Ken Griffey Jr. & Mike Piazza: Your 2016 HOF Inductees

Every day is a special day in the city of Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but what’s more exciting is adding additional players to this legendary building. Last year, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio solidified their place into baseball history with their enshrined plaques entering baseball’s holy grail. This year, we add two more; longtime Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and Mets catcher Mike Piazza. To get into any Hall of Fame, you not only have to leave your mark on the game, but you have to win over the team, the city and the fans. No one displays better examples of that than these two players.


I had the honor of watching Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza when I was a little kid, and they were a blast to watch. Thanks to Griffey, I would always love to wear my hat backwards… as did many kids in my era. It didn’t mean cockiness, it meant confidence. He displayed that every time he stepped up to the plate. That sweet swing of his was something to behold.

As far as my favorite Mets players, no one tops one of the greatest catchers of all time, Mike Piazza. In the same state as the more popular New York Yankees, Piazza essentially revived the New York Mets franchise. His presence, his power, his incredible abilities behind the plate displayed nothing short of excellence.


Ken Griffey Jr. was first drafted in 1987 by the Seattle Mariners and led them to their first two playoff appearances in franchise history in 1995 and 1997. He hit .294 during his years with the Mariners, followed by .370 with the Cincinnati Reds, and .538 in one season with the Chicago White Sox. He totaled 630 home runs, which is good for sixth all time. On top of all that, KG is a 13-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glover and the 1997 AL MVP.

Mike Piazza is what you call the ultimate underdog story. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd (!) round of the 1988 MLB Draft. In 1993, he set a rookie record for catchers with 35 home runs. In his first 10 seasons, he made the All-Star team. I the latter half of his career, he made it two additional times, making him a 12-time All-Star. He also won 10 Silver Slugger awards as the best catcher in the National League. During his 16-year career, he batted .308 as a catcher, which is hard to accomplish. His 427 home runs are the most among all catchers in MLB history.

Two of the greatest baseball players of all time are finally home, in Cooperstown.


   Matt Hrncar

Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.

Twitter: @ChiTownGuy24

The Year of Rain: The end of the longest droughts in sports

Any and every sports fan knows about the end to Cleveland’s historic title-less drought by now, but that makes me wonder… what other droughts could be ending in the near future?

Before LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers completed an unprecedented comeback from being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, the city of Cleveland, Ohio had gone 52 years without tasting victory. The drought is over, and the city’s sports teams are feeling it. The Indians own the longest winning streak in the league this season and are leading the American League Central Division.

Before we look into what curses could be broken and the droughts that can be ended, let’s reminisce about some of the other feats that have been accomplished this year so far.

How about we start with the sexiest of all accomplishments? “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon hit his first home run of his 19-year career on May 7, 2016. At 42 years old, Colon became the oldest player in MLB history to hit his first home run. As a result, the sports world went nuts with memes, t-shirts and all sorts of “Big Sexy” products. Someone even simulated a season of MLB: The Show in which all of the players on the game were Bartolo Colon.


The Villanova Wildcats won their first men’s basketball national championship since 1985. It took one of the best games in NCAA history and a buzzer-beating three-point shot by Kris Jenkins to end the 31-year drought.


In 2015, the Kansas City Royals also ended a 31-year drought by defeating the New York Mets to win the World Series for the first time since 1985.


A lot of fans have been experiencing the thrill of ultimate victory for the first times in their lives. Let’s see if we can predict what other fan bases will be joining them.

We start with four baseball teams, who are all among the best records in the majors, and all have a chance at bringing home the championship in 2016.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have quickly become one of the best teams in Major League Baseball after taking the traditional route of building from ground up. Most sports fans know of or have heard of the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” The North Side drought is the longest in professional sports. Let’s just say your great grandparents have not seen the Cubs win the World Series. It has officially been 107 years since the North Side claimed the title.

On the bright side, they made it all the way to the NLCS in 2015 and have one of the best records in the majors in 2016. The Cubs started blazing hot in 2016, getting off to a 46-20 record in the first few months of the season. They have cooled off since then, but many people still have the Cubs as the World Series favorites.


