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Tiger Woods Inks Equipment Deal with TaylorMade Golf

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Nike Golf made one of the biggest headlines in 2016 when they announced that they would no longer make golf clubs and balls, therefore making two of the game’s biggest stars free agents.

After Rory Mcilroy announced last week he was going to play Callaway woods and irons at the start of 2017, Tiger Woods has also changed equipment, signing a deal with TaylorMade Golf.

Woods has not purchased a majority stake in the company, as was initially reported. Woods has instead inked a deal to play TaylorMade woods, irons, and wedges.

Woods will make his 2017 PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday alongside Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. Pretty good for TaylorMade to have their top three athletes playing together.

The equipment contract is not for the full bag. Woods will continue using the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter that won 13 majors and Bridgestone B330S golf ball. His bag will feature Monster Energy logos while his apparel will remain branded with Nike and his TW brand.

While Woods has a 13 club contract, he will not use TaylorMade irons and wedges this week.

“For irons and wedges, I’m going to work closely with the team at TaylorMade,” Tiger said in an email distributed by TaylorMade. “For my irons, we will be developing a new custom set. Over the coming months, we will take you along the development journey, from the initial design concepts all the way through the process until they make it into my bag. Finally, the new MG Wedge is absolutely beautiful, and we’re working to dial in the exact grind for me. There’s no doubt it’s fun to have some new weapons, and the confidence I have in my new TaylorMade equipment makes me excited for the season.” (quote taken from Golfwrx.com)

Full specs on Tiger’s new woods (also from golfwrx.com):

Driver: TaylorMade 2016 M2 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 70TX
Specs: 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight

3 Wood: TaylorMade 2017 M2 Tour (13 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 90TX
Specs: 42.5 inches, D4 swing weight

5 Wood: TaylorMade 2017 M1 Tour (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 90TX
Specs: 41.5 inches, D4 swing weight

The White Sox Got a Haul for Adam Eaton

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well that was a win now move if I’ve ever seen one. It was just announced that the Nationals have acquired outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox in exchange for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.

This is pretty much the same package the Nats were offering the White Sox for Chris Sale and the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen.

Sale is a Cy Young caliber pitcher, McCutchen is a superstar coming off a down year. Adam Eaton is neither of those things, he hit .284 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs last season for the White Sox.

Don’t get me wrong, Eaton is an excellent outfielder with some pop, and he’s pretty fast, but this package of prospects is insane. Giolito is the number one pitching prospect in all of baseball, and the Nationals had touted him as untouchable for a long time. He struggled in his six starts last season, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA, but give the guy some time.

Lopez had an up and down year for the Nationals last season. He showed flashes of brilliance, including a 7 IP 1 ER 11 K performance on August 18th where he was downright filthy. But overall he had a 4.91 ERA in six starts. He’s just 22 years old, and was also a lot to give up.

As if two top pitching prospects weren’t enough to land Adam Eaton (still shocked by this), the Nationals also traded Dane Dunning, their 2016 first round pick.

If you were wondering if the Nationals were in win now mode, there’s your answer. With Bryce Harper likely leaving in free agency following the 2018 season, the Nats are going championship or bust the next two years. Eaton gives them another dynamic outfielder to pair with Harper and Jayson Werth.

After getting what I thought was a sub-par package of prospects from the Red Sox for Chris Sale, Rich Hahn really outdid himself with this one. Chicago’s farm system has immediately gone from one of the worst to one of the best in baseball in the span of two days.

And there’s no telling where Hahn will stop, it appears the White Sox are in full rebuild mode now, and they have plenty more pieces they can move. Expect Hahn to continue to field calls on Jose Quintana and Todd Frazier as well as possibly David Robertson and Jose Abreu. The Atlanta Braves have emerged as a potential landing spot for Quintana while the Dodgers have shown interest in Frazier.

Stay tuned, I’m sure these MLB GMs aren’t done dealing just yet.

