Sports

Stone’s Sports Corner: Early MLB takes

We are back after a short break and there is a lot going on this time of year. There’s the NHL playoffs, NBA playoffs – and the start of the MLB season – as well as some NFL off-season signings.

First, let’s get the NFL out of the way. There have been couple of signings and interesting news items to talk about.

Off the top ropes, Cam Newton thinks he can still play in the NFL and said he is better than at least one of the 32 starting QB’s in the league. Sorry Newton, but there is no chance you could be more than a goal line option QB if a team doesn’t want their starter hurt on a QB sneak.

Other than Cam Newton thinking he’s still in 2015, there were a couple signings. Juju Smith-Schuster signed with the Patriots, Jamaal Williams signed with the Saints, James Robinson signed with the Patriots, and Miles Sanders signed with the Panthers just to name a few of the bigger signings.

Possibly the biggest move of the offseason thus far was the Bears trading the number one pick in the draft to the Panthers for DJ Moore and a handful of picks, which included the ninth overall pick this year. This will probably be the biggest move we see unless the Packers and Jets can come to an agreement with the whole Aaron Rodgers situation.

Next let’s jump into the MLB.

The biggest thing that has surprised me is that as I write this, the Tampa Bay Rays currently sit with a 13-0 record giving them the best record in baseball roughly two weeks into the season. I know they are typically a very solid team in a tough AL East division, but undefeated right now surprises me. But it’s baseball, so give it time and I’m sure it will level out.

The MLB has such a long season I want to give my way-too-early MVP picks.

For the AL I have none other than Shohei Ohtani. What this guy does on both sides of the ball is incredible. Whether it’s pitching or hitting he is doing it at an incredible level. In his three starts pitching, he has an ERA of 0.47 and hitting he has a .300 batting average with 3 HR in 40 at bats. Just amazing stuff from him already.

On the NL side, I have a weird feeling, but I think Pete Alonso wins NL MVP. Currently leading the MLB in HRs while having a batting average of .250, the pure power hitter has had a pretty impressive 48 at bats. However, I do think there are some dark horses for the NL MVP because I think it is way more of a toss-up than the AL and wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes out the woodwork and has a career year, like Paul Goldschmidt did last season.

Now onto the NHL.

The NHL regular season is over, and the playoffs are set. Connor McDavid walked away with the scoring title this season with 153 points while also gathering 64 goals on the season. The Bruins posted the best record in NHL history this season.

But the most disappointing part of this season by far for me is this is the first playoffs in 14 years that we won’t get to see Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs. It feels like the end of an era.

This year’s playoffs I feel will be very entertaining. The Bruins were a powerhouse this season but a lot of other teams really shocked me. I thought the New Jersey Devils were going to take a step in the right direction this year, but they ended up taking a leap forward with the third best record in the league.

Now for my playoff predictions. I have a feeling the team making out of the West will be the Edmonton Oilers. They have been arguably the best team in the league over the last two months and have the two most lethal offensive weapons in the league and Ryan Nugent Hopkins, who finally had his breakout season after being a first overall pick nearly 11 years ago. My only

concern for them is their goaltending, but when you have the type of offense they have, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just outscore everyone.

For the East, I have no clue. But for some reason, I feel like whoever wins the first-round matchup of Toronto versus the Tampa Bay is going to be who makes it to the Cup finals. The Leafs looked really good this season and the Lightening; well, they are possibly the best playoff team over the past five years. I’m going to say Toronto finally gets out of the first round and makes a run this year and it will be an all-Canadian Stanley Cup final.

From there, I think McDavid will literally do everything in his power to win so I’m going to say Oilers in 7 games.

Lastly the NBA.

The NBA play-in tournament was interesting to say the least. The Lakers and the Timberwolves ended up winning. The Lakers I’m not too surprised about, but the Timberwolves have been an absolute joke over the last month of the season. They had players get in full fist fights on the bench during a timeout a couple weeks ago. That Rudy Gobert trade doesn’t look too great now, but I mean they are in the playoff so whatever works I guess.

In terms of the playoffs as a whole, I feel the Western conference is so much better than the Eastern conference. The west has five teams I could see making it to the finals but the east I could only see three teams making a run. Maybe four if you count the Cavaliers.

I feel like a team out the West will for sure take home the finals unless one of the studs in the east carry their team all the way.

I like the Suns to take it home this year. The Warrior obviously are a dynasty regardless of what seed they come into playoffs, but the Suns are so star-studded especially with Kevin Durant healthy. I mean he is 20-2 since November when he is on the court, that’s pretty damn good.