His Honor

Yankees rookie is on many radars.

By Steve Samek.

The New York Yankees a team of money. Known to flash the cash at whatever free agent can come their way. Yet what if I told you the Yanks did it the old-fashion way and have a home-grown talent dominating the game today.

The domination comes in the form of rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge is hitting at a .344 clip with 21 home runs and 47 RBI. All of those are top marks in the American League.  The 21 homers are a league-wide best. Throw in additional top marks for runs scored, walks, total bases and the dominance is real. http://m.yankees.mlb.com/news/article/235942730/aaron-judge-is-named-al-player-of-the-week/.

Judge is coming off a week where he hit .500. Got on base at a .600 while slugging 1.00. The Yanks won five of the six contests and led the American League East.  The impressive week gave Judge the nod as player of the week for the first time in his career.

http://m.yankees.mlb.com/news/article/235942730/aaron-judge-is-named-al-player-of-the-week/

This comes on the heels of Judge being named AL rookie of the month for both April and May. http://m.mlb.com/awards/history-winners/?award_id=ALROM&year=2017

If that doesn’t get your attention his power should. On Sunday June 11,2017 Judge hit 495 feet, clearing the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It was the second longest tracked home run ever, sense 2015 and the longest homer in the majors this year. http://m.yankees.mlb.com/news/article/235942730/aaron-judge-is-named-al-player-of-the-week/.

 The power looks to be real too. By homering 21 times to date, Judge has already amassed a career high in homers. Judge hit 56 homers in the minor leagues, with 39 of them coming in the past two seasons. 27 of those round trippers came at the triple a level. http://m.mlb.com/player/592450/aaron-judge?year=2017&stats=career-r-hitting-minors. Think twice pitchers before throwing the high heat.

Judge was a great player in the minors. Three times he was selected as an Milb.com Yankees organization all-star. In 2014, he received an invitation to play for Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League for advanced prospects. Judge made the AFL all-prospect team for his play with Scottsdale, while also being an AFL player of the week award. Then in 2015 Judge was selected for the Futures game as a member of the Scranton/WB Railriders. http://m.mlb.com/player/592450/aaron-judge?year=2017&stats=career-r-hitting-minors. The first call to the majors came on August 13,2016 when the Yankees selected his contract.

Judge suited up in 27 games during that final month of 2016. He hit .179, but had 4 home runs and 10 rbi. Though an oblique strain sent him to the 15-day DL. http://m.mlb.com/player/592450/aaron-judge?year=2017&stats=career-r-hitting-mlb. Now the injury looks to be behind him and the numbers are improving.

Judge’s stellar season has gained the attention of fans league wide. Judge has the led in the All-star game vote for the American league outfield. His over a million and 250 thousand and 500 votes is the top mark in the American league for any position. http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/american-league-star-game-voting-a/#5ysDggDukcAhpHQC.97. To capitalize on this success Judge has earned his own cheering section. The section has been dubbed the Judge’s chambers and sits in right field. Fans wear judges robs and receive foam gavels that say “All Rise.” https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/05/22/yankees-aaron-judge-chambers-cheering-section-photos.  True intimidation factor for opposing right fielders. Judge approves of the section too. http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2017/05/what_yankees_aaron_judge_thinks_of_the_judges_cham.html

 

Can’t wait to see this guy in the all-star game. Should he win the triple crown, Judge can easily put a stamp on Rookie of the Year as well. No jury deliberation needed on that one.

 

Logo Mania 2017

By Steve Samek

The chase for supremacy once again hits minor league baseball. This time in the form of Logomania 2017. A contest of 36 teams and four rounds naming one champ the best logo in minor league baseball. Here is how I voted in the first round of the contest and my thoughts on the included teams.
Pool A
Biloxi
Montgomery
Carolina
Beloit
Buffalo
Charleston
This pool features three good logos fighting for two spots in the next round. The Carolina Mudcats is a classic goofy logo that is much loved. The Biloxi Shuckers have made some waves sense rebranding from the Huntsville Stars. Either of these fine aquatic themes offering should end up advancing to the second round as pool A’s runner up. Beloit has a slightly better than average logo, but it’s in a strong pool and should not advance. So many negative points to whoever though to include the likes of the Charleston River dogs and Buffalo Bison in this tournament. They are so boring and uncreative that they don’t deserve a shot at the best logo title. The easy winner here is Montgomery. The Biscuits are the original food themed logo. Take that Lehigh Valley and Fresno. http://bit.ly/2njLZ0M. They will make you laugh and take the title belt with it. Vote Montgomery.

