2013 NL All Star Starting Lineup

All Star GameThe 2013 All-Star Game is right around the corner and another set of votes came in over the weekend. There are a few positions already out of reach, and few that may come down to the wire. I will dissect the voting, as well as tell you who really belongs at each position. My fellow Sports Script writer, Maria, is going to take on the AL and I am going to tackle the NL.

1st Baseman:

Leading Vote: Joey Votto

Who Should Play: Paul Goldschmidt

Votto is the current leader in votes; he has a 400K lead over Goldschmidt. Votto is not having a shabby season himself. He’s hitting .326 with 13 HRs & 37 RBIs but Goldschmidt should start this game. He is hitting .306 with 19 HRs & 65 RBIs. He currently sits 1st place in HRs, RBIs & 3rd in hits in the NL.

2nd Baseman:

Leading Vote: Brandon Phillips

Who Should Play: Phillips

Phillips has around a 300K lead over Marco Scutaro, which isn’t a very big lead. Giants fans have been known to vote and vote often for their players. But no matter what the vote comes down to, Phillips belongs in this game. He has more than double (60) RBIs than the next 2nd baseman; he is 2nd in HRs behind Uggla & 4th in hits. Phillips more than deserves to play in this game.

3rd Baseman:

Leading Vote: David Wright

Who Should Play: Wright

Wright has a very slim lead over Sandoval but there is no other deserving 3rd baseman than Wright. He is either 1st or 2nd in every hitting category at his position. It would be also cool for Wright to start an All-Star game on his home field.

ShortStop:

Leading Vote: Troy Tulowitzki

Who Should Play: Jean Segura

While Tulowitzki is the leading vote getter by a large number, he is also injured and most likely will not be available for the All-Star game. If he is however, then he should start. Going off the basis that he doesn’t start, Jean Segura should be the player to get the nod here. Segura is off to a surprisingly hot start, hitting .336 with 11 HRs, 31 RBIs and 23 SBs. His stats are a lot better than 2nd place vote getter Brandon Crawford.

Catcher:

Leading Vote: Yadier Molina

Who Should Play: Yadier Molina

In the latest votes, Molina overtook Posey in 1st place by a margin of 90 thousand votes. No matter the outcome, Molina belongs behind the backstop in this game. He has more hits, runs, doubles, 3 less homers, 1 less RBI, 2 more SBs and he is batting 46 points better. So my case here is closed.

Outfield:

Leading Vote: Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton & Bryce Harper

Who Should Play: Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez & Domonic Brown

We all know the All-Star game is really a popularity contest and it really shows in this category. Upton, who started the season hot, has just come up short on every account since. Harper is also near the top for some of the same reasons. Even though he was hitting pretty well before he was injured, he has been out for a little while and doesn’t belong in the game. Gonzalez is within 300k of Harper but I don’t think he will catch him. The big travesty here is Brown being in 14th place and nowhere near the starting lineup. Brown has more HRs than Upton and Harper, as well as a better batting average over Upton by 30 points and 16 more RBIs. There is no doubt in my mind that Brown and Gonzalez belong with Beltran in the All-Star Game.

Now for those who I think should be the Starting Pitchers for the game.

Candidates: Adam Wainwright, Matt Harvey, Patrick Corbin, Cliff Lee, Jordan Zimmerman

The popular pick of everyone is to have Harvey start, not only because he is having one heck of a season, but also because the game is at Citi Field. I don’t think he should be awarded the start though just because of the game being at his home park. There will be plenty of All-Star games in the future for this kid to pitch and start it; this shouldn’t be one of them. Lee, Zimmerman and Corbin are all having monster seasons, and are very capable of starting this game. I think this position should go to Wainwright, the starting pitcher for the NL’s best team. He is tied for 1st in the NL with 10 wins, tied for 1st in complete games, tied for 1st in quality starts, 1st in shutouts and 4th in strikeouts. For all the reasons noted, Wainwright should get his 1st All-Star start of his career.

All Star Game

The latest voting numbers for the MLB All Star Game were released over the weekend and the race in the American League is certainly heating up. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is reigning supreme with 4,337,223 votes and on pace to set record numbers for overall votes. Currently Josh Hamilton holds the record for the most All Star votes received at 11,073,744 in the 2012 season. The Baltimore Orioles are making a splash with 4 position players occupying the lead in votes. In the outfield, the battle for the final spot is a close one.

