Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, New England Patriots, Tom Brady, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nflpa-threatens-legal-action-if-tom-brady-suspension-upheld
Body:

As Tom Brady and the Patriots eagerly await Roger Goodell’s decision on his Deflategate appeal, the NFLPA would plan to take the case to federal court if the suspension remains. While no decision date has been given, it seems likely that one would be given within the next few weeks.

 

Tom Brady ultimately will have the final say if he wants to fight this suspension legally. Any case taken to court would take a lot of time, and any verdict would probably not affect Brady this year. However, Brady would have a right to challenge Goodell’s decision, and it would be a monumental case in the sports world.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 15:26
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/paul-finebaum-says-sec-overrated-network-alabama-ohio-state-auburn
Body:

People say over and over that the SEC is overrated. When Paul Finebaum says it, people tend to take notice.

 

While covering the SEC Media days, the radio host said the "toughest conference in football" is overrated. There's doubt the SEC will even get one team in the College Football Playoff. It's hard to believe that could be the case, but there's also a problem being the toughest conference; you have the toughest competition.

 

Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Mizzou, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, LSU and the rest. That's a scary list of direct competitors.

It's odd hearing it come from Finebaum since he is so heavily involved in the SEC and defending it. On the other hand, without the SEC being as dominant, one could argue Finebaum wouldn't be where he is. 

 

With programs like Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon, and USC coming virtually out of nowhere, what is in store for the SEC in the coming years? The past couple of years proves the SEC can be beaten, and it may not even be that hard.

 

Fans in the South (not to mention ESPN's SEC Network) aren't ready to give up on the conference just yet.

 

Only time will tell if the SEC strikes the same fear in hearts as it once did. 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 14:51
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/john-cena-takes-michael-strahan-worlds-worst-rap-battle-kelly
Body:

Let me start off by apologizing because if you're a real rap fan, you deserve better than this.

 

John Cena was on "Live with Kelly & Michael" and for some odd reason his former "rapping" days were brought up. There are some things that should just never be brought to light again and after watching this clip, you'll understand why.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 13:18
Path: /college-football/sec-media-days-steve-spurrier-forgets-past-shots-arkansas-and-tennessee
Body:

When there is a microphone in front of Steve Spurrier all bets are off and no one is safe from his infamous one-liners. During Day 2 of the SEC Media Days the Ol' Ball Coach singled out Arkansas and Tennessee in a contrast of programs against his while also showing that the South Carolina head coach truly has a short memory.

 

After falling flat on his back side in 2014 with a 7-6 record that followed a preseason AP ranking of No. 9, Spurrier took to the podium on Tuesday to put the Gamecocks’ season into perspective along with two other SEC teams stating, “We were 7-6 — same as Tennessee and the same as Arkansas and I think they’re sort of celebrating big seasons last year.”

 

Spurrier added, “So we were celebrating also. We were doing some cartwheels and high-fiving after that Independence Bowl game (24-21 win over Miami) because it was a year that could have gone real south, and guys hung in there and somehow or another found a way to win the game.”

 

Be it old age or the mantra "once a quarterback always a quarterback," thus having a short memory from one play to the next or in this case one season to the next, but Spurrier’s jabs while somewhat accurate do not take his own history into account. Since taking over the helm at South Carolina, Spurrier has as many 7-6 seasons as he does double-digit win seasons, three of each. This distinction does not include a 7-5 season in 2005, going 8-5 in '06, or a 6-6 finish in 2007.

 

The Gamecocks started the upward trend in 2010, posting a 9-5 mark before reeling off three straight 11-win seasons. Even the 11-win seasons are somewhat tainted from a cartwheel-turning standpoint. In 2011 USC finished 11-2 overall but second in the SEC East behind Georgia, failing to make it to the SEC Championship Game.

 

When the chips were on the table in 2012 Spurrier again fell short, losing back-to-back SEC games, to No. 9 LSU (23-21) and to No. 3 Florida (44-11). Florida and Georgia finished atop the SEC East with an in-conference record of 7-1. South Carolina finished 6-2. The Gamecocks repeated the same scenario in 2013, losing two SEC games. USC lost to No. 11 Georgia 41-30 and unranked Tennessee 23-21 when the Gamecocks were the 11th-ranked team in the nation.

 

Another thing missing from South Carolina that is seemingly plaguing the offensive-minded coach is the play of the defense. One can argue that the three 11-win seasons were largely predicated on Ellis Johnson’s recruiting and defensive schemes. Lorenzo Ward took over the coordinator reigns in 2012 when Johnson left for a one-year turn as head coach at Southern Miss. The recruiting and ability to stop the opposition has been suspect and in decline ever since.

 

Since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC at the same time in 1992 the two programs squared off every year until 2013. During that time period Arkansas enjoyed a 13-9 advantage over the Gamecocks. Since Spurrier took over in Columbia in 2005 he has a losing record against Arkansas, as he is just 4-5 against the SEC West foe.

 

Traditionally Tennessee has owned South Carolina (24 wins, 7 losses), but even the SEC's one-liner king has had his troubles with the roughed-up Volunteers, going an even 5-5 over the past five seasons. To make matters worse, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has taken both matchups over Spurrier; 23-21 in 2013 and 45-42 in '14.

 

The outlook for South Carolina in 2015 is suspect, pushing more towards another 7-6 season instead of 11-2. The Gamecocks have four starters returning on offense and six on defense, a defense that finished ranked No. 92 in the nation in 2014. The same defensive unit that allowed 212.2 rushing yards per game.

 

The schedule is not kind to Spurrier and his squad this season either. South Carolina opens the season against North Carolina in Charlotte, gets a surging Kentucky team at home, goes on the road to face Georgia, and then hosts an always-dangerous UCF team. After the Knights come to town the Gamecocks travel to Missouri, host LSU and Vanderbilt, and then travel to Texas A&M and Tennessee. The final three games see Florida, the Citadel, and Clemson coming to Columbia.

 

If Spurrier can manage a record better than 7-6 in 2015, without a proven quarterback under center, the Old Ball Coach just might do cartwheels up and down Williams-Brice Stadium.

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
SEC Media Days: Steve Spurrier Forgets Past with Shots at Arkansas and Tennessee
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/important-moments-mlb-first-half
Body:

With the first half of the MLB season completed, it's time to take a look back at some of the key moments from the first few months of action. There have been plenty of memorable moments, ranging from impressive feats to scary moments. After the All Star break, the 30 MLB teams will resume play and make their pushes for the postseason. Here's a look at some of the top moments of the season:

 

Kris Bryant debut

After Kris Bryant dominated spring training and looked destined to begin the season in the Major League, the Cubs utilized a sneaky clause in his contract. By sending him to the minors for 12 days, the Cubs are now able to control him for an extra year. The move, seen as strategic and sleazy, was deemed “a bad day in baseball” by the MLB Players Association. It prevents Bryant some of the freedoms he would have had, and it will certainly be discussed in a possible rule change in the offseason going forward.

 

 

 

Bryce Harper three home run game

On May 6th, everything changed for Bryce Harper. In a game against the Miami Marlins, he set the precedent for the rest of his season and perhaps the rest of his career. With his first three at bats, he belted three straight home runs and electrified the home crowd. At the time, the Nationals had been vastly underperforming, but it’s been much different since then. Harper then followed that performance with three home runs in the next two games.
 

 

Chris Sale streak

For eight straight games, Chris Sale struck out at least 10 batters, matching a feat done just once before done in Pedro Martinez’s historic 1999 season. As he lowered his ERA from 4.36 to 2.87 during this streak, he only managed a 3-3 record, due much in part to a lack of run support. Yet, this incredible accomplishment catapulted him to the top pitcher discussion, as he hits the halfway point at 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA.

 

Woman hit at Fenway

As a woman watched the Red Sox host the Athletics along the third base stands, Brett Lawrie came to hit and grounded out as his bat broke. However, pieces of that bat flew into the seats, hitting that woman in the crowd. The scene became traumatic, as the game stopped and everybody grew silent in shock of what had just happened. Fans in attendance are always told to beware of balls and bats, but this was simply an unavoidable event. Yet, perhaps some added safety measures will be added in the near future, such as an extended net. An Athletics' fan just recently filed a lawsuit against the MLB over the issue.

 

Max Scherzer back to back starts, highlighted by hit by pitch

Having signed Max Scherzer to a massive seven year, $210 million contract, it seems that the Nationals are getting plenty of value from him. Scherzer has been dominant all year, but he really grabbed the spotlight on his June 14th and June 20th starts. In the first start, he allowed just one hit in a 16 strikeout shutout. To top that, he pitched a 10 strikeout no-hitter, which was a perfect game until he hit Jose Tabata with two outs in the 9th inning. However, much controversy arose from whether or not he leaned into the pitch or not.



A-rod’s 3000th hit

In arguably the season’s most impressive milestone, Alex Rodriguez homered for his 3000th hit, becoming just the 29th member of this club. But maybe more publicized was A-rod’s desire for the ball. Zack Hample, who has written books about snagging baseballs at games, naturally caught the home run ball. For an extended period of time, the Yankees tried to negotiate with him for the ball, but to no avail. Eventually, Hample traded the ball to the team in exchange for a $150,000 donation to charity and other Yankees’ goodies.



 

Pete Rose bet as a player

On the eve of what looked to be a possible reinstatement or increased role with the MLB, news broke that Pete Rose had indeed allegedly bet on baseball as a player. After having denied that accusation for many years, a damning report seems to prove otherwise. Now it’s believed that he won’t get that chance, as new commissioner Rob Manfred had been willing to meet with him before. The debate may never end.

 

 

Josh Donaldson catch

As Marco Estrada toyed with a perfect game on June 24th, Josh Donaldson did all he could to help out his pitcher. In the top of the 8th, David DeJesus popped a ball up into the stands by the third baseline. However, that didn’t stop Donaldson from leaping three rows deep into the crowd to record a crucial out. The power hitting third baseman showed off his impressive defensive range, as he has established himself as one of the league’s best players this year. The play certainly helped push him into an All Star game starting spot, leading as the AL's highest vote-getter.


 

Pirates last two games

The Cardinals have maintained the league’s best record for some time now, but their last two games of the first half of the season may provide a glimpse into a great division race. The Pirates hold the third best record in the MLB and sit just 2.5 games back in the NL Central after two impressive wins. In their last two games, the Pirates were down in extra innings, only to come back in both and walk off with victories. In the first, fan favorite Andrew McCutchen hit a two run homerun in the 14th inning. In the next game (and last MLB game before the break), Gregory Polanco singled in the winning run as part of a three run 10th.

