After being hired in late February, new Head Coach Pat Veltri spent little time celebrating and went right to work. Just a week after taking the post, the new head coach was meeting with his offensive skill players and preparing for the winter passing league. Soon after he began hiring a new coaching staff and changing the culture of Kenmore East Football. By March, Veltri had hired a new coaching staff with some brand new and familiar faces. At the June player/parent meeting, Veltri made it clear that things were going to be different, that discipline and accountability were going to be important.  The head coach told me that “We want to instill a work ethic,  we want the players to show up everyday, be prepared and to give their best effort day in and day out.” 

IMG_3771The Booster Club has been given a spark from the new coach, this summer they have been organizing car washes, team bonding events and promoting the program. Booster Club President Jessica Vitale has only praises for the new coach. “(Veltri) has been great, (he’s) met with us several times, he’s very willing to help, he’s got great ideas for fundraising… he’s looking at this in the long-term”. Veltri says “The booster club has been great in providing support for our players.” On July 3rd, four players Jake Elgie, Billy Sautter, Zach Price and Brendan Young, went around town to local businesses promoting the team and soliciting ads for game programs. The team played Airsoft this past weekend as a team bonding experience and has more planned before the season begins. Team meals are planned for the two-a-days and the night before games.image1

The Bulldogs’ summer program has already shown the culture change the staff wants to bring. The workouts for the summer began during exam week, three weeks before they would’ve been in the past.The workouts are much more skill and cardio based than in the past. The players truly found out that the coaches meant business now, after they left the locker room dirty. The players had to run about a half-dozen 40 yard-dashes at 100 percent, and that was before conditioning. The preseason two-a-days have gone though a huge overhaul. Practices will begin at 6:30 am and end at 1:00 pm with 2 practices of about 2 hours and a break in between that will include lunch and time in the pool. The motive behind the format for Veltri is consistency of the 6:30 am start time and having cooler weather in the morning for practicing. More consistency will be seen at practice as players were required to purchase player-packs  so they will have matching jerseys and socks for practices and games.

The Head Coach believes his players have responded well to the changes, “We have had great turnouts at our morning training sessions and the players continue to work diligently learning new systems”.

I talked to some of the team leaders after a workout last week. The players are excited about the new direction of the program. They feel the coaching staff is very talented and experienced. A common theme from the players is that the staff has brought a sense of professionalism with it. Junior Antonio Scolla put it best saying, “It’s not a game, this is like a job”. Senior Matt Cook is happy about the new format for two-a-days, that includes practice starting 2 1/2 hours earlier than the past “I love it, get up 5 o’clock, make me some eggs and orange juice and I’m completely OK with it”. Scolla said “I’m looking forward to swimming”. Senior Dion Woods loves the format, that it will “give the feel of a real NFL program”.

The Bulldogs have a second car wash coming up on August 9th at Sorrentino’s Sports Center. Kenmore East will play their first game under the lights at Grand Island  at 7pm on September 4th.

 

 

Monday morning the Buffalo Sabres, specifically Pegula Sports and Entertainment announced that they and club President Ted Black had mutually agreed to part ways. Black had been with the organization since Terry Pegula bought the team back in 2011. In a prepared statement by PS&E there was no mention of Black’s sudden departure.

Russ Brandon, current Managing Partner and President of the Buffalo Bills has been appointed President and Alternate Governor of the Buffalo Sabres effective immediately. “Since we purchased the Buffalo Bills last October, we have been highly impressed with the business acumen that Russ has shown with the Bills,” said Terry & Kim Pegula. “Now is an appropriate time to give him additional responsibilities with the Sabres. Russ will work with Pegula Sports & Entertainment to create strong synergies between the Sabres and Bills. With Russ’ strong ties to the area business community and sponsorship partners, he will effectively position both organizations for future growth. We are grateful to Ted Black for all he has done for the Sabres organization and wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

Black and Pegula were basically attached at the hip when they arrived in Buffalo to take over the Sabres in 2011. Black was the more professional looking individual. Always wearing the suit and tie where Terry was the guy most likely to be seen out having a beer with the blue-collar, hardcore Sabres fans. It seemed to be an awkward looking tandem but they seemed to be able to make it work. Under Black’s guidance the Sabres have been able to increase ticket sales, construct the Harborcenter and attract highly coveted hockey games including the International Ice Hockey World Junior Championships (both Men and Women), the NHL Scouting Combine, the NHL Draft (2016) the CCM/USA Prospects game and the Sled Hockey World Championships. Not including hundreds of hockey tournaments, camps and academies.