Well the CFP Matchups are Set, and the Committee Clearly just Looks at Records

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Conference championship weekend is in the books, and the College Football Playoff matchups for year three are set. It will be Alabama vs Washington and Clemson vs Ohio State in the National Semifinals.

In the college ranks, Alabama dominated Florida to win the SEC title. At the moment the Tide are the clear cut number one team, and their defense is outstanding, however I think they are far from unbeatable. Florida isn’t exactly very good, no one in the SEC East was very good this year, so we’ll see how the Tide fare when they play a real team (Washington isn’t a real team either). I also think Jalen Hurts could make a huge freshman mistake in a big game down the stretch.

The ACC champion Clemson Tigers enter the playoff as the number two team in the country after defeating the much improved Virginia Tech Hokies to earn their second straight ACC title. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson was fabulous, scoring five total touchdowns and willing his team to victory. Not too many people are giving the Tigers a chance against Ohio State, but I think they are underestimating Clemson, who open as a three point underdog. Look for the Tigers to give the Buckeyes a hell of a game.

Ohio State didn’t even play in their conference title game on Saturday, which is the reason they dropped to number 3 in the final CFP rankings behind number two Clemson. There was controversy over whether or not the Buckeyes should be in the playoff without winning their conference, but I believe the Buckeyes are a top two team in the country. I think the real debate was between Penn State and Washington.

Now on to the controversial number four team, the Washington Huskies. I have to give the Huskies credit, they played the schedule that was handed to them and they played well, finishing with just one loss. They stormed through the Pac 12, steamrolling Colorado in the championship game, and their only loss to USC looks better by the day.

I just don’t think the Huskies passed the eye test, they got beat badly by USC at home in their one primetime game on a big stage. If you had to put a Pac 12 team in, I would’ve put USC, but the committee has shown they just look at records and don’t care which teams are actually good.

The case for Penn State: They won their conference title and won the head to head matchup with Ohio State. They peaked at the right time.

The case against Penn State: They lost to Pitt and lost to Michigan by a million. They were outplayed for most of the game against Ohio State and won on a fluke special teams play.

The case for Michigan: They lost to Iowa in Iowa’s super bowl on the road in the rain at night, and they lost to Ohio State (who I think is the best team in the country) on a tough fourth down call. And they crushed Penn St.

The case against Michigan: That Iowa loss puts them in a tough spot. Tough to put in a two loss team that didn’t win their conference.

I would’ve had:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio St
  4. Michigan

I used the eye test more than looking at records, I’ve watched all these teams play and I think these are the four best teams in the country. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Weekend Roundup: Patriots Survive, Ohio State Wins a Wild One, Iron Bowl Disappointment

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well it was quite the weekend in both College and Professional football. We got a better idea of the four best teams in college football, while the NFL playoff picture didn’t really get any clearer with the Patriots and Raiders both barely beating mediocre teams.

No. 1 Alabama 30, No. 13 Auburn 12

We’ll start with the biggest SEC rivalry game, the Iron Bowl. The outcome of this one was largely predetermined, the Tide came in as the clear cut number one team and would be playing at home against a depleted Auburn squad.

With starting quarterback Sean White and top corner Josh Holsey both out due to injury, and with SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway running on one leg, the Tigers didn’t stand much of a chance in this one.

The defense kept them in it for a half, and John Franklin III provided a bit of a spark in the second half, but it was an excellent win for the Tide in a game that was closer than the score would indicate.

The Tigers will likely finish their season in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans while the Crimson Tide looked to have locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff.

No. 2 Ohio State 30, No. 5 Michigan 27 (Final/2OT)

Well when two top five teams go at it this late in the season, you’re bound to have some fireworks. Combine that with one of the biggest rivalries in the sport, and you’ve got controversy just waiting to happen.

The Buckeyes survived a double overtime thriller to knock off their arch-rivals and likely clinch their spot in the College Football Playoff.

I still think JT Barrett was stopped short on that fourth down play in OT, but the Buckeyes got it done when it mattered most.

