NFL PRE SEASON QB ROUND UP

nfl pre 2NFL PRE SEASON QB ROUND UP

After two weeks of preseason games by NFL teams one theme seems to dominate; DON’T GET HURT!  Everyone seems to be on the same page with that, and why not?  Why risk a senseless injury during preseason play when which team wins or loses the game doesn’t even matter when all is said and done.

More importantly, coaching staffs are taking this opportunity to see exactly what it is that they have got to work with for the upcoming high season when championships are on the line.  Third string and even practice squad players get what could be a once in a lifetime chance to prove themselves on the big stage in front of a national audience.

It happens every year that some previously under evaluated young player will take to the field during a preseason game and make such a positive impression during a short period of time that it would be unthinkable to leave that player off of the regular season roster.

Then there are the guys that the coaches have been sort of holding back a bit; playing their cards close to the vest as it were.  They sneak these players in when no one is expecting and cause a veritable sensation on the side lines and in the press boxes when that player demonstrates what he can really do.

Taysom Hill for the New Orleans Saints is such a guy.  It’s nothing really new.  He got on the field a good bit last year as Sean Payton’s ‘Swiss Army Knife’; meaning that Hill is a high quality multi-purpose tool.  Even with Teddy Bridgewater holding down the number two quarterback position for the Saints, Taysom managed to bring the Saints from behind against the Los Angeles Chargers scoring two passing touchdowns while throwing for 136 yards and rushing for an additional 53. Not bad for a third string QB.

The San Francisco 49ers still have high hopes for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the former back up for Tom Brady in New England, even though he missed most of 2018 after leaving during game three with what turned out to be a torn ACL.  Garoppolo had a bit of a rough start in his first preseason game against the Broncos only completing one of six passes and throwing his first interception of the season. 49ers fans are hopeful that this will be their quarterback of the future after going on such a long drought since Joe Montana reigned supreme.

Number one overall draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray is still having a tough time making the transition from college to professional football. Although he looked good at times, the hand clap signals that he used so effectively in college at Oklahoma, have brought him nothing but grief and false start penalties. Old habits may be hard to break but young Mr. Murray had better break this one and quickly if he expects to make it in the NFL.

Elsewhere the Giants Eli Manning continued at quarterback while New York’s number six draft pick, Daniel Jones, continued to sit on the bench. The Cleveland Brown’s second year quarter back Baker Mayfield, despite showing exceptional abilities on the field, does not seemed to have learned when to keep his mouth shut now that he is no longer the ‘big man on campus’.

Some NFL head coaches, like Sean McVay of the Rams, didn’t even bother to bring many of their starting lineups to the preseason game in Hawaii against the Cowboys.  The Rams lost that game. It’s understandable not to go all in on preseason games, but, professional football teams should at least be seen making an effort for their fans, or be seen as mocking the entire preseason process.

On the other hand, major sports books in Las Vegas and elsewhere are reporting record breaking wagering on preseason NFL football this year with some high rollers placing 10 and 20 dime wagers on the games.  This is mostly due to the increased amount of information available on the new players coming into the league and reliable insider information on the status of the individual teams during their preseason practices.

While there is talk of eliminating one of the four preseason games in favor of an expanded playoff scenario, it is still just talk at this point and the NFL preseason ‘is what it is’.

THE FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR GOLF TOURNEY

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THE FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR GOLF TOURNEY

It’s all come down to one more 72 hole PGA golf tournament known as the TOUR Championship to determine who will walk away with a cool $15,000,000 for winning the FedEx Cup Championship for 2019.

The East Lake Golf Club located just outside of Atlanta was established way back in 1904 and was the home course to famous hall of fame golfer Bobby Jones, whose memorabilia is much in evidence around the club house.  The Tour Championship has been played at East Lake since 2004.

