Wake Up! Three Sleeper Teams That Could Surprise in the World Series

This is a special feature article from Covers.com.

With the dog days of summer marching on and the Midsummer Classic behind us, the Major League Baseball playoff race is finally starting to come into focus. Historically dominant starts by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have firmly entrenched the league leaders as the World Series odds favorites, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only game in town. Several other teams have also made compelling cases as legitimate contenders to reach – and even win – the Fall Classic, so let’s take a deeper look at three sleeper teams capable of shaking things up come October.

Colorado Rockies

Early in the season, it appeared the Colorado Rockies could be one of the surprises of the year. Mid-June saw the Rockies looking like one of the best teams in baseball, but the Rockies have taken a steep tumble since then. Still, despite a relative lack of star power and a rough stretch to close out the first half, Colorado looks like a team that could make some noise in the fall. They’re led by a young and very deep – if less than spectacular – pitching staff, and their hitting has managed to be just good enough to keep pace. Trade rumors have swirled that could see a big bat or two added to the lineup, but even if no moves are made, the Rockies have earned recognition as a team to contend with as the playoffs approach.

Arizona Diamondbacks

After making a strong impression early in the summer, Arizona has had a few disappointing series leading into the All-Star break. Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks look destined to make the playoffs, and the club undoubtedly has the talent to make a run. It begins with the perennially underappreciated Paul Goldschmidt, who has been destroying the baseball all year long in what has thus far been an MVP-caliber season. He’s got Jake Lamb, Chris Owings and other solid bats around him, and he’s complemented by a great pitching rotation built on the arms of the enigmatic Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley. The offense may still need some help, and the bullpen is undeniably vulnerable, but the D-backs are capable of surprising in October.

New York Yankees

At one point, it looked as though the Yankees could be the best team in the American League. A terrible summer slump promptly ended that talk, but the Yanks are still a young and talented club. Suspected human-giant hybrid Aaron Judge continues to do his best Babe Ruth impersonation, mashing the ball at a nearly unprecedented rate for a rookie. Gary Sanchez has largely continued the scintillating start he put together last season. The bullpen has been a sore spot and injuries have put a hurting on the rotation and offensive depth, but the Bronx Bombers have shown they can slug it out with anyone in the majors when healthy. After all, there’s a reason they boast better World Series odds than their recent performance would suggest.

The Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

This season has been filled with great storylines and surprise teams, but at the end of the day, there can be only one champion. If any of the sleeper teams above is to win it all, they’ll likely have to go through the powerhouse LA Dodgers to do it. It’s no surprise the Dodgers are in first place, but the magnitude of their first-half achievements can’t be overstated.

The pitching staff leads the majors in ERA and wins, ranks second in strikeouts and is tied for first in fewest home runs surrendered. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood represent arguably the best one-two punch in the game, Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez have been great in relief and Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and others have torn the cover off the ball. The team even has a realistic shot at cracking 110 regular season wins. If you’re looking for a team built to win it all, you can’t do much better than the Boys in Blue.

Conor McGregor and a Case for Irrational Confidence

To accomplish great things in life, you must have irrational confidence. Confidence doesn’t come about naturally but through a series of actions that involve a person stepping outside of their comfort zone and being uncomfortable.

A lot of people who might describe themselves as “low self-esteem, low confidence” individuals I think are either suffering from 1.) inaction, or 2.) they stepped outside of their comfort zone, had one or a few negative experiences and allowed said experiences to define them.

Irrational confidence is that all-knowing belief that you can do whatever it is that exists as your goal(s).

Conor McGregor has displayed this from the get-go in his combat sports career. I wrote about him back in 2013, when the general population still had no idea who he was. If you go back and watch, in August 2013, when he fought Max Holloway (who is the current UFC Featherweight champion), you can see this. He had an aura about him from the get-go — smiling, having fun before the fight, totally straightforward.

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation.”

I’ve always loved that quote. McGregor spouted it once upon a time. Maybe after his fight with Dustin Poirier. I can’t remember.

Anyway, he’s facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in what is a boxing contest on August 26th. I have no doubt that Mayweather is going to win, but I don’t begrudge either man for taking part in this spectacle, because they are both racking up stupid amounts of money.

