A Lot can Change in a Week for the Sox

 Chris Sale has been all the headlines since he came to Boston over the winter. He has been everything and more in his first 5 starts that Boston fans could have hoped for. Sale is listed at 6’6” and a slender 172 lbs. Not exactly the measurements of a horse that is going to last a full season. Historically for Sale his worst season of the month is September with a 3.84 ERA (from 2014-2016) compared to a career 3.03 ERA.

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Here's Hoping Your Spring Break was Better than Mine

 It all started three days before spring break, I thought I was in the clear. In three days it would be relaxing and baseball for a week straight. If that's not heaven it's pretty darn close (to me). Alas, I was naive in thinking break would come so easily. At practice on Wednesday, the team was taking popflys. I went for a ball on the first base side behind home plate, as I went for the ball the first baseman ran into me also going for the same ball. I ended up the worse in the collision. Somehow, (the details on this are still blurry because I don't remember) when we collided the first baseman's knee struck the side of my head and his cleat went through my baseball pants above my knee. 

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Zags and Gamecocks

This matchup has something for every fan out there. It has the gutty underdog in South Carolina that no one had going anywhere in the tourney, and the number one seed that had the most pressure to perform well in the big dance in Gonzaga.

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Bracket Breakdown

Underdogs that deserve a look to give big teams a headache.

     Middle Tennessee – The Blue Raiders play in Conference USA, and went 30-4 on the season. Out of all the 12 seeds Middle Tennessee is my favorite to at least make a first round upset and possibly go on a run. Behind senior transfer JaCorey Williams who led the team in scoring, duo Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw Middle Tennessee is built for a run.

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College Trip

 When I was applying to colleges I had a go for broke mentality; apply to my dream school, nowhere else and hope it goes well. I focused all my efforts on getting into Syracuse, when I found out that I had been rejected by my number one and only one it knocked me down. There was no plan B at the time it was Syracuse or bust and the latter occurred.

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Fire Men

This past postseason could have changed the way baseball is played in the long run. When Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter elected to not use arguably the best closer in the game Zach Britton, in a win or go home game that the O's ended up losing. After that Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona managed each playoff game uber aggressively, putting Andrew Miller in the game before the 7th inning several times, and using Cody Allen for more the 3 outs on numerous occasions too. 

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Casey Neistat New Form of Media

It has now been close to 4 months since Casey has stopped daily vlogging. However, Neistat hasn't completely halted in making his YouTube movies, making the occasional video every couple of days. Neistat has over 6.5 million subscribers and was/is the most famous vlogger out there, all of his videos have skyrocketed in views since his announcement that he was finished vlogging. 

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The Freak

Submarine Pitching

BY PETER TAURO

      The past year I have toyed with the idea of becoming someone that throws from “down under.” Not because I think throwing submarine is the way to go, but because after tearing my labrum throwing the conventional way was too painful.

     Saying that, being one month into pitching like a maniac, I have fully embraced the sub motion. The pain in my shoulder has faded, however the thought of being different has only gotten bigger.

     Being a left handed pitcher, I’m already different, and because of that I act different. I’ll be the first to admit I’m one of if not the most superstitious people out there. I wear the same outfit every time I pitch (skin tight black Under Armour), put my socks on the same way every time(left then right), single knot the right cleat and double knot the left. I buried my lucky penny behind the mound last season and dug it up after the season (it is currently in my wallet). I can’t pitch without my lucky pack of gum and fortune cookie in my back right pocket when I’m on the hill. Lastly, before going out on the field I take two skips, hop over the foul line, then sprint to the mound. I don’t know why I do any of it, but I know if I didn’t something horribly would go wrong.

     With all that, throwing submarine just seems to fit me. I like it. Most importantly I don’t feel like someone is stabbing me in the shoulder.

     When I told my friends and teammates that I was throwing submarine they all looked at me and were like huhhhh, that’s different. They’re skeptical, I was skeptical, throw all that out the window. I like that people are doubting whether submarine pitching is the way to go for me, it only makes me want to try harder to get better at it.

     So if nothing else sit back relax and welcome to East Lyme’s Circus show, at the High School baseball field starting in April, through June, to watch The Freak at work.

     Like FDR said, “Above all try something.”

Everton Surging

Blue Boys are back

BY PETER TAURO

     Over the last 5 matches for Everton, of a possible 15 points they have taken 13 points. With wins against Leicester at the King Power, Southampton, Man City, and at Crystal Palace.

     The most impressive aspect of the wins lately is the young talent that has been leading the charge. Among them are Mason Holgate, Ademola Lookman, and standout Tom Davies.

     Holgate has been fearless in his defending all season long. Last game acquiring an early yellow card at Crystal Palace, the defender kept his head and was able to play aggressive and attack without being subbed off.

     Ademola Lookman was just signed in the transfer window for 11 million pounds. The 19 year old has extreme pace and great attacking mind, he showed that off in his debut scoring against Man City, to put the icing on a 4-0 victory.

     The 18 year old Davies has excelled in the midfield. The young Englishman can play deep and defend well, then distribute the ball in an attacking frame of mind. Davies was a product of the Everton farm system since age 11. The game against Man City he assisted and scored a goal to help secure the game for Everton. Davies looks like a bright spot for manager Ronald Koeman that he will be able to build around in the coming years.

     The past 5 games and strong winning form is positive for Evertonians, as they close the gap between Man United to 5 points in the table.

NFL Playoffs

Playoffs are in the air

BY Peter Tauro

     It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the opening week of playoffs beginning. The games are Texas at Raiders, Lions at Seahawks, Giants at Packers, and Dolphins at Steelers.

     Teams with byes are the Falcons, Cowboys, Chiefs, and Patriots.

