• Royals, Giants face off in Game 1 of World Series

    The 2014 World Series will get kicked off in Missouri tonight as the Kansas City Royals host the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the best-of-seven series.

    For the Royals, this is their first World Series appearance since they won it all in 1985. The Giants are back for the third time in five years and looking for their third title. Both teams started this postseason by winning wild card games and are looking to make history by winning this destiny-filled series.

    Honestly, I have no idea who will win this one. My postseason bracket this year was awful and these two teams have been playing with some kind of magic that makes anything possible. Nevertheless, here’s my brief rundown of the matchups and my pick to win it all.

    The starting pitchers that have been confirmed so far are as follows:

    Game 1- (SF) Madison Bumgarner v. (KC) James Shields

    Game 2- (SF) Jake Peavy v.(KC) Yordano Ventura

    Game 3- (KC) TBD v. (SF) Tim Hudson

    Game 4- (KC) TBD v. (SF) Ryan Vogelsong

    Statistically, the Giants have a lower team earned run average (2.18) than the Royals (2.93), but I don’t think that completely sums up the pitching comparison. San Francisco’s starting rotation has been a little better this postseason, in my opinion, but Kansas City has a much deeper and stronger bullpen. The Giants’ relievers have been good, but their bullpen isn’t as solid as Kansas City’s.

    Both closers successfully saved every game they were asked to, with San Francisco’s Sergio Casilla going 4-for-4 and not allowing a run in 6.2 innings pitched and Kansas City’s Greg Holland going 6-for-6 with one run scored in eight innings pitched. Again, I think the Royals have a slight advantage in pitching as the game goes on and I think their bullpen will need to be extra special against the Giants’ persistent offense.

    Offensively, both of these teams are incredibly dangerous. They can both score big early and know how to get runs across the plate when the game is on the line. Kansas City has a better team batting average (.259 to San Francisco’s .244) and a number of guys with impressive hitting stats through the postseason, but you can’t underestimate the veteran hitters in the Giants’ lineup.

    The Giants will be led by Buster Posey (.302 AVG, .354 OBP, 5 RBI), Pablo Sandoval (.326 AVG, .396 OBP, RBI), Hunter Pence (.256 AVG, .341 OBP, 3RBI) and former Longhorn Brandon Belt (.286 AVG, .409 OBP, 6 RBI, HR) when they come to the plate. As a team, they hit five homeruns and stole three bases in 10 postseason games so far. They have a number of supporting guys in the lineup that can get on base and drive in runs when needed.

    The Royals’ offensive attack will be headed by Eric Hosmer (.448 AVG, .556 OBP, 8 RBI, 2 HR), Lorenzo Cain (.353 AVG, .378 OBP, 4 RBI), Mike Moustakas (.241 AVG, .267 OBP, 5 RBI, 4 HR) and Alex Gordon (.222 AVG, .400 OBP, 9 RBI, HR). With an impressive 13 stolen bases so far, I expect them to continue their aggressive base running. They have a lot of speedy guys who can get on base, and with eight homeruns hit as a team in the postseason, their power hitting is getting hot at exactly the right time.

    Both teams have solid defenses that have made big plays to get them this far. Statistically, the Giants are better defensively with a .785 defensive efficiency ratio so far in the playoffs to the Royals’ .748 DER, but both have committed three errors, allowed three stolen bases and caught one runner in the postseason.

    If San Francisco’s veteran Posey can control the Royals’ base running, it could affect their offense all the way through. But the Royals have had their way on the base paths against some great catchers already, so we’ll see what happens.

    Choosing a winner in this series was very tough for me. Both teams are incredibly resilient and find ways to come up big when necessary and both can take quick leads and preserve them with solid defense. Every time I think one team has an edge, I recall something about the other team that makes me doubt whether any advantage exists.

    I don’t think there is a set favorite to win this series. These teams are too similar and both are playing with this great vibe you only see in the postseason. Anything, and I mean anything, can happen when these guys take the field. I think, and hope, this series will go the full seven games and we’ll see some wild, extra-inning, walk off baseball.

    So, who wins the title- the seasoned, veteran-filled team or the feisty club full of young stars? It’s an awfully tough decision, but I’m going to go with the Kansas City Royals.

  • Texas Stars sweep weekend games, remain undefeated

    The Texas Stars, Austin’s minor league hockey team, improved to 3-0-0 this weekend following wins against Oklahoma City and Utica.

    Both games were close with the Stars winning by just a one goal margin each time, but the Dallas Stars' AHL affliliate was able to pull through each time. 

