Category Archives: Sports

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Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017

 

Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017

by Amy Lignor

 

Okay…we all know that football is America’s favorite sport. Or…is it? NASCAR has a wide following. People still love to go to the ballpark in the lazy summer days to watch a Yankee hit a homerun. There are those who love to practically melt in the summer watching the Williams’ sisters prove that tennis is a ‘cool’ sport. And, there are gazillions of soccer fans all over the globe that make up a huge fan base that rivals that of football.

big screens, esports, Dota 2, multiplayer online battle arena, advertising, sponsorship dollars, professional gaming, Team Apex, Team Dignitas

In 2017, however, sold-out crowds are packing arenas all across the U.S. to see a completely different sport play out than any of the ones mentioned above. The only difference in these arenas is that absolutely no fan donning the jersey of their ‘favorite’ looks at the floor/turf to see the game. Instead…they look up.

 

The main attraction in this sport is shown to the patrons on the big screens that hang from the ceiling of the arenas. We are talking about esports. For those who do not know, there is an International Dota 2 Championship which is the richest esports tournament in all the world. To “gamers,” Dota 2 is known as a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. Yes, in essence we are simply talking about a battle in a computer game, nothing more. But for the major gamers screaming their excitement, it is an actual sport. And for the gamers who are playing in the Championship, it is their professional career.

big screens, esports, Dota 2, multiplayer online battle arena, advertising, sponsorship dollars, professional gaming, Team Apex, Team Dignitas

Worldwide popularity for esports has skyrocketed! There are currently over 150 million “esports enthusiasts” on the earth in 2017, according to many market research firms who specialize in sports as well as gaming. Estimates have been made that 22% of American male millennials watch esports, putting it on the same tier as both baseball and hockey in terms of viewership. It was just last year that showed esports events had sold out everything from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the beloved Madison Square Garden in NY.

 

Bringing in an estimated $493 million in revenue in 2016—up 51.7% from 2015—projections have been made that by 2019, esports revenue will race by the $1 billion mark. When it comes to evaluating the current industry, advertising and sponsorship dollars are out of this world. Sponsorship mainly comes in the form of game publishers who use this esports craze as a means to increase their own games’ popularity. However, when it comes to advertising, household-name brands are throwing money into the esports ‘arena’ in order to reach out to the younger digital gamers out there; names like, Coca-Cola, who actually sponsors the ‘League of Legends World Championships.’

 

Not to be left in the dust, traditional sports’ franchises have also struck up partnerships with the esports’ franchises in order to stay afloat with sports lovers. Examples of this come from the Philadelphia 76ers buying Team Apex and Team Dignitas; as well as the Miami Heat that struck up a partnership with the esports’ club Misfits whose teams compete in multiple games.

 

Although some diehard sports fans will roll their eyes, it has been stated by many that in esports, there are most definitely real athletes…even though they don’t have to be tackled on the gridiron by someone resembling a semi. These athletes have to own the best skill and eye/hand coordination in the world if they wish to be at the top of their game. This is not a ‘recreational’ sport by any means, and the events prove that to everyone who decides to come to the arena and cheer.

 

Take the salaries and prize money into consideration as well. The current state of professional gaming looks just like the beginning days of the NFL. However, there are 18 gamers that now make more than a half a million dollars per year, with 195 more earning upwards of a hundred thousand. And if the numbers keep skyrocketing like they have been, it will not be long before dozens of gamers make more than $1 million each and every year.

 

In 2017, we are taking a huge leap toward that reality. But…will esports take out traditional sports one day? Don’t worry. That won’t be the case. Even though it’s more than interesting as a sports industry all its own, those hits on the gridiron can never be replaced by great special effects on a big screen.

 

Source:  Baret News

NASCAR Fans “Gear Up” for Independence Day Weekend

 
NASCAR Fans “Gear Up” for Independence Day Weekend

by Amy Lignor

 

It is that time again. And while some families will be going out on the town or heading to their local fireworks display to sit on the lawn and watch the rockets’ red glare as the local firefighters put on an awesome display, there are thousands of others Daytona, COKE ZERO 400, NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Independence Day, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tyler Farr, UNOH Fanzone Accessheaded to Daytona in order to witness one of NASCAR’s mot anticipated events: The COKE ZERO 400 being held in the one and only Motorsports Stadium in the entire world.

