2014 MLB Predictions

I’m back once again for my 2014 MLB predictions. Last year I was correct on 8/30 of the standings and had the win/loss record correct on 3/30 considering Texas played a wild card game. Here are my predictions for the 2014 season. As always, feel free to comments your thoughts or suggestions on the standings.

AL East

NL East

Team

Wins

Losses

Team

Wins

Losses

 Boston

90

72

Washington

92

70

Tampa Bay

84

78

Atlanta

86

76

New York Y.

81

81

Miami

77

85

Toronto

79

83

Philadelphia

77

85

Baltimore

75

87

New York M.

71

91

AL Central

NL Central

Team

Wins

Losses

Team

Wins

Losses

Detroit

94

68

Pittsburgh

89

73

Kansas City

87

75

St. Louis

84

78

Cleveland

85

77

Cincinnati

82

80

Chicago W.

78

84

Milwaukee

77

85

Minnesota

71

91

Chicago C.

72

90

AL West

NL West

Team

Wins

Losses

Team

Wins

Losses

Texas

85

77

Los Angeles D.

95

67

Oakland

83

79

San Francisco

87

75

Los Angeles A.

82

81

Colorado

83

79

Seattle

76

86

Arizona

80

82

Houston

73

89

San Diego

75

87

 

 

Mascots? Who Needs Em?

The Chicago Cubs recently unveiled their first “official” mascot, Clark the Bear. This rather boring bear has absolutely nothing special about him… Oh now I see why the Cubs came up with him. May I note the 4 straight losing seasons and the fact that they haven’t won the World Series since 1908. Why didn’t they come out with a Billy Goat mascot? I don’t know either.

The Chicago Cubs organization says that this mascot will not be jumping on the dugouts, waving towels or interfering during the game. That leaves plenty of time before and after the game to annoy fans.

I have never been a fan of mascots for sports teams or schools. I’m guessing they were created to attract a younger audience to the sport or the team, but how many kids go to sporting events for the mascots? Sure they may crack a smile when they get a hug from a  random half-naked animal, but most likely the human being underneath the costume wants nothing to do with a smelly toddler.

The backwards baseball cap on Clark may spark some debate amongst the older Cubs fans. The folks who have been supporting “the Lovable Losers” for generations don’t like the gangster style that comes along with the backwards hat. But they do have a point. If Clark the bear did have pants, I would assume they would be down around his knees showing three-quarters of his paw print underwear.

No word yet on if Clark the bear is making more this year than a ball player on the Cubs, but I will keep you posted.

I sometimes wonder who is brave enough to wear the suit. Is there a rotation of guys? Is there one person? Does his girlfriend know about this job? Let’s hope she never finds out if something like this ever happens to Clark.

Despite my dislike for mascots, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Milwaukee’s sausage race and Washington’s presidential race. You gotta love these guys.

Feel free to share your opinion on Clark the Bear and mascots from around the world of sports.

2014 Olympic Goalie Debates

The 2014 Olympics begin on February 7th with the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia. The men’s tournament will begin the next day with two games. The deadline for countries to finalize their Olympic rosters is January 4th, 2014. In the mean time, we get to have some fun with predictions. Here are the participating countries. The U.S. have already finalized their roster and the rest are yet to be revealed. Stats are as of January 2nd, 2014.

Group A Group B Group C

RU Russia: Assuming the Russians go with three NHL goaltenders (which I doubt they will), the best three in my opinion would be:

  1. Semyon Varlamov (COL)
  2. Sergei Bobrovsky (CLB)
  3. Evgeni Nabokov (NYI)

Varlamov would be the ideal guy to get the starting role. With a respectable 2.33 GAA, Semyon will get the nod to start. As for spots two and three, these could go to guys like Vasily Koshechkin (21-9  1.92 GAA) or Alexander Yeremenko (21-4  1.84 GAA) both in the KHL. Nabokov beats out Ilya Bryzgalov in my books because of the uncertainty of Bryz and the fact that he’s only played a handful of games this year.

SK Slovakia: My predictions for the Slovaks are the exact same as the 2010 roster, only in a different order:

  1. Jaroslav Halak (STL)
  2. Peter Budaj (MTL)
  3. Rastislav Stana (KHL)

Budaj got the start for Slovakia in 2010, but since then Halak and Budaj have switched teams and Halak became a starting goalie in Montreal. Halak is (17-6) this year and despite having some injury issues this year, he will most likely get the start. Stana (10-10  2.33 GAA) in the KHL will battle Jaroslav Janus (12-11  2.95 GAA) also in the KHL for the final spot.

US U.S.A: Goalies already announced:

  1. Jonathan Quick (LAK)
  2. Ryan Miller (BUF)
  3. Jimmy Howard (DET)

The only debate the rose with this announcement was whether it should be Howard or Cory Schneider who gets the third position. I would replace Miller with Schneider as Miller has proven this year, he has lost most of his touch.