Black is a great businessman who has always been straight forward with media and fans. He was a weekly guest on a local morning radio show the past few years and took questions and often times criticism from fans. He never ducked.

The 716 community will miss Black and another market will gain a great ambassador.

wolfFrank Wolf

fromthe300level.com

@wolf3328

 

 

 

Last season I predicted Florida State, Oregon, Ole Miss and Baylor to make it to the first ever Final 4 playoffs. I had Alabama ranked #5 and Ohio State ranked #6 as the two teams, on the outside looking in.

Here is my Top 25 pre-season preview.

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes- What do you do for an encore after winning the National Championship? You bring back all three starting quarterbacks. Urban Meyer has compiled a 38-3 record in Columbus. I think it is safe to say, he has surpassed Nick Saban as the best college football coach in the country. The Buckeyes bring back a ton of experience and talent to last year’s championship team. Their only challenge will come on November 21st, when they host the Michigan State Spartans. Barring a colossal upset, Ohio State should go undefeated in a weak conference. Look for them to go a second straight college football playoff.

#2 Baylor Bears- Art Briles has turned the Baylor program into a national powerhouse and they are the Oregon Ducks of the south. With their high tempo offense and spread formation, they have become a nightmare matchup for any defensive coordinator in the country. Losing Bryce Petty to the NFL will hurt them but if Seth Russell can get better as the season goes along, Baylor could be in the hunt for a national championship. The defense needs to be more consistent, but bringing back defensive end Shawn Oakman, a likely preseason All-America pick, should give the unit a huge boost.

#3Auburn Tigers- To get through the SEC you have to beat Alabama, how do you do that? If you look at the teams that have given Alabama problems over the years… Auburn, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. They all used a unique offense to spread Alabama out. Gus Malzahn has become the master of this. Adding defensive guru and former Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator, can only make a stronger case that the Tigers will be the SEC Champs.

#4 USC Trojans– This is my sleeper pick. Because of limited scholarships, USC doesn’t have tremendous depth. But, they have a plethora of NFL talent on both sides of the ball. Losing defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the NFL (4th overall pick in the Draft, NY Jets) will hurt but quarterback Cody Kessler should dominate the PAC-12. Last season Kessler had 39 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions. That coupled with the fact that Oregon and UCLA lost their QB’s to the NFL… this should bode well for the Trojans.

#5 TCU Horned Frogs- Quarterback Trevone Boykin, is coming off a tremendous year. He threw for 33 touchdown passes and completed 61.2% of his passes. He leads a Horned Frog team that returns almost all their starters. They are talented and fun to watch. But, they have a brutal schedule, they play at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma and close the season hosting Baylor. To win those three road games will be a monumental task.

 #6 Oregon Ducks- How do you replace a living legend? Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy last season, led the Ducks to a national championship game and statistically had the best season of any quarterback in the history of college football. This is the 3rd season without Chip Kelly in Eugene. Some of the players he recruited are still on the team. Head coach Mark Helfrich is 24-4 in two years. That is pretty impressive, but this program is now 100% his. It will be interesting to see who starts at quarterback for the Ducks. The easiest choice would be redshirt junior Jeff Lockie. He doesn’t have the skill set Mariota has but he is a veteran of the program and can be a consistent passer when given time. If Lockie is not the answer look for Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams as the Oregon Ducks Fall Camp begins in a few weeks. Sophomore running back Royce Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards, scored and scored 19 total touchdowns as a freshman. He is my pre-season pick for the Heisman Trophy winner.

 #7 Alabama Crimson Tide– Alabama lost three of their best skill players on offense. Quarterback Blake Sims, running back T.J. Yeldon and All-America wide receiver Amari Cooper. Nick Saban doesn’t rebuild he reloads but any team in the country would be hard pressed to replace that offensive talent. The good news for Crimson Tide fans is that Lane Kiffin is now in his 2nd year as the offensive coordinator. Kiffin may not be a great head coach, but he knows offense, he is the Norv Turner of college football.