Can you imagine what the city of Chicago will look like if the Cubs win it all? Chicago Fire: the Sequel… too soon?

Cleveland Indians

Not surprising that the Indians would have one of the longest droughts in professional sports, considering the entire city had gone 52 years without a title.

The Indians have gone an astounding 67 years without winning the World Series. If only they could just find the next Willie Mays Hayes and Ricky Vaughn to lead them all the way.

But… the Cavaliers has given something to the city because the Indians now own the best record in the majors after rifling off 14 wins in a row following the Cavs magnificent title run.


If the magic continues, this drought could end as well… leading the way for the Browns to complete the sweep.

HAHAHA I’m kidding. I doubt that RG3rd string can lead a team to the Super Bowl.

Texas Rangers

After all of the success that Ron Washington in Texas, it is hard to believe that the Texas Rangers have never won a World Series in franchise history. The franchise began in 1961, placing the drought at a long 55 years.

With star players like Nolan Ryan among the all-time Rangers greats, one would think that they would be able to win at least one title.


Nevertheless, they are among the best teams in baseball. They have a legitimate ace in Cole Hamels leading the way. It would not be out of the realm of possibility to see this drought end in 2016.

Washington Nationals

Before they were the Washington Nationals, they were the Montreal Expos. The Expos were not a very successful franchise; however, since they have moved to the nation’s capital, they have had some very competitive teams. They have also had some epic collapses including last season, when they gave up a large division lead to the New York Mets and ended up missing the playoffs all together, adding to the franchise’s 44-year drought.

Despite last year’s debacle, the Nationals have a championship caliber team in 2016. They lead the defending NL Champion Mets in the NL East, and they also have the reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper.


Washington D.C., who is tied for the title-less longest drought among sites with at least three major pro teams, may be a city of champions come October.

And finally… a man’s sport. Just kidding. Have you ever tried to hit a 100 mph fastball? Good luck!

Arizona Cardinals

The pride and joy of the desert has not won a Super Bowl, or even a championship since moving to Arizona. They were established in 1920 as the Chicago Cardinals and were eventually moved to St. Louis before ending up in the Southwest.

All the moves didn’t matter, as the team has not won a championship in 67 years.


With veteran Carson Palmer behind center, swagmaster Bruce Arians at the helm and the “No Flight Zone” on defense, the Cardinals are looking to improve on their NFC Championship loss in 2015. Tyrann Mathieu is healthy this time around, so look for Arizona to make a run at the title in 2016.

No Tiger For 2016: Good or Bad for PGA?

Earlier today, as reported by the Golf Channel, former number one golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, has announced that he will not be participating in the PGA Championship. This means that he will miss the rest of the 2016 season, which is devastating to the handful of Tiger fans that remain, including myself. The man who redefined the game of golf in the late 1990’s, Tiger is a legend, a hero. His name on the leaderboard is missed every tournament, and the massive gatherings of golf fans miss chanting “Tiger, Tiger.” Speculation surrounds the question of whether he’ll win another major, or even yet, if he’ll ever play again?

Since early 2014, he has had three back surgeries. After his latest back surgery this past year, people have been saying that Tiger should just retire.


What’s the rush? I would love to see him back as much as the next guy, but I want him back 100%. I want to relive the glory days, where the Tiger I grew up watching was fist-pumping his way to the top of every leaderboard… not the Tiger who is wincing in pain after every shot from the fairway or tee. However, since Tiger has been absent, there have been plenty of other players in the spotlight, which still makes for good golf.

