Carolina Panthers, NFL

A Panther for life

The Panthers have had a great off-season in my opinion. They have been able to address weaknesses that were exposed during last season. They have also been able to upgrade the special teams and offensive line with low-cost veteran players that have been around the block and are proven. They have also been able to sign quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Thomas Davis to contract extensions. These two players are field generals and I don’t know where this team would be without them. This off-season shows that the Panthers understand loyalty and are doing everything they can to put another winning product out on the football field.

Thomas Davis Impact on Panthers

Thomas Davis signed a two-year $18 million dollar contract extension a few weeks ago, ensuring that he will be a Panther for his entire career!! In sports that is rare nowadays to see a player stick with the team that drafted him, with the amount of money that is thrown at players’ faces these days. I’m glad Thomas Davis decided to stick around the Queen city because he would be a pain in the neck to face as an opponent!! It’s a relief to know we won’t have to worry about that. Loyalty is just one of the many qualities Thomas Davis has.

Another quality that Davis exemplifies is never giving up, because his career has not been smooth sailing. He has torn his ACL three times; yes I said three times. Many athletes struggle to come back from one ACL tear and be as effective as they were before the injury. That is not the case for Thomas Davis at all, he has come back from all three injuries and coming back stronger than ever. A remarkable feat for anyone to overcome, but he had the best attitude and wasn’t going to take no for an answer. That’s just another thing that makes you love Thomas Davis even more.

Through all that adversity he has become one of the best linebackers in the NFL today! The stats prove that in his 11-year career, he has totaled 739 tackles, 17 1/2 sacks and six interceptions those are the stats that will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares and they will be happy when he decides to hang them up. He not only lets his play do the talking on the football field, he is a great leader and is not afraid to tell you when you messed up or give you advice to get better. He is definitely the full package on the field with his play and leadership a career that many would envy!

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He not only does it on the field, but he does it off as well. Helping the Carolinas thrive with he and his family’s charitable organizations, that allows families and children to have a place to learn and develop a bright future for themselves. He is so kind with his time and wants to see kids succeed; he will do anything to help foster that. For that he was awarded the 2015 Man of the year award and it couldn’t have happened to a better person.

As you can see, Thomas Davis is not only a great player but also a better person. I’m so glad he has worn the blue and black while doing it!! He is one of my favorite players and I’m glad he will be in the Queen city for the rest of his illustrious career!!!! Go Panthers!!!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Jace Peterson has had huge impact in 2015 for the Braves

The Atlanta Braves had a very active off-season retooling the roster with a mixture of youngsters and veterans. One of the youngsters making a name for himself is second baseman Jace Peterson; he was one of the key pieces the team was able to acquire in the Justin Upton deal this off-season. Peterson was not the plan coming into spring training, but he has forced his way into the starting lineup to stay for many years to come!

He has been the leadoff hitter we have been searching for since Michael Bourn left following the 2012 season. Peterson has done an amazing job setting up the rest of the lineup. He is hitting a solid .285 with two homers, 27 RBIs and a .356 on-base percentage. Showing he is the full package on the offense of side of the ball doing whatever it takes to help win ball games! He and Cameron Maybin have become a dynamic duo at the top of the lineup and the great thing about it is they are both very young and should be in a Braves uniform for a long time.

Peterson has shown defensive prowess as well, making sparkling run saving catches. A surprising stat associated with Peterson’s defense is the fact that he is ranked second among MLB second baseman in defensive runs saved! I think Andrelten Simmons has rubbed off on him and as Braves fans, we are spoiled with the best infield defense in baseball in my opinion! Peterson also has a little bit of speed as the cherry on top of an awesome athlete. A great find by John Hart, President of Baseball Operations.

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This team has been amazing on the offensive side of the ball and it all starts at the top of the lineup. Peterson is playing like a grizzled veteran, not a guy that is just getting his feet wet in his major league career!  He has also shown he can be clutch late in ballgames this kid does it all! He has been amazing to watch and the sky’s the limit for this kid! I can’t wait to see what he can do the rest of the season, helping the Braves win ball games! We are right in the thick of the division race!!