    The Stars started out the weekend with a road game against the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday. Texas, who won 3-2, had a combined a team effort as three different players registered in the scoring column.

    Texas took an early 2-0 lead at the end of the first period but saw their lead evaporate midway in the second period with two goals by Oklahoma City. Though, the Stars powered through, scoring towards the end of the second period and taking the lead for good at 3-2.

    Jack Campbell and Jyrki Jokipakka highlighted Texas'. Campbell, the Stars’ goalie, had 37 saves against the Barons, while Jokipakka scored the winning goal for the Stars.

    The Stars also won their second game of the weekend against the Utica Comets in Austin. Compared to their game against the Barons, Texas’ contest against the Comets was much more of a defensive thriller as the Stars outlasted Utica 1-0.

    The Stars used an early third period goal by Travis Morin to break away for the win after neither team could put the puck in the back of the net during the first two periods.

    Goalie Jack Campbell also played well for the Stars, saving all 29 attempts that came his way.

    Up next for the Texas Stars is a home-and-home series against the Oklahoma City Barons this weekend. The Stars will play at the Barons on Friday and will conclude the weekend with a home game against Oklahoma City on Saturday.

  • Longhorns Look to Solidify Secondary In Class of 2015

    Texas head football coach Charlie Strong has always been known as a defensive-minded coach. Prior to his stint as head coach at Louisville from 2010-2013, Strong served as an assistant or  defensive coordinator since 1983, most notably as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida from 2003-2009. At Florida, Strong boasted a large list of accomplishments, most notably producing 13 All-Americans and a National Defensive Player of the Year.

     

    This defensive mindset held by Strong, has been reflected in his recruitment of the Class of 2015, most notably in his recruitment of the defensive backfield. Aside from quarterback Zach Gentry, the Longhorns top recruit from the Class of 2015 is safety DeShon Elliot. Elliot, from Rockwall-Heath High School in Heath, Texas, is the number five ranked safety prospect in the nation according to ESPN.com. 

     

    At 6-2, 205 pounds, Elliot is a physical safety who excels at covering larger receivers and stopping the run. Due to this, Elliot has been compared to former Longhorn and current Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who was the number 14 pick in the 2010 NFL draft. 

     

    To play alongside Elliot, the Longhorns have eyed two cornerback recruits; Iman Marshall from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and Kendall Sheffield from Thurgood Marshall High School in Missouri City, Texas. 

     

    Both Marshall and Sheffield are highly touted prospects, with Marshall being the top ranked corner prospect and Sheffield being the third ranked corner prospect according to rivals.com. With both prospects being ranked so high, it may be difficult for the Longhorns to compete with top flight programs such as Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. However, the background of Strong and the success of the Texas secondary in past years should place the Longhorns in the running for the two prospects, both of whom have NFL aspirations. 

     

    One key selling point for the Longhorns is their ability to get prospects to the NFL. In the case of Marshall and Sheffield, Texas provides a uniquely impressive pitch, as the program has produced five first-round draft picks in the defensive backfield since 2006, most recently safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 15th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Additionally, Strong produced seven first-round draft picks during his time as defensive coordinator at Florida, including cornerback Joe Haden, who was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft. 

     

    The Class of 2015 is Strong’s first recruiting class and his first chance to mold the team in his image. Strong is a coach who preaches physically and defense, and with the addition of Elliot and possibly Marshall and Sheffield, the Longhorns look to be improving on just that.

  • World Golf Hall of Fame announces newest members

    By Matthew Adams

           On Wednesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that its 2015 class will consist of Englishwoman Laura Davies, Australian David Graham, American Mark O’Meara, and late course designer A.W. Tillinghast. 

           This year’s process was different from previous years because many golf writers were eliminated from the process, relying on a 16-member voting panel  Members of this panel included Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and R&A Chief Peter Dawson and three selected golf writers. 

           With these changes, the usual ceremonies around the week of the Players Championship did not occur due to the process being reevaluated.  A lot of outrage existed in 2013 when Fred Couples, only 1 major win, and Colin Montgomerie, no major victories, beat out Graham and O’Meara for the spots. 

           Although the golf world is happier to see Graham finally make it into the Hall of Fame, the issue this year is that Ian Woosnam was left off.  Woosnam is a 29-time European Tour winner, was the world’s number 1 player from April of 1991 to March 1992.  During the streak, he went on to win the 1991 Masters. 

           Yet as the golf world gripes about this issue, recognize that the process is getting better and enjoy the current celebration. 

           Graham has been waiting a long time for this, and is more than deserving.  In his career, Graham finished his career with eight career PGA Tour Titles, five on the Champions Tour.  His biggest wins consist of the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion.  His performance is still viewed as a benchmark for tournament golf.   With these wins, Graham became the fourth Australian to win a major championship and the first to win the U.S. Open. 