 

This race, powered by Coca-Cola, calls out to fans on the Independence Day holiday weekend with all the pageantry and patriotism that this land stands for. A fan-favorite event, the red glare may be slightly diminished a bit while sitting under the bright racing lights that only Daytona can deliver. Including some of the most exciting racing of the entire NASCAR season, drivers battle three-wide for this coveted Daytona victory. And here is just a sneak peek at what you and the family, as you pack the coolers and rev up the RV to travel to Daytona, will be able to enjoy.

 

This year, fans are invited to this event to celebrate a true legacy that will never be forgotten. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will have his awesome career explored and allow his longtime fans to experience this momentous moment in time.

 

Here, everyone will be able to witness up close and personal a very emotional farewell to the third-winningest driver in Daytona International Speedway history. He will race this hallowed ground one last time at the COKE Zero 400 as people root for him to once again (hopefully) be crowned the winner. It would be a nice ‘bonus’ to add to the history books, along with his victory in July 2001, his two DAYTONA 500 championships, his 2015 COKE Zero 400 victory and his 13 (yes, count them, 13!) other Daytona victories. When it comes to this incredible Speedway, Dale Jr. is a leader among the pack and will be till the end of time.

 

For those who love the music, Tyler Farr will be there to perform the pre-race concert prior to the 2017 COKE Zero 400 race that will occur on Saturday, July 1st. Offering up his awesome songs from the tri-oval, Tyler will give an unforgettable performance.

 

All this, while sitting in those Daytona International Speedway new, perfect seats. It is inarguable that this brand new stadium has not a bad seat in the house. With dynamic sightlines and stunning views that literally rival those of race team spotters, every race fan will be thrilled and feel like they’re sitting in first class with the wider and far more comfortable seating.

 

And speaking of fans…no one will want to miss the COKE Zero 400 FANZONE that is the ultimate experience. Fans will be provided with an exclusive look into the garages, as well as become part of the autograph sessions with their favorites and SO much more. By purchasing UNOH Fanzone Access, you no longer have to ‘imagine’ what your favorite sport is all about, because you’ll get an up-close look at pre-race and driver introductions. Daytona International Speedway also provides fans with free Wi-Fi coverage that’s available in stadium concourses, the Midway, the UNOH Fanzone, infield camping and even GEICO Park West Campgrounds, so not a minute of the event is lost.

 

Including that pre-race extravaganza that begins with a walk on the tri-oval and a signature on the famed start/finish line. The pre-race will be topped off with the drivers gathering for pre-race introductions as Congressional Medal of Honor recipients join for a special ceremony to honor this country and what Fourth of July weekend is all about.

 

So get ready for DAYTONA! Because when it comes to celebrating the U.S.A., this is the place that knows exactly what that means and how to do it up right!

Daytona, COKE ZERO 400, NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Independence Day, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tyler Farr, UNOH Fanzone Access

For more information, head to: http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/2017/Coke-Zero-400/Coke-Zero-400.aspx

 

Source:  Baret News

 

You Don’t Have to be Greek to be a “Zorba” Fanatic

 
You Don’t Have to be Greek to be a “Zorba” Fanatic

by Amy Lignor

 

No, the sport is not called ‘Zorba’, but it most definitely fits for this article’s title. This most unusual sport is actually called ‘Zorbing’, and has caught on like wildfire across the globe. And now, seeing as that the NBA has wrapped, with Golden State proving that they were determined to make amends for last season; and with the NHL closing up shop for the season with the Penguins raising that ginormous Stanley Cup high in the air, it seems like a truly good time to switch gears and talk about the sport that’s getting more and more attention by the minute.

Zorbing, water-walking, extreme sports, Downhill Revolution, commercialized sphering, thriller

Zorbing is being performed at various commercial locations, where prospective riders either pay a fee for each ride or for a whole day’s activity. With new locations for this sport popping up all around the world, it is now being practiced in the U.K., New Zealand, Estonia, Australia, Poland, Japan, India, and more. Even America boasts facilities ranging from Wisconsin to Massachusetts, with several franchise-based companies entering the market (i.e., SphereMania and Orb 360).

