In the second round of the Around the Dorm playoffs, the “Ref,” Johnny Sisto, challenges Staff Writer Chris Molicki, Correspondent Bryan Bellanca and Correspondent Kevin Black to answer questions about the next MVP-worthy pitcher in the MLB, the chances the College will be taking home another field hockey National Championship next year, and the likelihood that Allen Iverson plays in the NBA this year.
1. Justin Verlander just won the AL MVP, the first time a pitcher has done so in almost 20 years. Out of all of the pitchers in the majors (other than Verlander), who do you think stands the best chance to win MVP?
CM: Winning the MVP award for a pitcher is incredibly difficult, and you need to be as dominant as Verlander was to even be considered. There are not many pitchers who have the potential to win it, but I would say that Clayton Kershaw stands the best chance. Kershaw led the majors in ERA at 2.28 and had 21 wins, despite the fact that the Dodgers were just over .500 and not a playoff team. His lineup didn’t help him that much, scoring four runs or less in more than half of his starts. With 248 strikeouts and only 54 walks, it shows he was a monster. Kershaw is still very young, and the best may be yet to come. He is oozing with potential and would probably have had identical numbers to Verlander had he been with the Tigers. With Matt Kemp on that team, Los Angeles may be due for the playoffs very soon, so don’t be surprised if we wind up discussing this for Kershaw in a few years.
BB: The pitcher with the best chance to win MVP other than Justin Verlander is Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw won the NL Cy Young award this year even though his team was not near the playoffs. Kershaw had numbers almost identical to Verlander’s this year with the only big difference being the amount of wins. The Dodgers went through a lot with its owners’ divorce and lack of money. But under new ownership, the Dodgers will be able to go out and get a big-time bat to put in the middle of the lineup, which will only help Kershaw win more games, something that a pitcher needs to do to make himself stand out in the MVP race. Kershaw is only 23 years old and is already one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. He had the lowest ERA in the league this past season. As a pitcher, you are often not considered to be in your prime until around 28 or 29, so it is safe to say that Kershaw still has a lot of room to grow — which will be very scary for all major-league batters.
KB: I would have to say it could be Ian Kennedy. He was the driving force in the Diamondbacks’ winning the division and making the playoffs in the same way that Verlander was for the Tigers. Only suffering four losses all season, Kennedy was second in the entire league with 21 wins and 11th in ERA with 2.88 in only his fourth season. He was in a division that had the previous World Series champions, and I believe that pitching has become a huge emphasis in the National League among some pretty good pitchers. Kennedy is on an up-and-coming team in Arizona that doesn’t have many standout names, and if he becomes a solid 20-plus game winner and keeps the same ERA next season, it will be hard to keep him out of the race for a NL MVP Award, which I believe he will one day win.
JS: Three points for everybody. All three answers are valid and the reasons are very similar. Chris and Bryan picked the same pitcher and reasoning and all of the responses involved the pitchers’ young ages and high potential along with the pitcher’s role on an average team. Consider this an early Christmas present.
2. Give me the chances the College’s field hockey team repeats as national champions, on a 0-100 percent scale.
CM: Many people may think that it would be incredibly difficult to repeat, like it is in pro sports. However, there have been six times that a Division III field hockey team has won the championship after winning it the previous year. Twice that has been the College, in 1990 and 1991 and in 1995 and 1996. Another factor that will help the Lions is that the majority of their top players will be returning. Only four of the 26 members of the field hockey team are seniors. The rest will be back to make another National Championship run, especially freshman Erin Waller and junior Kathleen Notos, the goal scorers for the Lions in the National Championship game. That being said, it is still never easy or a sure thing to repeat, but the Lions have all the pieces and are set up nicely to win the title again. Taking all of that into account, I would say there is a 75 percent chance that the field hockey team repeats.
BB: Repeating as champions in any sport is one of the most difficult things to do, but with that said, I do give the College a 40 percent chance of repeating as national champions. Looking at the past Division III field hockey champions since it first became a collegiate sport back in 1981, there have been a few repeats as champions, with the College doing it twice back in the ’90s under the coaching of Sharon Pfluger. So, she is no stranger to coaching a team back to the championship. The College is only graduating four seniors from this year’s championship team, and only one of those seniors finished in the top five on the team in scoring. Granted, the team is losing its starting goaltender from this year, but the most important thing that next year’s team will have is experience. Experience is priceless when trying to win a championship, and since almost the entire team will know the pressures of trying to win, they will know how to handle it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when your head coach has the highest winning percentage of all Division III coaches.
KB: Sixty percent. Granted, winning anything back-to-back in college is difficult to begin with, but I feel this team could find a way to repeat. Most of the core will remain intact since they will be only losing four seniors to graduation. That leaves a ton of the team with championship experience. While they may be a bit younger, they will go into the new season knowing they had one of the top defenses in the country, which gave up only 17 goals the entire season. That averages out to less than a goal a game. It also helps that the team’s top two goal-scorers will be returning. Camille Passucci and Caitlyn Jenkins combined for a total of 31 of the team’s 88 goals, so firepower will be back. They may be young and competition may get better, but you have to like their odds to repeat as national champions.
JS: Bryan gets 3 points for his emphasis on the importance of experienced players. Chris gets 2 points for mentioning that the College has been able to repeat in the past, but to say they have a 75 percent chance of doing it again is a little too optimistic. Kevin gets 1 point because he put too much emphasis on statistics from this season.
3. Allen Iverson is planning a return to the NBA, but what are the chances that anybody actually signs him?
CM: I think there is a good chance Iverson gets signed by an NBA team. His final stint in Memphis got ugly as he was forced to come off the bench, and it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. But this is still Allen Iverson we’re talking about. The man is a scoring machine, averaging 26.7 points in his career. He has also been to the playoffs many times and could use that experience to help a team win a championship. However, the biggest reason why Iverson may get signed is the lockout. Many teams are not going to have a lot of time to prepare for this shortened season and will need to get all hands on deck right away. I think Iverson can provide a spark for a team and help it not lose a step because of the lockout. He can return to a young Philadelphia team and make the Sixers an elite Eastern conference team because of his veteran leadership.
BB: I don’t think anyone will sign Allen Iverson nor do I think anyone should. The guy had to go to Turkey back in 2010 because no one wanted him then, and now, it’s a year and a half later and Iverson hasn’t gotten any younger. His last stint in the NBA was not good at all with Memphis, and he had to go back to Philadelphia, where he still was bad. He blames his poor play on his divorce and his daughter being sick, but the reason for his poor play is his poor attitude and his age. Normally teams bring in veterans as leadership and to mentor the younger players, but bringing in Iverson would do the complete opposite of that, and for that reason I do not believe any team will offer him a contract.
KB: Twenty-five percent chance. The advantages of having a 66-game season (assuming the vote goes through) will give Iverson 16 less games to worry about staying healthy for. That said, I don’t think there is much of a chance of any team signing him, but there is a chance. This is one veteran the Miami Heat will pass on signing. There’s a slim chance someone like Sacramento or Toronto could do it, but it would be mostly for publicity for them, as they will not be in contention for much more than lottery picks and will use it to garner publicity. He is also 36, and going up against younger point guards like Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and others will challenge his body. Most importantly, you have to worry about him practicing. Not the game that he loves and goes out there and dies for. We’re talking about practice.
JS: Bryan gets 3 points for pointing out that no coach would want Iverson to be a role model for his young players. Chris gets 2 points for mentioning how the scramble after the lockout could help his chances of getting signed. Kevin gets 1 point because he felt the need to mention practice.
Bryan wins the second round of the AtD playoffs, 9 – 7 – 5.