Posted by: gravessack | October 23, 2016

2016 World Series Preview


Another drought will soon be ending! After Kansas City ended their misery last year, this year’s World Series will feature a team that has not won since at least 1948. Major League Baseball could be in an era of crowning new champions as bottom feeders improve. The matchup for the Fall Classic will be the American League champs Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs, the National League winner. There will be no doubt that both teams will want to end their long Series droughts.

Cleveland is managed by Terry Francona and has not been crowned since the end of World War II. Cleveland comes into the last round having won the AL Central with a regular season record of 94-67. On their quest to the World Series, they breezed past favored Texas 3 games to 0 in the ALDS, and Toronto 4 games to 1 in the ALCS. As a team, the Indians had a batting average of just .208 with 51 hits and 11 home runs in the first two rounds. Shortstop Francisco Lindor led his team with a .323 batting average, 10 hits, 2 home runs, and 4 RBIs in 31 at-bats in October.

Despite the average hitting, the Indians’ key to getting to the World Series was pitching. Excluding the Wild Card Game losers, Cleveland pitchers led in pretty much every category among playoff teams. In eight games, the Indians pitching staff had an ERA of 1.77, 81 strikeouts and 6 saves while giving up just 15 runs. However, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller had to save most games, indicating that the Indians had to squeak out most of their victories. Cleveland’s best starting pitcher in October was Corey Kluber, who had a 0.98 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 3 games. In order for the Indians and future Twins Chief Officer Derek Falvey to be crowned world champions, Cleveland’s pitching needs to stay steady and its hitting needs to improve slightly.

The Chicago Cubs, managed by Joe Maddon, have not won the World Series since 1908! After finishing the regular season with a 103-58 record, the Cubs beat San Francisco in the NLDS and Los Angeles in the NLCS.

The Cubs have a dominant pitching staff, made up of ace and NLCS co-MVP Jon Lester, 2016 MLB ERA leader Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. Chicago led the league with a 3.15 team ERA in 2016. The Cubs’ offense is led by third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI during the regular season and is the favorite to win the NL MVP. I (Sam) think the Cubs will win the World Series sine Chicago’s offense is more dangerous than Cleveland’s.

I (Sam) would like to see the Cubs win, but it will be exciting just to have two teams in the World Series that have not won for a very long time! Make sure to tune in to FOX this Tuesday, October 25 for Game 1! Click here for more on the World Series matchup.

Written by: Michael Sack and Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | October 15, 2016

“Speechless” Review

Now that four episodes of the ABC comedy “Speechless” have aired, viewers can begin to form their opinions about the show. Here is what I think of “Speechless.”

I really like the show so far. While it focuses on a kid with cerebral palsy (J.J.) and his family, the show is not overly sentimental. It uses wit and sarcasm, and does a good job of not putting too much emphasis on J.J.’s disability. It acknowledges his disability and the challenges associated with it, but portrays J.J. as a typical high school student.

Burnsville native Cedric Yarbrough, who plays J.J.’s aide, is probably the funniest character. I especially appreciate how his character treats J.J. with respect and as a normal kid instead of feeling sorry for J.J. because of his disability.

I would maybe like to see a little less of Maya DiMeo, who is J.J.’s mom, and a little more of J.J. The show focuses a little too much on her when it’s really more about him and his experiences.

Despite this small criticism, I love “Speechless” so far. The show respects J.J. and his disability while not putting too much emphasis on it. I would give the first four episodes 4.5 out of 5 stars. I’m definitely looking forward to future episodes!

What is your opinion of the show?

***There will be no episode of “Speechless” this Wednesday, October 19, because of the presidential debate. “Speechless” will return to ABC on Wednesday, October 26, at 7:30 p.m. Central for a Halloween-themed episode!***

Written by Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | October 11, 2016

A Curtain Has Fallen

On a cool Monday night in Boston, Red Sox DH David Ortiz came to bat against Cleveland reliever Cody Allen in the bottom of the 8th. Boston had to score with them down to their last at-bats of an ALDS elimination game. Allen threw three straight balls then on ball 4, Ortiz, even though the umpire called it a ball, questioned it as he wanted to swing one last time. When Ortiz got to first base, he clapped his hands trying to get his team going. His gesture didn’t help as Boston went whimpering from the post-season by getting swept 3-0. That lost effectively ended Ortiz’s magnificent career.