#8 Michigan State Spartans- Quarterback Connor Cook must carry this team to the next level. Last year he had a fine season, 24 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. But, The Spartans will need him more than ever if they want to compete for a national championship. If MSU wants to defeat Oregon on September 12th and Ohio State on November 21st they are going to have to outscore them. That means Cook will have to be the best player on the field.

#9 Arizona Wildcats- To think Michigan let Rich Rodriguez go. Some people’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Rodriguez has found a home in Arizona and led a young team to the PAC-12 championship game. Sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon continues to develop and he’ll be joined in the backfield by sophomore running back Nick Wilson and a gifted crop of receivers. Arizona is a top 10 team and on the rise.

 #10 Florida State Seminoles- As a program you can’t keep having off the field issues and expect long term success, eventually it will wear on the team and the program. Jimbo Fisher has a young team and must replace Jameis Winston. Having Winston on your team is like dating a stripper. It leads to a lot of excitement but long term, it never works out. Addition by subtraction can be a good thing here. Winston became bigger than the program and that is never a good thing. FSU has become a minor league farm system for NFL Talent. That coupled with a weak ACC conference should help the Noles bounce back quickly.

#11 Oklahoma Sooners- you rarely see a Bob Stoops team win 8 games. Coming off an 8-5 season I expect them to win 10 plus games

#12 Georgia Bulldogs –Every season Mark Richt wins a game he is not supposed to, but loses a game he is not supposed to. He has had a fine career but may never win a national title.

 #13 Arizona State Sun Devils – 16 returning starters should make a 10 win team better in a tough PAC-12 conference.

#14 Clemson Tigers- Deshaun Watson-led offense will be the ACC’s best.

 #15 Ole Miss Rebels- wide receiver Laquon Treadwell will come back from injury and be a real candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

#16 Arkansas Razorbacks – Head coach Bret Bielema is finally turning that program around. I look for them to have a 9 maybe 10 win season.

 #17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish- Any time Brian Kelly is on the sidelines, his team has a chance to win.

 #18 Oklahoma State Cowboys- Did this young team gain enough experience last year?

 #19 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets- Head coach Paul Johnson’s offense always gives teams trouble and gets better as the season goes on. They are coming off an 11 win season.

 #20 LSU Tigers- It seems like every year Les Miles loses a dozen players to the NFL… yet the last few years they have struggled going 10-3, 8-5 and 8-5. If the Tigers don’t get to 10 wins this year, Miles may be on the hot seat.

 #21 UCLA

 #22 Missouri

 #23 Wisconsin

 #24 Nebraska

 #25 Boise State

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The NFL Season is right around the corner. There were a lot of changes this off-season. Here are 10 things to watch for in the pre-season:
10) What will the Eagles do at quarterback?

Chip Kelly is an offensive genius, he is also known as the “Quarterback Whisperer” but can he work wonders with this lineup? Not one of his QB’s in camp, have had long term success.

Mark Sanchez: 82 touchdown passes, 80 inteceptions and a 56.3 career completion percentage.

Sam Bradford: 59 touchdown passes, 38 interceptions and a 58.6 career completion percentage.
Tim Tebow: 17 touchdown passes, 9 inteceptions and a 47.9 career completion percentage.
9) Can Pittsbugh’s defense match their high powered offense?

Ben Roethlisberger finished the season tied for 1st in passing yards (4,592), Le’Veon Bell finished 2nd in rushing yards (1,361) and Antonio Brown, led the NFL in recieving yards (1,698). No disrespect to the Dallas Cowboys last year, but… The Steelers had the best “Big 3″ in football. The problem with Pittsburgh last year was defensive. They finished 18th in yards per game, 18th in points per game and 27th in passing yards allowed. For Pittsburgh to get back to an elite team their defensive must improve.

8) Can Jimmy Graham make the Seattle Seahawks offense elite?

Seattle signing Graham was the best off-season move in the NFL. We know Seattle has an elite defense and running game and now they have the best TE in the league. In 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham caught 386 passes for 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns. He is the best “RedZone player in the NFL and Russell Wilson should thrive with Graham as his “Go-to” guy. If Wilson and Graham establish a chemistry on the field, it could be lights out for the rest of the NFC.

