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Season-Style Sports Report

Written as of December 3rd

The Fall and Winter seasons is a time when we start to adjust to everything getting cold, losing an hour, everything being pumpkin spice for a month, and the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and eventually, Christmas. What else happens between the months of October and November? Every major sports league is opening or closing up. For the first week of October, four major sports leagues are in full swing. The MLB playoffs, (probably the World Series at that point), the beginning of the NBA and NHL regular seasons, and the first couple weeks of the NFL and NCAA Football. In November, the NFL, NBA, and NHL are happening, NCAA basketball is starting up, while the postseason of MLS is happening too (even though no one watches it), whileand the EPL is also in full swing. That's a lot of sports. Now even if you buy every subscription to watch these games, like Sunday Ticket, Red Zone, Power Play, or Peacock ’s games, there’s a lot happening and it's hard to keep track of it all. However, do not worry. Not only will this article be a recap of the past two months of sports, but it will also providegive sources to stay connected to your favorite leagues.

MLB: This was a very strange year for baseball. They revamped the schedule, and the new rules  really did change the sport for the entire season, which meant an increase in action throughout the games. With everyone playing 162 games and facing every team at least once, including thirteen games against division rivals. Each team played six games against six opponents and seven games against four opponents in the same league. Each team also played forty-six interleague games, including a four-game home-and-away series against their designated interleague rival. Opening Day, March 30, featured all thirty teams, the first time since 1968 that every team has started their season on the same day. With all these rule changes, this is exactly how the MLB envisioned this season, but instead of a lot of action, it was just chaos. We had some of the hottest teams in baseball with the Angels (really just Shohei), the Reds leading the division for weeks during the summer, the Giants winning the NL West at some point, and the Pirates starting the season 20-9. We also had some of the most disappointing teams, i.e., money doesn’t buy happiness (looking right at you Mets and Padres). The craziest part of the season was the wild card push in September. The NL had six teams going for two spots: three of those six teams missed a spot by a game to a game and a half. The AL East and Central were both pretty much all locked up, while the AL West was a fight to the death. After August, the Angels began their descent as injuries riddled them and they fell out of contention. The Mariners had a 90%+ chance to make the playoffs after going on a 13-0 tear to get themselves in the division lead. The Rangers and Astros, heated rivals, had to fight for the division and a wild card spot. Coming down to the last game of the season, the Astros won the division,  the Rangers got the last spot, and the Mariners missed the playoffs by a game. God, that’s a lot and we haven’t even gotten into the playoffs. The Playoffs began October 3rd and ended on November 1st. The wild card series was pretty predictable, maybe except for Milwaukee’s pitching, with the Rangers, Phillies, Twins, and Diamondbacks moving on to the next round.

The Divisional series is where most of the chaos happens, but don’t worry, there’s much more. Our beloved Baltimore Orioles got swept in 3 close games (except the last game – that one wasn’t close) by the Rangers. Next, we had a very competitive series with the Astros and Twins. Even thoughif the Astros won in 4 games, those games were really close and the Twins still have hope. Come back stronger next season. Next, my Atlanta Braves lost in 4 games to the Phillies, again. To prevent myself from going on a rant, the next series had the Diamondbacks sweeping the Dodgers, which was satisfying. Now we have the championship series, with two 7 game series between the Astros and Rangers (them again?) and the Phillies and Diamondbacks. In the Astros vs Rangers series, every road team won that game. Starting with game 1, the Rangers won 2-0 in a pitching duel. Game 2,the Rangers won 5-4 to get a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 had the Astros winning 8-5 to get themselves back in it. The pivotal game 4 had the Astros getting a convincing win 10-3 to even the series. Game 5 was the most important and the craziest game of the series. The Rangers were up 3-2 going into the top of the 9th when Jose Altuve hit a 3-run home run to give the Astros a 5-3 win, putting them one win away from getting into the World Series. They then lost the next 2 games. The Rangers won those 2 games 9-2 and 11-4 to play in the World Series. The NLCS saw the Phillies play against the Diamondbacks. Game 1 had the Phillies winning 5-3 (nothing special there). Game 2 saw the Phillies win 10-0, and with a 2-0 series lead, this was looking to be a near sweep. Game 3 had a much-needed win for the Diamondbacks, winning on a walk-off RBI single from Ketel Marte to put themselves back in the series. Game 4 had another comeback win for the Diamondbacks, getting 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th and coming back from a 5-2 deficit in the 7th to even the series. In Game 5, the Phillies were getting back on track. Winning 6-1 via the path of the homerun ball (I say this because in 5 games, Kyle Schwarber alone had 5 home runs, and the Phillies had 10 the whole series), needing only 1 game to play against the Rangers in the World Series. Game 6, Arizona forced a game 7 with a convincing 5-1 win. Game 7 was in Philadelphia, with the worst fanbase in sports, and the loudest crowd and… the Diamondbacks won. You thought the Phillies would get the job done? Heck no. They lost 4-2, and the Diamondbacks went to the World Series. The World Series was one of the most boring series ever… to prevent this from becoming a 5 paragraph expository essay, the Rangers won in 5 games and are the World Series champions. God, that was long, and this might happen for seasons to come. If you want to stay connected to baseball news throughout the offseason and during the season, I would suggest YouTube channels such as, Baseball Doesn’t Exist and ITalk Studios.

