World Series Prediction

On the one half, I got the NLCS right, on the other half, I thought it would be Baltimore…

But a depleted Baltimore line up (they didn’t have Manny Machado or Matt Wieters) whose pitching let them down, got swept by a Royals team riding lightning in a bottle. The Royals are good and deservedly got those wins but when you look closer at the matchups, you see a team that got good matchups and outstanding play from a roster playing way out of their usual depth. 

The Royals are similar to the 2007 Rockies. Everyone hitting, everyone pitching and somehow playing mistake free baseball. But if you look deeper, you see what could be their one flaw. Their starting pitching. It’s been said that they have an amazing bullpen and that James Shields is ‘big game’ but if you watched the games and stats don’t lie, your game 1 pitcher has pitched 16 innings and allowed 10 runs on 21 hits and 5 walks to go along with 10K’s. Not horrible but not confident of him out dueling Madison Bumgarner twice either. 

Jason Vargas has been there best but he’s has gone deep in either start and is prone to the long ball. It’ll help him in AT&T Park but if he goes game 2, then it won’t help him much there. Not mention, he likes to pitch for the outside corners, a spot that Giants hitters have had a lot of contact on this post season and with the DH available for the first two games, that will give Michael Morse a lot of options for hits. 

Yordano Ventura is whole other problem for the Royals. He’s been less than stellar and he was helped out by Royals offense that struggle for most of the season and simply got hot against an Orioles bullpen that wasn’t at its best this post season.

The Giants on the other hand are the team with experience. They’ve been down, they’ve come back. They’ve scored in the oddest of ways. Yet they’ve been remarkably consistent through this post season. They haven’t been shut out once. They strike out very little and are forcing other teams into panic plays that got them series wins. But the Giants bullpen has been shaky at times too. Beyond Lopez, Affeldt and Casilla, it’s a thin bullpen there after. Romo, has been good this post season minus game 2 of the NLCS. But Strickland is a question mark and their rotation beyond Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson are also question marks as well. But Bochy has the one weapon that the Royals dont, which is Yusimero Petit. Bochy has used him twice this post season and he didn’t allow a run. He could be a difference maker this World Series.

The lineups are an interesting match up and it’ll be interesting to see how Kansas City handles the impact of not having a DH to bolster their line up in games 3 and 4. On the other hand, the lineups are pretty similar as well. Neither really boasts more than 2 hitters above .300 in their lineups and have essentially won with some clutch hitting and have the right hitters in the right spots.

The managerial game might be other difference maker and it’s hard to argue against anything that Bruce Bochy has done except for Hunter Strickland. For the most part, he’s been right on just about every move this post season and he’s still yet to lose a post season series as Giants managers. There’s a reason why despite the lack of star power that the Giants are 31 - 10 under Bochy in the post season. He just knows what to do.  

With all of that being said, I know the Royals are going to be everyone’s favorites. Winning a lot of games in a row can have a lot of people including experts and analysts of the game quickly choosing the Royals because of their undefeated record. But for me, experience and having done it before and the fight to never back down is something I believe the Royals will gain but it won’t lead to their first World Series since 1985. The Giants seem to have it going and in an even number year it’s hard to argue against them despite the fact that they haven’t picked to win anything this year.

Giants in Six  

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NHL 2014-15 Season Preview

It’s the day before the season starts and every team has gone through training camp and submitted their rosters. After everything that’s happened, here’s how I see it all shaping up:

Playoffs:

Eastern Conference

Metro Division

New York Rangers

New York Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins

Tampa Bay Lightning

Montreal Canadiens

Wild Card

Florida Panthers

Washington Capitals

East Finals

Boston Bruins defeat New York Rangers

Western Conference

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Ducks

Central Division

St Louis Blues

Chicago Blackhawks

Dallas Stars

Wild Card

Minnesota Wild

Nashville Predators

West Finals

Los Angeles Kings defeat Chicago Blackhawks

Stanley Cup Finals

Los Angeles Kings defeat Boston Bruins

NHL Awards

Hart

Steven Stamkos

Art Ross

Alexander Ovechkin

Norris

Shea Weber

Vezina

Ben Bishop

Calder

Max Domi

Jack Adams

Peter Laviolette

Lady Byng

Marc Eduard Vlasic

Notes:

