Politics Are And Always Will Be A Part Of Sports

Politics Are And Always Will Be A Part Of Sports

You can't have one without the other.
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There has been a lot of activity on and off the field this summer when concerning sports. From Kaepernick and taking a knee, to Jemele Hill, to Trump himself rescinding his White House invitation to Steph Curry. It has caused a lot of people to get very angry and yell "get politics out of my sports," or "I just watch sports to get away from politics," and everything in between. Well I hate to break it to you, but politics are and always will be a part of sports.

Let's start with Colin Kaepernick, the most talked about athlete that doesn't play. Let's be honest here, Kaepernick is not a top-10 or even top-20 quarterback at the moment. But I guarantee you he is better than at least 5 quarterbacks in the NFL. If Brian Hoyer, or Mike Glennon can keep getting paid millions to play shit football, surely Kaepernick can. The only thing that's keeping him off the field is his knee. No, it's not injured. You know what I'm talking about.

America collectively lost its shit over Kaepernick and taking a knee during the national anthem. Because for some reason a football player can only be that, a football player. He should just take his millions, throw the football, get off the field and keep his mouth shut.

But Kaepernick wasn't going to do that. He recognizes that change only occurs with action. And so while one knee might have unjustly ended his career, it has sparked a never-ending debate about race and patriotism.

So let's talk about taking a knee during the national anthem. One thing I cannot understand is why people get so angry about it. Kaepernick taking a knee does absolutely nothing to you. It does not affect your beliefs, it does not affect your "patriotism," and it doesn't do anything but deliver a message. A message that says "this country is not equal." Kaepernick is standing up for all black people in America that have been wronged.

And he's not alone, Michael Bennet, Marshawn Lynch, Eric Reid, eleven Cleveland Browns players, and many more across the league have joined in this season. They are peacefully protesting, kneeling in complete silence, but that's just too much apparently. Remember when white supremacists flooded a town for torches, drove into a crowd of people, and beat a black man because a racist statue was going to be removed?

No one's talking about that anymore. Instead, it's all about these black men protesting what is wrong in this country, but white people just can't let it go. If this is too much protest from black people, then what the hell are they supposed to do?

The truth that no one wants to point out is that white people think there are no race problems in America, which in turn is pretty ignorant and racist. To not acknowledge the disparity in treatment of African Americans in this country is just plain wrong. So stop telling them to stand back up, you're part of the problem.

Moving on, our lovely dumb-as-a-rock President has escalated this entire situation to another level. Not only did he say that owners should "tell those son's of bitches to get off the field" (referencing players taking a knee), he also got into a twitter tantrum about Rodger Goodell, uninvited Steph Curry to the White House which in turn led to the entire Golden State Warriors to un-invite themselves, and caused the god of sports, LeBron James, to call him "a bum."

Wow, that was a mouthful. So it's incredibly ironic how Trump has politicized all of this shit to another level, and nearly everyone who hates black people protesting in sports and wants it gone also voted for the man. I won't even bother going into how ignorant and idiotic everything Trump said was here, because it's too much.

Politics and sports are intrinsically connected forever, and it's not just about players protesting for equality. Here in Cincinnati, we are stuck in the middle of an incredibly frustrating feud over where to locate FC Cincinnati's new soccer stadium and the situation could not be any more political.

How about the Olympics? The Miracle on Ice? You can't tell me that wasn't political. How about when the freaking Nazi's hosted the Olympics? What about the whole Washington Redskins debacle (that seemingly no one cares about anymore)?

There are countless connections to sports and politics because you simply cannot expect the people who participate in them to not reflect the country they are living in. Next time you see a player taking a knee, instead of getting outraged, maybe take a second and think "hmmm, why would they be doing this" and you just might get 1% of a better perspective on the issue. If you still fail to understand, well put your MAGA hat back on and go back to the coal mine.

We cannot continue to ignore the social injustices of our time. And if it takes a Colin Kaepernick, a LeBron James, or even a Steph Curry standing up and speaking out to get something done about it, then by all means, take a knee.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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The Top 20 Hottest NHL Players

Hockey players are so much more than toothless, scarred beasts.
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As a lifelong fan of the NHL, I've grown up watching the tough and rugged players on the ice. I have learned to appreciate their ice presence when they're playing and now I can appreciate how well they clean up off ice. I believe hockey players are some of the most underrated athletes in America. They're more than just scarred up, toothless beasts. These ice gods heat up the ice with not only their talent, but with their looks as well.

Since the hockey season is in full swing, I felt it was an appropriate time to recognize their attractiveness along with their talent. So without further ado, here are the hottest male professional hockey players in the league as of today.

20. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

This studly player is impressive at every angle. He is second in the league only to Alex Ovechkin for most goals scored this season. That, along with sex appeal such as his, makes him a major cause of racing hearts and swooning.

19. Andrew Ference, Edmonton Oilers

Captain of the Oilers and environmental extraordinaire, he has skills on the ice that pertain to more than just good stats and records. His care for the environment, smoking hot looks, and performance on ice are three reasons why he is featured here.

18. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

While being one of the best goalies in the league, Carey Price is one foxy man. He has hockey in his blood: his father played for the Philadelphia Flyers. That explains his incredible talent which led him and his Canadian team to win the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

He does, however, have a wife. I can only hope I become as lucky as her and all of the other NHL wives.

17. Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks

Chris Higgins? More like Prince Charming. His swoon-worthy charm and sweet persona draw attention to him. That, and his incredible abilities as a hockey player. He is one of the most respectful players in the league, making him a man no one can hate.

16. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

This hunk has everything going for him: a second-to-none defenseman rating, long and luscious hair, and those muscles. He's just 25 years old and has been playing for seven seasons. I wouldn't mind being able to meet him and see if those muscles really are bigger than my head.

15. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

This man has made himself a household name along with being extraordinarily good looking. As the captain of the Penguins, he is incredibly skilled on and off the ice. It's approximated that he earns $8.7 million per year. If he's getting paid that much for less than perfect puck handling, it must mean he's good.

14. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

This beauty is a defenseman with one Stanley Cup win under his belt. He's even won gold medals at back-to-back at the World Junior Championships. He has all that plus looks; what a catch. However, he's got a son that means the world to him, along with a very lucky wife.

13. Beau Bennett, Pittsburgh Penguins

Beau is 6'2" of pure handsome. His boyish charm and potential star athlete are hard features to overlook. He is working his way up to making a name for himself, as he is just 24 years old. Ladies, get a hold of him while you still can.

12. Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

This proud papa is a ten year veteran defenseman. His looks aren't the only thing he excels in. Without him, Chicago's defense would be missing a key part of their team.

11. Jeff Carter, LA Kings

While he is a two time Stanley Cup winner, Carter is a beautiful man as well. He's a ten year veteran. Surprising, right?

This romantic proposed to his girlfriend just days after winning his second Stanley Cup. So, sorry ladies, he's happily married.

10. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

His veteran status at age 35 seems like a fictional statement. He does not look 35 whatsoever. My theory is that he's a vampire. Or maybe he just ages well.

In his career, he has scored 308 goals as a left winger for the Red Wings. He's got the looks and the talent, as do most of the men on this list.

9. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

As captain of the Rangers, McDonagh is a renowned defenseman. His grace on the ice makes him a key player in the Rangers' lineup. Injuries have plagued him this season, but his skills have yet to falter.

8. TJ Oshie, Washington Capitals

For those of you who love men with long hair, TJ Oshie is your guy. He's got the flow not only with his luscious locks, but with his hockey skills as well. He's a veteran winger that is as good on the ice as he is in looks.

7. Alex Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets

This Swed has only been in the league for 2 years, so he's a pretty new face to the NHL community. So, look out for him in the next few years, ladies. This 21-year-old is a promising athlete and exceptionally gifted in the looks department.

6. Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings

This Canadian defenseman is a key player on the ice for the Red Wings. He is a well-suited veteran, playing in the league for 10 years. Despite his veteran status, his looks have been constant through the years.

His muscular build is necessary during games and greatly appreciated when the pads come off. I'm sure those muscles are bigger than my head.

5. Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks

This veteran has been in the league for 13 seasons, but has not lost his charm. He has been with the Canucks for 11 of those seasons; he was traded to the Ducks only two years ago. His talent goes past his hockey skills as he released his own clothing line, "RK17."

He is married and a father of three beautiful children. Sorry ladies, but there are more men to choose from on this list that are just as attractive.

4. Derick Brassard, New York Rangers

Tall, dark, and handsome. Standing at 6'1", this center has made a name for himself throughout his eight years in the league. Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was later traded to the Rangers, where he has been a star. As a Rangers' fan, I am not complaining whatsoever. He has netted 122 goals throughout his career and his on-ice presence is essential to the Rangers' playmaking abilities.

He is, unfortunately, taken by former figure skater Terra Findlay. She's a lucky lady to be with such a talented, good looking man.

3. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

I would do anything to see him riding the zamboni as he's pictured above at intermission. This 24-year-old Canadian was drafted in the first round, second overall. He's netted 32 goals this season already, which is tied for third in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane.

Along with his impressive on-ice skills, he is unbelievably attractive. Look how toned his legs are! To my knowledge, he is single as a Pringle. I just wish he would mingle somewhere near me.