Back in 1992, the Seattle Mariners signed Ortiz out of the Dominican Republic. However, after being in their minor league system for four years, Ortiz was traded to Minnesota for third baseman Dave Hollins. unknown-1A first baseman at the time, Ortiz’s MLB debut was on September 2, 1997. Ortiz career with the Twins was rocky as he went up and down the system. While with the Twins, he battled injuries which caused him to struggle at the plate and stay in the minor leagues for a little while. With that said, in 6 years in Minnesota, Ortiz batted .348 with 238 RBIs and 58 home runs. Ortiz didn’t get selected to an All-Star Game or win many awards with the Twins. After the 2002 season, the Twins and Ortiz had a bitter divorce ending with the release of the future all-star.

This past summer, Ortiz took some shots towards the Twins organization. An article in USA Today had Ortiz offering sharp criticism. “What was funny is that when I played in Minnesota, they didn’t even know they had a major league baseball team. I used to walk around the street and people didn’t know who the hell we were,” said Ortiz in that article. He went on to say: “The thing that helped me was getting away from that turf. I got to the big leagues when I was 21, and a year later, I had so much pain in my body because of that turf. It was the worst. I went to Fenway, and the pain was gone.” Ortiz basically was taking rips at how our beloved team operates and at the Metrodome. Those comments were made the week that Ortiz made his last appearance at Target Field, and I don’t think the fans took it will.

After being released from Minnesota, Ortiz signed with the Red Sox in 2003. For the next 14 seasons, Ortiz became the most dominant player of all-time. The ten-time all-star found his groove playing for Boston. Ortiz started playing regularly that June. unknownOrtiz dominance in Boston provided these numbers: .290 BA, 1,530 RBIs, 483 homers, and 1,419 singles. Three times in his career, Ortiz led the American League in RBIs. He is the active leader in doubles with 632. With all the accolades, Ortiz’s greatest accomplishment was helping Boston win three World Championships, while winning the World Series MVP award in 2013.

After the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 that killed 3 spectators, Ortiz was full of emotions. Five days after the bombings, Ortiz took the mic and gave a heartfelt speech to the crowd. The Red Sox held ceremony at the end of a home victory against the Royals for the victims and first responders. Afterwards, Ortiz told Bostonians: “This is our [expletive] city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.” Ortiz went on to say how he felt and that they were there with the city and would do anything to alleviate the pain. Later on, Ortiz apologized for the curse word, but not for the message that he gave.

Obviously, Ortiz played better once he signed with Boston. Ortiz will probably land in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and maybe get enshrined into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Amid few controversies, Ortiz chugged his way through his career by making pitchers look bad. It seemed like every time he had to deliver, Ortiz did! FAREWELL, BIG PAPI!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | October 8, 2016

A Nightmarish Season (Except for One Guy)

If it weren’t for Brian Dozier, there would be no major bright spots of the Twins’ 2016 season. The second baseman was on fire the second half of the season. Dozier finished 2016 with a .268 average, 42 home runs (tied for third in MLB), 99 RBI and 104 runs scored in 155 games.

The rest of the team was a completely different story. The Twins started 2016 0-9 and never recovered, finishing with a 59-103 record, the worst in franchise history! The pitching, both the starters and relievers, was awful. The team finished 29th in MLB with a 5.08 ERA. Also, Joe Mauer was second to Dozier in runs scored, and Mauer scored just 68 runs! That stat alone says there wasn’t much going right for the team other than Dozier.

