Von Miller did NOT fail drug tests

27 Jul

A few days ago, Von Miller was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league's drug policy. Miller, the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, knew from the minute the news broke that he had reason to appeal the suspension and today that reason became very clear. Today, a source revealed that Miller's suspension was not due to a failed drug test.

Miller had been clean since the 2011 season, when he tested positive for marijuana in his rookie year. Following this rule violation, Miller was placed in the league's substance abuse program. However, Miller did not test positive for any PEDs or recreational drugs this year. So then why was Miller handed this suspension?

If you read the fine print, the NFL drug policy doesn't only hand out suspensions for positive tests, but also for breaking certain rules. Players placed in the substance abuse program have to follow other rules, because of their past infractions. Like probation, these players have to take tests at certain times, attend counseling sessions and have to behave in a certain manner. There is no word on whether Miller overslept, had a temper tantrum or cut class, but despite remaining clean the NFL has stood firm on suspending Miller.

While Miller has put in for appeal, his teammates are confident that the suspension won't hold. Denver Bronco's defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said that Miller may be "silly," but he is now a leader on the team and has accepted that role. "The guy I was, two, three, four years ago is not the guy I am," said Miller. When asked if he regularly used or supported marijuana usage, Miller responded with a firm "absolutely not."

Clearly, Miller has grown from his rookie self. He has grown into one of the best defensive players in the NFL and realizes the position that he's in. Last season, Miller finished second in voting for the NFL Defensive MVP Award, and has accumulated 30 sacks in only two seasons in the NFL. This is why Miller doesn't feel like he let down his teammates.

It may seem silly to suspend a player when he isn't using, but the NFL is trying to make an example out of Miller. Whether the suspension will stand remains to be seen, but according to Kevin Vickerson "There will be due justice. We have to watch and see how it plays out. Right now, he's not suspended, and he'll be with us the first game."

Do you think Miller should be suspended? Should players who already received their penalty have to abide by a different set of rules? Share your thoughts. Comment below!

By Andrew Goodman – Goodman Sports


5 Baseball Milestones we may Never See Again

23 Jul

When an athlete reaches a certain milestone, they know that they have made the most out of their career. Whether it be an accomplishment like hitting 500 home runs in your career or tossing your 3,000th strikeout, reaching a milestone means you have had such a successful career that you can now join an elite club of men who completed the same task you did. However, there are some milestones that were a lot easier to reach long ago, but may never be reached again. Here are five milestones that we will likely never see again:


300 Wins

Only 24 men in the history of baseball have reached this milestone. The last pitcher to reach 300 wins was "The Big Unit," future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Only four pitchers have reached this milestone since the year 2000, but all four of those pitchers have been pitching since the 80s. Reaching 300 wins used to be a lot easier, especially in the early days of baseball, because teams simply didn't carry nearly as many pitchers. Some guys, like Cy Young, would pitch every day. That explain why Cy Young has 573 career wins. However, pitchers don't play that many games a year anymore. To win 300 games, a pitcher would have to win 15 games a year for 20 seasons, or vice versa. Being that a starting pitcher only gets between 28 and 32 starts a year, it is hard to get such a high win total in one season. For a pitcher to stay dominant for such a long span of time isn't practical like it used to be. Coaches and managers don't let their aces tire themselves out anymore, so it is highly unlikely that a player will ever reach this milestone again. Andy Pettite of the Yankees is closest to reaching this milestone, as he sits on 255 wins, but he would have to pitch at least a few more seasons to get to 300, which is unlikely. CC Sabathia has 200 wins, and at only 33-years-old may have enough left in the tank to make it to 300, but CC doesn't pitch like he used to. Some analysts say that Justin Verlander might make it to 300, but it is hard to imagine that any player can perform at his level long enough to reach this milestone.


300 Strikeouts in a Single Season

300 is a hard number for pitchers to reach in many categories. Only two pitchers have thrown 300 strikeouts in a season since the year 2000. Randy Johnson has done this five times in his career and Curt Schilling three, but only five of those times occurred in this millennium. Justin Verlander has come closest out of all active pitchers, striking out 269 batters in 2009. Time Lincecum made a go at 300 in 2008, and 2009 but ended each season with only 265 and 261 strikeouts, respectively. The reason no pitcher will reach this milestone is because they simply don't get the innings that pitchers used to get. Pitchers used to hit double digits year after year when it came to complete games. Now, a quality start is considered to be a six-inning, three-run performance. Guys max out nowadays at around 230 innings per season, so to throw 300 strikeouts in that many innings would take an insane amount of talent and skill that baseball hasn't seen since Nolan Ryan. Like the 300 wins milestone, this milestone won't be reached simply because of how the game has evolved from the days of old.