7) Can Rex Ryan evolve as a coach?

The Buffalo Bills hired Ryan this off-season to be their head coach. Ryan spent 6 years as the Jets coach and compiled a 46-50 record. Up until this point in his career, Ryan has emulated his father Buddy Ryan. Rex still believes in “Ground and Pound” in a vertical passing league. The Bills had an elite defense last year and they should be just as good this year. Ryan has added LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia and has a young, talented wide reciever in Sammy Watkins. For Rex to have any type of success he has to focus more on offense or this will be his last head coaching job in the NFL.

6) Will RGIII ever be an elite quarterback?

Robert Griffin III won Rookie of the year in 2012.. Since that time he has gone through a slew of injuries and controversy. If there ever was a quarterback who needed a good pre-season, it is Griffin. This should be a make or break year for him. All eyes in Washington will be on him during these few games.

5) Where does Johnny Manziel go from here?

Manziel has had a rocky start to his pro career. When he was drafted, I wrote an article titled ” Why Manziel will never be an elite quarterback in the NFL.” I still believe that to this day. Manziel is undersized, has average speed (Andrew Luck ran a faster 40 time) and has an average arm in a cold weather division. I would be very suprised if Manziel is on the Browns roster a few years from now.
4) Is this Tom Coughlin last pre-season with the New York Giants?

Coughlin has won 2 Super Bowls as the Giants head coach ( 2007 and 2011), both times New York defeated the favored New England Patriots. The Giants haven’t made the playoffs in 5 out of the last 6 years and this is Coughlin’s last year under contract. Although the Giants struggled in 2014, the team never quit on him. I think that, coupled with their new offensive coordinator,Ben McAdoo having success, made it easy for the organization to keep Tom for another year. If the Giants struggle early, he will be on the hot seat.
3) Can Peyton Manning lead the Broncos on one last Super Bowl run?

When a MLB pitcher starts to lose his fastball he can adjust and do other things. He can throw a curve, a slider, a changeup etc. What can Manning do to drastically improve he’s fading arm? If you watched the playoff game last year against the Colts, Indianapolis dared manning to throw over the top and he couldn’t do it. It will be interesting to see how many defenses crowd the line of scrimmage and force Manning to throw deep. I expect Manninng to be in the best shape of his career and try to establish a deep passing attack early on.
2) Are the Jets Geno Smith’s team?

The Jets had one of the best off-season out of any team in the NFL. They hired Todd Bowles as their head coach, drafted DL, Leonard Williams, and WR, Devon Smith. They signed DB,Darrelle Revis, DB,Antonio Cromartie, RB, Zac Stacy and WR, Brandon Marshall. All the pieces are in place for this team to make a run at the playoffs. If Smith can’t struggles early look for the Jets to insert Ryan Fitzpatrick and ultimately 4th round pick Bryce Petty.
1) What Rookie quarterback will change a team’s future?

Last year’s AFC and NFC Championship games had Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. Elite quarterbacks win in today’s NFL. Jameis Winston was selected by the Tampa Bucs with the #1 overall pick and Marcus Mariota was drafted #2 by the Tennessee Titans. I think Winston is set up to win now because Tampa has better skill players. Mike Evans had 68 receptions and 12 touchdowns in his rookie year. Long term, I like Mariota as a much better quarterback. He has tremendous upside and there has never been a quarterback with his size, (6’4 225lbs) his speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and accuracy (66.8 % at Oregon). Both are young and will make mistakes but Mariota has the tools to be an all time great.

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On Sunday, 3 of the greatest pitchers and one of the greatest hitters of all time were inducted into Cooperstown. They are as follows (the team inducted as is listed).

Craig Alan Biggio, 2B-Houston Astros (3rd Ballot)

Career: 1988-2007 (All with Houston)

Final Line: .281 AVG, 291 HRs, 1,175 RBI, 3,060 Hits

Highlights: 3,000 Hit Club, 5x Silver Slugger Award, 4x Gold Glove Award, 7x All-Star, Houston Astros #7 retired.

