Let me state going in, this article may piss off a lot of people, fair warning.

SuperBowl 50 didn’t live up to a whole lot of expectations. Cam Newton and the Panthers were expected to dominate, they didn’t. They were expected to win, they didn’t. Though it was largely in thanks to his D, Peyton Manning was good enough to get it done and he will retire as a Superbowl Champion. After the game, however, the spotlight was as much on Newton as Manning, but for totally different reasons. Carolina’s offense received a load of criticism for failing to show up for the biggest game of the year after being so electric all season. Newton didn’t exactly dazzle in the game either, and unfortunately for him, his conduct after the game didn’t exactly help his cause.

The criticism of Newton came to the forefront in the fourth quarter. Trailing by 6, 16-10 with 4:15 left, Newton fumbled the ball on third down when Denver’s Von Miller smacked his arm. As typical with a fumble, a wild scramble for the ball followed but Newton did not make an attempt to dive on it, instead he held up and moved back. The Broncos recovered on Carolina’s 4-yard line and eventually scored to make it 24-10, effectively ending the game. There’s no telling if the Panthers would have recovered if Newton had gone for the ball, but he made himself look pretty bad by not even making an attempt. It’s the Superbowl, time is running out and you’re within striking distance, you’ve got to make an attempt for that ball. Whether Newton was afraid to take one for the team or just giving up doesn’t matter, you’ve got to try. If he had, Carolina could have possibly recovered and they may have gone downfield and tied the game. But even if he didn’t, it still would have showed his commitment to his team and his fiery drive to win.

After the game, it didn’t get better. Newton did shake hands with and congratulate Peyton Manning as per custom, but his post-game press conference gave his haters even more fuel for their dislike. Newton, understandably downtrodden, came into the media room and sat dejectedly before getting up and finally answering the questions of the rabid press. He responded mostly with one-liners and didn’t take much time at all to explain why Carolina failed to show up after such an incredible year.  After all that, he left the podium after about 5 minutes, something that also didn’t help him. To describe it, no one said it better than Jeffri Chahida of NFL.com.

“Newton spent maybe five minutes in that session before bolting … Most of his teammates talked for much longer about how a team favored to win its first championship — one that led the league in scoring and ranked 6th in points allowed — imploded on so many levels. Their star quarterback instead acted like he shouldn’t be subjected to such scrutiny at such a difficult moment.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I can absolutely understand Newton’s sadness and depression afterward. There hasn’t been a player in NFL history that has been happy after being on the losing end of the grand spectacle that is the Superbowl. Any player would have been sad, but when you’re the talk of the entire League, the face of your franchise and a role model to so many, your conduct has got to be different. When the Broncos were absolutely trounced by Seattle in the big game two years ago, Peyton Manning openly admitted that Denver blew it. After he threw the interception that sealed last year’s Bowl for New England, Russell Wilson stood up and took the heat like a man. That’s the price of being an NFL QB because every team’s face is its QB. He’s the first to get accredited when his team is having success and he’s the first to be blamed when his team is underperforming. In both victory and defeat he is expected to be professional and represent his team with class and dignity. So why can’t Newton do that when all of his peers have? Some defended him by saying that he’s young and hasn’t learned yet. That’s what you say about a 22-year-old. Newton is 26 so that excuse doesn’t apply here. Acting like that doesn’t make him look like the League’s most elite talent and the player that was this year’s MVP, it makes him look like a cocky kid that can’t handle losing or the criticism that goes with it.

Newton was known for his immature behavior in his Auburn days but has since claimed that he has matured beyond that. Our own Frankie Boeck said on Saturday in our SB50 Preview Podcast that Newton hasn’t quite learned how to lose yet. He was spot on and it absolutely showed. Cam Newton is a phenomenal talent and will win a Superbowl of his own one day, I have no doubt. But, he’s still got an awful lot of growing up to do before that happens.

By Matt Morris @Flat_Manigen74

By Matt Morris
@Flat_Manigen74

 

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The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 by the score of 24-10. All anyone had to do was watch the first quarter and realize, the game was over. The Broncos played with a sense of urgency and passion. The Panthers played liked they were playing a pre-season game. This will go down as one of the ugliest, mistake ridden Super Bowl’s in the history of the NFL.

To put it simply… this game was ugly to watch:

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Peyton Manning was 13 for 23, 141 passing yards 1 interceptions and 1 fumble. His QBR was 56.6

Cam Newton was no better. He was 18 for 31, 265 passing yards 1 interceptions and 2 fumbles. His QBR was 55.4.

Carolina was 3-15 on 3rd down.

Denver was 1-14 on 3rd down.

