and greet and a youth shoot around with the pros. The league is also dedicated to charitable endeavors throughout the year. A very fan friendly experience that I hope really takes off. It always seems like players are inaccessible to fans. This is paying the fans back for their loyalty and support I fully approve of these leagues.

Best Bowler ESPY

By S. Samek

This afternoon the nominees for the ESPY awards came out. Amongst the category is one that may seem odd: Best bowler. Yes, bowling gets its own category up with best team and best male and female athletes.  You Can vote here for all the categories.

The nominees for best of the lane are Jason Belmonte, Francois Lavoie and E.J Tackett. Belmonte and Tackett are due to square off on the lanes before that in fact as they compete at the Main Event PBA tour Finals Title match next Tuesday.

Belmonte is the Australian Two-handed bowler that has taken the tour by force sense his 2008 debut. He has won 14 career titles, including eight major tournament victories. His latest major victories are the 2017 Barbasol PBA Players Championship and USBC Masters.

E.J Tackett is a rising young star. He joined the tour in 2012. Tackett won the 2012-2013 rookie of the year. He owns seven titles on tour, five standard and two majors. Tackett was your 2017 PBA Tournament of Champions winner. He has two titles for the 2017 season.

Lavoie is very similar to Tackett in the fact that he’s new on tour. It’s only Lavoie’s second season in the PBA. Lavoie hasn’t wasted any time as he has three titles including the U.S open win in 2016 for his first major title. Lavoie was voted the 2016 rookie of the year in the PBA and the PBA’s south region. Lavoie won a singular title this season so far.

This race is very close for the award. All of them have won one, or two titles. Tackett and Belmonte each own a major win this season.  With both majors counting the same it really is too close to call. I do think that if I were voting I would select the person that wins head to head in next week’s match.  Especially with this tournament being the best eight tour players in total money earned. Making it a tough out to win this tournament, with no slackers entering. The best way to be the best is too beat the best and the cliché rings true here. Belmonte/Tackett win gets the ESPY.

 

Lakers and the Super Team

Could LA be the Next Golden State.

by S. Samek

Lots of shock coming from the days leading up to the NBA draft. No team seems to be getting hit like The La Lakers. The Lakers hold the number two pick in the daft for the third year in a row. Last year the Lakers went with Brandon Ingram and the year before that D’Angelo Russell. The intent to use them as corner stones of the rebuild.

This will not be the case Russell has been shipped to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov. The return Brook Lopez and pick number 27 for 2017. The move looks to be for salary cap room as the Lakers have been trying to get Paul George from Indiana.

Lebron James and Russell Westbrook are also big name free agents on the Lakers radar Letting Mozgov and Russell go saves LA around 22 Million for next summer.

The Lakers also lost Nick Young to free agency. Young elected not to sign and test the market after four seasons with LA. Young averaged about 13 points a game for the Purple and Yellow and made 71 starts. Though by not picking up the option the Lakers save $5.7 million.
The popular pick for the Lakers at number two is Lonzo Ball from UCLA. Though the Lakers have also worked out possible number one pick Markelle Fultz.

According to recent mock drafts that is the case. It would play well for the Lakers to take Ball, as he is a local guy from UCLA and a great talent. With a swagger to match.

Even going so far as to try and recruit James to join him in LA, before he has been officially drafted by the Lakers. Bold move, premature, but bold.

The other pick at number 27 seems to be expendable for George and has played out in numerous scenarios for him. The Lakers may not have made all their moves yet. Stay tuned, but the plan is  to contend for serious in 2018.

 

Striking Distance

Pirates have chance to gain ground in division.

By S. Samek

 The Pittsburgh Pirates have started out strong in the first two games of a four-game set in Milwaukee. The Pirates have outscored the Brewer’s 15-four in what I think could be a pivotal point toward the rest of the season. The Pirates it just four games out of first place and a half game back from second in the NL Central. Even taking just one of the next two keeps them at four games back from first place in the division. Plus depending on what the Cubs do against San Diego, a move up to second place is possible.

 

This would then lead them into a series against St. Louis, a team they are currently tied with in the standings. Having momentum from a big series in Milwaukee, should help the Pirates do well against the Cardinals and add separation between the two for at least third place in the division.

 

Then the Pirates end June and enter July with series against the Rays and Giants. The Rays being similar to the Brewers in record can be hung with, more so being at home where the Bucs have a winning mark at 19-18. The Giants then come into town with one of the worst records in baseball and provide another chance to gain ground by beating them.

The schedule keeps staying easy with the Phillies and Cubs rounding out the pre-all-star game slate. The Pirates realistically could go 11-6, or 12-5 during this stretch. This puts them at 44-44, or 45 – 43. This would then give them strong momentum going into the All-Star game, before seeing the Cardinals and Brewers immediately after the break.

Having the separation from before the all-star break would help a lot. Then With more games scheduled against the Giants and Padres, now could be the start of the big month that plays into a playoff spot.

The Pirates are currently on a 7-3 run in the last 10 games. This includes a pair of wins against the Marlins after losing two games to the them. A two-one series win against NL West leading Colorado, a win over the Cubs and the two in Milwaukee. Showing a sample of how teams better than the Pirates can be beaten.

The offense is picking up for Pittsburgh. Jordy Mercer has a 10-game hitting streak going. He is hitting .389 with a homer and five extra base hits during the streak. He hit his third triple of the year last night as part of a 2-4 effort.

