All posts by Joshua Sheppard

The current state of the MLB during the lockout 

There hasn’t been a lot of news from the MLB and baseball recently. The reason for this is the MLB lockout. The lockout is a disagreement between the players and the MLB. A lockout in professional sports isn’t unheard of, but there is no actual date when their lockout will be over. The lockout occurred because the collective bargaining agreement, also known as the CBA, which governed the 2017 through 2021 seasons, has expired without a new CBA agreed upon. The MLB entered a lockout without a CBA agreement between the MLB and the players. On December 2nd, 2021, all transactions and communications between players and teams were stopped, which resulted in one of the most frantic MLB free agency periods.

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The lockout’s impact is more internal with baseball, as baseball has several issues, such as the entire sticky substance debate. Over the early months of the season, baseball was dominant for pitchers, as the MLB record for most no-hitters in a season was broken this year with nine. The sticky substance issue is where several pitchers used some substance, which helped improve their grip on the baseball. The MLB launched a crackdown on the sticky substance problems, as umpires checked players after pitching an inning. As the season progressed and the crackdown began, pitchers’ numbers began to rise and worsen over the season, but it might not have totally been because of sticky substances. It was revealed later that the MLB had been switching baseballs to a heavier ball which was more prone to home runs. So how did this impact free agency?

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Free agency begins five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Free agency started on November 7th, but the first move was made on November 16th. Teams had two to three weeks to sign players. Typically free agency is a three-four month period, but with the lockout making it where teams cannot have contact with any players. Max Scherzer signed the highest-paid contract in MLB history this offseason, earning $44 million a year. Should Max Scherzer be one of the highest-paid players in the MLB? Yes, but being paid $44 million a year at age 37 is something that has never been seen before. Contracts like that make it impossible for small market teams to afford elite players. The Texas Rangers are also a great example of how the lockout impacted free agency. In 48 hours, the Rangers committed more than a half-billion dollars to four free agents, shortstop Corey Seager, second baseman Marcus Semien, outfielder Kole Calhoun and right-hander Jon Gray.

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 Free agency in the MLB is different compared to other major sports leagues such as the NFL and the NBA because of the salary cap. In the MLB, the salary cap is non-existent, allowing teams to sign players if they can afford it. This is why big-market teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets can afford big-ticket players, and smaller market teams such as the Orioles, Rays, and Athletics aren’t able to. To put this into perspective, the entire Orioles team salary is a total of $61 million. Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton combined are being paid $65 million a year, so two players on the Yankees are being paid more than everyone on the Orioles MLB roster. 

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The MLB lockout has impacted the MLB free agency as it rushed teams to sign players, but the lockout needed to happen. Hopefully, this lockout will fix some of the significant issues and controversies in baseball. Unfortunately, this lockout won’t really impact the salary cap but hopefully can resolve some of the other vital issues that have occurred through the MLB season.

Joshua Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

How mobile quarterbacks are revolutionizing the quarterback position

Try to think of an NFL quarterback. Most likely, the first person you’re going to think of is Tom Brady. If you have ever watched Tom Brady play, you easily could say that he is one of the most immobile players on the field of all time. Current quarterbacks now rely on their speed to improvise and to make plays all around the field. The NFL has shifted to a league in which your players, including quarterbacks, require speed, but where did this want for speed with quarterbacks begin? 

Randall Cunningham, who played in the NFL from 1985-2001. Cunningham, who rushed for almost 5,000 career rushing yards in his career, was quite different from the quarterbacks in his time. During the time Cunningham played, he played against a variety of quarterbacks. Cunningham played against several great quarterbacks, such as Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana. These four Hall of Fame quarterbacks utilized their throwing ability, while Cunningham used both his arms and legs to create plays. To put Cunningham’s rushing ability into perspective, he had 4928 career rushing yards. Those four Hall of Fame quarterbacks all combined for 3996 career rushing yards. Now Cunningham played completely different than most quarterbacks during the time he played, but we can’t discount his effect and impact his rushing has caused. He revolutionized the quarterback position as he was one of the most successful dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history.