100 Stolen Bases in a Single Season

The days of triple digit stolen base totals are long gone. No player has stolen at least 100 bases in a season since Vince Coleman stole 109 bases in 1987. The closest an active player has come to eclipsing this milestone was in 2007 when Jose Reyes stole 78 bases. That ranks him tied for 70th on the all-time single season stolen base record chart. Managers don't play the fundamentals like they used to. Baserunners are told more and more to hold their base, because the manager is worried about players being thrown out, which could ruin a run-scoring opportunity. While there have been guys who are known as stolen base threats (Jose Ryes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Juan Pierre, etc.), they can't reach this milestone because they aren't making their own decisions on the base paths. First and third base coaches tell players when to steal and when not to steal, and no coach gives a player the green light enough to steal 100 bases. Back in the day, players like Lou Brock and Ricky Henderson stole every time they got on base. Whether they were thrown out or safe, they made the attempt, because far more times than not, they were safe. Players aren't given the opportunity to make their own decisions anymore, so this milestone will likely never be reached again.


Hit Above .400 for the Season

This is a milestone I am positive will never be reached again. No player has hit above .400 since 1941, when the great Ted Williams batted .4057 for the season. All of the players who had a season where they eclipsed the .400 mark did so in the late 19th and early 20th century. Back then, pitchers simply weren't as good as they are now. Games were higher scoring and men got on base more. The closest a player has come to the .400 mark in recent memory was when Tony Gwynn batted .3938 in 1994. Gwynn may have only been a little more than six points away, but six points translates into a handful of hits. The closest any active player has come was in 2000 when Todd Helton batted .3724, a task that Nomar Garciaparra also completed in the same year. Pitchers nowadays are just so talented and don't get tired as easily as they used to, due to the depth of a teams' bullpen and the use of a five-man rotation. As of late, players can win batting titles by batting somewhere between .330 and .360, which is ways away from the .400 mark. If a player's has 600 at bats in a season, they would need 240 hits to have a batting average of .400, and I simply don't see that happening.


Get Hit by 30 or More Pitches in a Season

This milestone may not seem as important as the other ones, but getting hit by a pitch is just as good as hitting a single. As recently as 2004, Craig Wilson was hit 30 times in a season. Chase Utley came close to 30 in 2008, but missed the mark by three, ending the season with 27 hit by pitches. Players don't take one for the team like they used to. Guys like Ron Hunt and Craig Biggio were famous for being hit by pitches. They were afraid to turn in or lean over the plate, because they knew the important of getting on base. Now, players are too scared to intentionally get hit by a pitch, and managers and coaches are too afraid to let them. Out of any of the milestones on this list, this one has the best chance of being reached, but in a day and age where trainers take the field if a player stubs his toe, I don't see it happening.

What do you think of this list? Are there any active players that can reach one of these milestones? Are there any other milestones that will never be reached? Share your thoughts. Comment below!


6 Backup QBs that would Be Better than Starting No. 6

22 Jul

Living in New York can either be very easy or very hard as a sports fan. If you're a Yankees or a Giants fan you get blessed with World Series victories and Super Bowl championships. However, if you're like me, you sit and sulk when the Mets and Jets continuously disappoint and just hope for a better season next year. When Mark Sanchez first became a Jet, it seemed like there was some hope. The team made it to the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back years and the Jets had arguably the best defense in the league. A lot has changed since then. The Jets run game has gotten significantly worse. More or less every potential offensive weapon the Jets have was hurt last year. Darrell Revis, the best cornerback in the game, is gone. The Jets missed out on the Tim Tebow train, and now are stuck with a deteriorated Mark Sanchez – the man who has held the top spot on Sportcenter's 'Worst of the Worst' since Thanksgiving, after running into his own offensive lineman's butt. The Jets quarterback situation is so bad, that I would take other team's backup quarterbacks and start them before Sanchez, so here it is, the six backups who I'd rather have start than number six, Mark Sanchez.


6. Jason Campbell – Cleveland Browns

Jason Campbell is no superstar, but none of the players on this list will be – they are backups. However, as the starting quarterback for the Redskins from 2007 through 2010 when he was signed by Oakland, Campbell played decent football. He never in his career had a season where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. His lifetime completion percentage is 60.9 percent, which is great compared to Sanchez's of 55.1 percent. Campbell had his best season in 2009, when he threw 20 touchdowns and finished the season with an 86.4 QB rating. Mark Sanchez's QB rating at the end of the season has never even broke 80! Campbell has had injuries slow his career down, relegating him to a backup quarterback, but I'd still rather have him lined up behind center than Sanchez.


5. Colt McCoy – San Francisco 49ers

Colt McCoy's win-loss record of 6-15 is no reflection on how he is as a player. At the University of Texas, McCoy was a two-time All-American and finished second in 2008 and third in 2009 in the Heisman Voting. McCoy's NFL career simply needs a spark to get the fire burning. He has 21 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions in his time as a pro, and has a lifetime QB rating of 74.8, 3.1 points better than Sanchez's career rating. McCoy has a lot of potential, and at age 26 he has a long career ahead of him. I would much rather see a young college star rise to stardom than a washed up Mark Sanchez any day.