 

Todd Frazier becomes Hometown Hero in new Derby format

After years of a disappointing Home Run Derby, the MLB revamped the format in hopes to bolster the event's excitement. And it worked perfectly. Moving it to a timed event sped it up and allowed for more swings per batter. The head to head matchups and bonus time created better drama. There was a strong balance of veteran experience and young players. Then Todd Frazier took the title in front of his home crowd. The MLB helped make a perfect ending to a much better Derby.
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/sec-dominates-butkus-award-watch-list-16-players
Body:

Like the many college football awards handed out year after year, over the last decade the SEC has led the way when it comes to ownership of the Butkus Award, which honors the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. Over the last 10 years, Patrick Willis (Ole Miss – 2006), Rolando McClain (Alabama – 2009), and C.J. Mosley (Alabama – 2013) have each represented the SEC as the winner of the prestigious award.

 

If the 2015 preseason Butkus Award watch list is any indication of the odds, a SEC player could be taking home another award at the end of this season.

 

Related: SEC Dominates Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List with 15 Nominees

 

The watch list was released on Tuesday with 16 SEC players among the 51 linebackers that made the cut. Of the Power 5 Conferences the Pac-12 was second with 11, the Big Ten posted eight, the ACC had five, and the Big 12 only had three.

 

The SEC players that are receiving the most preseason hype at linebacker include Reggie Ragland (Alabama), Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd (Georgia), Kentrell Brothers (Missouri), OLB/DE Curt Maggitt (Tennessee), and Antonio Morrison (Florida). Of the group Brothers arguably has the strongest track record, after registering 122 tackles as a junior in 2014.

 

The one SEC player in the group not to sleep on is Arkansas linebacker Brooks Ellis. Ellis is moving from middle linebacker to the weak side this season. Ellis filled in at Mike for two years but despite his 6-foot-2, 237-pound frame, is better suited for the outside. In 2014 Martrell Spaight owned the outside for coordinator Robb Smith's defense, leading the SEC with 128 tackles.

 

The Pac-12 could very easily win the Butkus Award in back-to-back seasons. The criteria for the award are debatable, but last year UCLA Bruins senior linebacker Eric Kendricks took home the trophy after a season that included 145 tackles. The honor rightfully went to a Pac-12 player but one could argue Scooby Wright was the nation’s best linebacker last season. The Arizona Wildcat exploded on the scene with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, and 14 sacks.

 

Should UCLA go back-to-back, Myles Jack, the Bruins' do-everything stud linebacker and part-time running back, is the most likely candidate. Jack had 88 stops last season. His stat line should increase in 2015 with a move from the outside to the inside of UCLA's 3-4 defense.

 

Butkus Award Watch List (SEC players in bold)

 

Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma
Kendall Beckwith, LSU
Zeek Bigger, East Carolina
Joe Bolden, Michigan
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
Richie Brown, Mississippi State

Kelby Brown, Duke
James Burgess, Louisville
De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota
Su'a Cravens, USC
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas
Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
Travis Feeney, Washington
Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Josh Forrest, Kentucky
Kris Frost, Auburn

Darien Harris, Michigan State
Myles Jack, UCLA
Cory James, Colorado State
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss

Peter Kalambayi, Stanford
Raphael Kirby, Miami
Carl Lawson, Auburn
Cory Littleton, Washington
Antonio Longino, Arizona State
Curt Maggitt, Tennessee
Blake Martinez, Stanford
Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
Mason Monheim, Illinois
Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
Antonio Morrison, Florida
Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland
Jared Norris, Utah
Reggie Northup, Florida State
Montese Overton, East Carolina
Joshua Perry, Ohio State
Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
Luke Rhodes, William & Mary
Pete Robertson, Texas Tech
James Ross, Michigan
Anthony Sarao, USC
Michael Scherer, Missouri
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Terrance Smith, Florida State
Eric Striker, Oklahoma
Jason Wittingham, Utah
Scooby Wright III, Arizona

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
SEC Dominates Butkus Award Watch List with 16 Players
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mlb-honors-living-legends-all-star-game
Body:

As the MLB unveiled the Franchise Four for each team, as voted by the fans, they also honored the four best living players of all time. The fans ultimately decided that those players were Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, and Johnny Bench. See reasons below why they earned this title:

 

Aaron, a record 25-time All Star, was atop the MLB all time home run list with a whopping 755 for many years, until Barry Bonds passed him in 2007. The legend holds MLB records in total bases, RBIs, and extra base hits, having both consistency and durablity throughout his long career.

 

Though arthritis cut Koufax’s career short, he dominated over the span of his 12 seasons played, including three Cy Young Awards, three Triple Crowns, and four World Series titles. With a career record of 165-87 and a sub-3 ERA, Koufax’s ability to strike out batters contributed greatly to his success.

 

Most famously known for “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays went to 24 straight All Star Games and won 12 straight Gold Gloves. Arguably the best all-around player in MLB history, his strong defense was supplemented by a bat that powered 660 home runs and over 3000 hits.

 

While a member of the infamous Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, Bench helped lead the team to two straight World Series title amid a career of 14 All Star appearances and 10 Gold Gloves. No other catcher in history has been able to replicate his combination of power and defense, which made him ever so valuable.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:52
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldog-fans-need-focus-present-quarterback-not-future
Body:

It’s less than two months until the start of college football season, arguably the greatest time of year for everyone in the South and most of the rest of the country, and Georgia fans are understandably excited about their football team.

 

Related: Georgia Bulldogs 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

Since Mark Richt took over in 2000, Bulldog faithful have been able to enjoy an unprecedented amount of success — SEC championships in 2002 and ‘05, multiple BCS bowl games, and their team has yet to finish in third place in the East. There have been good years and not so good years but on the whole, Georgia has been pretty good.

 

This season is no different, as Georgia will enter a preseason top-10 pick, the favorite to win the SEC East and is considered a College Football Playoff contender. This team returns freshman stud running back Nick Chubb, who is on the Maxwell Award watch list and will likely be a Heisman Award contender if his team does well. Greyson Lambert, formerly of the University of Virginia, has transferred in and will compete with both Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta for the starting quarterback position. Although the quarterback position may not look like much on paper, these are the guys that are here and will lead this team. What I have a hard time wrapping my head around is why Georgia fans are so quick to fast forward through this season?

 

Which brings me to Jacob Eason. If you have been living under a rock or just don't pay attention to college football recruiting, you may not know who Jacob Eason is. The HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR at Lake Stevens (Wash.) High School is about to start his senior season. Yes, his senior season, which means he hasn't even graduated yet. But if you read any number of Twitter accounts, it's all any diehard Georgia fan wants to talk about. Now, I get it. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound quarterback is rated by many as the No. 1 quarterback in next year’s class. He is big, strong, smart, etc. But can we pump the brakes for just a second on him and every move that he makes?

 

The quarterback position has been somewhat of a headache for Bulldog fans since Aaron Murray departed in 2013. Murray graduated from Georgia and left with career records in passing yards, completions and touchdown passes. His replacement, Hutson Mason didn't have a bad year when you look at his numbers, and, more importantly, while he certainly didn’t win many games on his own, he also didn’t lose any. Georgia finished the 2014 season 10-3 so let’s not act like Mason ran this team into the ground. Ramsey was an Elite 11 finalist but hasn't had the impact many had hoped for. Some think Lambert was just in a bad system in Virginia and will benefit from a better situation in Athens (who wouldn't?).

 

Either way, both guys have the added advantage of Chubb in the backfield, left tackle John Theus anchoring an offensive line that only lost one starter from last year and a defense led by second-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who was able to talk Leonard Floyd into coming back to school instead of going to the NFL. Pruitt's defense is loaded with talent and will have the added advantage of another year in his system. All of this will help either Ramsey or Lambert in what should be a tough year with Georgia having both Alabama and Auburn on the schedule and also has to play in Knoxville. Other than that, the Bulldogs only have three true road games, which should take some pressure off of the quarterback.

 

So what does all this mean? It means Georgia has a chance to have a really great year and no one should be thinking about next year, at least not yet. Eason is coming to Georgia, this we know. He is a great pick up and looks to have all the tools to be a great college quarterback. We live in a world where few people stop and enjoy what's right in front of them. The day of Jacob Eason will come. But he will not in any way, shape or form suit up for Georgia this fall. Stop wasting your time talking about him. Focus on what you do have and that's a really good team with great pieces all around.

 

Now if you could just figure out who will start at quarterback.

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Teaser:
Georgia Bulldog Fans Need to Focus on the Present Quarterback Not the Future
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mike-trout-takes-home-mvp-all-star-game-win
Body:

With the best stars in the MLB all on the field together in the All Star Game, Mike Trout made his case for the top player in the league. In the game's first at bat against Zack Greinke, who hasn’t allowed a run in 35.2 innings, he launched a home run to opposite field. Not only did the blast give the AL a 1-0 lead, but it also was the last remaining piece of Trout’s career All Star Game cycle.

 

Unsurprisingly, the star centerfielder took home MVP honors, with one hit and two runs in three at bats. He now becomes the only player to win back-to-back All Star Game MVP awards and just the fifth to win multiple titles. The 6-3 AL win provides the league home field advantage in the World Series. The home team has won five of the past six World Series, so it certainly plays some important role.


See Mike Trout's leadoff home run below:

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:10
Path: /college-football/top-10-big-ten-non-conference-games-2015
Body:

The College Football Playoff Committee proved the general trend of tougher scheduling last fall. 

 

The Big Ten may not get one team in the Playoff — it could actually end up with two in college football's version of the Final Four. A big reason why that's even possible is Michigan State's non-conference showdown with Oregon.

 

In fact, with five of the best teams in the league facing quality opponents in Week 1, the Big Ten could be a big story just one weekend into the season.

 

There are more than a dozen great non-conference games in the Big Ten in 2015.

 

 AwayHomeDate
1.Sept. 12

Two national title contenders finishing the back half of a home-and-home? Yes, please. The Spartans will be fired up at home and have revenge on their minds after the 46-27 loss in Eugene last fall. The winner will get a huge Playoff notch in its belt in what should be one of the best games of the year regardless of conference.

