WWE is taking a risk waiting for Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam

First off, I will tell you I am a fan of long term storyline builds where you have to pay attention to detail. However, there comes a time when there’s too long of a build up that wrestling fans today will get tired of waiting seeing the same stuff over and over. Understandably the WWE wants a crowd for this match and so do the women. The Summerslam date is also the 5 year anniversary of NXT Takeover Brooklyn where they had the greatest womens match ever in North America. So while commendable, there are a few reasons why WWE is taking a risk waiting to do Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam.

Lets get the biggest one out of the way first, most wrestling fans know this is being done because Vince McMahon is hoping there’s a crowd to be allowed for Summerslam where it ultimately would be a much bigger impact and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, nothing about this world right now at the moment is perfect. What happens if things open back up and there’s a second wave of the virus? What happens if someone in WWE contacts the virus? What happens if either of the women were to end up exposed? The whole thing blows up. I will say definitely these two women 100% deserve a crowd but there is no guarantee no matter how long they wait this year they will have one.

The second issue is what happens if there is an injury or either one gets wary of performing with the virus? We all have heard the dirt sheets claim how Sasha Banks is injury prone; while thats always been extremely overblown the truth is she did get hurt in a hell in a cell match with Becky Lynch and then in a tag team match in January which already derailed plans for this once. Its wrestling, its not ballet, wrestlers get hurt/nicked up all the time. What happens if one of them decides the reward is not worth the risk like Roman Reigns did for WrestleMania 36?

The last issue is where can you take the storyline until then and how do you continue to stall?. I will say last week with the inclusion of Charlotte Flair the WWE took a step in the right direction, but you can’t use Charlotte every week and they shouldn’t want to, this is their story. However, you can’t keep booking Smackdown and pay per views every week where Bayley costs Sasha a big match while Sasha helps Bayley retain the title. That simply has already been played out. Another big issue is Bayley has already defeated everyone else on the Smackdown roster, multiple times so where does she go from here? Where does Sasha Banks go? You can’t just keep having her stand by Bayley, sooner or later you have to split them up, but then how do you pro long the match? Does Bayley make Sasha jump through hoops and beat everyone on Smackdown like she has? What happens after the feud then though if Sasha has already beaten everyone to get the title shot?

Perhaps the better way to do this story would be for them to have their first match at Extreme Rules and let it end in a no contest/DQ match (WWE’s specialty of the challenger never beating the champion on the first try). That way you can do the turn after the June pay per view Backlash, and you dont have nine more weeks of finding a way to stall. If you do the turn at Backlash or the Smackdown after, then you have 4 weeks to build up the match at Extreme Rules, and then another 4 weeks after that for Summerslam. You still need a reveal, a turn, and ideally Sasha would win some big matches before she ultimately clashes with Bayley.

While the idea of waiting for Sasha vs Bayley to take place at Summerslam is admirable and quite clearly the much preferred option, there are some hurdles to it.  With this pandemic holding everything up and nobody knowing what happens next there are no guarantees fans will even be allowed in wrestling arenas for shows by August. There is also the hurdle that the champion Bayley simply has no challengers left without just doing more rematches that frankly haven’t been great. In a perfect world Sasha vs Bayley would be able to happen at Summerslam wherever the WWE decides to hold it with hundreds if not thousands of fans in attendance. However, the world is not perfect and while it might not be ideal, the first Sasha Banks vs Bayley match might need to be moved up to the July pay per view Extreme Rules. If WWE ends up not having fans at Summerslam, then you stalled the whole Summer to do a match the same way in front of no fans in attendance.

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Why Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels

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The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels is known to wrestling fans throughout the world as one of if not the best pure talents its has ever had. With his brash and confident charisma and his in ring prowess and his ability to play either a beloved hero or a hated villain, he would go on to have a hall of fame career. In my opinion, Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels and here are 7 reasons why.

Big Match Performers

First of all, they are both big match performers. You would usually hear it in Shawn’s matches, there isn’t a better big match performer in wrestling than Shawn Michaels. From his classics at WrestleMania with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and his final 2 matches with the Undertaker, to his classic feud with Triple H there wasn’t a big match that Shawn didn’t excel in. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who has had many classics of her own. Lets start in 2015 in NXT, She would go on to produce 5 straight 4 star matches (and in my opinion some are ranked low) in a row; a fatal 4 way where she won the NXT title against Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch, her 2 NXT title defenses against Charlotte, her takeover unstoppable match with Becky, as well as her 2 matches with best friend Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn and Takeover Respect. She would also go on to have many top tier matches in all of 2016 with Charlotte on the WWE main roster in which PWI would vote it the feud of the year as well as voting Banks the top female of the year. Finally, in 2019 Banks would put on 3 more classics in big matches with Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble and Becky Lynch at both Clash of champions and Hell in a cell (IMO the womens match of the year).

