Around The Dorm 10/4: MLB, NCAA Basketball and New York Giants

In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, “Ref” Miguel Gonzalez asked our panel of three experts — Grant Playter, Thomas Ballard, and Michael Battista — three questions: Who will be each league’s Rookie of the Year? In light of the recent FBI investigations, is there more corruption occurring in college basketball? After an 0-3 start, can the New York Giants bounce back?

1. Who will be each league’s Rookie of the Year?

Grant: I’m pretty confident that Aaron Judge will be the American League Rookie of the Year award. I’m not just saying that as a ride or die Yankees fan — he’s had an amazing season, not just for a rookie but for any player in the league. He managed to break the record for the most home runs in Yankees home games with 33 thus far this season. The previous holder of this record? Babe fricken Ruth. With 52 home runs in the season, I think Judge has not only earned a spot as Rookie of the Year, he may very well be the reason the Yankees have won 91 games and made it to the postseason. While his .284 batting average isn’t top tier, it’s very solid. Judge makes up for any deficits in efficiency with sheer run volume. Judge’s 128 runs off of 152 hits epitomizes the type of slugger he is, on top of a respectable 114 RBIs. If he isn’t rookie of the year, I’d be shocked.

Tom: The battle over who will be the rookies of the year this season for the National and American Leagues are tight. This year’s class of top grade rookies have shown fans what it means to play baseball. For the National League, I have to give it to the Rockies’ third baseman, Nolan Arenado. Arenado had an amazing season, scoring 37 home runs and 130 RBIs. There’s no surprise that the Rockies had success this season with a 87-73 record, placing third in the National League West. Statistically speaking, Arenado is having similar success this season compared to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Last month, Arenado’s .338 batting average with runners in scoring position has made him the icing on top for the National League race. For the American League, there is no other choice than New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge has obliterated his opponents, raking in 52 home-runs and 114 RBIs. Judge had an amazing record-breaking season and left the rest of the pack trying to keep up.

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Michael: Aaron Judge is winning the American League rookie of the year in a landslide. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Cody Bellinger will take the National League slot. Judge has broken the rookie home run record, won the Home Run Derby and become baseball’s biggest item. The National League race is a bit more tight, but Bellinger has been instrumental in the Dodgers absolute annihilation of the National League West standings. He’s hit more home runs in his debut season than anyone else and played multiple positions when his team has needed him. He’s been adaptable and reliable. It is undeniable that he deserves this honor.

Grant gets 3 points for his Babe Ruth comparison. Tom gets 3 points for suggesting Arenado. Michael gets 2 points for bringing up Bellinger.

2. In light of the recent FBI investigations, is there more corruption occurring in college basketball?

Grant: Of course there’s more corruption going on in college basketball. I can see the argument that the FBI is just being cautious in the wake of the insanity of the latest scandal. When the media gets a hold of these type of investigations, it means the situation has become large enough to pay attention to. You don’t hit the point where universities are setting up fake classes for players to take unless there is widespread systemic corruption in the culture of college basketball. You can pull out a few bad weeds, but unless you get the roots out, more will just pop up. If we really want to address this, we need to impact the culture. We need to stress that as much as helping a player succeed in the NBA helps them, getting them an education is just as paramount. If people don’t believe that, we’ll be seeing this news story frequently for a long time.

Tom: There are always sharks in the water when there is money to be made. I don’t see the sharks leaving anytime soon, even though they have their own blood in the water. According to the NCAA’s website, for the 2011-12 season (the most recent information they have posted), the organization brought in $871.6 million that season. They also had a 14-year agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting to air the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for $10.8 billion. Without a doubt, there is money to be made in college basketball. I don’t think the takedown of figures such as Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person or various Adidas employees are going to stop anything from changing. With coaches, advertisers and the NCAA swallowing large profits on the backs of their players’ skills, perhaps it might be time to look into compensating college athletes for their work to lessen the revenue and the greed.

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Michael: Are you telling me that a sport that doesn’t actually pay its players directly is corrupt? The one with a league net worth of millions to billions of dollars and the one that handles the lives of kids who may be over their head with copious amounts of fame and attention? I’m shocked. Of course I think there’s more corruption in college basketball. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s corruption in other Division I sports. I’m not saying that every team is bad, but because the NCAA has rules limiting what athletes can and can’t do means some will look for ways around it. As a result, some coaches will find ways around it in hopes of recruiting them. I’m not saying there’s a better option right now when it comes to players getting what they think they deserve, but it’s a side-effect of the current system. Money can be a blessing and a curse.

Grant gets 3 points for emphasizing the need for education. Tom gets 3 points for using statistics. Michael gets 2 points for having a genuine opinion.

3. After an 0-3 start, can the New York Giants bounce back?

Grant: Historically, an 0-3 start is not something you want. Since 1981, only five teams who began the season this way managed to make it to the playoffs. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said if they finish 13-3, these first three losses won’t matter and I agree with that mindset. We need to evaluate where the team is now and I think they’ve improved by leaps and bounds since the first two weeks. The game against the Philadelphia Eagles was as close as it was because the Giants recognized the deficiencies in the offensive-line and changed their approach to compensate for it. If quarterback Eli Manning relies on aggressive short passes and gets the ball off, he won’t be sacked like he was in the first two weeks. He has offensive weapons like wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Beckham Jr. While the utter lack of any running game is going to hurt them, especially against teams with strong pass defenses, I think the Giants have developed a strategy that can account for their weaknesses and salvage the season. No one is saying it’s going to be easy, but the Giants have never been the type of team to cruise to a dominating victory. They scrape by as perennial underdogs. There are no bigger underdogs in the NFL with a shot to actually make a dent in the landscape other than the New York Giants.

Tom: The Giants are off to a rough start, but I wouldn’t say their chances are as deflated as a Tom Brady’s football just yet. Their 0-3 record at the end of September looks bad, especially considering so few teams with similar records rarely make it to the playoffs. The “Big Blue” just needs to step back and focus on their strengths. Quarterback Eli Manning is going to pass the ball to running back Paul Perkins and let him carve his way up the field. Manning has to be careful with those downfield throws, but he needs to rely on wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to make sure they end up in the endzone. The Giants also have to pay some attention to their special team plays and make sure that a repeat of kick errors made against the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t happen again. I think that as long as head coach Ben McAdoo and Manning rally the team together, they should have respectable season.

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Michael: The New York Jets have a better record than the Giants. Let that sink in while I go cry in a corner and realize the 2007-08 miracle season will be 10 years old come February. I don’t know if turning it around will happen but the Giants will be victorious at some point between weeks four and six. They’re playing some weak teams that are either struggling or are just plain awful. The Giants have no offensive line and no running game whatsoever. Quarterback Eli Manning is getting old and besides wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who does he have to pass to? Plus, head coach Ben McAdoo throws Eli under the bus for sloppy quarterback play when it’s his staff and play calling that hurts the team. The NFC East is a three team division now, so I’m going to sit back and hope Beckham Jr. turns it around at least for my fantasy team.

Grant gets 3 points for a thorough analysis. Tom gets 2 points for mentioning special team plays. Michael gets 2 points for reminiscing on the 2007-08 Giants.

Grant wins ATD 9-8-6

“No surprises here, I’m as right as a turn signal.”