SI Slovenia: There is not too much info surrounding the Slovenian team. The projected goalies in my eyes would likely be the goalies that were on the team when Slovenia qualified for the Olympics.

  1. Andrej Hočevar (Elite.A)
  2. Robert Kristen (KHL)
  3. Luka Gračnar (Austria)

No one is expecting much from the Slovenians. All the best to them in the tournament.

FI Finland: This year’s Finnish squad is looking at a whole new crop of goalies thanks to the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff and Antero Nittymaki.

  1. Tuukka Rask (BOS)
  2. Antti Niemi (SJS)
  3. Kari Lehtonen (DAL)

The Hardest choice for Finland will be deciding to start either the statistically better Tuukka Rask (20-9  1.99 GAA) or the more experienced Antti Niemi (22-8  2.39 GAA). I would let them split the round robin games and make a decision for when the quarter finals come around. By then a true #1 will emerge, and hey, maybe it will be good ol’ Kari Lehtonen.

CA Canada: Canada has the most options in net this year. So if anyone goes down with an injury they will have 10+ goalies waiting in line. I’m guessing Martin Brodeur won’t be making another appearance although he continues to defy odds in the NHL.

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN)
  2. Carey Price (MTL)
  3. Corey Crawford (CHI)

The 2nd and 3rd spots could easily be switched at any moment. With so many options, these guys will need to be on top of their game to get a look at. Mike Smith (15-9  2.86 GAA) may be swapped in for Corey Crawford (17-6  2.49 GAA). I still can’t understand why Marc-Andre Fleury (22-10  2.15 GAA) doesn’t get any attention. Just because he had a few slip-ups in recent playoffs, he is completely overlooked despite leading the league in wins.

NO Norway: There’s only one active Norwegian in the NHL and that is right-winger Mats Zuccarello. As for goaltending, Norway doesn’t have much to choose from.

  1. Lars Haugen (KHL)
  2. Ruben Smith (GET-ligaen)
  3. André Lysenstøen (Mestis League)

Not that I know much about these guys, but one of the 2010 Olympic goalies Pal Grotnes is aging and may be pushed aside thanks to the young guys like 26-year-old Lars Haugen (5-12 2.67 GAA) in the KHL.

AT Austria: These guys didn’t participate in the 2010 Olympics but this year they could play spoiler for some teams. There isn’t too many options for Austria in net but here is who I think should start thanks to some help from the web.

  1. Bernhrd Starkbaum (SHL)
  2. Mathias Lange (DEL )
  3. Rene Swette (EBHL)

All three of these guys could contend to be the starting goalie… as far as I’m concerned.

CZ Czech Republic: A classic Czech roster containing Tomas Vokoun and Jaromir Jagr will most likely await us in February.

  1. Ondrej Pavelec (WPG)
  2. Michal Neuvirth (WSH)
  3. Tomas Vokoun (PIT)

Michal Neuvirth (2-3  2.83 GAA) makes a jump onto the roster this year. Although he backs up Braden Holtby currently in Washington, he has proven to us he can play well enough to earn a spot. I will be amazed if Czech republic decides to go with Alexander Salak in the KHL instead of giving Neuvirth the experience.

SE Sweden: The Swedes are always hungry for a gold medal and this year is no different. With a rise in young Swedish NHL goalies this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three tenders belong to an NHL club and not a KHL one.

  1. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
  2. Jonas Gustavsson (DET)
  3. Viktor Fasth (ANA)

Lundqvist is a shoo-in to get a spot but Gustavsson (11-3  2.39 GAA) has definitely deserved his spot on the roster after appearing in 17 games so far thanks to Jimmy Howard’s injuries in Detroit. As for Viktor Fasth, the Ducks goalie could have some competition, among them being Eddie Lack, Anders Lindback and Jhonas Enroth.

CH Switzerland: No matter who they play, they always seem to play a strong sixty minutes. That wouldn’t be possible without goaltending and Jonas Hiller always delivers for the Swiss in tournaments.

  1. Jonas Hiller (ANA)
  2. Reto Berra (CGY)
  3. Tobias Stephan (Swiss League A)

If Hiller plays like he normally does, than there will be no need for the other two goalies. Reto Berra (5-11  2.92) doesn’t have outstanding stats thanks to playing for Calgary, but may get the nod to back up Hiller. Tobias Stephan was on the 2010 roster and has NHL experience in Dallas.

LV Latvia: There isn’t one NHL or KHL goalie born in Latvia, meaning they will have to look at the 2010 goalies. Too bad Edgars Masaļskis is a 33-year-old free agent and Sergejs Naumovs is 44-years-old and retired.

  1. Ervins Mustukovs (SHL)
  2. Edgars Masalkis (FA)
  3. Kristers Gudlevskis (AHL-Syracuse Crunch)

I’m placing my bets that Masalkis plays for Latvia despite being a free agent. Gudleyskis is currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

2014 Olympic Hockey Polls

He Shoots, He Scores!