Only 30 of the world’s top professional golfers have qualified for the final big event.  Notable names such as last year’s TOUR Championship winner Tiger Woods as well as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Phil Michelson did not make the cut after participating in the BMW Championship last week at Medinah, Illinois.  They all had a chance to make it to the top 30, but it just was not to be for these past and future champions.

Currently the odds on favorite to win the FedEx Cup Championship and that big pot of money is young Justin Thomas who bulled and finessed his way to an impressive victory at the BMW Championship winning by three strokes over the rest of the field and taking home a nice fat check for $1,665,000!

On top of that, Justin Thomas, as the leader in FedEx Cup points going into the final round of play, will start off at ten strokes under par at East Lake, such a deal.  No wonder he is the favorite.  Thomas is at +200 to win it all.

After a brilliant showing at the BMW, Patrick Cantlay +450 is the number two golfer in the FedEx standings and will begin at -8 strokes.  Brooks Koepka, who was in the lead before the BMW, will still start at -7 and be listed at +600 for wagering.

Patrick Reed +1100 and Rory McIlroy +1200 both played some splendid golf at the BMW but just could not keep up with Justin Thomas.  Reed will begin at East Lake at -6 and McIlroy at -5.

The unexpected name appearing for the first time in a FedEx Cup top ten ranking is young Abraham Ancer +4000 representing Mexico at East Lake.  He and Spaniard Jon Rahm +1500, Matt Kuchar +4000, Xander Schauffele +2200 and Webb Simpson +2500 will all be starting the final rounds of the FedEx Cup competition for 2019 at four under par.

Possible long shots with a legitimate chance to win the FedEx Cup are Rickie Fowler +6000 and Dustin Johnson at +3000.  Both have shown themselves more than capable of making an unstoppable run to leave the field behind for the win at a big tourney.

This is stacking up to be a great golf tournament.  Starting with a 10 stroke lead may seem insurmountable, but, remember, last year Bryson DeChambeau was in the same spot as Justin Thomas is this year starting at -10.  He only managed to end up T19, so, you just never know.

NASCAR RUNS BACK TO BACK SHORT TRACKS

NASCAR 7NASCAR RUNS BACK TO BACK SHORT TRACKS

Short track racing is where NASCAR was born and bred.  They were dirt tracks back in those days and no one ever even dreamed that one day stock car racing would be run on mile and a half concrete tracks in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming race fans. It was just some local petrol heads fooling around.

Actually the hopped up cars were originally the product of what was known in the day as ‘moonshining’, running whiskey made in a homemade still from some remote location, usually in the mountains, down to a local distributor, or perhaps even to a particular bar or local restaurant.  Legends, and even movies, arose from that era of the American automobile.

These highly specialized delivery cars were often modified to double the original horsepower and held an exceptionally large hidden compartment in the rear for the booze, often delivered in thick gallon sized glass bottles.

Of course when these ‘good ole boys’ weren’t making a delivery run, they took to racing each other around the local roads.  But the local law enforcement officials soon took exception to all the high speed shenanigans and put an end to the road racing.  What to do?

Oval dirt race tracks, ranging from a quarter to a half mile in length, started popping up around the country, mostly in the southeast centering around Kentucky and Tennessee. Fans sat on top of their cars and brought picnic baskets and ice chests to the races.  Then someone built a grandstand; not much more than high school football bleachers at first, but my, how they grew.

Today the Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most famous NASCAR short track venues, and also happens to be the third largest sports venue in America and the seventh largest on the planet!  The little half mile track now holds 162,000 fanatical race fans and has even been used as a football field on occasion.

NASCAR will run a night race at the Bristol Motor Speedway starting at 7:30 pm on Saturday evening the 17th of August just outside of Bristol, Tennessee when 40 monstrously powerful, specially built automobiles will take to the track and engage is some of the fastest, most action packed, stock car racing to be seen anywhere.

The track at Bristol is steeply banked and has an outside retaining wall resulting in some high speed racing and a considerable amount of ‘paint swapping’ as vehicles scrap and claw past on another so closely that, by the end of the race, no car is left with its original paint job.  This is called fun, at 185 miles an hour!