NBA: Now to be honest with you, I don’t pay attention to the NBA that much at all. I just sometimes check the Hawks games and laugh at Wizards fans. So this will be pretty short. The Celtics are really good as everyone expected. 15-4 at the top of the Eastern Conference. On a 9 game winning streak, the Magic are in 2nd. Bucks are in 3rd place with 13 wins, the 76ers and the Knicks, in 4th and 5th both have 12 wins. Next are the Heat, Pacers and Cavs all just above .500. At .500 are the Hawks and Nets in 9th and 10th place. Next are the Raptors, Hornets and Bulls at 10, 11, and 12th place. Last 2 teams in the conference are the Wizards and Pistons. God these 2 teams are horrible, the Pistons have lost 17 straight. Moving to the Western Conference, The Timberwolves, Thunder and Nuggets are in the top 3. The Kings are in 4th and both the Suns and Mavericks have 8 losses. In the middle of the conference, are the Lakers, Pelicans, and Clippers around .500.  If you want to stay following the NBA, there’s First Take on ESPN (they're always gonna talk about it). OR if you want shorter videos on NBA news I would suggest TheFlightMike’s youtube channel.

NHL: Now the NHL, I do pay a little more attention to because I play fantasy hockey, but this will still be short. Starting with the Atlantic, … Why. Are. The. Bruins. Good. Again. Next is the Florida Panthers. I'm glad this team is good, if only they didn’t face a juggernaut in last year’s Cup Final. In 3rd place are the Maple Leafs. The next 3 teams (all with 8 wins) are the Lightning, Red Wings, and Senators. Rounding out the division with 2 teams at 7 wins each, you have the Sabers and the Canadiens. Why is this division so competitive this year? I thought that was the Metropolitan Division’s job. The Central Division is being led by the Dallas Stars, though the Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets are not far behind. In the middle of the division are the Coyotes?? Then the St. Louis Blues. Then the Wild, Predators, and Blackhawks round out the division at the bottom. Next is the Metropolitan Division. In first place are the New York Rangers. Following them are the Washington Capitals? Isn’t this the oldest team in the league? How are they winning games? In 3rd and 4th place are the Hurricanes and the Flyers?? Behind the Flyers with 17 points are both the Devils and Islanders. The last 2 teams in the division are the Penguins and the Blue Jackets. Ok Metropolitan you earned your competitive division title back. The last division is the Pacific led by the Golden Knights. In 2nd place are the Canucks?? 3rd place is the Kings?? 4th place is the Ducks? What is happening?? 5th place is the Seattle Kraken. Then the last 3 teams are the Flames, the Oilers, and the worst team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks. Seriously this team is depressing, they look like they are about to beat their own record of most losses in a season. If you want short youtube videos to recap a bit of NHL news, I would suggest Eck, Sportsnet/Steve Dangle, and *****

NCAA: This has been a crazy year for college football. The rankings change dramatically almost every week. We’ve had teams ranked super high at the beginning of the season fall off the face of college football almost entirely. We’ve also had some of the best games happen throughout the season. The ACC had 7 really good teams at some point and now only have 3 ranked teams. Duke, Miami, Clemson, and Syracuse have all fallen off with subpar conference records. The other ACC only has Tulane to show for it at rank 24. The Big 12 surprisingly has 5 ranked teams: Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. The Big 10 has been super competitive (mainly the east division), but the Big 10 West has 1 ranked team – Iowa. The Big 10 East has Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State all ranked. Michigan and Ohio State are both looking to be in the college football playoff but that might change next Saturday the 25th where they face off against one another. Maryland has also been a frisky team close to beating teams like Michigan and Ohio State but losing in 1 score games. Somehow Conference USA has a ranked team which is the undefeated Liberty Flames who were just added to the AP top 25 this weekend. Notre Dame is still getting pity rankings even though they should be lower than 18 at 8-3. The surprise of the year however, has been the PAC-12. They have 5 ranked teams now, and they used to have 7. UCLA, USC, and Colorado have all fallen off the rankings but Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Oregon State are all ranked making the PAC-12 an unexpected juggernaut. The SEC has been its usual self, with 6 currently ranked teams had 2 teams ranked before falling off: Florida and Kentucky. Georgia after being at #2 forever finally got what they deserved being #1 ranked in the country. Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss are all ranked. James Madison has been undefeated and ranked until yesterday losing in overtime to Appalachian State taking their first loss and falling off the rankings. Some of the best games this year include: Colorado VS TCU (Week 1), Texas upsetting Alabama (Week 2), Florida State Vs Boston College (Week 3), Oregon State Vs Washington State (Week 4), Ole Miss Vs LSU (Week 5), Oklahoma Vs Texas (Week 6), Arizona Vs USC (Week 6), Oregon Vs Washington (Week 7), Utah Vs USC (Week 8), USC Vs California (Week 9), Kansas State Vs Texas (Week 10), Duke Vs North Carolina (Week 11), and Washington Vs Oregon State (Week 12). Some impactful games coming up are: Oregon State Vs Oregon, Ohio State Vs Michigan, the SEC Championship (Georgia Vs Alabama), the ACC Championship (Louisville Vs Florida State), and other Championships TBD. *****************************