The thing is, irrational confidence attracts believers after the doubters are proven wrong.

Chad Mendes — in ‘fighting shape or not’ — was said to be the man to oust McGregor with his wrestling. He laid on top of McGregor in the first round, but ultimately McGregor cold clocked him in the second round. “Mendes ran out of gas!” people say. Sure, I think so, but if you watch the fight again, McGregor took the wind out of Mendes early with a body shot.

Jose Aldo was undefeated for about a decade. It only took Conor McGregor 12 seconds to starch him.

McGregor made Eddie Alvarez look like an amateur… a deer in front of headlights…

McGregor still has doubters, though. But hey, like that quote goes, you can be the juiciest, ripest peach in the world, and there will be people who dislike peaches regardless of that.

But the believers have been convinced, through all the charisma, that he has a chance to defeat one of the greatest defensive boxers of all-time.

do believe that McGregor can and will land punches… he’s simply a long fighter in comparison to Floyd, but I think a lot of people underestimate the fact that this is a boxing bout and that Floyd can and will clinch to get out of trouble. I’d give McGregor more a chance if boxing judges took points off for inane clinching.

Pro Sports Loyalty is Laughable (Pitiful Utah Jazz Fans)

Utah Jazz fans are bitter bumrat schmucks this morning.

I hate it when sports fans talk about loyalty in the realm of professional sports. ‘Scuse the language (as always, folks), but it’s the dumbest fucking notion that any professional athlete in a team sport should be loyal. It’s idiotic. I hate it. I think it’s simple minded for sports fans to expect players on their favorite teams to stay forever.

Gordon Hayward is going to play for the pride and the glory of The Boston Celtics.

He could have taken more money to stay in bum ass Utah.

He could have taken more money to go play in Miami for the Heat and live a luxurious lifestyle.

But no.

He took less money to jump ship to play for the pride and the glory of The Boston Celtics.

Why? For a chance to win a ‘chip.

Nah, the Celtics will never beat LeBron and the Cavs in this reality over the next year barring serious injury to LeBron & Co. And even if they did, there’s no way in the world they’d have a screaming shitheel shot at defeating Golden State, but Hayward’s landing spot with the pride and the glory of The Boston Celtics is a hell of a lot better of a place to play for a chance at winning a ‘chip than Utah.

I love it when people justify their hate for a player leaving, because it’s foolish. It’s sad. It’s pitiful. It’s downright moronic.

I get irritated with NBA players, because there’s not many rivalries going on these days. There’s too much buddy-buddy bullshit going on. I don’t care about the regular season. My irritation lies in the fact that there’s a lot of guys who are more concerned about “gettin’ theirs” rather than chasing titles. That’s why I laughed and loved it when LeBron bolted from sorry ass Cleveland to Miami to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That’s why I didn’t mind Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City to join Golden State.

Loyalty has no place in professional sports.

I hated it when ignorant Los Angeles Lakers “fans” justified Kobe Bryant getting that fat contract just a few years ago when he was clearly close to retirement. They claimed that he was “loyal” and he deserved the contract. Well, the prospect of Kobe leaving was huge multiple times during his career in Tinseltown. Did you forget about 2004 and 2007? Hell, he demanded to be traded at one point in 2007. Besides, if he didn’t get that fat contract with the Lakers a few years back, where was he going to go? Tell me… that dumb bastard Jim Buss handicapped the Lakers.

That annoyed me, because I’m a basketball purist. I’ll yell it forever: I want the Celtics, Lakers, Sixers, Knicks, Pistons, etc. etc. to be contenders every year. It’s more interesting.

But Jazz fans, get over yourselves.

“Years of rebuilding, and we finally get back into the playoffs, win a round and have a chance at making something special happen, and… and…. and… now we are back in the cellar. Fuck you, Gordon Hayward!”

That’s something I keep reading. Bitterness emanating from the larynxes of anguished Jazz fans.

Jazz-dudes, he played out his contract for your shitty, pitiful franchise. He poured years of heart, effort, blood, sweat and tears on the court during his tenure wearing your team’s name 82 games a year.

He fulfilled his obligation.