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MLB

Hurdle Gets 900th Victory

On Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in 13 innings, giving manager Clint Hurdle his 900th victory as a major league baseball manager. A decorated 28 year career that many would dream of he is one of the best guys you will ever see on a baseball field! I would compare them to Bobby Cox in this regard, he is definitely a players manager and will do anything to help his players and team succeed.

In 2007 he was able to lead his Colorado Rockies to an improbable World Series berth against the Boston Red Sox of the day came up short then you knew he just had the it factor as a manager putting players in the best situations possible and getting them to believe they could win. In 2011 taking over a beleaguered Pirates franchise that hadn’t seen October baseball in 21 years! He has brought his winning mentality to a steel city breaking that curse in 2013 leading to a wild-card game victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Hurdle was awarded the manager of the year award for his great work pumping the love for baseball back in the Steel City. The Pirates were able to ride the momentum as they reached the playoffs once again in 2014 unfortunately like all the other teams they ran into the Madison Bumgarner buzz saw nevertheless back to back playoff appearances for the Pirates has a lot to do with Hurdle’s attitude and winning mentality he brings to the ballpark every single day.

Clint hurdle is one of the most underrated managers in the game today helping  young players experience winning everywhere he has been! He is a guy that does not like the spotlight, but deserves all the praise in the world for what he has brought to the game of baseball. Congratulations on number 900 and many more!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Defending Fredi Gonzalez

In sports, when things are going great everyone gets praised for every decision they make when they are not the first thing we all say is he should be fired what the heck is he doing things like that I am guilty of it myself just because I want us to win every game possible!

The 2015 Atlanta Braves are in that same situation we now with the dismal bullpen and Freddie Gonzalez is taking a lot of flack for his decisions or non-decisions that he is made the season and some of it is warranted, but the reality is he is trying to put his relievers in the best situation possible to succeed and they are just not executing and making quality pitches when needed. Also Bobby Cox always used to say you can’t defend walks and boy have we given up a lot of those this season nothing that Fredi can control when he gives that ball to the reliever it’s out of his hands.

Let me give you a few examples just yesterday Julio Tehran was pitching a gem and he had 95 pitches through seven innings and Fredi decided to let him go out for the eighth inning, he had the 8 9 and 1 hitters due up that inning and that was the perfect situation, but that didn’t work out he gave up a single a Judy single and a walk in your saying here we go again. Although I think he should have taken him out after the second hit our bullpen has been so terrible he doesn’t have anyone that he can trust to go in there and just throw strikes so who could blame him for trying to get another hanging out of his starter who was cruising coming into that inning.

Then our bullpen came in, walked a runner in our catcher had a passed ball and the tying run came in on catches interference of all things. None of that Fredi could control I know we all feel we have to blame somebody, but he can’t go out there and throw and catch the pitches for them it’s just not possible in baseball is a crazy game you get breaks and things go against you although it seems a lot of things have gone against our bullpen this season I think it’s really unfair but are pitchers must execute better and give Fredi the confidence that he can go to them at the end of games. It’s like flipping a quaint right now whether to keep your starter in or go to your bullpen.

Another example was against the Pittsburgh Pirates we were up 3-1 we brought in the Luis Avilan to face Gregory Polanco who had a .150 batting average against left-handers coming into that at that he just flared a base into left, then the next batter came up and hit a two-run homer there goes your lead. Lefty versus lefty is supposed to be advantage picture and with the average you would think it would be but that just and not happen and we lost our lead again. It comes down to execution of pitches in every situation and our relievers are just not doing that right now Fredi Gonzalez cannot control what they do he’s just a scapegoat right now.

