All posts by Bert

I'm thinning, not balding... I've got a lifetime of embarrassing moments just waiting to be shared RCNJ Baseball '19

The Twitter Account All Baseball Fans Needs to Follow

If you’re a sane person and enjoy baseball, there’s an account Twitter that I consider the best one on social media. Behold…Pitching Ninja.

It’s the one account on Twitter, with the exception of maybe Bleacher Report and a few influencers, that I actually look forward to seeing content from. The founder, Rob Friedman, puts together incredible gifs (pronounce it however you may) of pitchers being absolutely filthy.

Example A:

Example B:

Example C:

From individual pitches to overlays to mentality on the mound and through training, Pitching Ninja gives you really unique insight on baseball’s greatest art that you typically don’t see on any other sports accounts. It really is mesmerizing stuff, and allows you to appreciate the wonders of baseball. Throughout the years, I’ve legitimately learned a lot just by watching these 6 second clips, and I highly recommend shooting it a follow if you love America’s past time.

Why Replacing Umpires with Robots is a Horrible Idea

If you’ve been following the MLB within the past few years, you’ve realized the game has become a lot more reliant on technology and statistics. Instant replay, the “shift”, highlighted strikezones for televised games. You also may have heard vague rumors that umpires should be replaced with robots to ensure the game result is based on the players.

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I love baseball, but I know the game has flaws. The dropped third strike rule has become outdated, pace of play can be adjusted, and the season length is considered too long. But I don’t see the umpires still being humans as a glaring error. Maybe it’s because I’m a baseball purist, but the umps missing a strike call is part of the game, as is human error.

The MLB has a tough vetting process, and turnover takes a long time. New umpires usually don’t get announced onto the official crew until 200 or 300 games into their career. That’s a large enough sample size to see if somebody can do their job right or not, and with every game, they get better and better. Listen, there will always be bad umps (cough cough Joe West) and there will always be good umps. This is true at every level, and even outside of baseball. People will be good at their job, and people will be bad at their job. Some people suck. That’s life. But if we replaced every person that sucked at their job with a robot, we’d be in quite the predicament, wouldn’t we?

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Have you ever made a mistake at work? Have you ever even made TWO?! You’re not perfect, and neither are MLB umps. They’re gonna miss a call here and there. But if you were threatened to be replaced by robots because you sent an email to the wrong person or missed a deadline, wouldn’t you be ready to say “hold the fuck up”.

Let’s not also forget the fact that there is somebody to blame that makes sports so wonderful. Somebody to turn to when things don’t go our way. How many times have Cowboy fans tweeted pictures of Dez Bryant with the caption #DezCaughtIt? Or how many times have Orioles fans (all four of them) said something about Jeter’s home run in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS?

What would we say after games we lose? “Our two-out hitting was really poor”…”We consistently found ways to strand runners in scoring position”…”Our pitching walked too many guys”. NO! That’s insane, in what world do we actually blame those responsible. Finding a scapegoat is what sports, and life, is all about. If we take the umpires out of the equations, we’re stripping ourselves of our sanity and increasing our natural ability to accept failure and improve ourselves as people. Ridiculous.

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And my most crucial point…what would the robots strike three call be? Talk about making baseball boring again.

LeBron vs MJ: One Point Nobody is Making

The argument that everybody seems to hate, but still can’t stop talking about…Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? The truth is, there’s no way to determine who has had a better career until LeBron closes up shop for good. LeBron still has three to four solid years left, and maybe five to six total. A lot can happen in that time. Randy Johnson won four straight Cy Youngs from ages 35-38, Barry Bonds won four MVPs from 36-39, and Kobe Bryant scored 60 points at 37. Sometimes, players get better with age (in Barry’s case it was just a lot of steroids, but I think that hurts my point more than it helps, so we can ignore that).

People argue that just because LeBron takes 12U town recreation teams to the Finals every year that he needs to be crowned the best. Others say that although MJ didn’t make it to the Promised Land every year, he was 6-0 when he did make it, and should be deemed the GOAT. Who knows where Jordan would have been without Pippen? But, LeBron has lost five times in the Finals. Great debate. Both sides have some legs to stand on. Lots of potential and ammo for a light-hearted, casual sports conversation at your local BBQ to get unnecessarily out of hand as both sides get way too passionate and end up fighting each other in the grass while their wives and kids watch. LeBron could be better than MJ, or vice versa, but neither beat a pointless sports argument that diminishes the respect your loved ones have for you. That’s what Memorial Day is all about.

With all that said and done, there’s one one argument that I never hear, and I just can’t figure out why. The argument is the whole Michael Jordan playing baseball thing. Do people just like, not remember that? If you want to compare careers, how can you forget the whole “stopped playing in his prime” aspect? It seems wildly important, for both sides involved.

