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April 15: Diagnose the problem, if there is

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  1.  In the Giants season thus far, it seems that there are three pitchers who lead the pitching rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardjia. This was expected. The last two links, Peavy and Cain, however, seem to be at the tail end of the rotation losing. What are your assessments of the Giants Pitching staff overall? Do you think that the Giants can continue, let alone win a championship, with two weak link pitchers? I want you to keep in mind that it is also early in the season.
  2. Open ended discussion on off season NFL news/transactions/gossip.
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March 25: You be the Judge

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1.     Should Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?Pete Rose: has had more hits than any other player, but has been banned from baseball since 1989 for betting on his team’s games when he managed the Cincinnati Reds.

Barry Bonds: hit more home runs in a career and a year than any other player, but was accused of taking steroids.

Roger Clemens: won seven Cy Young Awards, but also took steroids, which has so far kept them from getting the 75 percent support of baseball writers needed for selection.

For determining a Hall of Fame candidate:

“Election is based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

But are the accomplishments of these three players so great that they should be admitted despite questions about their character and integrity?

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2.     Discuss the NFL offseason and some of the biggest moves. Do you think Robert Griffin III going to Cleveland will help or hurt him? What is the most underrated signing of this offseason? Do you think QBs like Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, among others trying to command too much money? Are you against giving them a large sum of cash because they haven’t done much in their career, or is it simply the nature of the current market?

March 11: Analyzing the facts

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1.   The San Francisco Giants this year face tough competition in their division. Namely, the Arizona Diamondbacks, with new additions to their pitching staff, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a payroll that continues to crank out big-name players. That being said, the Giants are predicted to win the National League Championship Series this year and have definitely shown that with their new high power additions: Samardzija, Cueto, Span, and other minor league players. However, preseason obstacles already make things look a little bleak. What do you think their performance in spring training will show about the regular season and do you think they will meet expectations? Keep in mind that even though this is a even year, the Giants in past years have won the World Series with very poor early predictions.

2.  Open-ended NFL offseason discussion.

February 24: Prescribing the Future

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1. Which players are the future stars of the NBA, and what will the league look like in 10 years? Some names to think about: Anthony Davis (NO), Kawhi Leonard (SAS), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), John Wall (WAS), Kyrie Irving (CLE), Damian Lillard (POR), Andrew Wiggins (MIN), Jabari Parker (MIL), Karl Anthony-Towns (MIL).

 

2. The Giants have had a big offseason, signing outfielder Denard Span and pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. What are your expectations for the upcoming season? Since it’s an even year, are we 100% guaranteed to win it? Would you rather have Donald Trump as president or see the Dodgers win the World Series?

February 19: Determining the best of the best

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The question over whether “which sport is better” has arisen recently in recent discussion. So, let’s settle this now. Below, I have carefully listed valid arguments for each sport, but please, add to the list. In our discussion, you can purely make criticisms or endorsements. Lastly, as you will see, it is obviously biased. This is largely because I am into one main sport so make the case for yours!

SOCCER

                     – It’s economical: soccer players don’t need to spend large amounts of money on equipment.
                     – Soccer is the most widely practiced sport in the world. It is played in over 200 countries and has over 3.5 billion fans around the globe.
                     – Soccer players give the appearance of breaking the laws of physics with midfield long shots, curve put on the ball, and amazing stunts that the players put on the field.

BASKETBALL

                  – Basketball players, for the most part, don’t wear helmets or facemasks. They take hits like men.
                 – Basketball is the only sport that is fun to play by yourself.
                – DUNKING!!! Nuff Said!
               – The last 5 minutes of a basketball game are better than any five minutes in any other sports game. A team trailing by 20 points with 3 minutes left to play can still win.

FOOTBALL

                  – It owns a day of the week.
                  – Every game is meaningful due to the scarcity of games.
                  – Because the football is not round, it makes the game especially unpredictable and on the highlight reels.
                  – Football requires the most amount of skills than any other sport: intelligence, strength, endurance, speed, agility, strategy, and survival (due to its violent and warlike aspect).
                  – Football has the best music and has basically created the marching band, which is taken seriously in high school and especially college.