2. Marcus Foligno, Buffalo Sabres

This 24-year-old has been in the league for four years and I only just discovered him during my quest for attractive hockey players. He's not a very well-known player, but he's incredibly talented and single. Go get him ladies!

1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Number 30 on the ice and number 1 in my heart. I may be a bit biased, being a Rangers fan and all, but there is no doubt that Henrik is the most attractive player in the league thus far. He's also one of the best goaltenders to ever grace the ice. Recently -- February 25, 2016, to be exact -- he passed Mike Richter for most saves in the Rangers' franchise history in their win against the Blues.

Sorry ladies, this Swed is married happily and has a young son. Therese Andersson is one lucky lady.

Now, I can only hope that I am lucky enough to marry an NHL star. It's my goal in life to score one of these extraordinarily attractive men. (Bad pun? Sorry.) A girl can dream, can't she?

Cover Image Credit: askmen.com

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What To Make Of The Braves' Confusing Start

After being on the short end of an opening series sweep, the Braves have found their stride and put themselves back on track in the NL East... but will the newfound momentum last? Here are a few takeaways from the Braves' first 11 games and how they reflect this past offseason.

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It is no secret that the Atlanta Braves' front office has taken some heat lately for their offseason stagnation. In an alarming opening series against the Phillies, some of the weaknesses from last season, particularly on the mound, were put on full display. Fortunately, the Braves have bounced back to win seven of their eight matchups since then, and have reestablished themselves as a major force in the National League.

There's no question that the Braves' biggest strength is their offense. They already possessed some of the league's finest up and coming superstars in Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and the lesser known yet arguably equally productive (despite some early 2019 woes and lack of ABs) Johan Camargo. When guys like these are put in the mix with veterans like Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, now Josh Donaldson & once again Atlanta's beloved Brian McCann, it makes for a force to be reckoned with at the plate.

Thus far in 2019, our offense has done exactly what they were expected to do. Even though we've lost four games, in those four games our lineup has scored a combined 13 runs, which just goes to show that the bats aren't the issue-- any team scoring 13 runs over a span of four games should expect to win at least a couple of them. In the eleven games we've played up to this point, five out of the eight starting position players are hitting at least .320, and four of those five are hitting .340 or higher.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Braves' offensive game in 2019 has been the resurrection of Dansby Swanson, who's been an absolute blast to watch. It seems as though the first overall draft pick is finally getting his feet under him at the plate, and producing not only by getting on base (his bread and butter) but via the deep ball as well, which has come as a pleasant surprise to Braves fans far and wide. Dansby's Achilles heel throughout his professional career has been the outside pitch, and since the final two spring training games, he's put three over the opposite field wall, which shows he's taken huge strides in his offseason work. He currently leads the team in home runs and RBIs with four and fifteen respectively. He was one of the few weak links in a talented 2018 lineup, so seeing him finally excel with a bat in his hands is huge for the future of not only the fan favorite player but the Braves organization as a whole.

Another seemingly insignificant yet quite promising statistic is the massively improved selectiveness of Ozzie Albies. Being as fast as he is at the top of the lineup, we need him to get on base, period. Last year he posted just a .305 on-base percentage and struck out 116 times--more than three times as frequently as he walked. This year, he's walked five times and struck out just four. He's on pace to walk nearly 74 times in 2019, more than doubling his walks from 2018. More walks means higher OBP and higher OBP means more RBIs for the guys behind him. This means 2019's offense could literally be twice as productive as they were in 2018, which is scary.

Of course, stacking your lineup with some of the best hitters in the league is never a bad idea, but when you consider how good our offense was in 2018 with our starters at each position hitting an average .276 on the season and slugging at a .453 clip (.028 and .044 higher than the league averages, respectively) in contrast to a questionably reliable pitching staff, the lack of acquisition from a pitching standpoint seems like a failure to prioritize. It's been shown throughout the history of baseball that no matter how good of a lineup you have, they can't be expected to show up and produce night in and night out like your pitching staff can and should, and when you give up six runs three out of four games in the division series, this presents a problem. Acquiring Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann in the offseason certainly won't hurt us, but it absolutely does raise the question, "why didn't we go get an arm?".

In 2018, the Braves posted the 10th worst ERA in the Major Leagues. While not a horrendous stat, it certainly won't win you a World Series-- or take you anywhere in the playoffs, for that matter. What's frustrating about the Braves (and really Atlanta sports as a whole) is that times like these don't come around infrequently. It's not rare that the Braves are a good baseball team. The thing is, it is rare that the Braves are a great baseball team. 2019 Is arguably our best opportunity to win big since the 90s, and considering how many pieces are in place, the obvious lack of willingness to make a move where we need it most, the pitcher's mound, is quite vexing.