 

Zorbing is seen as both a recreation and a sport. Rolling downhill while inside a normally transparent plastic orb/sphere, people have begun with rides down a gentle slope and then moved on—much like extreme skiers and skateboarders—to more inclined surfaces. The sport has also crossed-over into the water sports arena. Due to the buoyant orbs, zorbing has led to “water-walking” which has become popular in various theme parks.

 

It was back in 1994, in Auckland, New Zealand, when Dwane van der Sluis and Andrew Akers first came up with the idea, creating a type of sphere and calling their invention the “Zorb.” Teaming up with a duo of investors, the firm ZORB Limited came into being and developed a sport and business model based on commercialized sphering.

 

When the creators moved on to other career paths and later in life producing other ‘orb’ products, it was in 2006 that ZORB’s European master franchise operator and Hungarian master franchise operator ended their affiliation with ZORB and started their own manufacturing and consultancy firm dedicated to the sport called, Downhill Revolution.

 

Zorbing finally entered the “real sports world” by being placed in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001, clearly defined as: “a sport in which a participant is secured inside an inner capsule in a large, transparent ball which is then rolled along the ground or down hills”.

 

There are extreme sports in a variety of categories, as well as some that many people originally thought to be nothing but silly. But there is no denying that, in 2017, zorbing is an increasingly popular sport. While rolling down a hill strapped inside a giant inflatable ball, speeds can be reached of more than 30 miles per hour, with the current record holder topping this at 32 miles per hour. New “teams” are being formed who compete in the sport, so whether you be a sports enthusiast or simply one who loves a good thrill (much like a roller coaster ride), zorbing is definitely the thing to get in on. Done in a controlled environment, or a specially designed location, it is absolutely safe.

 

There are even vacations offering the ‘best of the best’ in zorbing activities, including the UK’s largest and most exciting zorbing park. A venue situated perfectly in London, “Go Zorbing” offers a truly exhilarating and professionally designed course.

 

Who knows? The way things are going, in just a few short years the sport of zorbing may have its own team raising their very own gigantic “Zorba Cup” into the air, proclaiming themselves as winners of a truly unique ‘downhill’ season.

 

Source:  Baret News

Experience the College World Series of Omaha: “The Greatest Show on Dirt!”

 

Experience the College World Series of Omaha: “The Greatest Show on Dirt!”

by Amy Lignor

 

Baseball lovers, the time is upon us. The College World Series of Omaha is gearing up for 2017! Opening Celebration Day will be held on Friday, June 16th. Free and open to the public, activities begin at 9:10 a.m. (CDT) with team practices followed by College World Series of Omahateam autograph sessions. The CWS Fan Fest will provide family-friendly entertainment, including NCAA-sport interactive games, photo opportunities, prizes and more. Evening activities kick off with a parade of the eight teams competing, followed by singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc’s headline performance and wrapping up with a stellar fireworks grand finale.

For those who don’t know the history of this event, the College World Series of Omaha most definitely earned the title “The Greatest Show on Dirt” for many reasons. When it all first began, this particular event was an experiment, if you will. But now, more than fifty years later, Omaha has become synonymous with the sport of men’s college baseball, and people from all over the country flock to Nebraska in June in order to be a part of its incredible history.

First played in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1947, the College World Series only remained in Michigan one more year. The tournament was then moved to Wichita, Kansas, which is when a former President by the name of George H.W. Bush held the “job” of captain of the Yale baseball team.

 

Moving the College World Series to Omaha in 1950, actually placed the citizens of Omaha and their ideas of community, faith, and belief in each other into the history books. Why is that? Because when the Series was first held, the total attendance was under 18,000 people. Losing money for 10 of its first 12 years (1950-1961), Omaha literally banded together in order to save the Series and bring more public interest to the event. In the end, baseball fans everywhere can thank four particular Omahans who maintained their interest in the Series for keeping it going through that extremely dismal time period.

 

In 2017, the College World Series of Omaha, Inc. is the non-profit organization that works as the local organizing committee for the annual NCAA Division I Championship Baseball College World Series. And it was just one week ago (May 30th, to be exact) that the field of 64 teams competing for the 2017 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship was announced.

 

The national top eight seeds are: Oregon St. (49-4), North Carolina (47-12), Florida (42-16), LSU (43-17), Texas Tech (43-15), TCU (42-16), Louisville (47-10) and Stanford (40-14).

