How the Yankees Should Approach This Offseason

This is the worst time of the year. The Yankees’ season is over, and other teams are still playing baseball. It’s exponentially worse when one of those teams is the Boston Red Sox, who eliminated you by outscoring you 20-4 in two consecutive nights at Yankee Stadium. I was at Game 3, still not even close to over it. Regardless, aside from rooting hard for the Astros this week (which hurts bad enough after last year’s ALCS, but anything to keep the Sox out of the World Series), us Yankee fans have already started to look towards 2019. No, I’m not suggesting we have a classic old-school Yankees offseason and throw money at everyone. I actually saw a guy on Twitter who suggested we sign both Harper AND Machado, while also trading for Paul Goldschmidt. Unfortunately, this isn’t MLB 2K, this is real life. And while many are discussing the possibility one of those two star free agents ends up in the Bronx next season, there are much more pressing issues with the Yankees than adding another power hitter to the lineup. Here are the main issues Brian Cashman & Company are going have to address this offseason to ensure that the Yankees are still playing baseball at this time next year.

  1. Starting Pitching

Image result for patrick corbin yankees

Current Situation: You’ve heard Yankee haters say it all year, and while I honestly didn’t think our rotation was too bad, they did nothing to silence their critics in the postseason this year. Luis Severino was a Cy Young candidate in the first half and awful for most of the second half, followed by an underwhelming start in the Wild Card game and a dreadful start in ALDS Game 3. Regardless, Sevy will be back next year, and will be called upon to perform as this team’s ace. Maybe they need to work in some extra rest for him during the year so he isn’t burned out later in the season? Who knows. Behind him, Masahiro Tanaka had somewhat of an opposite season. Underwhelming first half, strong second half, and a great performance in ALDS Game 2. Those two are locked into the 2019 rotation, but beyond that is a question mark. I would think Jordan Montgomery would be given the opportunity to start at some point after a strong 2017 rookie season and great start to 2018, but he had Tommy John surgery in June after leaving a start against the Astros in May. I doubt he would be back for the start of 2019. Will CC Sabathia come back again? He was still effective at times, and really showed his age at others, especially late in the season. I would love for JA Happ to come back, as aside from his disappointing ALDS Game 1 start, he was great for the Yanks after they acquired him at the deadline. Oh, and Sonny Gray is still technically around, but Cashman has already more or less said he will be traded this offseason.

Offseason Plan of Action: Sign Arizona’s Patrick Corbin. He’s been tied to the Yanks for months, growing up a Yankee fan. Plain and simple, he’s the best starting pitcher on the market, and a damn good one at that. Corbin went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 200 innings in 2018. He would immediately be expected to anchor the rotation along with Sevy and Tanaka. Step 2 in my opinion should be re-sign Happ, at the right price. He’s shown the ability to pitch in the AL East, and was great down the stretch for the Yanks. To fill out the rotation, do they sign a low-risk high-reward veteran like a Garrett Richards or Tyson Ross? Or try and have a youngster like Justus Sheffield or Chance Adams win a spot? I think they do both. You can absolutely NEVER have enough starting pitching. If that isn’t Cashman’s #1 priority this offseason, he’s doing something wrong.

2. Left Field

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Current Situation: After being acquired in August, Andrew McCutchen effectively replaced Brett Gardner completely in the starting lineup. Gardy was having a dreadful second half, and McCutchen was definitely a spark for the Yanks down the stretch. Ideally, Clint Frazier would take over this role, but his 2018 was riddled by concussions.

Offseason Plan of Action: I love Gardy, but not at $11 million next year. If he’s willing to take a pay cut, great. If not, I wouldn’t mind the Yanks cutting ties with him. If McCutchen would come back at the right price, I would love him back too. Like I said, I would absolutely love for Clint Frazier to be in here. His bat, speed, and hustle would be fantastic at the top of our lineup. But concussions are no joke. Look for the Yankees to have a veteran in this role, either Gardy, Cutch or someone else, in case Frazier isn’t 100% for 2019.

3. BullpenImage result for david robertson yankees

Current Situation:

You know Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder will return to anchor the bullpen in 2019. I could definitely see young lefty Stephen Tarpley joining them as well. The main question? What to do with David Robertson and Zach Britton.

Offseason Plan of Action:

I thought Britton did a great job for us for the most part after acquiring him. That being said, I’m not sure I want to pay him the money he’s going to want, especially with Chapman’s contract and his injury history. I think Robertson makes more sense because he’s three years older and kind of a career Yankee, so he will likely come cheaper. However, a la Happ and McCutchen, I would love to see Britton back at the right price. Also, kind of a hot take, but can we move Luis Cessa to the bullpen please? He’s actually got some pretty good stuff. Good enough that for the first 1-2 innings of every start, he makes you go “wow he actually looks good,” only to get absolutely lit up the second time through the lineup and remember he’s actually trash. Make him a middle reliever with the ability to be a long guy in mop-up duties. Will it work? Who knows, but it can’t be worse than him getting called up a few times a year to lose us every game he starts.