Pool B
Clearwater
Corpus Christi
El Paso
Eugene
Hillsboro
Las Vegas
This is the strong, but not strong enough bracket. With the likes of Threshers, Hooks, Chihuahua’s, Hops, Emeralds and 51’s in the house. Each with great local flare, but not really well known nationally. Except maybe the infamous little doggies. https://hammerdownsportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/el-paso-embraces-the-chihuahuas/ I vote for the aliens to back up the pups in this one. Vote El Paso
Pool C
Ashville
Binghamton
Chattanooga
Durham
Frisco
Jacksonville
Quirky meets classic in this bracket. Mr. Moon of Ashville graces a glow in the dark cap that does look really cool. A horse meets Rocky in another option. Famous Bulls put the classic in this grouping. Combined with a new rebrand effort, a weird look and a United States President and you have a pool C where anything can happen. Two of these names I talked about here and I agree with my thoughts today as I did before. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e. Frisco owns the president on the cap and Teddy Roosevelt does hit hard in this competition. My vote goes to the RoughRiders over the most likely picked Jumbo Shrimp. Vote Frisco
Pool D
Stockton
Tennessee
Albuquerque
Salt Lake
Tacoma
Akron
A very underwhelming selection of teams. A standard script R logo yawn. A bee, a bear, an anchor, try no. An Isotope and the RubberDucks should be the picks to move on. I vote for the one mentioned on a long running cartoon. Vote Albuquerque.
Pool E
Rochester
Syracuse
Vermont
Modesto
Ogden
Richmond
A bracket that looks underwhelming at first. The Red Wings and Chiefs are a weak start to this bracket. The next four redeem this bracket. Nuts, Raptors, Lake Monsters and Flying Squirrels make this a tough pick. Lake Monsters advance as does Richmond. My vote goes to the super hero Squirrel. Vote Richmond
Pool F
Harford
Norfolk
Reno
Lansing
New Orleans
Portland.
Save the best for last as the saying goes. This bracket will see two strong players come out of it. Lansing, Portland and Reno could be sleeper picks to advance and surprise people. Hartford and Norfolk also look impressive, yet retain a certain comedy to them. As for New Orleans please do yourself a favor and not rebrand to something stupid. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e. Read more there. Voting here for a tasteful rebrand. Vote Norfolk.
You can vote in the contest to crown a champion here. http://www.baseballamerica.com/2017-logomania/

 

Steel City Football

By Steve Samek

Texas is a football state. Even at the youngest levels the sport is dominant. Pennsylvania is another upper tier football state. Western Pennsylvania and the WPIAL highlights this list.

Texas young football player got national exposure on Esquire Networks Friday Night Tykes show. It has lasted four seasons, and can be further reviewed here. http://bit.ly/2mZ3Hq2

Pennsylvania son followed with a season one based in Beaver County and the Beaver County Youth Football League, or BCYFL. Season one thoughts can be chronicled here. https://sameksportsblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/steel-country.

The main difference between the first and second season of Steel Country was the move to USA from Esquire and the elimination of Monica and Ambridge being covered and replaced with Sto-Rox and more emphasis on Beaver Falls. Central Valley, Aliquippa, and Blackhawk return to the field as well. The age bracket went up to the highest age too.

Blackhawk was a decent team this season after playing in last season’s finals. The Cougars created a team in the highest division to end with a championship and play with each other one more time. Best of intentions, not the best season.

Sto-Rox was the worst team on the show. The newcomers were more into fighting and goofing off than playing football. It showed on the field as the season ended short of the title. Though it was pretty cool to see the players get to do a bit of firefighter training as a team bonding activity.

Beaver Falls impressed me a lot. They clearly knew what they were doing this season. Though a host of star power still couldn’t get them the prize. Also, a plus for their big rivalry with Aliquippa.

Central Valley was the champs from last season. They looked to keep winning this season. A surprise entrant in the finals after playing one of the best games of the season, can CV win it all?

Aliquippa is the defending champ, but in this seasons age bracket. They are going for the undefeated title win this year. Off the field issues in the community threaten the season. Can this team keep it together and rally the community with another championship?

The main action of the show was on the field. Games were close and rivalries are highlighted. Teams play for community pride. It gives it a dimension that the Texas edition doesn’t. In Texas, it’s the organization more than the town that matters. In Pennsylvania, it’s often times the best thing to happen to a town is to play football with all the violence and negativity.  Granted it doesn’t make for a lot of creativity in storyline, but it is real and true. I would say the second season improved a lot on the first season of Steel Country. I recommend checking it out if you’re a local football fan, or fan of the original show.

Stanley Cup Final 2017

By Steve Samek

Here we go. From 16 teams, down to two in the NHL playoffs. It’s the surprise Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins looking to go back to back in winning Stanley Cups, while the Predators look for their first.

Nashville stunned Chicago in round one, before beating St. Louis and Anaheim. Pittsburgh run to the cup went through Columbus, Washington and Ottawa.

