All posts by Stanzo

Currently banned from TopGolf. Rutgers student, avid Yankees fan, 2-time Intramural Basketball champion. I tell terrible jokes 95% of the time, the other 5% are probably above average

Toys R Us Closing is Absolutely Heartbreaking

I woke up to this tweet today and was devastated. Yeah, I’ve known about Toys R Us closing, and obviously it’s no secret that toy stores/retail stores in general have been in trouble for years now thanks to online shopping, namely Amazon. But to see this picture just kind of puts it in perspective. My childhood may be over, but no kid is gonna get to experience Toys R Us ever again.

Honestly nothing compares to the feeling when your parents finally gave into your weeks of constant begging and brought you to the toy store to pick something out, or going through the catalogs ahead of Christmas or your birthday to pick out what you want. I’ll never get to watch my kids experience that and that really kinda sucks.

In general, technology has almost kind of ruined how kids entertain themselves anyway. Don’t get me wrong, video games/computer games were definitely a big part of my generation’s childhood. You could pretty much consider my PlayStation 2 my first girlfriend (don’t worry I didn’t try and have sex with it), but there were still plenty of other ways we entertained ourselves. Hot Wheels, Tonka Trucks, Slip n Slides, the whole nine yards. And do NOT even get me started on Playmobil, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you did your childhood all wrong.

Almost every day life gives you a “wow you’re getting kinda old” moment, but some of them hit harder than others. And this morning, Geoffrey the giraffe broke my heart. RIP in Peace to Toys R Us, the realest toy store to ever do it.

Elon Musk, if You’re Reading This, Please Send Chasen Shreve to the Sun

So you might have heard, but the Yankees got swept by the Rays this past weekend. Safe to say that’s not what you want, but I’m not gonna panic. The Yanks just swept the Mariners last week and took 2/3 from the Phillies this week and sit just a half game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. I could sit here and complain about Gary Sanchez’s sub .200 batting average, Greg Bird’s lack of production, or injuries to the starting rotation. But honestly I’m not too worried about any of those. To shortly summarize why:

  1. Austin Romine has been raking, and will hold down the fort while Gary rehabs. Also, Gary is too good of a hitter to play like this all year, and had already started breaking out of his slump before the injury.
  2. I’m a Greg Bird guy and think he’ll put it together, but if not one/a combination of Brandon Drury, Neil Walker, and Tyler Austin will produce. No Chris Carter for us this year.
  3. Tanaka will be back before we know it, and it’s a certainty that Brian Cashman will add another starter before the trade deadline.

Now, to the real problem that will not correct itself and the purpose of this blog: Chasen Fucking Shreve. The guy is easily the worst/least reliable reliever in the Yankees bullpen, and yet we always seem to see him in high leverage situations? How in the world does Chasen Shreve take the mound in any semi-meaningful situation when Aaron Boone has Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman at his disposal? It makes absolutely zero sense, but that’s baseball, Suzyn.

In today’s day and age, it’s common to come across interesting statistics on Twitter. There are interesting statistics, and then there are how in the name of Chuck Knoblauch is this a real thing that exists statistics. This one definitely falls in the latter category:

That’s just unreal. You literally should have to try to be that bad. The Yankees lead the majors in wins in one-run games, with the bullpen being a huge part of that. I know I’m saying that it’s only June 28, we’re only a half game out of first place, and there’s no reason to panic. That being said, we can’t be running guys like Chasen Shreve out there and just throwing away winnable games. Every game counts, especially with the Red Sox in our division. The reality is that one of these two teams is going to end up in a one-game elimination come October, even after likely winning 100 games, or at least close to there. Every game counts, and when I say that, I don’t mean you need to use Dellin Betances in 85 games this year. Bullpen workload management is a huge part of a team’s prolonged success throughout a season, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees should be throwing a pitcher as downright incompetent as Shreve out there night after night. Do something, anything, to replace him, whether it’s calling someone up from the minors or buying low on a reliever who has had struggles elsewhere via trade and hoping the Yanks can help him figure it out.

Things are still great in the Bronx right now. However, if Elon Musk would be so kind as to help us send our good pal Chasen to the sun that would just be swell.

Anyone Else Nervous for the Giants’ Pick Tomorrow Night?

