My Brief Thoughts/Opinions On Some Random Sports I Find Interesting
by Paul Ritacco III, Form VI
5 min. read — December 13, 2023
Max Verstappen and Red Bull - Winners in 2024?
With the 2023 F1 season now over, it’s time to look back on an interesting year and look ahead to 2024. Max Verstappen was unstoppable this season, winning all but three races, two of which were won by his teammate Sergio Perez. The fight for best-of-the-rest was tight, with George Russell coming in clutch with a third place finish in Abu Dhabi, leading Mercedes to second in the Constructors’ Championship (beating Ferrari by only three points). Despite his amazing career, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes did not win a race for the second year in a row and only got third in the Drivers’ Championship (behind both the Red Bull drivers). As Red Bull looks towards next season, it seems likely that they will be on top again next year, but the other teams are hopefully going to be more competitive. The late season progress by Ferrari and McLaren, along with the early season performance by Aston Martin, and the continued performance of Mercedes means next year will hopefully be even more fun to watch than this one. As we say goodbye (and good riddance, in my opinion) to Red Bull’s RB19, teams now can ramp up development of their new cars. Red Bull can keep improving on their designs but other teams now have the opportunity to bring their cars to a more equal position, meaning lots of work ahead for them. Of course, many things can happen between now and next season, but for now it does look like Red Bull is here to stay. Personally, I’d love to see Red Bull go without a single win next season, but I don’t think that’s possible. I’d also like to see Lewis Hamilton win a race, which is more possible, but if Red Bull stays as dominant as this season, nobody’ll stand a chance.
Note: To put Verstappen’s dominance into perspective, if he was his own team, he would’ve won the constructor’s championship by 166 points. 166 points would be enough to put him above five entire teams, and that’s just the difference between his individual score and the number two team.
As Ovi eyes 895, where are the Capitals?
The Capitals did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, the first time they’ve missed the playoffs in eight years. The current team looks almost nothing like the team that won the Cup in 2018, barring a few familiar faces. So with a changing team, should the strategy change? Of course, but it’s more complicated than that. Some Caps fans want to focus on getting Ovechkin goals until he breaks Wayne Gretzky’s record, while others don’t want that to come at the expense of the team. Ovi entered the season with 822 career goals to Gretzky’s 894. Even at his old goal-scoring pace (and staying injury-free), passing the Great One will take him at least two seasons. Can the Caps afford to spend two more seasons focused solely on Ovechkin? The simple answer is no. The Capitals are a team and have to focus on that, but that doesn’t mean they have to throw Ovechkin’s quest out the window. Instead, they should work on building out their team, as that can’t hurt Ovi. A better team around him means better goal-scoring opportunities (and when Ovi retires, they won’t have to start from square one). Right now, the Capitals are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL, which hurts both the team and Ovi, but the season is still new. In the end, I can’t wait for Ovi to break the goal record, but I also can’t wait to see the Caps get back to the playoffs.
In a close NFL, who reigns supreme?
After thirteen weeks, the playoff picture is starting to shape up, but some things are still unclear. The AFC is looking somewhat different from past years. Despite losing to the Broncos and Packers, two teams which are starting to look better, the Chiefs are still in control of the division, though they might not get the bye with the way the other AFC teams are playing. The Heartbreak Bills are at it again – they’ve barely managed to hold on to second in their division, and after their overtime loss to Philadelphia (and an upcoming schedule that includes the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Dolphins), the Bills’ playoff hopes seem to be fading away. The Bengals, with the loss of Joe Burrow, are also essentially out of the playoff picture. The Dolphins are 9-3, going 9-0 against bad teams and 0-3 against good teams and leading their division. The Texans actually look like a team. The NFC is also competitive, but more predictable than the AFC - the Eagles look to be cruising to a second straight division title, and the Cowboys are solidly in place to get a wild card spot, though the Eagles/Cowboys Week 14 game could change all of that. The 49ers are looking stronger than ever, demolishing the Eagles in their week thirteen matchup against Philadelphia, and the Saints / Falcons / Buccaneers are close, though a Chiefs/Eagles rematch isn’t off the table yet, but with the way the Chiefs are playing, they may not make it that far. Some teams are performing as expected, but with injuries and bad luck, others are worse, leaving spots open for some unexpected surprises. Who knows how this season will end – CJ Stroud could carry the Texans to a Super Bowl victory for all I know. I’d love to see a Bills/49ers Super Bowl, but that probably won’t happen this year. Maybe next year the Bills can figure out how to play without getting penalized every single drive.
Note: In the end, while things may not look like they were predicted, predictions can be wrong. A “Sports Illustrated” article had the Titans and Patriots winning their divisions (both going 10-7), and look how that’s going…