 

It is the Southeastern Conference (SEC) that leads the way, having eight teams selected. Both the Atlantic Coast Conference College World Series of Omaha(ACC) and Big 12 Conference have seven teams in the field. The Big Ten Conference ties a conference record with five, and the Pac-12 Conference has four selected to compete. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has three and, rounding things out with two teams each, is the Big East Conference, Big West Conference, Conference USA, Missouri Valley Conference and Southland Conference.

 

The news that makes Yale fans extremely happy is that this is the first year they’ve won a bid since 1993. Along those same lines, Holy Cross is headed to the tournament for the first time since 1978. When flipping the coin, it is Florida State that claims the longest consecutive streak with its 40th straight appearance this time out.

 

Selection of the eight super regional hosts will be announced on www.NCAA.com/cws, Tuesday, June 6 at approximately 8 a.m. (ET), and then the 71st Men’s College World Series begins play at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska on June 17th.

 

For an event that came from such humble beginnings, it is a true pleasure for all Omahans to see the national news, websites and wealth of fans now supporting the College World Series – an event that most definitely defied the odds.

 

No doubt, this year will once again prove to be “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”

 

General Admission Tickets are on sale now at http://www.cwsomaha.com/, as well as news and updates for all Season-Ticket holders.

 

Source:  Baret News

A Sport Where You Feel the Thrill Without Going to the Extreme

 

A Sport Where You Feel the Thrill Without Going to the Extreme

by Amy Lignor

 

There are many sports “fanatics” out there who literally dive head-first into an extreme sport in order to get their adrenaline pumping – taking on a sport that comes hand-in-hand with a monumental amount of risk. But for those who are not interested in being scared to death, yet wish to feel the thrill, data has shown that zip lining has become the sport that millions are now experiencing worldwide. From riding down the “wild” Fremont Street in Vegas and watching those flashing neon lights; to zipping over the stunning beaches and crystal blue waters of Hawaii; to soaring over the wild jungles of Sri Lanka without having to worry about the risk, zip lining allows you the opportunity to glide through the sky with ease.

Zip Lining, glide through the sky, popular sports, thrill ride, flying fox, kids, adventure, Superhero
Photo Credit: David Berkowitz

It’s important to note that zip lines come in all shapes, different sizes and strengths, so that long rides, fast rides and rides with vertical drops can be had. For those who have yet to hop on one of these incredible zip lines that can be found all across the globe, its’ fun to get a little data on exactly what it is and why it has become such a popular sport. The line is designed to enable a user, propelled by gravity, to travel from the top to the bottom of a cable that has been set in place on a steep incline. They do this by attaching themselves to the free-moving pulley that carries them through the air, and allows them to have that jaw-dropping trip as they view the incredible sights below.

 

This particular sport and/or form of entertainment, however, is not new. In the past, zip lining was actually used as a form of transportation in some of the oddest locations. In what is now an old ghost town (also an artist colony that brings in tourists every day), Jerome, Arizona once used the zip line to get people up and down the high mountain that the town sits atop. When it came to their line, they attached a canoe to the pulley and sent people barreling down the hillside. Of course, back then this was actually quite extreme considering the peoples’ inability to stop the canoe once it reached the bottom of the mountain.

 

Thankfully, as technology grew far smarter over the decades, zip line tours actually became popular. And with the data being releases as of late, it is shown that zip lining tours have actually become the number one “thing to do” on vacation. Lines are going up all over the globe, from outdoor adventure camps to upscale resorts where vacationers go to have a grand old time. Higher lines that access more remote areas have people soaring over a rainforests as well as through the jungles of Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta, Nicaragua and more, creating zip lining enthusiasts all over the world.

 

Children, too, have an option of embarking on a zip line adventure. It is the term “flying fox” that is used when speaking about a small-scale zip line. With the Flying Fox, the pulley(s) attached to the car are then affixed to the cable. And seeing as that the children’s versions of the zip line are not set up on a steep incline, speeds are kept low which negates even more risk because there is no need to set up a means of stopping.

 

When you think about what a thrill the zip line would be, allowing you to soar like a Superhero without having to risk life and limb while doing so, look into some of the coolest zip lines out there. In St. Lucia, you can literally book a package that has you experiencing a true rainforest; and, if wanting a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can set up a chance to zip over the Mojave Desert. You can even head to San Diego, California where, in 2015, the state’s longest zip line opened at La Jolla Indian Reservation. Riders actually soar through 1.25 miles of tree tops, canyons, valleys, and mountains, catching speeds of up to 50 mph. While in San Diego, you can even head to the exciting zip line at Flightline Safari, which is located in the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. It is truly an outstanding experience to zip through the sky and catch views of the incredible wildlife below.

