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Ball Don't Lie Ep.39 - Manny Got The Sox On Read

Ball Don't Lie shuffles the chairs around as Dante hosts with Scott this week as Manny Machado watch continues. How will the Sox fare this spring with (or without) Manny? Plus a look at the new Eastern Conference, moves around the NFL, and the 10 year anniversary of Drake's "So Far Gone" mixtape.

Topics

Machado/Harper still unsigned
Drama in Hollywood with LeBron, Lakers
The new-look Eastern Conference
Are the Thunder a legit threat to Golden State?
What's more impressive: James Harden's 30pt streak or Russell Westbrook's triple double streak?
Antonio Brown requests trade from Steelers
Joe Flacco traded to Broncos
Browns sign Kareem Hunt
Kyler Murray chooses NFL over baseball
10-year anniversary of So Far Gone
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Scott on Twitter: @BarbersChairNet
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The Sports World is in the Middle of this Weird Period where it Kinda Sucks
IMG_1907.JPG

We’ve entered the lull in the sports calendar where the NFL has given way to spring training and the NBA is in full swing, quickly approaching its always-extravagant All-Star Game this weekend in Charlotte. This should be one of the most exciting times of the year - fresh off a thrilling Super Bowl, the anticipation of spring baseball and new faces on new ballclubs giving way to a captivating playoff race that only The League can provide.

Instead, the Big Game was a flop, highlighted by a sixth championship ring for that guy and that coach and that team everyone is tired of, 100 of Baseball’s biggest free agents remain unsigned, and while the NBA is in the midst of its most interesting Eastern Conference playoff race in almost a decade, the drama off the court has been much better water cooler talk than the action on it.

Hockey may be good, but unless the Blackhawks are going to the playoffs I wouldn’t know.

The Super Bowl was an anomaly. After the highest scoring season in NFL history, fans expected a high-octane match-up with the Rams, one of the league’s best attacks who delivered an all-timer against the Chiefs back in November, and the Patriots, with the greatest player and coach in history gunning for history. What we got was a defensive struggle - both on the field and on the eyes. No one cared if Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck won their record SIXTH Super Bowl together; the game was a slog lacking an indelible moment that gave people a reason to care the next morning. By the time the combine rolls around at the end of the month, the game will almost entirely have been forgotten, and it’s onto next season.

The MLB is in year two of a free agent Cold War. As pitchers and catchers report for spring training this week, baseball’s biggest stars are still looking for homes. It was peculiar a year ago when guys like JD Martinez and Yu Darvish were still unsigned as camp began, even moreso when former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta went until the middle of March before inking a deal believed to be less than his market value.

The excuse back then? Front offices were waiting until the great free agent class of 2018-19 to make a run at the game’s biggest superstars - former MVP Bryce Harper, and star shortstop Manny Machado, with the latter not even costing team’s draft compensation if they signed him.

We’re entering mid-February, and the most noise we’ve heard about either has been via negotiations through the media.

But it’s not just Harper and Machado caught up in the free agent freeze. Closer Craig Kimbrel, former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, and dozens of other players won’t be reporting to camp on time. The reasons why their future’s are stuck in limbo this late into the game vary, but what was one of the most exciting periods of the year in baseball has become back page news.

While baseball’s hot stove has cooled off, the drama in the NBA has reached a fever pitch. Clubs are building superteams in an attempt to knock the ultimate superteam - the Golden State Warriors - and the ones not competing are clearing cap space for the biggest fish in this summer’s free agency. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the two biggest sharks in the water, are battling their frustration in the media as rumors swirl about their plans to team up with the New York Knicks next year, all while their current teams are on a collision course for the NBA Finals.

There’s also the Lakers: the team that lives and dies by drama. It’s SHOWTIME! HOLLYWOOD! You can’t go a season in LA without drama. Insert the best player in the world and the biggest mover and shaker in sports, and you have a recipe for drama even Shakespeare couldn’t write.

First, LeBron James signs in LA, aiming to become a media and sports mogul and the NBA’s first billionaire. Then, Anthony Davis signs with Klutch Sports, the agency founded by Bron’s good friend Rich Paul. When Paul, on Davis’ behalf, relayed A.D.’s intention to leave the New Orleans Pelicans, all eyes immediately turned to the Lakers, the definitely-but-won’t-be-penalized act of collusion on Klutch Sports’ and the Lakers’ behalf, and whether or not Pelicans GM Dell Demps was really dumb enough to go through with the trade.

Turns out he wasn’t, and not only did the ensuing drama put a stain on Lakers legend Magic Johnson’s record, it may have caused a bigger rift between LeBron, coach Luke Walton and his young teammates openly involved in trade rumors.

All this and we haven’t talked about a single game yet this season.

