Good morning Sports Fans, here we are the end of August, and several sports are gearing up either for the push for the playoffs or for the start of the season. I’m going to try and get to them all, so this may be a long winded post a bit. I want feedback, I want your thoughts so lets get this discussion going and don’t hold back.
Three sports are getting ready for their version of playoffs, NASCAR, MLB, and the PGA. NASCAR has the chase for the cup, MLB pennant races are really heating up, and the PGA has the FedEx Cup playoffs starting next week. All have their own excitement, their own drama and players, drivers, and teams trying to make that last minute push to have a shot at winning a championship.
In MLB, you have division leaders, The Yankees, Royals and Astros (huh?) in the AL, while The Cardinals, Dodgers, and Mets (what?) in the NL. The surprises here of course are the Mets and the Astros, in which the Astros have a 4 game lead on the Rangers, and the Mets who have a 5 game lead on the Nationals. This has been fun to watch, to see the Astros and Mets do what no one thought they had a glimmer of hope of doing in April, leading their divisions or even being a playoff contender at the end of August going into The September playoff push. The Wildcard teams are a bit more cloudy at this point, which brings even more excitement to the game. In the AL you have 6 teams within 1.5 games of a wildcard spot, with Toronto (wait, what?) and Texas leading the way. Toronto has been on a tear, what with trading deadline additions David Price and Troy Tulowitzki adding a needed spark and as for Josh Donaldson, wow what can I say, last night “the bringer of rain” had 6… count them 6 RBIS in a rout of LA 15-3. They lead the WC now by 4.5 games with Texas, LA Angels, Baltimore, Minnesota and Tampa all within 1.5 games of a WC spot. This drama is why MLB added a second WC team, cause I am into it, and if you’re not, then you have no pulse…lol. In the NL we have less drama, with Pittsburgh and Chicago (really?) 5 games up on the rest of the field. The NL Central is clearly the class of the NL, because despite being WC contenders neither has a real chance of winning the division because the Cards are clearly thee best team in Baseball right now. The real drama in the division races is in the AL East between NY and Toronto, and the NL West between LA and the Giants. Those divisions are still pretty much up for grabs and could come down to the last week of the season.
In NASCAR the race for the chase is heating up, and all of the drama is surrounding the 18 team of Kyle Busch. Kyle broke his left leg and right ankle in Daytona opening weekend and since coming back has made it his personal goal to make it in to the chase, racking off 4 wins in 5 races the last couple of months. He is now listed as being 29th in the standings after last nights race, and now has a 46 point lead over Cole Whitt to remain in the top 30 in overall points. If Busch maintains this lead and stays in the top thirty after the next two races, he will make the chase, despite missing 11 races this season. That is remarkable on so many different levels, because he seemed to be done after the accident in February. I find myself rooting for him, despite the fact I have never liked Kyle, but as he grows older and with the birth of his child (My Opinion Arnie) shortly after the wreck in Feb, I feel that it has given him more focus and brought him more down to earth. I’m rooting for him, and it feels weird to do so, but you have to admire what he has done this year. We have two races left before the chase, Sept 6 at Darlington, and then Sept 12 at Richmond. After that the chase is on, and it promises to be exciting.
Now as for the PGA, the FedEx cup playoffs begin next week, and the last tournament of the season has provided a bit of drama going into the playoffs. There’s this guy name Tiger, perhaps you have heard of him? Despite having missed the cut in three majors this year and only having played in 10 total events, he has still managed to be within striking distance of making the playoffs. Going into the final round of the Wyndham Championship today in North Carolina, if Tiger wins, he is projected to finish at 125th in FedEx points, earning him a spot in the playoffs. No one truly believes he has a shot to win the championship, but the fact that he is once again in the mix is great for the sport. So be prepared for a lot of excitement today in Greensboro NC , it is good to see Tiger in the mix again. My only question is, can he carry it over into next season and get back to being the Tiger we remember? He will be 40 in December, and although he feels he still has a lot of great golf ahead of him, can he compete with players like Jordan Spieth, Rory McElroy, Rickie Fowler, and recent PGA Championship winner Jason Day? It will be fun to see if Tiger can compete with the new guard, the young guns, and become relevant again.
Now for my favorite subject, football, and the gearing up of the regular season in both the NCAA and the NFL. I have always been a believer in less preseason games, and the reason for this is primarily injury related. Once again we have seen top players go down to injury in the preseason ending their season before it begins, the latest on that list is DE Frank Alexander of the Panthers with a torn Achilles. Preseason games are played to evaluate talent, and if coaches cant determine who is going to make their roster after 2 preseason games, then in my opinion they are doing something wrong. Plus, add to that the owners do not have to share revenue with other teams for preseason games, so greed is another factor in how many preseason games are played. This really needs to be looked at hard by the NFL, but what with how bad they have handled off the field incidences, trying to focus on actual on the field issues is asking a lot. As for the NCAA, games begin Thursday night Sept 3, and with my new job, I will finally be able to watch a full season of NCAA football this year. My Buckeyes are the favorite to repeat as champs, I really love the playoff system from last year, but I really think they should increase the teams to 8 or maybe 12, but for the most part it was great to finally have a playoff in the NCAA last year. The USA Today preseason coaches poll is out already and the top 5 are Ohio State, TCU, Alabama, Baylor and Oregon. The AP poll comes out today at 2pm, and I would like to see how the two compare.
On a final note, the Little League World Series is happening, and if you have never watched these kids play, it really is a beautiful thing. These kids are having fun, they play their hearts out and this is where the passion of the game is seen in its purest form. No big contracts, no endorsement deals, just pure raw emption and great play. check it out, you’ll fall in love with the game all over again.
Those are my Sunday thoughts for this week. Please remember to join Brian “Scooter B” Cullen, Robert Arnold, and myself for “The Sports Nerds” tonight on Spreecast where we talk sports, pop culture, and business every week starting at 7 Eastern. I have been battling Pharyngitis over the last week, but my voice today seems better and I will be giving it a go tonight if Brian and Robert are up to it. Have a great Sunday everyone!!
Scott Wright “The Sports Nerd”