NXT Takeover Portland was the best Takeover yet, but will Tampa top it?

NXT Takeover Portland was the best Takeover yet, but will Tampa top it?

What an amazing show top to bottom by NXT. Triple H said it best when we he applauded the fans for really bringing the energy, and I’m with him on that. I also believe this is the deepest roster NXT has produced. Top names were missing from the card, which shows how far this roster can go with talent. Every match really brought it Saturday night.

The opening contest was as good as it gets with Keith Lee continuing his feud with Dominik Dijakovic for the North American Championship and you knew right off the bat the energy was going to be brought. Ending the night with Adam Cole retaining the NXt heavyweight championship from Tommaso Ciampa in the main event brought down the road to NXT Takeover Tampa.

The crazy thing is Triple H said that will be the best card yet. Better then Portland? That might be a hard one to top. From Charlotte Flair accepting Rhea Ripley’s challenge for Wrestlemania to Johnny Gargano turning on Ciampa at the end of the match to cost him the championship belt. Finn Balor and Gargano wrestled a clinic and now questions are starting to arise. Who will challenge Cole in Tampa? What’s next for Balor? Does Ripley have a match the night before Mania? What match will Gargano and Ciampa continue the feud? How does Tegan Knox and Dakota Kai continue their feud? Can anyone take down Keith Lee in the future? Not to mention who will fight the Broserweights for the tag team championship after an unbelievable bout vs Undisupted Era to take the gold.

The beauty is we have time to figure this all out. Talent such as Killer Kross, Velveteen Dream, Timothy Thatcher and Austin Theory I am sure will play a role as well. One thing remains, NXT’s roster is as good as it’s ever been.

Preparing For College Basketball’s MarchMadness

Preparing For College Basketball’s MarchMadness

I’m going to familiarize you with March Madness lingo.

These are the most common words and phrases associated with the greatest basketball tournament on the planet.

March Madness or The Big Dance is a single-elimination postseason playoff played round-by-round over a three-week period until a single champion is crowned.

The furious pace is full of upsets, buzzer beaters, rambunctious celebrations and also the inevitable heart wrenching losses.

Round 1, features teams from high and mid-major conferences at the top of the tournament bracket.
The lowest seed teams at the very bottom of the bracket are refer to as Cinderellas by the media and on many occasions, like in the Disney Story, a Cinderellawill get to dance with a Prince.

Before becoming a major basketball power house, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs used to be one of those Cinderellas teams.

The greatest boost to a Cinderella is known as Selection Sunday. It can set recruiting for their basketball programs for years because their teams will attract at least two or more players which were not highly recruited by Division I major basketball programs.

These guys are highly motivated and March Madness is their shot at paying back the major basketball programs which ignored them during recruiting, not to mention the incalculable exposure that they’re going to bring to their schools nationally.

§ Round 2, thirty-two teams remain

§ Round 3, sixteen teams (dubbed the Sweet 16)

§ Round 4, eight teams (Elite Eight);

§ Round 5, four teams (Final Four)

§ And Round 6, two teams fight for the National Championship

If you were able to absorb all of this information, then…Congratulations are in Order!

Because you passed Bracketology 101!

One of my fondest March Madness memories is the 1985 Villanova Wildcats winning the National Title, by beating the heavily favorite Georgetown Hoyas.

Growing up in Philly we use to watch the Wildcats play at the old Philadelphia Palestra and thanks to one of my Brothers, we got a chance to break bread with some of those guys.

The guy who impressed us the most was Eddie Pinckney.

Everyone called him Easy Ed because he always had smile on his face and seem to be in a good mood.

Pinckney went on to play in the NBA for twelve years and every time I saw him on television, I would smile myself, thinking back at the time when Easy Edand his Wildcats got the better of the Georgetown Hoyas in that title game.