Carolina had 12 penalties for 102 yards

Denver had 6 penalties for 51 yards.

Carolina had 4 fumbles (3 lost)

Denver had 3 fumbles (1 lost)

The two teams combined for 6 Total turnovers

There was a missed FG, numerous dropped passes and several passing plays where the quarterbacks missed wide open receivers. On a punt coverage the Panthers thought Jordan Norward called a fair catch, he didn’t and ran the punt back 61 yards.

When the Game was over the common them on social media was… Defense Wins Championships. This is the greatest myth in the history of sports. Like the Sasquatch or his northern cousin… the Yeti… it is folklore.

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Since 1991… the team that wins the Super Bowl has an average defensive ranking of…10.6. The average offensive ranking of a team that wins the Super Bowl… 6.3.

Peyton Manning won his 2nd Super Bowl and all indications are, he will retire. It was a different role for him this year, he basically became a “Game Manger” during this playoff run. Since 2000 there has only been 3 “Game Mangers” to win a championship. Trent Dilfer (2000 with the Baltimore Ravens), Brad Johnson (Tampa Bay Bucs 2002) and now Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos 2016). These are outliers and not the norm. With all the rule changes and hurry up offenses, you need a playmaker at quarterback. The Broncos defense dominated the game and put on a performance reminiscent to the 85 Bears and 2000 Ravens. They were the better team from start to finish.

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 Von Miller won the MVP Award. He put on a performance that was “Lawrence Taylor-like.” If this Broncos team can stay together they can compete for a championship for the next 4-5 years. John Elway deserves all the credit in the world for transforming this team from a great offensive team to a great defensive team. He is a winner on and off the field.  With their 3rd Super Bowl Win, Denver has now cemented their legacy as one of the greatest NFL Franchises of all time.

Pittsburgh Steeler 6 championship rings.

San Francisco 49ers 5 championship rings.

Dallas Cowboys 5 championships rings.

Green Bay Packers 4 championship rings.

New York Giants 4 championship rings

Denver Broncos 3 championship rings.

Cam Newton was criticized (what a shocker) for his attitude towards the press after the game. He was very cantankerous and angry. I could care less about his post-game interview. He didn’t curse, he didn’t disrespect anyone. He is 26 years old and was upset and angry. I don’t want a robotic response. I am glad he was like that, it shows he cares. Lighten up media and let this young man grow and mature.

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Follow the Sports Whisperer on Twitter:Montetjwitter11 and tune into the Monte Cristo Sports Thing on WRNJ Radio Thursday’s at 7pm.

marauders

Just a little over a week remains in the WNY Federation hockey regular season. The cream is beginning to rise to the top as teams make their march towards sectionals.

Leading the pack are Coach Rich Crozier’s St. Joe’s Marauders who have a commanding lead in the Division 1 standings with a record of 12-1-1. Currently they hold a five point lead over Williamsville North, the only team in the Fed to defeat them (2-1 back on Dec 17th). Soon after the Will North defeat, the Marauders tied Kenmore East 2-2. Since then the Marauders have won 10 straight, piling up 45 goals while surrendering just 8 during the current winning streak. Perhaps the most telling sign that St. Joe’s is gearing up for a state title run was the way in which they have been steam rolling teams that aren’t ordinarily pushovers. St. Joe’s defeated Williamsville East 8-0, Lancaster 7-1 and Niagara Wheatfield 5-0. They also took down Orchard Park twice, Timon and Canisius during that stretch.

Sophmore goaltender Daniel Mikolajczak has been a brick wall, posting an 11-1-1 record and a 1.14 GAA and 4 shutouts. Straight up filthy. Jeremy Ienco and Mike Greco lead the way with goals, both sitting on 6 heading into the weekend while Trevor Conschafter has 12 points (5g, 7assists). Griffen LoVullo, Nick Carbone and Jack Attea all have 11 points each. Auggie Cudeck is having a great season in the back end along with Brad Herlan who has been producing offensively as well.

We expect the Marauders to finish the season strong as they face Hamburg Sunday and then a rematch with Will North Thursday at Northtown on the feature rink.sec6

In Division 2 the Ken East Bulldogs are looking to reclaim the Section 6 small school championship they won back in 2012. Sitting atop the D2 standings at 8-4-1, they too have been on a hot streak winning 5 of their last 6 games. They suffered back-to-back losses at the beginning of the new year, a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Will North and then they were shut-out by Orchard Park a day later. They have since put together a solid month of play heading into Friday night’s match-up with Niagara-Wheatfield.