One team is so far and away ahead of the pack that every season has become a formality to us as fans. It doesn’t matter what the other 29 teams in the league do, no one is stopping Golden State. We’ve given up hope that any team currently constructed - not MVP Harden and the Rockets, or the stacked Celtics, or Kawhi and the Raptors, or the newly-built Sixers core - has a chance of standing up against the Warriors dynasty. The games, and the season, are irrelevant.

As we get closer to March, the universe will get a little more interesting. The first Duke-Carolina game of the year is just nine days away, and in the blink of an eye we’ll be locked into Championship Week and March Madness games on television. The NFL calendar will turn. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign, eventually, and day baseball will return. The drama in the Association will take a backseat to the Playoffs; whether or not the games are good or the outcome is predictable is up in the air.

But right now? Sports kinda sucks, and I’m dying for that feeling to change.

Ball Don't Lie - "Drew Brees Don't Know Choppa Style"

KOLR-10 sports anchor Dan Molloy joins Pierce and Scott this week to talk about the MLB hot stove and the White Sox pursuit of Manny Machado. Plus Dan's been covering the Kansas City Chiefs all year, so we'll get his thoughts on Championship Sunday, the Bears possibly signing Kareem Hunt, the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home and much much more!

Topics:
White Sox offer contract to Manny Machado
Possible collusion in MLB
Odds Manny signs with White Sox
Bears end-of-season press conference
Chuck Pagano hired as DC
Cody Parkey's future in Chicago
Nagy not shooting down Kareem Hunt to Bears
AFC Title Game preview
NFC Title Game preview
Kyler Murray declaring for NFL Draft
James Harden having another MVP season
Kyrie Irving and the Celtics' woes
Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer
Goofy Mog of the Week


Follow Flows on Twitter: @Flowsandolini
Follow Scott on Twitter: @Scott_C-oh yeah...that's right nvm...
Follow Pierce on Twitter: @HennyOmega
Follow Dan on Twitter: @DanMolloyTV
Follow the Barber's Chair: @BarbersChairNet

Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ball Don't Lie - "Not my GOAT"
Ball Don't Lie - Let's Get Spicy

This week's Ball Don't Lie gets a lil spicy! Don't trip... there's still plenty of the same bullshit we give you on the regular. So sit back and enjoy this week's show!

Topics:
Scott's night at the Lakers game
Sound-Off
Bears/Patriots fallout
Did Trubisky have a bad game?
What to do about Blake Bortles?
Amari Cooper trade to Cowboys
Patrick Peterson on trade block
Heartbreaking sports losses
Week 8 NFL predictions
CP3-Rondo brawl
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts
World Series predictions

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
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Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini

Ball Don't Lie - I Ain't Scared of You Mothafuckas

Pierce & Scott are back while Joe is already a third of the way to meeting our over/under of shows he'll miss this first half of the season. Alas.... we got a soundboard! So just know this show was shenanigans.

Topics:

Sound-Off
Smug media members
Derrick Rose getting his jersey retired in Chicago
Favorite games/stadiums to go to
KD potentially leaving Golden State after 2018-19
Conor McGregor-Khabib UFC madness
Jordan Howard trade rumors
Bears upcoming schedule
NFL week 5 recap
Blake Bortles still trash
Laughing at the NFC East
More Julio Jones slander!
Drew Brees touchdown record
Patrick Mahomes performance vs. Jaguars
Yankees-Red Sox watch party
Pierce rants on the disappointing Cubs season
Top 5 QBs of all-time
LCS preview
Week 6 NFL predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
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Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
https://teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

Ball Don't Lie - "WTF is going on?"

Joe misses his first of an expected six episodes this season, but don't fret. Scott & Pierce hold it down for you on this TWO-HOUR edition of Ball Don't Lie.

Topics:
Sound Off
Jimmy Butler/KAT/Wiggins/Timberwolves Drama
NBA Media Day
Why ‘Kyrie to the Knicks’ makes no sense
Ending the ‘Everyone wants to be a Laker’ narrative
Expectations for the NBA season
NFL Week 3 recap
Jimmy G torn ACL
Rams injuries
Saints-Falcons
Carson Wentz return in Philly
Lions-Patriots
Patrick Mahomes & the Chiefs are 3-0
Can the Jags win the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles playing like mid?
NFL Week 4 predictions
First impressions of 'The Joker'
Can the DCEU, X-Men right the ship?
Mini-35th and Addison
The Cubs folding down the stretch
Grading the 2018 Chicago White Sox
The return of 'Red Shirt Tiger' sundays
Shoutouts
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH

35th and Addison EP 9 (ft. @SD2Mics)

35th and Addison is back for the September playoff run! We're joined by ESPN 1000 producer Shaun Davis to talk the future of the White Sox, Michael Kopech's first few starts and where the Sox can go in 2019? Plus our expectations for the Cubs this season, and more!

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
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Follow Shaun: @SD2Mics

The Hunt for October

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks in the MLB.  A couple of teams have kicked their run into high gear, some are stuck in neutral, and others are hustling backwards.  Let’s start with one of the more memorable moments of the MLB season which took place on the North Side of Chicago.