16 Seed Upsets a 1 Seed Part2?

16 Seed Upsets a 1 Seed Part2?

Those who watch college basketball know how crazy of a year it has been alreadythroughout the sport. We’ve seen 8 different changes in the AP #1 team in a season that isentering it’s 15th week. We’ve seen teams such as Illinois, Penn State, Colorado, Dayton, andRutgers ranked throughout the year. We’ve seen a defending National Champion become abubble team within a year. We’ve seen powerhouse North Carolina fall below .500. Granted,they lost their best player for over a month, but you would think the rest of the talent and one ofthe best coaches in college basketball could figure something out? Not in this bizarre year. Sowhat would top such a bizarre year? Something strange in the tournament, such as a 16 beatinga 1. We saw UMBC make history 2 years ago by shocking Virginia (I called that by the way),and becoming the first 16 seed to beat a 1. 2 years later, in a bizarre year, I can see ithappening again. Here are 3 reasons I think it’s possible.
Mid-Major Pressure

With a weird year in certain Power 5 conferences comes other schools that benefit just
by winning games, even if their strength of schedule is not on par with the schedules of the
Power 5 Conferences and the Big East. The three teams that have strived on that the most
have been Dayton, currently #6 in the nation at 21-2, San Diego State, currently #4 in the nation
and undefeated at 24-0, and as usual Gonzaga, 25-1 and striving through mostly West Coast
Conference cupcakes. If all 3 of these teams win their conferences, at least 1 of them will be a 1
seed, and depending how things shake up the rest of the regular season, possibly 2. However,
high seeds for these schools have not boded well for them recently, as most of them lose in the
second round of the NCAA tournament. With the exception of Gonzaga in 2017 who went to the
National Championship Game, none of them have made a Final Four. Looking at this century,
when mid-majors have gotten top 3 seeds, we’ve seen several occasions where these schools
have lost in the second round (Round of 32) of the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati, back when
they were in Conference USA, did it twice in 2000 and 2002, and just 2 years ago collapsing
against 7-seeded Nevada when they were up by 22 points in the 2nd half. Gonzaga has been
victimized by it on several occasions, in 2004, 2005, and 2013, a team that was 31-2. A
2-seeded Temple in 2000 fell to a 10-seeded Seton Hall. A 3-seeded New Mexico team in 2010
got steamrolled 82-64 by an 11-seeded Washington. And most recently, we saw an undefeated
Wichita State team in 2014 get beaten in the Round of 32 by an 8-seeded Kentucky. Therefore,
the odds don’t favor these types of schools. Expect all 3 schools I listed to be a Top 3 seed,
which doesn’t help these odds either, but if 1 of them is a 1 seed, in this type of quirky year,
based on these past trends, it wouldn’t surprise me either, especially if it is an undefeated
mid-major similarly to what 2014 Wichita State was, which still exists currently in 24-0 San
Diego State. Pressure for the Aztecs will loom because of this, as well as my next factor
accounting for this reasoning.

Too many streaks

If you listen to me speak on the World Wide Sports Radio Network, I’m sure you’ve
heard me use the term “too hot” implying a team on an unrealistically long winning streak is due
to lose, often times when it matters most. Obviously, there’s still a month left that these
particular teams can lose, but if these schools, especially the mid-majors, are going to get a 1
seed, odds are it will be from winning out and winning their conference tournament. Starting with
the aforementioned San Diego State, they haven’t lost all season, and if they were to enter the
tournament undefeated, they would be 31-0. Therefore, in addition to having the mid-major
pressure I mentioned above, they now have the pressure of entering the tournament
undefeated. In NCAA history, outside of the dynasty that was John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins, 15
teams have entered the NCAA tournament undefeated, and only 3 have won the National
Championship, and none since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. So for San Diego State,
it will be very hard to join that list, and combining that with the weird year and the mid-major
history, they might just be the team to be a victim to a 16 seed. But it is more than just them.
Dayton is another that could be vulnerable. While they don’t have a bad loss, they haven’t lost
since falling to Colorado on December 21, so if they win the Atlantic-10 tournament, that would
be 23 wins in a row, which especially with an inexperienced tournament coach, could be hard to
maintain. Gonzaga has only lost one game all year, 82-64 to Michigan all the way back on
November 29. Since then, they’ve won 17 straight, which isn’t surprising considering their
conference schedule, but is still unrealistic to keep up. While Mark Few is a very good coach
and has gotten Gonzaga into the Sweet 16 or further in each of the last 6 seasons, this kind of
wacky year could be different. In terms of Baylor, their loss was even less recent, falling
November 8 against Washington. Since then, they have won 19 games in a row. If they win out,
which will be difficult, they are almost guaranteed the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Combine that with an already iffy tournament history and that could be a recipe for disaster for
this Baylor team, especially being they are a team that doesn’t have a lot of convincing blowout
wins for a #1 ranked team. Remind of you of anybody? Maybe somebody that was a #1 overall
seed 2 years ago…

