Category Archives: Will Bazarsky

The Amazing (MVP) Race ft. The James’s

It’s 12:20am at the Perry Castañeda Library (better known as the PCL) on the University of Texas campus. As I am going over physics material for my test in the morning, my mind begins to wander. I have been at the library since 8:00pm. I decide it is time for a 5-minute break on espn.com and then I will get back to work.

Unfortunately, that did not go as planned because here I am writing about the 2017-2018 NBA MVP race.

So, you might ask, who do I think will win the NBA MVP?

It will come down to either LeBron James or James Harden.

Both players have had extraordinary years. Just look at their numbers. Harden averages 30.7 points per game; LeBron is just short at 27.4 PPG. Although LeBron trails Harden in points per game, LeBron is a more effective shooter at 54.8% from the field while Harden shoots just 44.8%. LeBron has Harden beat in two categories: assists per game and rebounds per game. LeBron dishes out 9.1 APG and grabs 8.6 RPG; Harden is not far off at 8.7 APG but is down at 5.4 RPG.

The KIA Race to the MVP Ladder has had James Harden sitting as the MVP for most of the season, which makes it almost impossible for LeBron to overtake the spot.

What’s the point of me even writing this if the MVP has practically been decided? Well, that is the reason.

Here’s the deal. LeBron has won the MVP on four separate occasions. Harden, on the other hand, has won ZERO finishing runner-up twice

My belief is they will award James Harden the MVP. Harden needs an MVP. Not only will it be a

testament to the incredible season Houston has had, it will only boost to his Hall of Fame resume.

However, I think the way the season has unfolded, LeBron should be the MVP.

And MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. Last season, Russell Westbrook was the MVP. Why? He carried the Oklahoma City Thunder almost single-handedly to the NBA Playoffs.

Oh, that’s right, he also averaged a triple-double. That might have increased his chances.

All jokes aside, Westbrook was the MVP because he was the best player. He lost his two compadres, Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors and Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic. That all happened prior to the start of season.

Unlike Westbrook, LeBron had to adapt his play as the season went on. He has seen players come and go constantly this season. For example, Cleveland brought in Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne

Wade and Derrick Rose at the beginning of the year. None of these players are on the Cavs roster today.

Meanwhile, James Harden has been set up quite nicely. The Rockets signed Chris Paul in the offseason and the rest is history. The combination of Harden and Paul has teams dreading to face them come playoff time.

To make matters interesting, Harden has played in only 66 games this season. If he plays the rest of the regular season games, he will have played in a total of 72 games. LeBron has already played 75 games. That is all of the games so far for the Cavaliers. He has not missed one yet. The last 7 MVP’s average playing in 79.28 games. Derrick Rose even played in 81 games when he won back in the 2010-2011 season. A player has to be a factor in almost every single game in order to be casted on the MVP ballot.

In this case, it’s not for me to decide. Therefore, as much as I think LeBron deserves it, James Harden is a lock to win MVP.

At the Top of the World: Justin Thomas

The World Golf Championship in Mexico concluded on Sunday with Phil Mickelson hoisting his first trophy since the 2013 Open Championship.

However, the biggest story in my mind is Justin Thomas. JT had won the previous week at the Honda Classic and was looking to win for the 8th time in 32 events. Prior to his second round on Friday, Thomas called his dad and told him he was “going out to practice”. His dad had never heard these words come from Justin before any round. Usually, he would say “warm up”.

After finishing the second round 1-under par, putting him at even par for the tournament, Justin was just happy to have made the cut.

Beginning his round on the back nine, Thomas played the back 4-under par with 5 birdies and 1 bogey. Justin Thomas had found his game once again. The momentum carried with him to his tee shot on #1. His tee shot of 319 yards landed on the green and rolled to 27 feet from the hole. Thomas did what he does best and capitalized by rolling the putt in for eagle. Justin Thomas finished the front 5-under par and 9-under par for the day.

The Final Round for Thomas was nothing short of spectacular. On the 72nd hole, Justin Thomas holed out for eagle from 119 yards out. This would lead to a tie between Thomas and Mickelson with Mickelson winning on the 1st Playoff Hole.

But, this story does not end there.

At just 24 years of age, Justin Thomas is the #1 golfer in the world and for plenty of reasons. In 102 events, Thomas has made the cut 78 times (76%) and has finished 31 times in the Top 10. Along with those Top 10’s, Justin has brought home a total of 8 wins on the PGA Tour.

The world-wide spotlight hit Justin in 2017. In 25 starts, he made the cut 19 times. Out of those 19 chances, he finished 12 times in the Top 10 as well as bringing home the hardware 5 times, including his 1st Major Championship (PGA Championship). With a 69.36 scoring average, 3rd on the Tour, it is no surprise of what was awarded to Thomas at the end of the year. Thomas was named the Fed Ex Cup Champion, PGA Tour Money Leader, PGA Player of the Year, PGA Tour Player of the Year and was named to the President’s Cup team.

With the 2018 season already under way, Justin Thomas has played in 8 events making the cut each time. He has 4 top 10 finishes along with 2 tournament wins. It’s safe to say Justin Thomas is back for another killer year and it will take a lot for someone to overthrow his #1 ranking.

Manziel vs Mayfield: a tale of arrest records, public scrutiny, and Heisman trophies

With the NFL Draft approaching in the next couple months, there has been a lot of comparisons made between two certain quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield. In this article, I’m going to present the similarities and differences between the two QB’s, and tell you why they are two very different players.

If you’re wondering what gives me the right to compare the two, let me tell you.

I’m a Longhorn. I’ve been a Longhorn since birth. I’m a freshman at UT now, and when it comes to football I know two things for sure. 1. OU sucks, and 2. it’s Goodbye to A&M. In that case, I’m writing this from what I have witnessed with my own eyes, researched and heard about both of these two quarterbacks.

First, I’ll go into some background about the two.

Johnny Manziel played two years at Texas A&M before being drafted with the 22nd pick in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He led A&M to a 20-6 career record, a Cotton Bowl and a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win. He played two years with the Browns until his very public downward spiral of drugs and alcohol addiction sent him from the field into rehab.

Baker Mayfield began his career as a walk-on quarterback at Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma to finish his college career as a Sooner. He finished with a 34-6 career record and led Oklahoma to its first College Football Playoff birth and in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield is projected to be a top 1st Round Pick.

Now lets dive into their similarities and differences.

Here is how the two are similar:

Coming out of high school both Manziel and Mayfield were listed as 3-Star recruits by 247Sports.com. As we’ve all seen before, recruiting rank does not mean define a player as both went on to be AP Player of the Year, All-American Honors, Davey O’Brien Award winners, Offensive Player of the Year in their respective conferences, and of course, winners of the Heisman Memorial Trophy.

On and off the field, both players have had their share of disruptive behavior.

Manziel:

Before his first collegiate game on June 29, 2012, Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors. Disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification and having a fake driver’s license. Along with this “instance”, it’s also known that he left the Manning Passing Academy early, a place where top high school QB’s come and showcase their talents, allegedly due to him oversleeping and missing part of the course.

Mayfield:

During the 2017 offseason, Mayfield was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Mayfield has had less trouble off the field than Manziel, but on the field, some critics question his antics from this past season. On the road facing Ohio State in the second game of the year, Mayfield planted the Oklahoma flag at midfield of Buckeye Stadium after defeating Ohio State 31-16. Then, later in the season against Kansas, Mayfield grabbed his nuts and was caught shouting swear words at the Jayhawk sideline.

Now here’s how these two guys differentiate themselves from one another:

In college, their styles of play were very different and regardless of their size comparisons, they are not the same.

Manziel was more reliant on his running abilities. He had star receiver Mike Evans (ever heard of him?) as his number one threat down the field. Throw the ball up to him and it’s caught. I remember watching a game against Alabama where Manziel scrambled all around the line of scrimmage finally heaving it up to Evans for a 50-something yard completion. THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN IN THE NFL. Johnny may have been a good enough athlete in college, but plays like that don’t happen in the NFL. They just don’t.

Johnny didn’t become “Johnny Heisman” by throwing the ball. His namesake came from dynamic running ability. In his TWO years at A&M, he ran for 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns. Compared to Mayfield’s 893 yards and 18 TD’s in his THREE years at Oklahoma.

Mayfield relied on his gunslingin’ strong arm to lead him in his success. Don’t get me wrong, he could still make plays with his feet, but he’s the better passer. At Oklahoma, Mayfield passed for 12,292 yards, 119 touchdowns with only 21 interceptions. Let that sink in a little. The man can throw the rock. Manziel threw for basically half that, with 7,820 yards, 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Mayfield threw for almost twice as many yards and touchdowns, and did it with less interceptions in three years, than Manziel did in two.

Now you’re probably wondering what do I think.

Honestly, when people say Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel are the same, I don’t buy it. Not one bit. Sure, they both have gotten into trouble, but when you look at what kind of players they are, it’s not even close. In my opinion Mayfield has shaped himself into a good mix of the new Pro-Style quarterback. The game is changing and more Russell Wilson type QB’s are emerging left and right. The league has changed from ground-and-pound, to pass-first and RPO. Mayfield is a baller. He’s a flat out competitor. That’s why he talks smack and does all his gestures. He just loves winning and I respect the hell out of that.

