MLB history and NFL upsets
By Joe Hanretty
As we near the end of September, let’s take a look back at what made this past week so exciting and another look forward to what October will bring. In Major League Baseball, the playoff excitement has been overwhelming. The National Football League (NFL) has eclipsed its fourth week, and the season is well underway. Both the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) continue to prepare for their respective regular seasons.
A recent trend has developed in which Americans look to baseball as an afterthought once the football season starts. This is hard to understand when you have weeks like the one we just experienced. If you missed it, keep reading. Before we get into the teams that made it such a fun week, let me mention Derek Jeter. What a career! What a way to end it at home as well. Since this was his last season as a professional baseball player, it was fitting for him to end it at home in spectacular fashion. In his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium last Thursday night, with a man at second base, in the bottom of the ninth, Jeter stepped up to the plate. On the first pitch he saw from Baltimore Orioles reliever Evan Meek, Jeter delivered with his patented inside-out swing, shooting a single to right field. Antoan Richardson, the runner on second, raced home to cap off one of the most memorable nights in Yankee history. Jeter left as the hero for the last time in New York. Hats off to one of the classiest acts in all of modern baseball.
In the rest of the league, we saw some exciting nights, as multiple teams clinched a spot in the postseason. These teams include the Kansas City Royals, the Detroit Tigers, the Baltimore Orioles, the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels in the American League, while the St. Louis Cardinals, the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants all clinched the National League. Get ready for Thursday. The road to October just got less crowded and a whole lot harder.
In the NFL, we witnessed quite a comeback in Pittsburgh, a blowout in Chicago, revenge in Baltimore and more. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the last 10 seconds of play. The Detroit Lions took full control of the NFC North with a win against the New York Jets. The Green Bay Packers rolled over the Chicago Bears, and quarterback Jay Cutler floundered, turning the ball over twice. Wide receiver Steve Smith led the Baltimore Ravens to a commanding win over the Carolina Panthers. The Houston Texans found a way to win at home against a good Buffalo Bills defense. The Indianapolis Colts continued their impressive stretch as they put up over 40 points for the second straight week. The rest of the league plays past the time this piece is due. My predictions are for the Atlanta Falcons to win, the San Diego Chargers to win, the Philadelphia Eagles to win, New Orleans Saints to win, and for the New England Patriots to oust the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
The NHL season does not start for another two weeks, but the preseason has already begun, and teams are starting to shape up. The preseason is actually very entertaining due to the high amount of scoring. One might be worried about the defensive efforts, but it is nothing to be alarmed about. Coaches are merely putting in players to experiment with the bottom half of their depth charts. Injuries are the bigger concern. We see it happen in every sport and in this case both Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers suffered broken legs last week. These two players are very important for their respective teams. Hopefully the season comes quickly without any more injuries.
The basketball season comes a little later and has been relatively quiet since the end of the FIBA Basketball World Cup two weeks ago. The headlines remain focused on the return of Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose after sitting out almost two seasons and LeBron James’ return home to Cleveland.