Of course sometimes the drivers get a little too close resulting in some kind of accident bringing out the caution flag and slowing the race until the mess can be cleared away and high speed racing can once again commence. The accidents can be spectacular. They are often frightening and sometimes fatal for a driver.

High speed race car driving is not without its risks.  Everyone knows that; especially the drivers themselves. In the past few years great strides have been made to improve driver safety and we have seen drivers walk away from horrific wrecks that would have had far worse results just ten years ago.

On September 1st NASCAR moves to Darlington, South Carolina for the other famous short track on the Monster Energy Cup Series at the Darlington Raceway, aka ‘The Lady in Black’ or ‘The Track Too Tough To Tame’ in yet another night race starting at 6 pm EST. Obviously from the nicknames, this is not an easy race track on which to compete.

From its humble beginnings on the back roads of Kentucky and Tennessee, the American Stock Car, aka NASCAR, is in its 71st season and is challenging even the NFL and MLB for being the most popular sport in America.

MLB BALL

JUICED BASEBALLS?

JUICED BASEBALLS?

Gimme a break!  If they were actually juiced, someone would have figured it out by now.  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred probably had it close to right with the simple explanation that the manufactures of the baseballs down in Costa Rica at the Rawling’s factory had come up with a better way to center the hard rubber core of the baseball.

That central core is  wrapped tightly in yarn and covered with the familiar sewn on leather cover that we all know and love to make up a baseball.  The covers are hand stitched in a process which has not changed for decades, only the core seems different these days.

High School science tells us that the better balanced an object is, the better it will fly; the further it will fly and the straighter it will fly. How would you juice a baseball anyway?

However, it is clear that something is different, and it could very well have something to do with a new generation of baseball players that are now exceeding their beloved baseball ancestors, which is not exactly a new phenomenon in sports.

But, that can’t be the whole answer. MLB is now on pace to break the old record for home runs of 1.26 per team, per game set back in 2017.  Back then as well people were yelling foul because so many balls were leaving the park that they thought the baseballs were juiced, and they were right.  Sort of.

A Baseball Prospectus writer named Rob Arthur found evidence that the baseballs in use then were of a different composition than those of the previous year, making homeruns more likely to occur.  MLB was later to confirm the validity of Arthur’s claim a week into the season.  So this is nothing new.

For 2018 the home run rate dropped to 1.15 indicating a possible backlash effect for some reason.  Over all the home run rate has increased steadily since 2014 when it was just 0.86 per team, per game.  It went up to 1.01 in 2015 then to 1.16 in 2016 before jumping up to 1.26 for 2017.  That record will certainly fall before this MLB season is all over and done with.

At the same time, MLB is also on pace to set a new strikeout record which has stood since 2008.  How then are these two tied in?   One contributing factor is the tighter strike zone brought on in part by the umpires’ reluctance to be out done by the electronic strike zone now in popular use.

The other is that pitchers these days are throwing the ball harder and faster than ever before.  The faster a ball is going when it crosses the plate, the faster it will leave the bat if the correct angle of contact is made by the batter.

So now we are seeing three homer games by one or another team almost every day. Some even claim it’s due to global warming. Whatever.  Fans and players alike love home runs, that’s a fact easily proven every time somebody hits one. Just listen. Who cares how what’s happening today compares to what it was years ago.  If more homeruns bring out more fans to the ball parks, so be it.

After all the fervor and speculation are over, no one really knows how it will turn out exactly with the future makeup of the baseball. Let’s do hope that they will continue to be handmade.  One thing we know, the sport of baseball will evolve and the fans will evolve and baseball will remain ‘The Great American Pastime’.

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FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS MOVE TO CHICAGO

FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS MOVE TO CHICAGO

Round two of the 2019 FedEx Cup Championship will take place this weekend at the Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago when the BMW Championship tees off featuring the 70 surviving golfers from the Northern Trust Tournament, just won by Patrick Reed last week.