As the old saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new.” Enter Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. These four young competitors have not only taken over the top of the World Golf Rankings but have been attracting large crowds all over the world. Unfortunately, the older golfers, like Tiger and Phil Mickelson, will not be around forever. As of July 17th, Day is No. 1 in the world golf rankings, while Johnson is No. 2, Spieth is No. 3 and McIlroy is No. 4. When it comes to majors, expect these guys to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Not only are they playing well at a young age, but they make the game exciting… just like Tiger did back in the day.

other golf

Woods is no stranger to the spotlight, winning tournaments since 1996. After the dramatic Masters victory in ’97, he seemed invincible. He essentially revived the game of golf, making it not only enjoyable to play but to watch as well.


As we all know, he has made headlines not only on the course but off of it as well. After the cheating scandal, it seemed as if Woods had lost his motivation to win, or better yet, to even compete at a high level again. There will be people who will remember him as a “cheater” or “unloyal,” but for those that have seen him play, they will always remember him as one of the greatest golfers this world has ever seen.

There is no one like Tiger, whether you like it or not. His reactions after a shot, his fist pumps after sinking a putt and simply his presence are some of the key reasons why we need to see him tee up again.  Sooner or later, his “mamba mentality” will kick in. Expect Tiger to come roaring back in the 2017 PGA season.


    Matt Hrncar

Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.

Why the super team is the NBA’s new best friend

With the signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the idea of super teams is making a lot of people nervous. Fans are worried about their teams not competing, players are worried about never getting that ever-elusive ring, and even commissioner Adam Silver does “not think it is ideal” to have super teams. I’m here to tell everyone to relax and enjoy the ride. When you look past the immediate threat to your favorite team and start to look at the big picture, it becomes clear that WE ARE WATCHING HISTORY!

NBA Board of Governors Press Conference

Basketball history is separated by the greatness and dynasties from so called “super teams.” Those teams are how we define the era. Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 60’s, the Showtime Lakers in the 80’s, MJ and the 90’s Bulls, and the Lakers of the early 2000’s were all super teams of their respective eras, and as a result, they are the teams we remember. We remember being amazed at Michael coming back and winning 3 more titles or the slick passing of the Showtime Lakers, but what we don’t remember are the average teams that win a title in a down year. Super teams provide a storyline that keep people talking about the NBA just a little bit longer, which is what it needs at a time when the NFL is quickly becoming a 12-month sport. The season, the playoffs, the draft, free agency, the Olympics or FIBA World Championships… these are all elements that keep us talking about the NBA year round. Kevin Durant and the Warriors have single-handedly taken over water cooler talk at work… at least this year. Without these storylines, professional basketball will fade into the background, like baseball. The MLB’s best players even admit that their sport lacks star power. The NBA doesn’t, and what better way to amplify that star power than to have them join forces and make history.

Pat Riley and Magic Johnson Game Portrait

Kevin Durant to the Warriors has provided us with the narrative that will define the rest of this decade. The Warriors, newly retooled, are the largest roadblock to Lebron’s quest to end his career as the greatest player ever. Because of Kevin Durant and his decision, the 2010’s are shaping up to become one of the most important decades in NBA history, and we should all be grateful. If Golden State wins it all, they could be one of the greatest teams ever assembled. If they lose, it could be one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Free agency moves like LeBron’s in 2010 and KD’s this year are what leaves an imprint in the minds of basketball fans for years to come.


NBA fans better get used to the idea of super teams… because it has existed for decades, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.


  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13

What To Do With The White Sox?

Typical for me to start off my BDSSP debut talking about my favorite baseball team. Being in the AL Central, you would expect a lot of scratching and clawing for first place in the division. However, the Twins are one of the worst teams in the league, and are so far behind everyone that there are no worries about getting last place. Nonetheless, when you have players like Jose Abreu, Chris Sale and newly acquired Todd Frazier, you would expect at least division champs, but they’re not quite there yet.


Coming out of the All Star break at a record of 45-43, they lost three straight to the struggling Los Angeles Angels, who themselves are having an extremely difficult year at 14.5 games back of the division-leading Texas Rangers. For those that have followed the White Sox for a while, you know that they have coined the term “rollercoaster” when describing their seasons of late. After the opening month of the 2016, with a record of 17-8, people (such as myself) were hoping for a Chicago vs. Chicago World Series… that was until reality set in.