Their Ability to make stars

One of the biggest needs to be able to consider yourself a star in the wrestling business in my opinion, is the ability to not only become a star yourself, but also make a star. While a lot of people would credit Shawn Michaels with helping many including Stone Cold Steve Austin become a major star in wrestling, the same can be said about Sasha Banks. In NXT in 2015, she had what I consider the best womens championship run ever in only 5.5 months. Her relationship with Becky Lynch (Team BAE) as well as her match with Becky at Takeover Unstoppable put Becky Lynch on the map. Her matches with Charlotte Flair (2014/2015) as well as their year long feud in 2016 on the main roster made both of them stars. Pro wrestling Illustrated actually voted Banks the #1 female in wrestling and her vs Charlotte the top feud of 2016.  Then there’s Bayley, who in 2015 NXT had THE greatest North America womens match (voted NXT match of the year men included) with Banks and would become the biggest star that NXT had at the time.  That historic match would also set the stage for women in wrestling to main event not only tv shows, but pay per views. They are now main eventing house shows which is something no one ever thought would happen.  Finally it led to 2 other historic things, Ronda Rousey joining the pro wrestling world and women main eventing WrestleMania.

Their ability to stay relevant despite questionable booking. 

There is one thing the WWF/WWE (especially WWE today) is known for and thats their odd booking of many top tier talents. While Shawn Michaels is known as Mr. WrestleMania how many realize he’s only won 6 of the 17 matches he’s had? How many big matches has he lost to Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, among others, it hasn’t hurt him. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who really only has a few signature wins to her resume, however much like Shawn, she has been able to overcome questionable booking and it hasn’t hurt her star power at all.. While many of her fan base (the krew) will disagree with that statement, lets just look at the facts. How many big time babyface stars lose a feud in the end to the heel and overcome it?.  How many big time babyfaces could go on TV basically denounce her character and 2 weeks later come out to one of the biggest pops the women have gotten that year? How many women could survive a 2018 booking where she would lose almost as much as she won and in matches that really served no purpose. Finally, how many women could be dragged through the mud after rumors swirled of a 2019 walk out and return to one of the biggest pops of the year as well as split a crowd with the top star at the time as a villian no less? Her merch sales, quarter hour ratings, and fan base continue to rise above any questionable booking the WWE throws at her.  Oh by the way, Banks also now has appeared in a Super Bowl commercial in 2020 (the only wrestling woman to do so) along side Roman Reigns and is also rumored to be playing a role in the upcoming Star Wars Mandalorian season 2; that my friends is what a star is.

Their ability to make anyone they are in the ring with look good. 

One of the most common things wrestling fans will tell you is that you need a dance partner, and while that is partly true, there are just some who stand out and are able to create a special dance with the lack of a great dance partner: Shawn Michaels was able to do it, and Sasha Banks is also able to do it. While both have had many big time classics that I have outlined already, I would like to point out just a few times that Sasha Banks was able to create magic without a real dance partner.  In 2017, with a green Nia Jax, Banks would go on to produce three solid matches including one in her hometown of Boston. She’s also credited by most wrestling fans with the accolade of getting the best match out of any woman she’s in the ring with, which is what Shawn Michaels was great at. In the art of wrestling, you have to also be able to make your opponent look good by selling moves , and both Michaels and Banks excel at selling the other’s moves whether they are playing a babyface or a heel.

Their ability to play a babyface or a heel

Speaking of, there are 3 characters that a pro wrestler can play in wrestling, a babyface, a heel, or a tweener (which is basically a babyface with some heel tendencies). In my and many others opinions, both Michaels and Banks excel at both. Lets start with Michaels, he orginally was part of a tag team known as the Rockers with tag team partner Marty Janetty as a beloved tag team. However, in 1992, on an episode of the barber shop, Michaels would end up throwing his then partner/friend through a barbershop window turning heel. His heel run would include a feud with Bret Hart in which he would make many disparaging remarks about Canada and end with putting over Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 before he took a long hiatus returning to WWE again and starting a feud once again as a babyface with Triple H. In 2005, Michaels would turn on Hulk Hogan going into Summerslam playing a tweener role, he would still have his babyface persona but he would make fun of Bret Hart in Canada and run away from Hulk Hogan. In the same way Michaels could play all 3 roles well, so can Sasha Banks. In 2013 Banks would debut in NXT as a go happy girl just happy to be there. However one day that all changed and Banks decided she needed something different and turned heel, added some swag to her character, put on some shades and called herself the boss and became one of the best heels going. From 2016 to 2018 Banks would play the role of a babyface and was one of the most over talents on the roster In 2016; a roster that included John Cena who no one in wrestling is as big today. In January of 2019 while in a tag team with Bayley, Sasha would play the role of a tweener in a feud with then Raw womens champion Ronda Rousey where she would use both her boss persona from NXT in 2015 but also play the character she has been playing then at the time teaming with Bayley a beloved babyface.

