Conference Finals Predictions

And then there were four. The conference finals have finally arrived. It is the best time of the year for NBA fans, as we get to see who has bragging rights for the year for each conference. It is a great time to see our favorite stars grow, and for new ones to emerge. Here are my predictions for each series

 

Eastern Conference Final

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Prediction: Heat in 7

It has been great to see the success of a young ball club like the Pacers. They have been working hard this whole season, and have really proven that defense takes you far in basketball. They averaged the most blocks and rebounds per game over the past year. Miami, on the other hand, was last in rebounding. This is going to come down to Miami’s offense versus Indiana’s defense. If Lebron can step up his game just a bit to his postseason form from last year, then Indiana is in for a bumpy ride. The only way the blue and gold would be able to pull an upset off are offensive explosions from Roy Hibbert and Paul George. If all goes right, the Heat will be in their third straight final.

Source: Matthew D. Britt

Source: Matthew D. Britt

 

Western Conference final

Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs

Prediction: Spurs in 6

The combination of big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph has been the main reason why the Grizzlies have made it through the playoffs. No other team has two all star centers who can shoot and post up. Add Mike Conley to the mix and you have a force to be reckoned with. But the Spurs are just too much to handle. San Antonio has three hall of famers in Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan. Ginobili is the best sixth man in the league, and if Memphis puts their best defensive player, Tony Allen, on the tenacious Parker, Manu will be dropping threes all over Memphis. The Spurs also have role players who have the ability to score in Kawhi Leonard, Gerald Green, and Gary Neal. There are just too many threats to contain for the Grizzlies. Spurs advance in 6 games.


I still think that the Heat will win the title, but the Spurs will put up a good fight against the chosen one and his friends.  

Fenway


I took this photo on April 15 after a walk off win by the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Little did I know, that my life and others would be changed in a hour when two bombs went off on Boylston Street, less than a mile from Fenway. What was one of the best days of the year turned into the saddest.

Europe’s Strong Economy

Europe is the art and cultural center of the world. The continent’s economy is the best in the world, and has the highest GDP per capita of all continents. Europe’s strong economy is due to the tourism and attractions located across the continent. Millions of people flock each year to Europe to visit the many different ancient civilizations that called Europe their home. Europe is also one of the centers of the world for international events, such as the Olympics and G7 meetings. It may be one of the smaller land masses, but Europe certainly has left its mark on the world.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Europe attracts thousands of visitors each year to its many attractions. Europe is filled with all sorts of things to see, from the ancient civilizations, to the diverse culture of the continent. One of the most visited cities in the world is Rome. Rome was home to the Greek empire, and its many attractions still stand today for people to see, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum . The GDP per capita of Rome is an astounding $38,765. Had it not been for the number of tourists that visit each year, Rome, Italy, and Europe would not all be such prosperous places. But how many tourists exactly do visit Europe each year?

Over 503.96 million people visited Europe last year. That is two times more than Africa and the Americas combined. France is the most visited country, with around 80 million tourists a year. Most people tend to visit the continent during the summer, when the weather is at its finest. There are over 37,000 hotels scattered across Europe, so there is always plenty of room for visitors. It is great there are so many hotels because Europe is also the international center of the world.

Europe has been the center of the world for many arts and inventions. The Olympics were created in Greece thousands of years ago, and are still the single biggest sport event in the world. Many inventions have been created in Europe as well, such as the piano, telescope, and refrigerator. These inventions have also helped contribute to the country’s economy, as many items are shipped out of europe today, such as televisions, food, and many wines.

Europe’s tourism has not only transformed the economy, but transformed Europe’s countries into some of the best in the world.

 

Winners And Losers From Opening Day

It seemed like it would never come. That day when our favorite baseball teams laced up their spikes for the first time and took the field. Opening Day is a symbol of the start of spring, and the end of a harsh winter. With Opening Day though comes expectations. Each team has been told their limits by every person possible, but nobody can predict what takes place on the diamond accurately. This first week of baseball may not mean much to the outcome of the 2013 season, but it certainly shows us what to expect. There were lots of players and teams that were “winners” in the first week. But there are always losers with winners.