LeBron left the Cavs to play for the Heat and fans almost imploded from hatred. Imagine if he left the entire NBA to go pursue that football career he’s been teasing us with for ten years? I think Skip Bayless would actually be speechless for the first time in his life. Regardless, you’d have to agree that the decision alone would need to have an impact on his legacy.

Michael Jordan ACTUALLY did that. He QUIT BASKETBALL. Here’s proof:

I don’t want this to sound entirely negative to MJ, because there are pros and cons to the whole situation:

FOR MICHAEL JORDAN

For all things considered, MJ had a decent 1994 season:

.202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 17 2B, 1 3B, 30 SB, 23% strikeout rate.

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He pretty much came raw into a sport that has been recognized as one of the more difficult to master and put up average to slightly below average numbers. He wasn’t a slouch by any means, and was rather effective on the basepaths with 30 stolen bases.

After trying to follow his passion, which is something I give him credit for, he returned back to the NBA and dominated once more. As a two-year, two-sport athlete in high school, I can safely back MJ up by saying that it’s not easy to perfect your game when you want to focus on so many specific parts in both sports. The fact that he was able to leave and come back without losing a stride is impressive.

Also, Space Jam was an amazing movie and if he never quit basketball, we might have never gotten that gem. LeBron can’t top that.

AGAINST MICHAEL JORDAN

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I know I said he wasn’t a terrible minor leaguer, but let’s not take that too far. He wasn’t good. You saw him in Space Jam. He was a liability at the plate day-in and day-out, and it’s sad he left his famed career to be below-average. It just sort of ruins your perception of him as an athlete. At least with LeBron, we can leave it up to the imagination what he would be like in the NFL (probably unreal).

He also left his team, and then came back with the expectation that everything would be the same. If your girlfriend dumped you for somebody she liked more, then she dated that person for a year, then that other dude basically told them her she sucked, and your ex-girlfriend came crawling back to you immediately after, you’re telling me you’d be pumped? You’d tell her to kick rocks 10/10. MJ is a user, and was spoiled by his era. LeBron has had to deal with a lot more hate than this…

 

Bottom line, the “Michael Jordan quitting basketball” is an argument that needs to be considered in future MJ vs LeBron discussions, and I cannot fathom how people don’t bring it up more.

#Cavsin7

Figuring Out the Browns Draft Strategy

Maybe it’s the star power and surplus of potential franchise quarterbacks headlining this season, but this year’s draft has everybody locked in. People are itching to see what teams like the Browns, Giants, and Jets do with their top picks. Everybody wants to know where Barkley is going to end up. Is Josh Allen really that good? Is Baker the next Johnny Manziel? Well, we have our first hint of news…

To be honest, I never thought this was going to happen. I figured it would be Chubb, Barkley, Allen, or Darnold. Mayfield wasn’t even a thought, based on what I heard in the past. But Adam Schefter tells no lies. If this is the general consensus, then there is a high probability that Baker Mayfield is the first selected player in the 2018 draft.

So with that being the premise of this conversation, how will the rest of the first few picks play out, and how are the Browns planning to maximize their two top-five picks.

Here are my thoughts:

  • The Browns added Tyrod Taylor as a transition quarterback to give their new quarterback an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature. If they knew this was going to be Baker, this is a tremendous move. Tyrod is one of the smarter quarterbacks in the league, and plays relatively similar to Mayfield. I think Mayfield has a higher “big play” ability, but they both are pass first, run second, yet are able to make significant plays with their legs (I know that’s not that unusual in modern football, but knowing when to run and when not to is not exactly something all players have perfected). On top of this, Tyrod is a grown-up in life in general. A stand-up guy. Baker needs to know how to be a franchise quarterback OFF the field. Good move by the Browns.
  • With the selection of Mayfield, the Giants and Jets are next in line. The Browns have to be assuming that they will both look to take quarterbacks for one reason: Saquon Barkley. The Browns have set themselves up very nicely in any scenario though. Here’s why:                                                                                                                                    —-If the Giants/Jets take a quarterback, then Barkley is available at pick #4, and now the Browns have the quarterback who they believe is the best available (Mayfield) AND the best running back in the draft (Barkley).                                            —-If the Giants/Jets take Barkley, then the Browns have themselves secured at the running back position with the signing of RB Carlos Hyde in the offseason and holding onto RB Duke Johnson, Jr too. This leaves them feeling comfortable about their offense and the option to take stud DE Bradley Chubb and line themselves up with the best, young defensive front in football.
  • By selecting Mayfield with the first pick over Barkley or Chubb, they are ensuring they don’t swing and miss on this year’s draft by missing out on their franchise quarterback by having to take the third best option (in their opinion). On top of that, their other options are ground-breaking players that can alter their franchise.