4. Matt Cassell – Minnesota Vikings

Matt Cassell's career has been a roller coaster ride. In 2008, Cassell got his chance to shine when Tom Brady went down in the first game of the season. Cassell led the Patriots to an 11-5 season, and just missed the playoffs due to tie-breakers. He threw for almost 3,700 yards that year and completed 21 touchdown passes while only being intercepted 11 times. His QB rating was 89.4, which was the second highest of his career. In 2010 for the Chiefs, Cassell put up great numbers, throwing 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, finishing the season with a QB rating of 93. In 2011 Cassell somehow made the Pro Bowl, but now he is warming the bench for starter Christian Ponder. Cassell is only 31-years-old, and would have a much brighter future in New York than warming a cold bench in Minnesota.


3. Matt Hasslebeck – Indianapolis Colts

Matt Hasselbeck may be past his prime, but he can still play better than Sanchez. Hasselbeck is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was on the All-Pro team in 2005, the same year he led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, and holds pretty much every passing record for the Seattle Seahawks franchise.  2005 was his best year, when he threw for almost 3,500 yards, 24 touchdowns and had a QB rating of 98.2. Hasselbeck was a starter up until last year, when he was benched for youngster Jake Locker. Now, Hasselbeck is the backup for a much better youngster, Andrew Luck. Hasselbeck has proved throughout his entire career that he can play like a real NFL quarterback, which is much more than can be said about Sanchez.


2. Tim Tebow – New England Patriots

Hold it! Before you start the Tebow-Sanchez comparison, let me start by telling you that I don't care what you have to say about Tebow. I don't care that he's not super accurate. I don't care that he has God on his side. I don't care that he comes with a ton of baggage. Tebow never got his shot in New York, and based on how Sanchez played last year he should have been given one. Tebow is one of the best college football players in recent memory, and rather than give him a chance, the Jets left a failing Mark Sanchez on the top of their depth chart. Say what you will about Tebow, but he should have been given a chance. Tebow has proved that he knows how to win. I would much rather see Rex Ryan try out Tebow and fail than continue to fail with Sanchez.


1. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Tennessee

Fitzpatrick has been a pretty good starter for the Bills over the past few years. He has had three consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and a QB rating of at least 79. Fitzpatrick didn't necessarily have the tools to succeed in Buffalo, but anything can happen in the Big Apple (or rather the dirty Jerz). Fitzpatrick has shown over the past three years that he can be an NFL starting quarterback, which is again much more than we can say about Sanchez.

What do you think of this list? Is there anybody else you'd rather see start before Sanchez? Share your thoughts. Comment below!


10 Players Snubbed by Steroids

21 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

Any sports fan knows that there are athletes who cheat to get an edge. No sport has more prominent steroid scandals than Major League Baseball. Some of the 'greatest' to ever play the game have had their careers tarnished by steroid accusations. Players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Alex Rodriguez would have went down in the history books as some of the best to ever play the game. Instead, everything they've ever done will have an asterisk next to it, indicating that they cheated to get where they were. By taking steroids, these players had an unfair advantage over other players – players who trained hard and played harder. These players got looked over, because they couldn't produce like the heavier hitters could, but that's because they didn't have the same advantage that these players had. Here are 10 players who were cheated by steroids.


10. Matt Kemp

Unlike many of the other players on this list, Kemp still has a long career ahead of him. However, he was still cheated out of the 2011 MVP Award. Kemp received 10 of 32 first place votes, but was beat out by Ryan Braun, who received 20. That year, Kemp led the National League in home runs (39), RBIs (126), runs (115) and total bases (353).He also stole 40 bases, missing admittance into the 40-40 club by just one home run. This is arguably one of the best seasons a player has had in recent memory, but it wasn't enough for Kemp to win an MVP. Braun led the league in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.994) that year and came close to Kemp in many statistical categories. However, despite Kemp almost winning a Triple Crown, Braun won the MVP. Braun is still caught up in the ongoing Biogenesis investigation, and while not every detail regarding Braun's PED usage is out in the open yet, we know one thing – he cheated. Luckily for Kemp, he is only 28-years-old and will have many more opportunities to win the MVP Award. Nevertheless, he should already have one under his belt.


9. Magglio Ordonez

Magglio Ordonez's career was plagued with injuries. In his 15 years as a major leaguer, Ordonez was a five-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger. In 2007, Ordonez had perhaps the best season of his life. Ordonez hit 28 home runs and batted in 139 runs. However, although impressive, these aren't the numbers that stood out for Ordonez that year. Ordonez led the league with 54 doubles, but the stat that really stood out was his league leading batting average of .363! That year, Ordonez had an on-base percentage of .434, meaning he made it on-base almost every other time he came up to bat. However, Ordonez did not win the MVP Award. He was beat out by a 31-year-old by the name of Alex Rodriguez (you may have heard of him). Rodriguez received 26 of the 28 first place votes that year, easily capturing the MVP Award. Rodriguez stat line that year looked like this: 54 homers, 156 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and a batting average of .314. Based on these statistics, it is clear why A-Rod won the award. However, 'A-Roid' had a little added help that Ordonez did not. We now know that Rodriguez was using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Ordonez never won an MVP Award, and this was the closest he ever came. Winning an MVP Award is a huge accomplishment for any player, because it means you are the best. Ordonez was definitely the best that year, but a roid-ridden A-Rod stole the MVP away from him.


8. Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is undoubtedly the best closer in the history of baseball. He has more saves than any other closer in history, has a lifetime ERA of 2.20, and nobody has pitched as well as Mo in the playoffs. Rivera was a 13-time All-Star   and was considered for several Cy Young and MVP Awards, although he never won either. The closest Rivera came to winning a Cy Young was in 2005. Rivera closed out more games for the Yankees than any other pitcher did for their team that year. In his 71 appearances, Rivera finished 67 games and was credited with 43 saves. He had an ERA of 1.38, proving to be almost unhittable. In 78.1 innings, Rivera allowed only 50 hits, 12 earned runs, two homers and 18 walks, while striking out 80, with a WHIP of 0.868. Based on statistics, this was the Sandman's best year. However, he came in second when it came to Cy Young voting. Rivera received eight of the 28 first place votes, but Angels' pitcher Bartolo Colon received 17. Colon that year went 21-8 with an ERA of 3.48. Any time a pitcher has 20 or more wins, they have to be considered for the CY Young Award. Colon was the only American League pitcher to reach 20 wins that year, which secured his victory. However, we later found out that Bartolo Colon was injecting himself with testosterone, a banned substance. Colon was penalized for his PED usage and is now back in the majors, and even made the All-Star Game this year. However, with this year being Rivera's last, it is unlikely he will ever win a Cy Young Award.


7. Jason Schmidt

In the early 2000s, Jason Schmidt was one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. Schmidt had his best season in 2003, when he led the league with a 2.34 ERA, a 0.953 WHIP and a .773 win-loss percentage. Schmidt finished the season 17-5, with five complete games and three shutouts, striking out 208 batters in 207.2 innings. No other starting pitcher pitched anywhere near as well as Schmidt did for the Giants in 2003. Unfortunately for Schmidt, the Cy Young is not exclusive to starting pitchers. Just a few hours south of San Francisco, Eric Gagne was pitching lights-out baseball for the Dodgers. Gagne had 55 saves that year and had an ERA of 1.20. Analysts and players alike claimed that Gagne was on the path to greatness, and that he could even be better than Mariano Rivera. Gagne posted an unheard of WHIP of .692, and struckout an even more impressive 137 batters in only 82.1 innings! Gagne's season was definitely Cy Young worthy, except for the fact that he was on steroids. Both Schmidt and Gagne had their careers cut short by injury, but Gagne has an award on his shelf that Schmidt well deserved.


6. Carlos Delgado

Carlos Delgado was the lost slugger of the steroid era. He finished his career with 473 home runs. He is one of the only players in history to hit four home runs in a game. However, his whole career he was overlooked, because players like Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi were putting up similar number on better teams. Delgado spent most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that was always in the Yankees shadow. In 2003, the AL MVP race was a close one. Five different players received at least three first place votes. Delgado received five of those votes. Only Alex Rodriguez had more, with six. Delgado led the league in RBIs (145) and OPS (1.019) in 2003, while slugging 42 homers and batting 302. He also only missed one game. A-Roid again stole an MVP Award away from a deserving player. A-Rod belted a league-leading 47 home runs that year, while batting in 118, stealing 17 bases and batting .298. Although the race was very close, Alex Rodriguez beat out Delgado with 62 percent of the vote compared to Delgado's 54. This wasn't the first time Delgado had been close to an MVP Award, as he came in fourth in 2000, behind Rodriguez, Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi. Giambi won the award, but we now know that both he and Rodriguez were on PEDs. Delgado may have had two MVP Awards, but instead received none, because he was beat out by bats fueled by PEDs.


5. Luis Gonzalez

2001 was one of the most exciting years in baseball. Three men chased the home run record, resulting in Barry Bonds shattering the record with 73 home runs in a single season. Sammy Sosa finished the season with 64, while Gonzalez ended up with 57. Gonzo played in every game that year, and had 728 plate appearances, more than any other player in baseball. 2001 was the best year of Gonzo's career. In addition to his 57 home runs, he had 142 RBIs and batted .325. Gonzalez was also one of the best fielder's in the game. In 1416.2 innings in left field, he did not record a single error, and had eight outfield assists! Gonzo was an all-around great player, but never got the recognition he deserved. Gonzalez finished third in MVP voting behind Sosa and Bonds. At the time, Bonds seemed like the obvious choice – he had broken the single-season home run record. However, we now know that Bonds was an avid steroid user, although he has yet to admit it. We also know that Sosa was no angel either. Luis Gonzalez had one of the best years any player has ever had in the history of baseball back in '01, but has an empty spot on his shelf where an MVP Award should be.


4. Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez had a very successful career. Martinez was an eight-time All-Star and a three-time Cy Young Award winner. However, Pedro should have another Cy Young and an MVP Award on his resume. In 1998, Pedro came in second in Cy Young voting, losing to Roger Clemens who received all 28 first place votes. Pedro went 19-7 that year, with an ERA of 2.89, striking out 251 batters in 233.2 innings. However, Clemens bested Martinez in almost every stat category. Clemens was the clear choice. Martinez was just one of many pitchers who Clemens had beaten out for a Cy Young in his career, but we know now that Clemens was on steroids. In 1999, Martinez did win the Cy Young, and also came in second for the AL MVP Award. Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez, a player who was always recognized for his defense, put up outstanding offensive numbers that year. Pudge hit 35 home runs, batted in 113 runs, and stole 25 bases – all career highs for the Rangers' catcher. That year, Pedro went 23-4, with a 2.07 ERA, striking out 313 batters in 213.1 innings. It was one of the best seasons a pitcher has ever had, and the best since I've been alive. At the time, no pitcher had won an MVP Award since Dennis Eckersley did in 1992. Martinez was the rightful MVP winner that year, but instead an undeserving Pudge Rodriguez stole it.


3. Nomar Garciaparra

Nomar is one of my favorite players of all time. I don't know what it is about him, but I always like him. Maybe it's the fact that I was able to spell his name, or that my dad made corny jokes using 'Nomar' in place of 'no more.' Regardless, Nomar had a huge impact on the league when he cebuted in 1997. He won the Rookie of the Year (ROY) Award that year, and just a year later came in second when it came to MVP voting. Nomar lost out to Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez. Both Nomar and Gonzalez had their best seasons that year. Juan-Gone hit 45 home runs that year, in addition to leading the league with 50 doubles and 157 RBIs. Garciaparra had only 35 home runs and 122 RBIs. The two players were so close to each other in pretty much every statistical category except for home runs and RBIs. Since Gonzalez had the clear edge in these categories, he was the obvious choice for the MVP Award. After Gonzalez retired, it was discovered that he, like many others, took steroids. This was Garciaparra's best shot at an MVP. Nomar's career was riddled with injuries, resulting in an early retirement at age 35. Unfortunately, the six-time All-Star and former ROY was never able to win an MVP and the one that he rightfully deserved went to the wrong man.


2. Albert Belle

Albert Belle was one of the best sluggers of the 1990s. Belle had at least 30 home runs every year from 1992 through 1999, hitting as many as 50 in 1995. That year, Belle led the league in homers (50), RBIs (126), runs (121), slugging percentage (.690) and total bases (377). Belle received 11 of the 28 first place votes, and finished with a total of 300 points. A total like this is usually enough to win, but Belle was beat out by Mo Vaughn, who received 12 first place votes, and finished with a total of 308 points. Belle out-performed Vaughn in every statistical category, which left many scratching their heads when Vaughn won. Regardless, Vaughn did win. In 2007, it was discovered that Vaughn used HGH, a banned substance. That is only the first of two MVP Awards that Belle was cheated out of. Just a year later, Juan Gonzalez won the 1996 AL MVP Award. Belle came in third, behind Alex Rodriguez. As previously mentioned, both Gonzalez and A-Rod are known steroid users. Belle was the rightful victor this year as well. Rather than being remembered as a home run hitting, two-time MVP, Belle was overshadowed by players like A-Rod, Gonzalez, Sosa, Bonds and McGuire, all of whom used steroids.


1. Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is already a three-time MVP winner. The most MVPs that a player has ever won are seven, which was accomplished by Barry Bonds. However, Bonds' four consecutive MVPs from 2001-2004 are all tainted by steroid usage. In 2001, Pujols came in fourth, behind Bonds, Sosa and Gonzo. Pujols, a rookie at the time, won the ROY Award.  Gonzo should have won that year, although Pujols would have made things interesting. However, Bonds' three MVP awards from '02-'04 all should have been awarded to Pujols. In 2002 and 2003, Pujols came in second to Bonds, and in 2004 Pujols came in third behind Adrian Beltre. While some might argue that Beltre should have won in '04, nobody can dispute that Pujols deserved two more MVPs in '02 and '03. Pujols could hold the record for MVP awards with seven, if he won all four that Bonds stole, and he very well could have. At 33, Pujols still has plenty of time to win a few more awards, although his bat seems to have slowed down in recent years. While I'm sure Pujols is happy with his three MVP Awards, I'm also sure that he would much rather have seven.

What do you think of this list? Did I miss anyone? Anybody on here who shouldn't be? Share your thoughts. Comment below!


The Worst Day of the Year

17 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

For sports fans, today is the worst day of the year. It is only one of two days a year when there are no NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL games. The other is the day before the MLB All-Star Game, but at least the Home Run Derby is on. However, tonight us sports fans will be forced to watch a Sportscenter program full of highlights from sports nobody cares about.

With no major sports on TV today, I figured I'd take a look at what teams are up to on their day off, and the best way to find out what famous athletes and teams are up to is to check the Twittersphere.