NFL: This is where most of my sports attention goes. The NFL season has been filled with the most average teams in an NFL season I think I’ve ever seen. Power rankings without Dan Hanzus have been horrible, although it’s really hard to gauge how good some teams are. Let's take the Baltimore Ravens as an example – right now they have the #2 seed in the AFC and are 8-3. They have convincing wins like beating the Lions and Seahawks by 30+ points, but they also have several strange losses like losing to the Colts in overtime and choking against the Browns and Steelers in typical fashion. You have teams with expectations underperforming heavily, including the Bills, Bengals (I’ll let them slide since Joe Burrow is out for the entire season), Titans, Bears and Falcons. You have teams coming out of nowhere with no expectations whatsoever, including the Texans, Colts, Raiders and Buccaneers. The current Playoff Picture is highly competitive in both Conferences.

AFC: #1 Chiefs #2 Ravens #3 Jaguars #4 Dolphins #5 Steelers #6 Browns #7 Texans. In the Hunt: Colts, Raiders, Bengals, Bills, Chargers, Jets. On the Bubble: Broncos, Titans, Patriots.

NFC: #1 Eagles #2 Lions #3 49ers #4 Saints #5 Seahawks #6 Cowboys #7 Vikings. In the Hunt: Buccaneers, Commanders, Falcons, Packers, Rams. On the Bubble: Bears, Giants, Cardinals, Panthers.

There is also this helpful New York Times article that shows the playoff picture and percentages for each team the past 5 weeks (so from week 6 since today is week 11). The Dolphins have had a 95% chance to make the postseason the past 5 weeks, but their percentage for winning the division recently skyrocketed up to 89%. The Bills in Week 6 had a 87% chance to make the playoffs, but are now sitting at a measly 20%. The Ravens moved up from 84% to 96%, while the Steelers’ chances went from 45% to 77%. The Browns had a similar rise from 43% to 73%, but that probably won't last since their starting QB is DTR. Looking at the AFC South, the Jags’ chances went from 59% to 82%. The Texans out of all teams have 52% chance of making the playoffs probably as the 7th seed. Switching to the NFC, the only interesting divisions are the NFC North and South. The Vikings have seen their chances skyrocket from 29% to 80%, but with Kirk Cousins out for the year and Josh Dobbs starting, they remain an unknown. The NFC South was really shaken up last week after almost everyone lost. The Saints right now have a 63% chance to make the playoffs and a 53% chance to win the division. The Bucs’ chances fell from 43% to 36% and the Falcons went from 39% to over 50% and all the way back down to 29%. This is looking to be a tight playoff race especially with some important games down the line and this week. Some great games this year have been: Dolphins Vs Chargers (Week 1), Lions Vs Seahawks (Week 2), Eagles Vs Commanders (Week 4), Browns Vs Colts (Week 7), Eagles Vs Commanders (Week 8), Texans Vs Buccaneers (Week 9), Texans Vs Bengals (Week 10), Ravens Vs Browns (Week 10). Important Games Throughout the Season: Eagles Vs Chiefs (Week 11), Seahawks Vs 49ers (Week 12), Eagles Vs Bills (Week 12), 49ers Vs Eagles (Week 13), Bills Vs Chiefs (Week 14), Eagles Vs Cowboys (Week 14), Cowboys Vs Bills (Week 15), Ravens Vs Jags (Week 15), Lions Vs Vikings (Week 16), Cowboys Vs Dolphins (Week 16), Ravens Vs 49ers (Week 16), Lions Vs Cowboys (Week 17), Falcons Vs Saints (Week 18), Bills Vs Dolphins (Week 18), Ravens Vs Steelers (Week 18). That’s a lot of key games to keep an eye on. I keep up with the NFL through Red Zone and Fantasy. However, if you don’t watch football games and just want a quick recap of each week, I would recommend Urinating Tree’s This Week in Sportsball: NFL Week __ Edition. Or Tom Grossi’s every NFL fan’s reaction to week __. For any major NFL news you can look at Mikerophone’s Youtube Channel.