4. Didi’s InjuryImage result for gleyber torres

Current Situation: The Yankees’ middle infield when healthy is a strength. Didi Gregorius is a great player (GREAT, not good), and despite a disappointing postseason, Gleyber Torres will be a star in this league. However, Didi is having Tommy John surgery, and will likely be out until at least the All-Star break. So now what?

Offseason Plan of Action: The easy answer is sign Machado, have him play short, and slide him over to third when Didi comes back. Not sure if I’m sold on dishing out another $400 million for Machado, especially when Miguel Andujar is a certified stud at third. Sure, Andujar could potentially learn first base or outfield, but a lot would have to go right for that plan to work. Here’s a more realistic plan: bring back Neil Walker, have him play second base every day, and slide Gleyber to short. Walker proved that when he gets consistent at-bats, as he did in the second half, he’s a solid every day player. He just can’t play once a week and be effective because he’s never done that. Gleyber is a great shortstop, as that’s his natural position. He’s no Didi, but he’s certainly not the worst replacement. Walker will be cheap, and when he comes back he can go back to his utility role getting time at first and third base in addition to spelling Gleyber and Didi when they need days off.

5. First BaseImage result for paul goldschmidt

Current Situation: I love Luke Voit. Guy was great for us down the stretch. Not good, great. But how long will that last? I’m not ready to hand him the job yet. Besides, another boom-or-bust righty power hitter in this lineup isn’t great. We’re too righty-heavy and too strikeout-heavy. That came back to bite us in the playoffs. Greg Bird could still come back and win it in spr… just kidding can’t even get through that one. My Bird-defending days are over. So where do the Yanks turn?

Offseason Plan of Action: Obviously the easy choice is do nothing, and hope either Voit continues to mash, or Bird maybe somehow taps into some alternate universe where he’s even half the player we once thought he could be. Can I have fun for a second and think about these two ideas?

  1. Sign Machado, move Andujar to first: I mean, that lineup would be insane. Miggy’s glove at third was never the issue, it’s his throws. If he could learn first base, man that infield would be insane.
  2. Trade for Paul Goldschmidt: I don’t know what it would take, or if the D-Backs would even move him, but Goldschmidt has quietly been one of the best players in baseball the past five years. After his $14.5 million team option in 2019, he will be a free agent. Maybe the Yankees can pry him loose? A 3x Gold Glove, 6x All-Star, .297 career-hitting first baseman does not sound too shabby to me.

Summary

In short, there are moves to be made this winter. If I had to pick what I want the 2019 Yankees’ Opening Day lineup to look like, while still being realistic, here’s the final product:

Lineup

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Aaron Judge RF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
  4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
  5. Aaron Hicks CF
  6. Gary Sanchez C
  7. Miguel Andujar 3B
  8. Gleyber Torres SS
  9. Neil Walker 2B

(with Didi returning to play short when healthy and Gleyber moving back to second)

Rotation

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Patrick Corbin
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. JA Happ
  5. Justus Sheffield/Chance Adams

Bullpen: Luis Cessa, Stephen Tarpley, Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman

Bench: Austin Romine, Luke Voit/Greg Bird (if not traded for Goldschmidt), Ronald Torreyes, Clint Frazier

 

Will this be the outcome? Maybe not even close, but what the hell do I know?

In terms of the 2018 Yankees, it just sucks. Sucks having that high of expectations, to essentially shit the bed all year, still win 100 games, get the split you needed at Fenway, and be embarrassed by your rivals on your home field to be eliminated. No 27 rings arguments, no excuses. They were the better team this year, or at least they sure did play like they were. For now, Go Astros, and then we’ll see what this offseason brings us.

P.S. Shoutout to my wonderful girlfriend for putting up with me losing my mind during this year’s postseason, my superstitions are beyond real when it comes to Yankees baseball.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 6

Last week, 8 teams were getting 60% or more of the public’s vote. I recommended fading every single one…

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…and I went 6-2 in those games.

If what I just implied was not clear: FADE THE PUBLIC. Week 5 was another strong week in what has been an improved season to this point. I went 9-5-1 against the spread, and 10-5 straight up. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red, push in green):

Colts (+10.5) at Patriots

Jaguars at Chiefs (-3)

Packers at Lions (-1.5)

Titans at Bills (+6.5)

Dolphins (+6) at Bengals

Ravens at Browns (+3.5)

Giants (+6.5) at Panthers

Broncos at Jets (Pick ‘Em)

Falcons (+3.5) at Steelers

Raiders at Chargers (-5.5)

Rams at Seahawks (+7.5)

Cardinals at 49ers (-3)

Vikings at Eagles (-3.5)

Cowboys (+3) at Texans

Redskins at Saints (-5.5)

2018 Straight-Up: 51-25-2, 2018 vs. Spread: 42-33-3

Time to kill your bookmaker in Week 6.