Craig Biggio is one of the few things that the Houston Astros can brag about. The greatest pure hitter the Astros have ever had, Biggio is a member of the 3,000 Hit Club and won 5 Silver Slugger and 4 Gold Glove Awards at Second Base. Alongside longtime teammate and friend Jeff Bagwell, He was an integral part of the Astros’ run to the World Series in 2005. Biggio had to wait it out on his first two ballot appearances due to the presence of more marquee names, but that doesn’t make his spot in the Hall of Fame any less deserved. He will be the first player inducted into the Hall as an Astro.

 

John Andrew Smoltz, RHP-Atlanta Braves (1st Ballot)

Career: 1988-2009 (1988-2008 with Atlanta).

Final Line: 213-155, 3.33 ERA, 3,084 Ks, 154 Saves.

Highlights: 1995 World Series Champion, 1992 NLCS MVP, 1995 NL Cy Young winner, 8x All-Star, Atlanta Braves #29 retired.

Everyone knew that this year was going to be John Smoltz’ turn. Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine formed one of the most dominant pitching trios in MLB history and dominated National League batters for almost 10 years. The Braves won the 1995 World Series and an additional 4 NL Pennants in the 1990s, and the contributions of Smoltz were a large reason why. Had he not retired one year later, Smoltz would have been inducted last year alongside Maddux, Glavine, and longtime Manager Bobby Cox. While we weren’t able to see that, Smoltz’ induction will still be a special moment.

 

Pedro Jaime Martinez, RHP- Boston Red Sox (1st Ballot)

Career: 1992-2009 (1998-2004 with Boston)

Line: 219-100, 2.93 ERA, 3,154 Ks.

Highlights: 2004 World Series Champion, 1999 All-Star Game MVP, 3x Cy Young winner, Triple Crown in 1999, 8x All-Star, Boston Red Sox #45 to be retired.

Despite his short stature, Pedro Martinez was one of the most entertaining power pitchers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. His 1999 Triple Crown season was incredible and is considered to be one of the best by any pitcher of the post WWII-era and he missed out on AL MVP in controversial fashion that year. Martinez has a plethora of memorable moments and games. The best years of his career were in Boston and his brilliance helped the Red Sox finally end the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. He is one of only 5 pitchers to win Cy Young honors in both Leagues (one other being classmate Randy Johnson). Not many were surprised by his election on his first ballot.

 

Randall David Johnson, LHP-Arizona Diamondbacks (1st Ballot)

Career: 1988-2009 (1999-2004, 2007-2008 with Arizona).

Line: 303-166, 3.29 ERA, 4,875 Ks

Highlights: 2001 World Series Champion, 2001 World Series Co-MVP, 5x Cy Young winner, Triple Crown in 2002, 10x All-Star, No Hitter in 1990, Perfect Game in 2004.

Randy Johnson was a flamethrower, plain and simple. For 21 years the Big Unit lit up both opposing lineups and the radar gun, accomplishing numerous feats along the way. He is a third of the three pitchers who have won Cy Young Awards in both the NL and AL (funny enough, he accomplished this the same year as 2015 classmate Pedro Martinez did, 1999). He is also a member of the multiple no-no club, throwing a Perfect Game 14 years after he had a no-hitter in 1990. Second all-time in Ks in the League, many call him the greatest lefthander of all time and, honestly, it would be very difficult to counter that argument.

@Flat_Manigen74

Comeback Player of the Year: Prince Fielder, 1B- Texas Rangers

Fielder’s 2014 was cut short by neck surgery in June after he had uncharacteristically struggled throughout the early part of the season. This season, Fielder is back healthier and better. His .339 AVG at the All-Star break is 2nd in the AL and his .403 OBP is 4th. The Rangers sit 6 games back of 1st place Anaheim at the midway point. If Fielder continues his strong resurgence and some other players start to gel, Texas could be a real dark horse in the AL West.

Manager of the Year: AJ Hinch- Houston Astros

The feel good story of the MLB so far in 2015 has unquestionably been the Houston Astros. The team that finished 2014 70-92 came out of 2015’s first half 49-42, .5 games back of the Angels. The emergence of Dallas Keuchel, another strong showing from little big man Jose Altuve, and AJ Hinch’s management are the reason why the up-start Astros are where they are. Hinch has given #2 MLB prospect Carlos Correa a fair amount of playing time, and his young-blood has rewarded him with stellar play for a 20 year-old. Third baseman Luis Valbuena has emerged as a significant home run threat, currently tied for 7th in the AL with 19, and Evan Gattis’ 54 RBI are also pushing the team. Houston has been fun to watch in 2015, and Hinch’s intelligent style of management is a big reason why.