2,000 FedEx Cup points are at stake in the four day event which is the second leg of this year’s FedEx Cup Championship.  That’s four times the points rewarded for winning a regular season PGA Tour event. Only the top 70 golfers in PGA points will be playing at the Medinah Country Club this week according to the new format.

In previous years, the FedEx Cup Championship was spread over 4 events with the first hosting 125 hopeful golfers.  Event number two started with 100 out of which the top 70 were able to move on to event number three.  The final, and most brutal, cut was down to the 30 players with the top number of FedEx Cup points after the first three events.

This year there will be only three events. Last weeks’ Northern Trust was the first in the FedEx Cup series for 2019 with the BMW Championship to follow and finally culminating in the Tour Championship at the East Lake Club near Atlanta, Georgia, where the rules get quite a bit more complicated.

The new rules for the 2019 Tour Championship definitely favor the top five of the 30 golfers entered in the event for some unexplained reason.  The number one golfer going into the Tour Championship will start at -10 strokes, ten under par.  Number two will start at 8 under par, number 3 at -6, number four at -4 and the player with the fifth highest number of FedEx Cup points will begin the tournament two under par.

The other 25 golfers in the event will have to be content starting at even par, like they always have before.  Several of the participants, like Harold Varner III and Abraham Ancer, will be more than happy just to be included in the final 30.

Varner moved from 102nd  in PGA points to  29th in the standings after tying for third place with Jon Rahm at the Liberty National, giving him an excellent chance to participate in the final event and compete for the hefty $15 million prize which goes to the final winner of the 2019 FedEx Cup.

Mexican golfer Abraham Ancer was another who made huge strides toward a FedEx Cup title by coming in second at the Northern Trust and moving up from 67th to 8th in the standings, not to mention picking up a check for a cool $999,000 in the process.

Patrick Reed, who won at the Liberty National event, was practically out of the FedEx Cup competition at number 50.  Reed is now the number 2 ranked golfer in FedEx points.

Even after a disappointing performance at The Northern Trust, young powerhouse Brooks Koepka is still on top of the FedEx points standings.  He will surely be among the top favorites for the upcoming BMW Championship in Chicago this weekend.

Last years’ Tour Championship winner was Tiger Woods, but Tiger will have a tough time even making it to the Tour Championship this year as he is currently 38th in FedEx Cup points. For the BMW Championship he will have to conjure up that Tiger who showed up at Augusta earlier this year and won the Masters; but I wouldn’t bet against that happening if I were you.

LA-Rams-Stadium-

THE RAMS & THE CHARGERS ARE MOVING TO HOLLYWOOD PARK

THE RAMS & THE CHARGERS ARE MOVING TO HOLLYWOOD PARK

Hollywood Park was once one of the most famous racetracks in America dating back to 1938.  Many a classic movie about life in southern California includes references to the popular thoroughbred track and some even feature actual footage from actual races at Hollywood Park. Everyone from Clark Gabe to Betty Grable was there in the boxes, dressed to the nines, holding up parimutuel tickets and peaking through binoculars.

Today the site of the old racetrack is under construction on a grand scale as teams of workers and tons of equipment endeavor to build the premier venue for sporting and entertainment events in southern California, or perhaps in the whole world.

Expectations are that high. The folks behind the new facility, which will house both the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers football teams of the NFL, are setting the bar high for their new ultra sleek stadium.  The estimated costs of building the new venue will exceed five billion dollars!

The giant glass roofed future home to major gala events in Inglewood, California is about 75% complete and will take most of another year to complete.  The entire project will cover 298 acres and be known as the L.A. Stadium and Entertainment District (LASED), probably the first sports venue ever to be designated a ‘district’.

The new mega sports entertainment complex, which will hold up to 70,000 fans for sporting events and a 6,000 seat entertainment venue, is the vision of Rams owner Stan Kroenke who also owns the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Arsenal football club of the English Premier League, among various others.