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Eagles at Giants (+2)

  • Eagles 34, Giants 13
  • I was in attendance, cheered for the Giants, it was not a fun game
  • 0-2 to start the week

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Seahawks at Raiders (+2.5) (London)

  • Crazy time difference for both teams so I think it’s gonna be a weird game
  • This may be a neutral site, but the Seahawks are notably not the same away from home
  • I think Marshawn Lynch has a day against his former team and the Raiders pull off the upset in London

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Colts (+2) at Jets

  • We all know the Jets; they rarely put two great performances together in a row
  • Andrew Luck is quietly putting up numbers again
  • The Colts are on extra rest, I think they go in and win

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Chargers at Browns (-1)

  • Public loves a Chargers team (57% as of Friday night) that is much more proven and stronger on paper
  • Browns have show strength on both sides of the ball with high and low scoring games (you could probably argue that’s also a weakness, but you have to focus on Browns positives when they rarely come about)
  • Browns have covered last two against Chargers including their only win of 2016

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Bears at Dolphins (+3.5)

  • Not a lock, but a very easy pick to make in my mind
  • Public loves Bears (60% as of Friday night) who are off to a hot start and coming off their bye
  • Dolphins were comfortably beating a good Bengals team on the road
  • Public implies Bears is a big sucker bet, Dolphins get the upset win

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Buccaneers (+3) at Falcons

  • Upset pick of the week
  • Falcons defense cannot stop anyone right now
  • Jameis Winston’s team again, I think they edge out a high scoring win on the road

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Cardinals at Vikings (-10)

  • Vikings have found their groove once again since the Bills disaster
  • They’ll return home to crush the Cardinals
  • This could be a sucker bet, but I really think they’re gonna crush them

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Bills at Texans (-10)

  • This is a lot of points, but the Texans are starting to play better
  • Public loves Buffalo (63% as of Friday night) and the points, I see the Bills keeping it close but the Texans will pull away late to cover

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Steelers at Bengals (-1.5)

  • This matchup in Cincinnati is always close
  • Public loves Pittsburgh (65% as of Friday night), the team that usually takes this matchup
  • Steelers dropped a dud after their last win
  • Bengals looked great in the second half against the Dolphins, I think they ride that momentum and edge this one out

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Panthers at Redskins (+1)

  • This could not feel more like the Redskins Week 3 matchup against the Packers
  • Public loves Carolina (70% as of Friday night) after the Skins got crushed on national TV
  • Panthers exposed last week against lowly Giants, they’ll have the down week they’re due for and the Redskins will win

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Rams at Broncos (+7)

  • SO similar to Rams @ Seahawks last week
  • Similar spread, tough road venue for LA, and the public loves the Rams (59% as of Friday night)
  • The Rams will win by less than a score again

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Ravens (-2.5) at Titans

  • First off, I’m shocked the public loves the Titans (68% as of Friday night) after their loss to the Bills
  • The Ravens are an up and down team, they’ll look strong again after a bad performance against the Browns

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Jaguars at Cowboys (+3.5)

  • Trust me, this is not a biased pick, I will acknowledge that the Jags are a much better team
  • I’m simply fading “what should happen” because this feels like one of those games where every single person thinks they know how this game will go, aka the Cowboys will not be able to score any points against this Jags D
  • The Jaguars offense is struggling and the Cowboys defense is not, I see the home Cowboys edging out an ugly, low scoring win at home
  • Oh, and Romo is calling the game. LOCK.

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Chiefs at Patriots (-3)

  • Chiefs are due for a bit of a let down week
  • Pats are finding their groove
  • Patriots always win at home when a lot of people think they may get upset
  • Pats will win and cover in a close one

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49ers (+9.5) at Packers

  • Packers are clearly in a funk
  • Jimmy G-less 49ers have a good track record of close losses on the road
  • Packers will win by a TD or less

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That’s it for this week, be back for Week 7. Who take the most anticipated matchup of the season Sunday night?

 

Anybody Who Thinks Giancarlo Stanton Should Be Traded Is a Fool

The Yankees were eliminated from the 2018 ALDS this past week, and wrapped up a season that was filled with records, yet overloaded with disappointment. It ended the way it should’ve, with a too-little-too-late rally coming up short, an impressive lack of hitting with runners in scoring position, bad starting pitching, strikeouts, and horrible, horrible managing from Aaron Boone. Every flaw the Yankees were worried about coming into the season absolutely came back to bite them in the ass. Regardless, the Red Sox were clearly the better team, or at least were able to perform like it, and they move on while the Yankees can start to work on their offseason golf hacks.