Cubs leading a strong NL Central race
(CHC lead by four games)

The “David Bote Game” may be one that we look back on as a defining moment for the Cubs as well as a deathblow for the Nationals. Bote’s game-winning grand slam a few weeks ago was a good feeling, but the Cubs still have some work to do as the Cardinals (2.5 games back) have gone from .500 and selling off assets to a statement sweep of the Dodgers in a month, and the Brewers (three games back) hang around in the division as well.

The Cubs officially shut Yu Darvish down for the remainder of the season, but they added playoff nemesis Daniel Murphy for the stretch run. The Cardinals also added firepower to their lineup by way of first baseman Matt Adams.

Code Red in DC as the Braves separate themselves from the Phillies
(ATL leads NL East by 3 games)

The good news for the Nationals is they've won the first two games in their series with the Phillies, and they'll see Philadelphia and Atlanta for the final time in two weeks. The bad news is that they've already started their fire sale, sending both Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams to contenders, and pulling Bryce Harper back off waivers once the Dodgers claimed him. "Harper Watch" is officially underway.

Speaking of the Phillies, the question of their legitimacy away from Philly remains as they went 2-4 in Arizona and San Diego, and dropped their first two games in Washington. Philadelphia has to consistently beat the teams they’re supposed to beat as well as find success on the road.

The Braves had their own share of drama as young star Ronald Acuna Jr. was plunked by a Jose Urena fastball last week.  Acuna was RED HOT at the plate, homering eight times in eight games leading up to the incident.  Fortunately, Acuna did not suffer a significant injury. It will be interesting to see how things go this weekend when the Braves travel to play Urena’s Marlins.

Anyone’s Game in the NL West (ARI leads by 1.5 games)

While Arizona has been near the top of the division standings all season, the Rockies are the division’s hottest team. Colorado has won nine of its last eleven games, and welcome Matt Holliday into the lineup for the stretch run. The second half of their six-game homestand will be important as the Cardinals are playing great baseball as well.

Meanwhile, things haven’t gone as planned in Los Angeles. The Dodgers' slide continues as they were swept by St. Louis at home this week. Kenley Jansen's second appearance since coming off the disabled list was brutal as he surrendered the two-run homer that ended the game. LA is 4.5 games out of first, 3.5. games back of the second wild card.

RK-Oakland: A’s are AL West Contenders Out of Nowhere (HOU leads by 1 game)

In a way that would make WWE Superstar Randy Orton proud, the Oakland A’s have surprisingly found their way into the AL West race. Oakland’s success has been puzzling to just about everyone outside of the Bay Area being that they’ve entered the season in the bottom three of team payroll. Lately they’ve won their share of close games with the help of their retooled bullpen.  If they can keep this up, we might see the Oakland Coliseum being used for baseball past September.

Houston is trying to find their stride after a rough stretch which they lost three of their last ten. They took two of three in Seattle to push the Mariners down and stay atop the AL West. They'll host the A's in their final series of the regular season next week in Houston; one of the most crucial series left this year.

Seattle isn’t necessarily fading in the AL West; their play has been overshadowed by the two teams above them. So far, every time it looks like that playoff drought might live to see another year, the Mariners show that they still have life. Robinson Cano’s return to the team has been a plus in a variety of ways, although he’s ineligible for postseason play.  However, uncertainty surrounding Felix Hernández’s role on the pitching staff raises eyebrows.  “Will he go to bullpen?”, “Will he ever return to the starting rotation”, “Does he even have anything left in the tank?” are all questions the Mariners need to solve as soon as possible.

Elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox continue to play great baseball.  Since sweeping the Yankees they've gone 9-4, boosting them to a league-best 88 wins. They seem poised for a deep postseason run. Oh, and that JD Martinez guy?  He’s having an MVP-worthy season and very well could make the 50-home run mark this season.

Not to be outdone by Boston, the Indians have quietly put together a solid run of their own winning eight of their last ten. The Indians are the only division leader with a double-digit lead as they’re up twelve and a half games over second place Minnesota.  Looking at the state of the other four teams in the division, Cleveland very well could have the AL Central locked up by the third week of September.

As the White Sox get a glimpse of their future, the present-day Cubs push for playoff dominance

Tuesday August 21st, 2018 could go down as a memorable day in Chicago sports history. On the day the White Sox unleash one of the stars of their very bright future, the hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech, the Cubs - always looking to steal the spotlight from their south side cousins - trade for Washington Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy, better known in Wrigleyville as the 'Cub Killer'.

If the hype around the Sox top pitching prospect is real, then tonight is the dawning of a new era of White Sox baseball. Kopech, ranked 13th among prospects by MLB Pipeline (fourth among pitchers), was the prize beside Yoan Moncada in the Chris Sale deal to Boston more than a year ago. The 22-year-old flamethrower is reminiscent of other Texans before him, like strikeout king Nolan Ryan, the great Roger Clemens, and Cubs fan favorite Kerry Wood.