American Airlines is chipping in 90 million bucks to purchase naming rights to the 2.5 acre entrance to the stadium which will be called the American Airlines Plaza.  The Plaza itself will stand ten stories tall. As yet no naming sponsor has come forward to name the main stadium itself.  One can only imagine what the price tag for that one will be.

Even without an official name, the almost complete facility has already drawn the attention of the NFL and the NCAA as well as the international Olympic committee.  Super Bowl LVI will take place there in 2022 and the NCAA College Playoff Championship in 2023.

In 2028 both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics will be held there on the site of the old Hollywood Park Track which is scheduled to open in July of 2020.

Actually American Airlines and the L.A. Rams have an ongoing relationship since 2016 which has resulted in some fine contributions to community service in the L.A. area including building playgrounds etc.

As part of a comprehensive plan to upgrade the entire experience of the fans, American Airlines will also be investing $1.6 billion to renovate their facilities and terminals at the nearby Los Angeles International Airport which is just 3 miles from the new stadium which is located just south of The Forum, the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the L.A. Kings of the NHL.

Artists renderings of what the place will look like convey a very open airy atmosphere inside the building with lots of natural light while offering complete whether protection for the fans and athletes alike.

Chargers and Rams fans can’t wait!

HostPPH-logo

DELUXE SERVICE FROM HOST PPH

DELUXE SERVICE FROM HOST PPH

Remember back when the word ‘Deluxe’ used to mean something special.  Manufactures and companies would proudly affix the ‘Deluxe’ label to the products representing their best efforts in production or service. Back then a car carrying the ‘Deluxe’ label was something special, an upgrade from the ordinary.

The term ‘Deluxe’ still applies today when it comes to the extraordinary pay per head service offered to professional bookmakers by HostPPH.com down in Costa Rica. Deluxe in this case translates into a quality service featuring the latest in bookmaking software with experienced knowledgeable agents to answer questions and facilitate actions between a bookie and his players.

Host PPH was one of the very first companies to offer pay per head services almost 20 years ago and they continue to be the leader in the PPH industry today offering the most up to date systems to provide the best possible experience for both bookie and player.

One of the principal things that set Host PPH Services head and shoulders above the rest of the price per head companies in the industry is our group of dedicated service agents which works exclusively with professional bookmakers and their accounts.

The service agents at HOST PPH have years of experience in player set up making the whole experience quick, easy and painless. You will find that their knowledgeable, English speaking staff will have your players ready to wager quickly and efficiently no matter whether you have 10 players or 1000 players.

Host does not run a sports book as a side business and the savvy professional bookmaker should beware of any PPH company that does also run a sportsbook as they will eventually be in direct competition for your best players.

What Host PPH does do is to remain very proactive with their agents and the end result of all this hands on help is an increase in each bookies weekly hold percentage….meaning your bottom line. Bookies working with Host PPH can expect to be holding around 4% to 7% over the national average.

Over the years, the friendly experienced agents at Host PPH Services have set up hundreds of accounts for bookies and have already handled the vast majority of the situations that come up on a day to day basis which require assistance. They can help you to make any fine tuning adjustments that are needed and provide an easy, seamless transition for new agents.

One of the best aspects of using Host PPH is that all incoming phone calls and Internet wagers are happening down in Costa Rica where wagering on sports has always been legal and licensed. Therefore, when your players call in to place their bets, they will not be doing so in your back room.

Working with Host PPH.com the bookmaker always retains the power and the control to set individual profiles on his players as he sees fit…be it player by player or set up in groups. This allows the bookmaker to keep his finger on the pulse of his business and to make the necessary adjustments as the need arises.

The experienced risk and line management professionals at HostPPH will work with you to minimize your risks while maximizing your profits by making sure that you and your players are always dealing with the sharpest lines and up to the minute odds.

