Monday, November 20, 2017

Where the Top MLB Free Agents Will Land


While it may have been based purely on uniform design, we’re pretty proud of our predictive skills when it came to choosing this year’s World Series champion. Now that the season has wrapped up and we move into a cold, baseball-less winter, it’s time to speculate where some of the game’s top free agents will play next season. Don’t worry; these predictions are based on actual baseball info.

1. Yu Darvish – Once the crown jewel of an international bidding war when he came to the U.S. from Japan, Darvish has seen his stock drop a bit over the years with claims that his pitching motion is allowing batters to guess his pitches. We can’t speak to split second decisions and minor tweaks in arm angle, but despite his struggles in high profile games, Darvish is set to rake in a hefty ransom as a free agent. We’re going out on a limb and guessing that the Minnesota Twins will be his landing spot. They’re young, have money to spend, and are likely to see the playoffs for several years to come.

Photo credit: trbimg.com
2. Jake Arrieta – This guy reinvented himself after being considered an afterthought of a trade piece to the Chicago Cubs from the Baltimore Orioles several seasons ago. His pitching prowess took a bit of a dip this past season after a few stellar years leading up to the Cubs’ championship, but Arrieta is still a reliable, disciplined pitcher who can stay healthy and keep the bullpen rested. A Texas boy at heart, we see Jake heading back to the Lone Star state where he pitched in college. It’s a tossup between the Rangers and Astros, but Houston looks like they’re poised to keep building off their title and Arrieta won’t command the money he’s hoping for after a few so-so seasons. He’ll sign with the Houston Astros this year.

3. J.D. Martinez – A few years ago, J.D. was a quiet contributor trying to find his swing on a crowded, talented Tigers team. He’s now emerged as a bonafide slugger who’s bound to command serious cash. He’s got some injury concerns from a few seasons ago, but has enough upside for teams to ignore that and sign him to a long-term deal. An American League team makes sense to provide him some off days from defense, so we’d guess the Boston Red Sox will welcome Martinez to town.

Photo credit: mlb.com
4. Eric Hosmer – Of the two homegrown free agents in Kansas City (Hosmer and Mike Moustakas), Hosmer seems the more likely of the two to leave town. His offense has never been a question, and the power-hitting first baseman hit for a .318 average this season with a slugging percentage just shy of .500. His defense is a bit more suspect, but most American League teams won’t care if they can slot him in as a designated hitter once his defense falls off the wagon. Most analysts say he’ll resign with the Royals, but we could see the Angels making a trade or two to make room for him at first base while Albert Pujols finishes out his career as an expensive designated hitter. They were nearly a playoff team last year, and they need to make big moves while Mike Trout is still young.

5. Wade Davis – Consistent, unflappable closing pitchers are incredibly valuable to any team, and the market is thin this year. After coming over to the Cubs via trade last offseason, Wade Davis continued his recent dominance and converted close to every save opportunity he was given. Overuse during the postseason revealed that he’s better suited in a traditional, 3-out closer role, but his reliability can’t be understated. The Cubs have no good in-house options to replace him and won’t fork over huge money for another closer. Expect Davis to resign with the Chicago Cubs this offseason if the market looks to be bullish.

The baseball offseason is always an exciting time for fans and teams looking to see a rebuilt roster. Where do you think the top free agents will end up next season? Let us know in the comments below!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Rise of Camouflage Uniforms in Sports

Photo credit: mlblogsopeningday.com

These days, it’s incredibly common to see sports teams wearing special uniforms to commemorate causes, holidays and events, and we recently wrote about NFL teams utilizing special colors to raise awareness for causes. One of the more popular uniform tweaks across multiple sports leagues is camouflage-patterned uniforms to pay tribute to the armed forces. So where did this trend start?

