The Orioles and Royals are set to face each other in the ALCS

The Royals will have to bring their stellar pitching to Baltimore to face the Orioles and their hot bats. (l) Greg Holland, closer Royals. (r) Nelson Cruz, outfielder, Orioles.

The Royals will have to bring their stellar pitching to Baltimore to face the Orioles and their hot bats. (l) Greg Holland, closer Royals. (r) Nelson Cruz, outfielder, Orioles.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Both American League division series ended Sunday, October 5, with both teams completing a 3-game sweep. In the evening, the Baltimore Orioles swept the Detroit Tigers with a final score of 2 – 1 to be the first team to advance to the next round. In the nightcap, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Los Angeles Angels 8 – 3, to advance to the American League Championship Series.

Adam Jones (l) and Nelson Cruz (r) must stay hot if they are to help lead their team to the World Series.

Adam Jones (l) and Nelson Cruz (r) must stay hot if they are to help lead their team to the World Series.

The ALCS should be an excellent matchup of contrasting styles. The Orioles are one of the best scoring teams in MLB this season. They displayed their scoring prowess in the ALDS by scoring 21 total runs in the 3-game series against the Tigers. The Royals, on the other hand, have leaned heavily on their pitching. They were able to hold the high-powered Angels offense to 6 combined runs in the 3-game ALDS series.

The Royals must continue their excellent pitching and defense to have a chance to slow down the high-powered Orioles. (l - r) Alcides Escobar - Shortstop, Lorenzo Cain - Center fielder, Mike Moustakas - Third Baseman.

The Royals must continue their excellent pitching and defense to have a chance to slow down the high-powered Orioles. (l – r) Alcides Escobar – Shortstop, Lorenzo Cain – Center fielder, Mike Moustakas – Third Baseman.

The ALCS will begin on Friday, October 10 with the Orioles playing host to the Royals to begin the 7-game series. It will be interesting to see if the Royals can continue to show resiliency and clutch hitting or if the Orioles can keep their offense flowing. Either way, don’t expect a sweep in this series to determine who will head to the World Series.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Specific things to look for when the 2014 MLB playoffs begin 9/30/14

Many are predicting an all Los Angeles World  Series based off of the stellar play by two of the best players in MLB, Mike Trout of the Angels (l) and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (r).

Many are predicting an all Los Angeles World Series based off the stellar play by two of the best players in MLB, Mike Trout of the Angels (l) and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (r).

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Major League Baseball (MLB) teams will start their World Series push with the Wildcard round beginning for the American League (AL) on September 30 and the National League (NL) starting on October 1. Some of the sports’ biggest stars will be center stage while some teams will be making their first appearance in the playoffs for quite some time.

The Oakland A's will have their top trade acquisition Jon Lester on the mound to take on the Royals top trade acquisition from a season ago in James Shields as the AL WIldcard begins Sept. 30.

The Oakland A’s will have their top trade acquisition Jon Lester on the mound to take on the Royals top trade acquisition from a season ago in James Shields as the AL WIldcard begins Sept. 30.

The AL Wildcard game is between the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals. The winner of that game will face the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem in the Divisional Series. The other Divisional Series will feature the Detroit Tigers versus the Baltimore Orioles.

Former NL MVP's Buster Posey (l) and Andrew McCutchen (r) are in positions to build on their personal resume with good performances by their  teams this postseason.

Former NL MVP’s Buster Posey (l) and Andrew McCutchen (r) are in positions to build on their personal resume with good performances by their teams this postseason.

The NL Wildcard game is between the San Fransisco Giants and Pitsburgh Pirates. The winner will face the Washington Nationals in the Divisional Series. The other Divisional Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Detroit Tigers hope that former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander (r) and former MVP Miguel Cabrera can lead the team on another deep playoff run.

The Detroit Tigers hope that former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander (r) and former MVP Miguel Cabrera can lead the team on another deep playoff run.

There are three questions that are already present as the playoffs begin:

1) Will AL pitching carry their teams through the playoffs?

