WNBA Playoff Chase 2017

Teams fighting for positions in close race as season expires.

By Steve Samek

It’s the heat of the WNBA season. Eight teams enter the playoffs and spots are still up for grabs. Not many though as five of eight teams have punched a ticket to the Tournament.

The 2016 champions LA Sparks sit in the two seed with a mark of 21-8 so far. Ahead of them is their nemesis from the championship series last year the Minnesota Lynx at 22-6.

The Conneticut Sun have the bronze medal seed after a 19-10 record to date. Following them at number four is the League’s hottest team with five wins in a row, The New York Liberty.
In fifth it’s the off-season sighing winners the Washington Mystics. Though both the Liberty and Mystics sport identical 17-12 records.

Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas would round out the eight if the season where over. Chicago and Atlanta are chasing spots, but it doesn’t look good for either team. Atlanta has to be the coldest team in the league, having lost nine in a row.

San Antonio and Indiana have been eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams have won fewer than ten games. Atlanta has ten wins, but with the landslide at which they are headed I see their elimination coming swiftly.
The Sky have a bit of a challenge to get in as well. With a tough final five game slate. The Sky has to play all teams ahead of them in the standings, including Minnesota. They sit three games out of a playoff spot so, they may have to win out with help to get in.
The last three in at the moment should have a leg up on getting in. Seattle and Dallas sit just a game behind Phoenix. Though they each have a three-game lead up on Chicago. Lucky for these teams with the new playoff system in place, it won’t be a don’t finish eighth and get smashed by one last season’s finalists in the first-round situation. Though they still have to win four series to win it all as a five through eight seed.
Look for any head to head matchups down the stretch to settle seeding. The most intriguing of which would be the 1-2 rematch between LA and Minnesota. On August 27,2017. With LA a game behind the Lynx, who have a game an extra game left to play, this is a can’t miss matchup.
Be sure to check out the rest of the season’s sure to be clutch action. See you in the playoffs.

 

Fayetteville Baseball 2019 Name

Fan vote determines new identity.

By Steve Samek

It was discussed in a prior post how bad and boring the new Houston Astros affiliate in the Carolina league’s new name would be. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e

 Fortunately, this is just a two-year stop gap name until the team moves to a new stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Name possibilities have been announced and well let’s check them out here. http://www.baseballamerica.com/business/fayetteville-stadium-groundbreaking-set-for-monday/?utm_content=buffer396b0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#muXadQQPXxd8JezK.97.

 

First up is The Fatbacks. The name is explained as coming from a pork dish, popular down south. Absolutely not does this need to be a nickname. Food nicknames are starting to get ridiculous. http://bit.ly/2uJuui0.

Also, really a pig them, it doesn’t show much creativity. I mean you have the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs the Texas Air Hogs any Razorbacks you can think of, the former Winston-Salem Warthogs. I don’t think swine is the way to go.

Batting second is the Flytraps. Apparently, the plant is native to the wetlands of Carolina. It also matches up with catching fly balls. To me it screams backyard baseball copycat. It’s a fun name for a kid’s game, but not for the major leagues.

Third we have the Jumpers. The name comes from parachute regiments at Fort Bragg nearby, specifically the 82nd airborne division. Good effort though I think misplaced. Jumper isn’t really a flattering term. Why not try like the artillery, Battery, or old school Generals, maybe Cannons, or raiders. The possibilities are there if you look and think a bit creatively.

Fourth up is the Wood Dogs. This is a meh name. Sounds too much like the Down East Wood Ducks. It’s just rather boring. Also, too close to the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs of the Coastal Planes League. http://www.goswampdogs.com/why-the-swampdogs/.

Finally, we have the Woodpeckers.  Named after an endangered species in the area. It just doesn’t seem like an exciting name. It just falls into the generic bird category.

Not impressed with this crop of names. They just feel generic and boring. Not much better than Astros. I think they have something with a military angle, but it needs to not be jumpers. Interesting to see the final name and logo.

 

 

 

 

 

MLL Championship Preview 2017

By Steve Samek

On August 19, 2017, Major League Lacrosse will name a champion. The Denver Outlaws, last year’s winner’s go up against the Ohio Machine, a two-time entrant in the title game. The battle takes place in Frisco, Texas at a neutral site.
Denver is going for championship number seven. Last season they beat this Machine team by a score of 19-18 in the title game after dispatching the New York Lizard’s in round one.
This season the Outlaws went 9-5, tying for first. Denver advanced with a first- round victory over Rochester 15-8.