The emotional and physical issues they dealt with thanks to pro wrestling and how it changed both

Lets start of by going back to Survivor Series in Montreal Canada in 2017 Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart. What happened that night is something most people thought wouldn’t happen, a script was broken, Michaels put Bret Hart in the sharpshooter and owner Vince McMahon called for the bell without Bret tapping out. Thats right, Vince screwed Bret (or Bret screwed Bret). Over the years of wrestling, Michaels would deal with drugs and alcoholism before he found Christianity.  One thing both share in common is back injuries, back injuries is what made Shawn have to retire from wrestling for many years, and while they aren’t as bad as his, Banks herself has dealt with back injuries in the past (probably from carrying a division for years LOL). As with Shawn, Banks one day decided that her love for wrestling was gone and she needed to take a break in the summer of 2019 due to depression, burn out and other issues stemming from the accident with fellow wrestler Paige in 2017 that forced her to retirement. That incident led to many questioning just how good she is, including herself. You could tell she just wasn’t the same after that especially with all the criticism she would face from social media fans. She has since returned and has returned to being as great as she has always been, some would claim even better and she seems more happy than she’s been in a long time. Sometimes you just need time away from what is destroying you no matter how much you love it.

Their overall impact on the business

While many wrestlers from the past and even the present have said they became a pro wrestler due to Shawn Michaels, the same can be said for Banks. Lets go back to the Summer of 2019 when it was rumored that Banks was leaving WWE, you had women pro wrestlers from every promotion asking for a match with her. That is still happening today as even impact stars like Tessa Blanchard and Rosemary are wanting to have a match with Banks. While Michael’s was known to use his pull backstage (kliq, his feud with Bret Hart, etc), Banks is known for something else. With her match with Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, they not only changed the game for women in North America but they raised the bar. That match set the stage for the likes of Ronda Rousey one of the biggest women stars in the world to venture into pro wrestling after years of being a fan, as well as mentioned before setting the stage for the WrestleMania 35 main event. Without that match with Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn, there is no guarantee that the womens revolution comes as far as it has.

While some would consider Banks to be more like the likes of Eddie Guerrero which is who Banks credits to wanting to be a pro wrestler or Randy Savage as my friend believes (flamboyant, fans made her turn babyface, willing to ruffle feathers and stick up for herself among other things), I believe she’s more of a Shawn Michaels, she might not retire with the accolades of a Triple H (13 time WWE champion, RR winner, etc), she will however retire one day being known as a star creator and much like Michaels, one of if not the best pure in ring women talents ever.

5 Reasons Sasha Banks should win the Royal Rumble.

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The WWE is about to kick into high gear and kick off their WrestleMania season starting with January’s Royal Rumble pay per view. While you can make a case that a couple other women are options to win the women’s Royal Rumble, these are five reasons why Sasha Banks is the best and most logical choice to win the annual event.

  1.  She is one of the biggest stars in the company men or women based on popularity, merchandise sales, ratings, and other metrics. She is known as one of the members of the esteemed 4 horsewomen of WWE that includes Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley. However if you follow her booking, she hasn’t exactly been pushed on the level of those other 3 women. There are four major pay per views and she has a combined W/L record of 4-10 at those annual events including 0-4 at WrestleMania. That is simply unacceptable for a star of her status. Yes, you can say wrestling is scripted so wins and losses dont matter, but I’ll argue they matter more because of it being scripted it feels like every time she gets hot the WWE does something that undermines her and tries to kill her momentum.

2.     She has earned it for everything she has done for the women’s division over 4 years. Her NXT run in 2015 would put fellow 4 horsewomen Becky Lynch on the map, as well as make other 4 horsewomen member Bayley the star of the entire brand after their matches at NXT Takeover Brooklyn and Takeover Respect. For the last 2 years, she has been in pointless rivalries and feuds with no direction that were started and dropped. while putting over almost every other woman on the roster.  Then just recently making a red hot return and being the talk of the company after a 4 month hiatus and giving Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch the match she needed to heat up her record breaking title run that before that rivalry most will admit had fallen flat.

