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

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.

What the Balance of Power Looks Like in the AL East after the JD Martinez Signing

After months of negotiations, the best hitter on the free agent market has finally signed. JD Martinez signed with the Red Sox today, as expected, for 5 years and $110 million. Martinez signed for less than the 5 years/$125 million that was previously rumored to be on the table, and far less than the 7 years/$210 million that agent Scott Boras claimed he was seeking. Martinez is coming off a career year in which he hit .303 with 45 HR and 104 RBI for the Tigers and Diamondbacks. While he may not be as flashy of a name as Giancarlo Stanton, Martinez is definitely a huge addition to the Sox lineup that was desperate for a power hitter.

The real question is, does this shift the Red Sox back to the favorites in the AL East? If not, how much does this move close the gap between them and the Yankees? Despite both teams adding two of the game’s top power hitters, these moves are completely different. The Yankees added on to their biggest strength, their powerful lineup. The Red Sox addressed their biggest need, a lineup that was starved of power. The Yankees actually led the majors in home runs last year, while the Red Sox ranked 27th.

In a division decided by only two games in 2017, who is the favorite going into 2018? The gap between these two teams and the rest of the division is still too wide to consider the Rays, Orioles, or Blue Jays division contenders, in my opinion. So we’ll just compare the Yanks and the Sox and see where they stand in terms of chances of winning the division.

Lineup

Prior to the Martinez signing, I would’ve given this to the Yankees without question. But adding a player of his caliber definitely opens up the debate. Like the Yankees, most of the Red Sox’ meat of the order guys come from their outfield/DH spots, in the form of Martinez, left fielder Andrew Benintendi and right fielder Mookie Betts. Betts had a down year in 2017, hitting only .264 after a .318 year in 2016. He’s still a stud on both sides of the ball, but he doesn’t scare me nearly as much as Benintendi. I personally think that guy is gonna be an absolute star, and he would’ve been an easy Rookie of the Year choice if not for Aaron Judge’s historic season. Benintendi is what you could call a “Yankee killer”, and third baseman Rafael Devers seems to fall in that category as well (the game-tying homer off Chapman in the ninth is still tough to watch.) In addition to Devers, the infield is comprised of All-Stars Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia, as well as first baseman Mitch Moreland. Bogaerts, like Betts, had a strong 2016 but really regressed in 2017. Bogaerts vs. Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorious was an interesting debate going into 2017 until Didi’s career year that made him the obvious choice. It will be interesting to see if Bogaerts can make that a discussion again. Don’t get me started on Pedroia, he’s the guy I’ve hated the most for a long time, especially considering he’s won an MVP and Jeter never did. He’s not a guy that’s really gonna scare you when he’s at the plate, but he’s a scrappy guy with a .300 career average that’s gonna help you win games. Moreland is a nice player over at first, a guy who won’t hit for average but can give you some solid power numbers. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon handle the catching duties, neither of whom are super imposing at the plate but do a solid job.

The Yankees boast Judge and Stanton in the outfield, the last pair of teammates to have both hit 50 homers in a season since Mantle and Maris. Hopefully Stanton can help Judge cut down on the strikeouts, something he has done a good job of himself over the last few seasons. The keys for these two will be Judge staying out of deep slumps like the one he got into in 2017, and Stanton staying healthy. Brett Gardner will play left field and bat leadoff, and while he won’t steal as many bases as he used to, he is fantastic at working counts and getting on base. Aaron Hicks is somewhat of an X-factor to this lineup, as he was All-Star caliber before he got hurt and less than stellar once he got back last year. Regardless of how he is at the plate, Hicks is quietly one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