The day us Giants fans have been anticipating basically since the Week 4 loss to the Bucs that dropped them to 0-4 is almost upon us. The NFL Draft’s first round is tomorrow night, and the G-Men hold the #2 overall pick. This is the first time since 1981 that the Giants have picked second, when they took legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor. They haven’t even picked in the top five since 2004 when they took Philip Rivers, who they ultimately traded to the Chargers for a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning. Now, after a 3-13 season in which we saw the Giants fire their coach, bench Manning for a game, and lose star receiver Odell Beckham for the season to a fractured ankle, this draft pick determines the direction of their franchise. Do they take one of the draft’s top quarterbacks and begin to prepare for life after Eli? Or do they take an offensive weapon like Saquon Barkley and give it one last shot with Eli? Let’s weigh the options.

Draft a Quarterback

The four top QB names that are being thrown around in mock drafts are Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Three of these four will be on the board when the Giants pick, but it is unclear which three, as the Browns have been linked to all of them besides Rosen. Darnold is considered the most polished of the four, though he had an underwhelming final season at USC. Allen is more of a project, but his 6’5 frame and rocket arm are the physical skill set teams dream about. Rosen had an impressive college career, but is considered by many (including myself) to be a bit too outspoken to play in New York. Give me an Eli Manning type, a guy who will do his job in silence. A quiet competitor, a real warrior that will get up from the hardest hits. Rosen’s Cali kid vibe won’t fly in New York, especially if he struggles. Despite what I just said about wanting an Eli Manning type, I also love Mayfield. Sure, he’s quite outspoken too, but in a more fiery, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to bury my opponent” kind of way. If you didn’t enjoy watching Mayfield play, you don’t like fun. He gets a lot of Johnny Manziel comparisons, which can obviously be taken the wrong way. But I think his height and his past mistakes are played up too much, and he has real NFL potential. Realistically, I think the Giants take Rosen or Darnold, if he’s available. But man, I would love to see Baker in blue.

Draft Saquon Barkley

My brain tells me to take a quarterback, or trade down and get a huge package of picks. My heart tells me take Saquon Barkley. I’ve been posting #SuckForSaquon for months now. This guy is absolutely electric to watch play, and with the recent success of rookie running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, it’s not inconceivable that he can be an instant boost for the entire offense. Yes, the Giants offensive line is still weak, but they’ve already started to make improvements with the signing of Nate Solder. The Barkley connection can’t be denied, with many mock drafts linking him to the G-Men. It would be a risky pick, but I would love to keep the Jersey kid at home.

Draft Bradley Chubb

Another option is to draft on the defensive side of the ball. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason, the G-Men could opt to take the draft’s best pass-rusher. Chubb broke Mario Williams’ sack record at NC State, and his draft stock has been rising steadily over the past few weeks. It wouldn’t be nearly as flashy of a move as taking Barkley or a quarterback, but an elite pass rusher is one of the NFL’s most coveted assets.

Trade Down

If the Giants decide to trade down, there will surely be a large number of suitors. This is a quarterback-heavy draft, and many teams such as the Bills or Cardinals could be looking to trade up and grab either Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, or Allen. Preferably, the Giants trade to a spot they can take Notre Dame OL Quenton Nelson, but that may be a long shot. Although trading down is easily the least sexy option of the bunch, it needs to at least be considered given the package it would command.

 

Last season was not fun for Giants fans. This pick could very well determine the direction of the franchise for the next five years. In Gettleman we trust.

Yankees Baseball is FINALLY Back

After a long winer, the day we’ve all been waiting for is almost here. Tomorrow, Luis Severino and the Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre with a 3:37 first pitch. Us Yankee fans have been anxiously anticipating Opening Day ever since a heartbreaking ALCS Game 7 loss to the eventual World Champion Astros ended our season in October. Between last year’s postseason success and the addition of  NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year. While 2017 was supposed to be a “transition” year for the Bombers, the goal for 2018 is clear: World Series or bust. Opening Day marks the start of the journey towards that goal, and aside from the recent injury to Greg Bird (shocker), the Yanks are headed into the season at full strength. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve right now, and nothing short of my life physically being in danger could stop me from sitting on my couch and watching this team get back to business tomorrow. Every Yankee fan is hoping that this will be our year. Let’s play some goddamn baseball!