That play showed what an advantage having Urban Meyer on the sideline gives the Buckeyes. A lesser coach trots his kicker out there in that situation to try and tie the game. But Meyer used his head, he said I’m going to put the ball in my hands of my star QB rather than my struggling kicker and play to win this game.

I think the Buckeyes are a top four team in the country, I think Michigan is as well but they won’t be in the playoff, Michigan can keep blaming the officials, but the turnovers cost them that game, not the refs.

Patriots 22, Jets 17

Tom Brady was playing on one leg, Rob Gronkowski left the game in the first quarter with a back injury (shocker), the Jets played what was by far their best game of the season in what was their Super Bowl, and the Jets still couldn’t find a way to beat the Patriots.

Great teams win these types of games, great teams go on the road with all your star players injured and beat teams that have nothing to lose. Brady struggled mightily yesterday, but he willed his teammates to steal that game on the road.

It’s crazy how far Darrelle Revis has fallen, two years ago he was the difference maker for a Patriots team that won a Super Bowl title. However Revis struggled in Super Bowl XLIX, he got torched by Doug Baldwin and had to be bailed out by an undrafted rookie from West Alabama named Malcolm Butler.

He then signed with the Jets for huge money, and has been a shell of himself ever since. Revis is headed to Canton one day, but yesterday was not his best game. Brady went straight at Revis with rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, and Mitchell flat out beat Revis one-on-one twice for touchdowns.

Not the best day for the Patriots, but a win is a win, especially on the road in the NFL. Now they’ve got a date with the Rams and rookie QB Jared Goff at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, a good chance to get everyone healthy.

Raiders 35, Panthers 32

I never thought I’d say this, and I picked the Raiders to win the AFC West this season, but the Raiders reminded me a lot of the New England Patriots yesterday.

Derek Carr is becoming more of a superstar with every passing week, and playing through a dislocated finger and getting a win over a Panthers team that isn’t as bad as everyone thinks was his best performance to date.

I know the Panthers’ record isn’t good, but they have an excellent quarterback, a competent coach, and two superstar linebackers. They are better than their record suggests.

I only watched one possession of this game yesterday, the last one, and it looked like Cam was going to throw it back to his days on the Plains at Auburn before Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack took over.

The Raiders are an excellent football team, they have a stellar offense led by Carr and Amari Cooper, and the sight of Mack and Irvin rushing the passer could have Brady shaking in his boots.

As long as they don’t beat themselves, the Raiders are the Patriots biggest road block between here and Super Bowl LI in Houston.

 

Iron Bowl Hype

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well the Iron Bowl goes down in T-Town today. Let’s relive the best Iron Bowl moment in recent history, the kick six.

You all know the story by now, Nick Marshall finds Sammie Coates with a 39 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 28 with just enough time for Alabama to have one final drive. The Tide run a series of draw plays and TJ Yeldon gets pushed out of bounds at the Auburn 40 yard line with one second on the clock.

Nick Saban sends out a redshirt freshman for a 57 yard field goal, it comes up short, and Chris Davis returns it 109 yards for the winning score, and all hell breaks loose at Jordan-Hare, they weren’t going to keep them off the field that night.

“AUBURN’S GONNA WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME!!!”

 

 

College Football Chaos: What Now?

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Chaos ensued in college football on Saturday, with four top ten teams going down, including Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Let’s recap the games, starting with the one game that went as planned.

Alabama 51, Mississippi State 3

I’m including this one because it involved the number one team in the country and because I had the chance to attend this game, and I find I learn much more about a team by watching them play live.

Here’s what I learned. Alabama is very, very good, they deserve to be the number one team in the nation, their defense is incredible. I had some hope for a close contest after Mississippi State beat Texas A&M last week,  but it was hard to believe they’re in the SEC watching that squad. Nick Fitzgerald was downright dreadful at QB for the Bulldogs, but he was running for his life all afternoon.