See the source image

The worst person about the end of every season is the overreactions. Yankee fans immediately jump to “When is Cashman gonna fire Boone?”, “Why didn’t we get deGrom at the deadline?”, “We need to sign Harper and Machado this offseason”, and the worst one “Giancarlo Stanton needs to be traded”.

People who want to trade Giancarlo Stanton after a year of 38 HR and 100 RBI are the same type of people who watched the video of Kobe jumping over a car, tried to do it themselves, then miserably failed and had to go to the hospital because they broke their foot. They think that just because some people hit home runs and bat .300 that everybody should. They think that just because Aaron Judge got on base the at bat before, Giancarlo Stanton needs to as well. They think that just because Kobe jumped over a car, they can too. It doesn’t work like that, and it never will. No two players are the same, and you definitely can’t jump over that BMW.

And to be fair, I don’t want to defend Giancarlo too much either. He was not effective this postseason, and does strike out a hefty amount. His best game in the series came in the blowout loss when he hit the ball hard three times. He struck out on three pitches TWICE in massive, game-deciding situations. He wasn’t good, but don’t even act like when he stepped up to the plate every time you didn’t have a feeling he was going to hit a ball all the way to Moron Mountain (Space Jam reference for you uncultured folks out there).

You don’t give away a guy like that. Last year, he was a player who anybody in baseball would have been blessed to have on their team (as a player, ignoring contract issues). He is a guy who instantly makes your lineup more dangerous simply by writing his damn name on the lineup card. People don’t think about it, and maybe it’s because the Yankees never had a consistent #3 hitter and Judge was hurt for 2 months so the results weren’t as clear, but those top of the lineup guys are going to see MUCH more strikes with Giancarlo in that 4 spot over Andujar, Bird, Didi, Hicks or whoever else was going to bat there at the beginning of the season without him. Point at his final numbers all you want, which still are better than most of the players in the league, but his name alone makes him an asset. You cannot deny that.

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The worst part is…the same people who are yelling to trade Stanton are probably the same ones who criticized the Marlins for trading him. They’re like a bunch of people who eat Milky Ways instead of Snickers…never satisfied (ha). No, I don’t think the Yankees needed him to be successful this year. Perhaps they could have waited and gotten Yelich, who likely would have been a better fit for the lineup. But he fell in their lap, and Cashman did what anybody would have done.

Let me put this into a simpler perspective as to why he should not be traded:

-The Red Sox recently offered Mookie Betts a HEFTY extension that he turned down. They did this because they see his potential. He is 26 years old  (as of October 7) and on his way to his first MVP.

-When Giancarlo Stanton won the 2017 NL MVP, he was 27 years old (one year older than Betts for those of us without a calculator nearby).

-BUT, if next year Betts hits, oh I don’t know, 38 HR, has 100 RBI, and bats .266 in his age 26 campaign, should the Red Sox then trade him? Were they stupid to offer him a massive contract extension? NO!

If you didn’t get the analogy, I’m basically saying that the only difference (in terms of player impact) between trading Stanton this year and trading Betts next year (if he runs into a bad campaign) is the age difference of two years. Players have down years, it happens. Pitchers adjust, or they throw them less pitches to hit. You cannot be blind to the other ways a player impacts a roster besides general stats, and if you give up on an MVP-caliber player after ONE SEASON, you are an irrational, uneducated thinker. The Yankees have TWO franchise players nearing/in their prime, with a heavy youth movement on the way. Stanton will come around, and the argument that he should be traded is absolutely absurd.

Wait a week or two before you say stupid things.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 5

In Week 4, the Cowboys did not cover…

Image result for zeke vs lions

…but they won the game. And that’s all that really matters.

And telling you who will win is what I have been doing best this year. We all know it’s a lot easier to say who’s going to win the game than who’s going to cover, but some weeks prove that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. While they were not bad, my numbers against the spread were not as good as they were in Weeks 2 and 3 as I went 7-7-1. However, I continued a strong outright season going 11-4 straight up. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red, push in green):

Vikings (+7) at Rams

Lions at Cowboys (-2.5)

Buccaneers (+2.5) at Bears

Dolphins at Patriots (-6.5)

Bengals at Falcons (-3)

Bills at Packers (-8.5)

Texans (-1) at Colts

  • Absolutely terrible beat for anyone who had Colts +1 with the call to go for it on 4th down instead of punt and tie.

Jets (+7) at Jaguars

Eagles at Titans (+3)

  • Suck it, suckers (the 73% of the public that took Eagles -3)!

