August is a crunch month for MLB and NFL players
August is one of the best months of the year when it comes to America's two most popular games. It sets the stage for the Major League pennant races of September and the start of another National Football League season. You have American and Nati...
August is one of the best months of the year when it comes to America's two most popular games.
It sets the stage for the Major League pennant races of September and the start of another National Football League season.
You have American and National League baseball teams putting their best out there if they are anywhere close to a playoff trip. The trading deadline is coming up and you will see a lot of players changing uniforms.
It seems like every year a different baseball team emerges from the pack. Who was not surprised by the Houston Astros over the first half of the season? The Astros have had the same attitude as the Minnesota Twins this season - they are tired of being a doormat. Now it looks like they could end up in the AL playoffs come October.
You have to like the way Dallas Keuchel has pitched. As superstitious as they are, it is a little surprising that more major leaguers are not sporting big beards like Houston's ace. Keuchel has won 12 games and he is well on his way toward 20 victories. Now they have added lefty Scott Kazmir, who recently handcuffed the Twins. Phenom shortstop Carlos Correa has been called up and the 6-4, 20-year-old could end up as the AL's Rookie of the Year.
There are other teams to be watched as well. What the wild card Kansas City Royals did last year was inspire a lot of teams to play harder. Look at the Royals now. They have the best record in the American League. Looking for a glimpse of the clubs who will meet in the 2015 World Series? How about a Missouri World Series with St. Louis and Kansas City keeping it right in the Show Me State? The chances of it happening are not too bad.
On the other hand it could be a duel between the two Los Angeles teams. The Dodgers have something to prove after letting the wild card San Francisco Giants grab the World Series. Why the Angels? That's easy, they have been on fire in July and they have former MVP Mike Trout in the lineup.
Where do the Twins fit into the playoff picture? The Twins are struggling to stay near the .500 mark this month. August is not going to be any walk in the park for Paul Molitor's team. They are slated to play 17 road games in August and the road has been a tough place for the Twins to win this season. One of Minnesota's starting pitchers is going to have to take ahold and play the role of stopper. Ervin Santana might be a candidate for that job and Phil Hughes could also be the right guy. What would probably help the Twins the most would be a good dose of confidence - the kind that comes from winning more than one or two games at a time.
So what do you say about the NFL? It will be nice to see them get back to playing football and not spend all their time making hammering out contracts and stomping out scandals. Since the 2014 season ended back in February it has been nothing but money, talk and practices. August is when it starts getting real for the fans.
We found out in August last year that New England was going one of the top dogs and sure enough, they cashed in and won their fourth Super Bowl. Does New England have enough in the tank for another Super Bowl run?
We are supposed to forget the Seattle Seahawks. They have Super Bowl runner-up history working against them. That is not so easy to do. They still have some great players and they added all-pro tight end Jimmy Graham in the off-season.
So who does that leave? Go ahead and write in your own favorites. Personally, I see Green Bay and Indianapolis making some noise, but it's way too early to give either of them the nod. The Colts loaded their offense up with skill players like Frank Gore and Andre Johnson in the off-season. They already have (Andrew) Luck on their side - a young man who has led the Colts to the playoffs three times in his first three NFL seasons. With Aaron Rodgers running the offense the Packers should be able to score enough points to make up for their failings on defense. Rodgers made a valiant bid to upset Seattle in their own stadium last January. Until the fourth quarter of that game it looked like a Green Bay-New England Super Bowl party.
Sorry Viking fans, it is not likely that the road to the Super Bowl will lead through Minnesota, not yet. Adrian Peterson might be back with a restructured contract but how well will AP perform after missing the biggest part of the 2014 season off for whipping his son? It's easy enough to see the Vikings going 8-8 or even 9-7. If they play beyond that it will be an amazing season that Minny's defense will have the biggest hand in engineering. Mike Zimmer has been picking up the pieces and this fall we will get the chance to see how well they fit together. Call this Minnesota team another work in progress and be happy about it.
It's really no secret that NFL veterans hate the pre-season. All they can really do is get hurt or lose their job. You have these rookies and free agents swarming all over the place like sharks in a feeding frenzy. No one has to tell them to play hard. Unless they were picked in the first couple of rounds they are all in the same boat - a boat without much buoyancy. It is amazing how many lower round draft choices and free agents make a place for themselves in the NFL.
Yep, for them, August is crunch month and they are going to leave it all on the field.