Let's take a look at our starting rotation. The fact that Julio Teheran is our opening day starter says a lot. While he is a veteran who has shown periods of great success in the MLB, he is by no means a bonafide ace, which is what we're in desperate need of. Three of the six starting pitchers the Braves have put out there this season haven't even seen more than 75 big league innings, which is definitely a problem. These guys have as much raw talent as anyone, but to make a run in the postseason right now, which I believe the Braves are capable of doing, they need a proven winner--someone who's established themselves as a dominant force on the mound in the Majors. Mike Foltynewicz being on the IL certainly isn't helping the Braves' case; but, even when he returns, he isn't one of those guys who's going to win nearly every game he steps on the mound. He'll eat innings and keep you in ballgames, but I would hesitate to consider him a "dominant" starter. If we just had one major household name in our starting rotation, we'd be in a lot better shape.

Unfortunately, the rotation isn't the only thing holding us back from a pitching standpoint and is arguably the second biggest issue of concern. Our bullpen (or lack thereof) absolutely killed us in 2018. A good way to destroy any sort of morale within an organization is to watch a question mark of a starter throw a quality game, then have their efforts rendered vain thanks to an insufficient performance out of the bullpen; this was seen all too often last season and it's hard to believe it won't continue given the lack of change between now and then. Sure, we acquired an experienced closer in Darren O'Day (though he's currently on the IL), but he hasn't seen the mound since last June and now brings about health concerns--hamstring issues seem to stick around and haunt athletes more than just about any health issue in sports. He will certainly help upon return, but even then, either our middle relief is going to have to step up their game, or the front office is going to have to step up their game and get us a quality reliever. Our starters simply aren't going to go seven innings every night, whether that's something Braves fans like to admit or not.

I will say, the bullpen has seemed to pick it up in the last two series-- they've given up just three earned through 14 innings in the last five games. It's hard to use this as any sort of barometer of improvement, though, as those five games have been played against the two worst teams in their respective divisions. It's not a bad thing, but it doesn't necessarily get my hopes up either.

On the bright side, we do have a handful of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the nation, some of whom made appearances at the end of last season with moderate levels of success. Any scout will tell you that Touki Toussaint, Ian Anderson, and Kolby Allard (which is by no means an exhaustive list) have all the potential in the world, but the Braves have decided these guys aren't quite ready to be consistent contributors in the show. In my opinion, this is a good move-- the league has seen a number of careers fail to reach their potential due to a rushed upbringing. With that being said, considering we have the offensive and defensive pieces in place to be a world series caliber team right now, why should we wait on these young arms to come to fruition? Why not compete for a World Series now and later? Only one team in the past 26 years has won a World Series with a bottom half payroll, which makes it hard to understand why the organization is being so conservative.

It may seem like Atlanta's fan base is asking a lot when they say they want a top of the line starter and a quality reliever to two to complement their all-star loaded offense-- a lot of teams would be happy to have just one of those. The thing is, when your front office claims they're going to spend with the best of them, and you're as close as the Braves are to being a World Series caliber team, it's hard to be patient and wait for these young arms to develop--especially when the organization consistently spends $40 million less than the league average.

So, what does all of this mean for the Braves? I don't want to jump the gun eleven games into the season, but I think it's fair to assume the offensive production will continue, if not improve. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Josh Donaldson are both struggling at the plate, but being that the former is the reigning rookie of the year and the latter has an AL MVP and Silver Slugger award under his belt, I'm not too terribly concerned by their slow starts. It is clear that the offense will be there in 2019 (and for years to come), but what about the pitching?

Unfortunately, I foresee a failure to immediately address our pitching issues being fatal for the Braves in 2019 and perhaps even 2020. As hot as we are right now, it would be naive to ignore the fact that we are 0-3 against one of the best teams in baseball and 7-1 against three of the worst teams in baseball. If that doesn't forecast postseason disappointment, I don't know what will. Give it a couple of years and we'll be fine on the mound considering how many arms we've got in the farm system, but these guys simply aren't ready to step into the bigs and win 17 games; unfortunately, neither are the guys in the rotation right now. The bats may carry Atlanta to the postseason, but it may be NLDS and out-- there's simply too much pitching talent in the playoffs to expect to win a series with the bats alone.

With all of this being said, the Braves do have an incredibly bright future. In 2020, I think we'll be the team to beat. I could be wrong about 2019 & 2020, and I hope that I am, but it looks like immediate postseason success is going to boil down to whether or not the front office is willing to make that big move.

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