 

In other words, if you are looking to embark on a new sport that will allow you a bit of exercise and a whole lot of thrills (and does not require you to be in the greatest shape of your entire life to enjoy), get on that zip line and have a whole lot of fun. This is one of those sports that, if chosen, will help your health improve as you view some truly magnificent places from up above.

Source:  Baret News

Would Curry Versus James be the Ultimate NBA Championship?

 
Would Curry Versus James be the Ultimate NBA Championship?

By Amy Lignor

 

Yes…there are questions, quite a lot of them this year when it comes to “Who will take it all in the end?” But the most talked about continues to be whether or not LeBron James will reach his 5th straight finals, and, if he does, could Stephen Curry finally top a spectacular season with the Warriors by beating the ultimate LeBron and his Cavaliers and taking home the championship?

According to SI, the championship will be all about the Cleveland Cavs meeting up with the Golden State Warriors – pitting these two ‘best of the best’ players against each other. However, unlike a great deal of polls going on out there, SI has decided that Golden State WILL cap off this season by granting Curry the championship and allowing him to beat “The Man” everyone continues to cheer for.

 

So…what do you think?

 

People seem to forget that as of right this minute, there are other teams in this ‘hunt,’ although most have stated that the Raptors are already gone. Although the Cavaliers will play the Raptors again at 3:30 p.m. today (March 7, 2017), the Cavs and LeBron have had little competition thus far. Cleveland leads this series 3-0 and LeBron is definitely going for the sweep.

 

The Raptors were literally destroyed by the Cavs in the first two match-ups in this Eastern Conference semifinal series. They won the first two games by a total of 33 points, yet the funny thing was, the games didn’t even ‘feel’ close. Even the people in the arena didn’t seem to be shocked by the outcomes. In Game 3, at least the Raptors changed their tact, showing that they indeed did have the people with talent who could at least stand up and fight against the big name of the NBA. Unfortunately, even with the fight, Cleveland came away with a win. So…would it be all that shocking if the Cavs did sweep and move on to the next? Nope. Not a bit. In fact, that’s what most lovers and haters of LeBron are expecting. Even the haters would be happy if he kept winning…until, that is, he stepped on the court with Curry and Golden State.

 

There are even more in the playoffs, however. The Celtics are up 2-1 in their series and visit the Wizards tonight at 6:30 p.m. And the Spurs, who lead their series also 2-1, play at the Rockets tonight at 9:00 p.m.

 

These other names are being swept under the carpet and barely spoken about on all sports shows and in the headlines, however, because only two names are taking the spotlight this year. If this NBA Championship does not have LeBron standing tall against Stephen Curry and Golden State it will actually be a huge letdown for basketball fans across the country. They’ve waited for this one. The sentimental/emotional value is on LeBron’s side. But Curry is dying to prove himself. He has already proven he is among the best and will be placed in the Hall of Fame because of his style and talent. But the biggest award for him would be to raise the trophy with his team while LeBron and the Cavaliers walk off the court.

 

We shall just have to wait and see…

 

Source:  GIG News

“Sin City” Becomes Acceptable?

 

“Sin City” Becomes Acceptable?

by Amy Lignor

 

So…what changes will occur if an NFL team hits Las Vegas? Not many, actually. Perhaps more of the ‘contract money’ will be lost considering the blackjack tables ARE right in the vicinity; however, NFL owners seem just fine with the fact that the Roger Goodell, Sin City, Raider Nation, NFL Football, Mark Davis, unhappy fans, Las Vegas, Rams, Chargers, Los AngelesRaiders will once again wave good-bye to their “Nation” and relocate to Sin City.

But when you look at the news headlines, the NFL has and retains a long-standing opposition to sports gambling,
Everyone’s favorite, Commissioner Roger Goodell has fought and opposed any effort in the past to legalize sports betting. But when you cannot secure a stadium in your own hometown for your team to play in, it becomes acceptable. A town that took in over $132 million bets on Super Bowl 50 will sit aside the other “All-American” towns and cities that the NFL plays in.

