Tag Archives: Pro Sports

How the MLB’s revisions improve the game

Embed from Getty Images

At the beginning of September, Major League Baseball announced three new changes that will alter how the game is played. Starting next year, the MLB will implement a pitch clock, increase the size of the bases, and enforce limits on the shift.

The new pitch clock will make it so that pitchers must begin their motion within 30 seconds between batters, 15 seconds for batters with no runners on base, and 20 seconds for batters when there are runners on base.

Pitchers will have two disengagements (pickoffs and step-offs) per batter, and if a third pickoff is unsuccessfully attempted, the runners will advance a base. However, if runners advance, the pitcher will get 2 more “disengagements.”

With a similar pitch clock in Triple-A ball this year, the average play time decreased by about 21 minutes.

Embed from Getty Images

The MLB has been trying to make the game shorter for years and, in trying to do so, has made the game worse with the implementation of runners starting on second base in extra innings.

However, they have finally figured it out with the new changes. The new pitch clock will only increase the pace of play while keeping traditional aspects of the game, and this simple revision will make the games quicker and more exciting.

The MLB will also increase the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This adjustment should lead to fewer injuries and more stolen bases.

With bigger bases, the injuries to players as they run to 1st base or slide into 2nd or 3rd base should be less frequent. Bigger bases also mean that the distance between bases is less, so there should be more attempted and successful stolen base attempts.

Embed from Getty Images

This adjustment can only be beneficial to the players and fans of baseball and is another great change made by the league.

The final modification made is the new limits enforced on the shift. Teams will now need four infielders, with two on each side of 2nd base. Teams can add additional infielders by moving outfielders to the infield, but they must have four players within the outer boundary of the infield and two on each side of 2nd base.

Whether or not the league should enforce limits on the shift or not has been one of the most polarizing debates in recent years. However, implementing a limit on the shift allows for pull hitters to be better.

Embed from Getty Images

Being able to hit everywhere on the field is a special skill that makes some hitters special. This change is bad for the league as it encourages players to not work on the craft of hitting everywhere on the field and lowers the skill level of the league.

However, implementing these restrictions on the shift should lead to more hits, making the game even more exciting.

The three revisions by the MLB will make the league more exciting and safer and generally good for the league. While implementing restrictions to the shift will reduce the consequences of being a pull hitter and lowers the skill level of the league, the other changes are significant for the league as they make the games shorter, safer, and more exciting.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Predicting the outcome of the 2022 World Series

We would love to hope that the 2022 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies will be entertaining. However, it is clear who the favored team is.

Embed from Getty Images

This isn’t the first time the Astros have been in this position. In fact, they’ve been in the World Series for 3 of the last 4 years. The Astros clearly have the experience and are seeking revenge after losing the last two that they were in. With that being said, I got the Astros in 5.

To back up my prediction, the Astros are coming into the World Series extremely hot after going 7-0 in the previous series. They swept the Al East division-winning Yankees and also swept the Mariners. The Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card series 2-0, beat the Braves in a 4-game series, 3-1, and beat the Padres in a 5-game series 4-1. The Phillies haven’t stopped playing since the start of the playoffs, and that can be a good thing. They are coming in fresh and ready to play. The Phillies won it all in 2008 and look to add their 4th franchise World Series title.

Embed from Getty Images

Other than the Astros having the advantage because they’ve been here before, they have been on fire. In general, the Astros are a big rally team, and when they’re hot, they stay hot. The Astros have many hot postseason batters coming into the series, with Yuli Gurriel leading the team in batting average with .367. Astros’ possible Rookie of the Year and ALCS MVP Jeremy Pena has been on fire lately, batting .303, and he has also been outstanding in the field. Nearly the whole Astros lineup is hitting well, while the Phillies are a little less consistent.

The Phillies have been really fun to watch this postseason with a lot of big and clutch plays. They’ve hit 16 home runs total, with Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper having a combined 10 home runs. Although that is impressive, you can’t rely on clutch and well-timed home runs to win a World Series. Bryce Harper had been extremely impressive this postseason, batting .419 and winning the NLCS MVP. Harper is really the only hot/consistent bat in the lineup right now. Hoskins has been hitting a lot of home runs but is only 8-44. Kyle Schwarber has hit a few towering shots but is only batting .200.

