In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matt Bowker, asks our panel of experts three questions: Are the Seahawks coming back this season? Who will win the World Series this year and what has been the biggest surprise in the NHL this year so far?
1. After a rough start, have the Seahawks turned their season around?
Matthew: No longer is besting the San Francisco 49ers considered to be a significant accomplishment. The Seattle Seahawks are not out of the woods, though, as they have yet to beat an average team, let alone a good one. Seattle lost some pieces this offseason and it appears that the team is just not gelling like it has been the last few years. Getting Marshawn Lynch back is certainly a plus, but the offensive line remains a major issue. The Seahawks will continue to rely on their secondary — the Legion of Boom — to keep them in games. With the Arizona Cardinals flying high, I do not think Seattle will be able to recapture the division title. However, once they get their act together, a Wild Card berth should be attainable and allow Seattle to make some noise in the playoffs.
Michael: No, this team doesn’t click in the same ways it used to. The Seahawks only have wins against teams like Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco whose seasons are going far worse than theirs, and they have lost to undefeated teams like Cincinnati, Green Bay and Carolina. The defending NFC Champs still have the “Legion of Boom,” but after you give up a 24-7 fourth quarter lead, even if it was Cincinnati — that honestly might not be enough. It also doesn’t help that Russell Wilson is under more pressure than he’s used to, getting sacked six times and fumbling twice against the Lions. The O-Line of this team isn’t the same, and all the offseason moves have really hurt this team’s chemistry. So unless the Cardinals have a huge collapse, I wouldn’t worry about Seattle, and even then, Nick Foles’ nation in St. Louis is a bigger threat.
George: Thursday’s win over San Francisco makes it clear that the Seahawks are back in business after a pitiful few weeks. Their performance echoed back to a team that went toe-to-toe with the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. But they aren’t totally back in the game yet. They’re going to have to do a lot more if they’re going to make up for their poor performance this season. Having beat their rival so thoroughly, they may feel inclined to pick up their game. But, they still have a ways to go.
Matthew and Michael get 3 points for pointing out the schedule and George gets 2 points for remaining optimistic.
2. Who will win the World Series this year and why?
Matthew: Ever since they acquired Yoenis Cespedes on Friday, July 31, the New York Mets have been my World Series pick and I am sticking to that. However, the real star of the playoffs has been Daniel Murphy, who became the first player in MLB history to hit a home run in six straight postseason games. Built with little money, but gushing in team chemistry, the “other” New York baseball team has quickly captured the hearts of Americans across the country with their uplifting play. This lovable Metropolitan squad has found success by mastering the perfect playoff formula: hot hitting and shutdown pitching. After a regular season jam-packed with magical moments, the Mets appear poised to bring another championship to the Big Apple.
Michael: The Mets are my pick, since they are just the all around better baseball club. Both teams are thirsty for a World Series win — with neither seeing a title since the mid ’80s — but the Mets’ hitting and pitching staff are arguably the best in baseball. We saw this team at the beginning of the season, being dubbed “the best team in baseball” before quietly dying down for a bit. But after the addition of Cespedes at the trade deadline, their bats have been on fire with Daniel Murphy, Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores — in a season long storyline that’s captured the hearts of baseball fans — all picking up their play. Not to forget the pitching staff — which has been recognized and applauded by baseball great Al Leiter — Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom both earned solid numbers in the regular season (ERA’s of 2.71 and 2.54 respectively) and have kept it up into the offseason. I may be a little disappointed about them not allowing “Back to the Future II’s” prediction about the Cubs from happening, but the best team in the sport, and in New York City, is my pick.
George: Originally I pegged the Royals as a shoo-in, but I converted the other day after an epiphany. As I was walking to my car yesterday I looked up toward the sun and before my eyes I saw, exuding a brilliant radiance upon the Earth, the Mets symbol hovering in the sky as if made of pure sunlight. Above the “N.Y.” scrawled across the sky in comic sans, were the words “in hoc signo vinces.” Then, I knew the Mets could not lose, for the word of God said so. Also they’ve got pretty good pitching.
Matthew gets 3 points for crediting the Cespedes trade. George gets 2 points for his divine change of heart and Michael gets 1 point for saying the Mets started as the top team.
3. What has been the biggest surprise of the NHL season so far?
Matthew: After posting a respectable 42 wins last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets fell through the ice with an 0-7 start to the 2015 season. This abysmal beginning was accentuated by the firing of the their head coach, Todd Richards, and replacement John Tortorella tallied on another loss before snagging a win to bring the bumbling Blue Jackets to a 1-8 record. Canning the head coach in the first 10th of the season is never a good indicator of a healthy, hopeful team. Although the 0-8 start was surprising, at this point it would not be out of the question to see the Blue Jackets dwell at the bottom of the Eastern Conference by season’s end.
Michael: After being the top team in the Western Conference last year, the Anaheim Ducks have seriously shocked me as they’ve come out of the gate… tripping. In their first seven games, the team has gone 1-5-1, with what I can only describe as the worst offense in the league so far. A team that was one win away from the Stanley Cup Final last year, this year stars like Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are struggling to score against team’s like Colorado. Yes, Colorado, a team with only one win that came against Anaheim, 3-0. It wouldn’t surprise me so much if they picked it up soon, the offensive talent on this team is good and it is still early in the season. But to see this kind of result after last year honestly blew my mind, and I’m waiting for coach Gordon Bombay to show up and give a rally speech to these guys.
George: The biggest surprise is how bad the Ducks are doing. Some news organizations pegged them to be Stanley Cup Champions this season but that promise hasn’t shown in their first six games. A computer simulation even said the Ducks would come out on top. So many experts said 2015 would be the breakthrough season for the Ducks, but the numbers aren’t showing that at all. Their roster is talented, but as of now, some players like Jamie Benn and Max Pacioretty have scored more goals than all of that roster combined. If they don’t do more, whatever potential they had at the beginning of the season might disappear completely.
Michael gets 3 points for his Mighty Duck reference, Matthew gets 2 points for picking the obvious choice and George gets 1 point for looking at their potential.
Matthew wins Around the Dorm 8-7-4.