According to WordPress, either last night or today celebrated the 1st anniversary of my blog, so I decided to do a post about how I started my blog. Start a blog today and we can celebrate both our anniversaries together. This year I had about 250 posts. If you want to start a blog, not just about sports, but about anything you enjoy, read Find Your Talent: Start A Blog by Matt Anniss. I couldn’t find a photo but you’ll find it if you try a library card catalog or online card catalog. That book is what inspired me to get started after I took it out from the library. Boy, did I find my talent from that great book. Hopefully, you’ll find yours. If you aren’t into blogging, check out the rest of the series. Maybe something else is your talent. All I know is I found mine.
March Madness. The upsets, the big wins, and the amazing comebacks. The sweet 16 approaches today. I’ll be recapping everything leading up to today. I’m not rooting for any team, so my predicted winners are the teams I want to win. See my ESPN bracket at http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2015/en/entry?entryID=4442153
So it started with 68 teams, ant the first four. I was off to a good start picking Ole Miss over BYU and Dayton over Boise State. I did not however pick Hampton or Robert Morris in the first four. Well, the real madness starts in the round of 64. For the most part, things went as planned. But a few upsets that didn’t happen and a few that did should be noted. Butler defeated Texas, I predicted Texas in a big upset there. Another busted upset was Ole Miss beating Xavier. Xavier won, going on to play a team you wouldn’t believe. Baylor suffered a big round of 64 upset to Georgia State. I predicted the upset of Ohio State beating VCU correctly, and the UCLA upset over SMU. But, I didn’t see UAB over Iowa State coming. That was a big surprise, losing me the first of my elite eight. Two more upsets to go. I successfully picked Dayton over Providence. But, I also predicted Wyoming over Northern Iowa, which was so far from actually happening. I had done very well as we moved on to the round of 32. Early on, I lost one of my final four as Wichita State upset Kansas. I also predicted an upset which didn’t happen, Iowa over Gonzaga. Then, I predicted a huge upset correctly. Michigan State, who would supposedly be my alternate champion for Louisville if they win the elite eight match between them if it happens, which at this point it probably will, unless Oklahoma beats Michigan State, because North Carolina State cannot beat Louisville. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, i couldn’t predict Villanova suffering an upset to North Carolina State. Maybe they have another big upset knocking some of my best teams out. Otherwise, any other matches where two teams I predicted to play played went as planned for the second time. The Sweet 16 will consist of eight more match ups for me to hope my predicted winner will win. Want to share your bracket? Leave the link in comments, and I’ll be sure to check it out. I’m expecting unlike myself, at least one third of the people I’ll see have picked Kentucky to win. I think Kentucky has its weaknesses though, just like any other NCAA team.
The Bruins shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 5th Boston win in a row, making their record 36-22-10. The Bruins have won 6 of their last 7 games getting at least one point per game since I went to the game on February 28, making them one of the hottest teams in hockey. The Bruins would be the 7th seed playoff team if the season ended today. In the game, Tuukka Rask got 30 saves. Dennis Seidenberg had the first penalty, tripping against Chris Kunitz. Then, the first of 2 Boston goals was scored. Milan Lucic scored a goal assisted by David Pastrnak and Dougie Hamilton. Soon after, Penguins player David Perron tripped Max Talbot. The next penalty was on Loui Eriksson, hooking against Paul Martin. The second period was quiet but penalty infested. Patric Hornqvist was responsible for the first penalty, interference against Torey Krug. the second and final 2nd period penalty was Chris Kelly’s hi-sticking penalty against Christian Ehrhoff. The third period had a penalty about one fourth of the way in. Ben Lovejoy was called for hooking against Brad Marchand. With a few minutes left, Tuukka Rask made the save of the game. He dived out of the net to grab the puck and get it into his glove. Then, the Penguins took out their goalie, Thomas Greiss with about 40 seconds left. Greiss is the backup goalie for Pittsburgh, who rested their starting goalie for today’s game. He wasn’t a scratch, but he wasn’t in the net for the whole game. Then, one of the best and longest shots I have ever seen for a goal that counted happened. Zdeno Chara shot the puck all the way across the ice to get an empty net goal assisted by Gregory Campbell to make it 2-0 Bruins. At the minute the goal was scored, Steve Downie of the Penguins got penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Some funny stuff happened in this final period as well. At one point, the puck was stuck in Daniel Paille’s shorts, but he got up on his skates to see the puck drop out of his shorts. Also, somebody shot on the goal but hit the post instead knocking the goalie net off its post. Also, on a rebound from a Tuukka Rask save, the Penguins shot the puck and saw it go off a player’s leg and continue to bump against the boards. The Bruins won 2-0. In the game, Sidney Crosby, the Penguins’ best player was a last minute scratch. Their next best player, Evgeni Malkin, barely played and did nothing due to an early game injury. Still, it was still pretty impressive and good for the Bruins that they could shutout the Penguins in Pittsburgh, let alone defeat them in Pittsburgh or even beat them at all, visiting or not. The Bruins were able to pull off an impressive shutout as visitors to one of the best teams in the entire NHL, but they were fortunate that Crosby and Malkin got injured before and early on in the game. Either way, the Bruins had a good road win against a top NHL team.