1st Baseman:

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has a secure spot with 3,960,299 votes, the second most overall votes. Davis is having an impressive season leading the league with 27 homeruns, has 69 RBI’s and is batting a .336 average.  Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers follows Davis in votes with 2,579,031. Fielder has 12 homeruns, 55 RBI’s, and is batting .275.

2nd Baseman:

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is leading the voting with 3,032, 183 votes. Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox occupies the number 2 spot with 2,135,499. Cano and Pedroia have similar 2013 numbers, Cano with 44 RBI’s and a .278 average, Pedroia with 41 RBI’s and a .305 average, but the real difference comes in the power hitting. Cano has 16 homeruns on the season while Pedroia has 4. Traditionally power hitters draw the most interest from fans.

Shortstop:

While J. J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles still holds the lead in votes, Jhonny Peralta has moved ahead of Elvis Andrus in voting. The more deserving short stop is hard to decipher. Peralta has had a fantastic season thus far, batting .331 with 31 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, and only 4 errors on the year. Of Hardy and Andrus, he has the best fielding percentage. However, Hardy is a power-hitting short stop with 14 HR’s. He has 43 RBI’s and a .270 batting average. Hardy has been on a tear as of late and is the reigning Gold Glove winner. A case can be made for either. Currently, Hardy has 2,788,972 votes compared to Peralta’s 1,838,500.

3rd Baseman:

Miguel Cabrera has comfortably claimed a spot on the All Star team with Manny Machado second in voting with 2,097,804 votes. Cabrera is on pace for another career-defining season with 74 RBI’s, 20 HR’s and a .368 batting average. Machado is having a breakout year and may well be the best overall 3rd baseman in the league; however, he plays the same position as the best pure hitter in baseball. Machado has 64 RBI’s, 12 HR’s, and a .299 batting average in 2013.

Catcher:

Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins holds the starting spot at 2,788,972 votes. Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles is second with 2,068, 032 votes. Mauer should get the spot as he is having a more consistent season at the plate. Wieters has had an under-performing year, hitting .233 with 37 RBI’s and 9 HR’s, but has thrown out 48% of attempted steals. Mauer is hitting .327 with 25 RBI’s and 8 HR’s, while throwing out 40% of attempted steals.

DH:

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox claims the DH spot with 3,247,462 votes (batting .309, 16 HR’s and 55 RBI’s). Lance Berkman of the Texas Rangers is far behind with 1,519, 503 votes. Third in voting is Edwin Encarnacion (1,091,593 votes) of the Toronto Blue Jays who may be more deserving of the spot. While Berkman is hitting .260 with 33 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, Encarnacion is hitting .269 with 59 RBI’s and an impressive 20 HR’s on the year.

Outfield:

With Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels looking secure in the first and second outfield spot, 3,571, 693 and 3,548,195 respectively, there is a 3-way battle for the final spot. Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles holds a slim lead at 1,915,860 votes. Close behind him is Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays with 1,867,367, a lead of only 48,000 votes. This week’s voting update puts him ahead of Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers, who currently has 1,851,657 votes, only 16,000 behind Bautista. If Jones and Markakis both get a spot it will be the first time in Orioles franchise history that outfield teammates are selected and only the 17th time in MLB history.

Pitching:

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers has a spotless record in the 2013 season at 11-0, an impressive stat even with the support of the Tigers’ strong offensive line-up. He has also struck out 6 or more batters in each of his 15 starts, the fourth longest consecutive streak. Holding batters to a .192 average, 122 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.05, Scherzer is a worthy candidate for starting pitcher. Between Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, of the Detroit Tigers, AL Manager Jim Leyland has a plethora of options on his own roster. Other candidates for the starting position include Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. Darvish boasts an incredible 143 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .208 batting average, and has an ERA of 2.95. Buchholz has 81 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .195 batting average, with an ERA of 1.71. However, Buchholz is currently on the 15-day DL making his availability uncertain. In relief, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees should be an easy selection. Already with 26 saves in 2013, 43-year-old Rivera has 634 regular season saves as well as 4 All Star game saves. Rivera is set to retire after this season.

While securing a spot on the All Star roster is not necessarily an indication of stellar performance on the season (see Derek Jeter who managed to accumulate 819,175 votes) we are looking at a crop of the very best representing the American League.

Voting is open until July 4th. Visit MLB.com to cast your ballot.

Aaron Hernandez: My Thoughts & More

This morning Aaron Hernandez was arrested and then abruptly cut by the Patriots. Pretty rough morning for him indeed. As a diehard Patriots fan, this offseason has been a bit troubling.

First of all, let me state that my thoughts and prayers are with the Odin Lloyd family.

What we know so far:

All we know at this time is he has been arrested and has a bail hearing later today. The charges have yet to be announced so we are all in the dark at this point. Shortly after the arrest, the Patriots cut Hernandez making this statement:

“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” the Patriots’ statement said. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

The Patriots made a fast and bold move in releasing Hernandez. The Patriots have always been about “The Patriot Way”, so the decision doesn’t shock me. I actually think it makes them look good in cutting him and not playing around.

UPDATE:

Aaron Hernandez has been charged with the Murder of Odin Lloyd as well as 1 count of Obstruction of Justice and 4 counts of illegal gun possession. He of course has pleaded NOT Guilty.

Quick Thoughts: WOW, I am in shock right now. This does not look good for Mr. Hernandez at all.

What he brought to the table:

Hernandez has all the talent in the world, and he has shown that on the football field. He had over 1900 yards and 18 touchdowns in his 3 seasons with the Patriots. He and former teammate, Rob Gronkowski, had revitalized the TE position. He had a very nice skill set that the Patriots utilized whether he was catching passes or taking hand offs in the backfield. They are going to miss a huge key of the offense this year.

Who could replace him?

No folks not Timothy Tebow so please do us all the favor and shut that down right now. They have Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui (say that five times fast) listed as the other TE’s on the roster. Of course, neither is Hernandez, but Ballard has some solid experience at the position. We will have to see how his knee is however, before we can suggest how he is going to play this year.

How this hurts the Patriots:

With Gronkowski probably not going to be ready for the beginning of the season, they will be without their top 4 weapons from last year. New England’s offense could be in trouble at the start of the season, because who knows if Amendola can stay healthy, or Dobson will be the player we hope for. The Patriots don’t exactly have a great history with rookie WRs. So this could be an interesting transition period for them on offense.

My thoughts on the situation:

As a die-hard Patriots fan, it truly is sad to see this happening right now. I am/was a big fan Hernandez’s and was very happy that he played on our team. It is unbelievable how these players, year in and year out, just continue to put themselves in such predicaments. I don’t know what happened that night, and I am not sure we will ever know the whole truth, but one thing is for sure I am upset as a fan of Aaron Hernandez that this happened. I have all the faith in the world in Belichick and Brady, but it doesn’t dismiss my concerns regarding the team.

2013 Fantasy Football TE Rankings

I have gone through my rankings of QB’s (2013 Fantasy Football QB Rankings), my RB’s (2013 Fantasy Football RB Rankings) & my WR’s (2013 Preseason Fantasy Football WR Rankings). So today I give you my 2013 TE Rankings. Want to Download my rankings and print them off? Or Just keep them as a folder for when it’s draft time? Click here: http://wp.me/a2MUTr-aQ

2013 Preseason Fantasy Football TE Rankings.

Rank Player Team BYE
1 Jimmy Graham NO 7
2 Rob Gronkowski NE 10
3 Vernon Davis SF 9
4 Jason Witten DAL 11
5 Jared Cook STL 11
6 Tony Gonzalez ATL 6
7 Kyle Rudolph MIN 5
8 Dennis Pitta BAL 8
9 Martellus Bennett CHI 8
10 Greg Olsen CAR 11
11 Brandon Myers NYG 9
12 Owen Daniels HOU 8
13 Antonio Gates SD 8
14 Jermichael Finley GB 4
15 Brandon Pettigrew DET 9
16 Jermaine Gresham CIN 12
17 Jordan Cameron CLE 10
18 Heath Miller PIT 5
19 Fred Davis WAS 5
20 Dustin Keller MIA 6

The Sports Script 2013 NBA Mock Draft by Matt Bell

The NBA season has ended and it’s officially time to look at the NBA Draft. I’ve put together a mock draft of how I think things will go Thursday June 27th at the NBA draft. The NBA draft consists of 2 rounds and all picks in the 1st round get guaranteed contracts. So it’s very important for the players coming into the draft to make it in the 1st round. This mock will consist of all those guys we expect to see get guaranteed contracts come Thursday. It’s important to remember that mock drafts are simply just a prediction of where a player will go. It only takes one trade or crazy pick for a mock to be completely destroyed.

Cavaliers – Otto Porter Georgetown SF

The Cavs want someone who can help now. With Noel being banged up and may not be able to play until mid-season, Otto Porter would be a good pick. Porter can play the 3 position and fit in a line up of Kyrie, Waiters, Porter, Tristan Thompson, and Varejao.

Magic – Ben McLemore Kansas SG

The Magic has needs at both Guard positions. Jameer Nelson is getting older and JJ Reddick was traded last year. The Magic can’t resist taking a guy people are comparing to Ray Allen in Ben McLemore, to help them in the future.

Wizards – Nerlens Noel Kentucky C

The Wizards have a backcourt that is pretty solid in Beal and Wall, but the frontcourt of Okafor and Nene is getting old. The Wizards can’t pass on Noel with the 3rd pick, as his presence inside would be a game changer for their young backcourt once healthy.

Bobcats – Anthony Bennett UNLV PF

The Bobcats need help at all positions except PG, having Kemba Walker there. They went with MKG last year and look to address the front court this year. They take a perfect fit in Bennett who can likely help them out from day 1.

Suns – Victor Oladipo Indiana SG

The Suns fans seem to be drooling over Oladipo and I think they’ll get their guy after he falls. He fits a glaring hole for the Suns and has the work ethic to pay off as a top 5 pick.

Pelicans – Trey Burke Michigan PG

Burke is a perfect fit here, as it’s a glaring need for the Pelicans. Burke was the guy that the Pelicans first worked out this year.

Kings – C.J. McCollum Leigh SG

The Shooting Guard position is not a top need for the Kings, but with a talent and leader like McCollum sitting there, he’s too great to pass up. The Kings snag him here and look to trade one of their other backcourt players.

Pistons – Michael Carter-Williams Syracuse PG

The Pistons have Knight, but with Calderon leaving, have a hole to fill in the Guard spot. I think they move Knight to SG where he’s played before, and grab Carter-Williams who’s a bigger body that can defend the Point Guard spot better for them.

Timberwolves – Kenavious Caldwell-Pope Georgia SG

The Timberwolves have a need at the 2 guard spot and Caldwell-Pope is the best player available on the board. This is a no-brainer pick for them as they snag a need for the future.

Trailblazers – Alex Len Maryland C

JJ Hickson may be out of Portland. If so, they need to grab a player to put alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. Len is a very physical big man who can rebound and protect the paint for the Trailblazers. He’s almost a no brainer if available.

76ers – Cody Zeller Indiana PF

Zeller is not a guy I’m high on, but you have to know that he will go somewhere in the NBA draft. He’s a huge risk for a team coming off a losing season, but the 76ers see him as a athletic big man with a high basketball IQ. This pick will surprise people, but the 76ers take Zeller, as they seem to like what they see.

Thunder – Kelly Olynyk Gonzaga C

This is a luxury pick for the Thunder and they can take a risk with it. I love the idea of Olynyk going to Oklahoma. The weak spot for the Thunder is their inside game, as Ibaka is a great shot blocker, but with the addition of Olynyk as a scorer, they’ll have the best of both worlds.

Mavericks – Steven Adams Pittsburgh C

The Mavericks need a solid big guy. In fact they need lots of help, but with Steven Adams they’ll fill a big need with a big dude. Adams is 19 years old and already 7′ tall and growing. He’s athletic and could fit well inside for a number of teams, but the Mavericks don’t let him past their pick.

Jazz – Shane Larkin Miami PG

Larkin stole the show when he worked out with 5 other prospects in front of Jazz personnel earlier this year. Larkin is a freak athlete who can help the Jazz tremendously at the PG position right now. He’s a guy that could possibly shoot up into the top 10 on draft night.