 

Winner: LA Dodgers

When you spend 400 million dollars on free agents and players received from trades, you certainly are expected to be a contender. The Dodgers have proved just that. With a team ERA of 1.00 through the first week, the Dodgers have just shut down opposing hitters. Carl Crawford has been hitting the ball well, batting .476 through the first week. Having him on base when Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez come up certainly helps you win games.

misconmike

misconmike

 

Loser: LA Angels

With the acquisition of Josh Hamilton, the Angels looked like the team to beat. Two dominant Leftie, and Two dominant Righty hitters in the top of their lineup. Hamilton has yet to hit a homerun, and is only batting .160 so far. Their starting pitching has been average, but will certainly dip down with the loss of Jered Weaver. I was expecting more than 2 wins in the first week.

 

Winner: Justin Upton and Atlanta Braves

The Braves have the best record, with 6 wins and only one loss posted in the first week. Justin Upton had a horrible year last year, and is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Upton already has five homers and is batting .318. His brother BJ is also contributing to almost every run this year, and has proved to still have his gold glove form. This is  certainly not a fluke.

 

Loser: Robinson Cano and New York Yankees

The Yankees have two wins instead of one only because CC Sabathia pitched one of the best games of his life on Sunday. Eduardo Nunez and Youkilis have been good replacements so far for Jeter and A-Rod, but they will only stay hot for so long. The one person who is supposed to be the anchor for the offense, Robinson Cano, is only batting .130 so far. This team will be relying heavily on their pitching, and in a hitter friendly league, that is never going to work out.

 

Winner: Theo Epstein and Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are certainly not going anywhere soon, as their 2-5 record shows. But when you start from the ground up, you get a starting pitcher that can be dominant. That is what the Cubs have found in Jeff Samardzija. In his first start of the year, he only allowed two hits through eight innings. He was on his way to an equally good game against the Braves, until a blown call through him off track. He has lots of potential, and will be the rock for the foundation. Good Job Theo.

 

Loser: Minnesota Twins

Aaron Hicks was supposed to become an everyday consistently good player for the Braves this year. After hitting .317 with four homers and sixteen RBIs in spring training, he has only gone 2-26 this year. With an already depressed lineup, the Twins don’t look like they are going to be contenders again this year.


Although it is the first week, the implications of a team’s attitude in the first week may affect how good their long term success is.

Top 5 Starting Pitchers In Baseball

There is always one common trend in every championship baseball team. Yes, they all have phenomenal hitting. But the way they get there is their starting pitching. A pitching rotation in baseball serves as the backbone. Without good pitching, you have no success, no matter how good your hitters are. Since there are 5 pitchers in a rotation, here are my top five starting pitchers in Major League Baseball

 

5. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

At the age of 24, you could say that Strasburg is the youngest “Dominant” pitcher in baseball. In his pro debut in 2010, he struck out 14 batters and did not walk a single person. After missing 2011 due to Tommy John Surgery, Strasburg was in the top ten in strikeouts last year. He didn’t even play the whole season. His fastball can hit 100 mph. Some pitchers struggle to hit 90 with their fastball. Strasburg hits 90 with his changeup. He also has a dominant curveball that can reach low 80s as well. Strasburg just has raw power that is hard to overcome.

wknight94

wknight94

 

4. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

King Felix has proven that hard work pays off. After a season in which he threw five shutouts, including a perfect game, Hernandez signed a $175 million contract. Hernandez doesn’t overpower you with his fastball. Instead he utilizes his two seam fastball on the corners, and can beat you with his changeup and curveball when necessary. Hopefully he will be given some players to provide offense for him, as he has been on a losing team for most of his career.

 

3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw broke into the league in 2008, and has been improving his game ever since. It was hard to cap his 2011 Cy Young performance, but he still managed the lowest ERA in baseball in 2012. He rarely makes mistakes, and with six different pitches, it is hard to predict what he will throw. His curveball is a knee buckler, and he has very good location on his circle changeup.

 

2. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

Although Verlander deserved the Cy Young last year, Price still had a spectacular season. He posted a 20-5 record, and a 2.56 ERA. Considering the teams he had to face in his division, those are very good numbers. Price can pound the strike zone against righties and lefties with his fastballs, and then finish you off with a changeup or slurve. If he gets ahead in the count, you are done.

 

1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

This is a no brainer. The Tigers ace has had the most starts over the last five years (168), and led the league in strikeouts the last two years. After winning the MVP and Cy Young in ‘11, and being robbed of the award in ’12, Verlander is clearly at the top of his game. He has a fastball that hits 100 MPH consistently, and one of the best 12-6 curveballs in baseball. He can go 7-9 innings each night, and continue to be dominant. Nobody can match JV.