2.Sept. 5*
The modern Big Ten power and traditional SEC power have only met once in history, a 15-0 Badgers win at home in 1928. The fast track in Arlington, Texas, should help an already superior Alabama team. The Crimson Tide is a 10-point favorite over the Big Red. A win by Wisconsin would rock the college football world right out of the gate.
3.Sept. 7
With revenge on the mind, fans on both sides can bet that Ohio State will be fired up. But Tech boasts one of the best defenses in the nation and they will be at home at night in one of the loudest buildings in college football. Additionally, everyone will probably have to wait until Labor Day night to find out who is starting at QB for Ohio State.
4.Sept. 19
Nebraska's 41-31 win in Lincoln last year broke the all-time series tie (6-5). Both teams should be good enough to make a run in their respective leagues but both head coaches still need a marquee win (for different reasons). Mike Riley needs a statement win in his first month on the job while Al Golden needs to show progress in a big way this fall. However, there is no national title on the line like in many previous Miami-Nebraska bouts.
5.Sept. 3
These two have only met three times with all three games taking place in Ann Arbor. Utah has won two of those meetings, including a 26-10 thumping of the Wolverines last season. On a Thursday night with Jim Harbaugh leading the way, this game should be much more intriguing and could be one of the best matchups of the first weekend.
Related: Big Ten Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
6.Sept. 26
Older fans of both sides will likely remember the first and only meeting between BYU and Michigan. The Cougars won the 1984 Holiday Bowl 24-17 en route to a national championship. The Maize and Blue will be finishing a brutal first month of the Jim Harbaugh era that features two Pac-12 foes and the Taysom Hill-led Cougars.
7.Sept. 3
There are few chances in the non-con this fall for the Big Ten to make a statement, which adds to the intrigue of this season-opening Thursday night tilt in the Twin Cities. TCU will be a top-ranked team and is an 18-point favorite heading to TCF Bank Stadium. The Frogs stomped the Gophers 30-7 in Fort Worth last fall but Minnesota is 1-0 against TCU in its home state — thanks to a win in 1974 in Minneapolis.
8.Sept. 5
The color schemes alone will look amazing on the floor of towering Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. BYU and Nebraska get their seasons started in style in the first-ever meeting of the two national brands. Fans who are unfamiliar with Cougars dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill will learn all about him (if healthy) and Big Red Nation will get their first look at the Mike Riley-led Huskers.
9.Sept. 26
This is sort of an underrated rivalry that has seen 51 different editions. West Virginia has won 27 total and eight of the last nine meetings, including an epic 40-37 victory in College Park last fall. These are two very interesting coaches who know each other very well.
10.Sept. 19
The Panthers and Hawkeyes have played six total times in history and the series is tied 3-3. This includes a 24-20 Iowa win in Pittsburgh last year, spurred by backup quarterback C.J. Beathard's effective passing (7-of-8). He is now the starter and will have to face both rival Iowa State and Pitt in his first three starts of the season.

* - neutral site

 

Best of the Rest:

 

Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12

Stanford at Northwestern, Sept. 5

Northwestern at Duke, Sept. 19

Oregon State at Michigan, Sept. 12

Illinois at North Carolina, Sept. 19

Minnesota at Colorado State, Sept. 12

Washington State at Rutgers, Sept. 12

USF at Maryland, Sept. 19

Purdue at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19

Western Kentucky at Indiana, Sept. 5

Kansas at Rutgers, Sept. 26

Teaser:
Top 10 Big Ten Non-Conference Games of 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/rob-gronkowski-funny-die-hilarious-trailer-gronking-remember-patriots
Body:

We finally get to see A Gronking to Remember in film form.

 

Funny Or Die enlisted the help of Charlotte McKinney to give a visual representation of the book about Rob Gronkowski's escapades. Let's hope this actually gets made into a full-length feature film.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 10:59
Path: /college-football/arkansas-georgia-missouri-lsu-best-running-back-sec
Body:

The SEC has a storied tradition of producing some of the top running backs at the collegiate level year after year. The 2015 season will be no different with Georgia, Missouri, LSU and Arkansas each returning a 1,000-yard rusher. The Razorbacks actually have the distinction of returning a pair.

 

These talented ball carriers include Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Missouri’s Russell Hansbrough, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, and Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins from Arkansas. Each tailback scratched their way to a standout season in 2014 but which is the best heading into 2015?

 

Related: SEC Football 2015 All-Conference Team

 

What makes a great running back? Size, speed, strength, vision and production on the field are good starting points. A product of the system, good or bad, should be taken into consideration along with the surrounding talent. A projection to the next level is not relevant, this is college football.

 

Before going forward lets acknowledge that every contender on the list had to split carries with someone else. Hansbrough with Marcus Murphy, Chubb with Todd Gurley, Fournette with Terrence Magee, and Williams and Collins with one another.

 

Related: SEC Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The Contenders

We have five contenders. Of the five, the returning player with the least amount of yards last season was Fournette. The true freshman had 1,034 yards with 10 touchdowns on the ground. One stat going in his favor, he had the fewest amount of touches among this quintet with 187. Fournette’s yards per carry average of 5.5 ranks third out of the five contenders.

 

The downside, Fournette (6-1, 230) only had seven receptions for 127 yards with no scores. The impressive 18.1 yards per catch average is just that, impressive but also a product of a bad passing attack, which just might hold him back in this respect again in 2015.

 

The fourth running back in terms of yardage gained was Hansbrough. Hansbrough, also the smallest (5-9, 196) pounds, came up with 1,084 yards on 205 totes, finding the end zone 10 times. Outshined by senior teammate Murphy in the passing game, Hansbrough only had 11 receptions for 58 yards with no scores. Murphy had 28 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown, so it's possible Hansbrough could see an uptick in his receiving totals in 2015.

 

One of the more talented backs that just seems to be held back by his own work ethic is Collins. The Razorback carried the ball 204 times for 1,100 yards with 12 touchdowns, but had fumbling issues in 2014. He was a non-factor in the passing game under former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. Chaney would have rather watched the Arkansas punter do his thing on fourth down than throw to a back out of the backfield on third down to keep the chains moving.

 

The second-best rushing total of the 2014 season among our returnees belongs to Williams. Williams and Collins are essentially physical clones, both measuring in at 6-foot tall and around 225 pounds. Where Williams sets himself apart is in determination.

 

The Allen, Texas, native runs hard on every touch, staying on his feet after first contact and slipping easily to the next level of the defense. He had a 5.6 yard per carry average, totaling 1,190 yards rushing with 12 scores. Another victim in the Chaney passing scheme, Williams only had 65 yards receiving on 11 catches but did add two scores to his stat line.

 

The true breakout star in 2014 was Chubb. Although similarly sized (5-10, 220) to his counterparts, the Cedartown, Ga., native plays bigger and stronger than his peers.

 

Chubb was the second-leading rusher in the SEC behind Auburn’s Cameron Artis-Payne, finishing his true freshman campaign with 1,547 yards on 219 carries. Chubb was the top tailback in the SEC in rushing touchdowns with 14 and also chipped in two receiving scores. His 18 catches for 213 yards made him one of the more productive receivers out of the backfield.

 

The one note about Chubb that can work for or against him is how his touches were laid out over the season. Gurley started the season for Georgia but then was suspended for four games before suffering a season-ending injury. In his first five games Chubb only had 35 carries. While most teams are playing FCS schools or lower-tiered FBS programs gearing up for conference games, Georgia suited up against Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt during that tough stretch.

 

In the five conference games he started, Chubb absolutely tore it up, rushing for 143 yards against Missouri, 202 against Arkansas, 156 against Florida, 170 against Kentucky, and 144 against Auburn.

 

The question stands, did Chubb benefit from fresh legs only playing parts of the Bulldogs' first five contests against tough teams? How will he respond in 2015 being “the man” from the opening snap of the season?

 

Positives and Negatives

Of the five contenders only Collins has posted back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Williams came close in 2013 with 900 yards on 150 carries. Hansbrough rushed for 685 yards in 2013 as part of a three-man rotation in the Tigers’ backfield. Chubb and Fournette were true freshmen in 2014, so they have the smallest sample sizes to analyze.

 

Related: College Football's All-Sophomore Team for 2015

 

In 2015 Georgia and Arkansas enter the season with veteran offensive lines. The Razorbacks may have a slight advantage under center with third-year starting quarterback Brandon Allen managing the game. Arkansas also has a new offensive coordinator in Dan Enos, which could mean more and varied types of touches for Collins and Williams, increasing their ending stat lines.

 

Related: College Football's Top 20 Running Back Tandems for 2015

 

LSU has three starters returning on the offensive line but still has a large question mark under center. All teams know our five contenders are going to get the ball and will more than likely see seven to eight men in the box on first down and third-and-short, but until LSU proves it can get the ball downfield Fournette will have to drag more guys across the field to get his yards. Can he hold up?

 

Hansbrough’s season could go either way. Missouri has three offensive linemen returning but lost its four leading receivers. Junior quarterback Maty Mauk is wildly hit or miss. Hansbrough, like Fournette, will be the featured offensive weapon in 2015. Can he hold up to the pounding throughout the season until offensive coordinator Josh Henson finds reliable targets for Mauk in the passing game? Missouri has an easy schedule again in 2015 which should help Hansbrough.

 

Who is the Best?

The most consistent runners are Williams and Collins. Fournette is great but seemingly has a far more daunting task ahead without a quarterback under center, plus he plays in the SEC West. The back with the most to prove is Hansbrough, is he a true No. 1 SEC tailback? The most dynamic all-around back has to be Chubb.

 

SEC Honorable Mention

Jalen Hurd (Tennessee), Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt), Derrick Henry (Alabama), and even in a stretch Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

 

Players to Watch

Kendall Sheffield (Alabama), Damien Harris (Alabama), Kerryon Johnson (Auburn), Derrius Grice (LSU), Jordan Cronkrite (Florida), Jordan Scarlett (Florida), Sony Michel (Georgia), Stanley “Boom” Williams (Kentucky), Brandon Wilds (South Carolina), Kenyan Drake (Alabama), Nick Gibson (Mississippi State), Jaylen Walton (Ole Miss), Tra Carson (Texas A&M), and Jay Bradford (Texas A&M).

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.

Teaser:
Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri or LSU - Who has the Best Running Back in the SEC?
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-players-2015
Body:

Kickoff for the 2015 college football season is just around the corner. With fall camps underway, it won’t be long before teams are officially preparing for the opening week.

 

With the season countdown under 15 days until kickoff, it’s time to take a look at the best 50 players in college football for the upcoming year.

 

Ranking the best 50 players in college football is no easy assignment. Every aspect of a player was weighed in this evaluation: Pro potential, positional importance, college statistics and awards, projections for 2015 and coaching changes or personnel losses.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

Just missed the top 50: Michigan State C Jack Allen, Virginia Tech DE Dadi Nicolas, Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander, Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington, Ohio State OG Pat Elflein, Arkansas TE Hunter Henry, Oklahoma LB Eric Striker, Ohio State S Vonn Bell

 

* Florida State RB Dalvin Cook was removed due to the uncertainty of his status for 2015.

 

College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

 

50. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

In his first full season as a starter, Collins was a force on the interior for the Cornhuskers. He recorded 14 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries in 13 games.

 

49. Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State

Higgins was one of the top players from the Group of 5 ranks last season, catching 96 passes for 1,750 yards and 17 scores. New coaching staff and quarterback could have an impact on his statistics in 2015.

 

48. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Buckner is a physically imposing lineman at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, and the Hawaii native is starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season after recording 81 tackles (13 for a loss), four sacks and one forced fumble.

 

47. Jared Goff, QB, California

Goff had a breakout campaign last season directing coach Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense. In 12 games in 2014, Goff threw for 35 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Here’s a scary thought for the Pac-12: He’s only going to get better in 2015.

