Friday, August 21, 2015

Big in Japan: A coma-free report on sports in the far east

When I plan my big international vacation each year, I'm often safe in the knowledge that I'm doing it when little of note is on the sports calendar. Occasionally I miss the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, as I did in 2014 and 2011, but by leaving the country for three weeks in mid-to-late July and early August, I often catch that soft underbelly of the U.S. schedule in which there are no championships won, no postseason games and no major tournaments. Occasionally the World Cup and the Olympics throw a wrench into that mix, but those are easy enough to follow abroad.

What has creeped into my head, though, is the fear that I might miss out on a one-off event just as important, like, say, a no-hitter by a New York Mets pitcher. To this point, I have avoided that impossible-to-predict moment, but the concern will always be there. Traveling in the midst of baseball season usually means I'm going to miss seeing the Mets, though in some cases that can be a good thing, either because they're in the midst of an awful season or because they have an astonishingly good record when I'm out of the country.

This time around, I was fortunate to be traveling to Japan in my first foray into the far east. Because the time difference is 13 hours, most Mets games happened at 8 in the morning, when I was coming back from my morning jog and relaxing as I planned out what I would do each day. This meant I watched nearly every game the Mets played while I was gone, which is either good or bad depending on how you view vacation, but considering how popular the Mets are in Japan, I think avoiding it was a losing proposition.

I saw all the excitement: The bungled losses to the San Diego Padres, the Wilmer Flores affair, the Wilmer Flores redemption and ultimately the early-August hot streak that has somehow thrust the Mets into first place. All of that was great, but my biggest victory was avoiding the fate of Steven Manganello, a Red Sox fan who might have endured the greatest fear we all share in the fall of 2004.

What's that you say? "Dave, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series that year to break the curse of the Bambino. How could that have been a bad thing for a Sox fan?"

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Three Teams To Watch As Super Bowl Favorites In 2015

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One of the best things about the NFL is the fact that there is certainly a lot of parity around the league. At the beginning of the season, nearly every single team feels like they have what it takes to make the playoffs. However, they are obviously going to be teams with a better chance to win the Super Bowl than others. Here is a look at the three teams to look out for with plenty of fantasy football talent to go all the way.

Seattle Seahawks

This team will be looking to make their third consecutive Super Bowl in 2016. They have done a very good job keeping most of their core together, and they were also able to go out and get Jimmy Graham. He is the best tight end in fantasy football statistically in the last few years. He is going to help Russell Wilson and the passing game become a lot better. It is extremely difficult to have a chance to play for three or more Super Bowls in a row, but they certainly can pull it off.

Green Bay Packers

There are a lot of people who look at the Green Bay Packers is the most complete team in the NFL heading into the 2015 regular season. They certainly have their fair share of talent, especially on offense. With so many weapons ready to put up numbers in fantasy football, it is going to come down to their defense if they want to compete for a Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts

Some people might find it weird is that New England is not on this list despite winning the Super Bowl last year, but the Indianapolis Colts just look a little better on paper. Not only do they have an improved team, But they also have their quarterback ready to play all 16 games. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is going to miss the first four games due to his suspension. Andrew Luck is a fantasy football star, and the defense is better than some people realize. This might be the year they turn the corner and start really competing for a Super Bowl.