Then, he had the chance to go where he wanted.

Mobility.

Why would you shit talk a goddamn pro athlete for the opportunity to go where they wanted?

“He should stay loyal! He should give back to the fans! We pay his salary! Without us, he’d be nothing!”

Another remark reverberating off the walls of the bumrat schmuck coliseum…

Your boss pays your salary. If you get a better job offer somewhere else where you’d rather work, are you a disloyal jackass because you are leaving that said boss?

No.

Take the emotions out of it. Professional sports will always be about business. I don’t understand the rationale behind shitting on professional athletes for having the opportunity provided by the prospect of mobility to go where they want based on what they have in mind for their career.

Enjoy your inevitably abysmal season, Jazz fans. I’ll be laughing my ass off. Gordon Hayward and the Celtics will most likely fall to the Cavaliers, but he’ll probably have a much better time playing for a winning franchise. You should appreciate his time in Utah rather than booing just because you are sad, pitiful, bitter bumrats.

By the way, Mormons… caffeine is fucking awesome!

Kevin Durant, Mobility and Lonzo Ball

I wanted to touch on these two topics today.

While I wanted to see the NBA Finals go seven games, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors smashed the Cleveland Cavaliers in five and won their second title in three years. People are still bashing Durant, but he’s taking it in stride. Recently he was spotted wearing a cupcake hat.

Was it a little ‘weak’ for Durant to go to Golden State directly after his former squad blew a 3-1 Western Conference Finals series lead against them? Sure, but if you were in Durant’s shoes, can you blame him? Your all-knowing self can sit back in your armchair and pronounce that you would have stayed in Oklahoma City, because “you are a fierce competitor” and exacted revenge on the Warriors, but the reality is that you wouldn’t know what the hell you’d do as you are not in that situation. If your intent is to get a championship ring, heading to the Warriors was and is the easiest path to the said ring with the least resistance.

Whether or not it was a “bitch move” by Durant is regardless.

Is it a “bitch move” if you leave your current job for another one in a different city in a different state?

Is it a “bitch move” if you take the better promotion in a career where you are paid a higher salary?

If the answer is no to the above questions, then why is KD heading to Golden State a “bitch move” and the worst thing in the world?

Sports fans have amnesia and settle on being ignorant. I’ll never forget when LeBron James headed south to Miami and KD subsequently signed an extension with OKC. People lauded Durant for being loyal while chastising LeBron for “fuckin’ over Cleveland, maaaan”. Welp. The tables have obviously turned ever since. LeBron has been back in Cleveland for three years and now Durant is the veritable villain of pro basketball. Typical sports fans = fickle bastards. Also, Oklahoma City Thunder fans, you have no right to bitch — you should be appreciative of Durant and the fact that you even have a sports team. You inherited the Seattle Supersonics nine years ago, so just sit back and appreciate that gift as is. Durant never owed you bumrat schmucks anything.

Speaking of villains in basketball, I hope Lavar Ball’s son Lonzo is successful. The NBA is at its best when the Celtics, Lakers, 76ers and Knicks are at least decent. Lavar’s constant attention whore status within the media is a little over the top and it puts a target on his son’s back, but hey, at least it makes things interesting.

I want an interesting NBA regular season! Not all regular seasons are created equal. The last time I genuinely enjoyed the regular season was back when the Phoenix Suns were headed by Steve Nash and running the seven seconds or less offense. They were a blast to watch.

For those of you who said, “Man, I’m tired of Lavar Ball! I’m sick of drama! I just wanna watch basketball!” You are lying. You are the same types of people who go to Twitter, emit that you are tired of a select high profile individual but continuously mention their name multiple times a week on the ol’ Twitterverse. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

Just admit it: Lavar’s loudmouth yappin’ makes the league a little more interesting, because we are all curious as to how Lonzo is going to do as a pro with so many of his peers/adversaries looking to one-up him to shit his father up. How is that not interesting?

Good, Better, Best; Never Let It Rest ‘Til Your Good is Better and Your Better is Best

There’s a lot of people who think watching sports is a waste of time. They are well within their right to think so.

There’s also a lot of people who think it’s pointless to watch sports, and that doing so is for losers.