Three Reasons Why it’s Time the NCAA Pays These Kids

I wrote a research paper on this topic for class last year, but I’m gonna try and keep this blog as short as possible because no one wants to voluntarily read a research paper. I got a B+ on the paper by the way, but it got bumped down to a B because the department head told my professor it was “barely even good enough for a B.” Clearly she wasn’t a basketball fan. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard the argument a million times before: Should college athletes get paid? In my mind, the clear answer is yes- at least for NCAA basketball players. I’m not arguing for the payment of Division 2 croquet players (is that a thing? Someone fact check that for me.) Here are three reasons why NCAA basketball players aren’t currently being fairly compensated.

They Generate a LOT of Revenue

For them not to see a dime of the huge amount of revenue they bring in is a crime. How much revenue? Well, CBS pays about $1.1 billion for the TV rights to the NCAA Tournament alone. That’s just the TV deal for postseason play. This doesn’t even include other revenue streams, such as ticket sales, merchandise, or teams’ regular season TV deals. Big-time programs can bring in upwards of $5 million of profit (not revenue, profit) on their own each year. Louisville brought in a league-high $24 million of profit in 2015. Now, I’m not saying college players should earn millions per year. Maybe they could each earn a standard salary in the $20-$50,000 range, or the NCAA could set a $5 million or so salary cap as Mr. Walker suggested. At the very least, compensate these players for their time. They spend countless hours practicing, in the weight room, and watching film. At Rutgers, minimum wage just got raised to $11 for on-campus jobs (some kids are trying to get it raised to $15 but I don’t think they understand why that would be a horrible idea, but that’s another topic.) Why doesn’t Corey Sanders receive anything when he puts four hours in at the gym, but I’m compensated at $11 an hour to supervise students playing intramural basketball at the campus gym? I know what some of you are thinking. “They aren’t paid in cash, they get compensated with an education.” That brings me to my next point.

The “Educations” Many of These Players Receive Are Bogus

Of all NCAA basketball players, only 1.1% will go on to play professionally. So for every Marvin Bagley, there are 99 kids who will have to figure something else out after college. Luckily for them, they’ll graduate with a college degree, right? Well, some of them. The NCAA reported that the average graduation rate for NCAA men’s basketball teams was 78% in 2017. Not bad, right? There’s two problems with that. First, many of these schools don’t care how players pass their classes, they just want to make sure they stay eligible. Take North Carolina, for example. Perennial basketball powerhouse, last year’s NCAA Champion, and my favorite college team. From 1989-2012, they enrolled athletes in “paper classes,” which “had no instruction, never met, and only required a final paper, which often included significant amounts of unoriginal or plagiarized material.” Basically they had their athletes taking fake classes to boost their GPAs and keep them game eligible. Clearly they value these players’ educations. Let’s say that a school really does care about an athlete’s education, and makes him attend classes and complete assignments on his own. Are they gonna let their top basketball recruit major in engineering or business? No, they’re gonna have him take some BS major (not gonna name one so I don’t offend anyone) so that his focus is on basketball, not school. In a 2007 survey of NCAA athletes, 11% stated that their sport prevented them from pursuing the major they wanted to, 69% said it prevented them from taking classes they desired, and 53% said they were not able to spend as much time on academics as they would like. This survey included athletes of all sports from Divisions 1 through 3, so these numbers likely would’ve been even higher within a sport as demanding as Division 1 basketball. So my question is this: how is it fair that players are being “compensated” with an education when these schools clearly make basketball their top priority?

There’s one more reason the current compensation system is broken. This one is the most mind-boggling to me, as it doesn’t even require any kind of investment from the NCAA or its schools.