     Surprise Pick

     Every year it’s all about how the Patriots are hands down the best team, and how tom Brady is like a fine wine that is only getting better with age. Reality check to the sports world Brady will decline, no it won’t spontaneously happen during this playoffs, but it will happen. With that being said I like the Kansas City Chiefs. Alex Smith is one of the most underrated QB’s in the NFL, but he gets the job done. Tyreek Hill is a beast and can turn nothing into something. Their defense has always been solid with super safety Eric Berry.  

     With the Texans and Steelers winning games that sets up for the Texans at Patriots and Steelers at Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round. For the NFC the Packers and Seahawks won making the matchup for the NFC Divisional round Packers at Cowboys and Seahawks at Falcons. Hopefully these games will be better than wild card weekend, which had the greatest score differential of 76 points the largest since the playoff expanded since 1990.    

Who Dem Boys?

Giants beat Cowboys; Again

BY PETER TAURO

     Going into Sunday night the Dallas Cowboys were viewed as the best team in the NFC, if not the NFL. The New York Giants were coming off a tough loss to the Steelers, after winning 6 games in a row.

     Dallas Recap

     Last night proved that the Dallas Cowboys are not who most people think they are. Last night the Giants defense ripped apart the Cowboys offense. Standout rookie QB Dak Prescott, looked like a rookie QB for the first time since Week 1, against the Giants. Prescott completed only 45.9% of his passes, for 165 yards, was dropped 3 times and threw two interceptions. The other rookie Ezekiel Elliot, ran for 107 yards, on 24 carries and no touchdowns.  

     The Boys defense was solid throughout the game minus one slant route to Odell Beckham Jr., for 60 yards. Sean Lee was all over the field making 18 tackles.

     Why they lost?

     Simple Dallas lost because the Giant defense went out and beat them for four quarters. Every single player on the Giants defensive unit played out of their mind and stepped up. Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul was injured last week, and lost for the regular season due to Sports Hernia surgery. In his place rookie Romeo Okwara stepped up with 8 tackles, a sack, and a batted ball. Okwara put Prescott under pressure all night along with Oliver Vernor on the other side on the defensive line.

     The Giants secondary is one of, if not the best unit in the NFL. They were as close to perfect as it gets, minus the blown coverage on Terrance Williams that ended up being the Cowboys only score of the game. Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie had two big defended passes, Landon Collins continued to shine and make big hits, and Janoris Jenkins had another pick and numerous big time tackles and had great coverage all night.

     Let’s not get carried away

     While the Giants defense is playoff ready, the offense is woeful on their best of days. Good teams do the little things right, not dropping balls is one of them. Cruz, Beckham, and company had too many perfectly thrown passes bounce off their hands, they have to clean it up.

     The Giants offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. Eli Manning has no time to get the ball out, and the line gets absolutely zero push for the run game. With no run game it puts too much pressure on Manning and he needs a balanced attack to be good. Relief could be on the way though with Left Guard Justin Pugh being close to healthy for next week.    

     What’s next?

     For Dallas, they have a tough game at home against the red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

     For Big Blue, it doesn’t get any easier as the Detroit Lions come to MetLife.  

New MLB Super Team

Red Sox are team to beat on Paper

BY PETER TAURO

     The Red Sox shocked the baseball world the other day trading for lefty ace Chris Sale. The Sox gave up Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and two other prospects. The deal could not be any better for Boston. The Sox get Sale for $38 million over 3 years, in the prime of his career (versus someone like Zack Greinke who is getting paid $34 million this season alone).

     Last season eleven pitchers in all of baseball threw for over 200 innings, now the Red Sox have three of them. The big three is arguably one of the best in MLB with David Price, reigning CY Young Rick Porcello, and now Sale.

     One aspect the pitching staff was missing was someone that pitches angry, Porcello showed signs of it later in the season. I’m a firm believer in every team having a pitcher that is fearless it just makes the entire staff better. Sale brings that. He isn’t afraid to go inside and has lead the league in hit batters the last two seasons, I love it.

     With the addition of Sale barring injuries, the Sox are the team to beat in the AL. Vegas had the odds for Boston to win the World Series at 10-1, before the trade. After, 5-1 to win the series. Chris Sale is the real deal, and the Red Sox are showing they’re ready to win now.

MLB Winter Meetings

Talk Heating Up

BY PETER TAURO

     With the free agent class this year not being the strongest in recent history the trade market will be hot all winter long. Trades have already been flying around like snowflakes in Utah.

     Free Agents Signed

     Mark Melancon – The closer signed a 4 year contract for $62 million, with the San Francisco Giants. The move for the Giants is great, it bolsters the backend of their bullpen that was lacking last season. Bringing in Melancon solves that with his 1.64 ERA over his 75 appearances. The move makes the Giants all the more dangerous with one of the best for late game situations.

     Carlos Beltran – The longtime outfielder has bounced around since he left the Cardinals, and has struggled with injuries. Last year was a positive for Beltran, hitting for .295 and 29 HR. Beltran signed a one year deal with the Astros for $16 million, joining a list of veterans that Houston has acquired this offseason with Josh Reddick, and Brian McCann. Although these aren’t huge splashes, the Astros need some veteran leadership on a team filled with young talent. The moves could not be better.

     Trade Talk

     Chis Sale – The White Sox ace has been said to be shopped for almost a year now, but the conversations are serious with the Nationals looking to make a splash and sign the lefty to an already stellar rotation. Sale has tremendous upside being a power left handed pitcher when there are so few, but last season his second half was not the usual Sale that everyone is used to. Whether it was because the White Sox were out of it, or fatigue I don’t know. One idea to consider is his arm angle that hurts just to watch, and whether Sale will be able to continue to throw by putting that amount of stress on his arm. If he is signed the Nationals rotation is Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez.