Thursday, July 13, 2017

Everything ESPYs!

   Hostess with the Mostess...
      Let me start with a round of applause for host Peyton Manning... Honestly he crushed these ESPYs, and I'm one of those people who takes to Twitter to hate on a host's awkward attempt at humor during award shows, but this time, Peyton Manning hit the nail on the head. His witty remark about KD and the Final Five gave us a 'meme-able' Durant face for weeks to come. His accurate depiction of what we're all thinking whenever his face pops up in our living room-"Another Peyton commercial? Really?"- and then adding that us haters can't make him sweat *insert Gatorade sponsorship*. Manning cracked jokes at everyone, including himself, noting that Serena Williams winning the Australian Open while carrying a child was more impressive than the '16 Broncos defense winning a Superbowl while carrying him--he's not ignorant folks! Manning slipped in his humor by telling the audience about how much he hated all the jokes the people of the ESPYs wanted him to say. A jab about how terrible the LA Rams are, how the Knicks are, well, the Knicks, and how he believes the Falcons are talented(a point he had to make early on in the night, knowing Atlanta's history with losing interest 3 quarters in...). Manning did take his time to recognize the champions this past year of sports has given us, the Cubs curse being broken, the Penguins going back-to-back, and begrudgingly, he congratulated the New England Patriots. Although, Manning admitted in his retirement, he's no longer rivals with the Falcons or Patriots, but his insurance nemeses Flo from Progressive, Discount Double Check Aaron Rodgers, and "that damn Aflac Duck". Manning had perfectly timed jokes that encompassed this past year of sports, and started the 25th ESPYs off with a laugh. 
Host Peyton Manning(Left) made a well received joke about Kevin Durant(right) and his decision to join the Golden State Warriors this past off season, well, well received by everyone but Durant I suppose.
   Who Stole the Show...
      If you watched the ESPYs, you already know who was the star of the night- in my eyes anyway. 15-year-old Jarrius Jamoz Robertson. Jarrius was this years recipient of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. When Jarrius was just weeks old, he was diagnosed with a rare disease, Biliary Atresia, a life-threatening disease of the liver and bile ducts. When just 1-year-old, Jarrius got his first liver transplant, although the complications that followed were every parent's worst nightmare. Jarrius had fallen ill with pneumonia, his lung collapsed, and the Children's Hospital of New Orleans was forced to induce him into a coma. He was in that coma for close to a year. After several discussions with doctors, who all claimed JJ wouldn't make it, his parents decided their son had suffered enough, and made the gut wrenching decision to take him off respiration, to let him go. The ventilator was off, but JJ wasn't done fighting. He began to breathe on his own. "That was a sign of life.. a sign that this kids gonna fight, and he's been fighting ever since," JJ's dad said. Doctors were flabbergasted, having no explanation for his sudden strength, but JJ's mom had one, "It was a miracle - nothing but God." She said. Jarrius's infectious personality made his story spread worldwide. He's known around New Orleans as a "Saints Super-fan", has spent countless games on the sidelines with them, and even signed an honorary contract to officially join the organization. Also, he was invited to participate in the NBA All-Star game when hosted in New Orleans, and interviewed the game's biggest stars. Although a young star, JJ suffered. He was admitted into the hospital countless times, suffering from liver failure and side effects. He would face such significant pain, "like somebody was kicking me in my belly. All night." said the 15-year old(I know, I teared up too). His father was determined to save his son, not waiting on a list for an organ that might never come. He and his family became promoters for donating organs. After 13 long years of waiting, Jarrius received another liver and is currently recovering, accepting ESPYs in his spare time. "It takes lives to save lives" Jarrius' father said, his son is living proof. 
Jimmy V Perseverance Award winner Jarrius Robertson(Bottom middle) and family at the 25th Annual ESPYs.