Browns at Raiders (-2.5)

Cardinals (+3.5) at Seahawks

Saints (-3) at Giants

49ers at Chargers (-10)

  • Not using this an excuse, but did not consider at all that it would basically be a home game for the Niners.

Ravens at Steelers (-3)

Chiefs at Broncos (+3.5)

  • Terrible beat with the Broncos blowing a 10 point lead to miss the cover by half a point.

2018 Straight-Up: 41-20-2, 2018 vs. Spread: 33-28-2

The second quarter of the season is underway.

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Colts (+10.5) at Patriots

  • Patriots 38, Colts 24
  • 1-1 to start the week.

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Jaguars at Chiefs (-3)

  • Massive contest this Sunday between the two most impressive AFC teams so far this season. Expect a great game between one of the the leagues best offenses and one of the leagues best defenses. While I believe this Chiefs team won’t falter the way past Chiefs teams have, I feel they are due for a let down soon. But not this week. The Jaguars have looked dominant one week and then average the next so far this year. After a great performance against the Jets, I think the Jags come down to Earth a little and the home Chiefs take advantage.

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Packers at Lions (Pick ‘Em)

  • Be prepared, cause this is the first of many underdogs I feel have great value this week. This may be a pick ’em now, but the Packers were favored by a point, and then the line moved in the Lions direction despite the public hammering Packers. The Packers seem to be in a disarray, but Rodgers has still been dominant in his career against the Lions. Them only being a one point favorite to open feels like a trap, so I’m taking the home Lions.

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Titans at Bills (+5.5)

  • The Titans are 3-1, and have taken down two of the best teams in the NFL from a year ago over the last two weeks. NO WONDER the public is hammering Titans, who somehow only opened as a 3 point favorite. The Titans are a bad road team, and I know you’ll say they beat the Jaguars on the road, but they still only scored 9 points in that game. They will edge out a W in a shitty game, but the home Bills will cover.

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Dolphins (+6) at Bengals

  • A big “prove if you’re for real game” here. The Bengals have been the much more impressive 3-1 team, but it’s a big test to see if they can follow up that amazing victory last weekend. As for the Dolphins, they are looking to prove they are still a Wild Card contender and that last week happened because they always lose in New England. I think the Dolphins fight hard to cover, but the Bengals edge out the win at home.

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Ravens at Browns (+3)

  • The Ravens just went on the road to a much better divisional opponent and won by 12. This should be a blowout, right? As of Friday, 79% of the public think so. But last week was a huge game for the Ravens, and this could be a matchup they look past. The Browns offense looks good for the first time in, well, forever, and I think the Browns catch the Ravens off guard and score the upset at home.

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Giants (+6.5) at Panthers

  • Through 3 games, the 2-1 Panthers have looked pretty predictable as to how their games would go so far. However, anyone who has watched the NFL over the past two seasons knows just how inconsistent and unpredictable they are. Following a bye, I think the Giants can catch the Panthers off guard a bit and play a little better than they have and cover. But the Giants are so much worse, so there’s no shot in hell I’m going against the Panthers to win.

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Broncos at Jets (+1) 

  • The Broncos should have beaten the loaded Chiefs, and the Jets have not looked good at all since Week 1, so this is a lock for Denver, right? Wrong. The Broncos suffered an absolute heartbreaker on Monday night, and now have to travel across the country on a short week. Based on last year and the one game this year, I’m sticking to the idea that the Broncos are a really bad road team. The Jets will get the win in this one.

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Falcons (+3) at Steelers

  • As the guys from Pardon My Take would say “loser leaves town game” between two struggling teams who entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations. I’ve been going back and forth like crazy on this, but ultimately settled on Falcons. It’s easy to say the Falcons have looked bad, but the truth is they could easily be 4-0 instead of 1-3. The Steelers problems are much more clear, and I think the Falcons edge out a high scoring upset in Pittsburgh.

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Raiders at Chargers (-5.5)

  • Expect a great game between these division rivals Sunday. These teams always seem to play close ones, and you have to think Raider Nation is gonna invade the soccer stadium in LA. However, I see this one going similar to every Raider game. A close game in the 4th, until they Chargers pull away late to win and cover.

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Rams at Seahawks (+7.5)

  • I know you can easily say the Rams beat the Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle last year, but the idea of the Seahawks getting 7 points at home is crazy. I think the Cowboys game was good proof that the Seahawks will be much better at home this year, and the Seahawks have not been this big of underdogs at home in awhile. With the public hammering LA, give me the Seahawks, but with the Rams still winning by a field goal.

