The Cubs have already visited the White House after winning the 2016 World Series. They visited the previous President, Barack Obama, who was not only a sports fan but also had Chicago ties that had a little something to do with how unusually quickly the customary championship trip occurred. Now, the Cubs are getting a second, less formal White House visit to see Donald Trump, and Joe Maddon immediately went on the defensive to claim that this is not a political statement.
Due to some atrocious weather in Fort Worth and Hattiesburg over the weekend, a handful of games were pushed to Monday of this week. As of Monday morning, in fact, three teams yet survived in Fort Worth: Dallas Baptist, Virginia, and hosts TCU were still duking it out for the rights to a super regional berth, with only TCU the sixth overall national seed having no losses.
In the Houston regional, Texas A&M got 8 1/3 innings from starter Stephen Kolek to shut down hosts Houston, 4-3. Mop-up man Cason Sherrod faced just one batter and stone-colded him to send the Aggies through to the super regional round. This is just filthy.
In the Lubbock regional, Sam Houston State went on a tear to win their way into the super regional, thanks to 4 2/3 innings of work by middle reliever Riley Cooper. Starter Seth Ballew got into trouble early and lasted just two innings, but the pen came in behind him to finish the job. Let’s all admire closer Nick Mikolajchak’s leaping celebration on the final strikeout.
Conventional wisdom in the NFL says that you need at least three years to properly judge a draft class. Sure, giving out grades right after the fact is always fun. But there’s a lot to be said for waiting to see the players actually take the field before we can truly see if they pan out or not.
Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg are good starters, but Pugh missed five games with injury and the middle of the line collapsed without him. The right side was a turnstile all year, but the Giants brought back right guard John Jerry and hope that another 2015 draft pick, Bobby Hart, can hold his own at right tackle. They also added free agent signee D.J. Fluker, who can play either right guard or tackle.
With the individual talent up front, there really aren’t many excuses for the line to be as poor as it was last season. A lot of the Giants’ offensive problems can solve themselves if the line just does a better job protecting Manning and opening up holes for Perkins.
With respect to Manning, there’s really not much doubt who the real face of the franchise is here. Odell Beckham Jr. has taken the league by storm since arriving in New York in 2014, and he has a good chance to be this generation’s most iconic athlete. An incredible player and magnetic personality, Beckham is must-see TV.
However, it’s not a one-man show in the Giants’ receiver corps. They have quietly built a strong supporting cast around Beckham. Brandon Marshall was brought in after the New York Jets cut him, and despite some struggles with the Jets’ motley crew of QBs throwing him the ball last year, he can still play at age 33. Sterling Shepard turned in a strong rookie year with eight touchdowns, and with Marshall in town, he can thrive in his more natural slot position. As far as starting receivers go, that’s a pretty good trio of talent the Giants can boast.