Sunday Scaries: Aaron Judge, the giant is toppling over

Everyone is well aware that the Yankees are down 0-2 in the ALCS, and whether its time to push the panic button yet or not, I’m not sure. However, there is one giant (literally) reason to push the button, and that is Aaron Judge.

 

For all us Yankee fans, we know the real Aaron Judge, instead of the one that ESPN shows and raves about when he hits a solo home run in a 10-1 New York blowout. Yes, he had a miraculous regular season, powering the lineup with 52 home runs, giving a rebirth to the Bronx Bombers.

 

Sadly, with the home runs also came 208 strikeouts, tied for sixth most all time for strikeouts in a season.

 

Fast forward to the playoffs, Judge did go yard against the Twins in the play-in game. Against the Indians, Judge struggled, and that’s being very kind. In the five game series, the 25 year old went 1-20 at the plate, while also striking out 16 times, a record for a playoff series. His lone hit came in Game 4 of the series.

 

So far in the ALCS against Houston, Judge has continued to struggle, starting off the series 1-7, with already three strikeouts. While his poor at bats weren’t enough to stop his Yankees come back against the Indians, the Astros are a different story.

 

And while Judge is going through his own tough October, the Yankees other power hitter, Gary Sanchez is experiencing a slumpish series of his own. Sanchez, who belted out 33 home runs of his own during the regular season, has started out this ALCS even worse than Judge, going 0-7 at the bat through the first two games, striking out five times.

 

Though he struggled against Cleveland in the ALDS, going 4-23 at the plate, Sanchez hit two home runs in the series.

 

With the series shifting back to the Bronx on Monday night, the Yankees are facing another 0-2 deficit in this best-of-seven ALCS. History is against New York however, as the team has never come back from being down 0-2 in a championship series.

 

 

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The U is back, or is it?

In case you’re completely oblivious to the college football world and what happened on Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes defeated FSU 24-20 in a thriller. It was the Canes first win against the Noles in seven years, and Hurricane nation is alive and well right now.

 

With Miami at number 10 in several polls, and with the phenomena of the “turnover chain” seen across the Hurricanes sidelines, every college football fan is talking about the program.

 

Miami is a program that is very similar to Texas and USC, those schools that were so dominant when we were growing up, and have fallen off in recent years. Being a Hurricane fan all my life, I can say that the last time Miami had been thought of as a real contender in college was the beginning of 2006. Since then, its been a rough decade.

 

However, since that time, every year or two, Miami will get off to a hot start, grab a big win, and some will say that the “U” is back. I’ve heard so many times that the U is back, that now when people say it, its just indication that Miami hasn’t fallen quite off the map yet, due to the fact that everytime someone dubs that they’re back, something catastrophic happens.

 

2007:  This was the first year of the Randy Shannon era, and Shannon had predicted the Canes to win the ACC. Things got off to a good start, and after five games, Miami found themselves sitting pretty at 4-1, and atop their division in the conference. This start was highlighted by a big win in the old OB (Orange Bowl) against then number 16 in the country Texas A&M. I was at that game, and it felt great to defeat a nationally ranked team at home, and Miami was buzzin. The next day on ESPN, the talk was that the U was back, and they had a real shot at finishing in the top 10 that year. What happened next? The wheels completely fell off. After that victory, the Canes won just two of their last eight games, including a 48-0 shellacking to Virginia in what was the last game ever played in the OB. They finished the year 5-7, not making a bowl game for the first time since 1997.

 

2009: This was an interesting year, because the Hurricanes had such a rough schedule at the beginning of the season, that many experts predicted Miami to start off 0-4.  Wins against FSU, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma, all ranked teams had the Canes at 3-1, and then two more wins put them at 5-1, and ranked ninth in the country. With a trip to the ACC championship and a possible Orange Bowl very much within reach, the Canes would go on to lose two games of their next four, both to conference foes, both to non-ranked teams. Though they reached the Citrus Bowl, Miami would fall to Wisconsin, ending the season with a 21 ranking.

 

2010: After a 9-4 record the year prior in 2009, and returning most starters, the Canes entered the year ranked 13th, and many believed that this would finally be the year to make it to the ACC championship. A blowout loss at home to FSU, road loss at unranked Virginia, another home loss to Virginia Tech, and finally a loss to lowly USF had the Canes out of the top 25. To finish the year, Miami fell to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl, finishing with a 7-6 year.