Ohio was the top seed last season. They too out Charlotte in round one 17-10 to advance to the title match in 2016.
Ohio finished the regular season at 9-5, tied for first with the Outlaws. The Machine took an 18-13 battle with the Florida Launch to get back to the title game.
This season the teams have split a two -game series. Denver took game one 13-11 on the road. Ohio returned the favor with a 13-12 road win on July 23,2016.

The Outlaws look good with a lineup including last season’s MLL Championship game MVP in Eric Law, Rookie of the year candidate in Zack Currier. and goalie of the year candidate Jack Kelly. The team also scored 199 times while giving up 163 goals against, both top marks in the league.
The Machine counter with an offense that scored 195 goals and a defense that only allowed 163. A big reason for that is goalie of the year candidate Kyle Bernlohr. https://t.co/mnu8yhqMgm

This battle is too close to call. The goaltending will be fantastic and the scoring too. This should come down to a third one- goal game. Though I thin Denver takes this one with all the championship experience it owns. 14-13 Outlaws is my prediction.

 

More Food

Teams embracing a new trend with naming.

By Steve Samek

In this post, we took a look at some food themed nicknames. http://bit.ly/2njLZ0M

 Sense then it seems like new food names are popping up left and right in Minor League baseball. Most with disastrous results that hopefully show the end of the trend.

Starting in Aberdeen, where the awesome name of the Iron Birds, gets traded in for steamed crabs. This logo actually looks pretty cool with the giant mallet the crab wields.

However steamed is a bad adjective for a team. To me it is about your team getting crushed and beaten, badly, as in steamrolled. Why you want your team named after this I really don’t know. Stone Crabs and Blue Claws are better options for crab themed name. This is a poor attempt at regional appeal marketing. http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20170730&content_id=245452880&fext=.jsp&sid=t488&vkey=.

The Rochester Redwings wore went out and played a game as the garbage plates on August 10,2017.  A garbage plate regional dish of a whole mess of stuff in one dish. It turns 100 years old this year and was invented at a local eatery not too far from the Redwings ballpark. https://www.milb.com/red-wings/news/red-wings-to-become-the-plates-on-august-10/c-240398526/t-196097302.

It’s still a stupid idea. These jerseys look so weird. The shorten version of the name to the plates is so silly and unintimidating. Too much for my liking.

I must be wrong though, as in 2018 the team will rock these threads as the plates for every Thursday home game.  https://twitter.com/RocRedWings

Promotion wizards the Brooklyn Cyclones join in as the slices. Named after slices of Pizza that New York is famous for.  The Hats have the famous Brooklyn bridge inhabited by a piece of pizza. http://m.mlb.com/cutfour/2017/03/18/219921318/photos-brooklyn-cyclones-will-fight-for-new-york-pizza-supremacy

 

Its goofy and the best of the bunch from this article. It’s still a bit much though.

The final squad is the Syracuse Chiefs becoming the salt potatoes.  A salt potato is a local dish of potatoes soaked in brine. Once popular with minors for lunch, this now has become a popular side dish for all to enjoy. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/141785/syracuse-salt-potatoes/.

The Chiefs are enjoying this one. Merchandise sales are up, as potatoes gear has reached at least 39 states via online sales.  http://www.syracuse.com/chiefs/index.ssf/2017/06/5_signs_that_salt_potatoes_fever_is_sweeping_the_nation_and_filling_syracuse_chi.html.

Positive for the team yes, something that needs to stay no. I get a bad reminder of a backyard baseball logo from 2005 in the form the of mashing tators.   Sales may have hit a home run, or tator, but I just think the name is a strikeout on three pitches for ridiculousness.

Yes, I am a bit of a fan of goofy names for teams. No, I don’t like ones that don’t make any sense. Food is best eaten, not named your team after. That is where I think they crossed the line into names that don’t make sense. Please don’t let this trend continue.

 

 

Post 100

By Steve Samek

Hard to believe, but Hammer Down has reached 100 posts. This post has a bit more of the celebratory than the informative. Taking a look at our best posts and any of significance so far.
Starting off of course with the first post ever written. This was my post on Mitch Keller as a top Pirates prospect. It was a fun post to write and has enjoyed some success as far as being viewed. Check it out here. https://hammerdownsportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/after-strong-season-mitch-keller-is-a-top-three-pirates-prospect/
Next let’s keep with milestones and hit up post 99. It’s a piece on UBA expansion into Los Vegas. It’s based off the relative success on my post talking about the league may do well with an expansion in Portland, Maine. Read them here.
Moving on let do some editor’s choice. This would be my all-star team of some of the best posts we have to offer so far.
Our first pick is a couple options on Jose Fernandez. Both were incredibly well written by two excellent classmates and writers. Give them some love here. https://hammerdownsportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/live-life-like-jose-lived-life/
And here https://hammerdownsportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/in-close-race-for-nl-cy-young-jose-fernandez-should-come-out-on-top/.