Get Rid of “Amateurism” Laws

In case you didn’t know, every NCAA athlete has to be an “amateur,” or not a professional. That makes sense to me. If Markelle Fultz stinks in his first year in the NBA, he shouldn’t be able to come back and play at Washington. But the NCAA’s definition of an “amateur” extends far beyond whether or not you’ve played professionally before. Here are some violations of amateur status as the NCAA lists on their website.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.03.52 PM

So what are a few examples of what athletes can’t do in order to maintain eligible with the NCAA? They can’t sell their own autograph or memorabilia, get paid to make public appearances, or sign any endorsement deals. How are you going to tell a player they can’t make money off of being themselves? And don’t tell me they can “wait until they get to the NBA,” because like I said before, only 1% of these players are making it there. What if a starter at Nebraska with no real NBA potential gets offered $1,000 to appear in a local car dealership commercial? Or a restaurant offers him money to appear there and greet some fans? You’re telling me he shouldn’t be NCAA eligible anymore because he chooses to do these things? Some of these players grow up poor, and basketball is their only hope. Why not let them make some money while continuing their education and college careers? Joel Berry can’t sell his jersey that he plays in, but I’m sure the UNC bookstore is selling jerseys with #2 on the back for $40 a pop. Does it have his name on the back? No, but everyone buying one knows damn well that it’s a Joel Berry jersey. For him not to see any of that money is blasphemous.

 

So here are the problems with compensation of college basketball players. Here’s my simple solution in three steps.

  1. Revise the rules of amateurism to allow players to profit off of themselves. If a guy wants to sell his autograph or make a paid appearance, let him. As long as he’s not playing professionally somewhere, let him do whatever he wants.
  2. Have schools pay players a small yearly amount to compensate for their time. Whether it’s paying every player a yearly stipend of a few thousand dollars or a salary cap that allows top recruits to earn more, the players should see at least some of these billions of revenue.
  3. Tailor curriculum to the individual needs of every athlete. Marvin Bagley is declaring for the draft this year. Why pretend he isn’t? Have him take classes in financial literacy, and other aspects of life he’ll need to know for when he goes pro. But a guy who probably isn’t going to the NBA? Get him a more valuable major. Schools should sit down with these kids before their freshman year and figure out a path that makes sense for them. Should a player who had a 2.3 GPA in high school come to Michigan to play basketball and major in electrical engineering? Probably not, but there’s gotta be a way to have him graduate with a useful degree while he simultaneously keeps his grades high enough to play.

 

Top 10 Players in Baseball Right Now Countdown: Second Basemen

As the countdown to the MLB season draws closer, I take a look at the ten best second basemen in the league right now. If you missed my catcher or first baseman countdowns, you can find them here. Let’s dive in.

10. Ian Kinsler, Angels

At 35, Kinsler’s best years are likely behind him. However, that’s not to say he isn’t still a solid player. With the Tigers last year, Kinsler hit .236 with 22 HR and 52 RBI. This is a guy who hit .288 with 28 HR and 83 RBI just two years ago in 2016. After being traded to the Angels this offseason, let’s see if Kinsler can inject some life into a lineup that also features Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols.

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

I hate this rat-faced fuck. One of my most hated Red Sox ever. It sickens me that he once won an MVP award and Derek Jeter never did. Now that my Yankee fan bias is out of the way, Pedroia has been one of the top second basemen in the game for years. While he is for sure not an MVP-caliber player anymore, he is a consistent hitter and an overall scrappy guy who does what it takes to help his team win. However, Pedroia has had his share of health issues lately. He played in only 105 games last year, and he had a cartilage restoration procedure performed in the offseason that’s expected to keep him sidelined until the end of May. Hoping for a speedy recovery for one of my favorites!

8. Javier Baez, Cubs

Sometimes overlooked in Chicago because of guys like Bryant and Rizzo, Baez is one of the best young second basemen in the game. Hitting .273 with 23 HR and 75 RBI a year ago, the 2016 NLCS MVP looks to build on the successful start to his career.

7. DJ LaMahieu, Rockies

Part of a Rockies lineup that can absolutely mash, LaMahieu has hit above .300 in each of the past three seasons. While he does not overwhelm you with power, he can certainly swing the bat. He’s a two-time All-Star, the 2016 NL batting champion, and a two-time Gold Glover.

6. Starlin Castro, Marlins

This poor soul. The unfortunate victim of the Yankees acquiring Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, Castro is now one of the only legitimate baseball players left on what the Marlins are still attempting to call a team. After watching him start for the Yankees past two years, it’s clear this guy can flat-out hit. A four-time All-Star, Castro hit .300 with 16 HR and 63 RBI in 112 games last year, missing some time due to injury. He’s sure to be unhappy in Miami, and with the current situation there, I’d be surprised if he’s a Marlin for too long.

