Top 10 Moments in the 2013 MLB Season

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox

10. The Banged-Up New York Yankees
Picked to be AL East favorite, the Yankees instead were hit by crippling injuries to a half-dozen or more key contributors. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixiera, Curtis Granderson, Travis Hafner, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were sidelined for either most of the season or a significant portion of it. That the team remained in contention for the postseason up until the last two weeks of the season is a credit to manager Joe Girardi.

9. Evan Gattis Emerges Out of Nowhere
Barely an afterthought when spring training began, 27-year old rookie Evan Gattis benefitted from Brian McCann’s early injury to earn a slot with Atlanta. His power from the right side helped the Braves get off to a blistering start and although he eventually cooled down, he finished among the NL’s rookie leaders in HRs and RBIs.

8. Max Scherzer’s Dominance
Frequently overshadowed by Justin Verlander, Scherzer emerged as one of the top aces in the AL. Verlander was up and down, but Scherzer dominated from the start, breaking out to a 13-0 start, earning the starter’s role in the All-Star Game for the junior circuit. He went on to a 19-1 start and finished at 21-3, leading Detroit to the AL Central title.

7. Big Expectations Fall Flat With the Angels
A year after signing big money free agents C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, the Angels opened up their checkbook again to corral Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, leading to predictions that they would run away with the AL West title. Instead, the team got off to a miserable start, with Hamilton hitting under .200 through the early schedule. Pujols, plagued by nagging injuries, wasn’t much better and played barely half the season before being shut down.

6. Chris Davis Goes Long
Following his 2012 breakout season (33 HRs), expectations for similar numbers for the slugging Baltimore first baseman weren’t surprising, but with a major-league record 16 RBIs in the season’s first four games, “Crush” was easily the big early-season buzz around MLB. Davis would go on to lead the majors in homers (53), RBIs (138), extra-base hits (96) and total bases (370).

5. Matt Harvey Gives the Mets Hope For the Future
Ever since he set a Met’s franchise record with 11 strikeouts in his 2012 major-league debut, expectations surrounding Matt Harvey bordered on the ridiculous. With 19 strikeouts in his first two 2013 starts, the hype surrounding the 24-year old appeared to be valid. Harvey earned NL Pitcher of the Month for April and was named the NL’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game at the Met’s home ballpark, Citi Field. In late August, Harvey was shut down after being diagnosed with a UCL right elbow tear and underwent Tommy John surgery in October and is expected to miss the 2014 season.

4. Pirates End Twenty-Year Postseason Drought
The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates participated in the postseason was 1992, and late-season collapses in recent seasons appeared to jinx the once-proud franchise. In 2013 however, the Bucs never eased off on the gas pedal and eventually snapped the longest under- .500 streak in North American professional sports history by clinching a winning record in early September. The team subsequently earned a Wild Card spot in the NL postseason.

3. Puig Energizes the Dodgers
On June 3rd, the high-payroll Dodgers were struggling with injuries and subpar performances and were being written off as NL West contenders. When Yasiel Puig joined the lineup that evening, one of modern baseball’s most impressive turnarounds was hatched, with the 22-year old Cuban defector breaking out with one of the more productive first months in history. He would go on to put up numbers second only to Joe DiMaggio in his first month, as well as being the first player in MLB history to be named Player of the Month in their very first month. Puig helped the Dodgers to the NL West title, finishing with a .319 average, 19 HRs and 42 RBIs.

2. A Most Unusual Ending
Game Three of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, score tied with one out and runners on second and third. Cardinal OF Jon Jay hit a sharp driver to Boston second-sacker Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia threw home to erase baserunner Yadier Molina, followed by C Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw to 3B in an attempt to end the inning by getting Allen Craig out. Instead, the throw sailed into left field, and when Craig arose to race home, he stumbled and fell over 3B Will Middlebrooks. Craig was easily thrown out, but 3B umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Middlebrooks, allowing Craig to be awarded home with the winning run. Such a play had never occurred in postseason history.

1. From Worst to First
Expectations were somewhat lowered following a miserable last-place 2012 season for the Boston Red Sox, but the Boston Marathon tragedy appeared to inspire and spur the Bosox into one of the franchise’s most dramatic turnarounds in their history. Led by veteran slugger David Ortiz and a group of bearded journeymen, Boston swept through the American League with clutch hitting and timely pitching. The “Dream Season” culminated with a 4-2 World Series triumph over St. Louis, with Ortiz turning in one of the Fall Classic’s most memorable performances.