The following month, they went 11-17 to bring their record to 28-25. Usually I’d be jumping for joy with a record like that, but considering Cleveland (with the help of LeBron and the Cavs) are one of the hottest teams in the league, and the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals are looking for a repeat, it’s not good enough.

It certainly doesn’t help to have a seven-game losing streak in May, a five-game losing streak in June, and start the second half of the season being swept by the Angels. So much backlash, so much criticism…seems like the same old song and dance for the South Side. I honestly thought this offseason was one of the more productive offseasons the Sox have had in a while with notable signings that included 2nd baseman Brett Lawrie, catchers Dioner Navarro and ex-Tiger Alex Avila, ex-Cubs outfielder Austin Jackson, and of course the 2015 HR Derby champ, 3rd baseman Todd “Todd Father” Frazier.

Chicago White Sox's Todd Frazier, right, celebrates with Brett Lawrie (15) after hitting a three-run home run off Oakland Athletics' Chris Bassitt during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Sure, the division is still up for grabs, but we have struggled against the teams in our division, which is certainly not helping our cause. Another thing that is not helping our cause is the inability to find that third punch after the 1-2 rotation of Sale and Jose Quintana. But wait, we got James Shields from the Padres, so that should solve it, right? Nope. He’s 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA.

So with all this helter skelter, who do we blame? Robin Ventura (manager), Don Cooper (pitching coach), Rick Hahn (general manager)? As fans, it seems at this point it doesn’t matter. Whatever the majority of us demand, there is a 99.99% chance it won’t happen. But with the MLB trade deadline coming up, it’d be interesting to see if anything gets done. No way we’re catching Cleveland, who are 9 games ahead of us, but there’s still somewhat of a chance we can get the second wild card spot.

AL wild card 7-18-16

However, we have to win in order to have a shot at it.


   Matt Hrncar

Raised in a competitive family, sports has been the majority of my life. Not only playing but watching as well. Born in Oak Lawn, IL (suburb of Chicago), I tend to have a bias, but I try to keep an open mind. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching and talking sports.

Twitter: @ChiTownGuy24

What to watch: Summer League Championship (Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves)

Tonight is the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship on ESPN2, and we are in for a treat. I know what most people are thinking… does summer league even matter?

Well my answer to that is… kind of. As we saw this summer, the No. 1 pick Ben Simmons sat a number of games for rest, which took away from the excitement and importance of the process. However, the NBA, although a team sport, is the most individualistic team sport of the Big 4, meaning that one player can win you a game. With that being said, we get to watch two 2016 All-Americans and the 2015 Final Four Most Outstanding Player tonight.


More than just the fact that it is a title game of sorts, the two teams playing provide us with some interesting headlines. One, the Bulls were in negotiations to possibly trade Jimmy Butler to the Wolves, which would have landed them the No. 5 pick, Kris Dunn. Two, former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is now Minnesota’s new head coach. And three, we get to see the 2016 LV Summer League MVP Tyus Jones continue to make life difficult for the Minnesota coaching staff.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Tyus Jones #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Timberwolves have four solid point guards heading into the 2016-17 season (Jones, Dunn, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine). The age old saying about NFL quarterbacks is if you have two good QB’s, you have no good QB’s. To a lesser extent, that can be true for NBA point guards, as they are the leaders on the court. Now, the league has experienced a bit of a shift when it comes to guards, especially point guards. Small guards have been playing together the last few seasons. For example, Damien Lilliard and CJ McCollum in Portland or any combination of Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and now Tyler Ulis in Phoenix. So, maybe they go small in the backcourt, considering the front line of Wiggins, Towns and Pekovic is solid.