5. Robinson Cano, Mariners

The one that got away. As much as it bothered me that Cano left the Yanks for Seattle (or that they gave his money to Jacoby fucking Ellsbury), you can’t deny he has one of the sweetest swings in baseball. I mean, look.

Just gorgeous. Cano’s resume speaks for itself. 8-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger, 2-time Gold Glover, 2017 All-Star Game MVP. While Cano may be nearing the end of his prime, he’s still among the game’s elite second basemen.

4. Brian Dozier, Twins

When Dozier led off the Wild Card game with a home run, my heart dropped. This guy is a hitter, and he can hit for power. With 34 homers last year and a whopping 42 the year before, it’s rare to see this kind of power from a second baseman. He’ll be one of the headliners of an intriguing free agent class following this season.

3. Jonathan Schoop, Orioles

The Yanks play the Orioles 18 times a year, and I still didn’t realize Schoop was THIS good. He hit .293 with 32 HR and 105 RBI last year. At just 26, he looks to be one of the game’s best for a long time.

2. Daniel Murphy, Nationals

After carrying the Mets to the World Series in 2015, Murphy has continued to mash with the Nationals these past two seasons. At .322, 23 HR and 93 RBI, Murphy helps to form a dangerous duo along with Bryce Harper. Like Harper, Murphy is also a free agent after this season, so 2018 will be a crucial one for the Nats.

1. Jose Altuve, Astros

Just the clear-cut best. The 2017 AL MVP hit a league-leading .346 with 24 HR and 81 RBI last year, leading the Astros to a World Series title. 5-time All-Star, 3 batting titles, 4 Silver Sluggers at just 27. Altuve is one of the best players in baseball, and if he keeps his current pace, will go down as one of the best second basemen of all-time.

Is This the Worst Proposed MLB Rule Change Ever?

In an era where 98% of sports TV is unwatchable, I actually really enjoy Colin Cowherd. I agree with most of his takes, and he does a pretty good job of mixing up his topics of discussion and having opinions that differ from what you’d hear 9000 times a day on SportsCenter. But every once in awhile, he says something that I just can’t get on board with. During the NBA Playoffs last year, he claimed it didn’t matter that everyone and their mother knew the Finals would be Warriors vs. Cavs again because “you go into movies knowing how it’s going to end.” First off, I try not to hear how a movie ends until I go, when applicable. And yes, while you obviously go into some movies knowing how it’ll end (spoiler alert: the Titanic sinks at the end), you watch the movie to see how it all plays out to cause that ending. Forgive me for not exactly finding the Warriors going 12-0 in the West and the Cavs go 12-1 in the East particularly entertaining. Long story short, when Cowherd has a bad take, it’s usually a REALLY bad one. Then I came across this video the other day.

I’m not necessarily a baseball purist that will scream and shout at any potential rule change, but this one is just really bad. First off, if anyone should be for this rule, it should be me as a Yankee fan. Would I rather see Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton bat again in the 9th with the bases loaded rather than Ronald Torreyes? Obviously I would. But that’s the beauty of baseball, you don’t know how the game itself is going to pay off. Every move is strategic. Do you use your best reliever to get out of a jam in the 6th inning, or save him for the 9th? At what depth do you play your infielders when it’s first and third with one out and you’re ahead by one? Every little decision can make a major impact, and this proposed rule change would just make a manager’s job too easy. Imagine if the Astros had 7-8-9 in the order coming up in the 9th, and A.J. Hinch could just say “hey, Correa, go grab a bat.” Where’s the strategy in that? What happens if Terry Francona already used Andrew Miller to get Correa out two innings prior to that? Is he allowed to come back into the game too?

I’ll listen to anything  that can help make baseball even more entertaining, not because the sport needs help, but why not make improvements? I’m all for pitch clocks and limits to mound visits because while cutting 5-10 minutes off of a game may not make a real impact/attract any new fans, they just make the game itself run more smoothly. But this idea? Scrap it immediately. It’s the Jessica Mendoza of ideas. (If you watched even just one Sunday Night Baseball broadcast last year, you know how awful she is at her job). So thanks for trying Colin, but let’s never talk about this idea ever again.