   They're Golden...
      I don't care who you are, you must recognize the talent of recent U.S. Olympic athletes. The most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps took home some more hardware, winning ESPYs for Best Male U.S. Olympian and Best Record Breaking Performance. "Who's record did he break?" you might ask. Well, his own. He extended his Olympic legacy by winning again and again, and again, this past summer in Rio. While teammates were pretending they were robbed at gunpoint, Phelps was in the pool winning 6 medals(5 gold, 1 silver) for team U.S.A. He capped off an insane career winning an astonishing 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. His Team U.S.A. counterpart, gymnast Simone Biles, took home some new hardware to add to her impressive résumé as well. A trophy case that already holds 5 Olympic medals from Rio (4 gold, 1 bronze), countless World Championship medals, and now, ESPYs for Best Female Athlete, and Best Female U.S. Olympian.
Swimmer Michael Phelps(Left) & Gymnast Simone Biles(Right) at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

   They are the Champions, My Friends...
      All of the athletes lucky enough to call themselves champions this year, whether it be super bowl, world series, NBA championship, or stanley cup, were honored in one way or another. Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant took home the ESPY for Best Championship Performance, helping the Warriors to win another one in the Curry era, but the first of Durant's career. Also, the Warriors won a team award for Best Championship Team, deservedly so. The Cubs were honored with the ESPY for Best Moment, after ending that dreadful 108-year World Series drought, and bringing a parade to Chicago. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was awarded Best NHL Player after leading his team to back-to-back stanley cups, himself to back-to-back NHL Playoff MVP trophies(Conn Smythe Awards), scoring the most regular season goals(44), and ending 2nd in regular season points(89). And Finally, the super bowl campion Patriots won the ESPY for Best Game, coming back from a 28-3 deficit. WR Julian Edelman took the acceptance speech as an opportunity to dig back a little at our host. "Never thought I’d actually say this," Edelman said, "but Peyton Manning is kind of killing it… We are indoors though.” I'll admit, I chuckled.
This year's champions, Chicago Cubs, Golden State Warriors, Pittsburgh Penguins, New England Patriots. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

3-PEAT on the Horizon?

Why the Penguins are destined to 3-peat…
We can talk about Pittsburgh's forward depth, with studs littering the line-up, but more importantly to win a championship you need defense. When the Penguins were up 2-1 vs. the Washington Capitals in their 2016 Stanley Cup run, star defense-man Kris Letang had to sit for Game 4 due to suspension, and everyone counted the Penguins out. Fast forward to Patric Hornqvist’s OT goal that gave Pittsburgh the commanding 3-1 series lead, and all but wrapped up the Caps season. Now in their 2017 Stanley Cup run, the Pens defense took a HUGE hit losing Letang for the entirety of the Playoffs to a neck injury that required surgery, and again, everyone counted them out, but the team rallied around the 6 D-Men that were available. “Just play” is head coach Mike Sullivan's team mantra, and that’s what his team did for him. Getting Letang back for the 2018 playoffs not only boosts their blue-line, but improves their power-play percentage, and all over offensive effectiveness.
Also, if the Penguins young talent plays the way they are capable of in their junior and sophomore seasons, they might be preparing another parade in the Steel City. 3rd year players Sheary and Rust hit a bit of a sophomore slump this postseason after bursting onto the scene and playing major roles in the Penguins 1st of their back to back championships, Sheary being benched in favor of an injured Carl Hagelin for the majority of the Eastern Conference Finals. Bryan Rust put up the same postseason points(9) in both cup runs, but didn't have nearly the same impact this past postseason, nothing like two Game 7 Eastern Conference Final goals to secure a spot in the 2016 Finals. But losing some forward depth in the off-season, Bonino and Kunitz leaving in free agency, these kids will get more than their share of ice time to improve and refine their game in the ‘17-’18 season. Rookie forward Jake Guentzel did something Penguins fans have seen before, scoring on his first shot in the NHL, much like hockey legend Mario Lemieux, and put up record breaking, and tying, rookie post-season numbers, even gaining one 1st place Conn Smythe Award vote for the NHL Playoffs MVP. Another rookie, or technical rookie, Matt Murray shined in the postseason again, and secured his spot as the team's franchise goalie, adding 22 postseason wins, a .928 save percentage, and 2 Stanley Cups to his extended rookie season résumé.

Although a common problem for the Penguins through their past several seasons, racking up the 2nd most injuries since their ‘09-’10 cup win, if this team can stay relatively healthy, they could be the first since the Islanders historical 4-peat to win three Stanley Cups in as many years.

Everything ESPYs!

   Hostess with the Mostess...       Let me start with a round of applause for host Peyton Manning... Honestly he crushed these ESPYs, and ...