To all the NFL GM’s out there, don’t buy into the Manziel-Mayfield comparison. When given the opportunity, Baker Mayfield will take your organization to the next level.

NHL Players Should Compete in the Olympics

I have been in the hockey mood for the last couple of weeks, so here’s another one. As I’m sitting here watching the US Men’s Hockey team take on Slovakia, there is a feeling inside me that something’s missing.

With the NHL pulling their athletes out of Olympic competition, it doesn’t feel the same as it has been in the past. Before I continue, I’m sure you are wondering why they pulled their athletes. Here’s why. The NHL and the International Olympic Committee, also known as the IOC, had a dispute related to insurance and marketing restrictions. However, I do understand why the NHL pulled out of competition. They are more interested in the safety of their star players, but in no means do I think it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, without these NHL stars, the competiveness of all of the teams in this year’s Olympics is down exponentially. I’m sitting here watching and have no idea who any of these players are. Having the big names like Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Ryan Sutter (Nashville Predators) James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs) bring in a larger market for viewers.

Check this out, the US Men’s team has 5 players from the Swiss National League, 5 from the KHL, 3 from Swedish League, 3 from the AHL, 2 from the German League and 4 from the NCAA. The captain is Brian Gionta at 39 years of age who is the only player on the roster with true NHL experience. Besides him, the players on all of the teams are either young prospects or old players who are way out of their prime. This is evident in each game as all of the teams have had trouble controlling the puck and increasing sloppy play.

No disrespect intended but shouldn’t the best in the world be given the opportunity to represent their nation. The amount of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and year that these athletes have dedicated to be where they are should be rewarded. The best in the NHL should not be watching their country’s compete in the Olympics. Like I am, on my couch at home.

 

Somebody needs to bring back Hockeytown Houston

After a long week of attending class, studying in the library and going out on the town, me and a few friends decided to escape from the Austin limelight for a few hours. As we browsed the internet, there was one event that caught our eyes. Surprisingly, it was a hockey game which intrigued the five of us. So, we did what any college freshmen would do. We ordered an Uber and headed northwest on US-183 with our final destination the HEB Center. Home to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. Just 30 minutes later, we arrived at the front entrance of the HEB Center in Cedar Park, Texas.

Contrary to what you have just read above, this post isn’t about our experience that night. This is about what went through my head as I left the arena last Friday night.

As we buckled up for the 30-minute ride back to West Campus, one question continued to baffle me:

What ever happened to Houston’s professional hockey team?

Now, I do know there was a hockey team in the City of Houston during my lifetime dating back to 1998. The Houston Aeros of the AHL played at the Toyota Center up until they relocated to become the Iowa Wild after the 2013 season. However, this was a minor league team, not a professional team.

Houston did have a professional hockey team back before my time. Contrary to popular belief, they were the original Houston Aeros.

The Houston Aeros of the Western Hockey Association began to play in 1972, but folded in 1978 after 6 seasons in the WHA’s short-lived operation. In their 6 seasons, they won 4 regular season titles, 4 division titles, and 2 championships (Avco World Trophy’s). The Houston Aeros are still regarded as one of the most successful teams in WHA history, which begs the question:

How do you leave the most dominant team out of the WHA-NHL merger?

It all began in 1977 when John Ziegler became President of the NHL. He was the one who started discussing a possible merger between the NHL and the WHA. Six teams applied to become a member of the NHL: Cincinnati Stingers, Winnipeg Jets, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and of course the Houston Aeros. Unfortunately, the merger was voted against by the NHL owners.

Then, in 1978, merger talks resumed with the Houston Aeros appearing to be the top candidate to become a member of the NHL. In an effort to compromise with NHL owners, John Ziegler proposed an idea to allow only 4 franchises to join the league. The WHA agreed with the number of 4 franchises, but countered that all 3 of their Canadian teams would have to be accepted. With only 1 open slot, the decision came between the New England Whalers and the Houston Aeros.

Kenneth Schnitzer, owner of the Aeros, attempted to appeal to Jeremy Jacobsto, owner of the Boston Bruins. Schnitzer believed having the Hartford based Whalers in the NHL, would hurt the Bruins due to the close proximity of the organizations. Unfortunately, Jacobsto was against the merger altogether and to Schnitzer’s disbelief, NHL President Ziegler was against adding another southern team to the league.

Knowing the Aeros would not be included in the merger, Schnitzer attempted to buy and move the Cleveland Barons to the City of Houston, however the NHL voted against this. Instead, they allowed the owners of the Minnesota North Stars to purchase the Barons and combine it with their own. Schnitzer had no other choice but to fold the Houston Aeros organization on July 9, 1978.

Houston has not had a professional hockey team since.

And to this day, the Houston Aeros are the only WHA Champion to not be included in the NHL.