This week consisted of many key signings and trades in the NFL. The Patriots were involved in this. First, Darrelle Revis was a huge Patriots loss and will be a huge impact on the Jets defense. Revis signed with the Jets and will be back with them this year after the Buccaneers signed him in the 2013 off season. Devin McCourty also resigned with the Patriots this week. McCourty will continue to be a key defensive factor. The Pats also LOST Shane Vereen after he got signed by the Giants, and they may be saying their goodbyes to Stevan Ridley too. They may be seeking a new running back signing like Reggie Bush of the Lions. The Patriots had many off season moves this week. But the Patriots weren’t the only active team this week. The Eagles were also an active SIGNING team. They traded away quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams for the Rams quarterback, Sam Bradford. They also made a huge signing at running back. DeMarco Murray signed a contract with the Philadlephia Eagles earning him over 8 million dollars. The Jets also got hold of former Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. That will hurt the Bears and probably weaken them, even with John Fox replacing Marc Trestman as Bears head coach. Fox coached the Broncos, at times badly in 2014. Otherwise, he was a great coach for Denver before the 2014 season. The Ravens also resigned new star Justin Forsett for about 3 million bucks. Jimmy Graham was also traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a draft pick. That may cause the Saints to really begin to collapse after a shockingly disasterous 2014 season full of big injuries happening to key players like Mark Ingram. The Jets may be better with their signings, but they still have a hole a quarterback. However, they got their hands on Ryan Fitzpatrick. At least he’s better than Geno Smith and Michael Vick. Speaking of quarterback news, Matt Cassel is now with the Buffalo Bills after the retirement from the NFL of Kyle Orton, the 2014 Bills starter from Week 5 on. Brian Hoyer also got signed by the Texans, and he will fight Ryan Mallett and maybe even Tom Savage for the starting position. That leaves the Browns with quarterback options of Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw, and the Vikings are left with the option of Teddy Bridgewater, a second year player and Christian Ponder. Another good defensive signing was Brian Orakpo to the Tennessee Titans. Orakpo is a former Redskins defender. The last and most recent signing was Percy Harvin, signed by the Bills after he visited them earlier this week. Lots of big moves took place in the NFL this week.
The Bruins were very active at the trade deadline. They made three transactions. They traded a second round draft pick for 2015 and 2016 away for forward Brett Connolly in return. Personally, I think this was a fair trade that will help the Bruins in the NHL, but minor league could be a new concern after losing those draft picks. They will get a first look at Connolly’s skills at TD Garden with the Calgary Flames coming to visit this Thursday. I think Connolly will boost the Bruins offense. That was the Bruins main need according to NESN’s fan poll at this past Saturday’s game. Next, they traded Jordan Caron and a 2016 sixth round draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche for Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey, both forwards. That brings more offensive depth to the team. Finally, they traded Jared Knight to the Minnesota Wild for Zack Phillips, yet another forward, although they gave up one. Talbot played 63 games with Colorado this season scoring 5 goals and 10 assists. In past seasons he scored an additional 78 goals since 2006. The trades made will bring a huge impact on the offensive side of things.
My previous post also went on bruins.nhl.com. Here’s the link.
Last night was a very special night for me. I got to sit in the press box because of getting noticed for my blog. First, I’d like to thank all the Bruins press and TD Garden staff for getting this together for me. This was the greatest sports experience of my life. That says a lot when I’ve said play ball at Fenway Park and presented the Red Sox line-up on NESN.
To start my experience, I bought a new Bruins cap at the Pro Shop. I came back down to where I had entered to wait for Bruins Communications Specialist Erika Wentzell. Erika gave me a tour of the media areas of the TD Garden. Once I introduced myself and received my very own press pass, we got right in on the tour.