 

46. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU

Hill is recovering from a season-ending leg injury sustained in the 35-20 loss to Utah State. When healthy, Hill is one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. Hill threw for 2,938 yards and 19 scores in 2013 and also rushed for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

45. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

300-pound tackle developed into one of the Big 12’s most underrated players last season. Billings recorded 37 stops (11.5 for a loss) and one forced fumble in 2014. The Texas native will team with end Shawn Oakman to form one of the nation’s top defensive lines. 

 

44. Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State

When he’s not tackling trees, Zettel is attacking opposing Big Ten quarterbacks. In 13 games in 2014, Zettel recorded 42 tackles (17 for a loss), eight sacks and three interceptions. The senior was a big reason why Penn State held opponents to just 18.6 points a game last year.

 

43. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

All signs point to Johnson as college football’s breakout star for 2015. Johnson completed 28 of 37 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns in limited action last year.

 

Related: SEC Predictions for 2015

 

42. Duke Williams, WR, Auburn

Williams could easily rank much higher on this list by December. In his first year with the Tigers, he averaged 16.2 yards per catch and grabbed 45 receptions in 10 games. Williams has been in coach Gus Malzahn's doghouse this falll, but he should be the go-to target for quarterback Jeremy Johnson. 

 

41. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Cooper is arguably the top all-purpose threat in college football. He averaged 108.5 total yards per game last season and needs to be South Carolina’s top playmaker once again in 2015.

 

40. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

In addition to setting the FBS single-game rushing record (427 yards), Perine finished 2014 with 1,713 yards and 21 scores as a true freshman. Even with Oklahoma changing offensive schemes and coordinators, Perine and the rushing attack is still a major focal point for the Sooners.

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

39. Su’a Cravens, LB/S, USC

With the high-powered offenses in the Pac-12, having a player with the versatility of Cravens is huge for USC. The hybrid linebacker/safety has recorded 120 stops and seven interceptions in two years with the Trojans. Cravens was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last season.

 

38. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

Hackenberg struggled behind an inconsistent offensive line last season. However, the junior has all of the necessary talent to be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

 

37. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Starting as a true freshman in the SEC at left tackle is no easy assignment, but Robinson anchored the line for Alabama for all 14 games in 2014. The Louisiana native is already one of the top offensive linemen in the nation.

 

Related: College Football's All-Sophomore Team for 2015

 

36. Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

Expect to see plenty of Jackson in 2015. The sophomore will line up on both sides of the ball and is a dynamic threat on special teams. Jackson recorded 49 tackles and caught 10 passes for 138 yards and three scores. He also averaged 29.7 yards per kickoff return and took two for a touchdown.

 

35. Max Tuerk, C, USC

Tuerk is a versatile lineman for USC and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014. Over the last three years, Tuerk has started games at guard, tackle and center. The senior is considered one of the top draft prospects in the trenches for the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

34. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

Conner was the ACC’s Player of the Year last season after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 scores in 13 games. In conference-only matchups, Conner averaged 6.2 yards per carry and posted 16 rushing touchdowns.

 

Related: ACC Predictions for 2015

 

33. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

2015 will be Henry’s time to shine. After working in a backup/No. 2 role to T.J. Yeldon over the last two seasons, Henry will be Alabama’s go-to option. He led the Alabama offense with 990 yards and 11 rushing scores last year.

 

32. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Lee was one of the top freshmen in the nation last season. In 15 starts for Ohio State, he recorded 81 tackles (16.5 for a loss) and 7.5 sacks. Lee was also a key cog in the playoff run, recording two tackles for a loss and two sacks against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

 

31. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

Decker enters 2015 with 29 consecutive starts and is regarded as one of the NFL’s best tackle prospects for 2016. Over the last three games of 2014, the Buckeyes averaged 292.7 rushing yards per game – a clear sign of just how dominant the offensive line can be for Ohio State.

 

Related: College Football's 2015 All-America Team

 

30. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

From walk-on to one of the Big Ten’s top offensive linemen. That’s Conklin’s story entering 2015, as he’s started 26 games over the last two years for the Spartans. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2014 and will be the anchor for Michigan State’s line this season.

 

Related: Big Ten Predictions for 2015

 

29. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Treadwell’s 2014 season was cut short by injury, but all signs point to the junior returning to full strength this fall. After catching 72 passes for 608 yards and five scores as a freshman in 2013, Treadwell grabbed 48 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns last season.

 

28. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh

Boyd has been Pittsburgh’s No. 1 receiver since stepping onto campus in 2014. Over the last two seasons, Boyd has recorded 163 catches for 2,435 yards and 15 touchdown catches. With quarterback Chad Voytik returning, along with new coordinator Jim Chaney calling the plays, Boyd should be a lock for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

 

27. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s defense has to improve if the Fighting Irish want to make a run at a playoff spot in 2014. Smith is one of the impact defenders for coach Brian Kelly, starting all 26 games in his career. In 13 contests last season, Smith recorded 112 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

 

26. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Is Ragland the next first-round pick at linebacker for the Crimson Tide? It’s certainly possible. The senior was steady as the leader for Alabama’s linebacker corps in 2014, recording 95 tackles (10.5 for a loss) and one forced fumble.

 

25. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The No. 2 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite lived up to the hype as a freshman. In 13 games, Garrett recorded 53 tackles (14 for a loss) and 11.5 sacks. He’s only going to get better as a sophomore in 2015.

 

24. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Ogbah was underrated nationally last season, but Big 12 offenses know just how good this junior is for Oklahoma State. The Texas native won the Big 12’s defensive lineman of the year award in 2014 after recording 49 tackles (17 for a loss) and 11 sacks.

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

23. Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor

Drango is the anchor for Baylor’s offensive line, which is one of the best in college football. The senior has 35 career starts and is a first-team Athlon Sports All-American for 2015.

 

22. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Tennessee is a team on the rise entering 2015, and coach Butch Jones is starting to put all of the pieces together to build one of the SEC’s top defenses. Barnett was an impact freshman in 2014, recording 72 tackles (20.5 for a loss) and 10 sacks. The Nashville native was at his best in SEC games, recording all 10 of his sacks in conference action.

 

21. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

With Eric Kendricks off to the NFL, Jack is now the unquestioned leader of UCLA’s defense. And in addition to his production on defense, Jack remains a threat to steal a few carries on offense and continue as a two-way threat. In 13 games last season, Jack recorded 88 tackles and rushed for 113 yards and three scores.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

20. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Calhoun has been a consistent force off the edge for coach Mark Dantonio. After recording only six stops in 2012, Calhoun has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 37 tackles and has 15.5 sacks in that span. The senior is a big reason why Michigan State should have one of the nation’s top defensive lines in 2015.

 

19. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Oakman is physically one of college football’s most impressive players. At 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds, Oakman has all of the tools to be a top selection in next year’s draft. And Oakman’s talent is starting to match his production. In 13 games last season, Oakman recorded 51 tackles, three forced fumbles and 11 sacks.

 

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

 

18. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Even though play-caller Chad Morris left Clemson to be the head coach at SMU, the Tigers hope the offense won’t miss a beat behind Watson. Before suffering a torn ACL against Georgia Tech, Watson threw for 1,466 yards and 14 scores. Assuming Watson stays healthy, he should make a push for All-American honors this year.

 

Related: ACC Predictions for 2015

 

17. Cody Kessler, QB, USC

USC is loaded for a run at the playoffs this year, and if the Trojans are going to reach the top four, they will have to do it on the strength of an offense that averaged 35.8 points per game in 2014. Kessler threw for 3,826 yards and 39 scores in 13 games last season.

 

16. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette might have the most overall talent of any running back in college football. After rushing for 1,034 yards and 10 scores on 187 attempts last year, the sophomore should easily exceed those totals with more opportunities in 2015.

 

15. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Stanley has blossomed into the one of the nation’s top tackle prospects over the last two years. After starting 13 games on the right side in 2013, Stanley shifted to the left tackle spot and started every contest (13) for Notre Dame in 2014. He’s an Athlon Sports All-American for 2015.

 

Related: College Football's 2015 All-America Team

 

14. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

Cook won’t post the monster statistical numbers of some quarterbacks on this list, but the senior has developed into a top NFL prospect and is 23-3 as a starter in East Lansing. Over the last two seasons, Cook has passed for 46 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions.

 

13. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

No running back in college football was performing at a higher level than Elliott at the end of 2014. Elliott delivered in some of Ohio State’s biggest games, including 154 yards against Michigan State, 220 against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, 230 against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and 246 in the national title win over Oregon.

 

12. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

It’s a close call between Chubb and Elliott for the No. 1 spot among running backs on this list. After Todd Gurley was lost to a suspension and ACL tear last season, Chubb kept Georgia’s rushing attack among the best in the SEC. He finished 2014 with 1,547 yards and 14 scores, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.

 

11. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Tunsil is recovering from a leg injury suffered in the Peach Bowl loss against TCU. However, all signs point to Tunsil returning to full strength by the fall. The junior has 20 career starts and earned first-team All-SEC honors last year.

 

Related: The SEC's Top Players Returning from Injury in 2015

 

10. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

Prescott was a big reason why Mississippi State reached double-digit victories for the third time in program history in 2014. In addition to earning first-team All-SEC honors, Prescott threw for 3,449 yards and 27 scores, while rushing for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns.

 

Related: SEC's 2015 All-Conference Team

 

9. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Boykin was one of college football’s most improved players in 2014, and the senior has TCU among the favorites to earn a playoff spot in 2015. Under the guidance of new co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, Boykin led all Big 12 quarterbacks with 3,901 passing yards and 33 scores. He also added 707 yards and eight scores on the ground.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

8. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

Robinson’s contributions to the Alabama defense go beyond the box score. As a nose tackle/end in the Crimson Tide’s 3-4 alignment, the Texas native isn’t going to produce huge numbers in the defensive scheme. However, Robinson anchors one of the nation’s top defenses up front and recorded 49 tackles last season.

 

Related: SEC 2015 Predictions
 

7. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

Nkemdiche helped to anchor the defensive line for the “Landshark” defense, as Ole Miss limited opponents to 16 points a game in 2014. The Georgia native has recorded 69 tackles and four sacks over the last two years and earned first-team All-SEC honors last season.

 

6. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Fuller is a lockdown corner for coordinator Bud Foster and is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2015. The Baltimore native started all 13 games and earned second-team all-conference honors as a true freshman in 2013. Fuller started all 13 games again in 2014 and was a third-team All-American by Athlon Sports. With Brandon Facyson returning, Virginia Tech should have one of the nation’s top cornerback tandems.

 

Related: College Football's Best Cornerback Tandems for 2015

 

5. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Just like Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Hargreaves III has been an impact defender since the first day on campus. The Tampa native started the final 10 games in 2013 and earned All-SEC honors as a true freshman. Hargreaves III elevated his game even higher in 2014, earned Associated Press All-America honors and leading the SEC with 13 pass breakups.