Some career Randall Cunningham highlights

Even with Randall Cunningham being one of the first dual mobile quarterbacks in NFL history, Michael Vick also revolutionized the position with his elite rushing ability. Vick, drafted in 2000 with the first overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons, entirely changed the quarterback position with his elite rushing ability. Vick was the first NFL quarterback to ever rush for over 1000 rushing yards in a season, as he passed Bobby Douglass, who held the record with 968 single-season rushing yards for a quarterback. When Vick retired, he ended up running for 6000 yards in his career, passing Cunningham’s record. Michael Vick ran for over 1000 more yards than Cunningham in his career and is the 2nd true rushing quarterback in NFL history. Both of these 2 players impacted the quarterback position in this day and age, and they have affected the quarterback position forever.

Michael Vick 55 yard run

In this day in age of football, fewer and fewer pocket passers are starting at quarterback as offenses have adapted and built around mobile quarterbacks. Several offenses have done similar things in the NFL to create an offense around their mobile quarterbacks, such as Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson. These teams have made an offense that allows for a quarterback to have the ability to run, such as the teams that Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick played for. These 5 players have all combined for over 12,000 career rushing yards. Together Vick and Cunningham had over 11,000 career rushing yards. The difference between these players is that 4 of the 5 players aren’t even over 27 years old.

Due to teams’ success with mobile quarterbacks, more and more mobile quarterbacks are being drafted in the NFL draft. For example, in last year’s NFL draft, Trey Lance and Justin Fields with first overall selections. Both of these players were great college players, but they were both drafted high in the NFL draft due to their athleticism. With teams wanting more mobile quarterbacks, pocket passing quarterbacks, who play similar to Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady are starting less and less due to their minimal athleticism. Let’s then talk about one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the league, Lamar Jackson.

Best Lamar Jackson jukes

So far in Lamar Jackson’s career, he’s rushed for 3,298 rushing yards and thrown for over 9,000 yards, and he is only 24 years old. Lamar has played a total of 52 career games, and in Vick’s career, he played 143 games. If Lamar plays 143 career games and keeps up a similar rushing pace to what he has now, he will destroy Michael Vick’s quarterback rushing record by around 3,000 yards. In Lamar’s second season, he broke the single-season quarterback rushing record with 1,206 yards, smashing the record that was previously held by Vick. To put that into perspective, Tom Brady, who has played in 20 NFL seasons in his career, has 1080 rushing yards. Lamar passed Brady’s rushing total in one season. Even with Brady’s minimal mobility, he still is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, but the NFL is moving away from pocket passers and more into mobile passers. Quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, and Josh Allen are genuinely changing what the quarterback position is. Mobility with quarterbacks is becoming less of a want, and more of a need in the NFL.

Joshua Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

While some things change at Mount St. Joseph, others stay the same

Mount Saint Joseph has undoubtedly changed over the years, but change is inevitable. After 145 years, Mount Saint Joseph has gone through many changes along its path, but has continued to stand strong all these years later. Some significant recent events that have changed Mount Saint Joe could be the rise of technology, and the current pandemic that changed learning forever. Mount Saint Joe was built on the Xavierian values, and even with all of the changes that have occurred in the 145 years of Mount Saint Joe’s existence, the values and overall message of the school haven’t changed.

A picture of Mount St. Joseph’s campus today

I Interviewed the longest tendered Mount Saint Joseph community member, Mr. Jerry Naylor, who has been a staple at the Mount for 41 years. After finishing college with a political science and geography major, Mr. Naylor decided to get a license in real estate but decided to start taking night classes for a degree in accounting. In the 41+ years that Mr. Naylor has been at Mount Saint Joseph, he believes the most significant change with Mount Saint Joe was moving away from an open campus model. The open campus model allowed students to have a lot more free time during the school day.

As of now, the schedules are broken into specific requirements; for example, freshmen are supposed to take seven or more classes during their first year, while seniors get a lot more freedom in how many, and which classes they take. Another massive change for the Mount has been the evolving campus over the years. Not surprisingly, the school has gone under massive renovations to the buildings and the addition of facilities, such as the Smith Center. With the iPad being implemented in the classroom seven years ago, teachers have had to adapt to using the technology each day in their classes. The iPads have been great additions for students and teachers, but they have caused some problems as well. Mr. Naylor believes that “iPads should be used for researching information,  sharing, and projecting information to the students.” Mr. Naylor states that “technology has created a challenge to interact with the students on a more personal level.” Virtual learning was one of the most challenging things teachers and students have had to overcome. It was a fundamental change of environment, in which teachers and students were forced to teach and learn virtually. 