On Monday, Kopech received a ringing endorsement from a Hall-of-Famer who knew how to get a K; Pedro Martinez. “I believe Kopech has the biggest up and coming arm in baseball," Pedro said. "Excited to watch his debut with the White Sox.”

And Pedro isn't the only one. Attendance at Guaranteed Rate Field - the butt of Cub fans jokes for years - is expected to be plentiful for Kopech's debut against the Minnesota Twins tonight. The Sox have averaged just over 19,000 fans a game this year, ahead of only Oakland (a playoff team playing in cavernous stadium with a fan base tormented by fire sale after fire sale), Tampa Bay (a mediocre team with sporadic fan interest and a dud of a dome) and Miami (see Dan Lebatard, Stugotz and the Shipping Container for all the problems they have).

Sox fans have gotten a bad wrap for showing up for games, a long-standing belief that's accurate in numbers, but if you did deeper than the attendance report you'll find a fan base that's simply tired of being 78-84, and the distant second team in the second city. The Cubs championship win in 2016 - whether or not they want to admit it - lit a fire under the Sox ass, front office and fan alike. Thus the rebuild began, and there have been some very lean years in the Bronzeville/Armour Square community.

Be honest, would you come out to watch the 2017 White Sox? Or even the club this season up until this point? $6 Stubhub tickets be damned! Chicago is too gorgeous to be spending my summer watching a bad ballclub. I'd know. I watched sorry ass Cub team after sorry ass Cub team.

Tonight's game signals the true beginning of a new hope on 35th and Shields, and if Kopech delivers and Eloy Jimenez - the 'other' prospect at the top of the chain - gets called up before the season is over as well, the sights, sounds and feelings of old White Sox baseball could be reinvigorated sooner than we think.

As the Pale Hose usher in the ace of their future, the Chicago Cubs, née White Stockings, look to extend their championship hopes in the present-day.

When the fruits of the Cubs rebuild started to show in their magical 2015 playoff run, it was Daniel Murphy who reminded Cubs fans just who they were. Then with the New York Mets, Murphy was the Billy Goat, Black Cat and Bartman all rolled into one as the Metropolitans steamrolled the Cubs in the 2015 NLCS.

Three years and a Chicago World Series title later, Daniel Murphy, the 'Cub Killer', is now a Cub.

The Nationals finally gave in and started their yard sell, trading Murphy to the north side for a minor-leaguer and a player to be named later. President Theo Epstein and the Cubs will almost certainly have to answer questions on their decision to add a man who doesn't believe in the "gay lifestyle" to their supposedly tight brood, but they made the same decision with Aroldis Chapman in 2016 after his domestic violence suspension, and Addison Russell (accused of DV in the alleged cheating scandal last year) remains on the team. The Cubs organization can paint it however you want, but the ugly truth is Theo, GM Jed Hoyer and the baseball operations are focused not on winning PR battles, but World Series' instead.

As for the player they're getting, Daniel Murphy is a machine with a bat in his hand. He missed the first two months of the season following right knee surgery. Since the All-Star break, Murphy has shined as the Nationals faded out of the playing picture, hitting .340 with a .904 OPS post-break. Not only is he a strong lefty bat to insert into the lineup, it takes away a potential bat that could kill the Cubs on the road to another title.

Acquiring Murphy could be the Cubs adding to their embarrassment of riches, or it could be a sign of deeper problems within the 25-man roster. Russell has been playing with a hand injury for a while that's "been bothering him more than he's saying" according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, and he hasn't hit well when in the lineup. Former NL MVP Kris Bryant is dealing with a shoulder injury that's kept him on the shelf for significant portions of the season. Murphy, a second-baseman who can spell Anthony Rizzo at first base during the September stretch, gives them room to move MVP candidate Javy Baez around to short (for Russell) or third (for Bryant). But it does create one hell of a logjam that any team would kill to have.

The Cubs, holders of the best record in the National League, have had their ups and downs throughout the rollercoaster baseball season, but Murphy gives them a murderers row and a proven postseason warrior, necessary for a proven team themselves who happen to go cold at times. The insurance of adding Murphy makes the Cubs, at full strength, the team to beat in the National League. In a few months, we could be looking back on this day as the day the Cubs stamped their ticket to the World Series.

And years down the line, we could look back on this day as the day a legend was born in Chicago.

What a time to be a baseball fan in Chicago. Any tickets left for the Crosstown Classic next month?

35th and Addison EP 8
Inside the 2018 MLB Playoff Race

It’s August and the games are starting to matter in the Major Leagues. One bad stretch of games in August could leave you on the outside looking in come playoff time. Let’s look at the close divisional and wild card races still going on.