 

2013: Coming into the year, most thought that if the Canes, could squeeze out seven or eight wins, that’d be a good job. Under third year head coach Al Golden, Miami sprinted to a 7-0 start, their best in years, highlighted by a win over rival Florida. With all the momentum in the world, Miami faltered against FSU, followed by two losses after that. Miami started with seven straight wins, then followed by losing four of their last six, including their bowl loss, ending at 9-4.

 

I’m not saying that this could potentially be a great year for the U, because I know how much they need it, for recruiting, state pride, fan support, etc. With monumental conference games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech looming, this will really be a test whether or not Miami reaches their first ACC championship game, and if the U really is back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rivalry Week Is Here Again, Must Win for Canes

Here are the facts, FSU is 1-2 in 2017, Miami is 3-0. Miami is coming off an impressive 31-6 victory over previously undefeated Duke, and FSU just barely squeaked Wake Forest 26-19. FSU is playing without their starting quarterback, while Miami has their All-American caliber receiver back and also their star running back is cleared to play. FSU is out of the top 25 since 2011, and Miami is coming in ranked 12th in the coaches poll.

 

Here’s another fact, Miami hasn’t beaten FSU since 2009.

 

Ah yes, its that glorious time of the year again, rivalry week. While its been seven years since the Canes have downed their rivals to the north, there is still no other week quite like this. Whether you reside down south in Dade or Broward County, or you’re in enemy territory up in Leon, perhaps you’re even across country, those who bleed orange and green realize the importance of this game.

 

When Miami and the Noles kickoff on Saturday in Tallahassee, it will be 364 days since FSU stunned the Canes in last year’s meeting, when they came out of Hard Rock Stadium with a 20-19 victory, extending the Seminoles winning streak to seven.

 

It was in Tallahassee the last time Miami won this rivalry game. The score was 38-34, and it was one of the most memorable games in rivalry history. During that win, Canes quarterback Malik Rosier was still in middle school.

 

Even though FSU comes into the game with a 1-2 record, Miami aren’t taking the Noles lightly. “It’s Miami-Florida State. It’s going to be a great game. There’s going to be a lot attention on this game, but we’ve got to come out and treat it like  a regular game, and know we’re playing for not only each other, but the alumni. It’s a big game,” said linebacker Michael Pinckey to the Palm Beach Post.

When the season began, it looked as if it would be another sure win for the Seminoles, as they entered 2017 ranked third in the country. However, after a loss to Alabama, an injury to quarterback Deondre Francois, Hurricane Irma, and then a home loss to NC State, FSU is staring down a possible 1-3 start. Even so, Florida State fans shouldn’t start freaking out just yet. After five games in 2016, the Noles were 3-2 heading into a matchup against undefeated Miami. After that win, FSU rattled off seven wins in eight games to finish the season, including a victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. If Seminole fans want even better news, the last time they began the year 0-2 was in 1989. How did that year end? With ten straight wins, a Fiesta Bowl victory and a number three ranking.

Down south, Hurricane country is on the rise. Second year head coach Mark Richt definitely has this program headed in the right direction. Nine wins and a bowl victory in his first season has Cane fans buzzed, but not ready to be cocky. Besides, if you look at the University of Miami and what the football team has accomplished since their last victory over FSU in 2009, its down right pathetic. Miami has a 60-41 record since last defeating the Seminoles, one bowl win and zero conference championships. To make matters worse, the Hurricanes haven’t even played in an ACC championship game since joining the conference in 2004.

To be short and frank regarding the state of Miami and what this weekend means, it is a must win for the Canes. The next step in the progression for the program is in fact to defeat their enemies in Tallahassee.

 

College football is better when these two teams are good, and even more so when this is a competitive rivalry. So to all of the Canes fans out there, and really Noles fan as well, make the U with your hands all week long, and play your Tomahawk chant until the sound dies, happy rivalry week to all.

 

 

Where is your faith?

In the eighth chapter of the book of Luke, we find several stories. One of the stories is that of Jesus and His apostles were on sailing on a lake, when a mighty storm came through. While the apostles were scared and frightened because of the storm, they found that their Leader, was asleep aboard the ship. “And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.” (Luke 8:24)

 

What makes the tale memorable for me is what follows this event, and the Savior handles the remaining of the situation. Looking at His chosen apostles, who are to assist Him in carrying out His gospel and love, it is fair to say that Christ is disappointed in them. “And he said unto them, Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)

 

Even though it would be far from the last, this event would become one of the most important lessons the Savior would teach his disciples during His time on earth. Its interesting, and imperative to note, that as time goes along, and Christ and His disciples teach and convert people throughout the land, the Savior still continues to teach those He has chosen. A simple question He asks them, “where is your faith?” In my interpretation of this sequence, He might have also said, “do you really think I was going to let you drowned? And even if I did, do you not have faith in that which I have taught you?”