3.     She would have the best story of any other woman on the roster.  Does she jump back over to Raw and look for revenge on Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch for the defeat at Hell in a Cell? Does she do the unthinkable and decide to go back to NXT which is now considered a third brand and look for revenge on NXT womens champion Rhea Ripley due to what happened at Survivor Series? Finally, does she decide to stay on SD and challenge best friend and Smackdown womens champion Bayley because winning that title would make her the second grand slam champion in history? Yes, some have argued there is the Elimination Chamber, but based on storyline wise where Sasha doesn’t want the title as long as she’s facing Bayley, why would she want to enter either a #1 contender match or a match that is for the Smackdown womens championship as long as Bayley is the champion?  However, the possibilities of her turning on Bayley, or Bayley turning on her which is something we’ve never seen on either side are endless and could make for compelling television if she were to win the Royal Rumble. Not only that, fans for years have been craving for Sasha Banks and Bayley to get a chance to re create the magic they did 4 years ago at Takeover Brooklyn and Respect. It’s time to give the fans what they have been asking for.

4.    If not now, when? The truth is, this should have already happened 3 years ago. In 2016, Sasha Banks was one of the hottest things on the entire roster, so much so that the WWE would pair her a few times with Roman Reigns in order to try to get him over as the face of the company that they have been trying to do for years now. Instead, the WWE failed to capitalize on her popularity, and instead chose someone else. Fast forward to today, they once again have a chance to make her the top star on the Smackdown brand alongside Roman Reigns. Do they finally pull the trigger or do they again pass over her for someone who doesn’t do as much for the company as she does? Yes she is 27 years old so you can claim they have time, but this summer she almost walked away from it all because she was suffering from depression and anxiety. The truth is no one knows what tomorrow will bring, you can’t keep pushing it off thinking you have time due to her age.

5.   The company claims they value her. While she got a rumored substantial bigger contract signing with the company, money only goes so far. The WWE has no problem using her on billboards and posters and magazine covers among other promotional material to help draw fans into the buildings, but yet dont treat her on TV like the star they promote off screen. The last two years she has been constantly involved in tag team matches, 6 women tag matches, she’s had rivalries started and dropped, she’s had a title reign promised to her and then taken away from her 8 days and 48 days later (this was due to extenuating circumstances however) among other things. She along with Roman Reigns are the top 2 stars on the highest rated WWE show Smackdown.  She supposedly has a really good relationship with WWE owner Vince McMahon now and is one of the easier people to work with again in the locker room by accounts.

It’s put up or shut up time for the WWE in 2020, do they finally decide to go all in and let her get the chance to carry the ball starting with a Royal Rumble win, or do they just continue to treat her like they always have, a star who makes stars but never gets a real chance to be THE star? If the company is going to go all in with her, it should start January 26th with a Royal Rumble win, if not fans will once again realize that no matter how much they try to talk about how much they claim to value her, she will still be seen as someone who is not quite that level to the company.

 

Should we bank on WWE pushing Sasha Banks in 2020?

Sasha Banks was one of the hottest acts in NXT in 2015, so much so that when she debuted on the main roster alongside Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair on Monday Night Raw, fans thought that she was going to be the next big thing in the womens division and one of the women to carry Monday Night Raw or Tuesday Night Smackdown, It hasn’t exactly worked out that way so will it change this time? If you listen to many fans on social media, they believe nothing will really change.

Going back to late 2015, the WWE universe would chant “we want Sasha” in matches she was apart of, matches she wasn’t even in with other women, or heck even arenas she wasn’t in, this continued until 2016 where she made her big “return” at the January pay per view Royal Rumble. She went into a feud with Charlotte all of 2016 and despite being the 2nd overall merchandise seller (this included a roster that had Roman Reigns, John Cena, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and even a red hot Dean Ambrose), someone who brought in big ratings (Her vs Charlotte did 3M in a 3rd hour of Monday Night Raw), someone who helped sell out arenas in a time where wrestling was bigger than it is now, the WWE never capitalized on that momentum and never gave her a chance to run with the ball. They essentially in the end chose Charlotte over her and went with the other 4 horsewomen member Bayley in 2017 before going to Alexa Bliss.

For 2017 and 2018, both Banks and Bayley would be reduced to constant tag team matches with no direction, whether it be with the Riot Squad or with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose known as fire and desire. Basically, Sasha Banks and her partner Bayley were on TV just to be on TV.. This continued until the womens tag team titles came early 2019 where they won the tag titles as the inaugural champions.

In 2019, Sasha and Bayley defended the tag team titles on PPV (or even tv) one time before they lost them to the Iiconics at WrestleMania. Now there were extenuating circumstances as Sasha Banks said in her chronicle that she was suffering from burn out and depression and just didn’t have the urge to do it anymore at the time. For months and months fans were wondering if she would even come back, they asked time and time again for her to come back into a feud with Becky Lynch, which ultimately she did after a red hot heel turn. However, much like her whole main roster run, even as a heel with a new attitude, new look, and the talk of the business again, she wasn’t chosen to be given the ball. She eventually lost her very first big feud back to Becky Lynch and then was drafted to Smackdown where she also at Survivor Series ended up losing being eliminated by Rhea Ripley but was protected in the loss.