Baylor is similarly structured to 2017-2018 Virginia

A team that doesn’t blow people out? Iffy offense but great defense? Bad tournament
history (until last year)? Describes 2018 Virginia very accurately, and can also be applied to this
Baylor team. Baylor is a notoriously choke-prone tournament team, losing in recent years to #14
Georgia State and #12 Yale. They’ve made the Elite Eight a couple of times last decade, but
beyond that have struggled to get past the first weekend and often times the first round. Looking
at this year’s team, the way they’re structured, they’re also similar to Virginia. Only two guys
scoring in double digits in Jared Butler and Macio Teague, with not much bench depth. Only one
guy shooting over 50% in Freddie Gillespie, with all the other starters shooting 45% or lower.
When comparing to Virginia, Virginia didn’t even have a starter shoot over 50%, and while they
did have 3 double-digit scorers, their bench depth fell off drastically. Virginia’s team field goal
percentage was 46%, and this Baylor team is even worse, shooting at 42%. While Baylor’s
overall offense wasn’t as bad (71.6 points per game, 163rd in nation) as Virginia’s (67.1 points
per game, 314th in nation), those numbers are rigged by the easier scheduled games too. In Big
12 Conference Play, Baylor is only scoring 65.9 points per game, which ranks 289th in the
nation against conference opponents. Another thing that hurts teams in the NCAA Tournament
is missed free throws, and Baylor only has two shooters above 75%. The other big thing to
compare them by is the fact that both teams didn’t blow conference opponents out. In 2017-18,
Virginia had some games where being a top team they should be able to win more dominantly.
Only winning 59-58 against Boston College and 59-49 against Wake Forest come to mind, two
teams that have had trouble in the ACC for years. Also, they won seemingly the same way even
against good teams, close and low scoring, proving they could only win one way. Baylor has
plenty of those games this year, only winning 72-63 against Texas State, 77-65 against Coastal
Carolina, 61-57 against Oklahoma, and recently 52-45 against Texas, which both Oklahoma
and Texas are average teams within the Big 12. To me, the parallels are very similar when
judging the schedules side-by-side, and often times those kinds of teams get eaten up in the
NCAA Tournament, besides Virginia last season. Most top seeds that go far have potent
offenses and don’t have to struggle to win close games, so unless Virginia last year sparked a
new trend in college basketball, don’t expect Baylor to have odds on their side, especially in a
weird year with a bad recent tournament history, including losing to double-digit seeds. In this
kind of year, don’t be surprised if that double digit seed is a 16 with those factors and similarities
considered.

Houston, You Have an Integrity Problem

Houston, You Have an Integrity Problem

There has been a scandal in baseball so large that it actually has historical implications. Not the superlative overblown nonsense that people spew over every day events. No, this is actual big time stuff.

In case you haven’t been following, the Houston Astros 2017 World Championship series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers was won in part by cheating ferociously. How ferociously? Let me provide some examples:

Player At Home Away
Alex Bregman .273 .154
Carlos Correa .371 .211
Jose Altuve .472 .143
Brian McCann .300 .037

You can maybe argue that the adrenaline in Bregman’s and Correa’s systems may have elevated their averages. But almost doubled it? Against the same pitchers? Nonsense.