It will be interesting to see how this dreadful season affects Twins management. Recently, the team hired Derek Falvey as chief baseball officer. Owner Jim Pohlad has said that Manager Paul Molitor’s job is safe, but I’m not sure anyone’s job is safe after this year! I’m not sure who should go, but there needs to be some changes! The biggest challenge for the Twins this offseason is to get an elite starting pitcher without trading Dozier! Click here for a review of the Twins’ 2016 season.

Written by Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | September 29, 2016

Almost Identical, but Polar Opposites

Baseball is weird! My two favorite teams are having the most extreme years. While the Twins have the worst record, the Cubs have the best record in MLB. The funny thing is that they are exactly opposite of each other.

The Twins, who are 56-102, will finish in last place in the AL Central. They opened the year at 0-9 with Miguel Sano unknownin the outfield. It regressed from there. Recently, the Twins lost 18 games out of 20. The Twins batting has not been bad, as they have the 11th best batting average in the AL at .251. The Twins are just four shy of 200 home runs. The main sticking point was the pitching staff. They couldn’t hold a lead or give the offense a chance to catch up. Over the course of the season, the staff had a league low ERA of 5.10 with 1,153 strikeouts. These stats are what led up to the firing of Terry Ryan and putting pitching coach Neil Allen, along with other coaches, on the hot seat.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are on a tear. The club has a record of 101-57 and will definitely finish in first place in their division. unknown-1
After the 2014 season, the Cubs snatched up Joe Maddon to manage and revamp their system. It worked as they made it to the NLCS last year. The Cubs have been dominate at home this year as they are 57-24. The Northsiders have a batting average of .256, which is 5th in the NL, to go along with 194 home runs. The Cubs pitching staff rank #1 in their league in ERA at 3.13. Their starters have won a whopping 79 games. Theo Epstein became the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations in 2009, and their recent success just gave him five more years and just under 50 million bucks. This may be the Cubs’ best chance to win the World Series.

You may be asking if the Twins and Cubs could end up with the same record reversed. Well, each team has four games left. The Twins would need to go 2-2 with the Cubs going 3-1. That would be something!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | September 23, 2016

Twins Notes As Season Winds Down

For those who stopped paying attention to the Twins season, major changes could be on the way. With the Twins quickly approaching 100 losses, one must wonder if Manager Paul Molitor’s job is safe. In 2015, the Twins had us thinking that they were on the right track by winning 83 games. However, the club took a nosedive into a dark dungeon in 2016. Here are two updates on this season and how they could play out at the beginning of the off-season.

  • If it seems to you that the club has been riddled by injuries this month, you are right. Trevor Plouffe, Eddie Rosario, Danny Santana and Trevor May are all out for the year. Plouffe has a strained left oblique, Rosario broke his left thumb while sliding into first base, Santana injured his left shoulder in late August, and May has a stress fracture in his back. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer (quad soreness) and Miguel Sano (back injury) have been sidelined for just over a week. Sano was back in the line-up September 22, while Mauer is still out. It will be interesting to see how the Twins will handle these injured players, including Closer Glen Perkins, this winter. I believe most of these injured players will be back, except for Plouffe.
  • The President of Baseball Operations and General Manager search are coming to a conclusion, as President Dave St. Peter said that the Baseball Ops president could be in place this month. However, while the Twins are squaring up candidates, they could very well be interviewing more candidates. Per ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Cubs’ VP Jason McLeod is “well-regarded” and “well-positioned” among Twins bosses. Other candidates that the Twins have interviewed to be the head of Baseball Ops include the Rays’ Chaim Bloom, the Indians’ Derek Falvey, and the Royals’ J.J. Picollo, whom are all Assistant General Managers. Whoever the Twins hire will have the opportunity to pick his own General Manager and then be left with the difficulty on which coaches to fire or keep. Although the owners have told Molitor that his job is safe, don’t be surprised if that changes. No one knows who will go and who will stay! This could get interesting! Click here for more about the current unpredictability of the coaching staff.

