The Atlanta Braves biggest priority coming to the off-season was finding a catcher to go along with Tyler Flowers. On Saturday they filled that need signing veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki to a one-year 2.5 million dollar deal. This isn’t a sexy move for one of the big names we either weren’t comfortable signing or someone just beats us out, but I really like this signing for us at this point.
Suzuki 33 hit .258 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs in 106 games with the Minnesota Twins last season. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but decent considering the catching position has become being good at defense or offense not both. Those are serviceable offensive numbers for a backup catcher, which is likely the role he will have with the Braves.
Most importantly, he is very durable since the 2014 season Suzuki is one of six catches to make 2,900 appearances behind the plate. A remarkable stat considering the amount of punishment a catcher takes from foul tips and blocking balls in the dirt. He definitely provides a reliable option if Tyler Flowers were to go down with an injury or needs a day off. Who knows? Suzuki could revert back to his All-Star form he had in 2014 with the Oakland Athletics, but regardless he is a great cost friendly option for the Braves.
Additionally, Suzuki is a great clubhouse addition, especially with all the young guys in this organization. They will be able to pick his brain and watch how he goes about his business on a daily basis. The Braves pride themselves on having a great clubhouse and cohesiveness between players and personnel Suzuki is a great in that regard as well.
The Braves have done an excellent job this off-season adding veteran players that will help this young nucleus develop both on and off the field. The best part about it is most of the deals we have done this off-season are 1 to 2 years, which means they’re not blocking our top prospects they are just great stop gaps until the young guys are ready.
The 2017 NFL playoffs have been entertaining to watch for the most part because of the Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks we have remaining. The question that keeps running through my head, watching his games play out is how in God’s green earth did Aaron Rodgers fall to 24th overall in the 2005 draft? It’s mind-boggling to me, I understand he was lightly recruited out of high school and ended up at the University of California.
He put up pretty good numbers with 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his two seasons with the Golden Bears. Despite the good numbers he continued to tumble in the first round, then lucky for Packer fans everywhere they selected Rodgers and that is proving to be one of the best decisions in franchise history. Rodgers vowed to make every team that passed on him regret it and boy has he. He spent a three-season apprenticeship behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre soaking in all the knowledge possible while waiting for his opportunity.
Patience paid off as in 2008, Rodgers took the reins of the franchise and now has a stranglehold on that position for as long as his body will allow. He’s gone from that lightly recruited high school kid to a Super Bowl champion and a two-time MVP in a flash. Making good on his promise that he would prove those teams wrong that passed on him on that fateful April day.
It’s clear that Rodgers has the physical attributes that make a good NFL quarterback with pinpoint accuracy and the size to absorb hits from 350-pound defensive lineman. That being said, the thing that sets them apart from all the great NFL quarterbacks today and many from the past is football IQ and instincts much like Peyton Manning had during his career.
Rodgers has the ability to catch defenses with their hand in the cookie jar multiple times during a game whether that be drawing them off sides giving a free play or 12 men on defense. Thus, putting his team in the best position to succeed play after play because he’s always aware of his surroundings and what is going on. He has thrown a touchdown pass 13 times after drawing the defense offside the next highest amongst quarterbacks is three touchdowns simply incredible.
His mind is a tool that is unmatched and he does things on a football field that can’t be taught. You better not take any play off against him because of your lax at any point he will make you pay ask the Giants, Cardinals, and Lions he has completed hail Mary’s against them, resulting in victories and huge momentum changers, a play that is supposed to rarely work Rodgers has made look easy. Another reason to marvel at Rodgers’ physical and mental abilities on a football field.
Rodgers has had a Hall of Fame caliber career despite the lack of running game because of injury and lack of production. Also he has been able to turn wide receivers that were undrafted or late round picks into Pro bowl worthy players! He makes us remember names like Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis, and Richard Rogers it’s remarkable how much Rogers impact the game of football and the careers of individual players.
As you can see, the game of football is much more than just the X’S and O’S Aaron Rodgers is the poster child for affecting the game in the tiniest of ways and that end up being the reason they win the game. He’s going to need to play his best game of the season in my opinion to get past the Atlanta Falcons who come on strong. This game will be a shootout and I think the team that forces the first turnover will win. It’s going to be fun to watch! I’m not going to bet against Aaron Rodgers, who affects the game in multiple ways!
