In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” George Tatoris, asks our panel of three experts — Matthew Ajaj, Sean Reis and Michael Battista — three questions: What was the most underrated performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro? What NFL team looks the strongest as we head into the 2016 season? What is next for A-Rod now that he has left the Yankees?
1. What was the most underrated performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio?
Matthew: The most underrated performance at the Summer Olympics goes to every participant who completed the 10-kilometer swim marathon. How is that even possible? For those who don’t speak metric system, 10 kilometers translates to over six miles. Swimming. In open water. The winners of the men’s and women’s event, Ferry Weertman and Sharon Van Rouwendaal, both managed to finish the race in just under two hours. It is tiring just to stand for two hours, let alone swim. Watching athletes swim their hearts out over a six-mile stretch is enough to make any viewer seated at home on their couch downing potato chips by the handful feel downright ashamed of themselves. But that is what makes the 10-kilometer swim such an under-appreciated and must-watch event: it makes people feel so ashamed of themselves that they will be inspired to get out of the house and exercise.
Sean: Ma Long from China brought home two gold medals for table tennis this Olympics, yet I did not see any coverage for his winnings. I understand that the United States may not be the best at table tennis, which would explain the lack of coverage, but what these athletes did was unreal. I have never seen anyone play ping pong like these guys, and, personally, I consider myself to be an above-average player (on a scale where these athletes don’t exist). Long dominated the table to win not only one, but two gold medals, and there were only two events — take that, Michael Phelps! Long, the Chinese table tennis players and the sport itself were the most underrated performance from this year’s Summer Olympic Games.
Michael: Sweden’s women’s national soccer team was very underrated during the games. They accomplished a feat by beating the United States women’s national soccer team on penalty kicks and keeping them from winning any Olympic medal for the first time ever, and their performance was overshadowed by goalkeeper Hope Solo being a sore loser. The U.S. dominated that game, taking 27 shots — 6 on goal — compared to Sweden’s 6 shots — 2 on goal. Yet Sweden got that ball in the net, knew they couldn’t beat the U.S. normally, and adapted by being conservative. The U.S. is a powerful team, so keeping them from having the ball at all was the best choice! Plus, they were a third place team and still beat the U.S. and Brazil, Sweden’s adaptive nature and technique earned them that silver medal. But, hey, Solo can call them cowards all she wants as she stalls for time, fixing her gloves before that last penalty kick.
Mike gets 3 points for sore-loser Solo. Matt gets 2 points because swimming for 10 kilometers sounds like death. Sean gets 1 point for dissing Phelps.
2. What NFL team looks the strongest as we head into the 2016 season?
Matthew: The popular choice is the Carolina Panthers, what with reigning MVP Cam Newton heading the charge on offense a great defense. One problem: the secondary. With cornerback (CB) Josh Norman’s shocking departure this offseason, the Panthers are left with CBs James Bradberry (who?) and Daryl Worley (huh?). You know who’s got a great secondary? The Arizona Cardinals. With Patrick Peterson (ooh!) and Tyrann Mathieu (aah!) manning the defensive backfield, not to mention Calais Campbell and the newly-acquired Chandler Jones up front, opposing offenses will be left desperate for answers. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals look even better — they have a great quarterback in Carson Palmer, an elite tailback in David Johnson, and three studly wide outs: John Brown, Michael Floyd and future Hall-of-Famer, Larry Fitzgerald. Right now, the Cardinals are the top dog and best birds of the bunch.
Sean: It’s always tough to tell who will be the “strongest.” The National Football Conference (NFC) will likely see the Cardinals or the Seattle Seahawks make the deepest playoff runs, maybe even win the Super Bowl, while the American Football Conference (AFC) will likely have the New England Patriots at the top, as usual with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Kansas City Chiefs close behind. To give you a bolder prediction, though, I would not be surprised to see the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts make a splash this season. Other than that, I think the only teams that can be safe to predict have to be the New York teams, both of which honestly have been shaping up to be terrible.
Michael: I can’t say the Patriots for once, so I’ll go with the Cardinals. Quarterback Palmer has talent, and football fans see that every year, but he also has some of the worst luck. He slipped up last year in the NFC Championship game against the Panthers, turning over the ball six times in total with four of those being interceptions. The team is usually one of the best in the NFC West, but can never finish strong. The team has made a fair amount of changes this year, cutting a lot of the extra fat off the team and bringing in players like Jones and rookie Robert Nkemdiche to improve their pass-rush game, which was desperately needed. So long as Palmer plays like we know he can, the team may be able to go 11-3.
Matt gets 3 points for oohs and aahs. Mike gets 2 points for Palmer’s bad luck. Sean gets 1 point for booze, jazz and general destitution (a.k.a New Orleans).
3. What is next for A-Rod now that he has left the Yankees?
Matthew: Alex Rodriguez will be a special adviser for the New York Yankees organization come 2017 — this much we know. He has not yet officially retired from baseball. However, anyone who watched his final game in pinstripes knows that his ending was simply too perfect and that going out any other just would not feel right. A-Rod has gone through a massive transformation — from an 18-year-old slugger to a steroid-using scandal magnet to now a 41-year-old mature man. A-Rod has played baseball for his entire adult life — the time has come for him to leave the diamond and move onto the next stage. He is clearly very dedicated to the lives of his two daughters, and with no more 162-game seasons on his schedule, it looks like A-Rod is just going to be A-Dad from now on — and that is awesome.
Sean: Oh A-Rod… I am sorry and I really rooted for you even during the darkest parts of your career, but what lies for you in the future? Nothing. You may or may not make the Hall of Fame one day with all of the scandalous shenanigans. However, your career will be honored somehow, no matter what. You will likely find yourself working an office position at a clubhouse for some team — whether that’s the Yankees or another team, I do not know.
Michael: Apparently, the Miami Marlins have been looking to pick up A-Rod since he quit the Yankees. His best years are behind him, but I think A-Rod can still be a good designated hitter and help teach younger players the basics. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman even credited him for helping the team make the wildcard game last season. He’s four home runs away from 700, so if he wanted to play another year to reach that milestone, I can’t blame him for wanting to join that illustrious club. Another year or two with a smaller paycheck won’t hurt anyone… except Miami, since I can’t understand why a National League team would want him.
Matt gets 3 points for presenting a forgotten side of A-Rod. Sean gets 2 points for “scandalous shenanigans.” Mike gets 2 points for actually talking about baseball.