Photo credit: wikipedia
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the light switch turned on and teams began wearing special camo uniforms to honor the military, but most would credit the San Diego Padres with beginning the trend. Home to a large port for the U.S. Navy, San Diego has long been proud of its naval tradition. It only made sense for the Padres to tip their cap to the U.S. Navy, and they’ve done so with regularity ever since introducing a camo uniform in 2000. The uniforms have undergone several variations, including desert storm tan, navy blue, and classic green. The camouflage pattern has also changed with the military’s shift to digital camouflage, which utilizes small squares instead of the more organic shapes found on camo in decades past. Several other baseball teams have begun including camouflage alternate uniforms, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For having the most liberal use of camouflage on their team’s uniforms, MLB uses it the most infrequently of any major sports league. College and high school sports are where the real camo game lies. With Veteran's Day this weekend, we’ve compiled a few our of favorite ones from over the years.

Kansas State University – Not one to sideline their bright purple color scheme, the wildcats used a purple digital camo pattern on their existing helmet design to pay tribute to the military.

Photo credit: pbs.wimg

University of Southern Mississippi – You won’t find yellow and black camo on the battlefield, but you will find it on the football field. Here’s another case of a team keeping their color scheme while adding a camo element.

Photo credit: yimg

University of Oregon & Georgetown University – How about a 2-for-1 usage of camouflage? The Fighting Ducks sidelined their usual yellow in favor of gray and white camo while the Hoyas implemented a navy blue camo that mostly matches their existing color scheme.

Photo credit: cstv

University of Oregon – Back in 2013, the Oregon Ducks football team wore a uniform that was predominantly olive drab, complete with the backwards-facing U.S. flags on their right sleeves. It may not be camo, but it’ll do for our purposes.

Photo credit: yimg

While not every team has worn full-fledge camouflage uniforms, there’s plenty of uniform tweaks and accents throughout the last decade. Which one has been your favorite? Do you like the camouflage look or wish teams would stick to more traditional designs? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Five Tasty Thanksgiving Tailgate Foods


As the calendar shifts to November, Halloween is squarely in the rear view mirror. Candy gets stashed away (or eaten) to make room for turkey and fixings, and the football season is in full tilt with plenty of fans ready for that mid-season push to make the playoffs. It also means a slew of Thanksgiving Day football games and plenty of savory tailgating recipes to satiate those Turkey Day cravings. Instead of the standard wings and snacks, why not add a little holiday flavor to your routine? Here are five delicious recipes to add to your tailgating menu this holiday season.

1. Turkey Chili – You could haul a propane tank and oil to try your hand at frying a turkey in the parking lot, but a big pot of turkey chili is a great way to add some holiday flavors to this classic, warming dish. Try it with a mixture of ground and sliced turkey for a different texture, and throw in a bit more pepper for some added flavor. Toss some cornmeal directly in the chili to thicken it up, and try lemon juice to give the flavor some zest.

2. Stuffing & Sausage Balls – As if stuffing wasn’t delicious enough on its own, plenty of Thanksgiving recipes add a bit of sausage to the mix for a spicy kick. To keep things bite-sized and easy at your tailgate, try combining stuffing into a sausage ball recipe for a poppable snack. Add a side for cranberry dipping sauce and you’re good to go.

3. Cranberry Punch – Every tailgate needs a drink to take the edge off and get fans in the mood. Try making a citrusy punch with a cranberry base for a light, refreshing dose of liquid courage.

4. Fried Mashed Potato Balls – Stuff them with cheese or eat them plain and dip them in gravy. However you like your mashed potatoes, the fried ball version of this wonder starch is a no-mess option your tailgate guests will inhale on sight.

5. Sweet Potato Muffins – It may sound weird, but it tastes delicious. Use any style of sweet potato you prefer and finish them off with a marshmallow cream to replicate a candied sweet potato casserole. Want something a little sweeter? Swap out the sweet potato for pumpkin pie filling.

Any successful tailgate party ends with plenty of full stomachs and empty plates…and maybe a nap. What Thanksgiving-themed recipes do you plan to have at your tailgate this Thanksgiving holiday? Share your favorite foods with us in the comment section below!