Run for the hills! The NFL Draft isn’t until April, but college students have already begun to declare that they will enter the draft. Over the past several weeks, 9 underclassmen at Ohio State University declared, including stars RB Ezekiel Elliott, back-up QB Cardale Jones, and DE Joey Bosa (who is expected to be the #1 draft pick). While Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will have his work cut out for him to replace all these star players next season, he’s looking at the glass half full: "This is the way it is. I'd rather be in this situation than have a bunch of not very good players." Truth. Ohio State finished this season with only one loss, after winning the National Championship last year.
It’s good to be royalty. Baseball is in its offseason, but teams and players are making deals left and right. Yesterday, Kansas City agreed to a 4-year, $72 million deal with free-agent outfielder Alex Gordon. Gordon is known as being one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He has played with the Royals his entire career, since being drafted 2nd in 2005. After sitting out mid-season with a groin injury, he came back just in the nick of time to help lead the Royals to their World Series victory last year. Fun fact: this is the largest contract in Royals history, though it is still much less than what is common for other teams in the league. For some perspective, NY Yankee Alex Rodriguez has a 10-year $275M contract.
The Hall of Fame just got a little bit longer. Yesterday, 2 more candidates were selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.
Who gets to be in this famed hall? Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America cast their votes for up to 10 different candidates. Players with over 75% of the votes get the big honor. Candidates must have played baseball for more than 10 years, and retired 5+ years ago.
What should I know about these renowned ballers?
- Ken "The Kid" Griffey Jr. This was Griffey's first year eligible for the ballot and he was welcomed into the Hall with open arms. He is the only player in history to get over 99% of votes. Griffey was a centerfielder in the league for 22 years, spending the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds. He was a 13-time All-Star and was one of the best defensive players of all time, winning 10 Golden Glove awards (given to the best defender playing each position). Need more reasons to like the Kid? Here are 24 more.
- Mike Piazza was a catcher in the league for 15 years, spending a majority of his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. He was a 12-time All-Star and was one of the best offensive catchers, who are typically notoriously bad at bat. He hasn’t made the Hall of Fame cut in the past because of rumors that he used steroids. Fun facts: He is happily married to a former playboy playmate, and appeared in the romcom "Two Weeks Notice."
Who has to stand outside? Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were kept out again for suspected PED use throughout their careers. Tim Raines was close to making it this year. He was one of the best baserunners of all time and he has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for 9 years. Next year is the last time he is eligible (max. of 10 appearances on the ballot) so fingers crossed that he makes it!
Oops, did we miss Black Monday? Last night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unexpectedly fired their Head Coach Lovie Smith. Players and assistant coaches found out with the rest of us. The Bucs were showing signs of improvement this season with the NFL's second best rusher RB Doug Martin and #1 NFL draft pick QB Jameis Winston, but they still only won 8 games over Smith's 2 seasons coaching. That record just wasn't cutting it for the ownership, who is known for being impatient for victory. Since 2002 the Bucs have run through 4 different coaches.
Spotlight on the NFL Playoffs
The NFL Playoffs will begin this Saturday with the Wild Card Round. Each day this week we’ll spotlight a different one of the games, so you know what to look out for when you’re watching this weekend.
Today’s feature is the NFC matchup between the #6 Seattle Seahawks @ the #3 Minnesota Vikings, airing on Sunday at 1:05pm ET.
The Season-Spoiling Seahawks. The Seattle Seahawks are another team that no one wants to play. They went to the last two Super Bowls, winning in 2014, and barely losing to the New England Patriots in 2015. The Seahawks handily defeated the Vikings the last time they played (38-7) a few weeks ago, and they are favored to win this time around too. The Seahawks are known for their monstrous defense, with stars SS Kam Chancellor and self-proclaimed “best corner in the game” Richard Sherman. Meanwhile, QB Russell Wilson (aka Ciara’s celibate boyfriend) started off the season a bit rocky, but has hit his stride, leading the Seahawks to victory in 6 of their last 7 games. Some more good news, RB Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch is expected to return for the big game, after sitting out the past several weeks with a sports hernia. But we’ll have to see if they feel comfortable handing him the ball this time around.
Come on, that was a whole year ago! The Viking’s strength is their running game. This is all thanks to RB Adrian Peterson, who has the most rushing yards (1,485) and rushing touchdowns (11) in the NFL this season. But Peterson’s worst performance of this season was – you guessed it – against the Seahawks. While Peterson has been the savior of the team this season, some don’t want you to forget that he sat out nearly all of last season due to child abuse allegations. When asked about it recently, he hasn’t shown a ton of remorse for beating his 4-year-old son with a switch, saying “in Texas, we know what whuppin’s are.” But Peterson did say that he would stop using a switch against his 6 children. Progress?