I’ve watched every single game since I could remember this year is one of the most fun and most frustrating seasons at the same time because you realize where we could be with a half decent bullpen, but I believe we’re going in the right direction adding veterans that have been around the block to stabilize our bullpen. We are still in the thick of things, despite these issues and I feel John Hart and the rest of the front office will continue to look for bullpen help as long as we stay with the program and just keep grinding every day. I know we all like to be mad at somebody when things don’t work out, but Fredi Gonzalez has also made very good moves during the season that have propelled us to this point.

Ultimately it’s on the player’s shoulders to execute and do their job and we all understand that it’s just the way baseball goes, but there is also a saying that things will even out. if some way we can get some stability at the back end of the game I feel very good about our chances and as someone said if this is us rebuilding I’m very excited to see how this season plays out in the fact that we have such a bright future makes me even more excited Go Braves!!!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Cameron Maybin having huge Impact on the Braves in 2015

The Atlanta Braves offense has been amazing this year not striking out putting the ball in play and making things happen been really fun to watch. Its been a collective effort from everyone, but Cameron Maybin has been awesome doing everything the Braves have asked him since coming over from the Padres in the blockbuster trade just before the season.   He has shown all five tools and that there was a reason he was drafted 10th overall in 2005!

He has shown he can hit the high fastball after being brushed by Zack Greinke and then showing he can shorten up a swing and take a pitch the other way never trying to do too much and just help this team win ballgames! Here are the stats to prove it, he is hitting .299 with five homers, 37 RBIs and a .371 on-base percentage he also has great speed with nine stolen bases definitely the full package on the offensive side of the ball. He can go get them in center field as well, making every play in making opponents wish they didn’t hit it to center field.

6528964Cameron Maybin has been everything and more for the Atlanta Braves in 2015 he not only has played well on the field, but he has been a great addition to our clubhouse with that great smile we see after every Braves victory. He has become one of my favorite players because of how he plays and his attitude, no matter how the team is playing. I am so excited he is playing in Braves country!! I hope he stays around for a long time!!! Go Braves!!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Bullpen blunders holding Braves back

The Atlanta Braves came in for the 2015 season with a lot of questions due to a lot of moving parts many felt that this would be a rebuilding type your that we would be in the cellar of the division letting our young players develop and play for the 2017 season when the team will move into a new ballpark. Let me put it this way there is one part of our team that is rebuilding and that is the bullpen!

They have posted the worst ERA at 4.78 that even worse than the Colorado Rockies, who play in a hitter’s paradise with that high altitude. The Atlanta Braves bullpen has just been downright terrible they have blown 14 games that we have led to tied in the late innings we are either walking the ballpark or giving up long home runs. It is so heartbreaking and demoralizing for an offense that is able to get leads and just not being able to hold them.

The offense has done a complete 360 turnaround from when it was last year, putting the ball in play making things happen not striking out and just never quitting making the ineffectiveness of the bullpen hurt even more, if our starter doesn’t go at least into the seventh inning you hold your breath because you never know which again and get on a game to game basis.

The last road trip epitomizes our season to this point in Arizona we won the first in convincing fashion 8-1 with a stellar outing from Alex wood, then the fun started Shelby Miller had his worst outing as a brave giving up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings but as this team does they keep fighting to that last out is recorded we had a five-run sixth inning to regain the lead 6-4 points only to have the bullpen blow it up on four walks and the game-winning two-run homer. The next day we came out had a 6-0 lead only to see that evaporate and lose 9 to 8. So our bullpen managed to turn a sweep into a losing series.

Add on runs have also been a huge issue for the Braves bullpen yes, you give up runs, but you can never let the opponent keep adding on and making a comeback virtually impossible. Our offense right now is not only having to outscore the opponent it has to outscore its own bullpen and that is definitely not a recipe for success and something that is hard to watch and most of the time unexplainable. Just one more stat for you to digest the 2015 bullpen has accounted for 43.3% of the teams’ losses, whereas last year they only accounted for six of our losses at the same point in the season. We cannot blame the manager for any of this because of this point he could flip a coin and it wouldn’t matter he’s trying to put them the relievers in the best situations possible and they are just not executing simple as that.