Rex Sox rising, Yankees folding in AL East

For a team that boasts one of the deepest lineups 1-through-9 in the league, the loss of Aaron Judge (wrist injury) has really hurt the Bronx Bombers.  Entering Monday, the Yankees have lost five straight, including a four-game sweep to the rival Red Sox, who now hold a 9 and a half-game lead in the AL East.

Keep in mind that the Red Sox did all of this without the help of ace Chris Sale, who is expected to return from shoulder inflammation this weekend in Baltimore.

 

Second half magic puts Oakland in the thick of the Wild Card hunt

The Oakland Athletics keep winning, I don’t know how… but they just keep winning. The A's took off in June and July to push them right in the middle of the American League Wild Card hunt.

If you look at their roster, your kneejerk reaction is probably “Who are these guys???”. Their rotation consisting of guys who have bounced all around the league (I’m talking about you, Edwin Jackson), their starting lineup can flat out MASH, like Khris Davis (the major league leader in home runs since 2016) and the two Matts (Chapman and Olson). If the A’s find themselves in the Wild Card game, they will be the reason why.

Are the Phillies for real?

There’s a lot of winning going on in Philadelphia this year (shoutout to Meek) and surprisingly the Phillies have kept the trend going. They’ve won five straight and have a game and a half lead over the Atlanta Braves.

Most of their damage has been done at home, with a NL-best 37 wins at Citizens Bank Park. If they want to hold off the Braves and Nationals (there’s still hope for Bryce Harper and Washington), they’ll have to improve on that 25-30 record away from Philly.

The Cubs are finally playing to their potential

The Chicago Cubs hold the best record in the National League, despite missing key members for long periods of time (Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow). They're only a game ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central coming into Monday, but even without those stars they're playing to everyone's expectations.

The Cubs were relatively quiet at the trade deadline, acquiring Cole Hamels and a few relievers to add the pen. The Brewers have been a nice story, but it’s going to be a tough task matching wins late in the season with a team as good as the Cubs. Milwaukee may eventually have to turn its focus on maintaining its lead in the wild card race.

How the (NL) West is won

On paper, the Dodgers are the clear favorite to win the NL West for a sixth straight year, but it’s still wide open out west. They're tied atop the division with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been solid behind MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. The Colorado Rockies have also managed to hang around behind their star Nolan Arenado. Even the Giants sit five games back in the West.

There can only be one division winner, but the added incentive for these teams is to avoid that one game playoff. This race will certainly come down to the last week of the regular season.

Key series to watch

Philadelphia Phillies (62-48) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (62-50)
August 6th-8th

The margin for error for both teams is extremely slim. Can the Phillies get some wins on the road?

Los Angeles Dodgers (61-51) @ Colorado Rockies (58-52)
August 9th-12th

The Dodgers have a chance to distance themselves from the Rockies in a packed NL West.

Milwaukee Brewers (65-49) @ Atlanta Braves (59-48)
August 10th-12th

A potential preview of the NL wild-card game.

35th and Addison EP 7 - Bring that boy home

Long Live Rico! Scott and Pierce are back to give their trade deadline grades. Plus A-Rod's comments on Yu Darvish in the Cubs clubhouse, the Nats not selling Bryce Harper at the deadline, Jon Lester & Sean Doolittle's dope responses to baseball's recent storm of bigoted tweets, what Scott wants to see from the Sox in the offseason, and how many more boxes does Eloy need to check before Hahn calls him up?

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

Let's Make a Deal: MLB Trade Deadline
Zach Britton Source:   Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun

Zach Britton Source: Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun

With another All-Star break in the books, it’s time to direct our attention toward the second half of the regular season.  The trade deadline is approaching, and as playoff races begin to heat up, teams will have to decide if they will be “buyers” or “sellers” Here are a few notable moves that could impact the second half.

Trade Deadline Moves... So Far

The first domino fell when Manny Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers over the break this past week. This deal greatly impacts the outlook of the National League pennant race as the Dodgers are now a popular favorite in the NL. One of five prospects going the other way to Baltimore is Yusniel Diaz. The 21-year-old Cuban outfielder put on a show in the Futures Game in D.C. over the break.

Another big name was moved a few days later when Padres closer Brad Hand was dealt to Cleveland. Hand will join a talented but underachieving Indians bullpen for the stretch run. In return, the Padres landed young, switch-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia. They may not be good now but as they continue to stockpile talent, the Padres will be a team to watch in the future.

The third noteworthy trade to occur since the break involved the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics. The Mets dealt reliever Jeurys Familia to Oakland for two minor leaguers. The Mets are waving the white flag on a disappointing season, while Oakland feels that they can catch the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. Adding Familia to bolster their bullpen is a step in the right direction for a playoff run.

Players That Could Be on The Move

Source: SI.com

Source: SI.com

While some big names have changed addresses, there are a few more quality players that could be dealt. The teams that missed out on Manny Machado (the Indians, Brewers, and Phillies) still have a need that has to be filled for the last few months. Those teams, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, are interested in Mets veteran middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. While Cabrera may be 32, he would be a welcome addition to any lineup; he's currently hitting .280 BA with 17 homers and 53 RBI.

Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America)

Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America)

Another player whose trade value has been linked to Machado is Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnik, the Red Sox and Braves have shown interest in the 29-year-old. While Moustakas hasn’t always been the most consistent player, he would be a good fit in further solidifying either lineup. Like Cabrera, look for a deal involving Moustakas to be more on the side of a rental rather than something long-term.

Zach Britton has been a solid reliever for arguably the worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles. With Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia already traded, Britton is now viewed as the best relief pitching option on the trade market. Britton has been “lights out” as of late, he has not given up a run in his last eight appearances.

Playoff contenders such as the Astros, Braves, Dodgers and Cubs (perhaps more) are very interested in Britton. With such a valuable trade chip in their pocket, the Orioles again are looking to land the best offer possible as they did with Machado. It will be interesting to see who lands where over the next week as well as when teams can make trades via waivers following the trade deadline.

35th & Addison EP 6 - Second Half Preview
What to watch for in MLB's second half

The second half of the MLB season unofficially starts Thursday night with Cubs-Cardinals in primetime at Wrigley. You're probably thinking "baseball started?" Don't worry, you're not alone... the rest of America is too.

While the commissioner is busy blaming players for not being marketable (isn't that your job, chief?) we know you've been busy with the NBA Playoffs, World Cup and tons of better shit to do than watch baseball. But now it's summer, the other sports have died down and baseball is starting to heat up. The MLB is center stage, and it's time for you to get ready for second half action. Here's a few things you should look out for in the final 2 1/2 months of the season.

Dodgers going for broke

Patrick Smith, Getty Images

Patrick Smith, Getty Images

After a poor start to the season, the Dodgers are back in first in the NL West, holding a half-game lead on the Diamondbacks. They went all in Wednesday, sending five prospects (only one - Yusniel Diaz - is in MLB.com's Top 100) to Baltimore for soon-to-be free agent Manny Machado, to replace the injured Corey Seager at short. It's a sign from Andrew Friedman and the front office that they're looking to quickly put last year's World Series failure behind them and end LA's 30-year championship drought.

The Dodgers are still in the market for relievers to help closer Kenley Jansen, but adding Machado restores LA as likely the most dangerous lineup 1-9 in the National League. Manny has somehow raised his game in 2018, hitting 24 home runs and clubbing a .963 OPS in the first half. Now you plug him into an offense that has averaged a .793 OPS and 5.1 runs per game in the team's 37-17 run since May 17th. The Dodgers are still dealing with the decline of Clayton Kershaw, but its offense is more potent than ever.

The American League playoff race is loaded

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The National League has more teams in playoff contention because it's the lesser of the two leagues, but the AL is bringing some firepower among its top teams. The Red Sox, Yankees and Astros are all at 62 wins or above, and feature stacked lineups with some consistent arms at the front end of their rotation.

The Red Sox got off to a great run as they go for a third-straight division crown, but also their first time out of the ALDS since the 2013 World Series team. Mookie Betts is on another MVP tear (.359 BA, 23 HRs, 1.139 OPS), and core guys Andrew Benintendi & Xander Bogaerts have provided strong offense. But the addition of JD Martinez in the offseason (.328 BA, 29 HRs, 80 RBI, 1.037 OPS) has pushed Beantown to the best record in baseball. There's also FOUR 10-game winners in their rotation, with Chris Sale (10-4, 2.23 ERA, 188 Ks) and Eduardo Rodriguez as their anchors. They could afford to tighten up their bullpen behind closer Craig Kimbrel, but all-in-all the Red Sox are best positioned to win the AL Pennant for the first time in five years.

The Bronx Bombers have withstood an underwhelming start from Gary Sanchez, thanks to their big boppers Aaron Judge (25 HRs, .973 OPS) and Giancarlo Stanton (23 HRs, .864 OPS), the emergence of young guns like Gleyber Torres (.294 BA, 15 HRs, .905 OPS) and Miguel Andujar, and the dominance of ace Luis Severino (14-2, 2.31 ERA, 144 Ks) and closer Aroldis Chapman. They're not done adding to their club - they're in the market for more starting pitching and kicked the tires on Manny Machado before the Dodger trade - so to be only 4.5 games back of Boston at this juncture is really good standing. Also, the Yankees have finished the first half 29 games above .500 three times before - 1939, 1953 and 1998. Each year, they went on to win the World Series.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Bob Levey/Getty Images

The resurgence of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has taken defending World Series champs off the front pages, but the Houston Astros are still the best team in baseball until they're knocked off their pedestal. They've had to forge through the inconsistencies of their offense (minus Alex Bregman) and Dallas Keuchel, but after a rough 6-7 stretch against the four other top contenders in the AL, the 'Stros have racked off 27-10 in their last 37 before the break. They may be in the market for a closer, with Ken Giles sent down for sucking and arguing with his coaches, but they could very well stand pat and go back to October with the same guns that won it for them last year.