Worse are the next two. Altuve hit his body weight on the road during the playoffs. At home? He was on base one out of every two at bats.

And McCann? Three times out of ten at home, three times out of 100 on the road. The difference of a power of ten.

The league acted swiftly- they took 15 months to fine a team 2 draft picks and the salary of a relief pitcher with a 6.34 ERA. But why is the league so gun shy to deliver some actual punishment to the players? We all know the answer- money. And that wheel has already began spinning.

Mikey doesn’t like it…

There is a relief pitcher from the Toronto Blue Jays – Mike Bolsinger- who is suing the Astros for ending his career. I’d imagine more pitchers sue that had their ERA bloated by cheating, only to enter arbitration or free agency having had a dozen runs handed to them underhandedly and their salaries diminish as a result.

But it shouldn’t end there. If I were a season ticket holder for the Astros? And was sold a season ticket package for 2018 for the World Series Champs at of course bloated prices? I’d want that money back. If I were an advertiser being associated with a team that sold me an overpriced billboard because they just came off of an ill begotten World Series? And now I look like a dick? Sue, baby, sue.

Oh, and not just those organizations. Ii I were a Yankees fan, I’d sue for the value of 7 World Series games I didn’t get to watch because my team was cheated. And for Altuve’s helmet, to use as a hamster wheel.

If I were a Dodger fan? I’d sue Major League Baseball for negligence and malpractice. And for having to hear the name A.J. Hinch years after they lost to that nobody.

Right now, the organization looking like even bigger choads than the Astros is Major League Baseball itself. Understand that nearly 90 years old Pete Rose is forever banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for lying and gambling. I looked that up during commercials for Vegas Insider and Sportsbook, two organizations that let me….wait for it….wait….BET ON FUCKING BASEBALL. It’s the same as denying Josh Gibson admittance into Yankee Stadium because he played at a time when baseball was segregated, but any other black guy can walk right in!

Oh, and the other thing Rose did? Lying? Is the league banning the Astros roster, and that douchebag Justin Verlander? Funny, Verlander always has tons of shit to talk about everything else, but he shuts the fuck up on this topic when pressed.

Hurry up and induct before she kills him!

No, MLB will not ban the Astros players. Why? Because fans pay to see players. They don’t pay to see managers, which is why 2017 Astros cheater Alex Cora lost his job in Boston- and let’s face it, the 2018 Red Sox also need a thorough investigation- and 2020 Mets future manager Carlos Beltran wasn’t even able to run a training camp even though he did like playing drums on garbage cans. “Codebreaker” – a PoewerPoint and Excel cheating “app” is worse than the Black Sox scandal. At least those guys cheated to lose because they were paid such shit that gambling money mattered. Oh, and eight of them received lifetime bans from baseball. They should have hit .472!

Fact is, fans will not turn up at Astros games if all of the players are handed 50 games plus suspensions. And losing the money in Houston would affect the revenue sharing program (socialism!) of the monopoly that is Major League Baseball. So how do we properly punish Houston while maintaining the integrity of the game? It’s a simple, two step process.

Step One- The 2017 World Series is vacated. The record books say the same as 1994. No World Series.

Step Two- Any player receiving a World Series ring has to return it to Major League Baseball.

It’s not like Houston has won a ton of World Series. They’re used to not having a title. Status quo. And for all of the lawsuits, MLB does have insurance for things like this. And ultimately, the costs will be passed on through to the fans, like every other cost- real or imagined- is.

But for the sport? Fans do not want to see steroid cheaters enshrined into the Hall of Fame, and all those guys did was juice up to hit balls farther than before. They still have to hit the balls. WITHOUT knowing what’s coming.

The Astros need to have their World Series vacated. With all of the information available at this point, it is the proper thing to do. And for the integrity of the sport? It is the right thing to do.

