Top 5 Current Athletes in New York

5. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

Noah Syndergaard at just the age of 24 is making a case to be the Mets ace in their pitching rotation. In 2 seasons, he has a career ERA of 2.89, with 23 wins and 384 strikeouts. He has continued to improve every time he’s out on the mound with his 97 plus mph fastball. Last season, he impressed the baseball universe throwing 7 shutout innings in the National League Wild Card game with 10 strikeouts, but Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants would be too much for the Mets to handle, as they would go on to lose the game. Without him, the Mets pitching staff would be in trouble as he is the only one to stay healthy in each of his seasons so far. Don’t forget he’s also a threat at the plate. Last season, he hit 3 home runs, including 2 in 1 game. The sky is the limit for him, and I expect him to be the Mets best pitcher for years to come and lead them to a World Series.

4. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

As of now, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher the Mets have. In the 2015 postseason, he came up big time for the Mets, especially in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he started 2 games, winning both with a 1.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts. In his 2 starts, he picked up the wins against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. deGrom’s season was cut short in 2016 due to injury, but for his career in 3 seasons he has 30 wins with a 2.74 ERA and 492 strikeouts. He also won the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. He is a little older than Noah Syndergaard at age 27, and I expect Syndergaard will pass him at some point as the Mets number 1 starter. Right now, deGrom is still slept on in this Mets pitching rotation, and right now he is the best pitcher they have.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets, Outfielder

The turning point of the 2015 season for the Mets was at the trading deadline when they acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. He hit the National League by storm after that trade, hitting 17 home runs for 44 RBI’s with a .287 batting average in 57 games. At one point, he was in the discussion for National League MVP, as he proved to be very valuable to the Mets. He was the bat they needed, and he was a major part in why they won the National League East, and would later win the National League Pennant. In 2016, injuries definitely affected his season. However, when he came back from injury, he led the Mets offense to a Wild Card berth, however they were eliminated against the San Francisco Giants. Don’t forget he is a game changer in the field, with a cannon of an arm, being a threat to throw out baserunners at any time. In his time with the Mets which is about a season and a half, he has 48 home runs for 130 RBI’s with a .282 batting average. Without Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets offense would be very weak. He is perfect for them along with their talented young pitching staff. If he stays healthy along with the pitching staff, this team could be a dynasty. He arguably means more to them than any of their pitchers because he jumpstarts their offense and makes everyone around him better.

2. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants, Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr. is a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL. He hit the league by storm in his rookie season, catching 12 touchdown passes for 1,305 yards in 12 games, and winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is a game changing player for the giants, with incredible speed and arguably the best hands in the NFL. He has sort of helped revive Eli Manning’s career with the Giants, and made them relevant again after it looked like they were on their way down. For his career, he has 35 receiving touchdowns for 4,122 yards with 288 catches, as well as being a 3 time Pro Bowler. Beckham Jr. is arguably the best athlete in the NFL and one of the league’s most exciting players. As he continues to make strides every year, he has the potential to be the league’s best receiver at any moment. Having the potential to be the best receiver in the NFL will certainly land him on this list, which is why he ranks in at number 2. The Giants have a solid core with a great defense, and some playmakers on offense to help out Eli Manning. It is very possible that they win a Super Bowl with Odell Beckham Jr., but he has to continue to improve every year and have his head in the right place on the field.

1. John Tavares, New York Islanders, Center

At the age of just 26, John Tavares tops our list as the best athlete in New York. Being on 1 of the smaller market New York teams, he does not always get the respect he deserves. The former number 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft has been a superstar since day 1. He continues to come up with clutch goals for the team, especially in the postseason. Who could forget his numbers in the 2016 playoffs, where he had 6 goals for the team, including the tying goal in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Florida Panthers with under 1 minute remaining in the 3rd period. To add to that, Tavares would later score the game winning goal in overtime in that game, leading the Islanders to their 1st playoff series win since the 1992-93 season. Tavares is a top 10 player in the NHL, and the Islander captain continues to improve every season. This Islanders team will only go as far as he leads them, as the team rallies around him. For his career, he has 514 total points on 227 goals and 287 assists in 561 games, as well as being a 2 time All Star. He has never won it, but has been in the MVP conversation numerous times. He’s certainly the MVP for all of New York teams, as this Islanders team would not be nearly as good without him. He means more to his team, than any other player in New York, which is why he is number 1 on this list. Fans hope he will lead the team to a Stanley Cup, and he certainly has the skill to do it.

All Stats via Baseball-Reference, Pro-Football-Reference, and Hockey-Reference.

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The Legacy of Michael Vick

Yesterday, Michael Vick announced his retirement from the NFL, after playing 13 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Vick was one of the most exciting quarterbacks of the 2000s, with the ability to make big plays with his speed and his strong arm. He finished his career throwing for 133 touchdown passes for 22,464 yards, as well as over 6,00 rushing yards for 36 touchdowns.