The conventional wisdom when it comes to AL teams is their offense tends to carry them as the Designated Hitter (DH) allows teams to have more offense regularly. While this is mostly true, recent examples from the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Detroit Tigers have shows that pitching has been more valuable and consistent for AL teams lately. Starting pitching usually gets the headlines but pitchers out of the bullpen are more important in the post-season when scoring is at a premium. With only 13 Blown Saves and an %81 Save percentage, the Kansas City Royals can make this first playoff appearance in 29 years a memorable one.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright (r) will have their hands full trying to slow down Adrian Gonzalez (l) and his Dodgers teammates this post-season.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright (r) will have their hands full trying to slow down Adrian Gonzalez (l) and his Dodgers teammates this post-season.

2) Will power bats be present for NL teams in these playoffs?

There was a period recently when teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies, or the Cincinnati Reds would be built with plenty of offense and power in the middle of the lineup. That period has changed drastically as none of the 4 NL playoff teams had a player on their team that hit for more than 30 Home Runs (HR). Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers is the only NL player with more than 100 Runs Batted In (RBI), leading the NL with 116 RBI. Since runs will be at a premium, those quick scores will make a huge impact on the outcomes of series. With the Pirates finishing the season third in the NL in HR’s and Slugging percentage, they seems prepared to use some quick scoring to put them over the top and advance through the post-season.

Bryce Harper (l) plays with lots of flare and energy for the Nationals. The same can be said for Yasiel Puig (r) for the Dodgers.

Bryce Harper (l) plays with lots of flare and energy for the Nationals. The same can be said for Yasiel Puig (r) for the Dodgers.

3) Which of MLB’s stars will shine the brightest in the playoffs?

Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) is regarded by most baseball pundits as the best pitcher in the game. Mike Trout (Angels) holds the distinction by many as being the best all around player in the game. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) has earned the title as the best hitter in baseball over the past few seasons. All of these players will have a chance to build their post-season resumes this year. Former MVP’s like Buster Posey (Giants), Justin Verlander (Tigers), and Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) will also have chances to enhance their playoff legacy. Young stars like Yasiel Puig (Dodgers) and Bryce Harper (Nationals) will also have the spotlight on them as the march to the World Series begins for MLB teams on Tuesday.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Tim Duncan’s impressive resume is tops in current team sports

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship  with his Spurs teammates.

Tim Duncan (c) celebrates his 5th NBA championship with his Spurs teammates.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The San Antonio Spurs are again NBA champions, the franchise’s 5th title, all with Tim Duncan on the court and coach Gregg Popovich at the helm. However, as the Spurs continue to be celebrated for their teamwork, Duncan’s individual greatness seems to be a bit undersold. Simply put, Duncan has the best resume of all current players in any American team sport today.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan, pictured with Tony Parker (l) and Bruce Bowen (r), won Finals MVP honors on 3 different occasions.

Duncan’s resume includes 14 All-Star appearances (in 17 years played), 14 All-NBA selections (10 1st team selections), Rookie of the Year honors, 14 All-Defensive selections (8 1st team and 6 2nd team), 2 NBA MVP awards (2002-2003), 3 NBA Finals MVP awards (!999, 2003, 2005), and 5 NBA championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

LeBron James is a 2-time NBA champion with 2 Finals MVP awards but has lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs on 2 different occasions.

The list of comparable players would include huge names in his sport like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It would also include baseball players Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols or David Ortiz. Football stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would also be included in the list of whose resume’s fall short of Duncan’s.

The case for Duncan stems from the length of time he and his team have been elite, his indiviual excellence in his prime, and the nuumber of championships he has helped lead his team to win. In basketball, the only current star with as many rings as Duncan is Bryant. Bryant was a major part of a Los Angeles Lakers team that won 3 consecutive championships (2000 – 2002) but he has only won NBA MVP once, was given one less Finals MVP award than Duncan, and spent the beginnng half of his career no better than the second best player on his team.

Kobe Bryant is one of the most decorated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Kobe Bryant is one of the most celebrated NBA players of all time. He was awarded Finals MVP twice (2009,2010).

Though Duncan played his first 6 seasons along side Hall of Fame Center David Robinson, Duncan established himself as the team’s best player by his second season. As Bryant has spent the last two seasons recovering from injuries, Duncan has helped lead his team to consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Duncan’s top notch performances in the last two seasons also illustrate how vital he is to his team’s success.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees  ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter is one of the most celebrated baseball players in history and is hoping that his final year playing with the Yankees ends with a championship.