Well, I think those people are the real losers. If you cannot glean a lesson from another person’s greatness that’s been derived from a place of tireless work effort, that’s a you problem.

A lot of people, when studying the ‘greats’ of the world — as in, those who have invented revolutionary items/materials or achieved undisputed, unequivocal success in general — will often mention the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc.

The work ethic of athletes can be studied, as well. However, a ton of people write that off by saying, “Well, that’s all talent!” Oh? If it’s all talent, then you wouldn’t see so many draft busts in professional sports. You know what I mean: players with a lot of hype backed by a ton of talent who don’t work out very well in the pros. If you don’t think work ethic, mental/physical toughness and an unshakable, resilient drive through action to be the best is a factor in the lives of these folks, then you are a goddamn dunce.


I’m reading through “Relentless” by Tim Grover. It’s a terrific read so far. Grover has trained the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and many other athletes around the world.

Everybody, no matter who you are, in all walks of life can peruse this book and reap lessons and motivation from this book. Grover preaches taking action and not thinking in order to be a go-getter. What I mean by not thinking is, overthinking! Overthinking kills your happiness and breeds self-doubt.

He also writes about consistency and overcoming mental/physical pains, knowing your limits and still doing what you need to do to work at your passion.

In one part of the book, he writes about how after every game he’d ask Michael Jordan, “five, six or seven?” in reference to when they were going to train the next morning. MJ would give Grover his answer and, sure enough, the next day Grover would be outside his door and they’d head to the gym, whether it was after a win, loss, good game, bad game, soreness, fatigue… didn’t fucking matter. Jordan would be working at his craft. Same with Kobe Bryant.

Even if you are a nail stylist… how can you not garner a remnant of motivation from that? You go out and be the best damn nail stylist you can possible be. Be the best in the world!

Be insatiable in your desire to work.

If you ever venture to Reddit, you’d know the /r/getmotivated subreddit is an absolute plague… Negative Nancys left and right.

Somebody made a post about a year ago about how you are not always going to feel like doing the things necessary to help you grow. That’s a truth. That person also wrote that, perhaps, for certain amounts of time you might find yourself in an occupation or at a school you aren’t going to want to be at, but since it’s temporary and you can find a light at the end of the tunnel, you could have the self-discipline to push yourself through bad days and otherwise tough times.

I agreed and agree (now) wholeheartedly with that.

However, a few of the good ol’ cynics, Simpleton Susies and negative Nancys of Reddit disagreed.

Some guy said, “Well, if you don’t do something you love, you are going to quit eventually or you are going to lose every ounce of your soul doing something that’s life-sucking.”

These people missed the point.

Life isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows every day. You can’t enjoy every single thing you do. That’s not a negative mindset. That’s a realist view of the world. It’s not all black and white; there’s more gray than anything. There’s nothing wrong about going through a little bit of pain and despair to get what you want or where you need to be.

Wasn’t it Bob Ross, the painter, who said that you have to have some rain to appreciate the sunshine?

What separates the haves from the have nots is a willingness to not embrace excuses and to show up, do what you need to do regardless of whether you feel good or not.

Planning without action is mental masturbation. Action without planning is equally weak, because it’s not sustainable if you don’t know what the hell you are doing.

It’s a damn good book and I highly recommend reading it no matter where you are in life.

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is Just a Money Fight, And That’s Alright

Many consider it a joke in the realm of combat sports, and quite frankly, it is. It’s a hybrid boxing/MMA debacle. Many will say they couldn’t care less, and yet they’ll still tune in.

My interest is low, but that’s because I’d rather see UFC Lightweight champion Conor McGregor defend the goddamn title.

This fight between him and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. — boxing rules, mind you, that will favor the golden oldie Mayweather — makes no sense and has no reasoning behind it…  other than m-o-n-e-y.

Both guys will walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Good for them!

I just hope McGregor will return to the UFC and defend that Lightweight strap. That division is in a stalemate right now due to McGregor’s absence. He’s won the Featherweight title, too. He never defended it. He fought three times in 2016 and not once over six months in 2017. I’ve been a fan since before his popularity skyrocketed because he’s an offensively artistic fighter. He flows so well with his striking, and it’s a joy to watch.

