Tuesday, May 31, 2016

50 Games into the Season, Let's Take a Look at the MLB

The Yankees, as of as last night (they're in process of losing right now though), have played 50 games so whether other teams have played more or less than 50 games so far, we're at the 50 game mark in the MLB season because well if you don't understand that then you probably don't read anything I write. Good thing for me though, no one reads what I write so I'm gonna keep revolving my MLB blogs around the Yankees. But here are some things to know so far in the season.

American League

The Yankees are about as unpredictable as I imagined they would be, so this will probably be another annoying season. I'm still convinced they'll win the division, mainly because their pitching (besides Michael Pineda) has looked fantastic lately. Their second best offense in the league last season is no longer a strength of this team. BUT, the starting rotation is a strength. And so is the dominant bullpen. Last season, the Yankees' team leader in ERA among qualified starters was CC Sabathia with a 4.73 ERA. Now, Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren, and Luis Severino all had lower ERAs than that but they didn't pitch enough innings to be considered a qualified starter. In fact, CC was the ONLY pitcher on the roster who pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. And now in 2016, while the Yanks only have three qualified starters right now due to Severino falling apart and CC having a short stint on the DL, but every current starter besides Pineda has an ERA under 4.00 which is a positive sign. The starters are consistently going at least 6 innings (again, besides Pineda) which means they can get to the three headed monster of Betances, Miller and Chapman in the bullpen. The Yankees have a lot going for them on the pitching side of things, they just need to get some offense going. I can't foresee them scoring 2 runs a game for the rest of the season so at some point they'll go on a serious run and catch up to the top of the AL East, in my opinion. 

Boston has some of the best hitters in the league right now and I can't stand it. It makes no sense because really, Bogaerts and Betts are the only good players they have on their roster. So they'll fall apart. Screw them. Ortiz needs to be hung ASAP. Also, Toronto sucks and so does Baltimore so I'm really not scared of anyone in the AL East.

The only other worthwhile story in the AL is that Seattle might finally put a good season together after years of spending money trying to get back to relevancy. Robinson Cano looks like the MVP candidate he used to be every year and he has the Mariners playing pretty well so far this season. 

Top 5 MVP Candidates after 50 Games: Robinson Cano, David Ortiz (I wanna kill myself for saying that, but he's had an unreal first two months), Manny Machado, Mike Trout, Xander Bogaerts.

Top 5 Cy Young Candidates after 50 Games: Chris Sale, Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Quintana, Marco Estrada, Felix Hernandez

National League

In the National League, it's no wonder the teams with the three best ERAs in baseball have three of the best four records in the NL. Those teams are the Cubs, Nationals, and Mets. While the offense and unreal pitching of Jake Arrieta that drove the Cubs to 97 wins last season is still there, the rest of the pitching staff is also pitching incredibly well. The Cubs have a team ERA of 2.60 and their worst starter ERA wise is John Lackey with a 3.16 ERA. That's absurd. 

Washington isn't too far behind though, as their 2.99 team ERA is nothing to scoff at. Stephen Strasburg has pitched like an ace this season and is 9-0. Max Scherzer hasn't been terrific but he had a 20 strike out game and will probably lower his ERA well below 4.00 by the end of the season. If he does, and if the supporting cast of Tanner Roark, Joe Ross, and Gio Gonzalez continue to impress, then the Nationals ticket to the NL East title will be their starting pitching, rather than just the bat of Bryce Harper. While Bryce's batting average is struggling right now he still has an OBP of .415 and has driven in 34 runs. He's still an MVP candidate with the amount he gets walked. He's still the catalyst for this offense and if he starts hitting as well as he can (when he actually gets pitched to) then the Mets might be toast.

Speaking of the Mets, if Matt Harvey hadn't sucked in virtually every start this season so far, their team ERA of 3.19 would be even lower. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz could all be Cy Young candidates this year. They've been fantastic this year for the Mets. But if the Mets don't hit home runs, they struggle to score. I think they're kinda like the Yankees in that regard. At some point they'll start hitting and start winning a lot more ball games than they already are. 

Besides these great pitching staffs in the NL, there isn't much to talk about. Clayton Kershaw is pitching insanely well right now. And he usually does, but he's outperforming even his standards so far this year. And the Pirates have to find a way to not have to play in that wild card game again. I know the Cubs have already begun to run away with the Central, but if the Pirates lose the wild card game for like the fourth year in a row, something will have to change there. There's only so many years you can say "well, we didn't have a winning record for so long, we'll take a playoff spot for the fourth year in a row." They have talent now, they have to find a way to win a division one year.

Top 5 MVP Candidates after 50 Games (non-pitchers): Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, Yoenis Cespedes

Top 5 Cy Young Candidates after 50 Games: Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Noah Syndergaard, Stephen Strasburg, Steven Matz

Friday, May 27, 2016

Penguins Beat the Lightning in Game 7 and Advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for First Time Since 2009

First off, I apologize for not writing a blog after the Pens beat the Caps in the second round but I've been kinda out of it. Haven't written a non FJF blog since the Pens' round one series victory against the Rangers. Some real weak shit from us here at Top Cheddar but maybe we'll turn things around.

But on to the topic at hand, which is that the Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals and are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2009. It was an amazing series and both teams played pretty awesome hockey. The Pens used their speed to create a lot more offensive opportunities than Tampa Bay and if it weren't for the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevsky for the Lightning, it might have been a sweep for the Pens. That dude played exceptional. Matt Murray did pretty well in net for the Pens as well, but he didn't face nearly as many shots. He has been great for Pittsburgh in the playoffs and I thought it was the right move to put him back in net after giving Marc Andre Fleury a shot in game 5. The HBK line (Hagelin, Bonino, Kessel) had another great series, Crosby came back to life after a minimal offensive output against Washington, Malkin, Kunitz and Letang all had a pretty good series. But a nice surprise was the heroics of youngster Bryan Rust. He almost single-handedly saved the Penguins' season. The big guns for Pittsburgh got the 2-1 series lead, and then they got it started in game 6 with Kessel, Letang and Crosby having the first 3 goals of that must win game. But Rust had the one that sealed the deal in game 6 after a comeback attempt from Tampa Bay, and then he had the lone 2 goals for Pittsburgh in game 7. Like I've said before, the Penguins' depth this year makes them so much more different than the Pens teams of the last six years that have under-performed to expectations.

On to San Jose. Game 1 is Monday, and the Pens have home ice. Lets go.

Fire Jam Friday

Another week, another unreal FJF folks. A decent selection of new music along with some classic throwbacks highlight this week's playlist. Enjoy.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Fire Jam Friday

It's a good one this week folks. That's all I got. Gotta check outta my hotel soon. Enjoy.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Fire Jam Friday

Since all we do anymore is Fire Jam Fridays, here's another for you folks to enjoy. 


Friday, May 6, 2016

Fire Jam Friday

Graduation weekend here in Clemson so we're gonna need some jams to celebrate. New JT outta nowhere is one way to do just that. Some other solid new stuff coming in this week as well, and then the usual classics mixed in. It's all deadly.