Vick started out his career with the Atlanta Falcons, where he was known for his explosive play. Defenses really had to focus on preparing for him, as he was a duel threat quarterback who could make big plays on his feet or in the air at anytime. Vick is also known for being one of the best players to use in Madden football video games, especially the 2004 edition when he was on the cover of the game. Vick’s career with the Falcons was cut short when he was sentenced to 23 months in Federal prison for his involvement in hosting dogfights on property in Virginia (ESPN). The Falcons then released Vick, and he was suspended for the 2007 and 2008 NFL seasons.

Vick was released from prison in 2009, and later that year signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, being given a second chance. Many questioned this decision, and the hopes were he would show he was a rehabilitated man. Vick took criticisms all around the NFL universe, but he remained humble and admitted he made a mistake.

Michael Vick was accepting of what he had coming from the public, according to azquotes.com he said “I’m willing to deal with the consequences and accept responsibility for my actions.” He also said “use me as an example of an instrument of change.”

After being a backup quarterback with the Eagles for much of the 2009 season, he was given his opportunity to start for them in 2010, having arguably his best career season. During the 2010 campaign, he threw 21 touchdown passes in 12 games started for 3,018 yards, with over 600 yards rushing for 9 touchdowns. He had proven he was still capable of being a starter in the NFL, and during that season he led the Eagles to a division title and also made it to the Pro Bowl. He was mainly the Eagles starter until after 2013, and then he played 1 season for the Jets in 2014 and 1 season for the Steelers in 2015, mainly as a backup for both teams. It looked as though Vick’s career was going to be over in the NFL after 2007, but he certainly prolonged his career until 2015.

So, whether one wants to respect Michael Vick for admitting to his mistakes, and taking advantage of a 2nd chance in the correct manner, by not hitting the front pages of papers in a negative way is up to you to decide. From what I saw, Michael Vick has changed as a human, and become a much better person because of a huge mistake he made. I will not dismiss the fact that what he did was very wrong. But I respect that Michael Vick was able to accept the negative criticism across the country, and not fight back because he knew he was wrong. Today, Michael Vick is an activist against animal cruelty. According to a Washington Post article, Vick said “I was part of the problem. Now, my perspective can help reach people that activists can’t reach. I can help others become agents of change.” In that article, it also stated that Vick supported the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which makes it a federal crime to attend an organized animal fight, which was later signed by President Barack Obama in 2014. So what is Michael Vick’s legacy? Michael Vick was an exciting quarterback who messed up big time. He took advantage of his second chance, and is now a changed man. His goal in life now is to help people avoid making the same mistake he did, and also to not take anything for granted. Michael Vick’s legacy is much greater than football. I respect that.

All stats via Pro-Football-Reference.

Mike’s Super Bowl 51 Breakdown

Super Bowl 51 has the makings to be an all time classic. 2 of the best offenses in the NFL square off in a matchup that many expect to be very high scoring. A quarterback with all the Super Bowl experience in Tom Brady takes on a guy in Matt Ryan who is preparing for his first ever Super Bowl appearance.

How the Falcons can win:

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of a very impressive win against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. In this game, the Atlanta defense impressed many, holding the Green Bay offense to 0 points in the first half, leading to a 44-21 dominating Falcon win. Going into the playoffs, everyone knew the Falcons offense could score points in bunches, but now their defense is starting to hold up, making them a very dangerous opponent for the Patriots. My x-factor for the Falcons is Vic Beasley. The NFL’s leader in sacks, he will need to lead the Falcons defense against a very tough Patriots offense. It is very tough to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. 1 way to slow down Brady is by applying pressure on him. Who better to get pressure on Brady than the NFL leader in sacks? By putting pressure on Brady, it can get him off of his game if he gets hurried quick, resulting in him accepting the sack or throwing the ball away. For the Falcons, we all know their offense can score. If they want to find success in the Super Bowl, they need to find a way to stop Tom Brady by applying pressure on him, led by Vic Beasley.

How the Patriots can win:

Yet again, the New England Patriots are in another Super Bowl. Their 7th with Tom Brady at quarterback, with a 4-2 record. What makes the Patriots so tough is their ability to get the most out of every player. Look at guys like Chris Hogan and Dion Lewis, 2 players who have come up big for the Patriots in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what personnel they have. As long as Tom Brady is the quarterback and Bill Belichick is the coach, the team will find success. The team just finds a way to get it done. They pretty much cruised through the AFC to the Super Bowl, and are the favorites in this matchup. My x-factor for the Patriots is Malcolm Butler. Butler, who is the Patriots number 1 cornerback is known for his game clinching interception on Russell Wilson in Super Bowl 49. In this game, it appears he will be tasked with Julio Jones. If he can find a way to shut down Jones, that would take away a major element in the Falcons offense. Just like the Falcons, we expect the Patriots to put up points in this game with no problem. It all comes down to if their defense, which has been solid all year, can hold up against one of the best offenses in football. Their secondary has to lock down these Falcons receivers, and if they do, they should be victorious in this one. I think if Julio Jones has less than 5 catches, the Falcons will lose the game. I’m sure Malcolm Butler is up for the task, but so is Julio Jones.

And the winner is…?

