Daily Dojo 7-2-2013

Bryce Harper on the Sports Illustrated cover at age 16.

Bryce Harper on the Sports Illustrated cover at age 16.

Bryce Harper returned to the National’s line up last night. He homered in his first at bat. Harper is a special talent. I remember reading about him when he was the cover story for Sports Illustrated at age 16. The video of him hitting the Tropicana sign inside Tamba Bay’s stadium during a home run derby was my favorite Harper video. Can he lead the Nationals to a playoff berth at the young age of 20 years old?I am not so sure. I think he could if his supporting cast can pick up the pace. They DEFINITELY have the pitching, assuming Strasburg can stay healthy. Their line up has just been so up and down this year; I am not so sure the line up will be able to keep them in the playoff race in September. Ryan Zimmerman has a hurt shoulder and if you don’t believe me, watch him throw to first. Jason Werth was not worth that huge contract, obviously. Danny Espinosa got demoted to AAA because he couldn’t put the ball in play with a batting average of .158. He does have a torn rotator cuff, but if he can’t perform hurt, he needs to get it fixed! Ian Desmond has been good with 15 homers from the shortstop position. Adam LaRoche has not heated up just yet, like he usually does after April. Maybe they can catch up to the Braves, but I just think the Braves ridiculously hot start, led by Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, will propel them to an NL East crown. I realize there is half a season yet to be played. I just do not think the Nationals will put together a large winning streak to catch the Braves, and while I do not think highly of the Braves, they won’t collapse in September. They will hit just enough home runs to put them in the playoffs.

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

Albert Pujols plays the Cardinals for the first time since joining the Angels. It is in Anaheim, but I am sure it will still be a big deal to Pujols. He will probably have a monster night. He hasn’t been the same player since he left St. Louis, but he is still one of the best hitters I have ever seen in my two decades of life. He can definitely put it together for one night. I think that night will be tonight, but it could happen at any point during this series. It’ll be a good game to watch tonight and it would be even if Pujols wasn’t the main story. Lance Lynn and Jered Weaver will, hopefully, make this a good pitching duel.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Wimbledon has been insane so far. Incredible upsets with Federer, Nadal, and Sharapova going down early. Yesterday had, in my opinion, the craziest upset of all of them. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round to Sabine Lisicki. I don’t know much about tennis, but I know Serena is a man among women. I am stunned she lost because she is such a beast. Djokovic should win the men’s title, but the women’s is a toss up.

Fantasy football season is on the horizon. I am excited to start playing again, so I have already started to do a mock draft or two. I will be posting a draft I did with why I selected each player and what my concerns would be with each pick.

 Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo 7-1-2013

Happy July Everyone

Crab and Mac n Cheese hot dogs

Crab and Mac n Cheese hot dogs

View from left-center seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

View from left-center seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

As evidenced by my Twitter timeline, I was at the Orioles game last night. Heather and I had an awesome time and good seats. It was great. The only problem was the drive home. We kept driving in and out of a severe thunderstorm and it took 3.5 hours to get home. It sucked. But the Orioles won, and Jim Johnson got his 100th career save. Chris Davis hit home run number 31, an Orioles’ record for homers prior to the All Star Break. Manny Machado and Nate McLouth also homered. Brian Roberts finally returned to the line up and the roar from the crowd when he came to the plate was awesome to hear. One of the only good players through the rough times in Baltimore and he will always be a fan favorite. The game got scary at the end, but the Orioles were able to pull it off.

Since I was driving most of the day, I wasn’t able to see the second most important game of the day, the Confederations Cup Final. Joe tweeted at me about the David Luiz save.

I found the video on my phone. My jaw dropped. That was insane. Unbelievable effort by Luiz. Now, I think that play may have been demoralizing to Spain. Since I didn’t watch the game, I can’t say for sure. However, I would think that Luiz making that save and Neymar putting away a goal 4 minutes later probably put Spain in a hole, mentally and physically, that they could not overcome. Brazil added another tally late to seal their 3rd straight Confederations Cup championship.

Chris Paul agreed in principle to a deal with the Clippers. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone. Once the Clippers traded for Doc Rivers, there was no way he was going anywhere. So, one of the two big 2013 free agents has made his decision. Dwight Howard, obviously, has not decided what he wants to do. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the fiasco in Orlando a season and a half ago. I think he is going to sign with the Rockets. James Harden and Howard should be a good combo, but will Howard be okay playing second fiddle? I am not sure what Houston is thinking, but personally, I think Harden is a star and should be the main man in Houston. I want to see how they play together, if Howard does go to Houston.

I also want to see if Rajon Rondo gets traded to Dallas. I read somewhere that the Mavericks were going to make a run at him with Shane Larkin as the main piece of a package. If the Celtics are all in on the rebuilding process, they may want to make this trade for Larkin and a couple first rounders and whatever pieces make the money side of things work. I bet the Celtics could also dump a contract or two on the Mavs in a trade like this. I think Bill Simmons would want it to be Gerald Wallace.