The population was a huge concern for NFL owners at first, seeing as that the Las Vegas market is only half the combined size of Oakland and San Francisco. But when you have nowhere to play, all bets are off. After working extremely hard to find the Raiders a place to play in the Bay Area, everyone finally had to accept the fact that there just wasn’t one to be had.

 

This will become the third franchise to relocate in little over a year. In January 2016, the Rams moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles. Of course, the Rams will not be the only one in L.A., come September 2017, the Chargers are exercising their option to move from San Diego to L.A., as well. Talk about the amount of money L.A. is about to receive from all the visitors to their stadiums.

 

When it comes to the Raiders, the ones most unhappy are the fans, although they will have their team for one and perhaps two seasons more. (*This actual move is still contingent on the Raiders getting a lease agreement and a stadium developer in Las Vegas). Then they will remain in Oakland while a $1.9 billion stadium for the Raiders (that they will also share with UNLV’s football team) is under construction. But, no matter how hurtful it is, the Raiders will head to Vegas come the 2019 or 2020 season.

 

This is the second time Raiders will leave those diehard Oakland fans behind. The franchise moved much closer but still moved to L.A. following the 1981 season and ended up playing there through 1994 until returning to Oakland – which made the fans go crazy with happiness.

 

Owner Mark Davis is covering his team’s tracks as fast as possible, thinking about the future, letting all Oakland Raiders fans know now that even though he knows there will be disappointment and even perhaps anger that they are leaving, it is important to remember that they understand “…it wasn’t the players. It wasn’t the coaches that made this decision. But it was me that made it. If they have anybody to talk to about it, it should be me. And I’m going to, in the coming days, try to explain to them what went into making this difficult decision.”

 

Davis also went on to tell fans that he will honor any refund requests made by those who placed season ticket deposits. But he also said he believes that his father, late Raiders owner Al Davis, would have been proud of this decision.

 

Right now, as far as that “Raider Nation” is concerned, Mark Davis is absolutely incorrect. We shall see what happens.

 

Source:  GIG News

 

It’s Time to Play Ball!

 

It’s Time to Play Ball!

by Amy Lignor

 

As far back as you can remember, Major League Baseball’s Opening Day comes with pomp, pageantry, good food, excitement, and a whole lot of fun for the family.

Major League Baseball, Opening Day, play ball, “Caps On” campaign, Jason Kipnis, Chris Tillman, David Price, Didi GregoriusCincinnati, home to the very first professional baseball team, will once again hold the annual Findlay Market Parade, making it official to the whole world that baseball has returned. In Cincinnati it is a holiday for one and all, where citizens stop everything to go out and cheer loud and proud for the hometown Reds.

Opening Day also makes it official – even to those who are still looking out their windows to see a blanket of snow every morning – that winter is out and spring is taking over. Better yet…those warm summer months will soon be on the way; those lazy, hazy days where you can sit at the ballpark and hope to catch that winning home run before heading home.

 

This one day every year is Major League Baseball’s most profitable day of the season. After this day, up until the “war” comes where two teams must battle to claim the World Series title, the stadiums are less than half full. But, with only a few extremely rare exceptions, Opening Day allows all the clubs in the league to perform in front of a sellout crowd for their first home game of the season.

 

Now is also the time to brush off that trusty baseball cap. Especially seeing as that the “Caps On” campaign that began last season is back with a vengeance. The specific campaign run by the league encourages everyone, everywhere to don the caps of their favorite teams at work, at school, at the grocery store – and anywhere else you can think of. Now is the time baseball wants you to forget Tom Brady’s jersey and turn your eyes on (what’s supposed to still be) America’s pastime. And, above all, enjoy the heck out of it.

 

To keep you up-to-date, there are a few key players who are out for Opening Day, and their teams and fans are crossing their fingers that they will return as fast as they can.

 

Jason Kipnis of the Indians has been suffering with a strained rotator cuff since first reporting to training camp. Not only is he expected to miss Opening Day, but Kipnis is supposedly going to miss all of April and perhaps even May. He is a key player for the defending American League Champions and without him Cleveland’s lineup is going to be in trouble.