This matchup should be exciting. It is headlined by the 2 quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. 2 MVP candidates, they both will have their way in this one. However, it will all come down to which quarterback makes a mistake. Tom Brady has the experience, but I’m going with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in this one. They have been the most impressive team in the playoffs, and showed me a lot when they contained Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. I think the Falcons defense, which has been playing solid football of late, will find a way to get to Tom Brady, leading to victory. I don’t think the game will be as high scoring as people say, with both defenses playing great football in the playoffs. I’ll say Falcons 27, Patriots 24. Not only do I think Matt Ryan will be lifting the Lombardi trophy after this one, but I believe he will also win Super Bowl MVP. As for the Patriots, I expect them to be back next season. I predict Super Bowl 51 will be a classic, and each team has a great chance to win this game.

 

Believe it or not, the Islanders still have a chance to make the playoffs

The Islanders got off to a slow start in the 2016-2017 season, but here at the end of January they are still very much alive in the playoff race. The team fired Jack Capuano on January 17th, and have since had a record of 2-0-1 with interim head coach Doug Weight. The team looks to be playing with more confidence and since Weight took over.

Looking at the Wild Card race, the Islanders with 47 points are just 5 points behind the 2nd Wild Card team, the Philadelphia Flyers. At this point, they’d have to jump 6 teams which is not an easy task, but the way the season started, Islander fans should be thrilled that the team still has a decent shot. An advantage the Islanders have is that they have at least 1 game in hand on every team in front of them, including 3 on the Flyers. That being said, the team must take care of business if they want to make it to the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive season.

A huge turning point in the season was when the Islanders waived Jaroslav Halak, and have since rolled with Thomas Greiss as their starting goalie. Greiss appears to give the Islanders the best chance to win every night, as he has also been very hot of lately, including back to back shutouts last week. While Jack Capuano took most of the blame for the Islanders’ inability to hold leads late in games, that also falls on the shoulders of the goalie. Greiss also came through big for the Islanders in the 2015-2016 playoffs, being a huge part in why the team won that series against the Florida Panthers. I think having him be the number 1 goalie was the right call.

They also have gotten a lot of production from Anders Lee. After the team let 2 of the team’s better offensive players go in Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielson, someone needed to step up alongside John Tavares. Lee has been that guy, with 17 goals thus far on the season with 24 points overall. If the team could get more production from Andrew Ladd, who was their big free agent signing, it would greatly help the offense. However, Lee has been solid this season after a slow start, and is feasting playing on the same line as John Tavares.

And who could forget John Tavares, who has been playing some of the best hockey of his career over the last 6 games, with 8 goals and an assist. The team is reliant on him, if he continues this tear, others around him will improve.

While the Islanders still have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs, if I told you a month ago they’d only be 5 points out of a playoff spot, would you believe me? Well, they are with still a lot of hockey to play. It is important that they strictly focus on beating the team in front of them. They have to jump a bunch of teams, but it is very possible. The beauty of hockey is that right now the Islanders are tied for last in the Eastern Conference, but we’re still talking playoff possibilities in late January. So, if the Islanders want to make the playoffs, they need Thomas Greiss to keep up the consistency, John Tavares to continue his dominance, and help from other players like Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, and Brock Nelson. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, and the Islanders are 1 run away from being in business. As a hockey fan, you can’t ask for anything more than your team playing meaning fun games down the stretch. Hopefully in March, the Islanders will still be in striking distance to take hold of the 2nd Wild Card spot.

All stats via nhl.com

Mike’s Championship Sunday Predictions

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

If you thought the Packers matchup in the Divisional Round with the Dallas Cowboys was high scoring, expect much of the same in this one. Arguably the two hottest offenses will matchup in an attempt to make it to Super Bowl 51. I predict that whoever possess the ball last in this game with a chance to win will win the game. Both these teams have more faith in their offenses. I’d say the Falcons have the edge on defense, as well as home field advantage. But, Aaron Rodgers has been playing flawless football since mid November. I expect him to continue the Packers win streak, and upset the Atlanta Falcons. Right now, I don’t think anyone can beat Aaron Rodgers. Some of the Packers best receivers are questionable to play including Jordy Nelson, but as long as Aaron Rodgers plays, I expect them to win. This matchup will indeed be a shootout. I’ll say Packers 45, Falcons 41.

AFC Championship

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

In 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls, the AFC team has been quarterbacked by either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning. Make that 13 of the last 14 as Roethlisberger will be squaring off with Brady in what I expect to be an all time classic. The Steelers offense is lethal led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. The Patriots on the other hand have a guy that strictly wins in the playoffs in Tom Brady. To be clear, each of the 4 teams left are known for their offenses. The defensive play in this game should be a little better than the NFC Championship. This matchup will come down to which quarterback makes that one mistake in which the opposition will take advantage of. Each team is going to score points, but the defense that makes that one big play should lead that team to victory. The Patriots appear to have a better defense, and I think that will be the difference in this game. Tom Brady will appear in yet another Super Bowl, and I predict he will school the Steelers defense that has been playing good football of late. This matchup is exciting, and Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will not go down without a fight, but Tom Brady is just so tough to beat, especially at home in the playoffs. I’ll say Patriots 35, Steelers 27.