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Cardinals at 49ers (-4)

  • While they were 1-10 before Jimmy G took over last year, it’s easy to forget how many close games that Niners team lost. So while they are bad, expect some wins/covers. This one feels like a trap. 4 points against a Cardinals team that nearly beat the Bears and Seahawks? I’ll take it. The Cardinals will look poor on the road with rookie QB Josh Rosen and the 49ers will take care of business at home.

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Vikings at Eagles (-3)

  • Well what do you know? I finally took the Eagles. A slow start in Philly and a team they crushed last year coming to town with the doubters coming in on the Eagles, it feels like a perfect time for those scumbags to take out their stupid dog masks and pull out a home win. In all seriousness though, I think the key matchup for Philly will be their strong DLine dominating the Vikings OLine, and whether we see an average or great Carson Wentz, the Eagles will still get the win.

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Cowboys (+3) at Texans

  • I’ve said this before, but take any of my Cowboys picks with an asterisk, as I obviously know much more about them than any team and have confidence that an unbiased fan does not. That being said, this is an absolutely massive game to build off of the offensive success that they finally found last week. The Texans are very lucky to have a win, and I see Dak being able to find success against the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. 3 points is too much for a 1-3 team to be giving, so I think the Cowboys will score the upset in the Battle for Texas Sunday night.

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Redskins at Saints (-6.5)

  • These two teams played an OT contest in New Orleans last year, so don’t be shocked if the Redskins put up a great fight. However, I see this game as an easy win for the Saints. Drew Brees will become the NFL’s all time leading passer, and the Redskins will come out a little flat following their bye and the Saints will beat the R-Words at home by two scores.

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Lets see if this weekend is as full of upsets as I am predicting. Will the Vikings get the revenge that the Falcons couldn’t?

Creed II Has No Chance of Not Being the Best Movie of All-Time

Creed II is the movie you didn’t know you needed until it was announced last week. The long-awaited sequel for Creed, the Rocky series spin-off film from 2015, is set to be released on November 21 of this year. Here’s the trailer:

If you found yourself intensely shadow boxing while watching this, you’re with the rest of the world. When I finished watching Creed for the first time, my immediate thought was this has to be up there with the best of the Rocky movies, and competes with Rocky IV for the top spot.

Then…Warner Bros. pulled a Family Feud-Steve Harvey on us and said “GIVE ME CREED. GIVE ME ROCKY IV” and made them meet at the center with the question being “What is going to be the best movie in the history of ever?” Survey says…Creed II.

The only thing that could make this movie any better is if Rocky and Ivan Drago got in the ring and went at it for Round II, like some sort of remake of Grudge Match (that’s when Stallone and DeNiro fought each other in an actual movie at 70 years old). The last time we saw them together Rocky pretty much ended the Cold War with this speech:

Things are heating up again with Russia, and don’t think it’s a coincidence that Rocky is coming to the rescue again. Somehow Sylvester Stallone is going to finish this movie as  the new US Ambassador to Russia.

On a more serious note, Michael B. Jordan is a great actor and I’m excited to see where the plot heads towards. We know Rocky was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but also that he was receiving treatment last movie. It seems like in the trailer he was in a lot of the film and looking relatively healthy, so maybe he gets better? Is there another plotline that is going to be developed in order to keep things going, or is this expected to be the final piece of the franchise? Stallone had said in the past, “There’s more to go. I would like to follow this character until eventually he’s an angel.” Does this happen in Creed II?

There’s a lot of questions that I want the answers to. Going to the movies is an absolute sham nowadays, but there is no part of me that cares about dropping $20 to go see this movie in theaters that weekend.  I’d expect the same from all other Rocky fans out there.

 

 

100 Wins Ain’t Bad, Now the Real Season Starts

I know the Wild Card game wasn’t what we had hoped for, or even expected, coming into 2018. After coming within one win of the World Series and adding Giancarlo Stanton, nearly everyone picked the Yankees to win the AL East. But they didn’t. The Red Sox were the better team this year, hands-down. The Sox only won the season series by a game at 10-9, but the main thing they did was take care of business against the bad teams, namely the Baltimore Orioles. Throw in the dagger that was the four-game sweep at Fenway in early August, and the Red Sox are your AL East champs.

But all things considered, this Yankee team overcame a lot to reach 100 wins, besting last year’s total of 91 by nine. Their best player, Aaron Judge, missed nearly two months with a broken wrist. Gary Sanchez followed up his stellar first two seasons in the bigs with one of the most disappointing seasons for an athlete I have ever seen, batting just .186. Stanton went through huge slumps, hearing boos from the Bronx crowd during his first homestand in Pinstripes. Didi Gregorius missed a month with injury, and had a dreadful month of May. Luis Severino had an underwhelming second half. Aroldis Chapman missed time with injury. Jordan Montgomery was out for the year. Sonny Gray pitched his way out of the rotation. We started two rookies in the infield. Greg Bird forgot how to hit a baseball. Brett Gardner finally showed his age. And yet, this team still won 100 games.