Despite all of the bullpen issues we’ve had we sit at 27-30 just three games back of the New York Mets so if we can address the bullpen issue we have a heck of a chance to exceed all the expert opinions and make a deep run in October I really mean that because our team is not going to quit. It could just take one guy like Peter Moylan or the other veteran guys that we have recently signed to light a fire in this bullpen and be able to get late game outs. If that happens the sky’s the limit for this team and I can’t wait to see where we can go. GO BRAVES!!

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NBA

What we learned from game 1 of the NBA Finals

The NBA finals lived up to the hype  the Warriors were able to prevail  108- 100 in overtime.  This game was closely contested throughout  exactly what you want from the two best teams in the league and he played like it. I would compare it to a boxing match punches and counter punches thrown by each team fun to watch and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

For the Cavaliers

This was one of the most anticipated NBA seasons for the Cavaliers because their hometown hero Lebron James decided to come back home and try to give the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964. That a ton of pressure for one man to take on, but he is the best player in the game right now and he looks to lead his young teammates to the promised land. in game one he was the MVP type of player and showed why he is the best player right now scoring 44 points and six assists a great performance that just wasn’t enough as he missed the potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation. Despite Lebron’s heroic effort the big story after game one is the health Kyrie Irving Who came into the series less than 100% with knee tendinitis with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter his knee buckled awkwardly causing him to have to leave the game and it was a shame because it looked like the eight days of rest did and some good as he was stuffing the stat sheet with 23 points,seven rebounds,and Six assists. No doubt Irving was missed because the Cavaliers were outscored 10 to 2 in the overtime they just couldn’t get anything to fall and looked kind of deflated after losing one of their best players.

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Today they learned the fate of their point guard he has a fractured kneecap and will miss approximately 3 to 4 months, maybe longer a deflating blow to not only the team, but the city of Cleveland. They say sports of the game of inches what if Lebron would’ve made the last shot or Shumpert would have gotten a better role we wouldn’t be talking about an injury and the Cavs hopes  wouldn’t be hanging on one man’s shoulders.

The big three now stands at one as Kevin love was injured earlier in this playoff run,  Lebron must be better than he has ever been to lead this team to the promised land I don’t know how you can do it but if I were to put my money on the one it would be the four-time MVP  and the two time champion to cary  this team to victory.

 For the Warriors

gettyimages-475919056_wide-1bdb8ec379051e5de9af4521d10a8886d3b89d4a-s900-c85This was a whole new experience for this team as last time the Warriors were in the finals, none of the current players were even alive when they last played for the championship, so as you can expect they had to shake off the early first-quarter jitters and get their feet wet. in that first quarter they couldn’t buy a basket causing them to have to come back from another double-digit deficit of 10 starting the second quarter no worries, however they are now 3-0 when trailing by double digits in this year’s playoffs. They were also able to use their home court advantage that they enjoyed all season, improving their record to an astounding 46-3.

The Warrior’s depth also played a huge role in the outcome of game one as Maurice Speights came back after eight games due to injury came up with a big eight points in just eight minutes off the bench that seemed to get the Warriors going. Another key player was Andre Iguodala, who is a 10 year veteran and this is the first year that he not he has not been a starter, but he has been a great addition to the Warriors and a big reason they are where they are right now. Iguodala had a very productive game scoring 15 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing three assists that was a great recipe for success getting that much production off your bench in any game let alone the NBA finals.

I don’t see a weakness in the Warriors right now they have the youth the health and the splash brothers, it couldn’t be going better for them right now I honestly don’t feel the Cavs have much of a chance unless Lebron puts up a Herculean effort and something magical happens.

Conclusion 

The Cavaliers have an uphill climb to overcome all of the injuries, but I still think this will be a  fun series to watch with a splash  brothers in Stephen  Curry the MVP of the league and Klay Thompson his wing man and how Lebron is going to perform with even more pressure to carry the team.  I think  the Warriors are going to win the series, but Lebron will give his best shot no doubt.

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