           O’Meara is most famously known for his run through the 1998 tour.  He finished with wins at the Masters and the Britsh Open Championship.  O’Meara also went on to claim the PGA Player and Tour Player of the Year Awards. 

           Davies is less known compared to her counterparts, but her impact has been just as important in the LPGA Tour.  Within the golf world, Davies won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open and named Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996. 

           For British honors, Davies was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth the II and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, the highest award for a British citizen.  

            Tillinghast has been recognized for his golf courses that he created throughout the United States in the early 20th century.  One of his famous sights includes Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Jack Nicklaus won 2 of his 4 U.S. Open’s and Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Open in 2005.    By Matthew Adams

           On Wednesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that its 2015 class will consist of Englishwoman Laura Davies, Australian David Graham, American Mark O’Meara, and late course designer A.W. Tillinghast. 

           This year’s process was different from previous years because many golf writers were eliminated from the process, relying on a 16-member voting panel  Members of this panel included Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and R&A Chief Peter Dawson and three selected golf writers. 

           With these changes, the usual ceremonies around the week of the Players Championship did not occur due to the process being reevaluated.  A lot of outrage existed in 2013 when Fred Couples, only 1 major win, and Colin Montgomerie, no major victories, beat out Graham and O’Meara for the spots. 

           Although the golf world is happier to see Graham finally make it into the Hall of Fame, the issue this year is that Ian Woosnam was left off.  Woosnam is a 29-time European Tour winner, was the world’s number 1 player from April of 1991 to March 1992.  During the streak, he went on to win the 1991 Masters. 

           Yet as the golf world gripes about this issue, recognize that the process is getting better and enjoy the current celebration. 

           Graham has been waiting a long time for this, and is more than deserving.  In his career, Graham finished his career with eight career PGA Tour Titles, five on the Champions Tour.  His biggest wins consist of the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion.  His performance is still viewed as a benchmark for tournament golf.   With these wins, Graham became the fourth Australian to win a major championship and the first to win the U.S. Open. 

           O’Meara is most famously known for his run through the 1998 tour.  He finished with wins at the Masters and the Britsh Open Championship.  O’Meara also went on to claim the PGA Player and Tour Player of the Year Awards. 

           Davies is less known compared to her counterparts, but her impact has been just as important in the LPGA Tour.  Within the golf world, Davies won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open and named Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996. 

           For British honors, Davies was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth the II and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, the highest award for a British citizen.  

            Tillinghast has been recognized for his golf courses that he created throughout the United States in the early 20th century.  One of his famous sights includes Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Jack Nicklaus won 2 of his 4 U.S. Open’s and Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Open in 2005.    

           These four members will be enshrined on July 13, 2015 at St. Andrews instead of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fl.

           These four members will be enshrined on July 13, 2015 at St. Andrews instead of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fl. 

  • Fantasy Decisions: Week 7 Rankings and the Flex

    The flex spot in your lineup can be one of the most infuriating positions on this planet.

    In most leagues, you’re given the choice between starting a running back, a wide receiver, or tight end. For years, I followed the philosophy of absolutely always using a running back in that flex unless bye weeks forced me to throw in a wide receiver for the position. Running backs have always seemed like the safe play to me. I rationalized all this in my head saying, “Running backs are always going to get carries! You never know if Alex Smith is going to throw to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery. How am I supposed to figure out whether Matt Hasselback has a good connection with T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week?”

    But as the league turns more and more towards an aerial attack, suddenly many teams are using a wide receiver in a flex spot once reserved for RBs only. The two positions are quickly becoming near-equivalents for fantasy purposes. As of this morning, there are 29 running backs that have averaged at least eight points a game this season. And wide receiver? Well, there are 30 in the same category.

    Here’s another stat for you. Of the top 40 flex options this year (based on average scoring per week): 17 are RBs, 17 are WRs, 6 are TEs.

    Just remember your flex spot is a FLEX spot! It is not a RB3 spot. Receivers are being more utilized every passing year, so now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, wide receivers may seem more sporadic but in reality, you’re looking at the same stats as the running back position. So use that flex spot for the receiver you keep ignoring; he just might surprise you.

    As we look forward to this weekend, don’t forget the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both on bye so feel free to let Mike Glennon and Riley Cooper hang out on your bench. Lastly, the Patriots take on the Jets tonight in an AFC East battle. Set your lineups accordingly. Onto the rankings!

