In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matthew Ajaj, asks our panel of three experts — Miguel Gonzalez, Connor Smith and Otto Gomez — three questions: What kind of impact will Teddy Bridgewater’s injury have on the Vikings 2016 season and the rest of his own career? Do the Yankees have a chance at the playoffs? Has ESPN become too political for its own good, or is the network’s recent focus on politics appropriate?
1. What kind of impact will Teddy Bridgewater’s injury have on the Vikings 2016 season and the rest of his own career?
Miguel Gonzalez: Despite Bridgewater’s torn ACL injury, the Minnesota Vikings are still capable of defending their title against formidable opponents. Running back Adrian Peterson has been gaining more than 1,000 yards per season. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson looks to become productive again after being absent last season. No need to acquire Michael Vick because that is like putting too much salt on your fries at Eickhoff Hall. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer would not want Vick to make the locker room salty. Quarterbacks are another story. Shaun Hill is at the twilight of his career and Joel Stave did not show much potential during the Viking’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. Nevertheless, Bridgewater is 23 years old and has plenty of promising years ahead of him. I just learned that the Vikings traded of their first and fourth round picks for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Ugh.
Connor Smith: In the wake of Bridgewater’s season-ending injury, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman told reporters, “People are asking for some crazy things.” I guess they got what they asked for. Conventional wisdom says Sam Bradford — who the Eagles already failed to sell before the draft — isn’t worth a first round pick. The Vikings are a different case, however. An aging Adrian Peterson and a relatively open division gives this gamble some credibility. The Vikings think they’re on the verge of winning it all, and I respect that. They’ve built up picks in the 2017 draft, and they likely won’t sacrifice a top 10 pick for Bradford. If Bradford succeeds, it could have disastrous effects on Bridgewater’s legacy. More likely, though, is that Bradford joins Bridgewater on the injured reserve list.
Otto Gomez: The biggest injury storyline going into week one of the NFL season has quickly become Bridgewater’s torn ACL. Fortunately for the Vikings, they were able to secure an average to above average starter in former overall pick Bradford. While I know that referee Ajaj personally dislikes Bradford, the former Eagles quarterback was able to set a franchise record for completion percentage, while his team led the league in drops. Any way you look at it, that’s an incredible statistic. The Vikings are in win-now mode, and Bradford helps the team. For Bridgewater, time will tell what he will be like coming back. A lot of quarterbacks suffer immensely from that type of injury. Hopefully Teddy’s youth will allow for a shorter recovery period and a better career post-injury.
Connor gets 2 points for Bradford’s susceptibility to injury. Otto gets 2 points for that profound statistic. Miguel gets 1 point for thinking Patterson was ever good.
2. Do the New York Yankees have a chance at the playoffs with how they’re playing now?
MG: During the trade deadline, the Yankees looked like Britney Spears at the Video Music Awards with aging players like Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. Afterwards, the team resurged with a young trio from Trenton, N.J.: Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. In August, the Yankees showed promise by beating the Red Sox, Orioles and Royals — all playoff contenders. However, the Yankees playoff dreams will be quite a challenge. The Red Sox have an explosive offense with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mookie Betts. Meanwhile, the Orioles have a strong infield consisting of Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado. If Yogi Berra was still here today, he would have been wearing his signature “It ain’t over till it’s over” hat.
CS: The new-look Yankees are a playoff team. If they began the season with this roster, the Yankees could be in contention for the American League (AL) East. That said, the wild card race is flooded with contenders, and the Yankees were in a hole from the start. Four and a half games are manageable, but there are five teams in between the Yanks and the second wild card. They have a winning pedigree, so I would never count the Yankees out. That said, I’d feel safer siding with the field on this one.
OG: The Yankees have been surprising this summer for a lot of different reasons. Very few expected them to be above .500 with a squad of has-beens and certainly no one expected them to be competitive in the AL wild card race after being strong sellers at the trade deadline and bringing up touted prospects. However, they stand 3.5 games back in the race, needing to overcome two division rivals in the Orioles and Red Sox, and two Central League foes in the Tigers and Astros. This deficit will prove to be insurmountable, mainly because of the lack of consistency coming from New York. The club doesn’t know who will provide offense on a day-to-day basis, especially now that former Trenton Thunder great Gary Sanchez has cooled down. The teams ahead of the Bombers have shown to play well against them and have played better all season. The future remains extremely bright for the New York Yankees, though.
Otto gets 3 points for recognizing the Yankees flaws. Connor and Miguel each get 2 points for acknowledging New York’s tough road ahead.
3. Has ESPN become too political for its own good, or is the network’s recent focus on politics appropriate?
MG: For a network that claims to be about sports, ESPN has certainly been focusing on race and violence. ESPN is overemphasizing the actions of Colin Kaepernick and Caitlyn Jenner. Did these athletes commit domestic abuse like Hope Solo? Or accused of murder like Ray Lewis? Or lie to authority like Ryan Lochte? Athletes such as Kaepernick show how players can be aware of the social-economic and political issues occurring in urban neighborhoods. I have no concern with ESPN showcasing these situations as long as they continue to celebrate the accomplishments of teams like Maine-Endwell winning the U.S.’s first Little League championship or groundbreaking athletes, such as swimmer Simone Manuel. ESPN and ABC News should discuss which issues are appropriate for each other’s news outlets.
CS: The world is too political in general. ESPN is a product of a media that spends hours forcing political beliefs down its viewers’ throats. It amazes me that sports — a form of entertainment that writes itself — is put on the back-burner so we can watch Stephen A. Smith bark his political agenda for hours on end. I could watch “Baseball Tonight” or “30 for 30” documentaries for just as much time, but instead we’re stuck with non-stop coverage of a man’s refusal to stand up. There is a time and a place for politics, but not during game time.
OG: I think that there’s a thin line between sports and politics for a couple different reasons. Sports is so important to our culture that it intertwines with every other aspect of what we see and hear every day. Additionally, sports fans have idolized athletes to the extent that we expect them to think like us fans, when what we really care about is not the person, but their talent on the field. Since they’re more gifted than us, we try to bring them down to our level, making it incredibly easy to criticize them. ESPN does not need to report what the players say as much as they need to report what the players did on the field.
Connor gets 3 points for saying politics is separate. Otto gets 3 points for the fine line. Miguel gets 1 point for not explaining why only certain issues deserve coverage.