Trevor Pray has been a scoring machine with 25 points (12/13) while fellow senior AJ Marinelli has 24 (11/13). Chase Ford and Brad Herman have been very good between the pipes, one of the best goaltending tandems in all of WNY.

The Bulldogs have a 3 point lead over Timon and a 4 point lead over Clarence, whom they shutout Thursday night 4-0.

We will update you next week on Division 3 and 4 Sunday.

Former Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier has left his post with the Arizona Coyotes. Regier had been serving as Don Maloney’s assistant GM and senior vice president since July 2014.

The news came as a shock and the timing is quite interesting.

The feeling is that Regier’s relationship with Maloney soured over the handling of John Scott.

As you may remember it was Regier who brought Scott to the desert before the season began. The two have history together going back to their days in Buffalo, where Regier grew to be quite fond of Scott.

Scott was the talk of the NHL the past few weeks due to his All Star game status as the league’s top vote getter. The NHL went above and beyond to have Scott removed from the event including asking him to remove himself and not show up in Nashville.

We all know how that played out and the league looked foolish for their attempts at sabotaging their own event.

In Scott’s Player’s Tribune article last week, he mentions a confrontation with a member of the Coyotes management team who was advising him to not show up to the All-Star event. It is widely speculated that he was referring to none other than Maloney.

A week before the event the Coyotes agreed to a trade with the Montreal Canadiens that included Scott. The Habs immediately waived the grizzly veteran to St. John’s, Newfoundland of the AHL. The league thought this would be the end of the All-Star debate but the ignorance was quickly exposed. Scott went and scored two goals, his Pacific team won the 3on3 tournament and he was named MVP.

Their were rumors of some turmoil between Maloney, Regier and head coach Dave Tippett for months. The Scott ordeal appears to be what drove Regier over the edge. Regier says he is leaving for “personal reasons” as it was announced during a game Wednesday night and the Coyotes have had no further comment.

The 2015-2016 Kenmore/Grand Island Girls Hockey campaign has certainly been different then the previous five. For starters, Grand Island was added to the squad, making one team of three schools, Kenmore East, Kenmore West and Grand Island. The addition of Grand Island brought 5 new players to the 4-time Sectional Champions. Longtime starting goalie, who was the backbone of Kenmore Girls Hockey, Lauren Pray, graduated and a big spot was left to be filled. Kenmore/Grand Island did not have the strong regular season they’ve been accustomed too, finishing 5-5-2 earning them the fourth seed in the sectional playoffs.  However, when the playoffs began, Kenmore/GI played like defending 4-time Sectional Champions.

On Wednesday night, Kenmore/Grand Island defeated Orchard Park/Frontier by a score of 4-2 to win their fifth Sectional title in a row, earning them a trip to Albany this weekend to compete in the State Finals.

Kenmore/GI got off to a quick start as Taylor Story found Emily King for a goal just a minute into the game. Later in the 1st, OP/Frontier took a penalty and Kenmore/GI almost immediately, capitalized on it as Olivia Smith put it home, giving her team a 2-0 lead. The second period was a physical one for sure as the teams battled along the boards for loose pucks. As the period was winding down, Smith found Lina Mirabella on a 2 on 1 rush to give Kenmore/GI the 3-0 lead at the second intermission. In the 3rd, OP/Frontier fought back with a Haley Tatar goal early in the third. Soon after, Riley Johnson scored off a deflection on what appeared too many as a high stick, nevertheless the goal counted and OP/Frontier was within a goal of tying the score at 3 a piece. As Kenmore/GI began to tense up, it was Smith again, this time saving the day. Olivia Smith got the puck from Jenna House in the corner, brought the puck around the back of the net and with amazing stick handling manged to shoot top-shelf backhanded for the insurance goal for Kenmore/GI, with just 2 minutes left in the game. OP/Frontier pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker but could score as time ran out.

Olivia Smith had 2 goals and an assist. Taylor Story had 2 assists. Emily King and Lina Mirabella each had a goal. Grace Simmons had an assist and another strong night on the back end. Cara Klopp had a good night in net as well.

With the 5th Section VI title, Kenmore/GI heads back to the State Final Four tournament, where they beat Section III’s Thousand Islands/Alexandria Bay 2-1 in the semis and lost 3-0 to Massena from Section X in the championship game last year.

On Friday night at 8:30, Kenmore/Grand Island will be at Albany Academy to face Section X’s Canton in the semi-finals and if they win they face the winner of Section III’s Alexandria Bay and Section VII’s Beekmantown on Saturday at noon.