 

For us, even though we can obviously see where the Lord is coming from, imagine yourself in that situation. When the water suddenly begins to fill the boat, would we also lose faith, and begin to ask where our Lord is? Would we quickly forget the eternal plan that the Savior has for us? In the book of John it clearly says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27). It doesn’t make exceptions, the Savior never wants us to fear, He wants our absolute trust, our faith.

 

When I was serving my mission, I encountered several frightening situations. In two consecutive weeks, a tornado touched down in or near my area. The second storm, came very close to where my companion and I lived. I’ll never forget the night as long as I live. We were having dinner at a member’s house, when all of a sudden we were notified from our mission president to return home because a tornado was coming towards us. Responding relatively slow to his text, we continued to eat at the member’s home, and enjoy the night, even though we could see dark clouds in the sky outside the window. When it came time to depart, torrential rain, high winds, along with loud claps of lighting was the scene we walked out to. Though the members urged us to stay inside their home, we told them we’d be fine, knowing that our house was less than five minutes away.

 

Running to our car, we were immediately drenched in water. As I got into the drivers seat, I told my companion that there was no way I could drive us home due to my bad vision, and asked if he would. Being a little braver than I, he hopped in to drive the car, and began back home. During that drive, it was clear that the tornado couldn’t be far from where we were, and to me it was one of the most terrifying scenes I’d ever witnessed. Driving through water, and seeing the destruction that mother nature could offer up, in that moment my faith had completely eluded me. I was almost one hundred percent that something bad was going to happen in that drive, especially when another member, who happened to be our neighbor, called us and yelled at my companion and I that we weren’t home yet.

 

Once we were back at our apartment, coming to the conclusion we were safe, I started to realize how cowardly I had shown myself that night. In those minutes in the car, it was clear that my faith wasn’t sufficient for that situation. Interestingly enough, the next morning during my personal study, I came across this account in Luke, and felt embarrassed, and read those scriptures as if the Lord was asking me, “Elder Thomas, where was your faith?”

 

In a popular Mormon Message, President Russell M. Nelson tells of a story when he was on a plane that almost turned deadly.  While in the air, the aircraft’s engine exploded, sending the plane spiraling down to the earth. In that moment, President Nelson recalled seeing a woman who was in obvious fear and in tears, coming to the realization that her life was about to be over. In his own words regarding the situation, “I was calm, I was totally calm, even though I knew I was going to my death. I was ready to meet my maker.” The flight made a miraculous recovery at the last second, and landed safely in the field. “If you’ve got faith, you can handle difficulties, knowing with an eternal perspective that all will be well,” said President Nelson in what he learned from the experience.

 

How do we obtain faith such as President Nelson, or other noble men and women, who have learned to trust the Savior. In order to secure that trusting in the Lord, we must live in the way that He wants us to live. Living as He lives, gives us hope for the life after this life. As we go through our day to day lives, and do what we’re supposed to spiritually, we can obtain the faith of living with our families after this life, no matter how it ends.

 

I have a testimony of faith, even more so a knowledge that my faith continues to grow. I want to live my Heavenly Father and Savior, and also my family after this life. I testify that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, so that we can overcome our challenges, and by doing so increase our faith through those challenges. I testify that the Savior knows you, that He watches you, and will never leave you. I add my testimony to this scripture that I will close with, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18).  He will come to us, as we come to Him.

The people saw great light

Today, being the start of the new week, I’d like to talk to you about the hope that is Jesus Christ, and the light within Him. There will be times in our lives, in which we will be in a place that seems dark and lonely. For some, that moment may not be very long periods of time, but for others, the time in darkness may be for years. What I wanted to talk to you today about, is that our Savior knows who is in darkness, He is aware of us, and has a task for us to perform in order to get out.

 

In Matthew chapter 4, we know that the Savior, in the beginning of the chapter, is just coming off being tempted of the devil. Afterwards, Christ “dwelt in Capernaum,” (Matthew 4:12). Several verses later, speaking of the people who were around Him, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Matthew 4:16)

 

What was is about the Savior, that the people saw great light? It was the hope that Christ brought. Obviously He is the Son of God, but at first glance, people didn’t know that about this Man from Nazareth.