Don't forget about the Indians either. Cleveland is looking for a third-straight AL Central title, and just added lefty reliever Brad Hand to their already lethal group of relievers, including Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Corey Kluber remains the ace of the staff with 12 wins, 132 strikeouts and a 2.76 ERA. The solid work of Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.24 ERA, 175 Ks), Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber gives Cleveland some room to be creative with their rotation, working 11-win righty Carlos Carrasco back from the DL by using him out of the bullpen against the Yankees last weekend. Cleveland sits far behind the other AL powers in the win column, but barring an unlikely surge by the Twins, the Indians will be playing in October, and with strong arms & a top-heavy lineup (Frankie Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion) whoever they meet in the ALDS better not rest on their laurels.

As far as the second wild card goes, the Seattle Mariners are the favorite to end the longest playoff drought in North American sports, but they've dropped four in a row and are now just 3 games up on the surprising Oakland A's. The Athletics' young offense has been really hot as of late, and the addition of some veteran arms could be key to getting Oakland back into October. For Seattle, Robinson Cano's return from PED suspension on August 14th will be a big boost to a club missing his bat in the everyday lineup, even though they haven't been hurt by it so far. Some pitchers to help Marco Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake and James Paxton should be enough to hold off Oakland and make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Intrigue in the NL Central

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The NL Central have undergone a shit ton of maintenance in the last few years. The Astros left for the AL, the Cardinals - once the crown jewel of the division - have fallen off and now need a new manager, and the Cubs - yes, those Cubs - have ascended as the kings of the Central and are looking to go back-to-back-to-back for the first time in team history. But now, those pesky Milwaukee Brewers are hungrier and want to avenge last season's collapse, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates are in range of a wild card spot.

The Cubs usually heat up in August and pull away from the competition in September, and I expect much of the same this season. The Brewers won't go away lightly though - they were loud in their pursuit of Manny Machado, and have the prospects to fill holes at the deadline, likely with Twins infielder Brian Dozier. They lost their last six games before the break, and 8 of their last 10, so if they want to play October baseball, they'll need to move on those trade pieces before they go elsewhere in the NL.

What's next for the Cardinals is interesting to watch as the season closes; they only sit 4 games behind the Braves for the second wild card. The expectation is for them to go after Joe Girardi, who grew up in East Peoria - the dividing line between Cubs and Cards fans in Illinois. Do they mail it in and start moving towards the offseason, or do they make one last push with the guys they have now?

Several teams push for two wild card spots in NL

The introduction of the Wild Card playoff in 2012 opened the door for all those teams on the fringe to make a move at the deadline and push for that final playoff seed. We've seen some crazy races in the last few years, and this year will be no different. The Brewers, despite their recent slide, are in control of the 1st WC slot, while the Braves.- losers of 7 of their last 10 - hold the second by a half-game on the D-Backs. The Braves are mired in a battle with the NL East-leading Phillies and the .500 Washington Nationals, while the D-Backs are fighting with the Rockies - winners of five straight - and Giants for the Dodgers' top spot in the NL West. All while the Cardinals linger, and the Pirates hold out hope.

There'll be lots of movement in the NL before the trade deadline, so expect the NL Wild Card race to come down to the wire once more.

Bryce Harper watch begins... now

Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are at even .500, 5 games back of the wild card, & 5.5 games back in the NL East. They're MVP and the biggest star in D.C. sports at the moment (sorry Ovie, sorry John Wall) has a big decision to make at season's end.

All Star week might have been one big love-fest between Bryce Harper and Washington D.C., but there's no love in business. Bryce Harper is a former MVP who will be 26 at the start of next season. The Nationals want to retain him, obviously, but Bryce - a Scott Boras client - hasn't definitely said he will stay, and has openly made his affection for the Cubs (his bestie Kris Bryant is there) and the Yankees known. If the Nationals don't make the playoffs, they can all but kiss their $400 million man goodbye. Hell, it's not a guarantee he'll return even if they play into October, but after years of coming up short in the NLDS, if this is it for the Nationals and the greatest player in franchise history, they need to go for it all in the second half.

35th & Addison EP 5

35th & Addison is back to talk more Chicago baseball, including the Cubs' two series with the LA Dodgers & Eloy Jimenez watch down in the White Sox farm system. Plus we discuss the Astros playing championship baseball, the Dodgers powering themselves back into contention, Shohei Ohtani's arm and Yankees-Red Sox III!

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

35th & Addison Ep. 4 - The Boys of Summer

After an NBA Playoff hiatus, 35th & Addison is back! Pierce & Scott talk Chicago baseball, including the Cubs' surge to the top of the standings, and updates on Eloy Jimenez & Michael Kopech. Plus, what if the Sox were in the same division as the Cubs? We also look at teams who have impressed us so far, discuss Shohei Ohtani's injury and why a top Chicago exec may be lying on Bryce Harper.