Embed from Getty Images

Overall the Astros are just a more experienced, consistent hitting team. I would be surprised if the Phillies pulled this one out, especially with their limited pitching. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have really only been their dominant pitching this postseason, so if they want to win, other guys will have to step up big-time.

Tyler Martin is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

As the Fall Classic begins, which team has the upper hand?

Embed from Getty Images

The World Series is set, featuring the Phillies from the National League and the Astros from the American League. Both teams handled their opponents with ease. The Astros pitching dominated the Yankees, who hit the most home runs this year. The bullpen has posted a 0.82 ERA in the postseason, an astonishing number. This Astros team has been one of the best in postseason history and seems unstoppable. However, the Phillies will be a challenge for them.

The Fightin’ Phils nearly missed out on the playoffs with a poor finish to the regular season. The team right behind them, the Brewers, somehow played worse. They miraculously beat the Cardinals in Game 1 of the Wildcard from an unusual collapse by closer Ryan Helsley. This is all they needed to spark their momentum. They swept the Cardinals and won a gritty series against the defending champions. In the NLCS, they were challenged by the Padres, who were also hot. The Padres bats were hot, but 1B Rhys Hoskins and RF Bryce Harper showed up, combining for 6 homers.

Embed from Getty Images

Game 1 Prediction

The Astros are currently favored, but that doesn’t mean that the Phillies can’t make noise. Game 1 will take place on Friday at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros. On the mound for the Astros is AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander. At 38, Verlander has had a record season, putting up a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts. He had a rough outing against the Mariners but is expected to bounce back. The Phillies starter Zach Wheeler has also had a solid season. Wheeler has established himself as the Phillies ace, posting a 2.82 ERA and 163 strikeouts.

While the Astros have the better starting pitching, the Phillies bullpen edges the Astros bullpen. Relievers Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado broke out this year and have continued their success recently. Overall, the pitching is pretty even. It comes down to how the bats perform. While the Astros bats were better in the regular season, the Phillies bats have dominated the postseason. I expect multiple bombs this game considering we have two of the best home run-hitting teams in the league.

Game 1 will be close, but I think the Phillies will continue their hitting success against Verlander and win, 6-4 Phillies, with the player of the game being Bryce Harper.

Embed from Getty Images

Impact player of the Series: Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins has had elite power in the postseason, cranking 5 homers and 11 RBI, but he is also hitting .182. When Hoskins is hot, he’s one of the best hitters in the league, but when he’s cold, he looks lost. Rhys will need better plate discipline, as well as timing his swing right. If he does those two, then we’re looking at Albert Pujols. If he doesn’t, we’re looking at a slumping Chris Davis. Rhys’ performance will significantly influence this series, making him the top-impact player for the Phillies.

Daniel Hurson is a freshman contributor to The Quill.

What’s in store for the Orioles this offseason?

Embed from Getty Images

The MLB Playoffs are in full effect, but the Orioles are not involved. The Orioles surprised many this year, going from an abysmal 52-110 record in 2021, to 83-79 in 2022. General Manager Mike Elias has the team going down the rebuilding route, but they seem ahead of schedule. Many top prospects have been called up, such as SS Gunnar Henderson and C Adley Rutschman. The rookies have become an essential part of the lineup, and a huge reason why the O’s have had recent success. The front office made some sneaky good pickups last offseason, like SS Jorge Mateo and SP Jordan Lyles. Both players were snagged on cheap deals and have been very productive down the stretch.

The O’s came alive during a 10-game winning streak in July, and have been consistently winning since. Unfortunately, the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rays also kept winning, which made the playoff race challenging. Making the playoffs would have been nice, but finishing with a winning record is a huge success. Elias has said he wants to spend in the offseason, but who could he pick up? There are some big names on the market, like Dodgers speedster Trea Turner and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, but they will likely head elsewhere. The O’s have never been a big spending team, but I expect them to make small additions to improve the team.