 

What really stands out about this particular scripture, are the passages just following it. The book says that Christ ventured to the shores of Galilee, and began preaching to the people, in particular, a group of fisherman. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  We all have read this passage thousands of times, or at least have heard it from our ward mission leader, attempting to motivate members to do missionary work. That being said, notice the next verse, and how it relates to verse 16, about seeing “great light.” “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him; And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20,22)

 

What motivates us to move, to get up, and to be better? Is it our significant other? Our parents? Though they will light the fire within us many times throughout our lives, it is the Savior of the world that will provide us to become better. In Him we see great light. However, even though He provides that light, that hope, it is up to us to take that next step.

 

 

When we see light in Christ, it is because we want to improve ourselves, to become more like Jesus Himself. That’s what Peter and the other fisherman saw in Jesus the moment they met Him. They may not have known, but in terms of spirituality, they were “people who sat in darkness,” and Christ was the answer.  We all are entitled, whether we’re members of the church or not, to receive an answer that Jesus can provide us with the happiness in this life, and that’s what Peter knew. When Christ them to follow Him, they didn’t just think about going, they didn’t say, “Hey Jesus, we’ll think about it then get back to you!” The scriptures uses the words straightway and immediately.

 

This gospel isn’t one for those who wait around, waiting for things to happen. It is for those who have hope in the Son of God, act, and have the faith that their life will improve.

 

Like I mentioned before, all of us will experience times of darkness, and for some of you, it may be happening right now. To all of us, because everyday can be one of new light, a new chance, and a fresh start. I testify that Jesus Christ is that great light, and His atonement can you bring you out of any darkness that you may sit in. He is the answer, the solution, and the way to eternal life. May we all have the courage to accept that light, and not just accept it, but follow it, until we become better people, and more like Christ.

Aaron Judge steals All-Star Week

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past several months, the New York Yankees have a rookie named Aaron Judge, who is taking the baseball world by storm.

 

This past week in Miami, Judge was the center of attention in the sports world. The 25 year old was the champion of the Home Run Derby on Monday, and then started in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

 

Judge, who is adopted, grew up in Linden, California, and was a standout in three sports. In football, Judge received scholarship offers from schools like Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA to play tight end. Ultimately, Judge chose baseball, and was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft. However, Judge chose to attend Fresno State University.  Aaron played for the Bulldogs, and interestingly enough, won the college baseball Home Run Derby in 2012.

 

In 2013, Judge was drafted by the New York Yankees with the 32nd overall selection.

 

The man who stands at 6 foot 7 and weighs 280, has gained the notice from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. “He is a tremendous talent on the field and really appealing off the field,” Manfred said to the Baseball Writers Association. Manfred said that Judge is the kind of talent “that could become the face of the game.”

 

Judge’s stats so far in the 2017 season, fully show that he can become the new face of baseball. Judge leads the majors in home runs (30), as well as placing in the top three in the AL in batting average (.329) and RBI’s (66).

 

Judge brings a swing, and a face, that the Yankees have been looking for, for a while. Since Derek Jeter retired in 2014, the franchise has been searching for a player that New York City could fall in love with. The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, and has only won two since 2000. One thing as well that Judge brings to the Bronx bombers that has been missing, are home runs. The Yankees have been looking for someone with power for several years, in fact, New York has had only two players in the last five years to hit for more than 30 home runs in a season (Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in 2015).

 

Not just do the Yankees need someone like Aaron Judge, but Major League Baseball as well. Even with players like Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, the popularity of baseball has been declining, and lacks the excitement that the NFL and NBA brings. Judge, along with Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, have the opportunity to bring the excitement of baseball back to its rightful position in America. Judge and Bellinger represent the two largest cities in America, and similar to the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, can capture the nation with a thrilling home run race, with Bellinger just five homers short of Judge.

 

 

Midnight Thoughts: Brett Favre was Overrated

He’s the country boy from the deep south, with a sweet accent, and a sense of humor that still has us football fans laughing whenever we hear clips of him mic’d up. He’s the man who stole our hearts, and captured the imagination of football fans everywhere with his love of the game that he portrayed every Sunday. He’s a Super bowl winning quarterback, multiple MVP winner, and the king of making nothing plays into instant classic highlights. I’m of course talking about the legendary Brett Favre.

 

Throughout his 19 year NFL career, America could not get enough of number four, and neither could I. Though he played for the Packers most of his career, he developed into one of my favorite players in league history, mostly for his down home style, and incredible humor that exemplified how every football player should play the game.

 

As the years have passed since his retirement, I’ve watched a lot of Favre games, and studied his career probably more in depth than any other NFL player.  Throughout this fun process, I’ve come to the conclusion, a sad reality, that Brett Favre is the most overrated player in NFL history.