BASEBALL

                    – Baseball is the only sport in which the team that is winning must continue to play the game. Every other sport allows the team that is winning to basically “ice” the game. In football, a team can take a knee. In basketball, a team can dribble out the clock. In hockey, a team can just skate around with the puck. Baseball forces the winning team to continue to pitch and play defense, which means no game is over until the final out is made. Which brings me to my next point.
                     –  Any team can make a comeback at any time.
                     – The trade deadline is almost like a holiday.
                     – Baseball has the only All-Star Game that matters.
                     – Baseball has the longest schedule.
                    -For crying out loud, it’s America’s National past time!
                    – It is arguably the most intelligent sport. It requires strategy starting all the way from when the pitcher steps on the rubber and looks into the catcher. The hitter has an average of .4 seconds to decide whether the ball is a strike or not, which forces him to look into the pitchers motions, like a chess player, and guess. Most of all, there is a whole school of thought which is guided on baseball’s ingenious and enigmatic statistics: sabermetrics. It was derived by Bill James and is still used today. One famous sabermetric buff is Nate Silver who uses the same principles to predict Political elections (He has been right in the last 3 elections 2004-2012).
Here is Silver’s website if you are curious: http://fivethirtyeight.com/

Broncos Win Super Bowl 50 as Defense Swarms Panthers

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BY BILL PENNINGTON

NEW YORK TIMES

FEB. 7, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — An anticipated showdown between an old-style quarterback and his new-age counterpart — not to mention two top-seeded teams — degenerated into a morass of poor throws, dropped passes and horrible pass protection, with a combined six turnovers and 18 penalties.

This 50th edition of the Super Bowl was meant to be entertaining, even historic. But perhaps the moment was too pregnant for the Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning in the twilight of his famed career, and the upstart, favored Carolina Panthers, represented in every way by their pioneering quarterback, Cam Newton.

An exciting matchup of opposites fizzled as Manning threw a series of wobbly passes and Newton was altogether disappointing, spending most of the game running for safety.
In a grinding, lackluster game, the Broncos, a team whose backbone is a thumping, ferocious defense, prevailed, 24-10, on Sunday. The game might prove the last of Manning’s career, but it will almost certainly not be his best remembered: He completed 13 of 23 passes for only 141 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble.

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Newton, who had one of the best statistical regular seasons in the history of the N.F.L., completed just 18 of 41 passes for 265 yards. He fumbled twice, was intercepted once and was sacked six times. The teams combined to set a Super Bowl record for most sacks: 12.

Manning, who at 39 was the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, said the game reflected the Broncos’ resilience.

“This game was like this season in that it tested our toughness,” Manning said. “It tested our unselfishness. It’s only fitting it turned out this way.”

Manning has hinted that he might retire, and he did not exactly shy away from the suggestion that Sunday was his last game, although officially he remained noncommittal.

“I’ll take some time to reflect,” he said. “It’s been an emotional week. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. And I’m going to drink a lot of beer tonight.”

It was the third Super Bowl win for the Broncos and their first since 1999.

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Newton completed only 18 of 41 passes. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
It was also the second Super Bowl victory for Manning, who won in his first Super Bowl appearance, with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, but lost his next two, including a lopsided defeat against Seattle just two years ago.

Sunday’s result brought a crushing conclusion to what had been a magical Panthers season and dealt a sharp blow to the ascendancy of Newton, who was elected the most valuable player of the regular season and had appeared to be a new model of quarterback. Carolina had won 15 of 16 regular-season games and then stormed through the postseason with two convincing victories leading up to the Super Bowl.

But Newton, who scrambled to find any daylight, was responsible for two costly fumbles, with each leading to pivotal Broncos scores.

Newton was rattled by the relentless Denver defense, which had led the N.F.L. in sacks during the regular season. The pass-rushing linebacker Von Miller, who had two and a half sacks and forced both of Newton’s fumbles, was named the game’s most valuable player, becoming just the 10th defensive player to earn that honor.