I decided to be a bit bold with some picks but who knows what will happen this year. The East is a toss up to be quite honest. Boston leaves a little left to be desired after trading Johnny Boychuk. Pittsburgh didn’t improve its depth enough to warrant any championship talk and Tampa Bay’s addition I believe are a bit overblown for bit players with not great possession numbers. I don’t believe we’ll see much change in the Atlantic Division from last season but the Metro division is pretty bad. Enough where I couldn’t decide between the Rangers, New Jersey, Islanders, Capitals and Pittsburgh. I believe those five teams will probably be going in and out of the Metro race all year and it’ll come down to the final games of the season. I believe that New Jersey didn’t do enough to help itself in the OT and SO department and it will cost them despite some good moves they made this offseason but losing Fayne is a big deal. I believe the Islanders will sneak back in and Florida will be the surprise of the season. But Florida will only go as far as Luongo can take them. But they’ve got depth and they’ll win games based on grit and grinding out a lot of 1 goal wins.

With it all said and done, I believe we’ll probably see Boston make a mid-season trade to shore up it’s defense but then again, I believe the expectation is that Dougie Hamilton will step up to Boychuk’s role with more offense and with the defensive depth of McQuaid, Miller and Seidenberg for a full year should off set the loss of Boychuk. But I still see Peter Chiarelli making a mid-season move or two if he feels the team has a chance of winning it all. Philadelphia will take a step back this season. The Red Wings will miss the playoffs for the first time since the age of Dinosaurs and Ottawa will probably be headed for the lottery. Washington I believe with the coaching of Barry Trotz, will surprise a lot of observers (I haven’t seen one writer peg them to return to the post season) and do what Alain Vigneault did for the Rangers last year.

All in all, it’ll be the Boston Bruins defeating the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. Not that it will matter who wins the East.

Out West it was a different and more difficult proposition. There is apart of me that believes that Jim Benning did a good job this off season that could see Vancouver making the playoffs this season but I had to leave them out because apart of me still thinks Minnesota will edge them out. I have Colorado dropping out of the playoff race as their defensive deficiencies get exploited this season. I know Minnesota isn’t a popular pick to make the post season but I believe they have the core to make it. Nashville is my surprise pick because I believe that Peter Laviolette will get the most out of these players offensively while still having one of the most underrated defenses in the league. They’ll probably be bounced in the first round but I believe they’ll make it in and it’ll be the start of a new era for Nashville.

In the Pacific, I had to go with Los Angeles Kings as the division winners. I believe a full year of Gaborik will help keep on pace that the point different between first and third place will probably be four points in the standing. Honestly, any of those three could win the division. Even the overreaction by the Sharks, will not cost them this season. Will it be smooth sailing for them? That remains to be seen but Thornton on the fourth line in the offseason and the rebuild never happened. To be honest, I don’t believe they really needed to change much except their goaltending. Anaheim, a lot was made about them getting Kesler but in losing Perrault and Bonino, I believe they’ve taken a step back. Calgary will make steps forward in their rebuild and I believe Edmonton, might surprise people with their improved defense. But they both play in the Western Conference.

With that being said, while it’s tough to repeat and the fact that the Los Angeles Kings have played a lot of hockey these past three years, I believe that Los Angeles Kings will win their third Stanley Cup in four years.

Can’t wait! This will be another fun NHL season!

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Halloween in Duckburg (1973) (by Tom Simpson)

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Halloween in Duckburg (1973) (by Tom Simpson)

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

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Placervillle History?  (at Hayday Cafe)

Placervillle History? (at Hayday Cafe)