    WEEK 7 RANKINGS

    QB

    1.     Aaron Rodgers

    2.     Philip Rivers

    3.     Andrew Luck

    4.     Peyton Manning

    5.     Jay Cutler

    6.     Tom Brady

    7.     Russell Wilson

    8.     Drew Brees

    9.     Carson Palmer

    10. Cam Newton

    11.  Colin Kaepernick

    12.  Matthew Stafford

    13.  Brian Hoyer

    14.  Joe Flacco

    15. Kirk Cousins

    16.  Matt Ryan

    17.  Tony Romo

    18.  Jake Locker

    19.  Ben Roethlisberger

    20.  Eli Manning

    RB

    1.     Arian Foster

    2.     Demarco Murray

    3.     Matt Forte

    4.     Le’Veon Bell

    5.     Marshawn Lynch

    6.     Jamaal Charles

    7.     Giovani Bernard

    8.     Eddie Lacy

    9.     Ben Tate

    10. Andre Ellington

    11.  Branden Oliver

    12. Lamar Miller

    13.  Alfred Morris

    14.  Justin Forsett

    15.  Andre Williams

    16.  Ronnie Hillman

    17.  Frank Gore

    18.  Shane Vereen

    19.  Fred Jackson

    20.  Joique Bell

    21.  Fred Jackson

    22.  Chris Ivory

    23.  Mark Ingram

    24.  Bishop Sankey

    25.  Jonathan Stewart

    WR

    1.     Demaryius Thomas

    2.     Antonio Brown

    3.     Julio Jones

    4.     Jordy Nelson

    5.     Dez Bryant

    6.     Alshon Jeffery

    7.     Brandon Marshall

    8.     Randall Cobb

    9.     Steve Smith

    10.  Golden Tate

    11.  Emmanuel Sanders

    12.  Andre Johnson

    13.  Kelvin Benjamin

    14.  Mike Wallace

    15.  Mohamed Sanu

    16.  Julian Edelman

    17.  T.Y. Hilton

    18.  DeSean Jackson

    19.  Michael Floyd

    20.  Percy Harvin

    21.  DeAndre Hopkins

    22.  Pierre Garcon

    23.  Reggie Wayne

    24.  Rueben Randle

    25.  Keenan Allen

    TE

    1.     Rob Gronkowski

    2.     Julius Thomas

    3.     Greg Olsen

    4.     Jordan Reed

    5.     Antonio Gates

    6.     Martellus Bennett

    7.     Jordan Cameron

    8.     Delanie Walker

    9.     Travis Kelce

    10.  Larry Donnell

    11.  Vernon Davis

    12.  Dwayne Allen

    13.  Jason Witten

    14.  Jared Cook

    15.  Heath Miller

    D/ST

    1.     Seahawks

    2.     Bills

    3.     Patriots

    4.     Texans

    5.     Browns

    6.     Cardinals

    7.     Lions

    8.     Broncos

    9.     Ravens

    10.  Bears

    11.  Cowboys

    12.  Chargers

    13.  Titans

    14.  49ers

    15.  Packers

    Flex

    1.     Arian Foster

    2.     Demarco Murray

    3.     Matt Forte

    4.     Le’Veon Bell

    5.     Marshawn Lynch

    6.     Demaryius Thomas

    7.     Antonio Brown

    8.     Jamaal Charles

    9.     Giovani Bernard

    10. Julio Jones

    11.  Jordy Nelson

    12.  Eddie Lacy

    13.  Dez Bryant

    14.  Rob Gronkowski

    15.  Ben Tate

    16.  Andre Ellington

    17.  Branden Oliver

    18.  Julius Thomas

    19.  Alshon Jeffery

    20.  Lamar Miller

    21.  Alfred Morris

    22.  Brandon Marshall

    23.  Randall Cobb

    24.  Justin Forsett

    25.  Andre Williams

    26.  Steve Smith

    27.  Golden Tate

    28.  Emmanuel Sanders

    29.  Ronnie Hillman

    30.  Frank Gore

    31.  Shane Vereen

    32.  Andre Johnson

    33.  Kelvin Benjamin

    34.  Mike Wallace

    35.  Mohamed Sanu

    36.  Greg Olsen

    37.  Julian Edelman

    38.  Fred Jackson

    39.  Joique Bell

    40.  T.Y. Hilton

    41.  DeSean Jackson

    42.  Chris Ivory

    43.  Mark Ingram

    44.  Bishop Sankey

    45.  Jonathan Stewart

    46.  Michael Floyd

    47.  Percy Harvin

    48.  Jordan Reed

    49.  Antonio Gates

    50.  DeAndre Hopkins

    Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

     

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