 

Before you rip me to shreds, believe me, I’m in just as shock as all of you are. I love Favre, but I also have to come to the facts.

 

  1. His performance in big games:

In 1996, Brett Favre could absolutely do no wrong. He had just won the Super Bowl for the Packers, and seemed destined to bring home several more Lombardi trophies back to Green Bay. A lot of people don’t take this into consideration, after that one Super Bowl, Favre sucked in games that mattered. Take for the instance the very next year. The Packers in 1997, make it back to another Super Bowl, and their opponent? A Denver Bronco team that was quarterbacked by John Elway, who completed just 12 passes the entire game, and no touchdowns. The Packers entered that game as 11 ½ point favorites, and Favre was just coming off another MVP year. Favre was less than stellar, and the Packers were upset in that game 31-24.

 

Fast forward to 2002, Green Bay is hosting the Falcons in the wild card round of the playoffs. Remember, prior to this game, the Packers had NEVER lost a home playoff game at Lambeau Field EVER. Plus, it was January, and the Falcons were a dome team. As you could probably guess, the Pack were heavily favored. As you could probably guess however, given the nature of this article, the Falcons whooped Green Bay, behind the play of a guy named Mike Vick. Favre turned the ball over three times, and the Packers were embarrassed 27-7.

 

Five years later, it’s the 2007 season, and Green Bay had a magical year, going 13-3, and looked as if Favre would return to another Super Bowl. The Packers were hosting the NFC Championship game, at home, against the Giants, a team that even though went on to win the Super Bowl, lets be honest, the Packers were better than. In what would be his final game as a Packer, Favre threw two costly interceptions. His last one, coming in overtime to Corey Webster, which put the Giants in Green Bay territory, setting up a game winning field goal, shocking the Packers 23-20. That Webster interception, was his last throw wearing yellow and green.

 

  1. He’s the all-time leader in interceptions!

Yes, in 2007, Favre broke the NFL record for career touchdowns, and passing yards, a record that some believe makes him the greatest quarterback who ever lived. As the Grinch who Stole Christmas would say, “wrongo.” Here’s another record for ya, Favre threw 336 interceptions over the span of 19 seasons, putting him number one all time. To make matters worse, in 24 postseason games, Favre threw 30 interceptions in those games.

 

Whenever fans think of Favre interceptions, there’s just too many to think of! The first one for me that comes to mind, brings us to the 2003 NFC divisional round of the playoffs, when the Packers were looking like they could upset the Eagles in Philly. Green Bay had the ball on their 42 yard line, and it seemed as if Favre and the Packers could knock off the Birds. Insert the gunslinger. In his only pass of overtime, Favre threw one doozy of a toss. I can only describe this throw, I’m laughing as I write this by the way, in two examples. One is a punt, kicked right to the defender, and the other is when you’re playing catch with a young kid, and you throw it real high as if you’re bombing a touchdown. Luckily for Brian Dawkins, he was the recipient of probably the worst pass of Favre’s career, and Brett out threw the receiver by probably fifteen yards. Dawkns made the easy interception, and the Eagles went on to win.

 

The second one is almost painful to type, because its such a bad pass. I said that the Eagles pick was the worst throw of his career, but this one probably is. Brett, in 2009, turns into a Purple People Eater, and is a member of the Vikings. Miraculously, he takes them all the way to the NFC championship game, in a showdown in New Orleans against the Saints. In a game where Favre took an absolute beating, he was leading the Vikings down the field for a potential game winning field goal that would put Minnesota in the Super Bowl. Does this scenario sound familiar? (2007 NFC Championship game) Any who, Favre and the Vikings were on the Saints 38 yard line, with Brett flushed out of the pocket trying to gain more yards. Instead of throwing the ball away, or running to gain a few more yards, Favre commits a quarterback sin, and throws across his body, which was then intercepted by Tracy Porter. The game went into overtime, and the Saints wouldn’t give Favre another chance, ultimately kicking a game winning field for themselves.

 

  1. Everything else.

I only gave two legitimate reasons to support my claim, but by golly I believe I’ve done it. Yes, Favre is headed to the Hall of Fame, no doubt about it. Though I think the aspect of Favre I hated most, was how he ended his career. Favre retired not once, not twice, not three times, but a grand total of four times! The first time Favre Watch would come on, it was exciting. Though after he pulled a Fredo Corleone and became the biggest trader in the history of Wisconsin, joining the Vikings, then it just became ridiculous. Favre is like the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies, when you see them they’re awesome, five years later you realize how stupid you were.