Hopefully he can perform at the plate, as it’s possible the Yanks could turn to Clint Frazier or even Jacoby Ellsbury *gasp* if Hicks isn’t the hitter he was a year ago. The infield is extremely interesting for the Yanks, as it includes two rookies, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. Andujar has raked in the minors, but there have been concerns about his defense. As of now, he figures to be the opening day third baseman for the Yanks. Torres will likely spend the first month in AAA before getting promoted to the bigs so the Yanks can gain an extra year of his service time, as the Cubs did with Kris Bryant when he was coming up. Torres is supposed to be one of the best prospects in baseball, and if he lives up to the hype, could be an absolutely electric addition to the lineup. Shortstop Didi Gregorious returns after a career year that included postseason heroics like his game-tying home run in the Wild Card Game, or taking Corey Kluber deep twice in the decisive ALDS Game 5. First baseman Greg Bird looks to reach his full potential after a 2017 season that includes a disastrous 6-60 start, months on the disabled list, and a promising September/playoff stretch. At catcher, Gary Sanchez is one of the team’s most important players. Although he’s been somewhat overshadowed by Judge and Stanton, Sanchez may legitimately be the best hitter on the team. His rocket arm makes him a huge threat to throw out stealing baserunners, and hopefully the weight he lost will help him improve his ability to block balls in the dirt, which was a huge problem last year.

Conclusion: The Red Sox have a deep lineup. A good lineup. But the Yankees simply have too many guys that are not just good hitters, but great hitters. The Red Sox definitely have significant advantages and second and third base right now since you don’t really know what you’re gonna get from Torres and Andujar, but if they live up to their hype that gap wouldn’t be too wide. Sanchez is the clear cut choice at catcher, Didi is better than Bogaerts, Bird at his best is better than Moreland, and I’ll take Judge/Stanton/Gardner/Hicks as my outfield/DH over Martinez/Benintendi/Betts/Bradley any day.

Advantage: Yankees

Starting Pitching

The Red Sox staff is anchored by the best starting pitcher in the American League in lefty ace Chris Sale. I know he wasn’t great in the playoffs last year, but there’s no denying the guy is absolutely filthy. If I was picking a team to make a one-year run at the World Series and I needed a starting pitcher, Sale is probably the first guy I pick not named Clayton Kershaw. I’d consider Max Scherzer or Noah Syndergaard too, but point is Sale is a beast. David Price is an interesting guy at the #2 spot in the rotation. Sure, we’ve seen him perform as one of the best pitchers in the league in the past. But his time in Boston has been riddled with elbow troubles, trouble with the Boston media, and overall sub-par performance. That being said, he still has the ability to shut down any lineup on any given night, as he did to the Yanks on Sunday Night Baseball last year. Rick Porcello followed up his 2016 Cy Young Season with a horrid 11-17, 4.65 ERA 2017. It will be interesting to see which Porcello we get in 2018. Drew Pomeranz quietly had a great 2017 season, going 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. For a middle of the rotation guy, he is more than solid. Veteran knuckleballer Steven Wright figures to be the 5th starter, although offseason domestic violence charges could come into play there.

The Yanks staff is led by young ace Luis Severino, whose breakout 2017 netted him a third place finish in the AL Cy Young vote, behind Kluber and Sale. However, he has a lot to prove in 2018, coming off of the most innings he’s ever thrown, to prove this was no fluke. He’s followed by Masahiro Tanaka, who had an interesting 2017 to say the least. From shutting out the Sox at Fenway during his early season dominance, to basically forgetting how to pitch for a few months, seemingly getting shelled every time out, until he finally put it back together again for September and the playoffs, you simply don’t know what you’re gonna get from Tanaka. Veteran CC Sabathia returns after a solid 2017 that included a great playoffs, and lefty Jordan Montgomery figures to project as the 5th starter following a solid rookie campaign. The X-Factor of this staff, however, is Sonny Gray. He was good for the Yanks last year after coming over from Oakland in the deadline, but not great. Will he step up to be the ace-potential guy the Yankees thought he could be when they traded three top prospects for him, or will he continue to be a middle of the rotation starter? To me, that’s a huge question regarding not only the Yankees’ division chances, but their title hopes.

Conclusion: These staffs are both interesting. They both boast Cy Young caliber aces (Sale and Severino), and guys who are All-Stars at their best, but pretty bad at their worst (Price, Porcello, Tanaka, Gray). But, considering the Sox staff is overall more experienced, I feel like they have to get the nod here.

Decision: Red Sox

Bullpen

This one is honestly a no-brainer. Sure, the Sox have one of the best closers in the game in Craig Kimbrel, but who’s in the pen besides him? For as demoralizing as it is to go into the 9th losing to face Kimbrel, who’s the bridge between him and the Sox’ starters? Literally no one. The Red Sox bullpen was a huge weakness all season in 2017, and they didn’t really do anything to upgrade it going into 2018.