Fast forward to today, Sasha is presented as a big deal on Smackdown, she is constantly involved with Bayley who is the SD womens champion. She is treated as a special attraction as she doesn’t really wrestle much, the roster has been basically cleared for her without Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, or heck even Asuka. She is on constant posters, gets constant promotion from Fox, and SEEMS to be heading into a WrestleMania program with Bayley, has been protected pretty much the entire time, yet fans on social media are constantly believing that the WWE will yet again ultimately choose someone else be it someone like Lacey Evans or Alexa Bliss.

The truth is, can we really blame those fans? Every single time Sasha has gotten red hot the WWE has done something to stop her momentum (purposely or not is up to what you believe), they technically just did it again this October unless there is a bigger picture really here. How do you not only book her as a face to lose big matches, but even with a change that made her successful from NXT she also loses 2 big matches as a heel? Most people have no belief at all she will win the Royal Rumble to kick start some momentum in 2020.

Even the biggest, most optimistic fan has belief that once again the company will choose someone else to give the ball to. Will this new found relationship with Vince pay off? Will sticking up for herself and betting on herself pay off? or will she be used as what she’s been used time and time again on the main roster to make the next star?.. Will she finally be treated as a star herself, or simply the star maker? I guess we will find out in 2020 starting with the Royal Rumble.

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Four Reasons Why the New York Yankees Should Choose Bryce Harper Over Manny Machado

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While the New York Yankees sit with the second best record in baseball in 2018, as a Yankee fan you can never not think about what could happen in the near future. Especially when in the near future is the 2018 off season loaded with talents like outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado both of whom have expressed interests in playing for the Yankees at some point in their careers. If the Yankees have their choice in the off season they should go with Harper.

The first reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because he is a left handed power bat which would compliment the right handed power of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. While its true the Yankees are getting above average production from the likes of Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorious from the left side, you really can’t qualify either one as a power threat. There is also the fact that Aaron Hicks hasn’t been the epitome of health and Didi Gregorious before coming to New York was a failed prospect. Meanwhile the power bat the Yankees thought they had from the left side in Greg Bird putting it mildly hasn’t quite lived up to what the Yankees envisioned him being. If the Yankees can add Harper in the off season it would give them that power left handed bat complimenting their right handed heavy power hitting lineup.

The second reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because they already have a future all star third baseman in rookie Miguel Andujar who is well on his way to becoming the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year. While its true the Yankees can use an upgrade defensively at third base, there’s no reason to think Andujar who is only 23 can’t improve his defense there. Not to long ago, another rookie by the name of Derek Jeter, started his Yankees career makin 26 errors at short stop and playing less than average defense. It would appear he turned out pretty well there. While he will never be Manny Machado at the hot corner, Andujar’s all star level bat will surely make up for his defense.

The Yankees once considered to have outfield depth galore are now playing Shane Robinson in 90% of the games due to injuries to Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, and a balky hamstring to Giancarlo Stanton who is now being forced to DH. The Yankees depth evaporated quick when they traded away outfielders like Billy McKinney, Dustin Fowler and others to upgrade other areas or for future assets. There’s an old saying in baseball that you can never have enough pitching. Well in the Yankees case this year it appears you can never have enough outfielders. While the Yankees at one point envisioned Clint Frazier taking over LF after Brett Gardner, the injury history of Frazier has to make them somewhat hesitant to hand him the starting job in 2019. The thought of Bryce Harper taking over for Brett Gardner in left field sounds better than Manny Machado taking over for Miguel Andujar at third base. The Yankees will get far more production in Left field from Gardner to Harper than they will Andujar to Machado at the hot corner; not to mention having to shift their infield around on the off chance that Andujar could be a better 1st baseman.  Furthermore, the Yankees signing Bryce Harper would then give them the options of trading a Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial for a deal for starting pitching.

The final reason is one Hal Steinbrenner will love, the idea of Bryce Harper playing left field in Yankee Stadium will be too tempting for him to pass on. This is the guy that wears the number 34 because the two numbers together adds up to 7 because of his idol Mickey Mantle. His favorite player when he was growing up was former Yankees captain Derek Jeter. It has always been a dream of Harper to represent the pinstripes. If the Yankees sign Harper, think of the merchandise sales from his jersey, or the ticket sales to see a lineup that includes not only Bryce Harper but Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, talk about a real murderers row. Above all Hal Steinbrenner is a business man, and Bryce Harper adds more business, money and revenue to the Yankees than Manny Machado will.

The Yankees will continue to play baseball in 2018 and attempt to finish out the season on a high note going for their 28th World Series championship, but as a fan of the team its still hard not to think of what could be if the Yankees do end up signing Bryce Harper after the season is over. The Yankees need pitching first and foremost and will address that, but if the Yankees have their choice of Harper or Machado in the off season, it will be Bryce Harper.