Embed from Getty Images

The main focus should be a backup catcher. Starter Adley Rutschman can’t catch every day, and his backup Robinson Chirinos is 38 and on the verge of retirement. Current Rangers catcher Kevin Plawecki would be great for the role. Plawecki provides solid defense, as well as an average bat. The O’s have not had a serviceable backup catcher since Caleb Joseph, who left the team in 2018. Having a backup catcher would be crucial to winning games when Adley needs rest.

Embed from Getty Images

The next concern has to be pitching. Top prospect Grayson Rodriguez is expected to be added to a rotation that overachieved this season. Rodriguez seems to be the long-term ace, but they need an ace now. Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells had solid seasons, but they weren’t consistent. 2022 ace Jordan Lyles will enter free agency and is not expected to return to the team. The pitcher market features some big names, like 3x Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, and Giants All-Star Carlos Rodón. Those two aren’t impossible to acquire, but it will be tough. My choice among the many solid pitchers in free agency would be Michael Wacha of the Red Sox. Wacha has a decent ERA at 3.06, and has been reliable this year, pitching 123.1 innings. Sure, it’s not a flashy signing, but it will get the job done.

Embed from Getty Images

It all depends on what Elias wants to do. He could spend big, or stay conservative. Prospects are what this organization is centered around, not free agents or veterans. The O’s are infamous for trading away big players for prospects yearly. These risky trades often don’t work out, but they have before. So let’s say the Orioles have one of these in the offseason. Who gets traded? The answer should be Austin Hays. While Hays is a great fielder and hitter, the O’s outfield is overloaded, and Hays has been slumping. A new change of scenery would be great for his career. OF Colton Cowser will likely take his spot anyway. It just doesn’t make sense to have a player like Hays on the bench. Hopefully, the front office makes decent decisions that can improve the team, and not hurt it like in past years.

Daniel Hurson is a freshman contributor for The Quill. This is his first published piece.

Predicting the NBA Eastern Conference standings

The 2022 offseason saw many teams in the NBA Eastern Conference improve significantly. Most of the teams were actively looking to upgrade different spots on their teams. Many high-level free agents resigned with their current teams on big contracts. Zach LaVine was one of the most notable players to stay in his city, signing a new 5-year contract to commit his future to the Chicago Bulls. Another player loyal to his city was Darius Garland, who signed a multi-year contract extension in Cleveland to stay with the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the months after the free agency frenzy involved a lot of trades; the most notable one occurred on September 1, 2022, when the Jazz sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. Incredible talent and many good teams make this conference challenging to predict. 

1: Boston Celtics (Prediction: 54-28) 

Coming in as the No. 1 seed, we have the Boston Celtics, who come into this season as the defending Eastern Conference Champions. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart headline the talent returning to a team who lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals. They also traded for 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to add some crucial depth they missed last season. A big blow is Danilo Gallinari, another notable acquisition that is unfortunately out for the season with a torn ACL. Although it’s a challenge, Boston has high-level talent at every position. Second-year coach Ime Udoka can lead this team to great things, as proved by his ability to take Boston to the finals last season. He’s the right coach for the city of Boston and for this Celtics team. It won’t surprise me if the Celtics get off to a really good start. They’ll be the No. 1 seed, but I don’t think they’ll get out of a loaded Eastern Conference. 

2: Cleveland Cavaliers (52-30)

Next, we visit Cleveland, where the Cavaliers currently have one of the best young cores in the NBA. Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen are returning to a team who lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In tournament last season. When you add a player of Donovan Mitchell’s caliber into the fold, you’re in an even better spot than before, and the expectations are only getting higher. Mobley and Allen showed massive potential in the front court last season and could be one of the best front-court duos in the NBA in the next five seasons. Both of those guys need to increase their production this season, especially Allen, who is in the second season of a 5 year $100m contract extension. Mitchell joins Garland in a suddenly loaded backcourt, and the Cavs could potentially have four starters in the All-Star game in Utah in February 2023. This Cavs team is loaded but isn’t experienced enough to win the East. 

