Joseph Hanretty, Contributing Writer
Well, it is great to be back! …if you are a fan of one 100 degree weather, that is. Summer has not ended, but nonetheless, the professional sports world has begun to shift toward the fall and winter competitions. Before we look to them, however, let’s take a look back at what took place in the world of sports while we bolstered our resumes and spent some time in the summer sun.
The United States is not necessarily known for an ardent love of the game of soccer in comparison to European and Latino regions. However, when the FIFA World Cup surfaces every four years, support from fans here in the U.S. really astounds. The overwhelming amount of patriotic fervor expressed is exciting and invigorating. This past summer certainly did not disappoint soccer fans in the U.S., and although Germany took home the cup (a move that I predicted back in the spring), the fight to the top was an example of the glory of soccer and its impact around the world.
In the world of hockey, the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup. Other than that, teams filled their summer with conducting their own training camps and signing their draft picks. The preseason begins shortly, while the regular season kicks off in October. Those who are interested should buy tickets for the Oct. 9 game here in Dallas, where the Dallas Stars will face off against the Chicago Blackhawks.
In the world of the NBA, the big offseason deals were brought to fruition by the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James returned to his hometown team and was joined by Kevin Love, who left the brutal winters of Minnesota for milder ones in Cleveland. They are clearly the favorite to come out of the East with the Bulls, who added Pau Gasol this past summer, picked to finish with the No. 2 seed.
The NFL also had some exciting happenings this summer. As we all know, the offseason in the NFL is best known for its suspensions and criminal activity by players. This year, only a few players suffered year-long suspensions due to drug policy violations, namely Josh Gordon (prolific receiver, Cleveland). And sadly, Ray Rice made headlines by assaulting his wife. On the positive side, the preseason is over, and the regular season is nearly upon us, kicking off with the defending champs, the Seahawks, taking on the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, Sept. 4.
Finally, we come to America’s pastime and cherished summer sport: baseball. The following is a roulette version of what has happened this season: Mike Trout continues his reign as a phenomenal player, as he was advertised to be. Billy Beane continues to make crazy trades that might pay off in the postseason. Clayton Kershaw is the epitome of greatness as a starting pitcher. Dee “Flash” Gordon is fast as lightning with 57 steals, in contrast to Billy “the Kid” Hamilton who has a meager 49 steals. There have been three no-hitters this season: two from the Dodgers (Beckett and Kershaw) and one from the Giants (Lincecum). Detroit accomplished the rare feat of scoring a run in every inning of a nine inning game. Yasiel Puig, outfielder for the Dodgers, had a 4-4 night, hitting three triples and doubling on his final at-bat. That’s 14 total bases!
In Chicago, the Cubs power-hitting prospect was brought up to join the club and promptly hit a home run in each of his first three games. Nelson Cruz hit his 34th home run, setting a career-high in that category. This accomplisment comes after a year in which he was suspended for using a PED. It would seem that he proved his doubters wrong. Giancarlo Stanton continues to crush baseballs farther than anyone for the lowly Marlins. And Mike Napoli hit a towering 450-footer at the Blue Jays’ stadium, landing said ball on the fifth deck! The Cubs and Red Sox may not be anywhere near contention at this point, but look out for a surprise next season. Both teams have savvy front office men and young talent coming up to take the league by storm.
Meanwhile, the pennant races are heating up as the Angels have caught up with the Oakland A’s in a first place fist fight. The Seattle Mariners are the surprise team that has climbed the wild card ladder and is now trying to fend off the Detroit Tigers. Speaking of which, the Kansas City Royals, which have languished in a postseason drought, are in first place and look like they belong there.
Continue to watch as the American League takes all of the attention. In the National League, the Brewers, Nationals and Dodgers look to keep their hold on the divisional titles, but the wild card is still there for the taking with the Braves and Pirates neck and neck, fighting for that second spot.
Well, folks, that’s about it for a summer wrap up. Stay tuned for next week’s edition for updates on all your sports-related news!