Lack Of Urgency Will Cost The New York Yankees The Division.

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in the major leagues against teams over .500. So why then are they in second place in their division? It has to do with their play against teams under .500 as well as the lack of urgency on the part of the organization.

The Yankees own the best record in baseball against teams over .500 but are 16th in the majors against teams below that mark. You can say “its baseball Suzyn” but the real problem is they play down to their opponents. They are often times unprepared and take teams for granted.

The Yankees had a chance coming off their All Star break to reconfigure their starting rotation and make sure they threw their three best pitchers at the Mets who are using their two best despite being in last place and lucky to win 75 games. Instead of the Yankees pitching Luis Severino, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka they chose to start their two worst starting pitchers by far this season in Domingo German and Sonny Gray.  That’s a lack of urgency despite being 4.5 games out already in the division because they’re playing a bad Mets team.

While the starting pitching market is thin, there are still upgrades out there available as mid rotation arms over German. Meanwhile they were engaged in third baseman Manny Machado and CL Brad Hand neither who fill the Yankees biggest need which is SP. In one aspect you can understand the leash that Sonny Gray has been given, he at least is a proven starting pitcher but what exactly has German done to earn such a long leash?

If the Yankees are content with the Wild Card then by all means keep sending German out there to try to develop him more. After all, Luis Severino was destined to be a reliever after his awful performances as a starter in 2016. However, if the Yankees goal is to win the division, which it should be, they better show more of an urgency before the division completely gets away from them.

The New York Rangers Should Not Use The Cap Space They Have This Summer

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The New York Rangers are in the midst of continuing their rebuild and reports say they are interested in bringing in character guys and guys who play much harder than they did last season. Any signing the Rangers make should be a one year commitment only. Although the Rangers have a lot of cap space, they also have a lot of restricted free agents. Whether its signing unrestricted free agents or worrying about their own restricted free agents they have to be careful what contracts are given out with an eye on upcoming NHL free agent class that can be as star studded as this year’s MLB free agent class.

The Rangers goal this season should not be to attempt to bring in guys and then try to sneak their way into a playoff spot. This is New York, ultimately we dont care about playoffs, the goal of a New York team should be to win a championship. The Rangers are nowhere near that at the moment. What sense then does it make to bring in players (maybe outside Tavares whom they didn’t even request a meeting with) for a multi year commitment? The Rangers did that with Michael Grabner and although he performed well, what exactly did that do for them in the end? The Ranger are nowhere close to a championship this season. The goal this off season should be to continuing to attempting to build the team with as much high end talent as possible.

While its true NHL free agent superstars rarely hit free agency, the odds next year are better that at least a few of them will shake loose because there are just so many impact players and so many teams who don’t exactly have a ton of cap space. This list includes guys like Tyler Seguin, Arteri Panarin, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Drew Doughty among many others.

The Rangers have almost 30 million in cap space this Summer but they should be very careful with how they use it. They have to make a decision on guys like Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei who probably should be part of this solution but guys like Spooner, Namestnikov and the other restricted free agents they have should not be. The Rangers can’t get stuck in the same cycle they were in the past where they were paying good money to players who are simply not going to win you a Stanley cup if they are who you are relying on.

If you’re the New York Rangers wouldn’t Arteri Panarin and/or Tyler Seguin look good on Broadway? The Rangers need to make moves this off season with an eye on the star studded class that could await the team after the 2018-2019 season.

Four Reasons Why Alex Morgan Is The Most Irreplaceable Player on the USWNT

Over their history, the United States Womens National team have been blessed with many great players such as Mia Hamm, Michele Akers, Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach. The United States in 2010 introduced yet another player who is well on her way to joining those greats. The player I’m talking about is Alex Morgan who has quickly become the most irreplaceable player on this national team much like Hamm, Akers, Lilly and Wambach were on their respective teams.

The first reason is Alex Morgan has such a unique skillset that nobody else on the team has at this current moment. She possesses all the qualities you want in a top forward; speed, strength, balance, agility, and most of all the ability to score a goal from pretty much any angle and almost with any part of her body. She has the ability to beat a goalie with the narrowest of windows, she has the ability to beat a goalie by heading the ball in the net,  and since her return from Lyon, she has become quite proficient in being able to play back to goal and improve her hold up play in the attacking half. She has improved her technical ability on the ball and she has made a career out of making timely runs off the ball getting into the dangerous areas for scoring chances. She is also a very underrated playmaker who creates chances for others.  She has everything you want in a striker, something no other US player at the moment possesses, the others have strength indeed, but they dont possess everything that Morgan does.

