Tag Archives: Will Bazarsky

Is it really home sweet home?

I was browsing through espn.com the other day and I noticed something. It was not the what the future Manny Machado in Baltimore or what the suspension of Robinson Cano will do to his Hall of Fame Ballot.

But, what caught my attention is that MLB teams are winning on the road at a much higher number than previous years.

I’m not here to tell you why this is the case. I’m a numbers guy. I want to show the change in home field advantage in today’s game.

Look at the Atlanta Braves. The Braves finished 2017 in 3rd place in the National League East with a 72-90 record. They compiled two more wins at home than they did on the road in 2017. Forty-two games into the 2018 season, the Braves are sitting atop the NL East. One thing is for sure, if their road record wasn’t where it is, they would not be in that position. Away from SunTrust Park, the Braves carry a 17-8 record. At home, just 9-8.

Sure, they only have played 17 games at home compared to 25 on the road, but check out these numbers from teamrankings.com. At home, the Braves run line is +1.2, whereas, on the road, it increases an entire point to +2.3.

It’s not just the Braves who are winning on the road. Overall, the entire league is having more success away from their home ballparks.

The table below illustrates the number of teams with better records on the road over the last 5 years:

(Stats based on 5/17)

What is the significance of these numbers?

Well, so far this season, 9 teams in the American League win more on the road. NINE TEAMS. That’s the same number the National League had in the last 5 seasons. In the National League this season, 7 teams own better records away from home.

That’s 16 teams. SIXTEEN.

As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see what ends up happening. I leave you with this question to think about:

Will there be more than 16 teams that have better records on the road or will decreases back into single digits?

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.

 

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.

Will Texas Football Rise From the Ashes?

Growing up during the Mack Brown era, winning seasons was a way of life. It so happens that the first season I actually remember is the year Vince Young scrambled for a 9 yard touchdown on 4th down to defeat USC in the National Championship Game.

The 8 years that followed featured 4- 10 win seasons, 7 bowl game appearances, 5 bowl wins, 1 National Championship appearance, and only 1 losing season. Since Mack Brown resigned after the 2013 Alamo Bowl, Texas has had two 5-win seasons and two head coaches.

After hiring Tom Herman from Houston last January, Texas fans were already talking about the College Football Playoff. Herman had compiled a 22-4 record in 2 years as the head coach of the Houston Cougars. Fans expected Herman to replicate those 2 years in his first year at the helm of the Longhorn football program. Unfortunately for Longhorn fans, this was not the case.

The first game under Tom Herman started with a bang. Maryland’s quarterback Tyrell Pigrome threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Holton Hill. After that, it was all Maryland. Maryland scored 27 unanswered points and Texas fans’ morales changed in an instant. Texas ended up dropping their first game under Tom Herman 51-41. Questions circulated about offensive/defensive play calling, the personnel being used, and issues with the kicking game.

Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a season that no one expected.

Tim Beck’s offense displayed little to no progress throughout the year. It’s ridiculous. The same plays were called time and time again, regardless of the success rate. They had trouble finishing drives in the end zone, closing out drives with 6 points became something Horns fans could only dream of, especially from inside the red zone.

Speaking of the wondrous 6 points, the Longhorns couldn’t rely on kicker Josh Rowland to put up 3 points. Rowland finished the year 10 of 17 on field goal attempts with 2 of them being blocked.

On a higher note, Todd Orlando’s defense progressed significantly throughout the season. After giving up 51 points in the season opener, the next highest number of points they gave up was 34. They held five ranked teams to under 30 points, yet only one of those games was capped off with a victory.

Junior punter Michael Dickson was my MVP for the Horns this season. Dickson, a Ray Guy Award Finalist for the second time, punted 73 times with 32 downed inside the 20 yard line, 34 punts of 50-yards or more, and a long of 76 yards. As great of a player as Dickson is, the punter is never thought of to be the team MVP. Throughout this season, there was one constant: Dickson’s incredible punting abilities.

The first year under Tom Herman was unexpected to say the least. Reaching a bowl game for the first time in 3 years will hopefully be a confidence booster going into next season. All of this being said, I have faith in Tom Herman moving forward. He is a proven coach with an excellent track record and I believe he is the right man for the job. The freshman class, led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, has the potential to lead Texas back in to the college football spotlight that Horns fans dream of year after year.