American League East Preview

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Baseball is back, and that means the playoff grind begins again. The Cubs are fresh off a World Series win for the first time in over 100yrs and they aren’t going to let off the gas pedal anytime soon. The Indians haven’t slacked off either and are also favored to make a powerful return to the diamond. But! As we all know, no game is decided until the final pitch; and in today’s game, anything goes.

The American League’s Eastern division is one to watch this year as 4 out of the 5 teams look just as tough as ever.  Here’s a reminder for those of you who have been asleep in the offseason eating turkey and wings watching the Pats take yet another SuperBowl ring.

AL East teams: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays

Boston Red Sox:

Right from the gun, the Sox appear to be the top contenders in the AL East once again. With the key addition of Chris Sale to a rotation that already has David Price and Rick Porcello, Boston is primed to follow their starting rotation straight to another AL East title. However, the loss of David Ortiz will hurt the batting order considerably but with young stars like Mookie Betts & Xander Bogaerts being led by veterans such as Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox line up should still be one of the best in the league.

Regular Season Prediction: I believe the Red Sox will finish with a record of 96-66 and take first place in the AL East yet again

Toronto Blue Jays:

Don’t sleep on the Jays though, their hitting lineup this year is not one to be forgotten. With players like Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and their starting pitching lead by Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Sanchez, they have a chance to give the Red Sox a good run for their money. The order may feel the loss of Edwin Encarnacion but the Jays have enough of a supporting cast to make up for it in spades. The starting rotation is healthy enough to keep Toronto in the hunt, but with that being said I still believe the Blue Jays will fall short come October.

Regular Season Prediction: I believe the Blue Jays will end up with a record of 92-70 coming in second for the AL East race.

Baltimore Orioles:

In the hole, the Baltimore Orioles are a team that has the juice to keep up with the Red Sox and Jays offensively but their starting rotation cannot hope to match their division rivals in the long run. They still hold good cards with players like Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Adam Jones in the batter’s box but Tillman can’t fight off the wolves by himself.  The return of Mark Trumbo’s powerful hitting and a solid relieving corp should find the boys from Baltimore some wins along the way. Not to mention Buck Showalter’s expert managerial skills have helped to keep the Orioles from totally falling apart thus far. I believe if they can remedy the rotation issues and the bats stay consistent, then Baltimore may be a dark horse in this division.

Regular Season Prediction: The Orioles will likely close with a record of 89-73 and come in third for the AL East.

New York Yankees:

The New York Yankees are currently a team looking toward the future. With players like Clint Frazier, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and Gleyber Torres burning a hole in Joe Girardi’s pocket these rookies are sure to make some headway for the former Bronx Bombers. The bullpen being as hot as it is will certainly keep the Yankees in the chase until the rookies can hit their stride. League All-Stars like Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman coming out of the pen, New York has little to worry about from opposing lineups in the later innings. This team is young and lean but veterans Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius will definitely make noise as well. The main problem facing the Yankees is the starting rotation however. After Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees aren’t sure what to expect from the rest of the starting starting 5.

Regular Season Prediction: In my opinion the Yankees with end with a record of 88-74 this season and place fourth in the AL East again.

Tampa Bay Rays:

Last but certainly not least are the Tampa Bay Rays. The former devil rays may just live up to that moniker this year as they face a long rebuilding & refitting process. They still have a couple of core players to build around in Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, and new acquired Wilson Ramos however. The addition of Nathan Eovaldi, and Colby Rasmus also help their cause but the Rays are still in need of more effective players if they want to keep up in the east.

Regular Season Prediction: The Rays are a young squad so who know what the future holds for them but this year I think they will end up last place in the AL East with a 70-92 record.

Writer: Sergio Marquez

UFC 209 Preview: Woodley vs Thompson 2

 

 

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This Saturday, UFC 209 will feature the UFC Welterweight Champion “The Chosen One” Tyron Woodley vs Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the Main Event. In the last preview, it highlighted the back story behind the upcoming fight. In this post , it will look at the keys to victory for both fighters and a final prediction of who will be the winner.

In their last fight, Woodley landed the most damage and was very close to finishing Thompson. Although Thompson would continue to fight to a draw, Woodley will go into this fight knowing he can knock Thompson out.  Also Woodley was able to wrestle Thompson down. So here is the Keys to victory:

Key #1:Look for the Takedown

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In their last fight in the 1st Round, Thompson was backing Woodley up to the cage. When Thompson went for a leg kick, Woodley was able to take the hit and grab the leg to take Thompson down. Woodley is the superior wrestler and has to look for these moments to take Thompson down. Thompson likes to throw kicks, so Woodley needs to be able to telegraph it and get Thompson off balance for a takedown. This will make Thompson second guess throwing kicks and help neutralize one of Thompson greatest ability.