Francis Boeck ~ fromthe300level.com

 

It was May 8th, 2014, and the clock read 10:43 pm at Radio City music hall. The Philadelphia Eagles sat with the 22nd pick of the NFL draft until they got a call from Cleveland. Cleveland now had 22, and at 10:43, they made a choice that was risky but was expected to change Cleveland football. Johnny Manziel was finally off the board after being snubbed for 21 picks.

The Browns knew of Manziel’s off field history. The parties with Drake, previous arrests and other numerous party photos. They overlooked all of this though, and after Manziel sent a text to Browns QB coach Dowell Loggains that was then forwarded to head coach Mike Pettine saying “let’s wreck this league,” Cleveland decided to take a QB the city needed.

Manziel walked across stage and lifted up his signature “money sign,” shook the commissioner’s hand, finished an interview and then promptly called a bar in Texas, Chimy’s Cerveceria, buying everyone in attendance a Miller Lite and Fireball shot. Needless to say, the kid wasted no time spending his NFL money.

Manziel continues his partying lifestyle after the draft, with pictures of him on a floating swan drinking a bottle of champagne, rolling up a dollar bill in a bathroom and of course the famous money phone where he says “I can’t hear, there’s too much money in my f****** hand.” Manziel also says to media at the rookie symposium that there’s no way he’d change his lifestyle for anybody.

This was alarming to the Browns. They had invested a lot into the Heisman Trophy winner, and knew this is not how a starting quarterback was to act. This called for owner Jimmy Haslam to have a sit down and tell Johnny they expect better antics. Nothing got better. Manziel showed up late to training camp on August 14, 2014, but says he misread the schedule.

Four days later, the Browns take on the Washington Redskins to decide the starting quarterback between him and Brian Hoyer. Neither quarterback plays well and Johnny ends up flipping off the Redskins sideline getting him a $12,500 fine. Brian Hoyer is named the starter two days after the game.

The Browns start the season 7-4 behind Hoyer heading into a week 13 matchup on the road in Buffalo. Hoyer was coming off four rough games where he’d thrown a combined six interceptions, and many believed it could be Johnny Football time.

The Bills were up 17-3 early in the fourth quarter when they picked off Hoyer for the second time that game and eventually made it 20-3. Enter, Johnny Football.

Manziel’s first drive was impressive, going 3-4 with 54 yards and 13 yards on the ground that was capped off with him helicoptering into the endzone for his first NFL touchdown. Manziel lifts the money sign, the camera shows a pissed off Brian Hoyer, and many think a rally is coming.

Johnny’s final possession ended up being a turnover on downs where he was welcomed to the NFL by Kyle Williams on what many still think looked like a fumble by Manziel and a TD by Buffalo’s defense. The call was overturned though and the final was 26-10, Buffalo.

The Browns wouldn’t win another game, dropping their last five. Hoyer started again after being replaced and during the Browns matchup against the Colts, Hoyer missed a wide-open receiver deep down the middle and the cameras caught Manziel on the sidelines lip “I would’ve f****** hit him.”

After a crushing loss and sitting at 7-6 now, Mike Pettine decided to turn to Manziel for the Browns in division rival Cincinnati. The game was at home and many Clevelanders were excited thinking the Browns 21st starting QB since 1999 would finally end the pain they had gone through.

Johnny learned, this wasn’t College Station anymore. Manziel went 10-18 throwing two picks, two that should not have been thrown, two that looked like he tried to do to much and two that might not have been picked at A&M.

Still, Pettine gave Manziel the nod for week 15 in Carolina. The final score was a 17-13 loss, but Manziel was not present for most, getting knocked out of the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. This would mark the end of Johnny Manziel’s atrocious rookie campaign.

On December 29th, Manziel says he has to start putting his words into actions, and the Browns agree with him and less than a month later Manziel enters a rehab facility.

On April 11th, Manziel leaves the facility after an extended 10 week stay and later promises to keep the off field drama to a minimum. He also says that “Johnny Money” is no more and his signature money sign would not be seen again.

As the 2015 preseason starts Manziel has better results in his first two games running and throwing for a TD in both. He would miss the final two preseason games though with a sore elbow, giving the job to free agent signee Josh McCown.

The Browns open the season September 13th with the New York Jets and after a scary collision, Josh McCown is knocked out of the game and Manziel takes over. His first drive he throws a deep TD to Travis Benjamin but that would be the best result he’d get, later turning the ball over three times, two by fumble and one by an interception.

On September 20th Manziel would get the start for injured Josh McCown, and lead the Browns to a win over Tennessee in which he threw two more long TD passes to Travis Benjamin.

Mike Pettine then names McCown the starter again the week after, and this is where you wanna fasten your seat belts.