Secondly, the United States is able to play a much faster tempo when Morgan is on the field playing striker opposed to anyone else there. While coach Jill Ellis has attempted other players in that spot such as Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, and even Carli Lloyd, none of them have stood out the way Morgan has. In fact at times, the United States would actually be playing some of their worst soccer going back to 2017 with anyone but Morgan there.  Morgan has made a career of being the top striker on the USWNT (evident by her 86 goals in just over 140 caps) going back to her teaming up with Abby Wambach as far back as 2012. The opposing defenses game plan to stop Morgan from getting in behind them, they sometimes try to have 2 or even 3 players around her at all times in the final third which opens up space and other opportunities for her teammates.  The other forwards haven’t been able to provide that.

Alex Morgan is also one of the biggest leaders for the United States Womens National team whether its on the field or off the field. She was instrumental in their fight for equal pay and better fields, she has been a captain numerous times both for the national team and in club play and her coaches and her teammates respect her. They say she’s the consummate professional and will literally throw her body around in order to help her team win which in the past has led to her being a bit injury prone. She constantly will give you everything she has to help get you a win which is something you want in a leader, someone who can inspire others and hates to lose, she does both.

The final reason she’s irreplaceable though is because of her ability on the field. She has made a career out of scoring big goals in big moments going all the way back to 2010 with the u20 womens team. Then, at age 19, she scored what turned out to be the game winning goal in the final against North Korea to help the United States win that world cup. In that same year, for the USWNT Morgan would score the only goal against Italy which helped them qualify for the 2011 World Cup. Speaking of the World Cup, at just age 21, Morgan would score the goal against France late in the game that essentially would send them to the finals. From there she would go on to score the first goal against Japan in the second half of the 2011 WC final and assisted on what should have been Abby Wambach’s world cup clinching goal before Japan was able to come back and tie it while eventually defeating the US on PKs.

The following year in 2012, perhaps her most memorable moment to many is the header in the semi finals against Canada in the 123rd minute that sent the United States to the gold medal game against Japan. In the final it was again Morgan who was also influential as she had the assist on Lloyd’s first goal. In 2015 Morgan was coming off a serious knee injury and couldn’t  quite get in form, however she did draw the penalty kick against Germany in the semi finals which ended up leading to being the game winner when Lloyd converted the kick. Many people will bring up the missed PK in 2016 (one of the very few times she didn’t get it done when it mattered) in the 2016 Olympics against Sweden but will ignore that when the US was trailing in that match late in the second half, it was again Morgan who would come to the rescue when she scored the equalizer before the United States would again lose on PKs. You want more proof? Since Morgan’s debut in 2010 in the games she has scored in the only 2 losses are the 2011 WC and the 2016 Olympics both losing on penalty kicks. The United States in 2017 would also play one of their worst years of soccer when they lost 3 times on their own soil, something that they have never experienced before as well as losing the She believes cup getting dominated by France in that tournament 3-0. Morgan at that time was back and forth between the US and Lyon and barely played in that tournament and it was some of the worst soccer we’ve ever seen from the US. The US would struggle at times in 2017 while Morgan had her 8 game goal drought, after Morgan broke that the United States would finish the season undefeated and haven’t yet lost in their last 15 games (13-0-2) with Morgan scoring 13 goals total and in at least 10 of those games.

In the World Cup one of the biggest areas of need for a team like the United States is having a quality striker. With the ability to score big goals in big moments, read the defense better than the other forwards, possess leadership abilities, and open up space for others while drawing players to her, Morgan is simply the most irreplaceable player on the national team. When Alex Morgan is in form like she’s been lately she’s almost impossible to stop.

 

Five Players The Rangers Could Select With the 9th Overall Pick In The NHL Draft

The New York Rangers are in a rebuilding phase. They sold off some assets such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden and Ryan Mcdonagh at the NHL trade deadline and acquired prospects and most of all draft picks in this upcoming 2018 Draft. While the Rangers have the ammunition or draft capital so to speak to move up in this year’s draft for a player like Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk or even Quinn Hughes, there are also a few quality players to have if they were to stay at 9.

  1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi – C (Finland)

If you’re looking for a potential future #1 center the only center in this draft class that might have that ability is Kotkaniemi. He is a skilled player who at 17 is playing against players much more older and seasoned than him. If you’re looking at points only, (29 points in 57 games) you will be disappointed. The team drafting Kotkaniemi will be drafting him based on his potential, much like other players such as Patrick Laine (33 points in 46 games) in the SM-liiga league. Kotkaniemi is only 17 years old and will be a top 6 center in the NHL with the ability and skill set to become a top line center in the NHL as he matures.

2. Noah Dobson – D (QMJHL)

Dobson projects as a two way defenseman with top pairing potential. He is a right handed defenseman who can move the puck very well which is essential in todays NHL. The Rangers have not been able to move the puck out of their zone quickly enough but this guy has the ability to do that whether he’s moving it to another teammate or skating the puck out of the zone. He has a strong shot from the point which is also something the Rangers defenseman have lacked maybe since Sergei Zubov. Some scouts believe that Dobson could develop into another Alex Pietrangelo which would be a coup for the Rangers at 9.