The NFL landscape changed greatly Thursday as the San Diego Chargers officially relocated to Los Angeles joining the Rams. This move has been discussed for the last three years, so it’s not much of a surprise. I feel terrible for the city of San Diego and their fans losing part of their identity has to be a hard pill to swallow. The Chargers owner Alex Spanos is partially to blame for this move because I don’t think the invested enough in his organization to make them perennial contenders year after year.
As a result, the teams play has been mediocre over the last handful of years, thus causing a big decline in average attendance the last two seasons, ranking 19th and 31st respectively resulting in declining revenue for both the team and the city. Ultimately the final nail in the San Diego Chargers coffin was the inability to come to terms on a new stadium. A conversation that has been going on for the better part of 15 years, finally came to an end and the Chargers are packing their bags for Los Angeles.
The National Football League is a business and having two teams in Los Angeles opens up numerous revenue opportunities because it’s such a big market. However, this could backfire at least in the short term because both of these teams are in a transitional period the Charges with an aging quarterback and they don’t have the future on the roster currently to learn from Philip Rivers, which could set them back even more.
As you can see, there are tons of questions for the Charges and last time I checked it’s important to win games and get people excited about the organization’s direction and honestly this organization is in flux. Theoretically relocation to Los Angeles should help revenue, but you are competing with the Rams. Whom have a young quarterback and running back to build around with a top 10 defense. For those reasons I am more confident in the Los Angeles Rams long-term future than I am the Los Angeles Chargers even though they have good pieces to build around, but a quarterback is essential for success.
Despite all the questions this team faces new situations create new opportunities that’s the best part about this entire situation. The Chargers have a clean slate with a new coach and a new city where they can build a lasting legacy. Although, Philip Rivers is aging and they need to look at the draft for the future, he is still a very capable quarterback to lead them to victories. They also must avoid the backbreaking injuries and fourth-quarter blunders. The reality is it doesn’t matter where you play your games a little luck and smart football always applies.
This team has definitely lacked those qualities over the last couple years and that must change if they want to start winning on a consistent basis. Another positive thing about this move is they have a chance to make a great first impression and make the city of San Diego regret they weren’t able to get that new stadium. I hope they have success in Los Angeles for all their fans across the country.
Yesterday, Rex Ryan became the third head coach to be handed a pink slip after just two seasons as the Buffalo head coach. Although I wasn’t in love with the hire when it happened, I think Buffalo had a pretty quick hook for Ryan especially in the division led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Buffalo Bills organization is about as unstable as it can get they will be on the 10th head coach in 17 years. It looks like it will be a long road back to contention for the bills as they have more questions than answers especially at the quarterback position.
I think Rex Ryan’s undoing started when he hired his brother Rob Ryan as assistant coach and defensive coordinator because the last two places Rob has coached he has led two of the worst defenses in recent memory while with the Saints and Cowboys. Not only that, it the team fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman after just four weeks he was one of the highest-paid assistants in the league.
This shows Ryan didn’t surround himself with the right coaching staff to get the most out of his players. Also, there were a lot of big personalities that one in their opinion known, especially on the defensive side of the ball causing tension between the defense and coaches. As one player put it there were too many cooks in the kitchen and Ryan had lost that part of the locker room. That’s really bad considering Ryan’s forte was defense as a coach, but somehow during his tenure, they went from leading the league in sacks to the bottom of the barrel in the NFL.
Lastly, Ryan and the GM Doug Whaley had a rocky relationship and weren’t on the same page at the quarterback position. This would definitely the last straw for Whaley and the Bills ultimately decided to move on. The team has decided to bench starter Tyrod Taylor to avoid a significant injury because if that were to occur the team will owe Taylor 30.5 million in guaranteed money. I agree with this decision because as I said the GM was very noncommittal about Taylor as the teams’ long-term solution at quarterback.
The only sure thing on the Buffalo Bills as they stand currently is running back Lesean Mccoy, but has struggled with multiple injuries in his career and while in Buffalo. Other than that, what the 2017 bills will look like is up in the air because they’ve yet to establish an identity that every team needs to succeed in the NFL.
The one thing I do like is it has been reported that interim head coach Anthony Lynn is the leading candidate to become the permanent head coach, I like this because you’re hiring from within and it seems like the offense has gotten better since he’s taken over so they won’t have to learn a completely new scheme if he does get hired permanently. The Buffalo Bills have a lot figure out if they want to contend anytime soon. They made Rex Ryan the scapegoat now what is their next move?