October 12th, police confront Manziel and his girlfriend on the side of a road in Avon, Ohio. Crowley, Manziel’s girlfriend, says to a witness that Manziel beat her. In a dashcam video, you can hear Manziel admit to drinking, and say she threw his wallet into some field, and that it was just a regular argument. Teammate Paul Kruger shows up at the scene as well and says to an officer, “if I can say one thing, that girl is not for him.” Manziel was not disciplined by the NFL.

November 5th Manziel starts for an injured McCown on Thursday night football and struggles against Cincinnati in a 31-10 loss. The following week with McCown still ailing, Manziel starts versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and throws for a career high 372 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Two days later, head coach Mike Pettine names Manziel the starter but says he must live up to the responsibilities of a starting quarterback. The following week is the bye week and Manziel promised he wouldn’t do anything to put a damper on his status as starter or embarrass the Cleveland Browns.

Think you know what happens next. November 23rd, a video appears on TMZ that shows Manziel drinking champagne in an Austin, Texas club. The video goes viral and a day later Mike Pettine announces Manziel has been demoted to third string. On the 26th, the world also learned that Manziel lied to the organization about when the video was filmed, losing further trust and accountability.

After having to watch Josh McCown and Austin Davis on the sidelines for two weeks, Manziel comes back on December 13th and starts versus San Francisco. The Browns won, 24-10, with Manziel throwing for 270 yards and throwing a TD and a pick. After the interception, Manziel grabbed the tablet on the sidelines and after watching what he’d done, smashed it over his head repeatedly. Social media also shows before the game that Manziel signs a $100 bill signed “Johnny Money” with his signature.

After starting versus Seattle and leading an opening drive touchdown the Browns offense was almost non existent, getting beaten 30-13. Manziel received high praise from all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman after the game.

Then there was Kansas City. The game resulted in a 17-13 loss but this is where many thought Manziel showed the most heart. He only threw for 136 yards but set the Browns quarterback rushing record for yards in a game with 108. With time winding down and down by four Manziel threw a pass over the middle that was caught but the team couldn’t get back to the line quickly enough resulting in Manziel ripping his helmet off and slamming it to the ground. Many thought it showed Manziel’s true desire to win, being furious after becoming 3-12 on the year.

Two days later on December 29th is where the true downfall of Johnny Manziel began. A video of him drinking a Four Loko in a private house singing “March Madness” by Future came about. On the 31st, the Browns rule Manziel out with a concussion for the final week.

As the last game against the Steelers arrived on January 3rd, there were rumors that people had spotted Manziel in Las Vegas the day prior to the game, disguising himself as Billy, wearing sunglasses and a blonde wig. On game day, Manziel did not attend a check up with the medical staff that was mandatory for before the game.

Manziel was then in attendance the day after when Jimmy Haslam introduce Sashi Brown as the new director of football operations.

On the 6th, Manziel gets caught with expired license plates. A week after, the Browns signed, former Bengal offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson to be the next coach, and a source came out that said Hue did not have any plans for Manziel.

Then the end of the line. On the 28th, Haslam says the team’s relationship can be fixable but that changes two days later when police investigate Manziel because of an altercation between him and his girlfriend in Fort Worth, Texas (Should’ve listened to Paul Kruger).

Then finally February 2nd, the team announces it will part ways with Johnny Manziel in March when it’s less of salary cap hit. There are now rumors saying the Rams and Chiefs are interested but the biggest of all is his hometown favorites, the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones did have interest in Manziel the day of the draft but was told not to make him the pick.

It’s sad to see a career like Manziel’s go down this path, such an exciting player to watch, always capable of making plays ever since his days at Texas A&M. He can only blame himself though, and wherever he goes next, hopefully he’ll realize this isn’t college anymore. To be a starting QB it takes a strong work ethic, focus, attention to detail. The stuff like offseason work and week to week studying of film, playbooks and on and on should go without saying for any player, but especially a QB. Manziel’s potential and playmaking ability will get him a contract in the league but teams will not guarantee it if he is going to act like this any further. Farewell, Cleveland Browns edition of Johnny Manziel.

(All featured videos are the property of their respective owners.)

David Yarger @YagaBomb24

David Yarger
@YagaBomb24

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Best: Arizona had a busy offseason and out of all the moves they made, the best was easily signing Zack Greinke to the largest contract for a starting pitcher. I was really confused to why Greinke chose the Diamondbacks because the team finished under .500 last season and really, at times looked to be a team in rebuild mode. Greinke nonetheless will become the Diamondbacks ace (something they haven’t had in awhile) and will be alongside Shelby Miller who was acquired from the Braves. Obviously, being able to strike this deal improves Arizona’s pitching dramatically, but I still don’t see this team competing for a spot in October.

Worst: Dansby Swanson. If you read the NL East edition, he might sound familiar, mainly because I said he was Atlanta’s best move. This trade aggravated me, and I don’t like either team in the trade. I just don’t see how you give up a No. 1 pick that is going to have a very bright future in this league. I know Miller had a 3.02 ERA and his 6-17 record was mainly because any time he pitched the Braves were able to put up zero to three runs for him and that he’s only pitched three years, but really? Is Shelby Miller worth the first pick of the draft? The future captain of your defense and catalyst at the top of the lineup?  I say absolutely not, and this trade will backfire when Dansby Swanson comes back to play his first game at Chase Field and he hits a towering home run off of Miller.

Yargs 2016 Prediction: 3rd NL West

Colorado Rockies:

Best: Gerardo Parra. Not a mind blowing move by any means but Parra is coming off a good campaign with the Brewers where he hit .291 with 14 homers. Usually a hitters numbers only go up in Colorado playing at Coors Field, so look for a big season out of him.

Worst: The Jake McGee and Corey Dickerson trade was a little hard to wrap my head around. Now the Rockies had a league worst 4.70 bullpen ERA so they needed any help they could get, but as a rebuilding team I’d want players that I know I can build around. My point is, McGee only has two years of team control, while Dickerson had four. Dickerson has only been in the league two years and is coming off a season where he hit .301. This trade is either going to go very well for Colorado or really bad and I don’t have hopes because Colorado is the toughest place to be a pitcher.

Yargs 2016 Prediction: 4th NL West

San Francisco Giants:

Best: Johnny Cueto. He didn’t have an incredible stint with the Royals, but still came out with a ring. Cueto adds another arm to San Fran’s already dangerous arsenal and takes some pressure off of Madison Bumgarner. It has the looks of another fun season in the Bay area, and remember how it’s gone in the playoffs of late, the Giants have won the World Series every other year since 2010. So 2010, 2012, 2014 and maybe 20… Let’s not jump the gun yet, it’s not even spring training!

Worst: Jeff Samardzija. He’s coming off an 11-13 year where he had a 4.96 ERA. I don’t understand why everyone went crazy for this move because besides one season (2014) his numbers have not been great. He was on some bad teams but he has not had a winning record ever as a starting pitcher. He does have great stuff when it’s on but this man is easily hittable. Lot of risk with this deal.

Yargs 2016 Prediction: NL West Champs

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Best: Kenta Maeda. A very highly touted pitcher out of Japan, we’ve seen these moves work out very well or sometimes be an absolute disaster. The Dodgers have had relatively decent luck with Asian prospects (Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda) and reviewing Maeda’s previous season in Japan of 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA tells me he could be very important to a rotation that just lost Zack Greinke to the division foe, Arizona Diamondbacks.

Worst: Scott Kazmir. We all know Kazmir’s story, starts off a pretty good pitcher with the Rays, gets sent to the Angels and just falls apart. Two years out of the pros and a visit with the Sugarland Skeeters he ends up getting a deal with the Indians and rejuvenates his career with a respectable 10-9 season. He follows that up with one and a half good seasons with the A’s and then gets traded to Houston. He took a step back in 2015 and in the bright lights of LA I feel he’s gonna have a tough time especially as the possible number two starter behind Kershaw.

Yargs 2016 Prediction: 2nd NL West

San Diego Padres:

Best: Alexei Ramirez. His average went down last year but he’s always one to put the ball in play. They were between him and Ian Desmond, and although I feel as if Desmond was the better option, I feel like Ramirez will supply quality offensive and defensive numbers. With this team not being a competing team I can see Ramirez being a key trade candidate at the deadline.

Worst: Drew Pomeranz for Yonder Alonso. Although Pomeranz is young and had two promising seasons in Oakland, it was not smart of San Diego to give away Alonso coming off one of his best statistical seasons. He hit .282 and as lackluster as that may seem, Petco Park is not a hitters ballpark. Could work out either way, but I believe San Diego needs all the offense they can get. In the end it’s not really going to matter come late September when both San Diego and Oakland are on the outside looking in.

Yargs 2016 Prediction: 5th NL West

Welp, that does it, folks! Thank you for tuning in to my offseason special! Be on the look for future MLB articles as the season quickly approaches, here’s to a great 2016 season!

David Yarger @YagaBomb24

David Yarger
@YagaBomb24

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A few years ago a friend of mine asked me to coach an 11th grade boys AAU basketball team.  During the tryouts I noticed we had about 7 guys who can really shoot and a center who was  6’10. The Center was good but not great. I had a choice to make.

A) Build around this player and go into tournaments knowing other elite centers would dominate him.

B) Cut him and go with 5 guards and try and outscore teams.

Everyone wanted me to play the safe game and go with the big center. We would have had some success but,I wanted to be great. I went with option B and it worked out. Playing 5 guards, we won 4 out of 5 tournaments and outscored everyone. The one game we didn’t win, we lost at the buzzer. Most of the AAU teams we played, had two or three centers over 6’9. We didn’t have one player over 6’3. We would always jump out to an early lead and teams would sit their All-County, All-State and All-American Centers and “Go-Small. They played right into our hands and they couldn’t beat us playing at our strength.

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Kevin Love signed with the Cavaliers last year and it has been a constant barrage of criticism from fans and the media. As a 3rd option, Love has averaged  16 points per game and 10 rebounds. The Cavs fired David Blatt last week after a horrible 30-11 start (Insert your own sarcastic remark) and named assistant Tyronn Lue the new head coach.

Over the past 4 games, Cleveland has scored 114,115,114 and 117. In their last game against the Spurs, The Cavs dominated from start to finish. It has been a simple recipe for Lue… up tempo, faster pace…more shots for his “Big 3.” Against San Antonio, LeBron James scored 29 points, Kyrie Irving scored 21 and Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds. This is not David Blatt’s team anymore. Lue is not playing it safe… he wants to be great!

Lue has instilled a sense of urgency, a sense of accountability and totally new approach. The Cavs are pushing on a miss or a made basket and everyone has thrived because of it. There is no doubt that this group is one of the deepest teams in the league. How do you maximize that? Play at a faster pace so all their talented players can outscore the opponent. In just a week, I have seen less and less isolation with James and Irving and more ball movement.

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Last night against the Spurs the Cavaliers looked like a team that can compete with the Golden State Warriors. Playing the Warriors is like playing the New England Patriots, you can have success slowing them down but eventually you will have to outscore them. Lue has got the Cavaliers playing at another level and they should run away with the East. If they stay healthy and continue to play this style, they can  beat any team in the West. The entire roster has “Bought In” to  Lue’s system and that is a scary proposition for the rest of the NBA.

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When I think of Super Bowl 50, I think of the movie Dirty Grandpa. Peyton Manning would be Robert De Niro. They were both once the headliner, now they are co-stars. Cam Newton is Zac Efron, a young, talented, good looking celebrity who is on the rise.

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Manning is 39 years old, Newton is 26. It is the largest age difference between starting QB’s in Super Bowl history. (It is also the first time in the history of the Super Bowl in which QBs drafted NO.1 overall will face each other…Newton was drafted in 2011, Manning in 1998).

The Broncos defense has been sensational all season. They were the stingiest in the league, giving up 283 yards per game. They have the unique ability to defend the run and the pass. Against the New England Patriots, the Broncos hit Tom Brady 20 times over 4 quarters. This defense has speed/power and no real weaknesses.

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Manning threw the ball for 48 yards in the second half of the AFC championship game. This is a totally different role for him. For years he carried teams with his offense.This team is winning despite below average quarterback play. Manning was second in the league with 17 interceptions and had his lowest completion percentage (59.8) since his rookie year.

Newton has carried the Panthers all season long. He has put this team on his back and led them to a 15-1 record. His stat line is worthy of an MVP. Newton threw for 3,837 yards, rushed for 636 yards, had 45 total touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Tight End Gregg Olsen led the team with 77 receptions and Ted Ginn had 44 catches. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 939 yards to lead all running backs. As you can see, this is a team that doesn’t have a lot of stars on offense.

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On defense, Carolina has unique play makers. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis continue to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL that the casual fan doesn’t know about. The two combined for 223 tackles on the season. They are fast and fierce and defensive back Josh Norman is a lock down cornerback. Davis has a broken arm but expects to play on Sunday.

The Matchup:

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Both Carolina and Denver were the number 1 seeds going into the playoffs. They have lived up to the hype and they both deserve to be here. The Broncos played a Steeler team that was decimated with injuries. Pittsburgh was using their 3rd string running back and wide receiver Antonio Brown(136 receptions) was sidelined with a concussion. When they played the Patriots they were facing a team that had absolutely no running game.

They won’t be that lucky in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers have a two headed rushing attack with Newton and Stewart. Most experts say Carolina doesn’t have any elite wide receivers, yet they keep getting open and as a unit they are very productive. Denver has a great defense, they are one of three teams to not allow a rushing touchdown by a quarterback. Carolina led the NFL with 40 takeaways.