NBA Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is training:


While his team, the Detroit Pistons are making important moves in the NBA world:


Newly signed Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala is arranging important events with the NBPA:


Home Run Derby finalist Bryce Harper is making sure the integrity of his name is not tarnished:


And so is Tim Hardaway Jr:


The man who started the game for the American League, Max Scherzer is in despair:


And Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is enjoying his time off:


NBA stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony wanted some authentic Chinese food:


Falcons RB Steven Jackson seems ready for anything:


Nobody knows what Iman Shumpert is up to:


Deean Jackson is making new friends:


And lastly, only the Golden State Warriors acknowledged this awful day, but tried to make it better by revealing their new Instagram handle:



MLB All-Snore Game

17 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

Like most baseball fans, I prepared for my All-Star Tuesday accordingly. I had my snacks setup, a beer in my hand, and the TV tuned into FOX – I was ready to watch baseball's best go at it in the 84th Major League Baseball All-Star Game. When the rosters were first announced it seemed like this game was going to be a slugfest. On the American League side you had Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and MVP candidate Chris Davis, who has the most homers before the All-Star break in the history of the American League. The National League had Home Run Derby finalist Bryce Harper, hometown hero David Wright, and several sluggers named "Carlos." This game had the potential to produce more runs than any other All-Star game in recent memory. In an All-Star Game simulation played on MLB 13: The Show, Sports Illustrated's 'The Strike Zone' predicted the score to be 9-6 in favor of the National League. This was significantly different from the game's actual final score of 3-0 in favor of the American League.

A score of 3-0 usually highlights some superb pitching, which was more than evident in this year's game. However, with the absence of big-name pitchers like Yu Darvish, Clay Buccholz, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Jordan Zimmerman, the squad of pitchers that each side put on the mound was simply boring. Don't get me wrong, I respect a good reliever (John Franco is one of my favorite players of all time), but in an All-Star Game people want to see the pitchers who win 20 games or strikeout 250-300 batters, not a pitcher who comes into the game for one batter, whose name they never heard before.

I've never seen so many relievers and so few starting pitchers in an All-Star Game. The American League sent six relievers to the mound, while only using four starting pitchers! The National League had a better starter to reliever ratio, sending out five starting pitchers and three relievers to the mound, but besides Harvey and Kershaw the National League pitching staff lacked star power. I grew up watching All-Star Games with the likes of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and so on, but the pitching staffs today just lack the marquee big names that should be in an All-Star Game. Teams used to squeeze as many pitchers into the game as possible and then in the eighth or ninth inning, bring in the one or two best closers in the game. Seeing six straight relievers isn't what somebody wants to see at an All-Star Game – I can pay a small fraction of the $300+ All-Star Game ticket and see six relievers at Citi Field during a Mets game for $20.

Outside of Harvey, Kershaw, Scherzer, King Felix and Mo, I wasn't really interested in any of the pitchers I saw. Joe Nathan was fun to watch too, but that's only because we went to the same school – Stony Brook University. Harvey definitely had the most interesting pitching performance of the game, allowing a leadoff double to Mike Trout, followed by beaning Robinson Cano in the knee, but then settling in to strikeout three batters in two innings. Other than that, there was no pitching performance that made me sit up out of my seat. Both teams only combined for 15 strikeouts, and none of them came from Kershaw, Hernandez or Rivera. The best pitching performance was arguably by first-time All-Star Jose Fernandez from the Miami Marlins, who struck out two of the three batters he face in his one inning of work, but other than avid baseball fans, most people watching the game had no idea who the young pitcher was.


The best performance of the All-Star Game didn't even take place during play. The highlight of the entire night was Mariano Rivera's entrance in the eighth inning to an empty field and a standing ovation while "Enter Sandman" played. Seeing Mariano walkout onto the field for his final All-Star performance was definitely a touching moment, but American League manager Jim Leyland didn't even let Mo close out the game! What better ending could there have been other than letting Mariano get the save for his last All-Star Game? The answer is simple – there is no better ending, but Leyland chose to let Nathan get the save instead. Rivera's performance was still a good one, making for a quick three up, three down inning, but it would have made for an epic ending seeing Mo closeout the game.


The most disappointing aspect of this All-Star game was the lack of offensive performance. The National League had only three hits, and no player on either team had more than one hit in the game. Two of the three RBIs in the game came in the form of a sacrifice, and neither team hit a home run. The only exciting offensive play was Prince Fielder's triple, solely because of the look on the big guy's face after sliding into third. Other than that, I felt like I was watching a Mets game – Harvey starts the game and is lights out, the bullpen comes in and loses the game, and Wright gets one of the team's only hits – sounds like a Mets game to me.

  

I appreciate all of the talent that was on the field last night, and I don't want readers to think I'm trying to disrespect relief pitchers or that I'm not appreciative of good pitching. I greatly respect the role that relievers play in the game and I'm fine with watching a 1-0 game where two pitchers go at it, just not in the All-Star Game. In the All-Star Game, fans want to see their favorite pitchers fan the best hitters in the game, their favorite hitters crush homers off the pitchers they don't like, and a final score in the double digits. This year, the All-Star Game did not meet my expectations, but luckily this is baseball so as a Mets fan I know of the perfect saying for a situation like this – there's always next year.