Is Major League Baseball Finally Coming Back To Life?

Is Major League Baseball Finally Coming Back To Life?

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Major League Baseball is at least trying. You have to give them that. In the ongoing battle of gaining and retaining an audience, the MLB has largely fallen on their face. Charades like Players Weekend and quicker pace of play haven’t drummed up much excitement around the game, but a revision to the schedule could change that. The league is contemplating an expansion to their postseason format, which was first broken by Joel Sherman, who reveals that the postseason would be extended from five to seven teams in each league, a first-round bye awarded to the team with the best record in each league and division winners choose their first-round opponent.

On the surface, America’s Pastime is finally embracing what works and came up with an idea that, for the most part, can seriously add some excitement not just to October baseball, but to August and September baseball as well. This idea is mostly positive in my mind because it expands the inventory that fans and television networks are craving: more playoff baseball, while also suddenly increasing the importance of the regular season.

Let’s start with the positives first. MLB would be finally embracing what works best. For all of the negatives that are associated with the game, this is the first idea that accentuates the best qualities of the playoffs, which is the importance of each game, inning, and pitch. Playoff expansion brings this exciting brand of baseball to more markets, thus keeping those fans invested longer. Last season, the National League wild-card race was hotly contested, with the Mets, Cubs, and Diamondbacks all finishing within five games of the Brewers for the final playoff berth. Imagine having the New York and Chicago markets engaged until the seasons end with the hope of a postseason berth still attainable? It would only bring extra attention and buzz to more fans around the country.

Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

This potential new format also fixes the one-game wild-card playoff. While exciting that the playoffs begin with two elimination games right off the bat, it leaves teams feeling cheated because the entire season, constructed upon series, only receive one chance to stay alive. The new format would allow for a three-game series to be played at the team with a better record’s ballpark, so the worry of the season coming down to one game would be erased.

There’s also no need to worry that the playoffs would be watered down by bad competition if the playoff field were to expand. The better team doesn’t always win the World Series and more times than not, it’s about who’s the hottest team compared to the best team. The Nationals are the perfect example of this last season, as they were crowned champions despite having just the eighth-best record of the 10 playoff teams. Baseball is truly a “anyone can win it” game.

The regular season will also gain some importance because now teams with sizable division leads would still be motivated to play hard. The proposed format gives the team with the best record in each league a first-round bye, keeping teams like the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Astros motivated to win games in September. Fans and teams that largely count down the final month or six weeks of the season suddenly have an added incentive to stay locked in.

The final area that is affected in a positive way is the mindset of teams. Currently, there are too many teams that are not trying to win. We just witnessed the Red Sox trade a top-5 player in baseball in Mookie Betts to the Dodgers so they can reset their tax rate. One of the best baseball players on the planet currently was a salary dump casualty. That is horrific for the sport’s health. While it’s tough to say whether Boston would have been more motivated to keep their superstar if this new playoff format had been in place for the 2020 season, it would at least give more organizations pause before making salary decisions like this. You would have to think with more teams able to qualify for postseason play, less would be motivated to sell either in the offseason or the trade deadline, so more parity could enter the game.

The one true negative of this entire proposal is Major League Baseball’s bright idea of having division winners pick their postseason opponents on live television. Trying to turn the sport into a reality television show is a pathetic cash grab that tries to muster up some extra hype and create artificial storylines. It’s a cheap way to try to add some extra juice to a playoff series that will already be filled with tension and excitement.

This potential playoff expansion proposal still needs to be fine-tuned, but it’s encouraging that the sport is finally taking action that truly affects consumer decisions. In terms of the sports viewing landscape, the NFL is only increasing its gap between them and the other three major sports. Baseball, who for the longest time was secure at the top, is now sinking down closer to hockey in terms of national relevance. The sport needs a jumpstart to propel its way back up the relevancy ladder. While this proposal isn’t perfect, it’s a step in the right direction of reviving America’s Pastime.