As 2016 winds down the time where we all reflect on the year the good the bad and what we can improve on in the years to come. There is one thing I think we can all agree on sports got back to being great again there was not a scandal that distracted us from the game being played! It once again became the great escape that we all need at one time or another every year.
The best part of this year and sports was the fact that championship starved teams and cities finally got to celebrate. The Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer’s become the sports darlings of 2016, it was fun to see these teams finally break their long title droughts.
The Chicago Cubs
The longest sports drought in history was finally put to bed after 108 years the Chicago Cubs have reached the mountaintop as World Series champions. They did it in style coming back from a 3-1 deficit and being part of the most-watched baseball game and 25 years. It’s one of those sporting event you are going to remember exactly where you were when the Cubs broke the curse.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Joe Madden will probably have children named after them because they were able to band together and make a champion out of what was previously the laughingstock of baseball. It’s absolutely amazing the transformation this team underwent in such a short period of time to reach this point.
First of all, they were able to take advantage of multiple high draft picks when the selected this year’s MVP Kris Bryant’s second overall in the 2013 draft, Kyle Schwarber fourth overall in the 2014 draft. Schwarber remarkably came back from a torn ACL the third game of the season and became the biggest X factor of the World Series. He started the rally that ultimately claimed the World Series for the Cubs. Lastly, they selected second baseman Javier Baez ninth overall in the 2011 draft. He had multiple clutch hits and home runs not to mention his gold glove defense and tagging ability.
It’s one thing to get the high draft picks it’s another thing to pick the right guy and to say the least the Chicago Cubs have hit the jackpot on their last few selections. They have also orchestrated keen trades that have helped the team reach this point. The biggest trade was when they swindled second baseman Addison Russell away from the Oakland A’s in July 2014. Russell has turned into a young stud and a part of the young nucleus that Theo Epstein has pieced together.
To all the other rebuilding teams in baseball it will be smart to take a page from the Cubs playbook because 2016 looks like the beginning of a dynasty out in the Windy City. They are poised to become one and more annoying teams in baseball because of all the winning they are going to do for years to come!
LeBron James fulfilled his promise to the city of Cleveland as they overcame 3-1 deficit against the record-breaking Gold State Warriors. This was a heck of a way to break through considering Cleveland professional sports hasn’t been celebrated since Jim Brown donned a Browns uniform that’s saying a lot.
The road to the championship was a bit tumultuous not just because they were the first team in NBA history to overcome 3-1 deficit as I said, but they also fired their head coach David Blatt midseason and had to implement an entire new offensive scheme that was much faster and it took time to get used to. They also played the majority of the season without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who was recovering from knee surgery.
It was a year full of obstacles, but lucky for they had Cleveland’s favorite son LeBron James to lead them to victory. He did everything and more averaging 27.1 points per game, 7.6 assists per game, and 9.5 rebounds per game. He put his team, the city, and his legacy on his back and brought that elusive title back to Cleveland.
This title could potentially open up the floodgates for Cleveland as they are once again the best team in the Eastern conference and last time I checked still have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who has quickly become a Golden State warrior killer, which bodes well for the team’s success in the future. This season title might have been the first since 1964, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sick and tired of congratulating them in the near future because both the Cavaliers and Indians are poised for many playoff runs in the years to come.
The championship that came out of nowhere from the unlikeliest of places as Coastal Carolina shocked the college baseball world as they won their first championship in program history. It’s something all sports fans root for a magical Cinderella run that will be remembered forever and everyone on that team will be coastal Carolina royalty forever. They brought this small school a taste of glory that will last a lifetime.
This also proves that anything can happen as long as you get in the tournament Coastal Carolina entered the tournament as a fifth seed and a virtual afterthought. Despite that, they played their game and took advantage of every opportunity and misstep by their opponents and turned it into a national championship that will give hope to all small schools no matter what position they are in.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention head coach Gary Gilmore and his long journey with this university. Gilmore joined the coastal Carolina staff way back in 1979 and has held the head coaching position since 1996. I love these stories of passion and love Gilmore has shown to this university and all the lives he touched and lesson he’s passed on during his tenure is worth much more than this championship. That being said,it’s awesome to see Gilmore and his players experience a dream come true and reach the mountaintop. I hope to see other small schools follow suit and crash the party in years to come.
