"The Stack" 9-15-16

Mark Trumbo blasted another homerun last night in the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox last night. The AL East race is the best in baseball. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Trumbo blasted another homerun last night in the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox last night. The AL East race is the best in baseball.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals are looking to make a statement and upset #2 Florida State Saturday at noon ET on ABC.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Thursday with plenty to talk about from college to the pros.  From the diamond to the ice, we’re talking about it all so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Thursday, September 15th:


Baseball playoff race update


It’s been a while since we talked about Major League Baseball and we’re already in the middle of September.  That means we are a little over two weeks away from playoff baseball and it is sure to be a classic, especially with the Chicago Cubs dominating the way they have.  Their magic number to clinch the NL Central is one game.  While not quite as dominant, the Washington Nationals are comfortably ahead of the New York Mets in the NL East with their magic number at seven games and the Texas Rangers are nine games up on the Seattle Mariners.  Every other race gets really interesting though.


On the NL side, the slumping San Francisco Giants can’t seem to get out of their way since the All-Star break.  They have been absolutely terrible.  Great in the first half, terrible in the second half.  I thought since this was an even year so they would easily win the World Series.  Well they are five games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers and they were just swept by the San Diego Padres…at home!!!  What in the name of Willie McCovey is going on in San Francisco?  They are in danger of missing the playoffs though they do have six games remaining with the Dodgers.  They are the top wild card team, but only by a half game on the New York Mets.  The St. Louis Cardinals are just a half game behind them.  That’s where it tails off as both the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates have been slumping as of late.  The NL Wild Card race is going down right to the very end.


The AL is far more intriguing particularly in the AL East.  Four games is the difference between the first place team (Boston Red Sox) and the fourth place team (New York Yankees).  The Yankees were left for dead when they traded away a bunch of their veterans and bullpen guys along with the “retirement” of Alex Rodriguez.  The Baltimore Orioles are one game back of the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays are two games back of them.  They all play against each other at least one more series.  This is going to be a wild and crazy ride headed into the final weekend.  The Orioles and Blue Jays are currently the top two teams in the wild card, but the Blue Jays are only one game up on the Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot (Tigers are six games back of the Cleveland Indians for first in the AL Central).  The Yankees and the Seattle Mariners are just two games back and the Houston Astros sit 3.5 games back.  After a blazing August, the Kansas City Royals have fallen back quite a bit and are five games back.  The final two weeks plus weeks of the regular season are going to be simply tremendous.


College football weekend forecast


Week three of the college football season kicks off tonight with a big game featuring the #6 team in the country, Houston, traveling to Cincinnati.  Could be a trap game due to it being a short week, but I think Houston pulls it out.


Saturday, College Gameday is in Louisville for the first time ever to take in #2 Florida State and #10 Louisville (Noon ET on ABC).  Lamar Jackson has turned quite a few heads for the Cardinals.  The quarterback totaled almost 600 yards by himself against Syracuse last week.  The Seminoles have their own great young quarterback in freshman Deondre Francois.  This is going to be quite the high scoring affair.  Don’t be shocked when Louisville wins this one though I will ultimately pick Florida State since I have them in the College Football Playoff.


Will #19 Ole Miss beat #1 Alabama for a third straight year (3:30 PM ET CBS)?  Folks in Oxford certainly hope so, but after last week’s subpar win (at least by Nick Saban’s standards) over Western Kentucky, Alabama will be sharp in this one and defeat the Running Rebels.  #12 Michigan State travels to South Bend to take on #18 Notre Dame (7:30 PM ET NBC).  Kind of feels weird that Sparty is ranked higher than the Fighting Irish, but they are.  Still a lot of questions marks surrounding Michigan State though.  I do not deem this to be an upset when Notre Dame wins.  #3 Ohio State and #14 Oklahoma square off in Norman (7:30 PM ET FOX) in what is essentially an elimination game for the Sooners.  If they lose Saturday, they can kiss a playoff berth goodbye.  Ohio State has looked good offensively through two weeks, but they haven’t really played anyone.  Norman is sure to be a hostile place.  How will the young guys on the Buckeyes respond?  That game is very intriguing.  And I will be keeping a close eye on North Dakota State taking on #13 Iowa (Noon ET ESPN2).  It is going to be a great weekend of college football.


New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills 8:25 PM ET CBS & NFL Network


Thursday Night Football takes the stage tonight in western New York where both the Jets and the Bills will try and avoid 0-2 starts.  The Bills offense was not good last week and there are serious questions regarding wide receiver Sammy Watkins and his health.  That foot is sore and it could affect him all season and cause him to miss games, even more than just tonight.  He is listed as questionable so we will see.  The Bills have plenty of injuries and suspensions to worry about.  The Jets lost a heartbreaker last week to the Cincinnati Bengals.  They have too much talent and too realistic of playoff expectations to start out 0-2.  They find a way to get the win.


Prediction: Jets 20 Bills 13


World Cup of Hockey preview


The puck drops on the World Cup of Hockey Saturday in Toronto.  Eight teams vie to be the best in the world.  It should be a great tournament and a nice spectacle.  It’s great that ESPN is broadcasting the tournament and acknowledging hockey as a sport once again and giving it some attention.  The eight teams are divided into two groups.


Group A

  • Team Canada

  • Team Czech Republic

  • Team Europe

  • Team USA


Group B

  • Team Finland

  • Team North America

  • Team Russia

  • Team Sweden


Team Canada is the heavy favorite to win it all and as well they should be.  My whole thing is why does there have to be a team North America.  These are the scraps from team Canada and team USA that couldn’t make their rosters?  Team Europe makes more sense since there are talented players in countries like Switzerland and Norway.  Still though, team Canada should win this tournament.  Team Russia with Alexander Ovechkin is going to be a tough test and USA will make a stand, but Canada gets the job done.  They will win the World Cup of Hockey.  Looking forward to watching this over the next two weeks on the ESPN family of networks.  Puck drops at 3:30 PM ET Saturday on ESPN2 from the Air Canada Center in Toronto.


Coming up Friday: Week 2 NFL preview and predictions