Derek Jeter, the captain of the New York Yankees, is also known for being a classy, productive leader for a winning franchise. Jeter also has 5 championships and was a key part of a team that won 3 consecutive World Series (1998 – 2000) and 4 in 5 years. Jeter was World Series MVP in 2000 and was helped the team win another title in 2009. Yet, Jeter has never won league MVP, and played most of his career surrounded with a plethora of All-Star calliber players, which lessened the reliability of the Yankees on Jeter’s performance.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL's biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Peyton Manning is one of the NFL’s biggest stars and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He won Super Bowl MVP in 2006.

Brady and Manning seem to be constantly linked as the two quarterbacks that are viewed as the best the NFL has seen in the past 20 years. Manning has had a stellar career to date, amassing 5 NFL MVP awards (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013), and 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards (2004, 2013). He won Super Bowl MVP in the one Super Bowl his team won in 2006. Manning has been the Super Bowl on two other occasions (2008, 2013) and was unsuccessful in those attempts.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person's popularity.

Tom Brady is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Winning 3 Super Bowls and being married to one of the most famous super models in the world (Gisele Bundchen) can boost a person’s popularity.

Brady has been the starting quarterback for the Patriots since 2001 when he helped the team win the first of 3 Super Bowls (2001, 2003, 2004). Brady was named Super Bowl MVP twice (2001, 2003), NFL MVP twice (2007, 2010), and Offensive Player of the year twice (2007, 2010). The Patriots also made it to the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011 but came up short on both occasions. Brady has played his entire career with the same head coach, Bill Belichek, the same as Duncan and Popovich. While Brady has helped lead his team to the playoffs in many consecutive years, the fact that the Patriots haven’t won the Super Bowl since 2004 shows how difficult winning a championship really is.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will be forever linked as they have helped lead the Spurs to 5 NBA titles.

Duncan is also known for his humility and stoic demeanor. Duncan is not in many commercials, isn’t married to a super model or a global icon. He is, however, a great basketball player whose career accomplishments stand above his contemporaries, even as he continues his career with no signs of slowing down. He may not want the extra attention that comes with his success, but he certainly deserves it.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Sports memories of 2013

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and  Finals MVP in consecutive years.

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and Finals MVP in consecutive years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Every year has a unique sports identity and 2013 had a number of trends that immediately come to mind. This year the sports world treated us to fantastic moments like a Super Bowl that was decided in the final minutes and thrilling plays throughout a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the NBA Finals might be viewed as the game of the year as it provided us with scintillating plays all the way to the end.

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3 pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3-pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

We also witnessed serious tragedy in sports, headlined by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While there was something memorable about the different sporting events throughout 2013, there were some trends that connected the various sports.

 

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Superstar injuries: 2013 was a year in which some of the biggest names in sports spent a great deal of time on the injured list. Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Harvey, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kemp, Rajon Rondo, Arian Foster and Russell Westbrook were just several of the many All-Star caliber players  who suffered lengthy injuries this calendar year. Adrian Peterson has altered the perception of the impact of some of these injuries as he returned in record time to win the 2012-13 National Football League (NFL) MVP award after tearing the ACL in his knee at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is becoming apparent that Peterson’s recovery was exceptional and that it seems unreasonable to expect any athlete to return to action and be better than they were before the injury.

 

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Elite performances by the elite performers: The 2013 calendar year was tremendous for the best players in almost every sport. Peyton Manning set NFL records for quarterback in the 2013-14 season en route to a likely fifth MVP award. Miguel Cabrera proved to be the best offensive player in Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the American League (AL) MVP award for the second consecutive season. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each won two out of four Grand Slam titles this year on the tennis tour. Tiger Woods reclaimed his position as the number one ranked golfer in the world while winning five tournaments in 2013. Perhaps no performance stands out more than LeBron James capturing his second consecutive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals MVP award and fourth league MVP award this year as he led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships.

 

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him,.

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him.