What We Know About The NHL Through October in 2013

The Colorado Avalanche

The first month of the 2013-2014 NHL season has come to a close. After a dozen or some games, it is possible to start making judgments about the teams and players that we see on the ice. What exactly have we learned about the NHL through the month of October?

The Sabres Are Terrible

The Buffalo Sabres are assuredly going to be the worst team in the league this season. They have resorted to starting teenagers and have traded Thomas Vanek to the Islanders. Although Matt Moulson had a great first game in Buffalo, they still lost. At 2-13-1, Buffalo can at least claim to be number one in the draft if not number one in the league at the end of the year.

Philly, New Jersey And The Rangers Are Huge Disappointments

The Flyers, Rangers and Devils are battling to stay out of the basement in the Metropolitan Division. It has been a slow and steady fall from grace for teams that were going deep into the playoffs just two years ago.

Colorado, Tampa Bay And Toronto Are Surprise Leaders

Tampa Bay is 10-4 on the season and are on top of the Atlantic Division. Toronto is tied with Tampa Bay with 20 points and is averaging roughly 3.5 goals per game. Colorado has to be the most shocking team in the league last year. After finishing among the bottom five in the league last season, they have the second most points in the league at 24. Only San Jose has more with 25 for the year.

Alex Ovechkin Is Starting Hot

Alex Ovechkin has scored 10 goals in only 12 games to begin the year. At this rate, he will score almost 70 goals over the course of 82 games. For a player with so much talent, he tends to disappear at times. It is good for himself and the Washington Capitals to see him playing so well to start the year.

Good Goaltending Is Keeping Teams Afloat

Why is Colorado playing so well this year? You should look no further than their stellar goaltending. Semyon Varlamov has a save percentage of .945 and backup J.S. Giguere has a .985 save percentage in three games. In Minnesota, Josh Harding has a GAA of 1.00 to help him get off to a 5-2-1 start. Overall, the Wild are 8-4-3. It looks like Harding is going to see a lot of action this season.

The NHL season has gotten off to a strong start in 2013. For fans, this is going to be a great season because players are competing for spots on Olympic national teams as well as spots on their club rosters. Combined with a condensed schedule, the fans are going to get a lot of great action on a nightly basis until the NHL players head to Sochi in February.

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Five Reasons Why This Has Been The Craziest World Series Ever

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The 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox has had its share of interesting moments through five games. In Game One Dustin Pedroia was the victim of a terrible call that could have changed the course of the game and the entire series. However, that would be topped just a couple of games later.

1) Both Fan Bases Are Passionate About Their Teams

This is one of the rare World Series match-ups where both fan bases are passionate about their teams. While fans of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins were certainly happy to see their teams in the World Series in past years, the Cardinals are the top team in St. Louis and the Red Sox are what Massachusetts is all about. To put things into perspective, tickets to the Cardinals game against Boston on Monday night went for $400. Tickets to a Rams game in St. Louis that same night went for $10.

2) David Ortiz Is Hitting Over .700

It is rare that a player goes 3 for 4 in a single game. To see a guy getting a hit in 70 percent of his at-bats over five guys is ridiculous. In a sport where hitting .300 makes you are one of the greatest to play the game, Ortiz is in another stratosphere right now. There is a good chance that he is solidifying his claim to a spot in Cooperstown in several years.

3) Game Three Ends On An Obstruction Call

When you think of obstruction, you probably think about some political battle brewing in Congress. However, obstruction is a thing that end a baseball game. In Game Three, the St. Louis Cardinals were awarded home plate after the umpire determined that the Cardinals runner had been illegally tripped as he was trying to advance past third base. If St. Louis wins this series, that could have been the call that decided everything.

4) Jon Lester Is Pitching Out Of His Mind

Jon Lester will be the MVP of this series if the Red Sox are able to seal the deal on Wednesday or Thursday. In each of his two World Series starts, he has gone 7.2 innings while only giving up one run. On top of that, he has struck out 15 batters while only walking one. Among the pantheon of World Series pitching performances, this has to be among the best of the best.

5) The Series Could End On Halloween Night

The seventh and deciding game of the series would take place on Thursday night in Boston. With everything that has gone on in this series, it would only be appropriate that the two teams would settle things on a night traditionally known for pranks and other hijinks.