A lot of folks like to dub McGregor/Mayweather, Jr. as the biggest debacle ever (again, in the realm of combat sports history), but a lot of people forget that in the early 1970s Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali almost fought. Now that would have been the biggest debacle ever, because at least McGregor has a background in combat sports and boxing. Chamberlain was just a monster who played basketball as one of the best to ever do it, and that shitshow would have been even more of a circus than what we have today with Conor and Floyd.

I see — all the damn time — people saying that boxing and MMA has been dragged down to the abyss because of this, that and the other and that neither will ever catch the NFL’s popularity again (by ever again, I’m talking about boxing, but people also say that MMA will never catch the same place in sports culture and popularity).

They are right.

But that’s not because of circus fights.

It’s because of the fact that boxing and MMA doesn’t have a place in the number one spot in American sports these days. Far too many people that aren’t fans view it as violent. On the forefront, yes, it is. Boxing has a history of CTE probably worse than the NFL albeit not as heralded (in recent years). MMA is too young to come up with a verdict on head trauma, although I genuinely believe MMA is much safer than boxing (wrestling, jiu-jitsu and shorter fights equate to the likelihood of less shots being taken to the head as opposed to boxing where shots to the head are inevitable).

But that’s OK. Boxing and MMA are both niche sports nowadays. There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m happy that, in the UFC, we’ve gotten to see some big fights between some of the best fighters in the world. In boxing, that just isn’t happening nowadays, what with the 3 billion different titles and organizations and fighters dodging each other. I am sick of a few fighters not wanting to defend their titles, though. That’s speaking purely as a fan. I don’t blame McGregor for taking this bout with Mayweather, Jr. because it sets him up for life with all that money. What kind of sane person who isn’t a jealous bumrat schmuck bash him for that? You and I would both do the same. Don’t lie.

Just kick back and relax. Complaining about this veritable money fight isn’t changing a thing.

I Started A Grilling/BBQ/Cooking Blog

Instead of polluting an old blog titled “Troy’s Thoughts on Sports” with posts featuring pictures, thoughts and commentary on food, I started a new blog:

Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ

I haven’t had much to say in regards to sports commentary in a while. Most of my commentary is inane, directionless tangents, which I don’t really care, anyway. I still and always will enjoy writing. Occasionally I take breaks and I come back; it’s all good. Like I’ve said a billion times, when I started this shindig in March 2007, I wanted to be a sportswriter. That was many moons ago, and I dropped that ‘plan’ long ago. However, I continued writing about sports, because hell, it’s fun! Whether people read it or not. The views have been high throughout the years, so either I have a few anonymous admirers or the content is decent enough to skim through. Either way, I’ll keep TSTOS around forever, in all likelihood.

Yours truly, salt and pepper haired and all.

So, Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ is another food blog adventure. I haven’t really done such a thing in a decent amount of years (four or five?) and I feel like I’ll give it another shot this time around, mostly because it’s fun to do.

My personal opinion is that WordPress has gone downhill over the years in that they changed and went away from essential things like the tags pages. Now, hold on, let me explain: the tags pages used to be a fun way to find content on WordPress. Up top would be the featured blog or posts, and then the rest of the posts — usually what’s been posted most recently — would show up. That’s been scrapped. The WordPress tags now are linear, with recent posts at the top. That would be fine, but now much of it is filled with spam, and about 60% (I’d say) of the posts are from news websites… not blogs… not even really sites that are truly powered by WordPress. And if you ask me, that muddles the water, don’t you think?

Alas, WordPress is still the top blogging platform out there. Back in 2007, Blogspot/Blogger was still giving them a run for their money. However, WordPress is the top dog now. Regardless of the dashboard being insanely cumbersome to navigate through sometime (when it used to be perfect), it’s still alright.

The inspiration behind “Grizzly Grillin’ and BBQ” is simple. Asides from a love for food, I’m a hairy dude. My girlfriend calls me her bear. Connection made.

Over there, I’ll do what I’ve been doing here: writing about food, posting reviews of certain products, giving thoughts about miscellaneous things in relation to what the blog is all about. It’s all about having fun, y’know?