You know that quote “you can’t score if you don’t shoot”? There are many variations of it but the main message is telling you that you will not score unless you shoot. Yes, that is true more than 99.9% of the time but sometimes that 0.01% comes into play.

There was no shot by Washington and no shot recorded for Washington. But unfortunately there are only a couple of Niclas Wallin’s out there and as far as I’m concerned there is only one that has played in the NHL. For everyone else, they have to get goals the old-fashioned way. Shooting.

Stats are as of November 21, 2013.

There are three individual players with more than 90 shots. Alex Ovechkin (112), Zach Parise (101) and Evander Kane (93). Now it would seem Ovechkin is the better shooter out of the three with more shots, goals and a better shooting %, but stand Ovi’s Capitals up against the Evander Kane’s Jets and there is a huge difference between the average shots on goal per game.

Winnipeg averages 32.3 shots per game (4th in NHL), while Washington shoots an average of 29.5 times per game (18th in NHL). As for Minnesota, they’re 24th in the NHL with 28.3 shots per game.

The Jets have two of the top ten shooters and three in the top thirty. Those aren’t incredible numbers but it does make Washington shooters look like jokes. After Ovi, the next highest shooter is defenseman John Carlson with 54 shots. Good for 81st in the league. You can do the math yourself. Ovechkin has 58 more shots than second place Carlson. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the slightly above average shooters in Winnipeg over the Alex and the gang in D.C. Washington has some work to do if they want to keep up in the Eastern Conference. As we all know, goals wins games and defense wins championships but the Caps should focus on the last part of that when the time comes.

 

 

The Worst Calgary Flames Team…Ever

The Calgary Flames are considered a “rebuilding” franchise, and boy do they need rebuilding. After finishing the shortened 2012 season with a 19-25-4 record, the Flames team was projected to have a measly 72 points had they played a full 82 game schedule. 72 points! That brings back memories of the Blue Jackets point totals since 2009/2010.

Not only is the past still haunting Calgary fans but the future doesn’t look too charming either. The Flames got unlucky when Miikka Kiprusoff decided to retire with little reason and they also lost veteran forward Alex Tanguay via trade. Here is a look at the notable off-season transactions.

Additions:

Departures:

  • Miikka Kiprusoff (G)
  • Alex Tanguay (LW)
  • Roman Cervenka (RW)
  • Cory Sarich (D)
  • Anton Babchuk (D)

Ladies and gentlemen, your Calgary Flames 2013 offseason transactions. I’m telling you, I pick up better guys on the waiver wire of my fantasy league. I can’t say that I don’t like the Flames but if I were I die-hard fan, I would turn to the Oilers for the time being. If the Flames choose to keep Sean Monahan in the NHL then I would definitely keep my eye out for him and consider picking him up in your fantasy league.

Calgary claims to be in rebuilding mode but the roster is still full of veterans and Matt Stajan. As of October 22, 2013, the Flames have 9 players 30+ years old and if it weren’t for their relatively young centers, then their average team age of 28.199 years old would be a whole lot higher.

In conclusion, if the Flames want to have a real shot at the playoffs, then Karri Ramo is not a suitable option for a starter. Lets say Ramo gets hurt for a long period of time. Who does Calgary turn to? Joey MacDonald is the unfortunate answer. Personally, I would go after Buffalo’s  goalie Ryan Miller, and drain whatever Miller has left in the tank.

By no means do I dislike the Flames, but if they want to impress their fans, I suggest doing a proper rebuild and focus on a 2nd line center, 2nd-3rd line defense and a goaltender!

Karri Ramo

NHL Predictions 2014

It’s back! The 2014 NHL season is underway and things are already heating up. I’m a little late with my predictions but you can blame school and the MLB Postseason for that. Anyways, here are my predictions.

Atlantic Division

Metropolitan Division

Team

Wins

Losses

OT

Team

Wins

Losses

OT

1. BOS

48

29

5

1. PIT

49

29

4

2. DET

44

32

6

2. NYR

47

28

7

3. TOR

42

32

8

3. WSH

43

31

8

4. MON

38

35

9

4. NJD

38

33

11

5. OTT

36

36

10

5. NYI

40

36

6

6. TAM

31

42

9

6. PHI

33

39

10

7. FLA

29

41

12

7. CAR

31

37

14

8. BUF

29

42

11

8. CLB

28

44

10

Central Division

Pacific Division

Team

Wins

Losses OT

Team

Wins

Losses

OT

1. CHI

51

27

4

1. SJS

47

29

7

2. MIN

46

28

8

2. LAK

44

32

6

3. STL

41

34

7

3. ANA

44

33

5

4. DAL

39

33

10

4. VAN

40

37

10

5. WNP

35

38

9

5. EDM

36

35

11

6. NSH

31

38

13

6. PHO

32

43

7

7. COL

29

42

11

7. CGY

25

46

8