Rookie of the Year: Devon Travis, 2B- Toronto Blue Jays

Devon Travis has been an encouraging sign for the Toronto Blue Jays, who have performed beneath expectations yet again this season after signing Russel Martin and Josh Donaldson. Travis is playing very well for a young-blood that never played in Triple-A. The 6th overall prospect entering 2015, Travis comes into the 2nd half batting .304 with 32 RBI and a .353 OBP. He has been one of the few bright spots for Toronto this year.

Cy Young Award: Dallas Keuchel, LHP- Houston Astros

The question asked throughout the entire MLB in regard to Dallas Keuchel has been “where did this kid come from?” Keuchel already has 11 wins (T-1st) at the All-Star break when he had only 12 in all of 2014. His 114 Ks are 7th, he’s holding opponents to a .198 AVG, and his 2.23 ERA is 2nd to only Sonny Gray’s 2.04. He also has pitched 137.1 innings so far when he pitched only 200 all last year. Keuchel, much like his Astros, has been a welcome surprise and he was granted the honor of starting the All-Star game as a result. Maybe it’s the burly beard, or maybe it’s the presence of his new manager AJ Hinch, but if the Cy Young Awards were handed out today, Keuchel would win himself one.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, CF- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

His first half numbers are more than enough to say “he done it again”. Mike Trout is truly becoming the new face of MLB. Combining a smart eye at the plate, intelligent base running, and freak-show defense, Trout is arguably baseball’s best all-around player right now. He already has 26 HRs this season, tying him with teammate Albert Pujols for the AL lead. He is batting .312, has 55 RBI, and leads the AL with a .612 Slugging %. Most of his numbers at the half-way point of 2015 are better than his in all of 2014. Although the media does overrate him a tad, Trout is proving further and further that he is indeed the real deal, and the AL’s 2015 MVP.

@Flat_Manigen74

Manager of the Year: Terry Collins- New York Mets

The New York Mets may be the surprise of the year for the NL in the first half of 2015. The team that is notorious for having high hopes and fizzling currently sits at 2nd in the NL East, 2 games behind 1st place Washington. Lead by great all-around offensive production and the brilliance of Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets have had a solid season and look to be a threat in the NL East down the stretch. Collins this season has utilized his entire team to perfection, including savvy management of his pitchers. Surprise teams due tend to produce Manager of the Year winners, and if the Mets continue to play well, that trend will continue with Collins.

Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant, 3B- Chicago Cubs

The Cubs waited patiently at season’s beginning to bring Kris Bryant up from Triple-A Iowa, and their patience paid off in a big way. Adding Bryant to a youthful roster already including Addison Russel and Anthony Rizzo has worked out very well. Bryant currently is batting .269, leading all NL rookies in RBI (51), OBP (.376), and runs scored (47). He has been very solid defensively for the Cubs as well. The Dodger’s Joc Pederson has arguably been more electric and has more HRs, but Bryant has been all-around more valuable to a team that has less to work with than LA. For that, he takes the title.

Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, RHP- Washington Nationals

Nobody was expecting Max Scherzer to struggle in the NL East after he conquered the super-competitive AL Central, but he has gone above and beyond his expectations in his first half-season in the Nation’s capital. His 10 wins (T-2nd) don’t do any justice to how good he has been for the Nationals. He is currently in the top 5 in every major category, a 2.11 ERA (T-2nd), 150 Ks (2nd), .78 WHIP (1st), a .185 BAA (1st), 132 IP (1st), and 3 CG (1st). If all that doesn’t say it enough, he also threw a no-hitter on June 20th. If Scherzer continues his dominance, he will join the elite list of pitchers that have won the Cy Young Award in both the AL and NL.