Daily Dojo 6-28-2013

Spain needed 120 minutes and 7 penalty kicks, but they finally put away Italy. Italy had more chances to score and were pretty dominate in the regulation. Once it went into Extra Time, Spain started to take over. Vincente del Bosque made a curious substitution by putting Javi Martinez up top for Fernando Torres, but Spain still won the game because penalty kick botched by Leonardo Bonucci.

Anthony Bennett Selected Number 1 Overall

Anthony Bennett Selected Number 1 Overall

It was a crazy beginning to the first round of the NBA Draft. No trades in the top 5, but I do not think anyone doing a mock draft had the outcome of Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter Jr, Cody Zeller and Alex Len. Zeller being the first center taken in the draft is interesting. He was a top 5 player prior to his sophomore year at Indiana, but dropped because he was not even the best player on his own team. I just don’t know if he will succeed in the NBA. Biggest trade of the first round for me was the Nerlens Noel trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. The New Orleans Pelicans get Jrue Holiday and the 76ers get the rights to Nerlens Noel and a protected 2014 first round pick. This trade was a big step in the Sixers rebuilding process and it appears that they are trying to tank for Andrew Wiggins. He has been said to be the best prospect since Kevin Durant, and some people say he is the best since LeBron James. The 2014 draft class will blow away this one anyway, so two picks next year will be big for the Sixers. The only way they do not get a 1st round pick from the Pelicans is if it is in the top 5.

Boston Celtics gave away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. I cannot even say they traded away. They got three unprotected first round picks. However, I doubt they come of any value for the Celtics. Late first rounders rarely turn into stars in the NBA. With Brooklyn looking like a top team in the East next year, the 2014 pick will become a late pick. The 2016 and 2018 picks are up in the air, but I really think they won’t be lottery picks. I agree with Bill Simmons. It was a bad trade and I feel bad for Boston Celtics fans like him.

Mike Muscala got drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 44th pick. However, that pick had already been proposed in a deal to the Atlanta Hawks. This makes sense since the GM for the Hawks was at the Patriot League Championship game. I am glad that he got drafted and its exciting for Bucknell and the whole student body.

BJ Upton and Dan Uggla

BJ Upton and Dan Uggla

In the upcoming weeks leading up to the All Star Break, I am going to be doing reviews of each division in baseball. I already gave a little preview of the AL East two days ago in the Daily Dojo. I will also give you another preview. The worst division in baseball is… the NL East. And its not even close. The Braves lead the division by 5.5. And guess what? They are a mediocre team at best. “But Greg, they have the Upton brothers, Simmons, Heyward, Kimbrel and a good starting rotation!” They are below .500 when they are not playing their own terrible division. Mediocre at best. That would just be a preview as to why the NL East is the worst division in baseball

Baseball Quick Hits

  • Derek Holland has return to form this season. He only gave up two hits in a shut out against the Yankees. He also had seven strikeouts. Real good bounce back year for Holland
  • Matt Garza had 10 strikeouts in 7 innings against the Brewers yesterday afternoon. Cubs are lucky he is back to being the pitcher he used to be. Valuable trade chip.
  • Excited to see Max Scherzer pitch tomorrow night against the Rays. He has been dominate this year, and I am intrigued to see how he does against an average Rays line up. Also want to see how Wil Myers, future stud muffin, fairs against him.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo 6-27-2013

Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder. The Patriots released him right after the arrest. His NFL career is over, probably. There appears to be a lot of evidence against Hernandez, including a selfie of him holding a gun, his text messages and a matching bullet casing in the rental car he was driving. It is a really sad situation that I would not like to write about. I extend my sympathies to the family and friends of the victim.

With the NBA Draft tonight, I am excited to see a couple things.

  1. How many trades are there going to be?

  2. What will the Cavaliers do with the number 1 overall pick?

  3. Where is Mike Muscala going to be drafted?

Alex Len defends against Nerlens Noel

Alex Len defends against Nerlens Noel

First off, I think there are going to be A LOT of trades. It isn’t a very good draft class so I think teams will try to make trades and move bad contracts to try and make room for the 2014 free agent class. I do think that the Cavaliers will actually make their pick. It is very confusing as to what they are going to do. Every draft expert seems to think that Nerlens Noel is the best prospect in the draft. However, some people are saying Alex Len is the top player on the Cavaliers board. My thinking would be that the Cavaliers are scared of a big man coming out with a knee injury. Remember Greg Oden‘s NBA career? Yeah, me neither.

Mike Muscala

Mike Muscala

Mike Muscala will be drafted tonight in the late first round or early second. It is pretty cool that he is coming out from Bucknell. I hope he goes to a team that has a good coach that understands how smart he is as a player. He will also need to bulk up, but there is no reason that he couldn’t do that when it is his job. I hope he turns into a quality NBA player.