Anyways, back to the Crimson Tide. Their defense is unbelievably fast, and their defense and running game could be enough to carry them to another national title. But they’re certainly beatable. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a true freshman and basically plays running back. He sprinkles in a few passes here and there, but he’s out there for his legs.

The key to defending Alabama’s offense is to make Hurts throw the ball downfield. He can complete the short passes, but his lack of downfield accuracy could come back to haunt the Tide in a big game. Hurts threw an awful interception trying to throw downfield over the middle on Saturday, and while it didn’t matter then, watch for that when the Tide play a meaningful game.

Georgia 13, Auburn 7

This one was a heart breaker, as most Auburn fans already had their sights set on Tuscaloosa for a winner take all Iron Bowl. All the Tigers had to do was go into Sanford Stadium and beat the Georgia Bulldogs. We all overlooked Georgia and their true freshman quarterback.

We should’ve seen this coming, Sean White was clearly less than 100 percent, star Running Back Kamryn Pettway was out with a hamstring injury, and the Tigers hadn’t won at Georgia since 2005.

Jacob Eason may be a true freshman, but he’s also the best quarterback to roll into Athens since Matthew Stafford. He played safe, let his running game do most of the work, and made just enough plays to earn the victory.

The Georgia defense did its job, Auburn didn’t record a first down in the second half, and Nick Chubb simply tired out the Auburn defensive line. We could’ve gone to Franklin at QB, but like Hurts at Alabama, he’s basically a running back. This was the perfect storm for an upset. Let’s hope everyone can get healthy so we can have a competitive Iron Bowl.

Pittsburgh 43, Clemson 42

I’ll be honest here, the thought of Pittsburgh going into Death Valley and defeating DeShaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers never once crossed my mind. Clemson was throwing it all over the field, and had its offense clicking for the most part, but the defense couldn’t stop the Panthers.

DeShaun Watson threw the ball an unheard of 70 times, he did throw for an ACC record 580 yards and three touchdowns, but his three interceptions allowed Pitt to stay in the game.

Pittsburgh just hung in there the entire game, and when their offense got their chance after Wayne Gallman was stopped twice on third and fourth down with 58 seconds left, they capitalized.

Kicker Chris Blewitt then drilled a 48 yard field goal with six seconds left to end Clemson’s 21 game home winning streak, the longest in the nation. It was Clemson’s first loss to an unranked opponent in 46 games, and just like that the College Football Playoff had received its first shakeup of the day.

USC 26, Washington 13

Washington was just humming along in the Pac 12, content to remain undefeated, content to play their games out west away from the watchful eye of the East Coast. For many, this would be their first look at Heisman contender Jake Browning and the Huskies.

We were all wondering just how good the Huskies were, whether they were deserving of their number four ranking. It quickly became apparent that the Huskies looked like a pretender.

Jake Browning struggled mightily and the Trojans were in control all night, the game didn’t appear nearly as close as the 13 point margin indicated.

Iowa 14, Michigan 13

This was another upset we maybe should’ve seen coming, as Michigan has now lost its last four games at Iowa. But come on, Michigan was dominant coming in while Iowa had struggled to a 5-4 record.

The Hawkeyes played an excellent game on both sides of the ball, holding the Wolverines to their lowest point total of the season and rushing for 164 yards. The Michigan offense struggled mightily on a cold and windy night in Iowa, and while their defense kept them in it, it wasn’t enough.

Some notable facts about Iowa, quarterback CJ Beathard isn’t even the most famous guy in his own family, his brother Tucker is a country music star, and their kicker is a walk-on freshman. However that walk on freshman kicker made a 33 yarder to down the Wolverines.

The Wolverines are definitely not out of the playoff picture thanks to losses by Clemson and Washington, but their road certainly just got much tougher. Meanwhile Iowa will probably give Kirk Ferentz a 20 year contract extension.

What Now?

Despite all these upsets, it’s possible not a lot will change in the rankings. The AP poll has:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Louisville
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Washington

Now this could very well be the rankings the committee decides to go with, however I think there will be one major difference.

