March Madness Final + Cubs Opening Day

Hey again. Yeah, I know you were thanking God I stopped my attempt at blogging but unfortunately, you spoke too soon. It’s been two weeks since I last wrote about anything so this is probably going to be rusty but what can ya do. Really, I have no excuse. I guess if I were to cite reasons in particular for why I haven’t written anything it would be 1. The fact that I’m lazy and 2. That I can’t really watch any major sports games in Dublin cause they’re either, A. At 1am, or B. Not on at any bars. If I’m being honest, all my predictions would have been wrong even if I had written anything. I bashed South Carolina into oblivion and said they’d lose in the first round and look where they are now. Anyways, I can’t really be mad, Chicago sports teams are riding a high (at the moment). Hawks clinched top seed in the Western Conference yesterday, the Bulls are starting to look like they don’t suck (as bad as I thought they did), the Chicago Fire, I know, the city’s soccer team doesn’t blow this year, actually look good, and the Cubs opening day, or really night, is finally upon us. I omitted the Bears but lets be honest, at this point, and for the next 2-3 years, they’re a lost cause.

In this edition of Born & Raised Sports, I’m going to be discussing and predicting (most likely wrong) the CBB national title game and sharing my opening thoughts on the Cubs, loose predictions on the season, and other random shit. Per usual.

 

The National Championship

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1 Gonzaga v. 1 North Carolina

I usually like to stay pretty unbiased when it comes to college sports. Mostly, I can usually do this because Illinois sucks at everything and they never come into any conversations about any meaningful sports anything. But I digress. People who know me will definitely echo this, and I’ve mentioned it before in the Round of 64 blog I wrote ages ago, but I really am not the biggest fan of specific teams in college basketball for a variety of reasons. 1. Notre Dame. Just really don’t like their stupid mascot and the guy that dresses up, runs along the sideline thinking he’s hot shit. Newsflash – Nobody gives a fuck about your independent school. 2. Kansas. Only reason I loathe KU at the minute is because of that traitor Bill Self. Love the fans, love the culture, love the history. However, Bill Self ruins it for me. 3. Kansas State. Not as big a basketball school as Kansas so I can’t really say I like their fans or anything like that (as I don’t know that much about them). But I hate them for the same reason I hate Kansas, their coach. Fuck you Bruce Weber, fucking traitor. Sidebar: It’s at this point I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with Illinois’ program that all these great basketball minds are leaving but I think they’re just dickheads. 4. UNC. Never forget 2005. Really my hatred for the Tar Heels started then but it’s evolved into mostly hating on Roy Williams, his dumb suit coats, and his temper tantrums on the sidelines. Also, not a big fan of Justin Jackson’s comments about maybe staying another year. Go make your money, you’re going to be a high first round draft pick. Again, nothing against the fans, the culture, or any of that, its mostly just the one isolated incident. On a completely unrelated topic, I still don’t get why the NCAA continues to house the Final Four and National Title games in football stadiums. I mean, there’s the obvious reason, that they can cram more people in and make more money, but I still think its a shame that they are that greedy. Not to get all Jay Bilas on y’all but the players aren’t even getting paid, so most of the money goes to the NCAA anyways throughout the 20+ game regular season. The real reason I’m pissed is cause it sucks to watch the players shoot terribly. I’m pretty sure it’s been proven that the adjustment in the stadium from basketball to football fucks with the players’ shots and leads them to shoot worse. It’s never going to change. The greedy bastards at the NCAA are going to pick more money over the integrity of the game 100000% of the time.

First off, random shoutout my boy John O’Connell who like actually knows and has played with Luke Maye, that’s fucking awesome that you can now say you’ve played with the kid who got UNC to the Final Four. Anyways, onto my predictions for the title game. Both of the Final Four games were nail biters… and both the teams I was pulling for lost. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, I HATE North Carolina and I’d be lying if that didn’t have a big impact on my prediction. Although, I must admit, they are really really hot and really really good. Kennedy Meeks is a big boy at 6’10”, 260 and he put in work Saturday night against the Ducks (25 points, 14 rebounds). Justin Jackson also has been stellar over the course of the tourney but I think a main key that will give UNC the edge (at least in most of the public opinion) is their overall tournament experience both with returning players and with a national title-weathered coach. Gonzaga on the other hand has literally zero experience this deep into the tournament. Again, their performance against South Carolina proved to be a very well-rounded dismantling, but at the end of the day, it is South Carolina. Year in and year out, random teams get hot in the tournament. I’m not discrediting all that they accomplished: Wins versus Marquette (who I thought would beat them in the first round), Duke, Baylor, and Florida, all of which teams seeded higher than the Gamecocks. However at the end of the day, and I’ll probably get a ton of shit for this, a lot of what happened can be attributed to tournament magic. They found a way to win against all odds and it finally caught up to them when they played a team well-versed in all aspects of the game without any distinguishable flaws (Gonzaga). It’s just the way the cookie crumbles, the momentum finally caught up with them. I’m really excited to watch the Karnowski/Collins v Meeks matchup down low as the big men have proven crucial to both teams in their runs to the finals. However, I think the catalysts of the game will come in the form of Nigel Williams-Goss for the Zags and Justin Jackson for the Heels. I consider Mark Few to be one of the greatest basketball minds of all time, and I think he’ll find a way to game plan against the strengths of the Heels (rebounding & 3-point shooting) and ultimately pull out the W.

