Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 22, 2015 at 8:52 AM
THE BASEBALL REPORT: TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT A COUPLE OF "PHONY" CONTENDERS ...
NBA DRAFT UPDATE: WHERE ARE THE BEST SHOOTERS? ...
THE NFL ODDS TO WIN IT ALL FOR SIX OF LAST YEAR'S PLAYOFF TEAMS
What's the word the "kids" use to describe someone or something that's fake or phony? Fugazi.
And that's what the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels are nearly three months through this here-and-now 2015 Major-League Baseball season as they continue to fool some folks (but not us!) when it comes to talk about winning their division or even nabbing one of the two wild card berths in both the National and American Leagues.
Folks, we're not "picking" on either the Mets or the Angels here in today's edition of Jim Sez, but consider we are some 71 games through this current campaign for the Mets (36-35) - and some 70 games through the year for the Halos (35-35) - and both teams have exposed plenty of ills to be the point we don't believe either team will be true playoff contenders come early-to-mid-September.
We shall explain our thoughts/observations on the Mets and the Angels in a moment but first this key reminder ...
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THE BASEBALL REPORT
NEW YORK METS - It was surely like the "bad old days" this past weekend for the Mets who seemingly never win at Turner Field in Atlanta.
The three-game sweep by the born-again Braves - that was 2-1, 6-4 and 1-0 - had fans of the orange-and-blue shaking their head deep into the Fathers' Day evening as RHP Matt Harvey's 6.2 innings of 1-run, 6-hit, 1-BB ball went right down the drain because the Mets continued to swing tired/weak bats on the road where manager Terry Collins' club is now 10-24 for the year.
All you needed to see was the Mets' ninth inning when, after the first two batters reached base, slugger Lucas Duda hit a fly out to left field that failed to advance the runners and then ancient LF Michael Cuddyer bounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.
Harvey's oft-dominant 118-pitch performance went for naught just as righty Jacob deGrom's 2-run, 4-hit, 7.1-inning outing went kaput when the Mets' defense botched a couple of plays in last Friday's one-run loss in Atlanta with clueless SS Wilmer Flores checking back a runner to third base on a ground ball and then not getting the out at first.
The Mets' infield defense has been suspect all year long - TV analyst Keith Hernandez has bemoaned the club's inability to turn the most routine double plays - and there's just no pop in this offense and it's not as if brittle 3B David Wright (he's played all of eight games this year) is coming back anytime soon from his spinal stenosis problems.
The "over/under" win total this year for the Mets was 81.5 - but after holding onto first place in the NL East for much of the season's first 10 weeks, you wonder if this club has enough juice to get near .500 for the year at this rate.
Meanwhile, the Angels - who sported an 88.5 "over/under" wins total prior to the start of this '15 season - may indeed rank as the bigger fraud between these "fugazi's" as Mike Scioscia's club are 18-14 in divisional play so far and 17-21 outside the wobbly AL West and you would think with this lineup and array of starting pitching that LAA would be better than a plus 3 in the runs differential category (279-276) but that's the deal, folks!
In this past weekend's action, the Angels were 12-7 winners on Friday night thanks in large part to a grand salami by 1B Albert Pujols but then promptly followed up that win with 4-1 and 3-2 losses at Oakland (31-41) and even a Pujols two-run shot Sunday wasn't enough and now comes news that RHP Jered Weaver has to be checked out for an ailing hip.
It's hard to believe but the Halos rank only 10th in the league in runs scored and seventh in team ERA and the troika of Weaver. RHP Garrett Richards and lefty C.J. Wilson are a combined 16-17 while allowing 30 home runs.
We admit it: For the past couple of weeks we've been expecting the Angels to "step on it" but it's starting to look as if there's no gas in the tank - a .500-type/non-playoff year would indeed be hazardous to the health of Mr. Scioscia and a few other guys on this squad.
NBA DRAFT NOTES
Here's a word to the wise when it comes to Thursday's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn ...
Take a shooter when you can because they could well be going like proverbial hotcakes once we all get past the first few precious picks.
In fact, we were making our way 'round some interesting web sites this past weekend and one listed the "Top 10 shooting guards" and it's our contention that all you could see as many as six or seven of these "two-guards" getting nabbed in Round I of this NBA Draft.
The likes of Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, Barcelona's Mario Hezonja and Kentucky's Devin Booker all figure to be top 10 picks while Georgia State's R.J. Hunter could make his way into the lottery (top 14 picks) with UNLV's Rashad Vaughn and UCLA'S Norman Powell should go somewhere in the low-to-high 20s.
So, if you're an NBA team that needs to hike up your perimeter shooting and - perhaps copycatting the champion Golden State Warriors - than you might be prone to grab one of the above-mentioned shooters in Round I even if you have some other needs because in this day-and-age of NBA play what can be more important than a three-point/outside shooter?
We will have our Jim Sez NBA Mock Draft in our next column but just to have some fun here we'll play a little game of mix-and-match and say Russell goes #3 to Philadelphia; Hezonja goes #8 to Detroit; Booker goes #10 to Miami; Hunter goes #13 to Phoenix; Vaughn goes #21 to Dallas; and Powell gets nabbed at #28 to Boston ... again, all subject to change!
NFL ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
This won't be the last time we check in with the Las Vegas numbers-crunchers to discuss the "Odds to Win it All" come Super Bowl 50 (no Roman numerals, remember) but here we'll deal with six NFL teams that made the playoffs a year ago that we missed in our last Jim Sez:
DETROIT (40-1) - No more Ndamukong Suh and likely no real shot to win it all even though the Lions consider QB Matthew Stafford an "elite" slinger.
GREEN BAY (7.5-1) - The Packers are one of the shorter-priced teams on the big board and one wonders whether or not QB Aaron Rodgers and Company can score 500 points this year (NFL-best 486 points last year).
INDIANAPOLIS (9-1) - Amazing thing about the Colts is that they keep inching closer and closer to a Super Bowl after losing at three different stops along the way the past three years and now QB Andrew Luck would like to get home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.
NEW ENGLAND (8-1) - The defending Super Bowl champs were a #1 seed in last year's AFC playoffs but might the schedule keep Bill Belichick's crew from snagging another #1 seed as the Pats are going to be playing at least a couple of games without QB Tom Brady and must play back-to-backers at Dallas and at Indianapolis in Week 5 and 6.
PITTSBURGH (28-1) - One thing about these Steelers is that they did end last year on a four-game winning streak before coming up short against Baltimore in an AFC Wild Card Game but sometimes end-of-year momentum does mean something the next time around.
SEATTLE (6-1) - What's the emotional state of the Seahawks one year after blowing SB 49? Save for the early 1990s Buffalo Bills, when can you think of an NFL team getting back to the Super Bowl one year after losing the "big game"? Trust us when we tell you this Seattle team will be very good but right now the 'Hawks are very overpriced.
NOTE: As stated, the NBA Draft is set for Thursday and we'll have our NBA Mock Draft in the next edition of Jim Sez plus there's always Baseball News/Notes too in the days/weeks ahead. Plus next week we'll begin our team-by-team early-bird previews of all 32 NFL teams!