The difference here is offense, in order for the Broncos to win they must keep Newton off the field. They must run the ball and Manning can’t turn the ball over. The Panthers were ranked 4th on defense against the run and 11th against the pass. They were on the bottom of the league in allowing passing plays over 20 yards are more. But here is the rub, Peyton can’t throw the ball down the field with any consistency, so that shouldn’t be an issue. The thing Denver needs to do is throw deep to open up their running game but with Manning behind center, that is not an option.

For years we heard the phrase defense wins championships, but that is no longer the case. Peyton has become a “game manager” and they no  longer win Super Bowls. You need an elite quarterback and Newton is playing the best at that position right now. If life were a fairy tale I would have won the billion dollar power ball last month and Peyton would win this game and retire. Life is not a fairy tale and either is the NFL…. The Panthers have the number one offense and they will prove all their “haters” wrong on Sunday…Carolina wins this game 34-20.

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3 of the 4 teams that are playing in the State High School Girls Hockey Championship that will take place this weekend in Albany have already been decided. The fourth team will come from Section VI and Monday tonight we got a step closer to figuring out who that will be.

In the first semi-final game of the evening, Kenmore/Grand Island (5-5-2) entered the game in unfamiliar territory, as the underdog. They took on the top public school from the regular season in Williamsville (8-2-1), finishing second in the league only to Monsignor Martin. Williamsville had the upper hand in the season series, winning the first match up 4-0 and tying with Kenmore/Grand Island in the second.

Williamsville played a strong 1st period, keeping pressure inside the Kenmore/Grand Island zone for most and it looked like they might score as they headed to the power play as the period began to wind down. However, Kenmore/Grand Island was looking to do more than just kill off the penalty. Senior defenseman Grace Simmons found forward Abigail Blair for a shorthanded goal to put their team on the board first and give them a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

In the second, roles reversed as it was Kenmore/Grand Island who was taking it to Williamsville for most of the period, and Williamsville, who after spending time in the Kenmore/Grand Island zone thanks a power play, was able to score just seconds after the penalty expired.  Maggie Fuzak got the puck from Leah Czerwinski to tie the game up.

In the third period, Kenmore/Grand Island showed why they’ve been to the Section VI final 4 times in a row. Just 29 seconds into the period, Kenmore/Grand Island took advantage of an early power play opportunity. Again it was Simmons who this time found Olivia Smith, giving their team a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd. Later on, Emily King took advantage of a breakaway and gave her team a comfortable 3-1 lead with just over 3 minutes left to play. Williamsville pulled their goalie but the advantage did them little good as they took their third penalty of the game, making it 5 on 5 play with a pulled goalie. Blair sealed the game with her second goal, scoring on empty net.

Kenmore/Grand Island defeated Williamsville 4-1, thanks to Blair’s 2 goals, and a goal each from King and Smith. Not only did Simmons contribute on offense with 3 assists, but she played strong on defense, making smart plays when she had the puck inside her team’s zone. Cara Klopp played strong in between the pipes.

 

In the second game of the evening, number 3 seed Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence (6-5-1) took on two seed Orchard Park/Frontier (7-5) for the right to face Kenmore/Grand Island for the Sectional title on Wednesday.  The teams split the season series, with both games being decided by a score of 4-3.

The Katz got off on the wrong foot, taking a too many men on the ice penalty in the game’s first minute. OP/Front took advantage as Sirena Fitzery found Emily Dellaneve to give Orchard Park/Frontier the lead. However, Amh/SH/Clar answered back quickly as captain McKenna Rushford scored. The second period full of chances for both teams but it was not until the final second (literally) that Meghan Roche slipped one in to give OP/Front back the lead.

In the 3rd, Brooke Becker took over for OP/Front. She scored unassisted with 9 minutes left to give her team the 3-1 lead.  The Katz answered back again as Julia Mings found Rushford for her second goal of the night with 3 minutes left. However, after Amh/SH/Clar pulled thier goalie, Becker once again got the puck and put it in the empty net.

Orchard Park/Frontier beat Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence 4-2 Monday night. Becker had 2 goals, while teammates Dellaneve and Roche had one each, Mings had the only assist for OP/Front.

On Wednesday, number 4 seed Kenmore/Grand Island will taken on number 2 seed Orchard Park/Frontier for the Section VI High School Girls Hockey title at 5 pm at the Northtowns Center in Amherst. This is Kenmore’s 5th consecutive time in the Section VI title game, winning the last 4. Orchard Park/Frontier won the very first Sectional title back in 2011. The winner will travel to Albany to compete in the 4 team state championship tournament. They will face Section X’s Canton on Friday in the semi-finals and if they win they will play for the state title on Saturday.