 

When it comes to Orioles territory, Chris Tillman’s pitching shoulder is causing issues. Missing three weeks late last season, he only resumed throwing just recently. He will start on the disabled list for the Orioles, but given the fact that this is a chronic injury, it’s anyone’s guess what the future has in store for Tillman.

 

Although the Yankees finished five games out of a Wild Card spot last year, their dugout is filled with young talent that could make the Yankees into the “it” team this time around. However, trouble comes to them in the form of Didi Gregorius. Suffering a hematoma in his right shoulder, Gregorius will most likely miss all of April. His talent at the shortstop position, plus the fact that he was swinging extremely well, gave the team what they needed. Now, in his absence, the Yankees will have a bigger hill to climb.

 

The Red Sox are facing a different dilemma. David Price’s left elbow has had fans sitting on the edge of a precipice with concern for both Price and their beloved Sox for a while now. Although Manager John Farrell said that Price would only be ‘off’ for a week, it’s now been three weeks since that statement and Price is nowhere near playing status. Yes, the Sox have talent, but the injury could lead to Price opting out of his contract after the 2018 season. If this occurs, the Sox will owe $127 million, which will limit them when it comes to gaining advantageous players in the 2018-19 free agent market

 

But even without these particular names on the field, this is one MLB season that looks like it’s going to be a real thrill ride. Hope, right now, is in every baseball fan’s mind – no matter what team they cheer for. Even if their particular choice seems to not have a chance, history has continued to bring forth ‘Cinderella’ teams that, out of the blue, end up taking the whole kit and caboodle. In other words, if you already think you know who the final two will be…it’s a good bet to think again.

 

Now…Play Ball!

 

Source:  GIG News

Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

 
Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

by Amy Lignor

 

“Beauty & the Beast” may be raking in the dough at movie theatres everywhere, but it is the Princess Cinderella that appears at the core of the NCAA headlines.

 NCAA headlines, Cinderella Teams, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Mark Few, Zags, Duke, Final Four 2017We all have our “Cinderella Teams.” Heck, they even made a movie after the Hoosiers who once set the world on fire. But as this weekend winds down, it is the Gonzaga Bulldogs that find themselves ready to put on the glass slipper, or watch their ‘coach’ turn back into a pumpkin, depending on what their near future fate turns out to be.

Those who can remember 1998-99, remember that the Gonzaga Bulldogs were also a Cinderella team back then. Being the 10th seed in the Sweet Sixteen match-ups, they went on to lose (like so many others have over time) to the Connecticut Huskies (67-62). Connecticut (most especially the women) became used to being the No. 1 seed, but this season may just be Gonzaga’s chance.

 

As of Saturday, the “Gonzaga Phenomenon” took over the airwaves. Coach Mark Few, who was actually serving as assistant during the first Cinderella moment for this team, told everyone this time around that Gonzaga did not want to be “a one-hit wonder.”

 

It’s not like the Zags were hideous since 1998/99, by the way. It was in 2006 that they scored like there was no tomorrow…unfortunately, for them, there actually turned out not to be. It was in 2013 that they were officially the No.1 seed going into the Sweet 16, yet they banged their heads up against Wichita State and had to say goodbye. In 2015, the Zags once again arrived but lost to what eventually turned out to be the national champions, Duke, during the Elite Eight.

 

This time, Few has built the team into one that has the numbers and the players to win it all. On Saturday night at the SAP Center, they finally got over the “proverbial hump” and celebrated their first entrance into the Final Four. Not only that, the game they played was not even close. We are talking a game between the Zags and 11th seeded Xavier that ended 83-59 – a lot like the Connecticut female games usually end up being.

 

The net was finally cut down by Gonzaga hands, with Few taking the rest and then turning on the top step of the ladder, where he screamed down to his team: “Might as well win it!”

 

The team screamed back, letting the world know the Gonzaga Bulldogs are more than ready to snag that national title. Unlike, however, normal Cinderella teams in the past that really did look too naïve to understand the point of it all, the Zags look very put together and most definitely have the right amount of talent needed to make Spokane, Washington more than proud.

 

Even Few stated that this current squad’s ability “to really, really protect the rim at a high level” is different than in the past, and having the defense hold the No. 1 ranking through the entire tournament in adjusted defensive efficiency backed up that remark.

