In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matthew Ajaj, asks our panel of experts three questions: Which MLB team will make the biggest impact this season? Did Aaron Gordon get robbed at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and what is next for Johnny Manziel?
1. With spring training now starting up, which MLB teams do you expect to make some noise this season?
Tom: The Toronto Blue Jays are going to soar high this season! After a strong finish last year, snatching the American League (AL) East division title and making their way to the playoff series for the first time since 1991, the Blue Jays are back and even stronger than before. With a batting order comprised of players such as AL MVP Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnación and Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays’s offense is as solid as it was last season when they topped the MLB in runs, hits and home runs. Pitcher Marcus Stroman, who came back from a nearly season-long hiatus last season after his knee injury, went 4-0 in September starts after his recovery. At only 24, he seems like a pretty stable player for the Blue Jays with enough talent and skills to mess up any offense unfortunate enough to face him.
Sydney: I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the New York Yankees, but I’m afraid Greg Bird’s shoulder surgery might count the team out this season, so I’ll go with the Chicago Cubs I don’t mean to hop on the bandwagon, but this is the Cubs’s most anticipated spring training in years for a reason. There were no guarantees that the Cubs would even make the post-season last year, but they advanced to the National League Championship Series. This year, my money is on the Cubs to make it all the way to the World Series, and perhaps even win their first title since 1908. With powerhouses like Jason Heyward and Joe Maddon at their disposal, I have no doubt the team can pull it off.
Sean: Due to the season’s length, the MLB tends to be one of the harder leagues to predict. The off-season is always eventful, and it is fair to say certain teams will likely make some noise, four of which come to mind: Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals. All four of these teams made big, smart acquisitions and signings during the off-season. Arizona and Boston acquired the two top free agent pitchers, Zack Greinke (Arizona) and David Price (Boston). Chicago traded for the Cincinnati Reds’s Todd Frazier and Washington filled two major roles with Ben Revere and former-rival Daniel Murphy. I think the Washington Nationals will make the most noise this season, though. Not only will these two players have an impact, but their pitching rotation will finally be at 100 percent and be ready to compete with the New York Mets — is that enough noise for you, New York?
Sean gets 3 points for noting the teams’ offseason moves. Tom and Sydney each get 2 points for playing it safe with the Jays and Cubs, respectively.
2. Did Zach LaVine deserve to win the dunk contest, or did Aaron Gordon get robbed?
Tom: Aaron Gordon didn’t get robbed. He got held-up at gunpoint on live television. LaVine and Gordon both had a phenomenal night, but Gordon’s moves had more pizzazz while I felt like I was watching the same LaVine on replay every time. Gordon’s third dunk — picking the ball out of the hands of the Orlando Magic’s mascot while rotating around on a hoverboard — was as comical as it was astonishing. But it was his fourth dunk under the legs and over the mascot that was pure legen — wait for it — dary. LaVine still did pretty well, but his dunks were just dunks, and lacked the creative excitement and flare that Gordon brought to the game. LaVine may have won the contest but Gordon had the best dunk, and that’s all that matters.
Sydney: Gordon was totally robbed. He completely revolutionized the dunk contest right from the get-go with his insane under-the-leg move. LaVine’s moves paled in comparison. And using a mascot on a hoverboard for a perfect 50 points? It was unreal. All of Gordon’s second round dunks were better than LaVine’s and his behind-the-head dunks were quicker and cleaner. Even the announcers sounded more excited to talk about Gordon’s dunks than LaVine’s. I should have been out there to judge and maybe Gordon would have received the credit he deserved.
Sean: LaVine did not deserve to win the dunk contest and Gordon was absolutely robbed. Did I actually watch the dunk contest? Not live, but I did watch social media react to the contest. LaVine triggered quite the response but Gordon made Twitter go INSANE! Gordon’s utilization of the Orlando Magic mascot, not only once, but three times, was phenomenal to say the least, while LaVine lacked creativity and although his dunks took skill, were simple to execute as an NBA player. I mean this with no disrespect to LaVine, but he did not deserve to go “Back to Back” and the only reason he won was LaVine had the crowd on his side from the start, exploiting Drake in Toronto. LaVine knew what he was doing and he played the “Back to Back” card from the start. LaVine walked out to the hit diss track, talked to Drake and he was already the winner. It would not matter what dunks Gordon would put on display because LaVine robbed him from the start.
Tom, Sydney and Sean gave slam dunk takes on this one — Gordon deserved to win that contest. Each gets 3 points.
3. After all of his offseason troubles, what is next for Johnny Manziel?
Tom: The couch. Johnny Manziel seems to be poison for whomever he associated with nowadays. There’s a pretty good chance that Manziel will be let go from his contract come March, and after that, the future seems unclear for 2014’s second overall draft pick. In January of last year, Manziel spent a long time in rehab and last month, with the whole concussion debacle, he also faced with allocations that he struck his ex-girlfriend while threatening to kill both of them. Manziel has a cargo-train worth of luggage, and even a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Texas A&M isn’t worth the bad personal relations that Manziel carries around with him.
Sydney: Jail, if not death. That sounds harsh, but take a moment to compare the cocky football star’s life to what it was just a few years ago. Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2013 and stepped onto the National Football League stage with the Cleveland Browns. It seemed like a promising career and life, but Manziel flopped in his first season, spent some time in rehab for an alcohol abuse problem and now, it appears he has graduated to domestic assault. His inner circle is dwindling. Manziel is done. Even his father said in a statement to Dallas Morning News that he’s not sure Manziel will make it to his 24th birthday. If Manziel doesn’t agree to enter rehab or take some responsibility for the assault charges he is facing, there is no hope left for him.
Sean: If Manziel was not an NFL player, the next place for he would be jail. However, this is the NFL, where domestic violence does not matter. Sure, commercials are run and the league pretends as though they care, but they clearly do not when players like Greg Hardy still have the privilege to play. According to ESPN, the Dallas Police Department now has video of Manziel’s domestic violence complaint. Manziel should receive a Class A misdemeanor assault charge. NFL players do not go to jail, especially the star players. I have not seen any proper discipline. I have only seen encouragement by keeping Manziel in the constant spotlight. Jail should be next for him, but the money will continue to come.
Sydney gets 3 points for noting the danger. Tom checks in with 2 points for examining Johnny’s luggage and Sean gets just 1 point for not considering the Browns’s efforts.
Sydney wins Around the Dorm 8-7-7.