 

“It’s exciting to be the M.V.P.,” Miller said, “but as a defense, we knew we could get after the quarterback and cause havoc.”

Newton was not effective throwing the football on the run — and he was often on the run — but even when he had time, he hardly looked like the superhero he likes to portray in celebrations after touchdowns, often missing open receivers.

Newton’s rushing — he gained 45 yards on six carries Sunday — jump-started the Panthers’ attack in the middle of the game. But he could not run on every play, and when he dropped back to pass, the Broncos were in his face.

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The Broncos’ Peyton Manning released a pass while under pressure from the Panthers’ Jared Allen. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Coach Ron Rivera said all the Panthers’ problems stemmed from their turnovers.

“We fumbled the ball when we really haven’t fumbled the ball this year,” he said. “There were a couple of tipped passes that were intercepted. Give them credit, but those are things we typically didn’t do this year.”

Trailing by 13-7 at halftime, Carolina showed some life with a 45-yard pass from Newton to wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. near the start of the third quarter. But that drive ended in another mistake, an unsuccessful 44-yard field-goal attempt by Carolina’s erratic kicker, Graham Gano.

Taking over at their 34-yard line, the Broncos mounted a quietly efficient, if unspectacular, drive. Manning saw wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sprinting uncovered over the middle and rifled a crisp pass to him for a 25-yard gain. Another Sanders reception for 22 yards soon had the Broncos at the Carolina 17. The Panthers, who were whistled for 12 penalties for 102 yards, jumped offsides to give the Broncos another 5 yards.

Manning, who threw several dangerous, unsteady passes throughout the game, could not get his team into the end zone, but he did enough to set up a 30-yard Brandon McManus field goal that put Denver ahead, 16-7.

Newton gamely tried to rally the Panthers, sometimes throwing risky passes into double coverage — and succeeding. But he was also intercepted while throwing into tight coverage, which stalled a promising Carolina drive.

Carolina’s last important possession began with roughly four minutes remaining. Newton, dropping back to pass on a third down, had the ball knocked from his hand by a charging Miller, who was so hard to block Sunday that the Panthers occasionally used three players to contain him.

T. J. Ward recovered the fumble at the Carolina 4-yard line. With the help of a defensive holding penalty, Denver’s C. J. Anderson soon bulled in for a touchdown from 2 yards out. A successful 2-point conversion, on a pass from Manning to wide receiver Bennie Fowler, gave Denver a 24-10 lead.

Manning ran off the field with both hands raised above his head.

In the game’s opening minutes, Manning appeared just as confident and animated. He completed three of his first four passes, for a combined 46 yards. Manning’s early passing success set up slashing rushing attempts by Anderson, and soon the Broncos were at the Carolina 14-yard line.

 

But the Panthers’ defense, which has allowed only one opening-drive touchdown in its last 23 games, stiffened. A first-down rush by the Broncos lost 3 yards, a Manning pass in the flat was nearly intercepted, and a third-down pass gained barely a yard. Denver settled for a 34-yard field goal.

On offense, Carolina began the game nervously. Newton’s first pass sailed four feet over the head of wide receiver Corey Brown, who was wide open. The Panthers punted after just three plays.

If the Panthers looked tentative in their first drive, things only got worse on their next possession. On a second-down run, running back Jonathan Stewart was tackled behind the line of scrimmage, and he left the game with a left foot injury.

On the next play, Miller, the Broncos linebacker, stormed past Carolina tackle Mike Remmers and slammed into Newton, prying loose the ball, which squirted toward the end zone. Malik Jackson pounced on it for a score that put the Broncos ahead, 10-0, with 6 minutes 27 seconds left in the first quarter.

Carolina found its stride and transformed a budding blowout into a taut game, with Stewart, who had re-entered the game without apparent discomfort, leaping over a pileup for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

Still, the seesaw nature of the first half continued, and in a fitting end to a rough stretch for the Panthers, Newton was sacked on the final play of the half.


 

Pennington, Bill. “Broncos Win Super Bowl 50 as Defense Swarms Panthers.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.