Written by: Michael L.Sack

Posted by: gravessack | September 22, 2016

Vote on the “Speechless” Poll!

How would you rate the first episode of “Speechless”? Vote on the poll on our Facebook page!

Written by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | September 20, 2016

“Speechless” to Premiere 9/21

Tomorrow’s the big day! “Speechless,” a comedy TV series about a family with a son named J.J. who has cerebral palsy and uses a speech device, will premiere on ABC tomorrow night (9/21) at 7:30 Central. See Two Men On’s June 1 interview with Micah Fowler, the actor who plays J.J., for more on him and the show. Enjoy the show and don’t forget to tune in to ABC tomorrow night at 7:30 Central!

***Earlier today, Michael Sack came across a Star Tribune article about an actor on “Speechless” from the Twin Cities. Cedric Yarbrough, who plays the school groundskeeper in the comedy, grew up in Burnsville and has had to go down a winding road to land this acting job. To read more about Yarbrough, click here.***

Written by: Sam Graves and Michael Sack

Posted by: gravessack | September 18, 2016

Dozier, Hollermann, Aoki: Amazing Minnesota Athletes

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier had a pretty miserable first half of the 2016 season. At one point in the middle of the year, his batting average was under .200 with just a few home runs. Since Dozier was supposed to be an offensive star for the Twins this year, he was viewed as a huge disappointment.

Fast forward a few months and the story has a complete turnaround. Dozier currently is hitting .281 with an astounding 41 home runs! He also has 98 RBI and has scored 99 runs! He is the only Twin other than Harmon Killebrew to hit at least 40 home runs in a season (Killebrew has the franchise record with 49 in 1964 and 1969). Dozier is second in the majors in home runs behind Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, who has 42. Dozier is tied for seventh in the AL in RBI and is 10th in the AL in runs scored. Dozier ranks third all-time in home runs hit by second basemen.

The Twins are wrapping up a historically bad season, but Dozier is having a historically good one. The main reason I watch Twins games now is to see if Dozier hits a homer! There has been recent trade speculation involving Dozier, but he is too good to trade! Click here for more on Dozier’s historic season.

On an unrelated note, congratulations to Minnesotan Rose Hollermann and the rest of the U.S. women’s basketball team on winning the gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games! Also, congratulations to Minnesotan Chuck Aoki and the rest of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team on winning the silver medal!

Written by Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | September 2, 2016

Paralympics Are Coming Up

Just two weeks ago the Olympics came to a close with both of USA’s basketball teams winning gold and Michael Phelps dominating in the pool—again. Those games were the precursor for what is about to transpire starting next week: The 15th Summer Paralympic games will take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from September 7 – 18. Here’s a quick guide to get you prepared!

During recent Paralympics, NBC Universal has been televising the Games to sustain equality. This year will be no different as NBC will be broadcasting 70 hours, including 9 primetime slots. The Paralympics will also be shown in the afternoon and late nights, mostly on NBCSN. Coverage begins with the Opening Ceremony on September 7 at 6pm on NBCSN. To view the full TV schedule, click here.

The Paralympics are using some of the same venues as used for the Olympics. In all, the Games will be held at 20 different venues across Rio. Most notably, the ceremonies will be held at Maracana and the wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball competitions will be held at Carioca Arena 1, the same place where basketball was held during the Olympics. To see the list of the venues, click here.

Minnesota Connection
Ten athletes from Minnesota, participating in eight sports, will be heading to Rio with the largest USA Paralympic team in history. Chuck Aoki and Rose Hollermann are Courage Center alums who are on the wheelchair rugby and basketball teams, respectively. Team USA has reportedly grown 17% since the London games. Here is a Star Tribune article about the Minnesota contingent and athlete numbers in general.

Follow Along
Besides from the enhanced TV experience, the Games info will be on social media, as well at this website. Events will be streamed online.

It will be a fun week! As the Games move along, feel free to comment and discuss the Paralympics in the comment section of this post. Let the Games begin!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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