Key # 2: Feint the Takdown

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What was missing from Woodley’s fight with Thompson was the threat of the takedown. Woodley would stand up with Thompson majority of the fight, which plays more to the strength of Thompson. With step #1 being to look for the takedown, step #2 is the effects of that. Woodley needs to feint the takedown to keep Thompson guessing. Woodley has shown to be able to take Thompson down, So with Woodley feinting the takedown it opens up opportunities to catch Thompson by surprise and  land  his punches.

Key# 3:Keep the back off the cage

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Thompson is the most dangerous when his opponent is backed against the cage. Woodley needs to keep his back off the cage and get Thompson to back up. When they fought,  Woodley would let Thompson move forward and back him against the cage. Thompson was able to land his strikes better and score points. Woodley needs to keep circling the cage and not put himself in a dangerous spot with his back against the cage.

 

Thompson could have won the first fight, if it wasn’t for the fourth round. If someone was watch the entire fight besides the fourth round, it quite possible they would think Thompson edged Woodley on the score card.  Thompson did some things well in their first fight, but here is what he needs to do in the rematch.

Key #1: Block the Takedown

Something that Woodley may look to do more is taking Thompson down and do damage from the ground with his strikes. Thompson would throw leg kicks, but Woodley would only capitalize and take Thompson down once. Although, It was fairly easy and gave Woodley the opportunity to do some ground and pound. Thompson needs to block the Takedown and make Woodley lose some confidence in being able to wrestle Thompson. Also in grappling exchanges, Thompson should throw knees to the body.

Key #2: Keep Woodley backing up

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Thompson was doing very good in making Woodley back up against the cage and needs to do the same in this fight. Thompson was able to land his strikes and score points on the score card. Woodley is less effective when he is backing up and Thompson could use his range to pick Woodley apart.

 

Key #3:Mix up the Strikes

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In their last fight , their was very few combinations thrown by Thompson. Thompson didn’t really set up his kicks as much and Woodley will try to capitalize, especially the low kicks. Thompson should expect that Woodley will try to take him down,By using his kicks take him off balance.  Thompson needs to throw more combinations to keep Woodley guessing and make it easier to set up his kicks. Thompson should also look to throw kicks to the body and take the energy out of Woodley. By mixing his strikes, it makes Thompson even more dangerous on the feet.

Final Prediction: Expect whoever to win this fight, to win decisively. Both fighters know what the other can do and would make adjustments to their game plan. The biggest factor of the fight is Woodley being able to take Thompson down.  Thompson has to block the Takedown and if he was get took down, Thompson has to quickly get back up. Woodley also has to avoid putting his back to the cage and put pressure on Thompson, to push Thompson back against the cage. I expect Woodley to be more aggressive and put pressure on Thompson, by moving forward.  If the fight goes 5 rounds, Thompson could end up the new Welterweight Champion. However, I see Woodley finishing Thompson by TKO.

Woodley wins via TKO.

UFC 209: preview Woodley vs Thompson 2

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Who will win the rematch?

 

 

On the historic night of the UFC debut in Madison Square Garden UFC 205, Fans were treated to a classic in the Co-main event between Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson for the UFC Welterweight Championship. The fight would go 5 rounds, With both fighters showing grit and determination to walk out of Madison Square Garden as champion. The fight would end in a draw, With fans split on who they thought won the fight. Now Woodley and Thompson will headline UFC 209 in the Main Event, With Both fighters looking to definitively win and be the Welterweight Champion.

Thompson was the favorite going into his first fight with Woodley and it’s not hard to see why. Thompson was on a 7 fight win streak and looked unstoppable, Until UFC 205. Thompson was hurt and was close to being finished in the 4th round, But in that moment showed incredible resilience to finish the fight to a draw. Thompson has the skills to not only become Champion,  But to hold on to it for a long time. With Thompson dynamic striking and knowing what Woodley will bring to the fight, Thompson time may finally arrive to be known as the UFC Welterweight Champion.

Woodley is not only looking to retain his Championship, But to gain respect.  While promoting UFC 209 on ESPN, Woodley would say “I’m the Champion. I knocked out the baddest Welterweight in the world in record-breaking time. I don’t get the respect I deserve”.  UFC.com reported that Woodley was the underdog going into UFC 205 and now is projected to be the underdog for UFC 209. Although Thompson is an incredible fighter, Woodley may have a point of not having the respect he deserves.  Woodley was close to knocking out and submitting Thompson, However this fight Woodley will look to leave little doubt on why he deserves to be respected.

This Main Event fight may be able to pull off another classic. Both Woodley and Thompson are going into the fight confident, That they can beat the other.  Both have the ability to not only be able to finish the other, But have shown to be able to have the cardio to go 5 rounds. Thompson has the speed, range and the dynamic striking ability to give Woodley problems. However, Woodley has shown to have the punching power to knock Thompson out and in their last fight was able to take Thompson down rather easily. Expect Woodley and Thompson to try to finish the fight decisively and leave no doubt to who is the best in the Welterweight Division.

Writer: Tyriece Simon

Can follow me @Tsimon201