Will the Pirates Plunder their way to the World Series?

16 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

As somebody who has been an avid baseball fan for their entire life, there are teams that I expect to do well every year and others that I expect to do poorly. Every season, come October, I expect to see teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals and never expect to see teams like the Cubs, Pirates and Royals. However, this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are proving to me and thousands of other baseball fans that they are for real and will be a threat in the playoffs.

The Pirates have been in a 20-year-long playoff drought. Usually, by October 1st, the Pittsburgh Pirates players are on their way to Florida or Arizona, polishing off their putters and preparing for a couple of weeks of relaxation. This year, the Pirates have different plans. Come October 1st, the Pirates will be right in the midst of things.

Going into the All-Star break, the Pirates have the second best record (56-37) in the majors, behind only the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. If the season ended today, the Pirates would play for Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff for the National League Wild Card spot. However, they are only four games behind the Cardinals, and with almost half of a season left to play, the Pirates are definitely in contention for the division title.

So what is it exactly that elevated this Pirates team to a competitive level? And what happened to the team that went 79-83 last year, 72-90 the year before and 57-105 in 2010? What happened to our terrible Pirates, whose wins we all took for granted!?

The Pirates have five players in the All-Star Game this year, the most the team has had since 1972. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen and first baseman Pedro Alvarez has become the core of the Pirates offense that the team has not seen in years.

McCutchen has decent power, but is really more of an all-around player. He has 10 homers, 49 RBIs and 20 stolen bases on the season, while batting .302. He is also a great outfielder with a strong arm. Since debuting in the Majors back in 2009, McCutchen has developed into one of the best all-around players in the game. He has made the All-Star team three times in only five seasons, and has gotten his career off on the right foot.

Pedro Alvarez brings power to the Pirates lineup that the team has not seen since Brian Giles. Going into the All-Star break, Alvarez is second in the National League in homers, behind only Carlos Gonzalez. He has 24 homers with 62 RBIs and is batting .250. While his average is nothing special, the power that he brings to the Pirates' lineup makes up for it. Almost one third of Alvarez's hits are homers, showing that he is a threat to go deep at any moment.

The Pirates also have three All-Star pitchers. Closer Jason Grilli leads the National League in saves with 29 and has only blown one save. In addition, Grilli has struck out 63 batters in 40.2 innings, while walking only nine batters and allowing only two home runs! Having a dependable closer like Grilli can elevate any team, because having a dependable bullpen to closeout games is just as important as having good starting pitching. Joining Grilli is Pirates' starting pitcher Jeff Locke. Although Locke won't play due to injury, his numbers this season have been phenomenal. He is 8-2 with an ERA of 2.15. In 109 innings, he has allowed only 26 earned runs and batters are hitting only .202 against the young lefty. Locke has proved this season that he may be the future of Pittsburgh's rotation. Lastly, reliever Mark Melancon has been absolutely lights out. In 44.1 innings, Melancon has allowed only four earned runs and struck out 46. His ERA is 0.81, which is absolutely amazing! He has only allowed one hit in the month of July!

These five All-Stars combined with an overall young team have made the Pirates into a team worth watching. With so much young talent, you can expect the Pirates to be near the top of their division for seasons to come.

What do you think of the Pittsburgh Pirates? Will they make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, or disappoint fans yet again? Share your thoughts. Comment below!


MLB Futures Game Recap

14 Jul

Goodman Sports associate Liam Ray reports:

Baseball's annual showcase of its best young talent was a big success for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Matt Davidson, the team's power-hitting, 22-year-old third base prospect hit a two-run homerun to lead Team USA over the World Team 4-2 in the Futures Game. On the mound, Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley flashed 98 MPH heat and showed off a devastating curveball that left batters swinging at nothing. In the field, Diamondbacks SS Chris Owings used his natural defensive instincts and a powerful arm to round out the Diamondbacks' prospects' all-around performance. With the Diamondbacks already sitting in first place thanks to their excellent rotation, calling up Davidson could give them the power they have lacked and might make them a truly elite team.


For the fans in the stands at Citifield, the game was all about the performance of the Mets prospects playing in the game.

Noah Syndergaard, the Mets' big righty, popped the catcher's mitt with his 96 MPH fastball. He started the game for Team USA and fanned Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara in his single inning of work. 22-year-old Rafael Montero started for the World Team opposite his Mets teammate and went 1-2-3 against Team USA, also pitching just one inning. Montero has been struggling since his promotion to Triple-A, but he remains on track to possibly get called up to the bigs later in the season. Syndergaard is likely still a year or two away from making an impact in the majors, but there's no doubt the Mets have the seeds of a truly fantastic rotation planted.



The Mets Have the Best Rotation in Baseball... in 2015

14 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

Like most other Mets fans, I try and look on the bright side. Frankly, it's the only way for us to make it through the day. However, within the next year or two, the Mets may have the best rotation and baseball. Now, before you burst out into a laugh loud enough to set off car alarms, bear with me. I know it's hard to believe that at some point the Mets will be successful, but the key to having a dominating baseball team is good starting pitching.