 

Related: SEC 2015 All-Conference Team

 

4. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

Wright wasn’t a huge prospect on the recruiting trail, but the California native has blossomed into one of college football’s best defenders. The 6-foot-1 linebacker started 12 games as a freshman in 2013 and recorded 83 stops. Wright was even more dominant in 2014, posting a whopping 163 tackles (29 for a loss), 14 sacks and six forced fumbles.

 

3. Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

A strong case could be made for Ramsey to rank No. 1 on this list. After a standout debut in 2013 (49 tackles, one interception), the Tennessee native was a versatile and prolific defender for coordinator Charles Kelly. In 14 games, Ramsey recorded 79 stops (9.5 for a loss), three sacks, two interceptions and 12 pass breakups. With the departure of cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, Ramsey is expected to play cornerback in 2015.

 

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

 

2. Cardale Jones/J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Yes, we are cheating just a bit here. Instead of ranking J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones separately, let’s group the duo in one spot. Both players – Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett – are worthy of Heisman consideration if any can start a full season of games. But here’s the big question: Who will coach Urban Meyer pick?

 

Related: College Football's 2015 All-America Team

 

1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Dominant. That’s the best way to describe Bosa’s play for Ohio State over the last two years. As a true freshman in 2013, Bosa recorded 44 tackles (13.5 for a loss) and 7.5 sacks. The Florida native continued to wreak havoc against offensive lines as a sophomore, recording 21 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Bosa’s play in the trenches sets the tone for Ohio State’s defense, and the junior has been projected by some as the top overall draft prospect for 2016.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/brad-kaaya-miami-hurricanes-next-star-quarterback
Body:

Since Ken Dorsey had consecutive top-five Heisman Trophy finishes in 2001 and ‘02, Miami has struggled to find an elite quarterback. Hurricane fans were tantalized at times by the play of Brock Berlin, Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. But in the end, none of those players fully met expectations in large part because they simply did not win enough games.

 

Enter Brad Kaaya.

 

The quarterback from West Hills, Calif., had a tremendous true freshman season, breaking several Miami first-year passing records along the way. He won the job in camp and never let go, throwing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

 

The problem was that Miami still went 6-7. The four losses to end the year, and especially the three defeats that followed the tough Florida State game on Nov. 15, changed everyone’s view on what could have been a nice season. While Kaaya’s numbers in the games following FSU were not great, they weren’t awful either.

 

And there’s the rub. Miami was not able to win the games coming down the stretch when Kaaya was just okay; he needed to be great. It’s a lot to ask one player to shoulder that kind of load and it should be unnecessary when that player is a true freshman on a team that had seven players taken in the latest NFL Draft.

 

This fall, the pressure on Kaaya ramps up even more. Only two other offensive starters return. Four offensive linemen need to be replaced and the leading returning receiver had just 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. The defense also loses a bunch, and new leaders must be found to replace Anthony Chickillo and Denzel Perryman.

 

Related: Miami Hurricanes 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

Clearly, the most accomplished player on the 2015 Hurricanes is the sophomore quarterback. Like seemingly everyone else on the team, Kaaya is young. But make no mistake about it, this is his team. It can’t be anyone else’s.

 

To top it all off, Kaaya is well aware of his coach’s tenuous job situation. Each Miami loss could be the crack that sends Al Golden plummeting through the thin ice on which he currently operates.

 

No one is expecting a whole lot from the Hurricanes this fall. Athlon Sports has them ranked No. 43 entering the season and projects a date with Indiana in the Arizona Bowl. With an inexperienced roster and a tough schedule, 2015 could be a difficult ride for Miami. In total, Kaaya has a ton on his plate entering just his second campaign.

 

What he does have, however, is a great opportunity. The next step is not contending for a national championship; it’s contending in the ACC Coastal Division. If Kaaya puts up good numbers again, develops even more as a leader of the program, and has Miami in a position to make Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech nervous at the end of November, he will have done his job and then some.

 

All of those possibilities will have to be connected for his development to materialize. Kaaya needs to put up the stats for his team to win and the only way he puts up those numbers is to lead the way for the younger offensive unit.

 

When 2015 turns to ‘16, it’s unlikely that Kaaya will be placed alongside Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, and all the other star quarterbacks in Hurricanes’ lore. But he has a chance, with improved play and improved team results, to take a big stride in their direction.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years and his work also has been published on PhilSteele.com.

Teaser:
Is Brad Kaaya the Miami Hurricanes' Next Star Quarterback?
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /overtime/lebron-james-plays-faceketball-jimmy-fallon-cleveland-cavaliers
Body:

Have you ever wanted to throw balls at LeBron James' head? Jimmy Fallon has created just the game for you!

 

On the "Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," James got to play a new game called "Faceketball," and there are no losers when playing this game.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 09:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/frank-beamer-mike-london-enter-2015-dueling-hot-seats
Body:

A change in the weather was brewing across the state of Virginia last November, on Black Friday at Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium. The heat was about to dissipate on Virginia’s Mike London, and be turned up on Tech’s Frank Beamer.

 

With 2:55 left in the annual battle for the Commonwealth Cup, Virginia took a 20–17 lead. The Cavaliers appeared on the verge of beating the Hokies for the first time in a decade, qualifying for a bowl game, and easing the pressure on London.

 

Just two days before, London had received a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage, who announced that the long-embattled coach would be back in 2015, no matter the outcome. To some, it seemed premature. But with the game winding down and Virginia on top, Littlepage looked prescient.

 

A Virginia win wasn’t to be, however. The Hokies moved 75 yards in just three plays to stun the Cavaliers and establish the coaching narratives for the 2015 season, in both Blacksburg and Charlottesville.

 

Tech’s win extended Beamer’s bowl streak to 22 years and quieted some of the growing skepticism about his fitness to continue to lead what he’d built in 28 years with the Hokies. After a victory over Cincinnati in the Military Bowl, athletic director Whit Babcock broke a season-long silence and clarified where things stood with the 68-year-old coach.

 

The bottom line was that Babcock was satisfied with Beamer’s plan for reversing a three-year decline and returning to ACC title contention. As the leader in FBS wins among active coaches, Beamer had earned the right to try to turn things around.

 

“We have high expectations here, and the guy who’s our coach created them,” Babcock told reporters.

 

Buy the 2015 Athlon Sports ACC Football Preview

 

Beamer certainly did, playing for the national title in 1999, winning at least 10 games in every season from 2004-11, and claiming four ACC titles during that stretch. The Hokies are 22–17 the past three seasons, though, and have entered a delicate phase in their aging coach’s tenure. Could an icon have lost his edge? Overstayed his welcome? Babock emphasized that there was “never a day” in the 2014 season when Beamer’s job was in jeopardy. But he and Beamer agree that improvement is needed — and soon.

 

“There were no ultimatums issued, no magic numbers issued,” Babcock says. “I support Coach, and I think we’re going to be a lot better next year.”

 

Littlepage expressed similar sentiments when announcing that London would be back. He said he’d seen signs of progress in “many areas” in 2014.

 

“I trust the plan Mike has in place and believe his leadership provides the best opportunity for Virginia football to be successful in the future,” he said.

 

Clearly, it’s a crucial season for both of the Commonwealth’s ACC coaches. But the similarities end there. Beamer is on firmer ground and seems better positioned to write his own ending. For London, this year is make or break.

 

Babcock says he wanted to see if Beamer was “ready to get back in the saddle and dig” after a wearying up-and-down season. The coach had throat surgery in December, leaving the day-to-day work of bowl preparation to his assistants and coaching the Military Bowl from the press box.

 

Beamer lost his voice for a bit, but not his drive. He said he was back to full strength for spring practice and feeling refreshed.

 

“When you get out there and you’re not a part of it, you kind of start thinking how much you want to be a part of it,” he said in his pre-spring press conference.

 

Last season was humbling and exasperating. At times — like after a 30–6 loss to Miami — Beamer appeared to be campaigning for his job, citing his team’s youth and pointing to brighter days ahead. The same team that beat eventual national champ Ohio State lost six of its next nine, including four out of five at home, and bottomed out in a 6–3 double-overtime defeat at Wake Forest in which the offense scratched out a season-low 254 yards.

 

The Hokies were decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Tailbacks Shai McKenzie and Trey Edmunds went down, as did cornerback Brandon Facyson and defensive tackle Luther Maddy.

 

Still, the defense held up better. An offense that struggled all year took much of the blame. The Hokies ranked 96th in total offense and 98th in turnovers lost and sacks allowed. Quarterback Michael Brewer was inconsistent, the offensive line was often ineffective and big plays were scarce.

 

Third-year offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has promised improvement, saying that this is the season when familiarity should kick in, and a leap forward can happen.

 

With most of last year’s offense back, the Hokies could indeed be better. Beamer is counting on it. Despite last season’s struggles, he called the Military Bowl win one of his proudest moments at Tech, considering the adversity the team faced.

 

As for Beamer’s long-term plans, Babcock says he and the coach have not discussed much beyond 2015. Beamer’s contact runs through 2019, when he’ll be 72.

 

“We’ll know it when we know it,” is all Babock will say about a possible retirement date for Beamer.

 

London hasn’t earned the luxury of leaving on his own terms. After finishes of 4–8, 2–10 and 5–7, his stay on the proverbial hot seat enters its third season. The Cavaliers were 2:55 away from changing the storyline, at least for one offseason. Virginia couldn’t close things out, however, either in the game or the season. A 4–2 start provided hope that a program dogged by inconsistency and meltdowns at inopportune times might have turned a corner. But Virginia went 1–5 in the final six games, and old questions about the Cavaliers’ preparation and London’s game management surfaced again.

 

A late drive in a loss at Duke got mired in miscommunication, with a harried timeout, and then a delay of game penalty. A week later vs. North Carolina, Virginia blew a coverage on a routine pass route, was caught napping on an onside kick, and set up the Tar Heels’ winning field goal with a penalty for having 12 players on the field.

 

The usual distracting chatter followed Virginia into November. Littlepage’s statement didn’t do much to quiet it, and London missed an opportunity in Blacksburg on a frigid Friday night.

 

“I feel very thankful and humble about the fact that I’ll be the head coach of this team next season,” he said prior to spring practice. “You can speak to the players about how they felt. I’m very indebted to President (Teresa) Sullivan and Craig Littlepage, and very respectful of the job that I have to do.”

 

Lauded for his ability to connect with players as a recruiter, London retains the loyalty of the team. When the heat was on last year, many players said they considered him a father figure and were playing to save his job.

 

“He’s a genuine guy,” cornerback Demetrious Nicholson says. “He sticks to his word. His door is always open to talk about anything. He has that great relationship with players that makes you want to play for him.”

 

London’s teams have done well in the classroom and the community. He’s a one-man wave of positivity, always stressing the bigger picture of life and education and rarely letting any pressure he’s feeling show — perhaps because he’s known real pressure outside the gridiron.

 

Before he got into coaching, he worked as a detective in Richmond, Va. One night, a suspect whom London had cornered in an alley after a chase pointed a gun at his head. The man pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t go off.

