September 29, Week in Sports
:: MLB PLAYOFF TEAMS (ALMOST) SET (Pro. Baseball)
:: NO. 1 USC UPSET BY OREGON STATE (College Football)
:: NHL Season Preview (Pro. Hockey)
HAPPY OCTOBER: BASEBALL POSTSEASON BEGINS THIS WEEK
The baseball regular season is coming to a close, and the playoffs are set to begin this week. The playoff teams are: Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, and either the Chicago White Sox or the Minnesota Twins.
The Milwaukee Brewers earned a playoff spot on the final day of the season, winning the Wild Card over the New York Mets, who collapsed for the second straight year in a row. While the Brewers scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs, the Dodgers and Phillies earned their spots in the week before. However, as strong as the Dodgers and Phillies have looked down the stretch, it is the Chicago Cubs who enter the post season as the favorite to win the National League pennant. The Chicago Cubs have looked good all year, and many believe that this will be the year that their 100-year championship drought comes to an end.
The American League enters the post-season as the much stronger league. The Tampa Bay Rays stunned everyone by beating out the Yankees and Red Sox for the AL East. The Rays are everyone’s favorite underdog this year–this is the first year that the perennial losers have had a winning record, and it is their first appearance in the playoffs. That being said, the Boston Red Sox are, as always, an explosive team. In spite of all of that, though, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been the best team in baseball this year. After a few recent disappointing post-seasons, the experts expect the Angels to be dangerous this October.
The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are fighting for the only remaining playoff spot. If the White Sox win their game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night (a game that had been rained out earlier this year), the White Sox and Twins will face off on Tuesday night. A victory on Tuesday night will give the winning team the final ticket to the post-season.
Quote of the Week: ”The Chicago White Sox aren’t dead. Not yet. But like the Mexican bobcat, the harpy eagle and the gray bat, they are on the endangered species list.” — Phil Rogers, ESPN
Further Reading: ”Year in Review” — Jayson Stark, ESPN
UPSET U: GIANT-KILLERS STRIKE COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The USC Trojans, the No. 1-ranked college football team in the country, were beaten by an unranked Oregon State team on Thursday night. In a week full of upsets in college football, this one was by far the biggest, and it will result in a major shake-up of next week’s rankings.
The Trojans had recently scored a huge victory, when they stomped on Ohio State–another one of the top-ranked teams in the country–earlier this year. That impressive win had football writers across the country predicting that USC was unbeatable and destined for the national championship game, which features the two top-ranked teams in the country. However, after being toppled 27-21 by Oregon State–by all accounts a pretty mediocre team–USC will have a difficult road to the national championship.
However, USC was not the only team to get upset this week. Florida and Wisconsin, two of the best teams in the country, fell to Mississippi and Michigan, respectively. Alabama also knocked off No. 3-ranked Georgia. In the end, four of the teams in the top ten lost this weekend, which is major news in college football. No. 2 Oklahoma won their game easily, which should earn them the No. 1 spot in next week’s rankings.
Quote of the Week: “This is looking like another upset-intensive season when every one-loss team will get a second chance.” — Pat Forde, ESPN
Further Reading: “String of other upsets could help Trojans in college football poll” — Gary Klein, L.A. Times
The NHL season begins next weekend, with the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Ottawa Senators, and the New York Rangers playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. These games will be played abroad, in Stockholm and Prague, to kick off the season. The rest of the teams will begin play in the U.S. on Thursday.
Hockey fans are some of the most loyal and passionate fans in sports, but for the casual sports fan, it can be hard to figure out where to start with the sport. It’s best to just start following a local team on a regular basis and going to games, if possible. But, like any other sport, another great way to start following hockey is by keeping track of the league’s young, flashy, superstar players. With that in mind, here are some names to look out for: Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. There are plenty of other stars in the league, to be sure (players like Jaromir Jagr and Henrik Zetterberg, among others), but those four young players often grace the league highlight reels. If the league is excited about them, it will make it all the easier for you to get excited about them, too.
Last season, the Detroit Red Wings topped the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Stanley Cup. Look for both of those teams to be extremely strong again this year.
Further Reading: “View from the Ice” — Darren Eliot, SI.com
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: BASEBALL: The playoffs begin this week, so expect to see a whole lot of baseball fever. But before the playoffs start, the Chicago White Sox play the Detroit Tigers on Monday night. If they win, they will then play the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night–the winner of that game will make the playoffs. If, indeed, it comes down to the Sox and the Twins on Tuesday night, that will be a tremendously exciting game, and will get everyone pumped up for the playoffs.
MLB (Pro. Baseball): This week marks the first week of the post-season. The eight remaining teams are the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Brewers, Angels, Rays, Red Sox, and White Sox/Twins. Stay tuned. [Official MLB Website]
NFL (Pro. Football): The regular season is now underway. The standings will begin to take shape in just a few weeks, once teams begin to play their division rivals. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football is now in full swing. USC, the No. 1 team last week, will be bounced after having been upset by Oregon State this week. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. Now that the PGA Championship is over, mainstream golf news will most likely revolve around Tiger Woods’ return from injury and preparation for next year’s Majors. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season begins next weekend with four international games. After that, the regular season will begin in the states [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The Celtics defeated the Lakers to win the NBA Finals, ending the 2008 season. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): Now that the tournament is over, college basketball news will focus on which players leave their schools for the NBA, and which college teams land the premier high-school players for next season. [CBS Sports]