Right now, the Mets already have the best pitcher in baseball. In case you haven't read my other posts about Matt Harvey, I think he's great. There is not a pitcher in the big leagues that batters fear more than Matt Harvey. His fastball can break three digits, and just when you think you figured out how to hit it, he can throw three other pitches to put you away. Harvey leads the National League in strikeouts with 147, is second in WHIP with a .92, behind only Clayton Kershaw's .91, and tied for fourth in both ERA (2.35) and batting average against (.196). Harvey has struckout more than five times as many batters than he's walked, and has allowed only seven home runs in 130 innings. Prior to the Mets benching him on Saturday because of a blister on his thumb, he had the most innings pitched, and even after missing a start is sixth in the league. Harvey's win-loss record may not reflect his talent, but that is because of a shaky bullpen and a Mets roster that can't seem to produce when he is on the mound. Harvey is starting the All-Star Game for the National League, and come the end of the season will definitely be involved in the Cy Young discussion. Harvey shows no sign of slowing down, so hopefully he will continue as the Mets ace for the next decade.


Picture this – Your team just got shutout by Harvey, who struck out 10. You come back to the ballpark the next day and the same thing happens. Sucks right? Well that will probably happen quite a few times in the coming years with Zack Wheeler behind Matt Harvey in the rotation. Wheeler was drafted in the first round by the Giants in the MLB June Amateur Draft back in 2009. Coming into the 2013 season, MLB.com ranked Wheeler as the number eight prospect in baseball. The 23-year-old had a 3.26 ERA and struck out just under nine batters per nine innings playing in AA and AAA ball for the Mets in 2012. In Vegas this year for the Mets AAA club, Wheeler went 4-2 and struck out almost 10 batters per nine innings! The Mets called Wheeler up to the big leagues in the middle of June. Wheeler was dominant in his debut, and although that has been his best start thus far, he still has been nothing but impressive. Wheeler is 3-1 in five starts with an ERA of 3.54. It's clear that Wheeler has some control issues, but he is still a work in progress. His fastball rivals that of Harvey and once Wheeler figures out how to place the ball, he will be just as dominant.


So now the Mets come back onto the field the next day, ready to sweep. The pitcher on the mound is Jeremy Hefner. Hefner has been the best pitcher in baseball for the past month and a half. Hefner had a sub-par start to the season but has been lights-out since June 1st. Since the start of June, Hefner has not allowed more than two earned runs in an outing. His ERA for the month of June was 1.80 and has only gotten better since. Halfway through July, his ERA for the month is 1.71 and batters have gone cold against him, hitting only .125. Hefner has found his groove and hopefully it's one that he can't find his way out of. It may be too early to tell if Hefner is a sure-thing, but if he keeps performing the way he has been, it may start to look that way.


The final two pieces of the perfect rotation puzzle are two men who have yet to throw a single pitch in the majors. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard have yet to make their major league debuts, but are two high-caliber pitching prospects. The two pitchers started against each other today in the Futures Game, but are usually both on the winning side for the Mets minor league teams.  Montero is 8-5 this season playing for both AA Binghamton and AAA Las Vegas, with a 3.07 ERA. Like Harvey and Wheeler, Montero is a strikeout machine. He is averaging 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings, which is more than five times as many walks per nine innings Montero has allowed (1.8). Syndergaard's numbers are just as impressive. Playing for both A+ St. Lucie and AA Binghamton, Syndergaard is 5-3 this season with an ERA of 2.60. If Montero is a strikeout machine, Syndergaard is the strikeout factory. He is average 9.7 per nine innings and 11.7 since his AA debut. Like Montero, Syndergaard has also thrown far more strikeouts than walks, four and a half times as many to be exact. These two pitchers are still in development, but within the next season or two you can expect to see them both on the mound for the Mets. Having two pitchers as good as these guys as your number four and five starters are the finishing touches on a championship-caliber team.


See my fellow Mets fans? There is actually a light at the end of the tunnel. While the tunnel has been long, dark and treacherous, there is in fact a beautiful world awaiting us at the end. I may not be able to give you an exact date and time as to when the Mets will win their next World Series, but if these guys pan out, it could be a lot sooner than you think.


Former NBA Player Baron Davis Abducted by Aliens!

13 Jul

One year after a blown out knee put his career on hold, former Knick Baron Davis is back in the headlines for a different reason.

In an interview for a comedy podcast, Davis insisted that he had been abducted by aliens while on his way from Las Vegas to his Los Angeles, his hometown.

"I'm a little tired and sh!t, and I see this light, and I think it's a big@$$ truck."

The big@$$ truck, however, turned out to be an alien vessel that Davis described as "steel". The aliens examined Davis, and the next thing he knew he was back in his car. He proceeded to stop at In-N-Out burger, just as anybody who had just been abducted by aliens would have.

The alien abduction was poorly timed as Davis is probably close to completing the rehab process for his reconstructed knee ligaments. Perhaps if he had been abducted sometime last offseason the aliens could have healed his knee and saved him months of grueling rehab.