 

So…what will happen now? Many of the so-called “experts” are coming together to say that even though Gonzaga has given the NCAA a “Cinderella” story this year, the Final Four is exactly how far they’re going to get. This is the first time since 1995 that the Final Four is being played west of Texas, so it makes complete sense to see an East vs. West battle for it all. But, in the end, the experts say that Kentucky has too many weapons for anyone to take them down, not even a “princess” waiting to be crowned.

 

Keep one thing in mind, however. These are also experts who said that the Atlanta Falcons would have no problem bringing down Tom Brady and the Patriots to nab the Super Bowl title this year. See how that worked out?

 

Source:  GIG News

Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

 

Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

by Amy Lignor

 

For any of the millions who once watched ABC’s Wide World of Sports and heard the words “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” they remember the footage of a skier’s crash when it came to the “agony” side of things. Everyone knew that sight was a fact – a video that was absolutely real. Nowadays, however, it seems that more and more sports are staged agony, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, colorful drivers, Monster Energy, agony of defeat, over-aggressiveness, the perfect scene“making up” shots that appear on TV just for the purpose of gaining fans and increasing television ratings. Many sports have been accused of this over time, but as of late it is the world of NASCAR that has been brought up in headlines and conversations about what’s real and what’s actually a set-up.

We’re not talking about those horrible accidents that sometimes harm beloved drivers that fans have been routing for all their lives. Those are most definitely real and a true “agony” for everyone involved. We are talking about what many believe was a ‘staged scenario’ that occurred between NASCAR drivers Joey Logano and Kyle Busch that occurred following the Monster Energy Cup Series race, the Kobalt 400, held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12th. NASCAR states that it will not penalize the drivers for this little bout. Everyone agrees, but some are left wondering if perhaps there was a reason to actually start a ‘battle’ between two drivers.

The race was more than exciting with Martin Truex Jr. passing the faltering car of Brad Keselowski on the white-flag lap. Truex then went on to sweep all three stages of the race. However, the excitement of Truex’s pass and eventual win was overshadowed more than a little bit when Joey Logano’s Ford slid up into Kyle Busch’s Toyota as they battled for third position. Spinning into the inside wall on the pit road, Busch ended up crossing the finish line to claim 22nd place while Logano managed fourth.

Viewers and fans watched as Busch headed up the pit road afterwards where he confronted Logano and threw a punch at Joey’s head. It was Logano’s crew that stepped in and took Busch down to the pavement in order to prevent the fight from escalating, which is where Kyle attained the bloody, bruised forehead that he came out with.

It is a fact that NASCAR grew into a national brand back in the 1970’s with massive mainstream appeal because of the drivers. Fans loved the big names and even bigger battles on the track. But over time, it was as if NASCAR became more corporate (like the NFL) and began to ‘tone down’ their more colorful drivers. It seemed that more and more drivers grew scared that they would fall out of favor with their national sponsors, which caused them to fall out of favor with their fans instead because fans grew, well…bored.

‘Stale’ was an adjective used a great deal when it came to NASCAR. Even having Monster Energy become the sponsor of the whole thing was a path NASCAR used to become cooler and bring back fans. No matter how you look at it, however, the one thing that wrestling proved was that fans come back and stay when the ‘agony of defeat’, the colorful ‘characters’, and the theatrical ‘brawls’ – whether real or set-up – are a part of the sport. So…would it be off the mark for NASCAR to do the same thing? Most say, no. NASCAR needs a little fire and building a driver duel would have more people tuning in to all the NASCAR races this year. This won’t be like hockey, of course; boxing on the ice is actually a part of the sport of hockey that’s been around a good, long time. But a few mean comments back and forth and a fight or two after the race is done would bring in more viewers to NASCAR who just want to see what the ‘aftermath’ of the race will be.

With NASCAR coming out and talking about the high emotion of the drivers that will ‘get the best of all of us at some point or another.’ Not to mention Busch stating that he was angered by what he thought was Logano’s over-aggressiveness, and Logano’s crew looking like mobsters protecting their squeaky-clean driver who stated he ‘did nothing wrong,’ sets the perfect scene.

People who do not normally watch NASCAR, or those who turned away a while ago because it had become far too calm for them to get excited about it anymore, will now have something to sink their teeth into. Frankly, if the fight was real, it will bring new viewers who want to see what will happen next. If it was a set-up, the same thing will happen. Why? Because people still want to see the ‘agony of defeat.’

 

Source:  GIG News