In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matt Bowker, asks our panel of experts three questions: Who is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, what has been the biggest surprise of the MLB season so far and should the Redskins give up on RGIII and draft a quarterback?
1. Who is your pick to win the Stanley Cup?
Chris: My pick to win the Stanley Cup is the New York Rangers. The key to winning any hockey game, especially the Stanley Cup, is whether or not you have had Wayne Gretzky play for your team or not. Well guess what, friends? Wayne Gretzky used to play for the New York Rangers. He played with the squad for three years, scored 57 goals and had a sweet head of lettuce in The Big Apple. Partner all of that up with a New York Rangers team that had the best record in the National Hockey League, and you have yourself a recipe for success. The lean, mean, swedish goaltending machine Henrik Lundqvist will lead the blue shirts to a title.
Josh: My pick to win the Stanley Cup is the New York Rangers. The Rangers have one of the deepest rosters of any team in the playoffs, and they play in front of one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. During the regular season, the Rangers were the only team in the League to be top-three in both goals-for (most) and goals-against (fewest). After making it to the Finals last post-season, the Rangers made some major improvements to the team. Defenseman Keith Yandle is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league, and Kevin Hayes has shown himself to be very effective in his rookie season. Hayes had four goals and 13 points in the last 13 games of the season. This team is built to go deep and possibly bring a parade back to the Big Apple.
Otto: I think the Stanley Cup this year is about stopping the Rangers. I believe that the Tampa Bay Lightning have the ability to beat them in the Eastern conference championship. They are coming into the playoffs really hot and, more importantly, have a very strong offense, having guys like Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov who can score at any time. They have had some success even with some players out due to injury, something that hurt them significantly last year. Once those guys get back to health, they will be even more formidable. The Lightning are also a lock to win at home, having posted the best home record in the entire league.
Josh gets 3 points for mentioning the team’s upgrades. Chris gets 2 points for his analysis of Gretsky’s flow, and Otto also gets 2 points for not picking the Rangers.
2. Which team or player has been the biggest surprise in the MLB so far?
Chris: The biggest surprise for me early on in this MLB season has been the mediocrity of the entire American League West. We all expected the Texas Rangers to be in a down year, but other than that, there is no excuse for the play we’ve seen in what was supposed to be one of the most competitive divisions in the league. The Seattle Mariners’ revamped offense hasn’t produced enough wins early on, and the Oakland A’s are struggling to gel as a team after a busy offseason. In my opinion, this division will be taken by the Los Angeles Angels, and they will be the team to step ahead from the rest thanks to reigning AL MVP Mike Trout. The best part about this division right now? The rebuilding Houston Astros currently sit in first place.
Josh: The The biggest surprise of the MLB season so far is the success of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies finished last season with a 66-96 record but have started this season 7-3. Their success is partly to do with their batting. The Rockies currently have the third-best overall batting percentage in the league, hitting .292, and the player with the second-best batting average in the league, D.J. LeMahieu. Since the beginning of the season, the Rockies have been 6-1 on the road, sweeping both the Brewers and the Giants each in three-away-games series. In those six games, the Rockies outscored their opponent 30-9. If they keep up this strong play, the Rockies could become a force in the NL West.
Otto: Honestly, Alex Rodriguez has really surprised me this season. He has as many runs batted in as he has games played and is leading the Yankees in almost every team batting statistic. While his numbers are really incredible league wide, he has given the Yankees exactly what they needed this season — offense and a leader. He has stepped up in the locker room because of his production, and his teammates are starting to see him differently. No one expected a 39-year-old to have this type of impact, and he has just shown he’s still got something left in the tank. If he continues to lead the offense, others will follow suit and actually give the Yankees some sort of chance.
Otto gets 3 points for remembering A-Rod. Josh gets 2 points for using statistics to back his argument, and Chris gets 1 point for taking the safe bet with Trout.
3. Should the Redskins give up on RGIII and draft a quarterback with the fifth overall pick?
Chris: We’re getting close, but it is not yet time to give up on Robert Griffin III. This is going to be year four of the RGIII project, and quite frankly, the Redskins gave up too much in the trade to acquire the No. 2 overall draft pick. Trading Bobby Griff would mean the move was an absolute failure and that Washington essentially wasted three years of rebuilding. The biggest thing is, there really is no better option at quarterback within the organization, and you are not going to get the quarterback you want at the No. 5 pick. To keep your franchise and fan base from giving up this year, keep Robert Griffin III in the lineup, and let him regain that Heisman magic.
Josh: The Redskins should absolutely not draft a quarterback with the No. 5 pick. Not only would that be giving up on RGIII but also on Kirk Cousins. Also, interestingly enough, their offense is not their biggest issue. Last season, they were just outside the top-10 in terms of passing yards per game. The Redskins were much worse on the other side of the ball. They were tied for 21st in the league in total sacks and, on average, gave up 357 yards and 27.4 points per game. The best option for the Redskins would be Clemson’s OLB/DE Vic Beasley, an incredible athlete and a huge threat on the edge.
Otto: The Redskins should definitely not give on RG3. Not this year. There is no quarterback worth drafting fifth overall that will still be available. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will most likely go one and two, so assuming they do, no other quarterback should even go in the front half of the first round. While Washington has had some issues with Griffin, he still is a young talented quarterback. I think the organization needs to get Griffin healthy and give him another season. He still has potential, and it would be a real waste to reach for someone who is unproven instead of working with someone who the organization knows can perform.
Josh gets 3 points for offering an alternate fit. Chris gets 2 points for not wanting to call the pick a failure yet, and Otto gets 1 point for realizing Griffin’s potential.
Josh wins Around the Dorm 8-6-5.