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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Must See Sports – Third Weekend of August 2013

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 2-0
Last week's advantage/disadvantage record in series: 2-0
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 33-29 
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record (series only): 7-5-4

Just three more weeks before the start of the NFL regular season. Preseason will have to do for now!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

NFL Preseason Football

San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears

Both of these teams had disappointing seasons in which they missed the playoffs last year. Both teams have quarterbacks with polarizing moments. Both teams have new head coaches, replacing longtime coaches who had regular season and playoff success.

The Bears still have lofty expectations as long as quarterback Jay Cutler can stay healthy.  The Bears beefed up their line in the draft, picking rookie guard Kyle Long in the first round. Cutler has a solid primary receiver in Brandon Marshall and a stud in the backfield in Matt Forte. The defense is sold, even in the post-Brian Urlacher era.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has fewer resources. Running back Ryan Matthews is a big question mark, compared to several years ago. While he also picked up some fresh, new protection in tackle D.J. Fluker, a first round pick from Alabama, the Chargers lost their big play threat at wide receiver last year after Vincent Jackson left in free agency and never really replaced him.

This should be a competitive matchup. That, and it’s the only football available outside of home markets.

Major League Baseball

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
Jeremy Guthrie (12-8, 4.10 ERA) – Royals vs Anibal Sanchez (10-7, 2.58 ERA) - Tigers

The Royals have gotten hot and have some playoff life heading into the home stretch of the season. The first place Tigers, might snuff that life out. K.C. needs to continue closing the gap between themselves and the Oakland Athletics (currently in position for the second Wild Card spot). A five game sweep (including a Friday double-header) could deal a huge blow to those efforts.

With the Tigers’ pitching staff, such a sweep is a distinct possibility. In addition, reigning league M.V.P. Miguel Cabrera (.360, 38 HR, 114 RBI) is surging right now. By the way, the Tigers are back at home after a 10 game road stretch. Their home fans haven’t seen them lose in Motown in over a month, with nine straight home wins.  The Royals are in over their heads.

Advantages: Game – Tigers, Series - Tigers

Friday, August 16

NFL Preseason Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  at New England Patriots

After the Tom Brady scare in yesterday’s practice collision with a teammate, the world will get to see how Brady’s knee was affected by the collision. Ordinarily, an elite quarterback like Brady might be sat down as a precaution. However, his receivers have vanished since last year. Wes Welker left via free agency, Rob Gronkowski is recovering from arm surgery, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch were not resigned, and Aaron Hernandez…well. Brady has very little choice but to play. He has to build a live-action rhythm with his cast of new targets.

There was a collective hush across New England yesterday. 4
Major League Baseball

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.62 ERA) – Yankees vs Felix Doubront (8-5, 3.66 ERA) – Red Sox

With the returns of third baseman Alex Rodriguez (.278, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and centerfielder Curtis Granderson (.286, 3 HR, 6 RBI) to the lineup in concert with the acquisition of left fielder Alphonso Soriano (.261, 24 HR, 73 RBI) in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, the Yankees have a pulse when they are at the plate, albeit a weaker one. Soriano, in particular, has been very hot in the past week. He is 10 of 14 with four homeruns and 14 RBIs in the last three games, all against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Red Sox have quietly rolled along this year, though they have been shaky of late, losing four of their last six. Their bullpen has been touch and go all year and starting pitcher Felix Doubront has needed bullpen help at times. He gives up a lot of hits and the Yankees have been turning hits into runs lately. However, Pettitte appears lost on the mound in the last month. While he hasn’t recorded a win for the Yanks in over a month, three of his last four starts have been good enough for wins if he had some run support.

Advantages: Game – Yankees, Series – Red Sox

Saturday, August 17

Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates
Trevor Cahill (3-10, 4.66 ERA) – Diamondbacks vs Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.43 ERA) – Pirates

The pitching matchup in this game heavily favors the Pirates. Cahill is making his first start since June (hip injury) and has not recorded a winning decision in three months. Locke is statistically the Bucs best starting pitcher. They are in Pittsburgh. This series is critical for both teams, but all of the chips are stacked in the Pirates’ favor in this series.

Advantages: Game – Pirates, Series – Pirates

Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen's girlfriend, Maria Hanslovan, is lovely. 3

Sunday, August 18

NFL Preseason Football

Indianapolis Colts vs New York Giants

You’ll be waitin’ all day for Sunday night! This is going to be a good matchup of outstanding quarterbacks. Andrew Luck of the Colts is building on a very successful rookie season. Eli Manning is chasing a third Super Bowl ring, possibly in his own home stadium. It should be interesting to see how the new players adjust to the high expectations.

More than just beginner's "Luck". 2
Monday, August 19

NFL Preseason Football

Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins

Monday Night Football is back…sort of. The Steelers continue on their mission to return to glory while the Redskins try to build on their NFC East division championship from last year. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, III is not expected to play. Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger is, in spite of having a sore knee. I can hear those four famous notes to the MNF theme song right now!

RG3 is at practice. 1

Wednesday, August 21

Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles
Roberto Hernandez (6-12, 4.95 ERA) – Rays vs Wei-Yei Chen (6-5, 3.06) - Orioles

The Orioles are a team that typically has to slug its way to victory and hope its bullpen can build a bridge to closer Jim Johnson (3-7, 3.52 ERA, 39 SV)  while the Rays often overwhelm opponents with their starting pitchers. This particular starting pitcher matchup, however, favors the O’s.

The Rays recently snapped a six game losing streak against the sub-.500 Seattle Mariners last night. They were smacked around by the first and second place teams in the N.L. West, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Diamondbacks, respectively.

The Orioles are also in a slump, being swept in three games by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitching matchup tips the scales in this Wednesday game and I think home field gives Baltimore the slightest edge in this critical series between the two teams chasing the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

Advantages: Game – Orioles, Series – Orioles 

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