I first got to go in a huge elevator with supply carts for the game. I got off right in front of a goal waiting to be placed on the ice.
I then saw the ice and took a picture right in front of it.
I then saw the Zambonis waiting outside the area where you could see the ice.
We moved on to where the media was. I saw the room where the post-game press conference takes place. While I was there I met Jack Edwards, the Bruins TV announcer. Next, I saw a room where the press worked. I saw the locker room doors while the players were inside.
Across from the lockers I saw the room where I would meet and interview a player after the game. Then we went on up to the 9th floor press box. I got a tour of the press box including TV and radio announcer rooms. I got to sit in Andy Brickley’s chair while wearing his headphones.
Before we got to our seats, I got a look at the free food I would have access to including unlimited popcorn and soda. Then Erika walked us to our seats with a great view.
Before the game, I met many famous people. First, I met Caryn Switaj, the Bruins Digital Content Specialist. I met Dave Goucher, who remembered me from Play By Play Camps (http://playbyplaycamps.com/). I also met Comcast SportsNet’s Joe Haggerty during warm-ups. Shortly after he introduced me to Dave Goucher’s radio partner Bob Beers, former Bruins star, while getting popcorn and soda. Minutes before the game, I met Joe McDonald.
He tweeted my blog out which was very nice of him and I promised to do the same (https://twitter.com/espnjoeymac). They all told me to keep reading and writing and I plan to. I asked them to read my Boston SportsMania blog and gave them samples and the link (andrewr1008.wordpress.com).
Also before the game, I got game notes that only the press gets and saw my name on the media seating chart and a place card saving my seat at the left end of the press box. I also got lineups minutes before game time and stats before the game and at the end of each period.
The game started and I enjoyed great seats and free food that was delicious. I kept my own stats on the paper with the lineups. I also had the stats I got at the start of the game. After each period, they handed out updated stats which were very cool.
In the second period, I watched with Caryn Switaj, while watching her tweet out quick game updates to 700,000 followers of http://bruins.nhl.com/.
She was very nice and invited me to write this post. Joe McDonald also came by in between periods which made me feel special. Both Joe and Caryn taught me things about writing and also told me interesting facts like Zdeno Chara’s fastest shot in the game, 108 MPH! He scored to make it 4-0 Bruins.
As the third period went by I began to prepare to ask the first question to Claude Julien for the post-game press conference. The game ended with the Bruins winning 4-1 over the Arizona Coyotes.
After listening to a quick interview Caryn Switaj did, I left for the press conference. There, I asked Claude Julien, “Who do you think had a great performance in this game?” He answered, saying everyone did well, especially the young guys that were new additions to the lineup, like Ryan Spooner. He said that Milan Lucic was like a father figure to those players like Spooner, who scored his first career goal to win the Bruins the game in overtime on Friday night. Two sports writers complimented on how well I asked the first question and gave me high fives. I got to then practice for a question I would soon ask a player in the press dressing room.
Brad Marchand came in, and we introduced ourselves.
I asked him, “Thinking about how well you’ve done over the last four games, what do you think your playoff chances are right now?” He answered saying, if we keep playing the way we played tonight, I think we have a pretty good chance. After that, we said goodbye to Erika, and we started on our way home. This was the greatest sports experience of my life!