Miguel Andujar emerged as not only baseball’s best rookie, but one of the best hitters in the game in the second half. Gleyber Torres showed he could be a star in this league for years to come. Luke Voit burst onto the scene to become a fixture in this lineup. Stanton carried us for periods of time. J.A. Happ pitched better than we could ever ask for after being acquired at the trade deadline. Neil Walker was the best hitter on the team for a short stretch. Masahiro Tanaka pitched like the ace we know he can be down the stretch. Didi Gregorius had another career year. Aaron Hicks continues to quietly become one of the best outfielders in the league. And maybe, just maybe, this team is finally healthy together for the first time all year.

Am I trying to say this team is a success because they won 100 games even with a lot of injuries and underperformance? Absolutely not. But they have shown the ability to overcome adversity for sure. Finishing eight games behind the Red Sox is not a success. But even if we were the ones finishing with 108 wins and the AL East crown, that is not a success either. Ever since the Yankees were eliminated last year, it was clear the 2018 Yanks are World Series or bust. Anything short of a parade down the Canyon of Heroes, and the season is a failure.

Not winning the division and having to play yet another Wild Card game is a huge obstacle on the way to that goal. In just one night, a season’s worth of work can come to an end. But anything is possible. No one thought we would beat the Indians last year. We gave away Game 2 to fall behind 2-0, and still won the series. We looked lifeless in Houston, only to win three in the Bronx and then come up just short. All I’m saying is, anything can happen in October. This train is still rolling, and you better believe anything short of a title is a failure. Let’s go Yanks baby.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 4

Most fans have hated the matchups we have seen on Thursday nights for years…

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…but one night made up for all the shitty ones. I can’t remember a time ever where the Thursday night matchup felt more important than any other matchup the entire weekend. I like the Jets and normally root for them, but that was arguably the most I have ever rooted for a team that was not mine or was not facing a team I hated. Between Hard Knocks, having a player I’ve known of since he was a freshman in high school in Jabrill Peppers, and visiting there to see the Cowboys play in 2016, the Browns have become a random team I’ve paid attention to over the past few years. You can argue that they are one of the more famous teams in the league just cause they are so consistently bad. Winning their first game in nearly two years at home in prime time just felt meant to be and was awesome to watch.

As for the picks, it was a second straight week of success. I went 10-6 straight up, but more importantly, improved to 11-5 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red):

Jets at Browns (-3)

Bengals at Panthers (-3)

Saints at Falcons (-1.5)

  • Only loss in my spread pool (also took Ravens, Colts, Redskins, and Dolphins).

Titans at Jaguars (-10)

  • As the source Stu Feiner would say “sucker pick” as 70% of the public was on the Jags after their national TV win over the Pats.

Broncos at Ravens (-5.5)

Bills at Vikings (-16.5)

  • Games like these are why some of the games I’m just making my pick, but advising against actually taking it. Even though it was virtually a lock that the Vikings would win, I would never recommend wagering $1,667 to win $100 on this game due to the ramifications of a loss like this.

49ers (+6) at Chiefs 

Colts (+6.5) at Eagles

Raiders at Dolphins (-3)

Giants (+6.5) at Texans

Packers at Redskins (+2.5)

Chargers at Rams (-7)

Bears at Cardinals (+5.5)

Cowboys (+1.5) at Seahawks

Patriots at Lions (+7)

Steelers (+1) at Buccaneers

2018 Straight-Up: 30-16-2, 2018 Vs. Spread: 26-21-1

We’re on to Week 3.

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Vikings (+7) at Rams

  •  Rams 38, Vikings 31
  •  1-0-1 to start the week. Vegas knew what was gonna happen.

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Lions at Cowboys (-3)

  • This is a sucker pick if I have ever seen one! As of Thursday night, 61% of the public is on Detroit after they beat the Patriots in prime time and the Cowboys had another poor road performance on national television. This has a very similar feeling (and spread) as the Cowboys home game against the Giants, which they pretty much dominated. I don’t know where my confidence is with the Cowboys going forward, but my confidence in them is high for this matchup.

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Buccaneers (+3) at Bears

  • This is as even of a matchup as it gets in my mind. A Bucs offense that has impressed against a Bears defense that has impressed, and a Bucs defense that has not impressed against a Bears offense that also has not impressed. While they were both in Tampa, the Bucs have dominated the Bears each of the last two seasons, and are nearly 3-0 against three of the NFL’s best from a year ago. This will be a good game, but the Bucs will pull off the upset.