I also interviewed Mr. Jody Harris, the 2nd longest-tenured faculty member at Mount Saint, as he has been at Mount Saint Joe for 37 years. Mr. Harris, a political science major, left school and got a job selling electric security for Wells Fargo, but didn’t enjoy it. He was hired in 1985 without really having any teaching experience, and he has been a teacher at Mount Saint Joe ever since. “Teaching felt pretty natural to me, so I stuck with it,” said Mr. Harris. Through the years Mr. Harris has been at Mount Saint Joseph, he has seen the changes that have occurred to the school. He says that the essence of the school hasn’t changed, as we still follow the message and the mold of the brothers, but he says that the renovations to the campus are the most significant.

The iPad has created a challenge, but they have allowed the school to take advantage of the digital link between teachers and students. Mr. Harris believes that iPads can be a problem because they are significant distractions and are constantly misused from their original purpose. Covid also forced schools to begin an entirely virtual learning model, which has not ever been done before. Covid moved teachers out of their comfort zone and challenged them to use things they would have never used before. “Covid has also changed teachers’ expectations, and understanding of the challenges that the students were facing,” Mr. Harris added.

The newest building on the St. Joe campus, the Smith Center.

Mount Saint Joseph has changed in so many ways since it was first established in 1876. The most significant change that has occurred to the Mount during the times of Mr. Naylor and Mr. Harris are the dramatic changes to the campus. The entire renovation of the school and the addition of athletic facilities have changed the school considerably, and encouraged more students to attend each year. Teachers have also made significant changes to some of the challenges that came their way, such as how teachers and students have adapted to the technological advances that have happened in education. With all of these changes that have occurred during the 145 years of the school’s existence, the overall message of Mount Saint Joe hasn’t changed, and with so many teachers that hold on to their memory of their times as students, hopefully, that won’t change any time soon.

Joshua Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

The unpredictability of hockey

In sports, everything is unknown. There always are upsets, as well as expected victories. Sports are one of the most unpredictable things, and the 2020-2021 playoffs were a great example of that.

June 28, 2021. The Stanley Cup playoffs reached their final series in which the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup Trophy. A Stanley Cup with 2 very interesting cup runs. 2 teams with very different runs to the Cup. The first team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, was coming off of a Stanley Cup run the year prior. Their first series was an exciting matchup against the Florida Panthers. A Florida Panthers team that is considered to be their best team of all time. The series began with a bang as a Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Brayden Point, scored a goal with minutes left in the 3rd period to give the Lightning a Game 1 victory with a 5-4 win. After a dominating Game 2 affair vs. Florida, Game 3 was played in Tampa Bay. The Lightning looked to take a 3-0 lead in the series until the Panthers stole a game in overtime as the Lightning blew a 2 goal lead. Needing a win from splitting the series, the Lightning put up 6 goals in Game 3 to win 6-2, and they followed that up with a series 4-0 series clincher in Game 6 to send the Lightning to the second round, in which they faced the Carolina Hurricanes.

Brayden Points Game 1 game-winner.

While the Lightning were cup favorites again this year, the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t have been any different. The 4 seed in the Canadian division, which was regarded as the worst division that year, was the Canadian division. A Canadiens team that if it wasn’t for the division that they played in, they wouldn’t have even made it to the playoffs. Their first-round opponent was against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who required winning a playoff series after recent first-round exits. After the Canadiens won a surprising Game 1 victory, the Maple Leafs came back to take a 3-1 commanding lead, 1 win away from advancing to the second round. What already had happened was what everyone expected, in which the Canadiens would have a reasonable effort but fall to the superior star-studded lineup of the Maple Leafs. Nobody expected that the Canadiens would win 3 straight games to shock the NHL by beating the Maple Leafs in Game 7, 3-1, and advance the Canadiens to the second round. 

The Montreal Canadiens shock the World and send The Maple Leafs home early.