Comeback of the Year & NL MVP: Bryce Harper, RF- Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper, much alike his AL counterpart Mike Trout, has only gotten better with age. But, unlike Trout, Harper’s rise to success hasn’t been as easy. He suffered a thumb injury early in 2014, missed two months, and struggled for the rest of the season, batting only .273. This season, Harper has come back with a vengeance, hitting .339 (2nd) with 26 HRs (2nd), 61 RBI (4th), a .704 Slugging % (1st), a .464 OBP (1st), and a whopping 1.168 OPS (1st). At this point, he is your 2015 Comeback Player of the Year as well as NL MVP, and he’s only 22 years of age.

@Flat_Manigen74

The Buffalo Sabres announced late Tuesday that they have signed Mark Pysyk to a 2-year contract that will pay him around $2 million annually. The 6’1, 193 pound defenseman spent much of last season in Rochester of the AHL. Pysyk was the 23rd selection of the 2010 draft (Sabres first overall).

He is from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada as is Brendan Guhle, the Sabres 2nd round draft choice last month. Pysyk has appeared in 70 games with Buffalo over the past three seasons. He figures to be a fixture on the blue-line this season.

Mark Pysyk
Defense
Born Jan 11 1992  -- Sherwood Park, ALTA 
Height 6.01 -- Weight 193 -- Shoots R

                                            --- Regular Season ---  ---- Playoffs ----
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  GP   G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2007-08  Sherwood Park Crusaders     AJHL    1    0    1    1    0  --  --  --  --  --
2007-08  Edmonton Oil Kings          WHL    14    1    2    3    8  --  --  --  --  --
2008-09  Edmonton Oil Kings          WHL    61    5   15   20   27   4   0   0   0   2
2009-10  Edmonton Oil Kings          WHL    48    7   17   24   47  --  --  --  --  --
2010-11  Edmonton Oil Kings          WHL    63    6   34   40   88   4   0   0   0   6
2011-12  Edmonton Oil Kings          WHL    57    6   32   38   83  20   3   8  11  16
2012-13  Rochester Americans         AHL    57    4   14   18   20   3   0   0   0   2
2012-13  Buffalo Sabres              NHL    19    1    4    5    0  --  --  --  --  --
2013-14  Buffalo Sabres              NHL    44    1    6    7   16  --  --  --  --  --
2013-14  Rochester Americans         AHL    31    1   11   12   28   5   0   0   0  14
2014-15  Rochester Americans         AHL    54    3   14   17   32  --  --  --  --  --
2014-15  Buffalo Sabres              NHL     7    2    1    3    2  --  --  --  --  --
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         NHL Totals                         70    4   11   15   18

Last season in late February while playing a pick up game of basketball with Amerks teammates he collapsed. He was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. After an extensive evaluation by doctors at Strong he was released and the report stated no significant medical issues were prevalent. Pysyk had no prior health issues. He returned and played the final game of the season in Rochester.

In an interview with Andrew Peters and Kevin Sylvester Wednesday on WGR’s Hockey Hotline Pysyk indicated that nothing is wrong and everything was “back to normal”. He also said he had no issue playing on the left or right hand side on Dan Bylsma’s defense.

He is training up in Edmonton at the present time.

wolfFrank Wolf

@wolf3328

fromthe300level

 

 

Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher are entering their 2nd season together as the New York Knicks “brain trust”. The Knicks are coming off their worst season in franchise history (17-65). There is an old saying, “It is always darkest before the dawn” and it was pretty dark last year for Knicks fans. But, there are better times coming. Does anyone really think that Jackson and Fisher just forgot how to win at basketball? Between the two of them they have won a total of 18 NBA Championships. So the Knicks were awful last year, this is nothing new to this franchise under James Dolan. Since 2000, New York has had 9 head coaches:

Jeff Van Gundy 1996–2001

Don Chaney 2001-2004

Herb Williams 2004

Lenny Wilkens 2004–2005

Herb Williams 2005

Larry Brown 2005–2006

Isiah Thomas 2006–2008

Mike D’Antoni 2008–2012

Mike Woodson 2012–2014

Derek Fisher 2014–present

The only thing consistent about the Knicks under Dolan has been constant change, The Knicks have traded away numerous draft picks, brought in veteran players on the decline of their careers all in the name of winning. The only problem is… Dolan’s formula hasn’t worked. Since 2000, the Knicks have won 1 playoff series. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is been the Dolan regime.

