Jury Is Still Out
It was not all that long ago when Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees was the new face of baseball. Prior to the All Star game, Judge led the American League in all Triple Crown categories. He was frontrunner for an MVP award and was the biggest thing in New York since Derek Jeter. But a funny thing happened after the All-Star game and his winning the Home Run Derby. The famous ‘All Rise’ slogan that went national is now reverting to Judge sitting down in the dugout after striking out.
Judge’s first-half numbers were MVP worthy. He was hitting .320 with 30 homers and 66 RBI. Since the half-way mark, he is hitting. 179 with just six homers and 13 RBI. He has struck out 48 times in 100 at bats (nearly once every other time). All of a sudden, it is entirely possible Judge will set the all-time record for single-season strikeouts, currently held by Mark Reynolds (223).
The 25-year-old is averaging 1.389 Ks for every game he plays in. If he continues this pace and plays in the Yankees’ 45 remaining contests, he’ll come in at 221.Judge’s struggles have coincided with the Yankees’ slide down the standings. The Bronx Bombers need him to make Yankees’ fans to all rise again if they are to make a playoff run.
College Football Preview
It seems like just the other day when college football fans around the country, especially Clemson fans, saw Deshaun Watson complete a short pass to Hunter Renfrow in the end zone to lead the Clemson Tigers to the late, come-from-behind win over the heavily favored Alabama Crimson Tide. That completed pass gave head coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers a 35-31 win and the program its first national championship since 1981. The national champion rematch capped off an incredible 2016 college football season.
The wait is over to see if the 2017 season can come close in terms of excitement. Here are some storylines in various conferences that have caught my eye.
I am one of those who believe the Miami Hurricanes are ready to join Clemson and Florida State atop the ACC. After going 9-4 in his first season coaching his alma mater, expectations are high for Mark Richt and this 2017 Miami squad entering the new season. The Hurricanes return one of the best running backs in the conference in Mark Walton, who rushed for 1,117 yards last year and 14 touchdowns. Miami is not in the same division as Clemson and Florida State so the Canes could find themselves in the ACC Championship Game.
Penn State may make it all the way back in the Big Ten this fall. Many thought the Nittany Lions were the best team in the conference when bowl season arrived. Penn State, remember, won the Big Ten but was left out of the playoffs. Talk about motivation for this season. Their best two players are back, quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. In his first season as the full-time starter last season, McSorley threw for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns, while Barkley rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 scores, while adding in four receiving touchdowns as well.
Will the Heisman Trophy return to USC (Southern Cal)? The supposed front-runner is quarterback Sam Darnold. As a freshman last year, he saved the 2016 season and led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory. Darnold finished the season with 3,086 yards passing, 31 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 67 percent completion percentage. Next up for Southern Cal could be a national title. That is who I got this year.
Dabo Swinney (top image)
Yankees’ Aaron Judge