Tough year in New York sports: The Yankees and Mets both faced numerous injuries to key players and failed to make the postseason this year. The Yankees had to watch their rivals the Boston Red Sox win another title. They also have to try to cope with the retirement of legend Mariano Rivera, the loss of their best offensive player Robinson Cano, the unavailability of currently suspended, scandal-plagued player Alex Rodriguez while hoping that Derek Jeter is going to be healthy and productive all season. The Giants and Jets both had mediocre seasons and will be watching the upcoming NFL playoffs from home, missing the chance to play in the Super Bowl which will be played in their hometown. Both football teams will likely make numerous player changes as they look to rebound next year. The Knicks and Nets are off to painfully slow starts to the 2013-14 NBA season. Any talk about NBA championship contention for either team seems extremely far-fetched as both teams have a long way to go just to make the playoffs this year.

 

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

Sporting world’s negative headlines: The two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 may be the most unfortunately memorable event that took place in sports. With approximately 264 people injured and 3 spectators killed that day, the tragedy unfolded slowly over the next few days after the marathon as the manhunt, shootout with one alleged perpetrator and eventual capture of the other alleged perpetrators played out on television like harrowing scenes from the FOX Network show 24.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

2013 was also witness to the arrest for murder and gun charges of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is currently imprisoned as he awaits trial for the serious charges. The Miami Dolphins sparked greater debates about bullying in athletics as news surfaced about Jonathan Martin walking away from the team after alleging that he was bullied by teammates, specifically Richie Incognito. The NFL is still investigating this matter. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was able to perform on the field while being investigated by local Florida prosecutors after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female who also attends Florida State. The prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges against Winston still raised questions about whether some athletes get special treatment from law enforcement as the attorney for the accuser remains adamant that her client was violated. At the same time, Winston consistently asserted that his encounter with the accuser was consensual and that he “did nothing wrong.”

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

2013 was quite an eventful and memorable sports year. Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was a gruesome sight but provided the impetus to propel the Louisville Cardinals to the national title. College football’s Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Women’s college basketball’s Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies proved to be the dominant coaches in their sports as they led their teams to another national title.

Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

Ray Lewis’ last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Miami Heat (NBA) won championships in 2013 and have been in the finals each of the last three years. “Big Papi” David Ortiz led the Boston Red Sox through the post season again to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis was able to retire on top as the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the Winter Olympics in Russia and World Cup in Brazil (for which the U.S. team was placed in the Group of Death) on docket, 2014 seems poised to garner even more interest than 2013 did in the sports world.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

MLB changes playoff format, aims for renewed interest

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Major League Baseball hopes the additional playoff team added in each league will spark greater interest in postseason play this season. MLB hopes intrigue drastically increases from the 2012 World Series, which was easily the lowest rated series over the past thirty years.

World Series ratings since 1984.

World Series ratings since 1984.

Tuesday and Wednesday night will be a one game elimination playoff game between the two Wildcard teams from the NL and AL respectively. The one-and-done format can increase excitement for that game for casual viewers. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, are among the larrgest national fanbases that will have a tteam represented in the 2013 playoffs. Thursday will be the beginning of the divisional series where teams move to the next round by winning the best 3 out of 5 games.

Alex Rodriguez continues to fight his appeal of a 211 game suspension imposed by Bud Selig.

Alex Rodriguez continues to fight his appeal of a 211 game suspension imposed by Bud Selig.

There are some obstacles for the MLB’s hopes for increased interest in this year’s playoffs despite the change in format. The most marketable team in baseball, the New York Yankees, are noticeably absent and there are few individual stars that are big draws in the game of baseball today. Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of a 211 game suspension for PED use and other alllegations also threatans to take away attention from the MLB playoffs. The greatest challenge to the MLB playoffs however, is the exceptional interest in college and professional football in this country.

The change in format for the playoffs was designed to create a momentum of intrigue in baseball as it enters the postseason.The extra playoff spot is expected to give more teams an opportunity to make the playoffs, which would hopefully bring more interest in more teams for a longer period of time. The challenge for MLB is the lack of star power in their sport and the enormous popularity of competing sports, make the likelihood that interest will grow exponentially minute. It is unlikely the ratings for the World Series this season will be worse than 2012 but MLB is hoping for more than modest growth in interest in this year’s playoffs.-Onpointpress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.