Call today and let the friendly folks down at Host PPH take your local sports wagering business to the next level for the upcoming high season and beyond.

fedex tiger

TIGER’S ON THE PROWL AGAIN IN NEW JERSEY

TIGER’S ON THE PROWL AGAIN IN NEW JERSEY

Contrary to earlier reports that had Tiger Woods down for the count after a disappointing showing in the British Open at Royal Portrush, the Big Cat is coming back strong with a double commitment to play both the Northern Trust this week at the Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, New Jersey and also to participate in the BMW Championship in Medinah, Illinois the following week.

It doesn’t sound like Mr. Woods is ready to throw in the towel for this season quite yet. After missing the cut at The Open in Northern Ireland, Tiger Woods looked tired and a bit confused.  Speculation had him down and out.  But how many times has Tiger been counted out of any competition only to show up on that final Sunday and blow the field away?

Woods chose not to participate in either the St. Jude Invitational or the Wyndham Championship in order to ‘go home for awhile’ and rest up for the upcoming PGA FedEx Cup competitions. He recently sent out on Twitter, ‘@TigerWoods Ready to begin the FedExCup playoffs starting @TheNTGolf and then @BMW Champs. Hope to see you there.’

Actually Tiger has had a pretty good 2019 season.  He has only participated in 10 events overall including four majors.  Oh yeah, and he won the Masters at Augusta back in April to clinch his 15th career PGA Major Championship.

Obviously what Woods is aiming at is to gather enough FedExCup points over the next two tournaments to win a place at the ‘The Tour Championship’ to be played this year at the East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta, Georgia beginning on August 22. Top prize at the FedExCup this year will be a cool 15 million bucks!

The Northern Trust will start off with a 125 player field with the top 70 finishers qualifying for the BMW Championship then narrowing down to the top 30 golfers left in competition for the Tour Championship and the FedExCup.

To qualify for that big event, Tiger must be in the top 30 in the FedExCup standings, going into The Northern Trust Woods is 27th, and so, it could go either way.  One thing is certain, there will be a lot of golf fans pulling for Tiger Woods for the remainder of the 2019 season, no matter what happens.

There will also be a considerable amount of money wagered on Woods for the upcoming events as well as some hefty FedExCup futures wagers. Currently Brooks Koepka, fresh off of victories at the PGA Championship in May and the St. Jude’s Invitational in July, is a 6 to 1 favorite to take the Northern Trust with Rory McIlroy at 8 to 1, tagging close behind, as usual.

Tiger Woods is listed at 17 to 1 along with Webb Simpson and Tommy Fleetwood.  Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are listed at 11 to 1 with only Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantly and Rickie Fowler have lower odds than Tiger to win at the Liberty National Golf Club this year.

However the FedEx Cup and the PGA’s month of August work out, having Tiger Woods back in serious competition is great for the game of golf and its many fans.  There is simply an energy and excitement in the gallery when Tiger is at the tee or about to putt that we do not feel from any other golfer currently on the PGA tour.

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THE INFIELD FLY RULE

THE INFIELD FLY RULE

The sport of Baseball is a sport like no others.  For starters, it’s been around longer than most other sports and has had time to develop some pretty outrageous traditions and convoluted rules. Take the infield fly rule for instance.

As it turns out, the infield fly rule is solely called at the discretion of one of the umpires.  It does not happen every time an infield fly is hit, only when a call is made and the infield fly rule is evoked, at which point the batter is out.

Back in the old days it seems like some canny infielders would casually drop an infield fly ball on purpose so as to trick the base runners into making a dash to the next base and pulling off a sneaky double or even triple play off a little blooper fly ball.  They must have done this quite a lot because such shenanigans prompted the birth of the infield fly rule.

When an umpire declares the infield fly rule in effect, no matter whether the ball is caught or dropped, the batter is out and all force plays are taken off the board.  The rule can only be applied when there are fewer than two outs and there exists a force play at third base. That happens only when a team has runners at first and second base or when the bases are loaded.