The Yankees, however, boast the best bullpen in baseball. Sure, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman make you want to pull your hair out, but when they’re pitching well they’re elite. Chapman was great in the playoffs, and hopefully Betances has figured it out this offseason. Chad Green was quietly one of the best relievers in baseball in 2017, and David Robertson is extremely reliable. Tommy Kahnle finally looked like the stud the Yankees thought they were getting in the playoffs, and Adam Warren is more than capable.

Conclusion: The Yankees have the better bullpen, and it’s not close.

Decision: Yankees

Overall, the Martinez move is a good one for the Sox. It gives them the power hitter they needed. But do I think it makes them better than the Yankees? No shot. I may be biased, but to me, the Yankees have a better lineup, much better bullpen, and a rotation that, if healthy, gives them a fighting chance on any given night. In my mind, as great as I think the Yankees can be, I don’t think they should be the favorites to win the World Series. That’s still the Astros in my mind, no doubt about it. But in the East? On paper, the Yankees are better than the Red Sox. The Indians even scare me more than the Sox do at this point. But baseball is a long season. If what’s on paper really mattered, they wouldn’t play the games. Let’s hope I don’t regret this blog once October rolls around, but I have a feeling this is gonna be a great year for the Bronx Bombers. Opening Day, where you at??

Is the Stretch Between the Super Bowl and March Madness the Worst Time to Be Alive?

Bold title, I know. But think about it. The month-ish (yeah that’s the word I’m going with, freaking sue me if you have a problem with it pal) long period between the Super Bowl and March Madness is commonly referred to as the worst time of the year for sports. No football whatsoever. Baseball is in Spring Training, which is exciting if you’re a baseball junkie like me, but it’s still not even close to the real thing. And the NHL and NBA are both in full swing, but at the point of the season where it’s not quite close enough to the playoffs to get too intense. So sporting wise, obviously these few weeks suck. But as I was thinking about that, I tried to think of ANY benefit to this period of time. Let’s take a deeper look.

The Super Bowl this year was on February 4th. The NCAA Basketball Tournament technically starts on Tuesday, March 13th this year, but those are just play-in games. Everyone knows March Madness really starts on Thursday, which is March 15th this year. That leaves 39 days between the Super Bowl and March Madness. Weather wise, it’s still pretty cold, at least here in Jersey. Maybe you get the occasional day where it’s nice enough to chill outside (it’s supposed to be 65 this Thursday), but other than that the weather pretty much sucks.

The only national holiday between the Super Bowl and March Madness is Presidents’ Day, which if you go to a public school like Rutgers, you don’t even get off for. The most noteworthy holiday between them is Valentine’s Day which kinda just blows whether you’re in a relationship or not. Either you have to watch everyone else post mad annoying lovey-dovey Instagrams, or you spend a bunch of money on your significant other because that’s what you’re supposed to do. St. Patty’s Day comes right after March Madness starts, even falling on the first Thursday last year, so a solid holiday just misses the Super Bowl/NCAA Tourney time period cut-off.

Not only is there a lack of holidays/days off during this period, but school itself just sucks. In college, this is prime midterm time. You’re too far past syllabus week to be doing nothing in your classes, and you can be sure to be flooded with exams/projects/papers at any given time. Sure, spring break may potentially start near the end of this 39-day period (mine starts like 5 days before March Madness), but that still makes for a brutal 30+ day stretch. On top of all of that, Day 1 of this whole ordeal is one of the worst days of the year. The Monday after the Super Bowl is right up there with January 2nd for worst work/school day of the year.

So between the lack of sports, absence of relevant holidays, bad weather, and classes, I’ve come to the conclusion that the gap between Super Bowl Sunday and March Madness Thursday is 100% the worst time of the year. So what’s the plan of attack here? Be productive. Get in shape, work more hours at your job, get ahead on your schoolwork, crush your midterms. Are you a degenerate, so none of what I just said sounds appealing to you? Then find other ways to entertain yourself besides sports. Binge-watch a show, get drunk and watch the Olympics, play some baseball (the drinking game, not the sport.) Anything to help speed up time. As rough as these 30+ days are, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Spring Break, March Madness, St. Patty’s Day, and MLB Opening Day all happen within about two weeks of each other. But until then, we’re just gonna have to suck it up and figure something else out.