The Chicago Cubs were sluggish in 2017, despite finishing in first place and making it to the NLCS, after winning the World Series vs the Cleveland Indians in 2016. The 2016 Cubs team was very special, they had young players breakout as superstars in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras. These players will look to bounce back and play more smoothly like how they did in 2016. Let’s look at the team predictions for the NL Central division here at The Utility Man!
As we transition to the National League, the East Division is pretty much should be all but wrapped up by the Washington Nationals, considering this division is the weakest in the NL. Let’s take a look at what the NL East division teams’ strengths are and whether they can compete for a playoff spot this season.
Before I go into my predictions for the American League West division, the Houston Astros have one of the best all-around teams that I have seen in a long time. I have already chosen that the Astros as the favorites to win the American West, but with a twist. This division, in my opinion, is the toughest because, after the Astros, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland A’s, the Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers all can make it close with the Astros for first place. Here are my predictions on why I think this division is the toughest.
The next division prediction is the American League Central Division. This division is considered to be the weakest of all divisions at the moment. I believe there is a clear winner for the division title and that is the Cleveland Indians. They have won the AL Central division title since 2016. The Indians are expected to win the title once again. I will explain why the AL Central is the weakest division.
With the season opener for baseball near, the Houston Astros will be gearing up to defend their first ever World Series title. The Los Angeles Dodgers are determined to get back to the World Series and bring back a World Series title back to LA for the first time in 30 years. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees, starting pitcher Yu Darvish of the Chicago Cubs and outfielder J.D. Martinez of the Boston Red Sox will begin their first seasons with their teams respectively. I will be writing articles for each division in each of the two leagues. Let’s start with the American League East Division.
Yesterday the Elite Eight began, and it was pretty amazing. Loyola-Chicago had their way with Kansas State and Michigan fought their way to victory against Florida State. These games were awesome and they got us our first game for next Saturday. Today, Texas Tech, Villanova, Kansas, and Duke will see if they can punch their ticket to the Final Four. I don’t think anybody expected Texas Tech and Chris Beard would get this far, but they have and it’s been pretty crazy. Texas Tech would reach the Final Four for the first time in school history if they win today. Villanova and Jay Wright are trying to get back to the Final Four for the second time in three years. Kansas and Bill Self are trying to reach the Final Four for the first time in six years. Duke and Coach K would be going back to the Final Four for the second time in four years. We all know Villanova, Kansas, and Duke as great basketball schools historically. Will Texas Tech be able to handle their competition today? We will find out soon! Yesterday I was .500 with the two Elite Eight games. I’m back to make a few more predictions, let’s see what happens!!
Thursday and Friday were the Sweet Sixteen games of the NCAA tournament. I went 3-5 out of 8 games with my predictions. On Thursday night, I was 0-4 and on Friday night, I was 3-1. This tournament has been really unpredictable. Teams that have been playing great have fallen, a few juggernauts have fallen also. Anything could happen on any given night. Loyola-Chicago is still on an amazing run that I don’t think anybody expected except for them and Sister Jean. Texas Tech, Florida State, and Kansas State have gotten a little bit farther than I expected. The Elite Eight is up next and I’m here with more predictions for day one of the Elite Eight.
The recent news of Manchester United terminating Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract has sparked debate over the football world. MLS club LA Galaxy has been at the center of discussion regarding Zlatan’s next and possible final destination. The super Swede is now 36 years old and his arrival in Major League Soccer creates a bittersweet atmosphere among the league’s fans. Ibrahimovic has been one of the most entertaining characters in modern football because of his eccentric personality and ability to captivate the world with his athleticism and ability to score goals as he ages. MLS has acquired a superstar that will bring praise and criticism around the league.
Let’s start with the bitter side of the story. MLS has been trying to shake off its status of being a “retirement league” and Zlatan’s arrival will certainly revive the debate. No one can doubt that Zlatan has the ability to take MLS by storm but criticism and speculation towards the league will harm the public opinion. This could also hurt the chances of LA Galaxy providing minutes for a young prospect with the hopes of leading the attack. However, let’s not forget that forwards at LA Galaxy now have the opportunity to learn and develop beside one of the most prolific goal scorers in recent history. Given his colossal ego most would argue that he will bring controversy to the locker room.
Moving on to the bright side lets focus on what he brings to the table and how it will benefit the club and the league. Last season LA Galaxy finished bottom of the western conference and is missing a reliable, confident striker that is capable of scoring and leading the front line. He will also bring healthy competition for the striker role and will bring out the best in young talented forwards. Zlatan has played for the biggest clubs in the world including Ajax, FC Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter and most recently Manchester United. The super swede’s arrival is imminent and controversy, criticism, and excitement are surrounding the move. Will MLS shake its “retirement league” status? Is Zlatan capable of bringing back glory to the LA Galaxy? Let us know over at @TheUtilityMan17!
The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament began this past weekend, and it was wild. Of course, in every NCAA tournament, there are Cinderella teams but this year has been different. There have been more major upsets this year than any other year. We have seen about 9 upsets so far this year. The biggest one so far has to be the (16) UMBC’s win over the top overall seed (1) Virginia. I’m going to go over some of the big upsets that happened this past weekend, and what I expect to happen in the Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight this coming weekend.