 

Years later, London donated bone marrow to help save the life of his then-7-year-old daughter, who had a rare blood disorder.

 

That’s not to say he downplays the importance of what happens between the lines.

 

“It’s important that we win football games,” he says. “It’s important that we perform.”

 

Heading into his sixth season overall, and his third with a revamped staff, London insists that the team is on the right path. The administrators who granted him another year did him no favors with the schedule, however. With UCLA, Boise State and Notre Dame on the slate, the challenge is daunting.

 

With significant losses from last year’s team on both sides of the ball, a window may have closed on the best chance to turn things around. And with just two years remaining on his contract, the cost of buying London out won’t be as steep as it’s been the past two years.

 

Nicholson says the players have learned to ignore the chatter about their coach’s uncertain status.

 

“We don’t really worry about whether Coach is getting fired,” he says. “We just focus on our goals at hand and trying to take care of business.”

 

Unless Virginia greatly exceeds expectations, players will have to spend another long season trying to tune out the noise.

 

-by Ed Miller, the Virginian-Pilot

Teaser:
Frank Beamer, Mike London Enter 2015 with Dueling Hot Seats
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /mlb/baltimore-orioles-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Born as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, the franchise moved to St. Louis as the Browns in 1902 and has been in Baltimore since 1954. The only real success has come during the time in Baltimore, where the club has enjoyed 12 postseason appearances with half of them coming from 1966-74. Over 52 seasons in St. Louis, there were only 12 winning seasons and eight painful 100-loss years. I suspect there will be little debate over these selections.

 

Cal Ripken

It could be argued that Ripken may even be on the MLB Mt. Rushmore. Not so much for his performance — although his numbers are clearly Hall of Fame worthy — but for what he meant to the game at a time baseball needed something spectacular. After the labor dispute debacle that wiped out the 1994 postseason, Ripken captivated fans with his tendency to show up and play every day.

 

Brooks Robinson

I can’t imagine a third baseman winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards. While that may not be an acceptable way to measure defensive greatness, it does mean some measure of respect among peers. Robinson could also hit. Brooks finished in the top 3 in MVP voting four times, winning the award in 1964.

 

Jim Palmer

Many women may remember Palmer for his famous Jockey underwear ads, but he was the definition of ace. He won 20 games for the Orioles in eight of nine seasons, missing only an injury-marred 1974 season. He tossed a shutout in the World Series as a 20-year-old facing Sandy Koufax in 1966, and went on to win World Series games in the next two decades.

 

Eddie Murray

He was quiet and steady. For five consecutive seasons from 1981-85, Murray finished in the top 5 for the MVP award, but never won it. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Murray can claim 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 1,900 RBIs.

 

Close Calls
There really is little argument here. Frank Robinson is a name that will come up most often. He won an MVP, triple crown and was part of four pennants and two World Series champions in Baltimore. But his time and production in Baltimore just don’t measure up to the others.

 

Earl Weaver deserves mention, for sure. He led the O’s to six division titles, four pennants, two World Series championships and won 100 games on five occasions.

 

The best the St. Louis era can offer is George Sisler. Gorgeous George hit .344 and racked up 2,295 hits in 1,647 games that spanned 12 seasons with the Browns.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/chicago-white-sox-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Chicago White Sox Mt. Rushmore

Since 1901, this franchise has been to the postseason just nine times. Nine. Surprisingly, Ozzie Guillen is the only manager in history to take the team to the postseason twice. The Sox have been to five World Series winning in 1906, 1917 and 2005; losing in 1919 and 1959. The two teams with the clearest identities are the Black Sox of 1919, famous for throwing the World Series, and the 1959 Go-Go Sox, famous for flashy defense and daring, exciting baserunning.

 

Frank Thomas
The Big Hurt inflicted pain on opposing pitchers for 19 years, 16 of them spent in a Chicago uniform. Thomas was arguably the game’s best hitter for most of the 1990s, winning two MVP awards and finishing second once and third twice. During the decade, he averaged .320 with 30 homers and 104 RBIs. For eight seasons (1991-98) he had more than 100 runs, RBIs and walks in each season.

 

Luke Appling
Fans of my generation don’t remember Old Aches and Pains, but we do recall Appling leading off the Cracker Jacks Old-Timers All-Star Game in Washington in 1983 with a home run — at age 75. The shortstop was a fixture in Chicago in the 1930s and ’40s. He led the league in batting in 1943 and was second in MVP voting, then missed all of 1944 and most of ’45 while serving his country. He was 10th in MVP voting at age 40 in 1947.

 

Eddie Collins
The Hall of Fame second baseman played just 12 of his 25 seasons with Chicago, but his time in a White Sox uniform accounted for 59 percent of his games. He had 2,007 hits and 1,065 runs with Chicago and batted .331.

 

Paul Konerko
The heart of the White Sox was at first base and in the heart of their lineup from 1999 until his retirement at the end of 2014. After making $12 million (or more) a season for the past eight years, the fan favorite accepted a one-year deal from the Sox for $2.5 million for his final season. He's second in games (2,268), fourth in runs (1,141), third in hits (2,292) and first in total bases (4,010). He's also second to Thomas in home runs and RBIs. This is an extremely close call over Nellie Fox.

 

Close Calls
Just edged out by Konerko, Hall of Famer Nellie Fox is second all-time in games and hits and third in runs.

 

Prior to making a brief cameo appearance in the dugout in 1968-69, Al Lopez managed the Sox from 1957-65, and led the team to winning seasons all nine years. Under his watch, Chicago won a pennant and finished second five times.

 

The poster boy for the Go-Go Sox in 1959 was shortstop Luis Aparicio. In two stints with the club, Aparicio was named Rookie of the Year and finished in the top 15 in MVP voting four times, including a runner-up finish in ’59. He led the AL in stolen bases his first nine season, the first seven spent in Chicago. Seven of his nine Gold Gloves were earned as a member of the White Sox.

 

Harold Baines could have been Mr. White Sox for all-time, but the team felt compelled to trade him during the 1989 season. The first overall pick in 1977, Baines hit better than .300 in a full season just three times for the Sox and drove in 100 twice.

 

Ed Walsh won 195 games in just 13 seasons in Chicago. He won 40 in 1908 and had three additional seasons of 24 or more. He led the AL in ERA twice, strikeouts twice and shutouts three times.

 

Ted Lyons won 260 games over a 21-season career spent entirely on Chicago’s South Side. He won as many as 12 games 13 times.

 

All 20 seasons of Red Faber’s career were in Chicago where the slender righthander won 254 games and tossed 29 shutouts.

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals


 

Teaser:
<p> The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/boston-red-sox-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Boston Red Sox Mt. Rushmore

The overplayed drought of championships from 1918 to 2004 and the Curse of the Bambino have overshadowed what has been a very successful franchise. By 1918 the team had won five World Series and another AL pennant in 1904, a year there was no Series. Dark days followed from 1922-33 when they finished in last place in nine of 12 seasons and next-to-last in another two. But Sox fans have had much to cheer for recently. Even going back to 1966, there have been just seven losing seasons. They have finished worse than second place just three times since 1997. The Sox have made 13 postseason appearances in the past 28 years. And since the Curse was reversed in 2004, Boston has won two more titles (2007, 2013). However, the team has won 100 games in a season only three times, the last all the way back in 1946. The famous 1978 playoff game with the Yankees would have been the Sox 100th win had Bucky Dent not shattered Boston’s championship plans. The Red Sox pose a tough test in selecting just four individuals. Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski are easy choices. The list of candidates for the last two spots is long, and filled with strong arguments.


Ted Williams
There is absolutely no doubt that Teddy Ballgame belongs here. The Splendid Splinter is also in the discussion for the MLB Hitters Mt. Rushmore. There may not have been a better hitter ever. His entire career was spent in Boston and was interrupted twice by stints in the U.S. Marine Corps — first in World War II then again during the Korean War. The 10 best on-base percentages in Boston history, ranging from .479-.553, all belong to Williams.

 

Carl Yastrzemski
It isn’t easy to step into a legend’s shoes, especially at the age of 21 and a legend the size of Williams. But that’s what was asked of Yastrzemski in 1961. But 3,308 games later, Yaz had cemented his place alongside Williams as the two greatest players in Red Sox history. Yastrzemski won three batting titles, a triple crown, made 18 All-Star teams and earned seven Gold Gloves. At ages 22 and 38 he finished 18th in MVP voting. In between, he had nine finishes that high or better, including winning the award in his triple crown season of 1967. Sadly, Yaz never won a World Series, but he batted .400 and hit three home runs in the 1967 Classic and hit .310 in the 1975 Series. Overall, he batted .369 in the postseason with 11 RBIs and 15 runs in 17 games.

 

David Ortiz
Big Papi has embodied the spirit of the Red Sox in the 2000s. Over his first five seasons with the team, he averaged .302 with 42 home runs, 128 RBIs, 105 runs and 41 doubles, and finished in the top 5 in MVP votes each year. And most importantly, the Sox won two World Series in that time, and added a third since then. He has 17 postseason home runs and owns a .455 average with 14 RBIs in 14 World Series games.

 

Jim Rice
Rice is third on the Red Sox list in hits, total bases and RBIs. He and Hank Aaron (in 1959) are the only two hitters with as many as 400 total bases in a season between 1948 and 1997. From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, Rice was the most feared hitter in the American League.


Close Calls
Pedro Martinez spent only seven years in a Boston uniform, but he won 117 games, winning 76 percent of his decisions. He was 6-2 in the postseason, but made just one start in the World Series, tossing seven shutout innings in 2004. In those seven seasons, he won two Cy Young awards, finished second twice, third once and fourth once.

 

You would think any player with a foul pole named for him would deserve a Mt. Rushmore honor. And Johnny Pesky remains a beloved player to fans of several generations.

 

The Game 6 home run in 1975 by Carlton Fisk certainly is on Boston’s Mt. Rushmore of moments, but the catcher had a tough breakup and spent too much time in white socks.

 

Third in career runs, fourth in hits and total bases, Dwight Evans was as good a rightfielder as we’ve seen since the 1970s.

Cy Young has an award named for him, but fewer than 200 wins in Boston.

 

Bobby Doerr made nine All-Star teams and drove in 100 runs six times. He missed a full season due to military service at age 27. He played only second base in his career and wore no other uniform.

 

From 1935 to 1947, Joe Cronin managed Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr, among others, to a pennant, four second-place finishes and 10 .500 seasons or better in 13 years.

 

Tris Speaker won the 1912 MVP in a Boston uniform. In seven full-time seasons from 1909-15, he averaged .342-6-76 with 99 runs, 34 doubles and 15 triples and a .909 OPS.