It seems like GM John Dorsey finally has a plan in place for the Cleveland Browns, and a really good one at that. Now, I could be entirely wrong, Schefter could be reporting on BS, and the Browns could trade all their picks to the Patriots for Tom Brady. Who knows, it’s Draft Day.

Go Hawks.

The Top Five Hardest Positions in Sports

Obviously, anyone who is an athlete is going to have an argument that their position is the hardest. And they might have a few points here and there, as really no sport is “easy”. But if you’re going to tell me with a straight face that being a professional bowler is harder than trying to outrun 225 pound linebackers, then your opinion is invalid and you probably punt in Madden. You have to consider the likelihood of success, the necessary athleticism, the work that goes into being out there every day, and who your opponents are. With that said, here are the five hardest positions in sports.

5. Soccer Goalie

The thing about being a soccer goalie, which I can tell you from my four years of experience as a stud rec soccer goalie on an undefeated team, is that there is a lot of instincts involved. You have to know when to come out, when to stay, and even if you make the right decision, you can get a ball coming at your skull with the intention of taking you along with it into the goal. You also have a massive amount of space to defend (24 feet wide, 8 feet tall) when forwards and wings can be infinitely close to you. I mean, you’re telling me you, or anyone else, plans on stopping this?

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4. Baseball Pitcher

As some of you may know, I myself am a pitcher for Ramapo College baseball. And let me tell you, there are times when it’s physically impossible. Mechanics need to be perfect in order to have the ball go where you want to go, and even if you do everything perfect, the ball could still get absolutely creamed on by hitters. The reason why I don’t consider this to be higher on the list is some guys can pick up a baseball and throw 100 MPH with no problem, and they never have to put in the extreme amount of work other positions may have to. But, when your average guy is on the mound, the gif below describes perfectly what we, as pitchers, think is going to happen.

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3. Hockey Forward

The whole ice thing to me is just insane. Maybe it’s just because I don’t play hockey and can’t skate for more than seven seconds at a time without falling, but the fact that people can compete against each other at a high level on that terrain is unfathomable to me. Now you have to add in the ability to be able to stick handle, pass, and score on a goal that probably doesn’t have more than a foot (if you added up all the space) of open space to shoot at. I’ll get to goalies later…

2. Quarterback Football

Easily the position in all of sports with the most pressure, I don’t care what anyone says. Despite ability, if you are the quarterback for a team, you are automatically one of the faces of the franchise. You’ll never know the name of every back-up offensive lineman in football, but if I asked you who Brandon Weeden is, most of you would have a clue. Added to this pressure, you now have to guess where receivers will be down the field while dodging immensely large defensive ends and linebackers who wants to hurt you in every way known to man. Oh, and you have to know EVERY play in a playbook of 100+ plays, and tell everyone their assignment for 50+ times a game.

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1. Hockey Goalie

There was simply no doubt in my mind about this one. Let’s not forget that in addition to trying to stop 100+ MPH slap shots while another human, sometimes your own teammates, are entirely blocking your vision and have less than a second to react, they are also on ICE. ON ICE. LIKE DISNEY. Most people look like this on ice:

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But, now you have to stop guys, who train night in and night out for their whole life, from scoring on YOUR goal! You have to make sure nobody slips a 1-inch puck through your 5-hole. There is absolutely no harder position in all of sports than a goalie.

 

Maybe I left a few out, but these are the hardest in my humble, amateur opinion. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Wait…Are The Browns Good?

After being in the pit of misery for…well…forever, the Cleveland Browns have put together quite an offseason.

They have made aggressive moves that have made them an interesting contender and are filled with an extremely bright future.

Here’s a list of their recent acquisitions:

WR Jarvis Landry

QB Tyrod Taylor

CB Damarious Randall

RB Carlos Hyde

CB Terrance Mitchell

OL Chris Hubbard

OL Donald Stephenson

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Photo via Sporting News

After the trades for Landry, Taylor, and Randall, everyone was still scoffing at the trades, saying “Whatever, they’re still the Browns”. And while that may be warranted, because amongst all this we cannot forget they have won ONE game in two seasons, I think that’s a narrative that will begin to quickly dwindle away.

They already have one of the most talented receivers to ever step on a football field in the likes of Josh Gordon (led the NFL in receiving while drunk), and let’s not forget about having the 1st and 4th overall picks in this year’s stacked draft class. They also have last year’s first overall pick in Myles Garrett, 23rd overall pick Jabrill Peppers, and 29th overall pick David Njoku.

Nobody has ruled out the factor of drafting Saquon Barkley with the 1st pick, but recent mock drafts suggest the Browns will improve their defense by selecting NC State DE Bradley Chubb. Running backs are almost never picked in the top ten, but the overall consensus is that Saquon is different than the rest.