Another interesting NBA note came out this morning. It is unlikely that Dwight Howard will resign with Lakers. It appears that the Rockets will be the front runners for him. Dwight Howard and James Harden sounds like an amazing combination of stars. I just don’t know if Howard will ever be the centerpiece of a championship team. People love to bash LeBron‘s mental toughness. Look at Dwight Howard, he is probably twenty quadrillion times worse in that department.

For me, there was really bad news in baseball yesterday. I called it on Monday. I knew Dylan Bundy was going to need Tommy John before it was announced Tuesday. I doubt it will be the end of his career. Their are few people in better shape than him, apparently he hasn’t eaten a hamburger since he was 15 or so. I hope he comes back like Adam Wainwright has and can fulfill the promise that he definitely has.

I need to make a full apology to Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants. Lincecum had been pitching great for the Giants last night. Then I tweeted about it, and he gave up 3 runs. It was my fault and I accept that.

Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum

Sorry Big Time Timmy Jim

And this is another reason I love MLB.tv. I got to watch a late night west coast game and finally saw Yasiel Puig play. He’s *bleep*ing good and he is an absolute man-child. That’s all I have to say about him.

Quick—> Spain-Italy prediction — Spain 3-1

Greg Danchik

 

Daily Dojo 6-26-2013

Baltimore-Orioles logoFinally, I get to write about my favorite sport everyday, baseball. The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals were amazing, but I just prefer baseball. As an Orioles fan, this is the chance I get to talk about them. They are going to make the playoffs, I think. I don’t think the Blue Jays’ run is sustainable. Their bullpen has been pitching out of their minds and the starters are just mediocre at best. RA Dickey had a great year last year, but when the roof is closed in Toronto, his knuckleball doesn’t knuckle. I think the Yankees are too broken down to compete. However, I think the Rays and Red Sox, obviously, can compete. Luckily for me, this website wasn’t up at the beginning of the year because I did not expect the division to look like this so I don’t look like an idiot… yet.

I think it will come down to the Orioles, Rays and Red Sox for the AL East crown. They all have question marks, but they all deserve playoff berths, as of right now. The two teams that do not win the division will compete for the AL Wild Card spots with the Rangers. Frankly, I think it will be 3 AL East teams in the playoff. The Rangers just are not the fearsome line up they used to be, and they definitely do not have great pitching behind Yu Darvish. It looks to be a tight race down the stretch and it should be interesting to see how the division looks at the All Star Break.

MLB.tv is the greatest thing that has ever been invented. I cannot stress this enough. It is literally the greatest thing of all time. I get to watch every Orioles game where they aren’t playing the Yankees, Phillies, Pirates or Mets, and it isn’t a nationally televised game. It is so awesome. I will be purchasing the full year at the beginning of next season, but month to month is more value to me now. I am also excited to go to the Orioles-Yankees game that will be on Sunday Night Baseball. I got a sweet deal on the tickets too. I’m pumped, and hopefully, it will be a good game so I can write about it. Actually, I’ll write about it regardless so it really doesn’t matter.

Zack Wheeler did not have a great second start. He gave up 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings. He only gave up 4 hits, but he had 3 walks. The White Sox were just able to take advantage of it in a way the Braves could not.  He is just adjusting to new competition. He has a great fastball with a lot of life, but just cannot control it yet. Once he harness that and gets his secondary pitches working, he will be a stud muffin. He will be a main cog in a good Mets team in 2016, MAYBE 2015 if EVERYTHING goes right.

Last MLB note, Brian Cashman telling Alex Rodriguez to, “shut the f*** up,” may be the greatest thing a GM has ever said even if it was an overreaction.

College World Series

The UCLA Bruins won their first national championship ever… in baseball. This just adds to their 108 other national championships. To be honest, I did not watch the game so I can’t tell you who looked good or bad or anything like that.

Confederations Cup

Messi and Neymar

Messi and Neymar

Brazil and Uruguay play today at 3pm. I see a Brazil victory 3-1. This has been Neymar‘s coming out party against world class competition. I mean everyone who knows about soccer, or plays FIFA, knew he was good. It was just a question of how good he would be against great competition. I think, during the Italy match, he displayed how well he can play against great competition and reminded the world that Barcelona is going to be scary with Messi and him.

Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic won yesterday. I think he will play Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Final. Then again, I literally know nothing about the intricacies of tennis. I just know that those two players, and Rafael Nadal, are in a class of their own when it comes to tennis. I don’t really have a rooting interest in this tournament, but I hope those two get to the final. Djokovic and Federer would be the two players I’d bet on.

NBA Draft talk tomorrow

BIG NEWS THIS MORNING

Aaron Hernandez being taken from his house in handcuffs

Aaron Hernandez being taken from his house in handcuffs

Aaron Hernandez was taken from his house in handcuffs this morning. The New England Patriots decided to release Aaron Hernandez as well. WOAH. I have no idea where this is going, but it does not look good.  More in depth talk about him at another time.

Greg Danchik