 

Jimmie Foxx made six All-Star teams and won an MVP with the Sox.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> The overplayed drought of championships from 1918 to 2004 and the Curse of the Bambino have overshadowed what has been a very successful franchise. The Red Sox pose the toughest test to date in selecting just four individuals. Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski are easy choices. The list of candidates for the last two spots is long, and filled with strong arguments.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/cleveland-indians-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Cleveland Indians Mt. Rushmore
The Cleveland franchise — known as the Blues, Bronchos and Naps before settling on Indians in 1915 — has completed 114 seasons. While they have finished with a winning record 62 times, the Indians have just 11 postseason appearances, and eight of those have come since 1995, in the wild card era. The team suffered through long dry spells in which it was a habitual cellar dweller in the American League. Perhaps the most notable disappointment came in 1987. After winning 84 games in 1986 and finishing above .500 for just the fourth time since 1969, the year the league expanded into divisions, Sports Illustrated touted the Indians as favorites to win the American League in 1987. The Indians lost a league-worst 101 games that season. There have been just four managers in team history to last as many as seven years at the helm. Two, Tris Speaker and Lou Boudreau, were Hall of Fame player-managers. The others were Mike Hargrove, who led the team to two World Series appearances in the 1990s, and Eric Wedge. Heroes in recent seasons haven’t stuck around long enough to post impressive career numbers with the team, so there’s no need to look past Hall of Famers when selecting the names for the Indians Mt. Rushmore.

 

Bob Feller
The fireballer who made his major league debut at age 17 is the closest player to Mr. Indian. Feller was a part of the 1948 team that won the World Series, and was 13-3 on the 1954 team that won 111 games. He missed three full seasons from age 23 to 25, and part of another season due to military service. He led the American League in wins six times, ERA once and strikeouts seven times. He won 266 games, all of them coming in a Cleveland uniform. He once had 10 consecutive seasons with more wins than home runs allowed.

 

Earl Averill
Averill made his major league debut at age 27 after signing his first professional contract with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League at age 24. The center fielder ranks first on the Indians all-time list in runs, RBIs and total bases. He finished in the top four in MVP balloting on three occasions. He was a member of the first seven American League All-Star teams — the only outfielder named to the first six — and collected more than 1,900 hits for the Tribe and drove in more than 1,000 runs and scored more than 1,100. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, and his number 3 has been retired by the team.

 

Nap Lajoie
Lajoie joined Cleveland early in the 1902 campaign and batted .379 that season. During the 13 seasons the Hall of Fame second baseman spent in Cleveland, he collected 2,046 hits and drove in 919 runs despite hitting only 33 home runs during the Dead Ball era. With a .339 average in Cleveland, he won three batting titles and an RBI crown. Lajoie is the all-time leader in hits for Cleveland. He along with Tris Speaker and Cy Young were the three players in the second Hall of Fame class in 1937. He was a player/manager from 1905-09.

 

Tris Speaker
Although he spent much of his Hall of Fame career elsewhere, Speaker ranks second on the Cleveland all-time lists in batting average, runs, hits and total bases. He played just 11 of his 22 major league seasons with the Indians, and seven of those seasons were spent as player-manager. In eight of his 11 seasons in Cleveland, he batted .344 or better, but won just one batting title. As player-manager, Speaker guided the team to its first World Series title in 1920. The Grey Eagle batted .320 in the World Series triumph over Brooklyn.

 

Close Calls
Considering his Hall of Fame career and tenure as manager, it’s difficult to leave Lou Boudreau off the mountain.

 

Bob Lemon spent his entire 13-year career with the Indians and won 20 games seven times, including both the 1948 and 1954 pennant-winning seasons.

 

Mel Harder is second in franchise history with 223 wins and won an ERA title in 1933.

 

Larry Doby was the first African-American to play in the American League, making his debut less than three months after Jackie Robinson.

 

Beloved Jim Thome spent too much of his career away from Cleveland to make the list, but he has more home runs than anyone in a Cleveland uniform.

 

Omar Vizquel was a catalyst on the the great Cleveland teams in the 1990s, perhaps the best defensive shortstop in AL history.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]
 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals



 

Teaser:
<p> The Cleveland franchise — known as the Blues, Bronchos and Naps before settling on Indians in 1915 — has played 111 seasons. There’s no need to look past Hall of Famers when selecting the names for the Indians Mt. Rushmore.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/detroit-tigers-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Detroit Tigers Mt. Rushmore

In their 114 seasons, the Tigers have finished at or above .500 in 70 of those seasons, pretty impressive. But Detroit has only 16 postseason appearances to show for their winning ways. In 11 World Series, the Tigers have come out on the winning side four times. Three times in their history the Tigers have had a winning percentage over .600 and not made the postseason. Once came in 1915, a year the Tigers went 100-54 for their second-best winning percentage (.649) in history. The Tigers are one of only four of the original American League franchises to call the same city home for its entire history. And the Tigers are the only AL team to go by just one name; always known as the Tigers. There is no shortage of candidates for the Tigers’ Mt. Rushmore, but Ty Cobb may be the only lock.


Ty Cobb
While the Georgia Peach has taken personal hits over the years, there is no denying his production on the field. No one played the game harder or better or with more zeal than Cobb did during his era from 1905-26. He had 3,900 hits for the Tigers. No one has more for one team. Cobb sits atop the Tigers’ all-time lists in more categories than anyone else, and it’s not even close. Cobb finished his 22-year career in Detroit with a .368 batting average. For his entire career, which included two seasons with the Philadelphia A’s, he amassed 4,189 hits and 2,246 runs.

 

Charlie Gehringer
A Michigan man through–and-through, Gehringer spent his entire 19 seasons with the Tigers and finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting for seven consecutive seasons. He won the award in 1937 along with a batting title with a .371 average. He was a narrow runner-up to teammate Mickey Cochrane in 1934, although the second baseman had clearly superior numbers. Known for his quiet nature, it has been noted that he would say hello when he arrived at spring training and good-bye when the season ended and not much in between.


Hank Greenberg
Hammerin’ Hank had a mercurial career with the Tigers in the years surrounding World War II. From 1934-46, Greenberg had just seven full seasons for Detroit, but full seasons they certainly were. In those campaigns in which he played a complete season, he averaged .322 with 40 home runs and 147 RBIs, with 43 doubles and 122 runs. He earned a couple of MVP trophies and finished third twice. He lost one season to a broken wrist after just 12 games, and three full seasons to military service, and in two more seasons he played briefly just prior to and after his service.

 

Al Kaline
The rightfielder from Baltimore quietly put together a Hall of Fame career spent exclusively with the Tigers. Kaline reached the 3,000-hit plateau and missed 400 home runs by one. Kaline entered the league in 1953 as an 18-year-old having never suited up in the minor leagues. In his second full season, Kaline won the AL batting crown with a .340 average and earned the first of his two career runner-up finishes in MVP voting. Overall, he had nine top-10 MVP finishes. He made 15 All-Star teams and was honored with 10 Gold Gloves.


Close Calls
Ace Hal Newhouser had back-to-back MVP seasons in 1945-46 with a runner-up for the award the following season.

 

For three generations in Michigan, Tigers fans associated games with the voice of Ernie Harwell on the radio.


In 16 full seasons at the helm in Detroit, Sparky Anderson led his team to a winning record 11 times, including eight straight, the only Tigers manager with such a streak.

 

In 1968 the Tigers erased a three-games-to-one deficit in the World Series to defending champion St. Louis. It was lefthander Mickey Lolich whose heroics in Games 5 and 7 made that championship comeback possible.

 

While Miguel Cabrera may seem like an obvious choice, his career numbers in Detroit may not measure up to the greats above.

 

 

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

Teaser:
<p> There is no shortage of candidates for the Tigers’ Mt. Rushmore, but Ty Cobb may be the lonely lock. One thing for certain, all four honorees will be Hall of Famers.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/houston-astros-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Houston Astros Mt. Rushmore

The franchise was born in Houston in 1962 as the Colt 45s. The name change to the Astros coincided with the move into the nation’s first indoor stadium, the Astrodome, in 1965. The team’s attendance floundered in old Colt Stadium — last in the National League — but fans immediately fell in love with the comforts of the Astrodome as Houston was second in the NL in attendance in 1965 despite fielding a ninth-place team. The Astros have finished above .500 24 seasons, with another four seasons at the breakeven mark. Houston won its first division title in 1980 thanks to a playoff game win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team won its first postseason series in 2004 and reached the World Series for the only time in 2005. From 1994-2006, the Astros finished in first or second place in every season save a fourth-place hiccup in 2000. Beginning in 2013, the Astros moved over to the American League, disappointing many life-long fans in Houston. The Houston Mt. Rushmore may not be as star-studded as many teams, but Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio stack up with most teams’ top two. After the two Killer Bs, the choosing gets rather dicey.


Jeff Bagwell
Houston fans love that Larry Andersen trade. Back in August of 1990, the Boston Red Sox were so stoked to get to the playoffs and thought Andersen provided the missing piece. So much so, they were willing to trade a prospect named Jeff Bagwell. Smooth. About 15 years later, the stocky first baseman was concluding his stellar career in Houston. Bagwell is first or second on just about every major offensive category in team history. He was Rookie of the Year in 1991, MVP in 1994 and had four other top-10 MVP finishes, including second in 1999. Having spent his entire career in Houston, Bags has 449 home runs and more than 1,500 runs and RBIs. Excluding the shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons, for 14 years Bagwell averaged more than 157 games per season. His number was retired in August of 2007.

 

Craig Biggio
Along with Bagwell, Biggio was the face of the franchise during its most successful era. Biggio arrived in Houston as an undersized, athletic catcher. He was converted to second base, and made back-to-back All-Star teams as a catcher and second baseman. He earned four Gold Gloves at his new position and made seven All-Star teams total. The second baseman finished fourth and fifth in MVP voting in 1997 and ’98. Biggio is one of 15 players with 3,000 hits with one team, and one of 10 to accomplish it while spending his entire career in one place. He ranks fifth all-time — in all of baseball — in doubles with 668, and has the most of all right-handed hitters. He started more than 250 games at catcher, second base and centerfield for the Astros.

 

Larry Dierker
Dierker made his debut with the Colt 45s at age 17 in 1964 and by May of the next season had joined the rotation where he would stay through the 1976 season. Dierker won 137 games for Houston and tossed 25 shutouts. He was the franchise’s first 20-game winner in 1969 and made two All-Star teams. His effect on the baseball community goes far beyond his playing career. First as a broadcaster, then as manager, Dierker was a part of the franchise for more than 35 years. He managed the team for just five seasons (1997-2001), but won four division titles. He couldn’t get over the postseason hump as his teams won just two of 14 postseason games in those four years.

 

Lance Berkman
The Big Puma spent the last few seasons of his career away from Houston, but he established himself among Astros greats over a 12-year career. He ranks first in on-base percentage, second in slugging and is in the top 3 in runs, total bases, home runs and RBIs. A popular member of the Astros, who along with Bagwell and Biggio, formed a trio known as the Killer Bs. Berkman was vital to the team’s postseason success in 2004-05. Over those two seasons, he batted .340 in 26 postseason games — including .385 in the 2005 World Series — with six home runs and 26 RBIs.