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH

What's Going On In "The Show"?

If you’ve been locked in on the NBA playoffs like most of the world has been, there was quite a bit you’ve missed in the MLB. With the Memorial Day checkpoint in the rearview mirror, we’ve had our fair share of surprises (both good and bad) to start off the season.  Here’s what has stood out so far.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves are ahead of schedule

People didn’t have very much expectation for Atlanta this year. The Braves organization is the top ranked minor league system entering this season, so it was assumed that this team is still in its rebuild phase. However, the mix of young talent led by second baseman Ozzie Albies (pictured above) and seasoned veterans have surprisingly put the Braves in National League East and Wild Card contention.

Atlanta has been one of the best hitting teams in baseball so far this season. They have also pitched very well behind their second and third starters, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.  The Braves have been very fun to watch, but can they hold off the Nationals all summer?

No Cano, No Problem for Seattle

Here’s something that even I didn’t see coming. The Mariners lost star second baseman Robinson Cano on May 16 to not only a hand injury but also an 80-game suspension for violating the leagues drug policy.  Surprisingly since then, the Mariners have been on a roll behind their starting rotation.

Like Atlanta, Seattle has a daunting task of holding off a World Series contender in their own division, the defending champion Houston Astros. Not only do the Mariners have the Astros to deal with, they also have a very solid Angels team lurking in the American League West. It’s still early, but this Mariners team is showing potential to be the one to end the longest playoff drought in the four major sports.

The Dodgers stumble out of the block… and get injured

Mark J. Terrill-AP

Mark J. Terrill-AP

Anything and everything that could go wrong for the defending National League champion Dodgers has gone wrong so far. This team just cannot seem to stay healthy. The team started off the season without third baseman Justin Turner due to a wrist injury he suffered in spring training. Then they lost up and coming shortstop Corey Seager for the year with an elbow (UCL sprain) injury.

Now they’re dealing with the uncertain health of ace Clayton Kershaw (pictured right). A back injury may keep Kershaw off the mound until early July.  With the Rockies and Diamondbacks battling atop the division, the Dodgers hope that they can get healthy before either team runs away with the division.

Another Rough Year for the “Comedy Central”

For years the American League Central has been the division where only the division winner makes the playoffs.  So far this year, there’s only one team over .500 in the division: the prohibitive favorite Cleveland Indians. 

What’s shocking about this is that the Indians have not managed to pull away from the other teams.  Their bullpen, which had been a strength of the team in previous years, has been awful.  Their closer, Cody Allen, is the lone reliever with an earned run average under 4.00.  Although the Indians have disappointed so far, they still have the talent to be a dangerous team if they put it all together by season’s end. 

The future is here: the MLB's youth movement, part I
Getty Images

Getty Images

The 2018 MLB season has gotten off to an eventful start to say the least. There have been multiple “no hitters”, a milestone 3,000th hit from a legend, and the occasional bench-clearing brawl. The most exciting part of the young season? The influx of fresh talent entering the majors.

Some of these players have given their teams an added jolt during the early parts of the marathon season. Other prospects haven't made it to The Show just yet, but they've given fans a feeling of optimism for the future from down in the Minors. Those players will be examined further in a future piece, but for now here are some names that are already on big-league rosters that you should get familiar with.

Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves)

Atlanta’s top prospect made his debut on April 25th in Cincinnati, and he's already amassed 4 home runs one month in. The 20-year-old Venezuelan outfielder is said to have “5-tool” talent, meaning he can hit for power and contact, possesses speed, a strong arm and he plays good defense. With Acuna Jr. joining fellow prized prospect Ozzie Albies, the Braves have become one of the more fun teams to watch in the league so far. 

Gleyber Torres (Yankees)

Torres is the prized prospect the Yankees got back in the Aroldis Chapman deal that sent the Cuban flamethrower to the Cubs. Torres lost a good portion of his 2017 season to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing elbow. The 21-year-old Venezuelan second baseman has made up for lost time, drilling six homers and batting .323 on the season. The rich get richer as Torres is just another bat in a loaded New York lineup.

Juan Soto (Nationals)

Juan Soto, a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic, homered in his first Major League at-bat on Monday. It's a familiar feeling for Nats fans; Soto became the first teenager to homer in the Majors since Bryce Harper did it in 2012.

 Willy Adames (Rays)

Willy Adames had the unenviable position of facing Red Sox ace Chris Sale in his Major League debut. He responded to a strikeout in his first at-bat by going yard off Sale in his next appearance. Adames has been pretty consistent at the plate throughout his minor league career and he is also a solid defender. On and off the field, the 22-year-old Dominican shortstop shows long-term potential as a face of a Tampa Bay franchise that badly needs one.