Next for the Lightning, they played the Carolina Hurricanes. When the Lightning played the Hurricanes in the regular season, every game they played was close, and 3 of them went to overtime. After taking a 2-0 series lead, the Lightning, the Hurricanes, who were trying to avoid going down 3-0 in the series, won Game 3 in overtime to take the series to a 2-1 series lead for the Lightning. Game 4 was set to be the biggest game of the series. Game 4 was set to change the entire series. If the Lightning won, they most likely would win the series, but if Carolina won, they would be tied up in the series, heading back to home ice. After a 1-1 first period, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the middle of the second. The Lightning weren’t done when they put up 3 more goals in the 2nd period as they jumped out to a 5-4 lead and extended it to a 6-4 lead to win Game 4. The Lightning finished off the series with a 2-0 shutout in Game 5. Next for the Lightning came the New York Islanders, who they played last year in the eastern conference final. 

Game 4, Tampa Bay Lightning versus Carolina Hurricanes.

In this series, every game was close for the first 3 games, but with a 2-1 series lead, the Lightning looked to put the series away. In Game 4, The Islanders had a 1 goal lead with 5 seconds left in the game. With a wide-open net, which would have tied the game, Islanders defense Ryan Pulock made one of the best saves of the entire season, running into the net and blocking a shot to win Game 4. The series was tied up 2-2, and Game 5 was a huge momentum game for both teams. The game was expected to be close, but after a 3 goal first period for the Lightning, they kept adding to their lead by destroying the Islanders in Game 5, 8-0. The series didn’t end without a push, as the 2 teams were set for a Game 7 matchup. The Lightning hadn’t played in a Game 7 since the eastern conference finals 3 years ago. In this game, 1 goal was scored, a short-handed goal scored by Yanni Gourde clinched a Stanley cup finals berth for the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Ryan Pulock’s save in Game 4

In Montreal, they still were considered a team whose run to the cup wouldn’t last much longer. Montreal had different plans, though, when playing against the Winnipeg Jets. Montreal, who seemed to be unstoppable, ran through the Jets with a 4-0 sweep, as they won Game 4 in overtime 3-2 vs. the Jets. Things didn’t run as easy for them as they matched up against the Vegas Golden Knights in their next series. The Knights had just come back from a 0-2 deficit versus the cup favorite Colorado Avalanche to win 4 straight and match up against the Montreal Canadiens, who had won 7 in a row in the western conference final. This series was back and forth, with 4 of the games being a 1 goal game. With a chance in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead, Golden Knights goalie Marc Andre Fleury pulled one of the worst mistakes of all time by the lead that blew the game and ended up blowing the series. After Marc Andre Fleury blew Game 3, Vegas won Game 4, and then they followed it up with losing Game 5 and then losing Game 6, 3-2, advancing the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1993. 

Marc Andre Fleury gives up a game-tying goal with minutes left in the game.

The matchup was set, and on June 28 the series began with a bang as the Lightning took Game 1 with a 5-1 win in which they commanded the entire game. Game 2 was controlled by the Canadiens, as they outshot the Lightning 43-23, but the Lightning won the game 3-1, as Andre Vasilevskiy stole the game to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead in the series. For Montreal, they got to play on home ice, needing to win a game to avoid going down 3-0 in the series. Game 3, a game in which the Lightning won 6-3, and gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead in the series. When down 3-0 in a series, every game you play in desperation because if you lose, it is your last game. Montreal avoided the series sweep as they won Game 4, to take the series to a 3-1 deficit. Game 5, back in Tampa bay, winning on home ice in front of their fans is every team’s dream, but it’s a lot harder said than done. Tampa achieved the dream, by winning Game 5, with a 1-0 win, to clinch the series and the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Lightning had just gone back to back, a feat that hadn’t happened since the Penguins did it in 2017. The Canadiens rode the hot hand all the way to the Stanley Cup. A promising run that shows hope for the Canadiens in years to come.

The Lightning win Game 5 and another Stanley Cup Victory

Nobody expected this Stanley Cup final. One team was a cup favorite, while the other wasn’t expected to even win their first series. Expectations are never a reality in sports, and the 2020-2021 playoffs were a great example of that.

Joshua Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.