The Bruins played the Arizona Coyotes last night and won 4-1. It all started early in the 1st period. Milan Lucic scored, shooting from behind the goalpost letting it get past Mike Smith. Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak got assists on it. Then, at the halfway mark of the period, Kyle Chipchura was penalized for delay of game, giving the Bruins a power play. It wasn’t a great one, but either way, power plays are good in some ways. Then, late in the period Brad Marchand scored the second Bruins goal assisted by Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron. Late in, Shane Doan was penalized for interference, as Boston ended the period ending a power play. In the 2nd period, the B’s didn’t stop. 3 minutes in, Patrice Bergeron scored a goal assited by Zdeno Chara and Reilly Smith. With 9 minutes left, Lauri Korpikoski took a trip to the penalty box for hi-sticking. On the power play, Zdeno Chara scored the fourth Bruins goal. Four goals in two periods after playing a game less than 24 hours ago is impressive. Mike Smith was doing so badly, that the Coyotes brought in Louis Domingue, the backup goalie. Chris Kelly was iin the penalty box as the period came to a close. In the third and final period, it started early on wit a Bruins power play, the penalty being holding on Henrik Samuelsson. Domingue didn’t let any more goals go by though. But Rask blew it for a shutout, just after he had made what might have been the save of the night. Martin Erat scored, assisted by Keith Yandle, former Bostonian and Shane Doan. Tuukka Rask reached 30 saves, finishing with 31. Late in was one final Boston power play. The penalty was unsportmanlike conduct on Kyle Chipchura. Chipchura had two penalties on the night. The game ended with a 4-1 Boston win. The two goal leaders, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, both got their 18th goal. Tuukka Rask had 31 saves! Boston had more shots on the goal than Arizona, 34-32 and more saves, which means more goals, a win. The Bruins now have a 6 game winning streak against the Coyotes, and a 31-22-9 record(71 points). The Coyotes have a 9 game losing streak overall, putting their record at 20-36-7(47 points). The Bruins have some rest before and after the trade deadline, on Monday at 3:00 PM ET. Their next game is at home, against the Calgary Flames. The Bruins ended a February offensive struggle as they enter what could be a good March, which hopefully will lead to playoffs. Brad Marchand said, “If we keep playing the way we played in this game, then I think we have a pretty good chance to make the playoffs”. The Bruins could be looking at an improved team in March, with youngsters Ryan Spooner, Brian Ferlin and David Pastrnak.
Spring Training is coming to an end. It’s time to start previewing the teams for the regular season. Today we’ll be looking at the AL East.
1.New York Yankees
I know you may be surprised to hear this but if all the Yankees contribute at least a little bit, they can prosper. They have who they need to have a good year. The issue know is to find where the all star in this group is. Players like Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury have what they need to do so.
The Keys To A Win: Again, consider those players I listed above, but add in Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texiera, Hiroki Kuroda, Mashahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia and Chris Capuano. Where do these players have strengths? What weaknesses do they need to work on. Enough hard work will make these guys all star material again.
What’s All the Hold Up?: Who do the Yankees need to replace if they want division winning material? Chris Young and Mason Williams as backups would be the right choice because they have Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury out there. If I were them, I would sign a third outfielder to start with Ellsbury and Gardner. Otherwise, sit Williams out and just start Young. To be honest, if the Yankees canfind the right starters, then everybody will have a clear role or reason to stay on the team.
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2. LF Brett Gardner
3. DH Alex Rodriguez
4. RF Carlos Beltran
5. 3B Chase Headley
6. 1B Mark Texiera
7. C Brian McCann
8. SS Didi Gregorious
9. 2B Stephen Drew
Projected Starting Rotation
2.Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a very active off season, and the new signings are going to possibly lead the team along with old stars like Napoli, Ortiz and Pedroia. The off season moves were great, keeping all those young stars in the minors for now while signing a ton of big hitters. There’s no salary cap in baseball, so the Sox could sign whoever the heck they wanted. Apparently that included Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and a rotation rebuild.
The Keys To A Win:The new additions have really become the keys of this team. Pablo Sandoval had a great ending to the 2014 season and he knew he wanted to leave the Giants. Hanley Ramirez was another key signing for the Red Sox. He will be playing left field for the Sox. Also think about the rotation rebuild after ending last year with a way too young rotation. Trading Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in for WADE MILEY, that was a priceless move. Losing Yoenis Cespedes hurt, but they have Ramirez and many other outfielders so it was worth it for a good Tigers pitcher in Rick Porcello. Justin Masterson’s return will also boost the rotation. However, the new guys aren’t the only keys to win. David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia. When they all have a good day, you can almost guarantee yourself you’ll see a win that day.
What’s All The Hold Up? Some of these new pitchers are going to fill the roster. Send some of these pitchers to Pawtucket before the season starts. You can only fit so many pitchers. Usually, between 12 and 14 pitchers are on an MLB roster, so the Sox need to cut down on that. The Sox just have too many players, especially pitchers. Open up some roster spots for some good free agents or for trade options.
1. Rusney Castillo CF
2. Mookie Betts/ Shane Victorino RF
3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
4. David Ortiz DH
5. Mike Napoli 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval 3B
7. Hanley Ramirez LF
8. Xander Bogaerts SS
9. Christian Vazquez C
My Prediction: 89-73
3.Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays had a great off season full of new signings that will help them this year. Their lineup has just gotten more and more full. I was wrong about last year, and thinking about last year’s actual record, it makes me think this year they’ll do even better. Well, I think the Orioles and Rays have gone down as well, giving Toronto third place. Last year I thought Toronto wouldn’t go anywhere near the playoff picture. This year, I actually think they could be in the playoff hunt. So, it looks like the Blue Jays are ready for a rebuilt turnaround year.