The pop up has to be a fair ball, inside the baselines, and must be deemed as catchable using ‘ordinary effort’ by the umpire making the call.  Infield fly balls are always a dilemma for base runners as they all have to wait to see if the fielder will actually catch the ball.  Taking a big lead could result in the runner being caught off base and being thrown out should the fielder fake a catch, drop the baseball and then throw quickly over to second or third for the out.

There’s more. When the infield fly rule is announced it is just like a regular fly ball when caught.  The batter is out and the runners must tag up before making any advancement.  However, if the pop up is not caught and lands in fair territory when the rule is called, the batter is still out but there is no force possible and the runners may continue to advance without first tagging up.

The umpire making the call will usually sound off ‘infield fly’ or perhaps ‘infield fly, batter is out’.  Even if the ball is caught, the batter is out. The hand signal of right arm in the air and index finger pointing straight up is typically used to signal an infield fly rule call.

Remember, as complicated as it is for the infielders and base runners to keep up with, this is strictly a judgment call on the part of the umpire. It will be interesting to see, in these days of robot-laser strike zones and 7 minute reviews, if one day even the infield fly rule will be subject to booth review from New York as well.

MLB BALL

WHO WON THE MLB TRADE WARS?

WHO WON THE MLB TRADE WARS?

At first glance, it looks like the Houston Astros pulled off the biggest blockbuster trade this year by grabbing Zack Grinke from the Diamondbacks. That gives them about the most awesome starting rotation in all of baseball with Justin Verlander, Garrit Cole and now Grinke.

Additionally Houston made a deal with Toronto and acquired right hand pitchers Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez to round out the bullpen. So the Astros appear to be going into the latter half of the MLB season with a stacked deck, however, history tells us that this is not always a guarantee of post season success.

Both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were expected to make some major moves before the trade deadline occurred on July 31st, however, neither team was able to pull of any major acquisitions to their rosters.  Boston did acquire starting pitcher Andrew Cashner on an earlier trade.

One obvious winner was Zack Grinke.  Grinke was stuck on a going nowhere team out in Arizona with no hope of participation in this years’ postseason play.  Now he is part of a potentially historical pitching staff with the Astros and finds himself and the Houston Astros among the top favorites to go to the World Series, something that has so far eluded Zack.

If judged solely by the pound, the Cleveland Indians walked off with the top prize of the season.  By acquiring both Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes to round out their outfield roster, the Indians are assured of having the most meat on the field, no matter who they face. Besides, those two big guys are both excellent ball players and Puig still retains one of the most powerful throwing arms in the majors.

Perhaps the biggest winners of the years’ trading session were the teams that went under the radar and made relatively few changes to their roster.

Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers played their cards close to the vest throughout the trade negotiations. There was much speculation about the Dodgers need to bolster their bullpen roster; and the names Felipe Vasquez and Edwin Diaz were floating around.  However, in the end, the Dodgers stood pretty much pat.

At about that same time, the Dodgers showed why they stood pat by calling up from the minors as talented a group of young players as the game has seen in quite awhile.  Left-handed, red haired pitcher Dustin May was joined by young catcher Will Smith, who only hit 3 for 3 against the Washington Nationals with a solo homerun and two doubles, racking up 6 RBI’s in one game.  Then he did it again with at 449 foot home run in the bottom of the ninth for a walk off victory over the Colorado Rockies. Then, he did it again against the Padres! Welcome to Los Angeles Will Smith!

Dustin May and Will Smith were also joined by young Matt Beaty, who claims that his favorite position on the baseball diamond is in the ‘left hand batter’s box’.  Beaty has already been donned with the nickname ‘hitman’ after only a short time with the team.  Dave Roberts, in his wisdom, also went out and hired veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko to balance out, and help along, his recent young call-ups.

So now the Astros are on top of the picks to win the American League Pennant and the Dodgers remain the odds on favorites to win both the National League Pennant and the World Series this year.