This is what sports all about no one game no one season are the same anything can happen, underdogs rise, dynasties are born, and celebrations happen in unexpected places that is what 2016 has brought us. I hope that continues in the seasons to come because it just makes it a whole lot more fun to be a sports fan. Bring it on 2017!!!
You know that hangover when you can feel the pulse is in your head and you just want to curl up in a ball because your eyes are so sensitive to light. That’s how I would describe the play of the 2016 Carolina Panthers. It’s been absolutely atrocious opposing quarterbacks are playing seven on seven against our defense on top of that we become colorblind and have butter fingers. Those factors add up to a 1-5 record and the faintest chance to reach the playoffs at this rate.
This is coming off a magical year where it seemed we couldn’t do anything wrong with a 15-1 and looked primed to claim the franchise’s first championship but we ran into Von Miller and the Denver Bronco defense. This just proves it’s hard to win consistently in the NFL matter how good you were a new year can change everything you think you know about the National Football League and the Panthers are learning a brutal lesson about that.
The Norman Effect
The first thing people are going to talk about is the team’s gamble to rescind the franchise tag of all Pro cornerback Josh Norman. That gamble has definitely not paid off our secondary is like Swiss cheese there are so many holes with two rookies on each side and they are getting schooled.
I backed our decision to let Norman walk the reason why was our front seven wreaked havoc, creating money pockets forcing bad throws allowing Norman and other defenders to take advantage. This year our defensive line is like where’s Waldo all of our pass rush has completely disappeared, forcing Sean McDermott are defensive coordinator to bring extra guys on blitzes causing a weakness to become weaker. Our defense has gone from number six in the league to an atrocious 29th and that fear that opponents had when facing our defense has quickly evaporated now quarterbacks are licking their chops and they are absolutely picking us apart.
While I agree, that Norman is a factor in our struggles we also lost veterans like Charles Tillman, Jared Allen and Cortland Finnegan have played a vital role in the defense of success last year. I think the lack of pass rush has been a bigger factor than the loss of Norman because it’s put even more pressure on the rookies having to cover for so much long has exposed the fact that they are young and don’t know the speed of the NFL. There’s no doubt this gamble has backfired, but you’ve also got to put it on the execution by the players just as much the decision of the organization.
The offense has had its share of struggles I think the big reason why is because they understand they have to match the opponent score for score to even feel like they have a chance to pick up the victory. Thus causing Newton and Anderson to force things resulting in turnovers and bad decision-making. The team had a league-leading +20 turnover ratio in 2015 and now has a terrible -7 ratio giving opponents short fields and more possessions digging deeper holes for us to come back from.
Not only that, our offensive line has been less than desirable, causing quarterback Cam Newton to run for his life and he has suffered a concussion this season because of that. Ultimately that cost us a big chance of victory against division rival Tampa Bay. Additionally the wide receivers haven’t made the plays to help Newton. We look to be pressing and there have been way too many negative things on the offensive side of the ball despite our ability to put up points. If we can get healthy and somehow keep Cam Newton upright we can put up points we proved that it’s just a matter of stopping the opponent that’s been the issue.
Honestly we’ve looked absolutely terrible and frankly deserve to be where we are at 1-5. However, we’ve lost three games by field goals a missed 52-yard field goal as time expired in game one. A game-winning field goal by Tampa as time expired and a game winning field goal with 11 seconds left against the Saints. The reality is we are those three field goals away from possibly having a 4-2 record. That’s the way the NFL goes and it’s been gut-wrenching to watch, but it is what it is. To be honest, I’m losing a little confidence in Graham Gano he’s missed 2 extra points and three key field goals that could’ve changed the result of games.
The season has no doubt been disappointing, but it’s not over yet the Kansas City Chiefs were able to overcome this start and make the playoffs so anything can happen, but we have to play with a sense of urgency and desperate the rest of the way to give us the best chance possible to make the playoffs.
I just want people to stop playing the blame game we haven’t played good football at all in the execution from the coaches and the players has been subpar and that’s why we are struggling not because Josh Norman isn’t a Panther anymore. I bleed black and blue every season no matter the circumstances even if I’m frustrated that’s what we have to do Keep Pounding!!