As for the Bulls, many critics were bashing them for the moves they made this summer. It has been well documented that Rondo, Wade and Butler are not three point threats, leaving Chicago with a hole in that department. However, the young Bulls are now 6-0 in summer league. Second year man Bobby Portis was voted onto the summer league first team, and rookie Denzel Valentine has impressed thus far. Felicio has been a beast in the paint as well. On top of the recent success, the Bulls have young stars like Jerian Grant, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to add to the veteran backcourt.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12: Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 12, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Wolves are on the come-up, and the Bulls were said to be entering a rebuilding mode… but I think that both of these teams may be misrepresented by these assumptions. Minnesota has solid young talent, but let’s not forget that they play in the West, which still has 3 or 4 powerhouses. On the other hand, the Bulls play in the East, where aside from the Cavs, there are no real top tier teams.

Ultimately, the winner of this game may be irrelevant, especially without a headline like last year (Becky Hammon won the title as Spurs HC). However, these will be two of the more unpredictable and interesting teams this season… making this a game to watch.

And let’s face it… it’s July. You can only watch so much baseball.


 Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.

How the NCAA can make the College Football Playoff even better

Today’s NCAA College Football Playoff is one of the most exciting changes to the sports landscape in years and has the potential to be the largest source of income for the NCAA. Seen by most as a vast improvement over the outdated BCS system, the playoff can finally bring a sense of parity to the college football landscape. However, the viewership in 2016 decreased by 36 percent, so there is always room for improvement. I believe the following changes would maximize revenue for the NCAA, while also bringing a sense of parity among the Power 5 Conferences.

Bringing change to the College Football Playoff system has to start with scheduling differences among the conferences. Within the Power 5 conferences, there are several different formats that the conferences have to adhere to. For example, the Big 12 plays every school within the conference without divisions, SEC schools throw in “cupcake” games against FCS opponents, and the Big Ten has recently changed to a nine game conference schedule without FCS opponents. Within my newly proposed system, the Power 5 programs would be required to play only other Power 5 schools… including Independent FBS schools like Notre Dame. It would completely separate the FBS schools from the FCS schools and would increase competition within all five conferences in hopes of achieving more parity in college football. An example of a Big Ten Schedule would be nine conference games plus an SEC, Pac 12 and ACC opponent.

power 5

The ultimate motivating factor within the NCAA is the same as any other organization—money. In order to maximize the potential earning by increasing interest and national viewership, I propose increasing the CFP to eight teams. These eight teams would be decided as follows: seeds 1-5 are the conference champions ranked according to the AP poll with three “wild card” bids going to the next highest ranked teams that didn’t win their conference. (I know what you’re thinking… YES, Notre Dame would have to join a conference). With the conferences having similar schedules, the College Football Playoff would be able to reward teams based on record, as opposed to the current system of the committee picking the teams to enter the College Football Playoff. Having a guaranteed playoff contender from each conference would solidify the viewership from every region of the country and ultimately drive up ratings nationwide.

The final step in increasing and maintaining the viewership of the College Football Playoff would be to give the Playoffs its own separate entity, separate from the College Bowl Season. This change would increase the presence of the CFP, while also maintaining the integrity of the crumbling bowl season. In the 2015-16 bowl season, there were 41 bowls played but only 77 bowl eligible teams (6-6 record or better), so the NCAA had to invite teams with a 5-7 record to fill the empty slots in the remaining bowl games. While the increase in the number of bowls would theoretically increase overall revenue, I propose increasing the bowls for the elite schools at the top… not the bottom. This would involve adding an entire College Football Playoff system, similar to the NFL Playoffs, and have the rest of the teams play in the other bowls. It would maintain the lure of getting into a larger bowl for the teams that may have lost a conference championship game and would also keep “traditional” bowl games with their respective conferences.

rose bowl

For example, the Rose Bowl would be the loser of the Big Ten Championship against the loser of the Pac 12 Championship. Overall, I believe this would increase revenue and competition at the top of the rankings and would remove many of the bowls at the bottom that may need a 5-7 team.

Overall, the CFP has changed NCAA football for the better. It just needs a few more tweaks before reaching its full financial and entertainment potential. With time will come improvement, and I believe it should happen sooner rather than later.


  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13