 

These, are in my opinion, the best five starters in baseball.

Source: http://espn.go.com/mlb/statistics

MLB 2K13 Review

Baseball is a very complicated sport. There are so many little details that are hard to simulate into a video game. But for years it has seemed that the MLB 2K series hasn’t been able to get the major details right. As a Xbox 360 owner, the 2K series is the only one available. MLB The Show is the best sports game available, but it is only on the Playstation 3. So when I picked up my copy of MLB 2K13, I was not expecting much from the game. What I got was even worse. Here is my review of the game

Graphics: 4/10

The MLB The Show series has every little detail possible for the graphics. So when you compare it to 2K13, you feel like you are watching a comic from the 70s. The Graphics are the same exact thing as 2012. There are no improvements to the player faces or ballparks. There are many details on the parks that are not even there anymore in the game. The players still show emotions though, and although they are not very realistic, they still add a element of fun to the game. The swings and batter stances look pretty detailed as well. Overall though, they need some major updating. 

Gameplay: 6/10

The one bright spot of the game is the pitching mechanics. You have to think about where you locate your pitches. For example, if you are using a left handed pitcher and leave a curveball hanging to a right handed batter he will hit a homerun. The AI remembers where you throw pitches and punishes you if you make the same mistake twice. It gives the game a somewhat realistic feeling. The hitting isn’t terrible, but it is not good either. It it very simple, and feels like a sort of arcade game. Any ball hit near the warning track is caught. Every outfielder has great speed, even guys like Nelson Cruz. 

Commentary: 7/10

The commentators are very detailed. Every pitcher is thoroughly explained by John Kruk and his crew. It is nice to hear commentary when you bat, as The Show is just dead silent during ABs. I have learned many things from listening to the stuff they say in the game, and don’t often hear the same thing more than once. 2K did one thing right at least

 Overall: 5/10

Honestly, all MLB 2K13 is is a copy of MLB 2K12. So if you want a baseball game for your Xbox, just go out and buy an older 2K game for half the price. Because I guarantee that it will play the same.

Five Ways The Miami Heat Beat You

It is almost playoff time in the NBA. For basketball fans, it is the best time of the year. You never know who will make a run, and who will become a legend in NBA history. Every team has a chance in the playoffs. But there is always a team that seems unbeatable in a seven game series. This year it is the Heat. After a bad loss to the Pacers in early February, it looked like the Heat were easily beatable. They then went on to win 27 straight games, manhandling some of the best teams in the league. How can they possibly be so good night in and night out? Here are 5 ways they beat you.

 1. Three point shooting

The Heat were one of the best shooting teams in the league last year, and they have become twice as good this year. With the edition of the greatest three point shooter of all time, Ray Allen, and even better shooting from Lebron and Norris Cole, teams are forced to play tight defense on the heat. If you don’t, you kiss any chance of a win goodbye. When you do play tight D, they just let Lebron and Wade beat you to the basket.

2. Unselfishness

When you watch the Heat play consistently, you notice something every game. Almost every shot the Heat take is a good look. All of the players are willing to make that extra pass to get the best look possible. It is even more impressive when you consider the especially good shooting they have. This unselfishness is priceless when it comes down to a game seven in the playoffs.

 3. Coaching

When the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, the coaching staff sat down and decided they needed to change their offense. With all the skill Miami has, they cannot afford to play like the rest of the league. The Heat incorporated a post offense for Lebron and Wade, opposed to leaving them on the perimeter, and it has paid dividends for them. Once they get going, they can just kick it out to their three point shooters. It is simple, but efficient.

4. Defense

The edition of Chris “Birdman” Andersen has really improved a good defense to a great defense. Lebron and Wade both are very strong forces on defense, but the Heat were lacking a strong piece to stick in the game for 15 minutes a night to help down low. Andersen has provided that, and now players are finding it even harder to get past the red hot Heat with the Bird standing in the middle.

 5. Lebron James

Lebron is Lebron. There is nothing to describe the level that he is playing at right now. Teams used to play off of him and let him beat them with his shooting. Now he can actually shoot the ball. When you play up on him, he explodes to the basket and finishes with a layup or a dunk. When you play off of him, he just hits the jumper in your face. He used to be made fun of for not being able to finish in the clutch. Now it has become his trademark. He is “Jordanesc”.


With these 5 things going for them, the Heat are the best team in the league.