The Boys In Blue Are Coming For You

The Boys In Blue Are Coming For You

Why the Chicago Cubs will be World Series Champions in 2016.
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Baseball season is upon us! Well, actually it's just spring training, but it is so close that we can taste it. The unique smells of clean-cut bluegrass, chewing tobacco, and ballpark franks are in the air and frankly, baseball fans could not be more excited about it. After an extremely entertaining regular season and playoffs in 2015, the 2016 season is shaping up to be nothing short of spectacular. The season is set to start on Sunday April 3rd with a World Series rematch between the Mets and the 2015 World Series championship-winning Royals. Although the Mets and Royals are well equipped to have stellar seasons in 2016, many predict they will not reap the same success they enjoyed one year ago. In fact, many are predicting that a team founded in 1903 from Chicago will take home the trophy this year. This team and fan base, which has experienced Steve Bartman-size heartbreak year after year for 107 years, is ready for a championship. In 2016, Cubs fans, those who have known losing all their lives, will be able to rejoice and pop some champagne. Here’s why:

1. The Cubs made huge Offseason moves

The Cubbies were able to sign Outfielder Jason Heyward, Second Baseman Ben Zobrist and right-handed ace John Lackey this past offseason. Along with superstars like Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester, the current Cubs roster is a powerhouse.

2. The NL Central will not be as competitive as at it has been in the past

Arguably the NL Central is the most competitive and exciting division in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals are almost always a shoe-in to win the Central (they have done so 11 times) and the Pittsburgh Pirates as of late, behind the bat of Andrew Mccutchen, have been playing great baseball. However, this year there are more questions than answers with these two. The health of the Cardinal's best player, seven-time All-star Yadier Molina, is uncertain. The loss of A.J. Burnett to retirement, J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton to free agency presents serious issues for the Pittsburg Pirates. The Cubs will be able to take advantage of a less competitive division by winning more games and clinching home field advantage come playoff time.

3. The Cubs have Joe Maddon

If you are familiar with the game of baseball and great managers, then you surely know whom Joe Maddon is. The three-time manager of the year has already taken the Chicago Cubs from a team with a losing record (73-89 in 2015) to a National League Championship Series appearance in 2016. Not only is Maddon a winner and a fantastic manager, he is probably the funniest dude there is. During spring training, his antics are hysterical. He has hired a clown to come perform, a mime to come lead stretching and even allowed a man to jam out on a guitar for an entire practice! Recently, in an effort to keep his players loose, Maddon brought real bear cubs to practice. Who wouldn’t want to play for this guy?

4. The Cubs have nothing to lose and everything to gain

Let’s face it, the Cubs have not won a World Series Championship since 1908. Even if analysts, reporters and fans believe the Cubs have the best shot to win, it means absolutely nothing. What is of the utmost importance is what the players believe. For the first time in my lifetime, it seems that the Cubs organization believes in what they can achieve. For that reason, more than any other, I believe in the Chicago Cubs.

Cover Image Credit: https://cdn-sportsinsight.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/where-will-you-be-Chicago-Cubs.jpg

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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An 'Expert's' Thoughts On The Worst Loss Of The Saban Era

Dabo Swinney solidifies Clemson as an elite college football program.

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Monday night, the Clemson Tigers were crowned national champions in one of the all-time beatdowns in the history of college football. Some may think that phrase is a bit harsh, but I can't show my bias in this situation. In fact, there is no real way to spin the game into something positive. Sure the referees missed a couple pass interference calls, you can even take away both of Tua's interceptions, I still think Alabama loses that game by 17-plus. That's how big the gap was between the two schools.

The first quarter of the game seemed to be typical championship shootout. Clemson forced an early pick-six but Alabama came right back with a 62-yard touchdown by Jerry Jeudy. The tide was actually leading 16-14 at the start of the second. Then it all went wrong from there. Clemson proceeded to move the ball all the way down the field for a dominating 65-yard drive which only lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Next drive Tua throws an awful interception which is returned for over 40 yards giving Clemson the short field again. Three and a half minutes later it's 28-16. Clemson closes out the half with a field goal and now it's 31-16.

Everyone's mindset at this point was "Alabama and Nick Saban have a pretty good track record of having second-half comebacks." And with the first drive of the second half, it seemed as if they were starting to get their stuff together. Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs lead the offense down to the Clemson 22 before an incomplete pass on third and six made Saban trot out the field goal unit. Sure a field goal in this situation wasn't ideal but it would have made it a 12 point game and given the defense some momentum. Instead, but occurred was the worst decision a Saban lead team had ever made. A fake field goal, up the middle with the kicker as the lead blocker. And Clemson was ready for it.

WOW! Botched fake field goal ( college championship game ) YouTube

It was at this moment even though I didn't want to say it when I knew we had lost the game. It was a panic move by Saban at a time where the team just needed some sort of points. I understand that our kicker has struggled but if you want to go for it on fourth and six don't do a fake field goal, just keep the offense out there. I even disapprove of that.

Trevor Lawrence and the offense now back on the field was able to score in three plays which included a 74-yard touchdown pass to Justin Ross who lit up the secondary all night long. When it was all said and done the Tigers won 44-16, scoring 30 unanswered points to close out the game.

I sat up all night trying to fathom how this could have happened. It bothered me so much that I actually started rewatching the game (thanks Youtube). Yep, I relived every painful moment secluded in my room, cautiously evaluating every meaningful snap of the game. I was also simultaneously looking at the statistics of the game and when I brought it all together I figured out Dabo's formula to beat us. It was having elite receivers who can win every 50-50 ball, it was a defensive front which can make the quarterback uncomfortable, it was a secondary who can force multiple turnovers, it was a coaching staff that hasn't lost a coordinator in seven years, it was an offensive line which can keep the quarterback from getting touched at all (this is actually true). The short answer to all of this is that Dabo Swinney and Clemson was able to beat Nick Saban and Alabama by becoming them.

Think about it. Everything I just listed above is what the tide has been doing for the past 12 years. Other teams have been trying to replicate it for years but to no success. Now someone has finally figured it out until now.

Now I'm not here to say that the Saban dynasty is all over. When looking at all of the great dynasty's in sports every single one had a rival to tie it too. Michael Jordan's Bulls had the Detroit Pistons, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had the New York Giants, LeBron James had the San Antonio Spurs. When you really look at Saban's era he really hasn't had a true rival who consistently got in his way of winning a championship until Monday. Clemson is the first real threat Alabama has had in over a decade.

Swinney and the Tigers kicked our behinds, there's no defending that. It was awful. But it could be the wake-up call Saban's team needs. They aren't just going to run through the entire league anymore. The rest of the country is catching up and Alabama needs to play like they haven't won in a decade.

This was the fourth time these two teams have met in four years. And contrary to some outlets who don't like to tell the whole story, Alabam and Clemson are now 2-2 in their College Football Playoff series. And I have a feeling the 2019-20 season will hold the tiebreaker.

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