Michigan drops to 4, and most notably they are 0-1 on the road against teams with a pulse. Ohio State moves up to number 2, however despite a Michigan loss and better ranking, this was a bad weekend for the Buckeyes, their chances of winning the Big Ten dropped dramatically. Clemson brought back the “Clemsoning” for a week, but I think they only fall to number 3 because of their head to head win over Louisville. Washington only has one loss but falls below two loss Wisconsin due to the strength of schedule gap.

Who’s ready for more college football chaos? I know I am. Let’s just hope the next upset is Auburn over Alabama.

Election Recap 2016: How It All Went Down

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

I’d like to preface this piece by saying that my goal here is to recap the election and how the events of last night and this morning occurred, I will try to keep my stance as objective as possible. Also, as this is a sports blog, I’m going to draw as much of a connection between sports and politics as I can.

Well American politics had their Super Bowl last night, just as they do every four years. Coming into the election, Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to defeat Donald Trump in the race for the White House. However, as every sports fan knows, it’s never over until it’s officially over.

Trump was a heavy underdog coming in, and needed pretty much every swing state to go his way. One by one the dominoes began to fall, and while it took until the early hours of Wednesday morning and finished as one of the closest elections in history, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. The final tally had Trump defeating Hillary Clinton 279-228 in electoral votes.

This election was always going to come down to Trump’s ability to crack what experts called “The big blue wall.” In other words, Trump was going to need to win states that traditionally voted Blue.

The Trump camp first gained hope when word came out that Trump had won the swing state of Florida and its 29 electoral votes. The first must-win swing state had gone Trump’s way. And as the night went on, more and more states swung in favor of Trump.

When things were all set and done, Trump had emerged victorious in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. We knew that Trump was likely going to need a clean sweep of these states to have any chance of winning the White House, except no one thought he would actually do it.

This will go down as one of the biggest upsets in American history. Think Giants over Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, or Villanova over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA basketball National Championship.

Let’s stick with this Patriots-Giants comparison, I thought long and hard of how I was going to compare this election to sports, and this is what I’ve come up with. This scenario won’t match perfectly with history, as Brady comes out victorious in 2016, but bear with me on this one.

Trump and Clinton could be considered very similar to the two quarterbacks in this analogy.

In one corner you’ve got Hillary Clinton, who has stepped out of the shadow of Bill Clinton and is now hoping for her own time in the spotlight. This is just like Eli Manning, Eli was hoping to step out of his brother Peyton’s shadow and make a name for himself.

In the other corner you’ve got Donald Trump, beloved by some, but hated by many. Just like Tom Brady, Brady is largely hated outside New England, but inside he is one of the most cherished figures in history. Trump is beloved in rural America, but in big cities, his appeal falls well short of that of Clinton.

It seems like no matter what happens on or off the field, Tom Brady just finds a way to win, and that’s exactly what Donald Trump did in this election. When everyone was hating on Tom Brady for Deflategate, he found a way to defeat Seattle and win Super Bowl XLIX. When everyone was hating on Donald Trump, he found a way to break down the big blue wall and win the Presidency.

The reaction on social media to Trump’s victory was one largely filled with hatred and disgust. If this election doesn’t prove what a small sample social media represents than I don’t know what will. If you only saw the reaction on Facebook and Twitter, you would’ve thought that Clinton won in a landslide.

The reality is that America wanted change, and they were going to get it no matter what. I have to give Trump credit here, he knew exactly what he was doing. He cast himself not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American, and as an American who would change the current state of America.

When we first think of America we think of the white collar major cities. We think of New York, Boston, Chicago, LA. But where Trump won this election is with blue collar rural America, places like Wisconsin, Iowa, Alabama, and rural Pennsylvania.

Time will tell how Donald Trump goes down in history, but for one night Trump won over America. He did what all good quarterbacks and presidential candidates do, he found a way to win when it mattered most.

 

 

 

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