Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stay Connected With Nike’s “Smart Jerseys”

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Our world is becoming more connected by the day. Cars can turn into Wi-Fi hotspots, fridges can scan your shelves to see which products are expiring and, finally, you can buy basketball jerseys that connect to your smartphone. Nike recently announced their launch of smart jerseys: purchasable fan apparel that includes a chip you can scan to get all sorts of information on your favorite player. So how does it work?

Using a smartphone, you scan the chip in the lower left corner of the jersey. Immediately, your smartphone will receive up-to-the-minute statistics, highlights from big games, that player’s personal Spotify playlists, exclusive discounts on shoes and a boost to that player’s stats in the NBA 2K18 video game. To sweeten the pot a bit, fans with smart jerseys will get first crack at game tickets and the latest fan apparel for their favorite player’s team. That player can even send messages to his fans through smartphones. We could see some of the information, such as stats, being helpful for serious fantasy sports players. Outside of that, most of it feels like window dressing.

The technology is definitely cool and it will appeal to diehard fans who crave the latest tech and the coolest perks, but it can be easily seen as going overboard. The NBA has quickly become the most popular American sports league for young fans in the states and abroad, so it makes sense they’d pioneer new fan apparel like this. If (and when) it takes off and spills into other leagues, we wonder how it will adjust for each sport. What if you scan J.J. Watt’s jersey and find out his favorite tailgate snack? Can’t get enough of Alex Morgan? Scan her Orlando Pride jersey and learn her favorite routines to get hyped for a big game. Love CC Sabathia? Scan his Yankee pinstripes to find out how much he doesn’t work out before games (kidding). The applications really are endless.

We’re on the fence about smart jerseys, but we could get on the bandwagon if it becomes widespread throughout international sports leagues. Who knows, we might even start making smart bibs so you can get the latest info on the number of hot wings consumed and games won in tailgate toss. What do you think of smart jerseys? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How Will the MLB Season Finish?

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We had to dig back through our blog post archives to find out we never predicted how the MLB season would turn out this year! You can’t really blame us, though, as baseball is a sport of ups and downs over a gruelingly long season. For many teams, it’s all about finding a groove at just the right time and riding that momentum into the post-season. For others, outright domination of the opposition carries them to a championship. Now that we’re less than a month away from the end of the regular season, it’s time to swoop in with some expert opinions of how each division (and league) will finish.

AL East – The Yankees and Red Sox have finished playing each other this season, so the fate of the AL East comes down to how well each team performs against others in the league. Boston has a small lead in the division, but has to close out their season with four games against the Astros as well as a series at Baltimore. If they can handle the rest of their games, they’ll hang on and win the East.

AL Central – Cleveland seems to find a magic formula just when it needs it. In a surprisingly competitive division, they’ve built up a comfortable lead thanks to a historic winning streak in which they’ve trailed for only a handful of innings. They’ll keep the momentum and keep the division title.

AL West – Far and away one of the most impressive teams this season, the Astros have not let up since Opening Day. A few falters here and there haven’t deterred them, and a recent win streak has them comfortably padding their division lead. The title will return to Houston this season, but maybe not the overall best record.

AL Wild Cards – This will end up being the most exciting post-season race in recent memory. No less than eight American League teams are just a few good wins and some luck away from claiming a wild card spot. Both spots will fall to whomever makes the least amount of mistakes in the final two weeks of the season. Close your eyes and throw a dart at a target. We have no idea how this will shake up.

Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
AL Champions – The Wild Card winner will have to face Cleveland, and the Red Sox will get a matchup with Houston to try to avenge their early post-season exit from last year. This one all comes down to luck and not making mistakes, and we think the Astros will win a nail-biter series over Cleveland.

NL East – After the Nationals, this division is one of the worst in baseball. The second-place Marlins have a record below .500. As of this writing, the Nationals have already comfortably clinched their division.

NL Central – Do the Cubs want to win the division? They’re playing much better than they did in the first half of the season, but they haven’t been able to separate themselves from the Brewers or Cardinals. They still have four games against the Brewers and seven games against the Cardinals this month. The fate of this division will likely come down to the final few games of the season, with the Cardinals and Brewers finishing the season against each other. We see the Cubs scraping by with another NL Central title.

NL West – They may be limping their way into the post-season in the midst of a head-scratching losing streak, but the Dodgers built up such a cushion against their in-division opponents that they’ll still win the division when all is said and done.

NL Wild Cards – It’s the Diamondbacks and the Rockies and then everyone else. That’s a shame, because the NL West resembles the NL Central of a few seasons ago. In 2015, the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs were arguably better than most division winners, yet the Pirates and Cubs had to face each other in the Wild Card game. Between Arizona and Colorado, we can’t really pick. Whichever team wins this matchup is going to be coming hard for the Dodgers.

NL Champions – If you had asked us just a matter of weeks ago, we’d say the Dodgers are a lock to win the National League. Losing double-digit games in a row, however, could be a cause for concern. A huge winning streak by the Diamondbacks gives them lots of momentum as the season wraps up, and we could see that carrying them all the way to a league title.

The playoffs in baseball are some of the most stressful, gut wrenching weeks in all of sports. Who would’ve predicted this kind of a turnout once the calendar turned to September? Keep your eyes glued to the television, and enjoy an Arizona/Houston matchup for the championship. Leave a comment and let us know who you think will emerge victorious, and don’t forget to pick up a pair of bibs to cheer for your favorite baseball team!