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Dolphins at Patriots (-6.5)

  • While I still think they will make the playoffs, I’m buying the idea that the Patriots just are not the same team this year. That being said, this feels like an easy pick to me. The Patriots have dominated their division rivals at home for years, and I don’t see that changing with the hot Dolphins coming to town. This will not be a blowout, but the Pats will return home and win by 2 scores.

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Bengals at Falcons (-3.5)

  • I’ve been going back and forth with this one, but I concluded that the Falcons are too good of a team to go 1-2 on a three week home stretch. The Saints are getting a lot of praise after that win last week, but there’s no praise for the Falcons who probably should have won that game (if they didn’t choke like always)? I don’t like to play the “team x beat team y, and team y beat team z, so team x should beat team z” game, but I am in this case cause I think the Panthers and Falcons are similar teams, and the Panthers just easily won over the Bengals. With the spread moving in the Bengals direction, I’ll take the Falcons and the points.

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Bills at Packers (-9.5)

  • After performances the public did not expect out of both of these teams last week, the public is picking the Bills to cover this spread. While I think the Vikings are a better overall team, I can’t see a game like this happening to Aaron Rodgers, while it happening to Kirk Cousins did not stun me. I think the Bills keep it interesting but the Packers pull away in the second half to cover.

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Texans (+1) at Colts

  • The Colts have looked (a little but not much) better than the Texans and they are home, so they should win. That’s why I am taking Texans. The Texans are desperate for a win and have too much talent to be 0-4, while the Colts (and their coaches’ play calling) have looked uninspiring on offense and you have to question just how healthy Andrew Luck is. The Texans will edge out the Colts in this one.

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Jets (+7.5) at Jaguars 

  • How will both of these teams respond after disappointing performances a week ago? I think the Jets will look much better, especially with the extra rest. I think the Jags will struggle again on offense, but their defense will dominate Sam Darnold. This will be a low scoring game just like the Jags game against the Titans, but they will edge this one out, and the Jets will cover.

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Eagles at Titans (+3)

  • If not for their late game red zone defense, the defending Super Bowl champs would be 0-3. As for the Titans, they have won in upsets each of the last two weeks. I think the Eagles will eventually find their groove, but Carson Wentz is still getting his preseasons reps in and the Titans will stay hot and earn the upset at home.

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Browns at Raiders (-3)

  • The Browns have looked solid this year, but this is an easy pick for me. Everyone loves to bash the Raiders and Jon Gruden, but the truth is they could be 2-1, and in that one loss, they had the Rams number through the first half. A rookie QB going into the Black Hole sounds like a bad matchup, and (I might be wrong on the exact number) 10 straight #1 overall picks have lost in their first career start. The Raiders are my favorite pick of Week 4.

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Seahawks at Cardinals (+3) 

  • Sorry Bert, but I’m going against the Seahawks again. The Seahawks looked good last week at home, but it is as if the public (74% on Seattle as of Thursday night) has forgotten how they looked on the road the first two weeks, and how the Cardinals should have won that good against an impressive Bears team last week. In Josh Rosen’s first career start, the Cardinals will edge out the Seahawks in a low scoring game.

Saints (-3.5) at Giants

  • I normally don’t like taking the side the public is favoring, but what is Vegas seeing in this one? The Giants looked good last week, but has Vegas completely forgotten how bad they looked in Week 1 and 2? I think they will score some points on the Saints vulnerable defense, but the Saints offense looks amazing and will score a lot more. This is an easy pick for me as the Saints win and cover.

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49ers at Chargers (-10)

  • Obviously this spread is bigger than it would be if Jimmy G was playing, but it’s still not big enough. Does Vegas forget that the Niners were 1-10 before Jimmy G stepped in last year? I know almost any team is bad with a backup QB, but the Niners with a backup are arguably the worst in the NFL. This will be a blowout win for the Chargers.

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Ravens at Steelers (-3)

  • You can throw out the record books when these teams match up, but I think the Steelers is the easy choice. Their defense is definitely not very good, but their offense really has not missed Le’Veon Bell at all. The Ravens looked like a much different team on the road against the division rival Bengals in Week 2, and since most of us can agree the Steelers are better than Cincy, I think they have the advantage going into this one. The Steelers will win by a score, enough to cover.

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Chiefs at Broncos (+4.5)

  • As much as I love the Chiefs, they are gonna become the team the public is gonna hammer all year, and I will probably be picking against them most weeks. Maybe they will turn into the 2016 Cowboys, who would win and cover in every game the public was on their side. Anyway, prime time game in Denver, I think the Broncos are gonna fight hard against their division rivals. However, the Chiefs are looking way better than them, so they will win. The Broncos will fight and lose by a field goal, enough to cover.

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Be back in a week for Week 5 picks. Can Mahomes and the Chiefs keep up this crazy run?