Close Calls
Having spent his first 12 seasons in Houston, Cesar Cedeno made four All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves from 1972-76.

 

After an outstanding 13-year playing career in Houston, Jose Cruz spent another 13 years as first base coach. With 1,937 hits for Houston, Cruz had his number retired by the club in 1992.

 

With 11 seasons in Houston, Joe Niekro leads in all-time wins with 144 and finished second and fourth in Cy Young voting in 1979-80.

 

During the first eight seasons of Roy Oswalt’s tenure in Houston, the righthander averaged 16 wins and only eight losses while finishing in the top 5 in Cy Young voting five times.

 

A tragic stroke during the season in 1980 sidelined J.R. Richard at the height of his prime.

 

Nolan Ryan became the game’s first million dollar player with the Astros, but was with the team just nine years. He had two ERA titles and two strikeout titles with Houston. In six postseason starts, the Ryan Express had a 0.898 WHIP.

 

In nine full seasons from 1965-73, Jim Wynn, aka the Toy Cannon, averaged 24 homers, 75 RBIs and 87 runs in the very unfriendly (for hitters) Astrodome.
 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> This franchise was born in Houston in 1962 as the Colt 45s. The name change to the Astros coincided with the move into the nation’s first indoor stadium, the Astrodome, in 1965. The Houston Mt. Rushmore may not be as star-studded as many teams, but Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio stack up with most teams’ top two. After the two Killer Bs, the choosing gets rather dicey.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/kansas-city-royals-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Kansas City Royals Mt. Rushmore

The Kansas City franchise began in 1969 and had as much early success as any expansion team prior to free agency. Kansas City won three consecutive division titles from 1976-78, losing in the ALCS to the Yankees each year. Prior to the club's breakout season last year that ended with a Game 7 loss in the World Series, the franchise's first seven postseason appearances came within a 10-year window from 1976-85. The primary face on the Royals Mt. Rushmore, no doubt, must be George Brett. Much work must be done to determine the other three. We’ll focus our attention on the 1976-85 era.

 

George Brett
One of the greatest third basemen ever, Brett won batting titles in three decades and made 13 consecutive All-Star teams. Of the 20 best seasons in franchise history, Brett was a vital member of 16 of those. After his career ended, Brett has remained the face of the franchise. It’s impossible to imagine any player ever usurping Brett as the best in team history.

 

Dan Quisenberry
Quiz led the AL in saves in five seasons and from 1982-85 the submariner finished in the top three in Cy Young voting, the only closer ever to accomplish that four straight years. He has 238 saves, many of them in appearances of more than one inning.

 

Frank White
White is the only player other than Brett to have his number retired by the Royals. The second baseman won eight Gold Gloves and made 15 consecutive Opening Day starts as anchor of the Royals’ infield.

 

Paul Splittorff
The beloved lefthander was drafted by the Royals in 1968, a year prior to the big club taking the field for the first time. Splittorff made 392 starts for the Royals from 1970 to 1984, and his 166 wins leads the franchise. Prior to losing his battle with cancer in 2011, he was a broadcaster for the team for more than two decades.

 

Close Calls
A pharmaceutical magnate named Ewing Kaufman brought baseball back to Kansas City in 1969 and built a competitive, fan-friendly atmosphere. Under his leadership, there were innovations such as the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, where the Royals groomed young players outside of the normal player development channels.

 

The first Cy Young winner in franchise history, Bret Saberhagen, was the ace of the 1985 title team. He won a second award in 1989.

 

Amos Otis was a fixture in center field during the 1970s and batted .478 with three home runs in the 1980 World Series.

 

Mike Sweeney earned the respect of fans by the way he carried himself and represented the franchise during the lean years of the 2000s.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/los-angeles-angels-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

Los Angeles Angels Mt. Rushmore

Whether you know them as the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this franchise has had some success under each name. In their second season way back in 1962, the Los Angeles Angels finished third in the American League with the league’s best road record at a time when expansion teams had little chance of competing. As the California Angels, the team won three AL West titles from 1979-86, losing in the ALCS each year. In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won the organization’s only World Series title. And as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team has won five division titles. Of the franchise’s 54 seasons, there have been 23 winning seasons with more than half of those coming since 1995.


Gene Autry
The original owner of the Los Angeles Angels, Autry held the team until his death in 1998. He also served as vice-president of the American League from 1983 until his death. Autry was determined to bring a winner to Anaheim and showed the willingness to support efforts to bring top players to the team via free agency. The team made the playoffs three times and had six second-place finishes during his ownership, but never reached the World Series. The club retired No. 26 in his honor.

 

Mike Scioscia
The manager since 2000, Scioscia has directed the team to 11 winning seasons in those 15 years including six division titles and a World Series championship in 2002 as the American League wild card team. Under his leadership, the Angels have been one of the most aggressive teams on the bases and regularly have one of the best pitching staffs in the AL.

 

Nolan Ryan
The hard-throwing righthander became the Ryan Express in Anaheim, frequently reaching triple digits on radar guns. Among his record seven no-hitters, he threw four for the Angels from 1973-75. During his eight seasons spent in California, Ryan averaged 302 strikeouts per season and just 190 hits allowed.

 

Jim Fregosi
Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the expansion draft, Fregosi was the first major star for the Angels. The shortstop made six All-Star teams, starting for the AL twice, in 1964 and 1968. He and Hall of Famer Rod Carew are the only six-time All-Stars in franchise history. He returned to manage the team in 1978 and directed the team to its first division title in 1979.


Close Calls
Garret Anderson is the all-time leader in most every offensive category.

 

Tim Salmon ranks second all-time in almost every offensive category.

 

Lefthander Chuck Finley is the franchise’s all-time leader with 165 wins.

 

Possibly the slowest — although one of the best — leadoff men in history, Brian Downing is third in almost every offensive category.

 

Before Dave Henderson one-upped Bobby Grich in 1986, the All-Star second baseman’s home run to put the Angels on the cusp of their first World Series is considered one of the greatest moments in team history.

 

Hall of Famer Rod Carew earned most of his accolades as a Twin, but he was a vital cog on two playoff teams.

 

Reggie Jackson earned his first big free agent deal by starring for three World Series winners in Oakland, then became Mr. October in New York. But he did have 123 home runs for the Angels and a cameo in Naked Gun.

 

The popular closer Troy Percival is the team leader with 316 saves and closed out the only World Series title in team history.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> Whether you know them as the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, this franchise has had some success under each name. But who as the four individuals comprising the Angels' Mt. Rushmore?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00
Path: /mlb/minnesota-twins-mt-rushmore-franchise-four
Body:

Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.

 

Minnesota Twins Mt. Rushmore

The Minnesota Twins franchise began in Washington as the Senators (sometimes known as Nationals) in 1901. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and took on the name Twins. The team has played 144 seasons, with 54 of them in Minneapolis. There have been 14 first-place finishes, six pennants and three World Series titles. The Twins have just one 100-win season, which came in 1965, a year they lost the World Series in seven games to the Dodgers. The Twins hold the distinction of winning the first two AL West titles in 1969-70, and were also one of two teams in 1991 (along with the Braves) to turn a last-place team into a winner. The Twins defeated the Braves in an epic World Series, winning Game 7 1-0 in extra innings. While the past four seasons were disappointments, the produced six AL Central crowns over a nine-year span from 2002-10.


Walter Johnson
The Big Train would be in the discussion for MLB Mt. Rushmore. Certainly he would appear on the Pitchers Mt. Rushmore. His 417 wins, 3,509 strikeouts and 2.17 ERA are all franchise bests — by far. He completed 531 games and pitched 110 shutouts, a major league record not likely to be broken. Of the nine 25-win seasons in team history, Johnson owns seven of them. He owns 11 of the team’s 13 best ERA seasons — all better than 1.90. No way to argue this selection.

 

Harmon Killebrew
The Killer’s career spanned Washington and Minnesota and began as an 18-year-old in 1954. Killebrew hit 559 home runs and reached base via hit, walk or HBP 3,576 times. The versatile Hall of Famer made 11 All-Star teams, but was conspicuously not selected in 1962, a year he hit 48 home runs and finished third in MVP balloting. He started six of those All-Star Games, one in left, two at third and three at first. The owner of six home run titles was the 1969 AL MVP and finished in the top 4 five other times.

 

Rod Carew
Carew played for the Twins for 12 seasons, and 12 times was selected to the All-Star team. He missed the 1970 game due to injury, but started the other 11, getting two triples in the 1978 game, his last in a Minnesota uniform. The Hall of Famer was named Rookie of the Year and MVP as a Twin and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times. He won seven batting titles and was hitting .366 in 1970 when a knee injury shortened his season to just 204 plate appearances. His .334 batting average ranks first in franchise history and his 2,085 hits, fifth. Of his 19 stolen bases in 1969, seven of them were steals of home.

 

Kirby Puckett
Before his career was cut short due to complications from glaucoma, Puckett was a favorite in Minnesota as he anchored the lineup on two World Series champs. The 10-time All-Star finished in the top seven in MVP voting seven times and was runner-up in 1992. He totaled 2,304 hits for the Twins and another 30 in 24 postseason games, including five home runs.


Close Calls
Sam Rice, a Hall of Famer, ranks first in runs and hits and second in games and total bases, but doesn’t carry the same excitement as the other members of the Hall.

 

Jim Kaat, whose career began in Washington, is second on the wins list with 190 and won 12 Gold Gloves while pitching for the Twins. He finished as high as fifth in MVP voting in 1966 with 25 wins.

 

One of the first stars in Minnesota, Tony Oliva was named Rookie of the Year, made eight All-Star teams, won three batting titles and was twice MVP runner-up. But he amassed just 1,917 hits and 220 home runs.

 

Along with Puckett, a stalwart of the 1987 and 1991 champions, Kent Hrbek had his No. 14 retired by the Twins in 1995.

 

Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, began his career with the Twins and rejoined the team later. Now a broadcaster for the team, he won 149 games in a Minnesota uniform.

 

Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him [email protected]

 

Other teams' Mt. Rushmores:

American LeagueNational League
Baltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red SoxAtlanta Braves
Chicago White SoxChicago Cubs
Cleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds
Detroit TigersColorado Rockies
Houston AstrosMiami Marlins
Kansas City RoyalsLos Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles AngelsMilwaukee Brewers
Minnesota TwinsNew York Mets
New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies
Oakland A'sPittsburgh Pirates
Seattle MarinersSan Diego Padres
Tampa Bay RaysSan Francisco Giants
Texas RangersSt. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue JaysWashington Nationals

 

Teaser:
<p> The Minnesota Twins franchise began in Washington as the Senators (sometimes known as Nationals) in 1901. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and became known as the Twins. There have been many Hall of Famers perform for this franchise, but only four can be enshrined on our Mt. Rushmore.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 18:00

Pages