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Photo via Metro US

Taking the almighty Saquon would give the Browns probably the best running back committee in the league, pairing him with already successful, former 49ers back Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Adding that to the elite receiving duo of second year tight end Njoku, Landry, and Gordon, and an experienced, smart quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, their offense is actually scary. If their two new lineman play up to par, and the possibility of drafting one of the best QB’s in the draft to learn from Taylor, they can just get better.

As for their defense, it was already one of the top 20 defenses in the league last year. I know that’s not a lot to say considering there’s only 32 teams, but with a young defense, that is great news. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but the talent is there for sure. If they decide to draft Chubb with one of those picks, then they’ll have two elite pass rushers. Their new cornerback duo in Randall and Mitchell gives some experience to that side of the field, and if they can add some linebackers into the mix with some talent and heart (perhaps some undrafted players with potential), then they can quickly transform into a successful defense.

So, with all that said, the Browns might actually be good. What a time.

 

MLB Teams That Could Surprise in 2018

FINALLY this offseason is starting to heat up a little. I’ve been dying to write about baseball, but literally nothing has happened. A few free agents remain unsigned, but the bulk of the “big names” have found a home. Teams, for the most part, have their rosters ready to go into Spring Training.

Obviously this year you are going to have the powerhouse teams, and the bottom-of-the-barrel rebuild teams, but what about the dark horses? The ones that have always found themselves somewhere in the middle, but never leaned one way or the other, and now they have a legitimate chance to contend for a playoff spot.

PADRES

Key Additions: SS Freddy Galvis, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Chase Headley

The San Diego Padres have been a joke for a really, really long time.  I’ve watched the sport since I was six, and I honestly cannot remember a time they were even close to good. But I think 2018 might be their year to be slightly above average! Adding some depth to their lineup in Hosmer, Galvis, and Headley (his name still sends chills down my spine), in addition to their talented young outfielders (Margot, Renfroe), can actually make them a threat on the offensive side of things. But their rotation lacks any consistency, so don’t expect them to be making a wild card push this season. I’d consider anything over .500 a wildly successful season for the Padres.

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This just felt like it needed to be here

ANGELS

Key Additions: SP/OF Shohei Otani, SS/3B Zack Cozart, 2B Ian Kinsler

With the Messiah in center field (others call him Mike Trout), the Angels are always going to contend in some way. But I’m legitimately excited to see them contend in the AL West this year. They are getting a full season out of slugger Justin Upton and added All-Star infielders, in addition to already having defensive wiz Andrelton Simmons and Albert Pujols.

But, of all the teams in this blog, they have the highest chance of failure. With the exception of Otani, they are bringing in old, declining talent, with the hopes they are the players their reputation holds them to. Upton could begin to lose power like Pujols has already done, as could Kinsler. Cozart is no sure thing, especially while playing a new position (3B). And what if Otani isn’t ready? What if he pitches like a 24 year old is supposed to. They could fly high, or they could fall hard. It’ll be very intriguing to see what happens.

CARDINALS

Key Additions: OF Marcell Ozuna, RP Luke Gregorson, RP Dominic Leone

After falling for the good ol’ “Have Derek Jeter become the owner so he can trade that team’s best player to his former team” trick, the Cardinals recovered quickly and added Marcel Ozuna to an already stacked outfield. With Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, and now Ozuna, their lineup is scary. They were already on the verge of being a playoff team, but with ace Carlos Martinez a year older, and a few added pieces to the bullpen, this squad could be ready for the postseason once more.

BREWERS

Key Additions: OF Lorenzo Cain, OF Christian Yelich

The theme of a “stacked outfield” continues here, but like the Cardinals, this team wasn’t missing a whole lot. I don’t think they’re championship caliber, but a few midseason moves could direct them towards the promised land. They have some great prospects to dish out at the deadline, and Jake Arrieta still remains unsigned.  With the Cubs and the Cardinals both getting better this offseason, be on the look out for the NL Central to be best division in baseball.

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GIANTS

Key Additions: 3B Evan Longoria, OF Andrew McCutchen

It’s an even year, so the Giants are automatically a contender. Minus the weirdest trend in sports, the Giants actually made significant moves to be a better team. Longoria and McCutchen are veteran players that still have something to offer, and getting Mad-Bum healthy already gives them a few more wins. I can see them switching between the 2nd and 3rd spot in the NL West throughout the year with the Rockies, and the Diamondbacks falling into mediocrity.

PHILLIES

Key Additions: 1B Carlos Santana, RP Pat Neshek

The Phillies didn’t make a huge splash this offseason, but they are a young team that continues to get older, and this season could finally be the year they breakout as a unit. Fans got a glimpse of what OF Rhys Hoskins can do last season, and as their rising stars continue their gradual pace towards becoming All-Star caliber players, the Phillies have a chance to compete for a wild card spot come October.

MARLINS

Just kidding, they’re a dumpster fire

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