Andrew McCutchen is also hitting better in the sixth spot in the order. McCutchen went 3-3 last night with a home run, walk and three rbi. This is part of a resurgence in which McCutchen is hitting .406 with six homers and 19 rbi in June.

Jose Osuna, Josh Bell and Elias Diaz are developing well in the bigs, and break out second halves could be just what this team needs. Josh Harrison is also contributing with regularity.

The Pitching is still a work in progress, but with Jamison Taillon back and Ivan Nova and Gerrit Cole pitching consistently this team has a chance.

Starling Marte is also due back in Mid -July. Having his glove and bat in the lineup is a major plus. This addition would put some confidence back into the outfield and combined with McCutchen and crew could keep the Pirates around in a weaker NL Central.

 

 

 

LA Lights Up

Rookie displays big power.

By S. Samek

The American League and National League always seem to go head to head over which league is superior. This season is no exception. Taking the American League by storm is Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.

To counter punch for the national league it’s the LA Dodgers Cody Bellinger. Bellinger is bringing the power knocking 21 homers after a two-homer night on Monday.

 This continues a string of nine home runs in nine games.  Hes played in just 51 games this season after his April 25 call up. Bellinger is the fourth player to mash 20 home runs pre-all-star break being younger than 21. The last person to do so was Miguel Cabrera in 2004.

Bellinger is hitting .269 with 10 doubles and 47 rbi this season. The 21 home runs are tied for second in the majors behind only Judge and his 23 dingers. Though while Judge is doing well in the all-star balloting, Bellinger is not. He hasn’t ever cracked the top 15 in outfielders.  In fact, in the ESPN article it looks like it would take quite a bit of work to get the man into the all-star game.

While this would be a shame, I think it is going to happen and Mr. Bellinger will be staying home. Though I feel like the snub will only motivate the kid to do bigger and better things. Like win a rookie of the year award. He has a very early edge if nothing else.

Bellinger is another home-grown product. In 2016, he hit 26 homers in the upper two level of the minors while hitting .271. When he was called up this season he was hitting .343 with five homers and 15 rbi in 18 games for the Oklahoma City Dodgers.  He was a Double-A all-star for Tulsa and played in the AFL, where he was all-prospect team and an AFL rising star. He also owns two Dodger’s organization all-star nods.

Bellinger won last month’s rookie of the month award on the National League side. He also won the player of the week honor for the week of May 7th,2017.

While Bellinger has caught a lot of national attention like Judge has. Bellinger may serve as a symbol of the new culture of baseball.

 The idea of drilling the ball hard, his average exit velocity is almost 93 mph, or failing he has 65 strikeouts proves this.

This is very true with all the advanced metrics of the game and obsession with pitchers that hit triple digits on the gun. Not a bad thing, as who doesn’t love seeing the ball go sailing 500 feet out for easy runs. Who doesn’t love to see dominant pitchers rack up strikeout numbers in the teens. It’s an evolution of the game. If seeing players like Judge and Bellinger come around by the hundreds over the years that would be great. It gets media attention and fans in the stands. I embrace Bellinger and wish him the best of luck this year, Judge too.

As for which is better, time will tell. It’s only been a small sample for Bellinger, and Judge is still less than a full season into his pro career. Open the debate back up in five years for a more fair comparison.

West Virginia Black Bears 2017

By S. Samek

Tonight, the West Virginia Black Bears begin season number three. The Black Bears had a .500 campaign in 2016 with a 38-38 record. This was after taking the championship in 2015, their first year in the league as the Black Bears.

Taking a look at tonight’s opening roster. The team looks rather pedestrian.  One of the top 30 Pirates prospects have been assigned to the roster.

Mitch Keller is listed, but it is as a rehab assignment. He belongs with Bradenton.  Michael Suchy is also on a rehab assignment.

The rest seem to be call ups from the Gulf Coast league and Bristol.http://www.milb.com/roster/index.jsp?sid=t5020. No one stands out to even have done anything really worth noting. The closest thing to doing something is Jonathan Schwind. Schwind has seen time at the Double and triple a level. He just hasn’t done much with the bat and isn’t really considered a prospect. This just has to be lineup filler.

Sandy Santos returns to the black and gold after spending last season with them. Santos was with the West Virginia Power, but struggles this season have led to a demotion back to Morgantown. Santos tied for second on the team with 34 rbi, while hitting .281, also second best on the team.

A fast start with the Bears and it won’t surprise me if he gets returned to Charleston. Last season he showed a bit of dominance, but nothing top 30 worthy, yet.

Though aside from the yawn fest of a line up, the Black Bears have an interesting addition to the coaching staff. Joel Hanrahan is an assistant pitching coach for the team. Hanrahan was a former all-star closer in Pittsburgh with 100 career saves. This gives that big league feel and experience to the young pitchers and should serve them well.

I will say though even with a lack of pedigree in the lineup I can see moves being made to improve this roster. Shane Baz, the first-round pick that recently signed with the Bucs could perhaps make an appreance here. Though the most likely spot for him would be the GCL. Recent draftees from the college ranks maybe sent here as well after signing.

 

Though it won’t surprise me either if top 30 ranked pitchers in Braeden Ogle, Travis MacGregor and Max Kranick see time in West Virginia after short, or successful stints in the GCL.

Plus, with no expectations comes the high possibility of a sleeper prospect emerging.  First pitch for the season is at 7:05 p.m.  against Mahoning Valley.