The Cardinals and Red Sox are closing in on the final chapter of their outstanding series. Regardless of who wins this series, the true winners are the fans of baseball and sports everywhere. Instead of looking ahead to the day when pitchers and catchers report in February, fans are going to be rewatching and reliving one of the greatest World Series in the last 10 years.

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2013 World Series Preview

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The 109th World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox and will open Wednesday evening at Boston’s Fenway Park. This will be the fourth Fall Classic between the two, with the other meetings occurring in 1946, 1967 and 2004. St. Louis won the first two series, while the Red Sox swept the Redbirds in 2004 to win their first world championship since 1918.

Boston and St. Louis finished the regular season with identical records (97-65), marking just the third time in World Series history that teams with identical records will face each other. The 2013 Series also features two managers (Boston’s John Farrell and St. Louis’ Mike Matheny) making their managerial debuts in the Fall Classic.

The Cardinals were crowned National League champions for the 19th time following victories over Pittsburgh and Los Angeles in the NL playoffs, while the Red Sox dispatched of Tampa Bay and Detroit to reach the World Series for the 13th time. St. Louis has won 11 World Series titles while Boston has emerged victorious 7 times in baseball’s Fall Classic.

POSITION MATCHUPS
Adam Wainwright gets the opening game assignment, squaring off against Boston’s Jon Lester. The remainder of St. Louis’ rotation will probably be NLCS MVP Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn with rookie Shelby Miller available if needed. After Lester, Boston manager John Farrell will trot out John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavey. Although the Cards have an obvious (on paper) advantage, Boston’s starters are all capable of going 6-to-7 innings, then turning it over to the bullpen and closer Koji Uehara (ALCS MVP), who has been almost unhittable since early summer. The Cardinals have gotten good work from Trevor Rosenthal in the postseason. Advantage St. Louis.

Catcher-Yadier Molina, STL vs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS
Molina is the heart and soul of the Cardinals, both at and behind the plate. His handling of pitchers is unmatched, and baserunners test his arm reluctantly. Saltalamacchia is nowhere near as polished, and he’s struck out in 15 of his last 27 at-bats. A huge Redbird advantage.

1B-Matt Adams, STL vs. Mike Napoli, BOS
Adams has filled in impressively for the injured Allen Craig, but he lacks Craig’s clutch-hitting ability and experience. Napoli has been one of the Bosox unsung heroes of 2013, delivering several clutch hits late in the season and making positive contributions in the playoffs, making this is pretty much a dead-even matchup.

2B-Matt Carpenter, STL vs. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
These two serve not only as offensive sparkplugs for their respective lineups, but are very similar in their approach. Carpenter had his breakout season in 2013, while Pedroia has long been recognized as a star. As close a matchup as there is, Pedroia’s experience gives him the slimmest of edges.

SS-Pete Kozma, STL vs. Stephen Drew, BOS
This matchup provides the classic “good field-no hit” comparison, with very little offense expected from either. In the field, Drew’s occasional lapses in focus has cost the Red Sox on a few occasions, while Kozma, although not flashy, is fundamentally sound and has even delivered some postseason offense. The edge goes slightly to the Cards.

3B-David Freese, STL vs. Xander Bogaerts, BOS
Freese’s lingering right calf issue has hampered him at bat. His defense is sometimes shaky, and his October offense has been non-existent. Bogaerts wasn’t expected to be in the lineup until 2014, but Will Middlebrook’s subpar play left Farrell with little choice. The 21-year old has all the skills, but the World Series is not AAA-ball. For that reason alone, give a slim edge to the Cardinals.

LF-Matt Holliday, STL vs. Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava, BOS
Holliday can (and has) delivered enough this season to keep him in the lineup, especially with the absence of Allen Craig. The Gomes/Nava platoon provides little power and is so-so defensively. Slight edge to Holliday’s experience.

CF-Jon Jay, STL vs. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Jay may find himself platooned with Shane Robinson, since the latter is wielding a hot bat. No one has more 2013 postseason hits than Ellsbury, and the Bosox need for that to continue. He led the majors in stolen bases despite missing much of September, and how he manages against Molina could set the tone as to how the Series evolves. Advantage Boston.

RF-Carlos Beltran, STL vs. Shane Victorino, BOS
Beltran has proven to be an absolute beast in the clutch, while Victorino, despite his .125 BA in the ALCS, is still the gritty consummate ballplayer. Give the Cards an edge however.