The Keys To A Win:First, you have to see Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarncion have good games. Those are the two original Toronto stars along with Jose Reyes. Next, you have to a have a key pitcher in the rotation. I expect Mark Buerhle, R.A. Dickey and after his injury is over, Marcus Stroman. Also, think about all the new signings to have. You have Michael Saunders, a fourth outfielder. Then you have Josh Donaldson, the replacement for Brett Lawrie. You also have Justin Smoak. Smoak can join Edwin Encarncion to try and fill in for losing Adam Lind. Him and Encarncion will cover both designated hitter and first base, just as Adam Lind did. Finally, you have Russell Martin. Martin will join Dioner Navarro at catcher. So, Toronto has plenty of helping hands when it comes to winning.
What’s all The Holdup? The Blue Jays have too many backups in the infield and not enough in the outfield. Get rid of all those infielders you’ll never use and trade them for outfielders, hopefully with teams who have the opposite problem, I’m sure there’s one out there if I researched enough. Maybe even cut some of them. You don’t want to end up with the opposite problem. So everything needs to be in moderation. I’d say three outfield backups and two infield backups if there’s room. So, I’d say the best time to get started is now.
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Russell Martin C
3. Jose Bautista RF
4. Edwin Encarncion DH
5. Josh Donaldson 3B
6. Justin Smoak 1B
7. Michael Saunders LF
8. Ryan Goins 2B
9. Kevin Pillar CF
R. A. Dickey
Marcus Stroman (currently injured)
Drew Hutchison (while Stroman’s injured)
4.Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have had their losses, but they still have enough to at least be close to .500. They still have the great rotation they were known for, just without David Price. They also still have many guys in the lineup who can hit as well, just lost some. The Rays have had losses, but in moderation. They still have several keys to a win that I will write about below. The Rays are not a total bust.
The Keys To A Win: They don’t have as many, but they still have some. First, Evan Longoria is still going to be a good hitter for the Rays. However, he needs to be even more of a factor after the loss of Ben Zobrist. Desmond Jennings will also continue to be a productive leadoff hitter. David DeJesus, the new designated hitter will still be good also. But the rotation has stayed full most of all. Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorozzi are all still active pitchers. Four of the five guys in the Rays rotation. So even though the Rays still have great hitters, but they will still be known for a great rotation.
What’s All The Hold Up?: Again, too many backup infielders, however, this time, they have enough backup outfielders. In their situation, I would cut some of them, possibly trade one for an outfielder. So again, get rid of some of the guys you’ll never use, they’re just filling up roster spots. So, open up some roster spots. It can bring in more possible stars.
1. Desmond Jennings CF
2. David DeJesus DH
3. Brandon Guyer LF
4. Evan Longoria 3B
5. James Loney 1B
6. Asdrubal Cabrera SS
7. John Jaso C
8. Logan Forsythe 2B
9. Steven Souza RF
My Prediction: 80-82
The Orioles have had many losses making them worse. Losing Nick Markakis and especially Nelson Cruz will hurt badly. They still have many good hitters though. Their rotation has stuck around also. However, the O’s won’t be nearly as good as they were last year. I mean, playoffs is not happening at this point. They can’t even settle for a record over .500 after the loss they suffered to Seattle. The Orioles may still have enough to be decent for last place in the division. So, The Orioles aren’t a total bust.
The Keys To A Win: The Orioles hitters they still have are still winning keys. Chris Davis is due for a much better season after a slump in the 2014 season. Adam Jones will still be good also. We should also see Matt Wieters back to normal. Also expect good things out of Jonathan Schoop. Also, rotation members Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris are still up to par. So, don’t hope for the best or the worst from this team.
What’s All The Hold Up?: If the Orioles are this bad with so much from a successful 2014, what is weak about them? Reynaldo Navarro, Christian Walker and Jimmy Paredes need to go. Again, too many backup infielders, not enough backup outfielders. They have Ryan Flaherty, Everth Cabrera and Steve Pearce. They can get more than ONE backup outfielder. So trade two, cut one of those three guys I mentioned.
1. Adam Jones CF
2. Jonathan Schoop 2B
3. Manny Machado 3B
4. Chris Davis 1B
5. J.J. Hardy SS
6. Alejandro De Aza LF
7. Matt Wieters C
8. Delmon Young DH
9. Travis Snider RF
My Prediction: 77-85