This could be the most interring series yet. During the season, the Pens and Preds have split their two games. The home team took the victory in each game. Nashville outscored Pittsburgh seven five in those two meetings. https://www.nhl.com/predators/news/instant-analysis-nashville-predators-face-defending-champs-in-final/c-289616482

 

Though offense may be hard to come by in this series. Nashville is the top team in goals against average in the playoffs with a 1.81 mark. Having only surrendered 29 goals. https://nhl.bamcontent.com/images/photos/289652432/2550×3300/cut.png.

 

 Big reason for this is goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rinne has the top playoff marks for save percentage with .941 and wins with 12. Combine that with a 1.70 GAA and you have a brick wall. http://www.nhl.com/stats/leaders?

The goalie tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray should also make it difficult for Nashville to score. Fleury has a 2.56 gaa and a .924 save percentage while picking up nine wins. http://www.nhl.com/stats/leaders? Both Fleury and Rinne have posted two shutouts during the playoffs.

Though Rinne will be tested. The Penguins lead in goals per game with 3.05. This is highlighted by Jake Geuntzal’s nine playoff tallies. Evgeni Malkin is the playoffs leading scorer by points with 24. http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/19471551/2017-stanley-cup-ranking-all-stanley-cup-finals-players. Back him up with ESPN ranked number one player in this series Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel and there is no shortage of threats to light the lamp. http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/19471551/2017-stanley-cup-ranking-all-stanley-cup-finals-players

Nashville will look to Filip Forsberg to score with his team best eight goals and 15 points during the playoffs.

Though it may be close in goaltending it isn’t close in experience. The Penguins boast 156 games of Stanley Cup Experience, with 19 goals scored and 24 winners of the Stanley Cup. The Predators have no Stanley Cup winners, 2 goals scored and a mere five games played in the cup. Note that doesn’t include the injured Chris Letang for Pittsburgh. http://www.nhl.com/stats/.

 

This is the third time the Penguins have played in back to bac finals. The first in 1991 and 1992 in which they won both. Then in 2008 and 2009 they split two finals with Detroit, but won the second of the two.  On top of that the Penguins have been the dominant team in the playoffs the past 10 years ranking first or second in Stanley Cup finals appreances, wins and playoff wins. https://nhl.bamcontent.com/images/photos/289652432/2550×3300/cut.png.  Though in the home ice advantage of gold standard mark 481 consecutive sell outs and Nashville is in for a brutal fight. https://nhl.bamcontent.com/images/photos/289652432/2550×3300/cut.png.

Nashville will take at least one game, maybe two. You don’t sweep a Chicago team, built very much like Pittsburgh in terms of star power, and not feel confident. I wouldn’t say it was luck as Nashville followed it up by beating St. Louis and Anaheim too, both times presumably as the underdog.

This could be a cause where if Pittsburgh underestimates them and comes out flat it could be in for a surprise. Much like the series against Ottawa that should on paper have been domination. Pittsburgh’s star power and experience has the ability to win this in quick fashion. They just need to play like it.

Bold prediction is Pens in 5. Realistic is Pens in 6. Though I would venture to say a game seven would be incredibly interesting and would be anyone’s to take.  This series is the rubber match from the regular season with so much more on the line. Looking for both teams to come out hungry and have this be an intense final. One that should end with Crosby hoisting his third cup and adding to his legacy.

Not even this viral video with catchy tune will stop Pittsburgh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz7SlP3FiM4

 

 

Challenge One

Issued By Steve Samek

Deciding to change it up with content. Below are some links to YouTube videos from a channel called TPS, or total pro sports. In these videos, there is a different naming challenge to conquer. I ran through the challenges below and recorded the following scores. I am passing on the challenge to Hammer Down readers and fans. Can you best the Hammer Down Sports Blog Staff?

Here are the rules I followed during the challenge. You have one view per video to attempt the challenge. You can start naming during the commercial break before a video should one occur. The challenge ends when the video has run out. The challenge should occur in writing. The goal is to gain the points by naming the correct teams before they are said in the video. If you get an answer from the video the point will not count. Gather the most points possible. No googling, internet, or phone help allowed either.  Teams of friend are allowed to brainstorm, but are still subject to the same above rules. Some videos also are broken down into segments by league. If you get other team names while working on a different league they count, but after all the leagues teams have been named in the video you can’t count those for points. Again, name the teams before they are mentioned in the video to score the points.

After attempting the challenge post your results by commenting on the post in WordPress, or via Facebook, or Twitter. Good luck on the challenge.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Rt2m_me3U. 2 of 6

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyoGgHICZGk 10 of 11

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-1z8g4lj2k 9 of 15

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GelG2m6LTjc 10 of 12

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TKeSQACff8 10 of 12

Total score 41 of 56 73%