3. Evan Bouchard – D (London Knights OHL)

Bouchard is becoming one of the fastest risers in this years draft class due to his impressive size (6″2 195). Bouchard also is another right handed defenseman which are very valuable in the NHL today, just look at what the value is in trades to acquire one. Bouchard offensively has dominated the OHL (87 points in 67 games) this year and has the ability to develop into a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. He very well might end up the best offensive defenseman in this years class.

4. Adam Boqvist – D (SHL)

This on the surface seems like a long shot, some believe this kid offensively has the ability to become the next Erik Karlsson so why is there any chance the Rangers might be able to get him at 9? According to reports, some teams are becoming skeptical of Boqvist due to the two concussions he had last season as well as his smaller size (5’ll 165). While he may be on the smaller size, he possesses every skill you need in the NHL, he moves the puck very well, he skates well, and has offensive ability of a top line forward. Some may also be turned off that Boqvist seems to be less proactive in his own end, but the old saying here is true, you can teach talent, and Boqvist is oozing with it. The Rangers should run to the podium if he somehow slips to them at 9.

5. Oliver Wahlstrom – RW (USHL)

We have all seen the video of the penalty shot that this kid made when he was just 9 years old playing on NHL ice. Wahlstrom possesses something the Rangers haven’t had since Jaromir Jagr, a potential dynamic offensive player. Wahlstrom is said to have the best shot in the entire draft and with 22 goals in 26 games this season its hard to say thats not accurate. Furthermore, his performance in the 2018 WJCs did nothing but help his stock. Some have him only a step below guys like Svechnikov and Zadina who are projected to go 2nd and 3rd overall. Wahlstrom is committed to Boston College so any team that drafts him is going to have to wait for him. Could that help the Rangers who are in a rebuilding mode? The Rangers surely wouldn’t have a problem waiting for Wahlstrom if they believe he’s the next Ilya Kovalchuk as they’re not really expected to contend for the next few seasons as they figure out their next best course of action for this rebuild. If Wahlstrom were to somehow be available at 9 the Rangers shouldn’t take any time and run to the podium to select him.

 

 

 

Yankees Should Say Hey To J.A.

The New York Yankees have the second best win percentage in major league baseball behind the Red Sox who have played 4 more games this season. The Yankees lead the league in homeruns, and pretty much every category offensively and when right they have the best bullpen in the game. If the Yankees are going to win the World Series though, they are going to need to upgrade the starting rotation. The Yankees would be wise to look at left handed pitcher J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays to fill that need; three reasons why.

First the Yankees have always had a left handed pitcher in every year they won the World Series; whether it was Ford, Guidry, Pettitte or Sabathia. A left handed pitcher is crucial for a team to succeed in Yankee Stadium; not only that but a left hander who can also eat innings.  While its true the Yankees already have left hander CC Sabathia, he is 37 years old and just can’t give them the innings they need averaging only five innings per start. On the other hand, Happ is averaging 6 innings per start and has pitched into the seventh inning four times.

The second reason is the Yankees are gearing up to make a World Series run and post season experience counts. The left handed J.A. Happ has that experience that guys like Pettitte and Sabathia have had in the past when he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2016 post season and was their game 1 starter.

The most important reason might come down to cost, not only money but prospects that would have to be given up. While its true that guys like Michael Fulmer and Chris Archer are much younger than Happ, they’re also team controlled for more years and younger which means the return for them would be a lot more than the return would be for Happ. The Yankees dont seem to want to trade away guys like Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield or Estevan Florial but to get a guy like Fulmer, Archer or the dream of Madison Bumgardner of the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees would likely have to part with at least 2 of those guys. On the other hand, J.A. Happ is a free agent after this season so he will be a rental. The Yankees are stacked with pitching prospects; The Toronto Blue Jays not so much. A complication could arise with the Jays and the Yankees being in the same division, but with Happ due to be a free agent after this season wouldn’t it make sense for the Jays to get the best return possible for him? The Jays likely will not be competing with the Red Sox or the Yankees for the AL East this season so an in division trade for Happ likely wouldn’t be too much of a hurdle if they can agree on prospects.

The Yankees need another solid pitcher if they are going to win the World Series, if they want to go big and try to acquire a Bumgardner, Fulmer, Archer or someone of that nature then by all means go for it. If they fail to come to an agreement there however, the Yankees could do a lot worse than picking up a guy like J.A. Happ to slot into their rotation along with Severino and Tanaka and take their shot this year and try to add someone either by free agency or trade in the off season.