3: Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)

It wouldn’t shock me if the Bucks and the Cavs swapped places in the standings at the end of the season. The Bucks are coming off a disappointing exit in the second round at the hands of the Celtics. This is a big season for head coach Mike Budenholzer. While he won a championship in 2021, he needs to go far into the playoffs, or he could lose his job. Milwaukee’s veteran core, which isn’t getting younger, is in a prime position to contend. Jrue Holiday, who was a difference maker in the Finals against the Suns and has played a considerable role since coming to Milwaukee, turned 32 years old in June. Khris Middleton, who missed the entire second-round series against the Celtics with an MCL sprain in his knee, is 31 and is coming off surgery on his left wrist in July. Time is running out, and if Giannis Antetokounmpo, who turns 28 in early December, wants to win a ring, this is the year. The Bucks need to go far, and they will go far because their experience will be crucial in the later rounds. 

4: Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)

In Philadelphia, the vibes are good. PJ Tucker was the most notable free agency signing as he signed a 3-year $32m contract on the first day of free agency. They also signed Danuel House, who was notably kicked out of the 2020 NBA Bubble for multiple hours having a guest in his hotel room. Daryl Morey executed an excellent draft night trade as he traded the 23rd pick in the draft and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton, who had a significant impact off the bench for the Grizzlies last season. Joel Embiid has to stay healthy if the Sixers want to go far. Embiid, a dominating force in the previous season, came up big in some playoff games, although he struggled with injuries. If this sixers team doesn’t make it out of the second round, I think it’ll spell the end for Doc Rivers. As a Sixers fan myself, I have been very critical of his decisions in recent years, and most recently, he left Embiid in a lopsided elimination game for too long. Embiid suffered a mild concussion and a right orbital fracture against the Raptors in the series-clinching Game 6 and wasn’t 100% in the next series against the Heat. I sense that in the offseason, the Sixers will be looking for a new head coach. 

5: Miami Heat (51-31)

The Heat are among the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. I could see them challenging the Cavs for second place this season and maybe even challenging Boston for the regular season title. Tyler Herro will be eager to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven will all hope to prove they can build on last season. In terms of developing talent, Miami is among the best teams in the NBA. It’s easy to see why Erik Spoelstra has won multiple Coach of the Year awards. I think Miami will take a step back because of the talent in the East, but they’ll be fighting for first place until the end of the season. 

6: Atlanta Hawks (49-33)

This Hawks team has turned a corner under Nate McMillan. When he was hired as the interim coach, I was unconvinced he could bring the best out of a young core that included Trae Young and John Collins. However, the Hawks roared back, going 27-11 in their last 38 games and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They took a step back last season as they went 43-39 and were bounced in the first round by Miami. Dejounte Murray takes an already good backcourt to another level. The expectations will be high in the ATL, but with the talented teams in the East, it’s going to be hard to get the top seed in the conference. 

7: Brooklyn Nets (47-35)

This Nets team is an utter mess. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are scary for other groups to go against because of their scoring abilities, they don’t play well together and don’t play a lick of defense. The Nets traded for Ben Simmons but didn’t play a game and were a spectator as the Nets embarrassed themselves last season by being the only team in the NBA to get swept out of the playoffs after losing to Boston in the first round. The Kevin Durant trade request shocked the basketball world, but he decided to stay in Brooklyn after months of trade rumors which refused to die down until he decided to stay. I still don’t know why Steve Nash is employed by the Nets. The man refuses to coach and doesn’t hold players accountable, and his team was swept out of the playoffs embarrassingly. It’s going to be a long season in Brooklyn. 

8: Charlotte Hornets (43-39)

It’s been an offseason of turbulence in Charlotte. First, James Borrego was fired after another disappointing season ended with another loss in the opening round of the Play-In Tournament. Then, they thought they had hired Kenny Atkinson off of Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State to try and turn them around, only for Atkinson to back out of the agreement and remain in the Bay Area. And in the most stunning development outside of free agency, starting forward Miles Bridges, who was eligible for a contract extension, was arrested in Los Angeles this summer on charges of domestic violence. They rehired Steve Clifford to be their head coach, which I still don’t understand. He’ll keep them in these play-in spots but not any higher. 

9: Washington Wizards (42-40)

After a disappointing end to the season, this Wizards team needs to find out who they really are. We praised him at the start of the season when the Wiz were flying high, but Wes Unseld Jr. has a lot to learn. He made several bad substitutions last season and didn’t call timeouts promptly. Bradley Beal returns to headline a young team that has potential. Daniel Gafford needs to prove that he can produce consistently in a conference loaded with talented bigs. The wizards could sneak into the last Play-In Spot. 