Spread: Gonzaga to cover +1.5 / Prediction: Gonzaga 82 – North Carolina 79

 

Let the Games Begin: Cubs Title Defense

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As pathetic as this may sound, when the Cubs won the World Series last year, it was probably the best moment of my life so far. I’m not even ashamed to say it. I guess your perception of this statement really depends on A. Where you’re from, B. If you like sports, and C. What you’ve done with you’re life so far. I’ve lived and breathed Chicago Cubs baseball ever since I can remember and if you come across me, I’m not going to let you forget who the reigning World Series Champs are. It’s still surreal that I can type that, let alone say it out loud. Anyways, another year, another opening day (night) against the motherfucking Cardinals. Yeah thats right, I’m one of those fans. It’s not even like, ‘oh, I just hate the Cardinals because I have to’ or ‘I still respect their culture, fans, and players’. Nope, my relationship with the Cards its 100%, full-throttle, scorched earth. Their fans are pricks (in my encounters with them), their players are all basically the same, their coaches are boring as hell, their city sucks… I could go on and on but I think you get the point. FUCK THE CARDINALS. In terms of this game, and for any predictions  on the Cubs I do, it’s going to be Cubs by 1000 (not really but you know what I’m saying). Let’s first analyze the pitching matchup. Lester v. Martinez tonight, I’m backing the Chicago Ace. Last year, Lester went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA overall. Against the Cards in 2016, he was 2-0 with 14 strikeouts. Safe to say he’s got their number. On the Cardinal side of things, I honestly couldn’t tell you who Carlos Martinez is. Looking at his stats from 2016, he was 1-4 against the Cubs so I’m kinda wondering why they’re starting him against us on opening night. It’s probably fair to say that long gone are the days of dominant Cardinals pitching when you got a dude who ended 2016 with a record of 16-9 and an ERA of 3.04. I guess that’s respectable, but that nothing compared to the Cardinals teams I grew up watching against the Cubs with pitchers like Wainwright in his prime, Lackey (ha bitch), and Michael Wacha back before he sucked. On the subject of Dexter Fowler, he’ll always have a special place in my heart and any self-proclaimed Cubs fan who says he doesn’t is either not a real Cubs fan or is just a horrible person. Personally, I think everyone on that 2016 team is a Chicago legend and I’ll forever love each and every one of them for what they did for not only me and my dreams, but also for the dreams of Chicagoans everywhere. All that having been said, theres no way I cheer him when he comes up to bat tonight in a Cardinals uniform tonight. I don’t care if its it’s fucking Gandhi reincarnated out there, I will NEVER clap for a Cardinals player. I mentioned earlier that every Cardinals player is the same. I guess it’s cause they all ‘buy into the system’ or whatever but I still fucking hate it. Let the players have a personality, let them play their own style. I don’t care if it works, having every single guy act as a contact hitter is boring as hell. For those of you living under a rock, the Cubs offense is powered (primarily) by NL MVP Kris Bryant, but really the entire lineup can do damage. Don’t really think I need to elaborate more on the subject. I’m not sure about the Schwarbo leadoff move but I’ve basically learned to not doubt Maddon’s managing skills as he’s proven he’s the GOAT. Key things to watch out for: Bryzzo, Javy’s insane tagging skills, Len Kasper and JD probably mentioning David Ross’s name 6-7 times even though he’s not on the team anymore, and about a million highlights from the World Series.

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This season is uncharted territory for the Cubs as defending champs, and yet, I’m still selfishly expecting nothing less than another division-crushing, 100+ win, World Series victory season. Cut me some slack, I was a fan during the dark years, it’s in my nature to be forever optimistic. The curse is no more, but as always, this year is the year. I’m damn proud to be a Chicago Cubs die-hard and I’ll leave you with three thins. 1. Go Cubs Go, 2. Fly the W, and 3. Fuck the Cardinals.

Prediction: Cubs 5 – Cardinals 0

Electric. Lets do it again.

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