Should Houston try to get an NHL franchise?

Speaking on behalf of only myself, and I am sure a lot of other people out there, as a native Houstonian, I would be ecstatic to see an NHL franchise expand to the City of Houston. With so many of my friends at the University of Texas hailing from cities with NHL franchises like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas, hockey has become just a normal part of my life. I enjoy watching games, now have 2 jerseys of my own, and play NHL 18 when I am not in the library. Obviously. The popularity of hockey is growing and what better way to experience it than watching it in my hometown.

Somebody bring my city back a hockey team it deserves.

In-State or Bust

With National Signing Day in the rear view mirror, and the Texas Longhorns finishing with the 3rd best class in the nation, I want to touch on something that I have noticed over the last five years. Over the last half-decade, there has been a trend beginning every February on NSD. The Longhorn football program has been overselling their incoming recruiting classes judging by the production on the field during the season. What has caused these so-called “top class” to fail:

TOP IN-STATE RECRUITS

How did I come to that conclusion so quickly? Well, here’s the deal. The State of Texas lives and breathes high school football. I mean come on, there was a freaking TV show about it. It’s the State of Texas. High School football is a religion here. It’s the best of the best. The talent level is through the roof. In the 2016 NFL season, a total of 214 players played their high school football in Texas. There’s little to no doubt that this state is made up of some of the most promising up-and-coming players in the country.

With that being said, there is no excuse that Texas has been unable to retain at least 50% of the Top 20 recruits in the State in recent years. Before I talk about now, let’s go back to the Class of 2010. Out of the top 20 recruits in the State of Texas, Mack Brown brought in a total of 10 recruits for the Longhorns. That’s what Texas has been missing in the recent years. In order for the Horns to be successful, they HAVE to and MUST win the in-state recruits.

Why do I say that? Here’s what was going on from 2013-2017 with the top 20 players in the State of Texas:

· Class of 2013, 3 signed went 8-5

· Class of 2014, 4 signed went 6-7

· Class of 2015, 6 signed went 5-7

· Class of 2016, 7 signed went 5-7

Then, in the Class of 2017… ZERO, NONE, NADA signed with the University of Texas at Austin. I get that Charlie Strong was fired, but still. It’s THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS. It’s a world-renowned university. You would think, you would hope, at least ONE of the Top 20 in the State would have wanted to be a Longhorn.

But now…. after waiting almost 5 years, Texas football is back baby. The Class of 2018 has garnered 10 signees from the Top 20 in the State. It appears Head Coach Tom Herman is bringing back the precedent set on recruiting in this state. It truly is second to none. And, when the top recruits are in your backyard, you go out and get them. That’s the philosophy Herman is following and will continue to follow for years to come.

You Can’t Blame It All On Bill O’Brien

In Bill O’Brien’s first 3 seasons as the Head Coach of the Houston Texans, the defining factors have been instability at quarterback and injuries; though the Texans have finished (9-7) in each of the 3 seasons. Now in his 4th season sitting at (4-10), fans and critics believe this one will be his last.

It all began when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Houston Texans have traded with the Cleveland Browns for the #12 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. This was followed by words Texans fans have been waiting for since the “glory” days of David Carr. “The Houston Texans have selected Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson”. As Hall of Fame Head Coach Don Shula said, “Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck”. Finally, after having started more quarterbacks (9) than any other team since Bill O’Brien took over in 2014, Houston had found their franchise quarterback.

Fast-Forward prior to Week 1 when Bill O’Brien announced Tom Savage would be the Houston Texans starter. Of course, there were many who despised the decision; however, I was not one of them. I fully understood O’Brien’s reasoning. It can be compared to the situation involving Jared Goff in Los Angeles. Drafting a franchise quarterback is all about working towards the future. Give the rookie some time to watch and learn.

Nevertheless, Savage’s stint as the starting quarterback ended after losing the first game of the season to Jacksonville. After the game, Brian Cushing was suspended 10 games without pay for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Watson was named the starter for Week 2 and for the next six games he demonstrated to his teammates, the front office, and the fans that he was here to stay.

Sitting at 2-2 entering Week 5, the Houston Texans appeared to be getting better week after week. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end for the Texans 2017 season.

During Week 5 against Kansas City, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg, which ended his 2017 season. It was the second year in a row Watt’s season has ended due to an injury. In the same game, 2016 2nd Team All-Pro Linebacker Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral ending his 2017 season as well. Tight Ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin who have a combined 9 years of NFL experience has been on injured reserve for the majority of the season.

After the Week 8 loss at Seattle, offensive tackle anchor Duane Brown was traded to the Seahawks after holding out of his contract desiring a higher salary. This led to a gaping hole in the offensive line unit, which allowed a season-high 10 sacks to Jacksonville in the season home opener.