All that has stopped under Jackson. For the first time in 15 years the Knicks have a long term plan. They didn’t overpay for free agents this summer, and they drafted two players, Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. Both Porzingis and Grant have tremendous upside. In their 1st summer league game as a professionals, the two combined for 24 points. (15-17 from the free throw line) and played a pivotal role in the opening game victory. Porzingis is frail but he will get stronger and he should be a productive stretch 4/ center for years to come.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook was impossible to block, because Porzingis is so tall (7’1 and growing) maybe his jump shot will be impossible to block as well.

Jackson acquired Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams and Aaron Afflalo. Williams is a former #2 overall pick and has all the tools to be a very good NBA player. I like Quinn and Lopez up front because they don’t need plays run for them to influence the game. They are grinders and like to do all the dirty work. That should help Prozingis as the season wears along. I don’t think you can win an NBA championship with Carmelo Anthony being your number 1 option. But, for now, Jackson has put players around Melo who don’t demand the ball. Successful teams like the Bulls, Warriors, Cavs and Spurs build through the draft. This is what the Knicks have to do for long term success.

Did Jackson and Fisher make mistakes last year? Absolutely, but let them learn on the job. Gregg Popovich was 17-47 his first year as the San Antonio head coach. The Spurs didn’t panic, they believed in him and 5 championships later, the rest is history. Derek Fisher is coaching in his second season in the Knicks summer league. This proves to me he wants to learn and grow and be around his players. It hasn’t been talked about much through the media but Fisher deserves a ton of credit for being on the sidelines. He was a grinder as a player and now as a coach.

I don’t know if Jackson and Fisher will bring a title to New York, but they will bring the Knicks back to a contender. It may take another year or so, but Knicks fans have been in mourning since Dolan took over. Remember, in 15 years the Knicks have 1 playoff series win… Better times ahead, be patient. Phil and Derek know basketball.

 

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asg logo2The stage is set, the 86th MLB All-Star Game will be tomorrow night at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. This year’s game is sure to be interesting as many new faces will represent their respective Leagues.

Multiple elected starters from both Leagues came down with injuries after their election, meaning many replacements were called in. The finalized line-ups for both Leagues are as follows.

NL:

  1. Andrew McCutchen- Pirates-CF (replacing Giancarlo Stanton)
  2. Todd Frazier-Reds-3B
  3. Bryce Harper-Nationals-RF
  4. Paul Goldschmidt-D-Backs-1B
  5. Buster Posey-Giants-C
  6. Anthony Rizzo-Cubs-DH
  7. Jhonny Peralta-Cardinals-SS
  8. Joc Pederson-Dodgers-LF (replacing Matt Holliday)
  9. DJ LeMahieu-Rockies-2B (replacing Dee Gordon)

 

AL:

  1. Mike Trout-Angels-CF
  2. Josh Donaldson-Blue Jays-3B
  3. Albert Pujols-Angels-1B (replacing Miguel Cabrera)
  4. Nelson Cruz-Mariners-DH
  5. Lorenzo Cain-Royals-RF
  6. Adam Jones-Orioles-LF (replacing Alex Gordon)
  7. Salvador Perez-Royals-C
  8. Jose Altuve-Astros-2B
  9. Alcides Escobar-Royals-SS

 

This afternoon, Managers Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost announced their starting Pitchers. Bochy will give the ball to intra-divisional rival Zack Greinke of the Dodgers, while Yost has given the nod to the Astros’ ace lefty Dallas Keuchel. Truthfully, I am very surprised that Nationals’ Manager Matt Williams did not scratch Max Scherzer from his Sunday start. Scherzer cannot pitch in the game now and he seemed to everyone like a cinch for the NL starter.

 

Bochy and Yost have also named the Managers they will invite to assist them. Bochy (as per tradition) will bring hometown Manager Bryan Price of the Reds as well as Don Mattingly of the Dodgers. Yost has invited AJ Hinch of the Astros and Lloyd McClendon of the Mariners. Both Managers will bring the entire coaching staff from their teams as well.

The Game is Tuesday night on Fox, 7 PM ET. Don’t miss any action!

@Flat_Manigen74