Next would be the most popular post by views on the blog. Talking about rank Pirates closers here. A good read worth seeing why it’s so popular. https://hammerdownsportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/ranking-the-top-five-pirates-closers-since-2000/.
Another favorite of mine was one from a couple weeks ago. I never thought I would cover something as wild as snail racing. Here it is though, good for a laugh, or two. http://bit.ly/2tHvJZO.
This is one I just feel really proud of. A bit disappointed it hasn’t been viewed much. http://bit.ly/2p6qTmk. Support it there if you please.
While it has been a great run it would not have been possible without a lot of people. A lot of great classmates of mine contributed to the foundation of this blog. It would be missing a lot if it wasn’t for them. So many thanks to them, they know who they are.
I also want to than the fans and followers. It’s always so rewording to know someone appreciates the time and effort spent on these posts. Thank you fans.
What’s next you ask? Well here’s to another 100 posts I hope. I really was surprised to get this far. It almost was a done for blog in December. Though I made it through a tough couple of months and have done a decent job so far. I’m happy with the consistent up-ward direction of the blog. Looking to keep it that way and keep expanding best I can. Thanks again to all for your continued support.

UBA Expansion Part Two

By Steve Samek

In this post, http://bit.ly/2pbcKoH I covered an expansion movie I though the UBA should make. While nothing has come to light yet the league is still expanding. The roster of teams is now at 226.

Two of these teams are coming from the next big section, sense the addition of the Alaska district. That is the brand-new Las Vegas District.  The Las Vegas Hot Shots and Strong n 1 are the first two entrants in the district. A promo video is in place to make this announcement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m99OZOxKsU.

I like this expansion plan. Vegas isn’t known for professional sports franchises and could use more. Even though this isn’t a true major league like the PBA, it is a step up from amateurs. Heck if Vegas can expand to the NHL, why not bowling.

Expansion can also lead to Reno. Reno is a popular destination for bowlers. The PBA holds events there such as the USBC Masters and the World Series of Bowling. https://www.pba.com/Tournaments/Season/95

 The Women’s U.S open takes place there. https://www.bowl.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?id=23622323370

 For amateurs, the USBC open championships occur there at the national bowling stadium. Making Vegas and Reno bowling towns that would fit well in the UBA.

The personalities would also match well in Vegas. The trash talk, nicknames, team names that are all about swagger would go well in a party place like Los Vegas. Vegas being a town now for being over the top with all the lights and attractions. The money aspect of the UBA also fits in well with the gambling and money moving of Vegas.

The only thing is Vegas is a bit far away from the main line of teams in New York and New Jersey. It isn’t really close to the North Carolina based South division teams either. So, it makes it extremely difficult to get a full season tour in with only two teams.

Maybe some teams visit from Alaska, but that’s still a significant chunk of miles to go to roll. I would love to see Vegas keep expanding and get its own tour season. Who knows maybe Battle Bowl, the primer event of the season gets moved to Vegas. That would be huge for the UBA and work well to accommodate the growing number of teams and individuals. It could also be the start of a western division of the UBA moving towards California and the like. Great move by the UBA.

Football POP

By Steve Samek

This may Seem like it belongs on the social blog, but its work here.

Today Funko announced NFL Hall of Famers would become POP figures. 11 players and two coaches receive the Funko treatment.

For players you have Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Deion Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Dan Marino, Bo Jackson and more. The Coaches are Mike Ditka and Tom Landry. Sander’s also comes with exclusive options only found at Toys r us.

I like how these look a lot. I also like how it extends the NFL line and works well with the current players already in the line.

What I don’t like is how hard these things seem to find. I may find an NFL pop if I’m lucky, but it’s never a Pittsburgh Steeler. I have looked at multiple stores and can’t come away with Antonio Brown, or Big Ben.  Only Can Newton and a couple Seahawks to be seen.

I think from the line I’ll pick up Bradshaw and Mike Ditka for the Pittsburgh connection.

The Funko sports line seems to be neglected a bit and this should help. Between this addition and the new NFL wave set to come out it looks like the sports line is starting to return again.  Hopefully this leds to more NBA, NHL and MLB pops returning to the line.

Check out the new line here. https://funko.com/blogs/news/coming-soon-nfl-legends-pop-s.