10: Chicago Bulls (41-41)

The Bulls have a significant problem. They can’t beat good teams and lost in five games to the Bucks. Granted, Billy Donovan is a good coach, but Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan can only do so much, and I still don’t know if Lonzo Ball will be at 100% after a knee injury ended his season. The Bulls went from first in the East to sixth in the span of a couple months, and they could struggle after missing out on big pieces like Rudy Gobert. Most of last year’s team is back, but they’ll run into a lot of obstacles along the way, and if LaVine or DeRozan gets hurt, they’re in trouble. 

Regarding who will be eliminated in the Play-In tournament, I think the Wizards and Bulls could miss the playoffs after the PlayIn Games. The Net’s scoring ability and the Hornets getting more experienced will be major factors. 

The Pacers, Pistons, Magic, and Knicks will all struggle. The Pistons and Magic have drafted well the last couple of years, so they could be positioned to make a lot of noise in the future. The Knicks are mediocre after a surprising fourth-place finish in 2020/21. The Eastern Conference has the chance to be really, really tough and competitive. We’ll see what happens on October 18.

HARRY KENNEDY IS A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE MULTIMEDIA JOURNALISM CLASS

Are the Ravens cursed?

Embed from Getty Images

In the final preseason game of the year, Poe, the Ravens mascot, got injured in a mascots versus kids game. Following a season plagued by injuries, an injury to the team’s mascot can be seen as a bad omen. Is this a bad omen for the Ravens? Will the Ravens be cursed by injuries once again? Or am I just a crazy kid reading too far into the injury of someone wearing a costume?

Last season, the Ravens dealt with an absurd amount of injuries to essential pieces. Before the season started, the Ravens lost their top 3 Running Backs, former All-Pro Cornerback Marcus Peters, rookie Wide Receiver RaShod Bateman, Offensive Guard Tyre Phillips, and starting Defensive End Derek Wolffe. A solid running back group quickly turned into a trio of misfit free agents and a practice squad player. The Receiving corps and cornerback group were weakened after losing top guys, and all the pressure fell onto Hollywood Brown and Marlon Humphrey, respectively.

However, these preseason injuries were only the beginning of the madness. By week 18, Superstar Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Star Offensive Tackle Ronnie Stanley, Rookie Edge Rusher Odafe Oweh, linebacker LJ Fort, cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett, and safety DeShon Elliot had all joined the list of injured players.

Embed from Getty Images

Many believe that Baltimore would have been a playoff, or even a Superbowl contender with a healthy roster last season. In the 3 years before last season, the Ravens made the playoffs with relatively healthy rosters, and the Ravens had only gotten better. Only the absurd amount of injuries the Ravens suffered could deter such a talented team from making a playoff run. 

What is odd about the number of injuries the Ravens dealt with last season is that they have had the same head strength and conditioning coach for 7 years and haven’t had too many injury issues in the years before last year. In 2020, the Ravens didn’t deal with many injuries despite quarantine taking away their ability to train the way they usually do. Yet, with every passing week, more and more Ravens continued to get injured, and more and more backups were forced into starting roles.

Embed from Getty Images

After such a disappointing season, Ravens fans can only hope that the team is not cursed with injuries. In the offseason, the front office sought to address this issue and bring in more depth. The Ravens bolstered their offensive line by signing Right Tackle Morgan Moses and drafting Center Tyler Linderbaum and Tackle Daniel Faalele. They also signed Safety Marcus Williams, Cornerback Kyle Fuller (injured Week 1 and out for the season), and drafted Safety Kyle Hamilton and Cornerback Pepe Williams to strengthen the secondary.

With multiple starters already out due to injury and the injury to the team’s mascot, it appears as if the Ravens may be cursed. Were the Ravens just cursed last season? Is the injury to Poe a sign of another injury-plagued season? The Ravens are set to be playoff contenders again as long as they stay healthy, so the only question now is whether or not they will remain healthy.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the multimedia journalism class.