DH-Allen Craig, STL vs. David Ortiz, BOS
Craig’s late-season foot sprain affected the otherwise power-deficient Cardinals. Big Papi continues to wield a potent bat, but other than his heroic grand slam in the ALCS, he’s been relatively quiet in the postseason. Ortiz may even play some 1B in Busch Stadium games, which should be interesting, to say the least. Give the Red Sox the slightest of advantages here.

Boston has been a running offensive team all season, but with Molina behind the plate, look for them to scale back considerably, unless they have early success testing his arm. Craig’s return gives the Cards needed punch, but how effective he is after a long layoff remains to be seen. All in all, it’s difficult to expect St. Louis’ stellar starting pitching to suddenly fall apart, and for that reason, the pick here is for the Cards to win in six games.

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NBA Season Heats Up Again

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Less than five months after the Miami Heat outlasted the San Antonio Spurs to capture their second straight NBA title, the league is prepared to tip off the 2013-14 season with the other 29 teams still chasing LeBron James and company. Here are the hot storylines that will shape the season.

Can the Heat Repeat?
The clock is ticking on the potential dynasty in Miami, as LeBron James is set to become a free agent after this season. The Heat are setting the pace for the league, sprucing up its loaded roster with small forward Michael Beasley and center Greg Oden. Injury-plagued Oden is a huge question mark, but if he and Chris Bosh can produce in the paint, it would allow James to avoid having to play so much at center, making him even more dangerous. It seems doubtful if “The Big Three” will be together next year, so the group must collect their third big championship this season.

The Return of Rose
Derrick Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season with a devastating knee injury he suffered in the 2012 playoffs. He will be on the court opening night when the Chicago Bulls face the Heat. It is rare for a player of Rose’s magnitude to miss that much time, so it will be a challenge for the Chicago Bulls to adapt to having their biggest star back in the lineup.

L.A. Story
At the beginning of last season, the talk around Los Angeles was the loaded roster the Lakers managed to build by adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. However, the team could never mesh, as Nash was plagued with injuries the whole season and Howard proved to be a bust. The Clippers took advantage of the Lakers’ woes by stealing the spotlight as the best team in the City of Angels. Kobe Bryant is ailing and Howard is gone to Houston, so the Lakers do not appear to be a contender in the Western Conference. However, the Clippers continue to improve, and could challenge Oklahoma City and San Antonio for supremacy out West.

Rocket Fuel
Houston surprised the league last season by reaching the playoffs behind strong work from James Harden. The Rockets won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes in the offseason, but questions remain if Howard can perform any better in Houston than he did for the Lakers. The Rockets are one of the youngest teams in the league, and could be the next dynasty. This is a pivotal year for this quality squad.

Can the Spurs Bounce Back?
San Antonio suffered a devastating Game 7 loss in the NBA Finals after squandering a 3-2 series lead and a big lead in the final minute of Game 6. It remains to be seen if that was the last hurrah for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the rest of the Spurs’ seasoned lineup. The Spurs do have some youth, led by potential star Danny Green, but the clock is ticking on this team.

The Thunder Carries On
Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder dreamed of NBA titles going into last season’s playoffs, but those dreams went up in smoke with an injury to point guard Russell Westbrook in the series against the Rockets. Kevin Durant carried the team to the Western Conference semifinals, but the lack of depth really caught up to the Thunder. Oklahoma City may still be a contender, but Westbrook’s injury revealed limitations that the Thunder may not be able to overcome.

Warriors On the Hunt
Golden State surprised the league by reaching the Western Conference semifinals last season. The Warriors may actually be better this season as Andrew Bogut is healthy and the team added Andre Iguodala in the offseason. Golden State has excellent chemistry and are not going to surprise anyone this season, so sharpshooter Stephen Curry is going to have to stay hot.

The Fall of the Celtics
Age and attrition finally started catching up with the Celtics last season, as they bowed out in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to the improved New York Knicks. Boston hired Brad Stevens away from Butler University to coach a team featuring Rajon Rondo and not much else. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are now with the Brooklyn Nets. It was a major surprise to see Stevens take an NBA coaching job, especially for a team that is essentially dismantled and must be reconstructed from the ground up.

Setting the Pacers
The Indiana Pacers pushed Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season, and everyone from that team is back and better. The Heat are a major roadblock for Indiana, but if the Pacers can continue to get strong production from Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of this improving squad, the Pacers may prove to be a force in the Eastern Conference.

Resources:

  1. 2013-14 NBA Schedule
  2. New NBA Merchandise
  3. Transactions