David Ortiz’s Farewell Tour

Over the past decade, arguably the best slugger in Major League Baseball has resided in Boston. There has been widespread speculation about his alleged steroid use. Reporters have always tried to get under his skin so he will erupt on them. It’s even been rumored that David Ortiz is one of the worst teammates in the league.

David Ortiz

Amidst all the recent changes in Boston, one player has remained constant: David Ortiz.

Put aside the speculation and rumors. It’s time for reporters and all baseball fans to appreciate Red Sox designated hitter/first baseman David Ortiz for what he’s all done in his 19-year career. He resurrected his career when he signed with Boston in 2003. The very next year, Ortiz helped lead the Red Sox back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS over the rival Yankees. They broke the “Curse of the Bambino” by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to win the franchise’s first title since 1918.

Since then, Ortiz has won two more rings with Boston, one in 2007 and the other again over the Cardinals in 2013. But it was what he did in April of 2013 that will stand with me in remembering Big Papi. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Ortiz took the mic to address the fans at Fenway Park:

There was and is no one who cared more about the name on the front of his jersey than David Ortiz. He was the glue guy to Boston’s three World Series titles in a decade span. Dominican-born David Ortiz embodies the entire city of Boston: tough, hard-working, fun-loving, and strong when strength is needed most. Appreciate this guy before he’s gone, baseball fans.

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Wisconsin Basketball’s Roller Coaster Season

Most of the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball seasons that I remember have gone like this: Do well at the start against non-conference foes, stay in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten with a record above .500, make the NCAA Tournament, then bow out to a stronger team in the first or second round. This season has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The season began with a banner-raising at the Kohl Center for last year’s National Runner-Up Team. The night was spoiled by lowly Summit League foe, Western Illinois.

The Badgers continued to struggle in non-conference play. Then, after a win at home over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, their beloved head coach Bo Ryan announced his retirement effective immediately. Assistant Greg Gard took over, and his reign at the top didn’t start well. It was looking like Wisconsin was playing their way out of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid after a 1-4 start to the conference schedule.

Greg Gard

Interim head coach Greg Gard was Bo Ryan’s choice to take over the program

Then things got better. The Badgers ripped off seven straight wins, including ones over  No. 4 Michigan State at home and at then No.2 Maryland. They do have a tough road still ahead with contests at Iowa and Purdue, but Wisconsin has turned their season around. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi is projecting the Badgers anywhere from a 7 through 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If Wisconsin can do well with the remaining schedule and have a respectable showing in the Big Ten Tournament, they could be a dangerous team in March.

Finding Matt Forte’s Next Home

Chicago Bears fans were beside themselves last week when they heard the news that their team did not have plans to re-sign starting running back Matt Forte. The 30-year-old did have some injuries this past season, rushing for a career-low 898 yards in 13 games. That gave younger backs Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey opportunities to showcase their skills.

So now the veteran out of Tulane has to find a new job on a new team. There are a couple of suitors that make perfect sense.

Matt Forte 11. Green Bay Packers

Forte would lose a lot of his fans in Chicago if he went to play for the Green and Gold. The move makes sense for both sides. The veteran back would likely be a backup running back to Eddie Lacy. Where the Packers could utilize Forte’s skills the most is in passing situations out of the backfield. Green Bay calls the most screen passes in the NFL, and his hands are among the best at his position in the league. Plus, seeing him tear his former team apart would be fun.

2. New England Patriots

The Pats have a knack for utilizing multi-dimensional running backs. Dion Lewis became a star with his play before he suffered an ACL tear. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when Tom Brady is handing the ball off and throwing it. Again, Forte wouldn’t carry the load all by himself like he did in Chicago. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is a mastermind when it comes to getting the most out of his weapons. Forte would be a perfect veteran fit for a perennial Super Bowl contender.

Thoughts on the 2016 NBA All-Star Game

In what was Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star Game of his illustrious career, the aging star didn’t take over the spotlight. Instead, Bryant deferred to let guys who idolized him control the game and take most of the shots. Kobe still scored 10, a respectable number. But a few standout performances caught my eye.

Russell Westbrook

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook took MVP honors for the 2nd straight season.

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook proved why he is the best, most complete point guard in the league on Sunday night. His 31 points, eight rebounds, and seven rebounds were the key to the West’s 196-173 win. His play outshined Golden State’s Stephen Curry, not to my surprise.

Paul George

It’s been a long journey back for Paul George after a horrific knee injury in 2014.

The Indiana Pacers are nothing special aside from their young star forward. Paul George’s 41 points tied for second all-time in an All-Star Game. He knocked down nine threes, a highlight of the shooting clinic held Sunday Night inside the Air Canada Center in Toronto. George was the high scorer of the night.

The second-best performance for the Western Conference All-Stars is up for debate. For my money, I would take Anthony Davis. “The Brow” finished with 24 points on an outstanding 12-of-13 shooting. I understand there wasn’t much defense being played out there, but I’m not sure if I could make 12-of-13 from two feet.

 

Marshawn Lynch Hangs ‘Em Up

Marshawn Cleats

This was the picture Marshawn Lynch tweeted out during the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl last night. It was a clear sign that after an injury-riddled 2015 season, the 29-year-old running back is in fact retiring.

Lynch had a 9-year NFL career that rivals that of some of the other running backs already in the Hall of Fame. In fact, his stats are eerily similar to former Houston Oiler great Earl Campbell. His 9,112 yards on a little more than 2,000 carries comes out to a 4.3 yards per rush average. The benchmark for running backs considered to be headed to Canton is typically four. He scored 74 touchdowns, with 51 of them coming with the Seahawks.

Lynch may not be remembered for his on-field actions. Instead, his shy personality and unwillingness to talk to reporters is what he may be remembered for. Nonetheless, the NFL will miss the personality and play of one of the most underrated running backs ever. Peace out, Beast Mode.

Broncos Beat Panthers in Super Bowl 50

For once, the singing performances in the Super Bowl were better than the actual game itself. Lady Gaga’s national anthem made millions richer by going under the line Vegas set in a time of 2:09. Coldplay was joined by Bruno Mars and Beyoncé to entertain during halftime.

Coldplay

Coldplay was the headliner of the Pepsi Halftime Show during Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

The game itself was dominated thoroughly by Denver. They went straight down the field on their first possession and scored. Everybody knew that the Broncos defense would have to step up to knock off the 1-loss Panthers, and they sure did. Linebacker Von Miller was awarded MVP for his five tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton will receive a good amount of criticism for his lackluster performance. The MVP of this season will most likely have more chances to claim his first Super Bowl title. As for Denver’s Peyton Manning, he could go out on top like his owner John Elway did.