Bucks – Shabazz Muhammad UCLA SF

The Bucks are losing Monta Ellis and Muhammad is a big time scoring threat that can help them. He can step in at the 3 position and be a nice compliment to Brandon Jennings.

Celtics – Dennis Schroeder Germany PG

Boston has no one to back up Rondo and Schroeder can fill that position to help the Celtics in that department. There are already rumors out that Boston has promised to draft him. His agent disputes such rumors though.

Hawks – Mason Plumlee Duke C

Plumlee is an athletic big man that can help the Hawks move Al Horford to a true PF position. Plumlee will probably need some time to develop, but he has the skills to make for a good big man in the NBA.

Hawks – Sergey Karasev International SF

The Hawks having two picks back to back give them some flexibility in the draft and they very well may gamble on an International Prospect. GM Ferry loves the style of play Sergey could bring as an elite shooter with a quick release. He could fit very well in the Hawks plans for the future.

Cavaliers – Tony Mitchell North Texas PF

The Cavaliers grab Mitchell here, as he’s a guy they can use in the 3 or 4 spot. He fills a need for depth and could be a solid player in the NBA. I can see them using him as a back up to Porter or even the big man as he should be better than Tyler Zeller on the inside.

Bulls – Allen Crabbe California SG

The Bulls get back Rose next year, assuming he decides to play, and they use this pick to grab a 2 guard in Crabbe who’s a quality shooter with a quick release. He can also get into the paint and grab a few rebounds.

Jazz – Reggie Bullock North Carolina SG

The Jazz back court needs work and that’s what they continue to do with their 2nd pick of the 1st round, as they grab Bullock. He’s a nice shooter who can score with best of them. Bullock fits a huge need for the Jazz and with these two guard picks, could solve their backcourt problems.

Nets – Gorgie Deng Louisville C

The Nets like Plumlee, so if he falls they may grab him, but Deng is the big man available in our mock and is a player they would be pleased with having. Deng and Lopez could be an inside force that teams would have huge problems dealing with.

Pacers – Rudy Gobert International C

I’m going to go with a very unpopular pick here as the Pacers didn’t even work out Gobert, but his value at this spot might be a steal. They are in the position with their franchise to take a risk and they do exactly that with this pick.

Knicks – Jamaal Franklin San Diego St SG

The Knicks play JR Smith and Shumpert at the 3 quite often, so drafting a Shooting Guard is a real possibility. Franklin fits their style, as he’s an athletic guard who will take the ball to the hoop and score. This guy really fits this system and the Knicks have to take a hard look at him.

Clippers – Tim Hardaway JR Michigan SG

The Clippers have to address the wing spots in the draft to get better and they do so by taking Tim Hardaway, Jr. He’s good sized and can shoot the ball well, fitting in nicely to the Clippers attack.

T-Wolves – Tony Snell New Mexico SG/SF

Snell has a lot of size and can fit in as a nice addition to the T-Wolves attack, addressing their need for a SG or SF. The Wolves have Rubio, Love, Kirelinko, and Pekovic, and only need a few pieces to be a playoff team. Snell can help with that.

Nuggets – Giannis Adetokoubo Greece SF

Denver snags the drafts most interesting overseas prospect and at 6’9″, he has amazing size for the SF position. He’s got the type of instincts on the court to help Denver on both sides of the ball. This guy is the one I’m most interested to see on Thursday and could go anywhere in this draft. I would like for you to remember his name and that I called him a stud, because I think he has a ton of potential.

Spurs – Isaiah Cannan Murray St PG

The Spurs Gary Neal and Patty Mills both have a chance of not returning next year. Cannan can fill in as a nice shooter in a rotation for any team and after being compared to Lillard, the Spurs grab him to fill an important spot in the rotation.

Thunder – Archie Goodwin Kentucky SG

They’ll stash Goodwin in the D-League to develop into a player they can use. With Lamb on the team however, Goodwin might be a better prospect that can score for them now. Goodwin fills a need for the Thunder in this spot and they jump on him.

Suns – Jeff Withey Kanasas C

Withey fills a need at big man for the Suns. He comes in as a guy who can jump on the floor immediately and make an impact, as he can alter shots inside with the best of players.

I hope you enjoyed reading my mock draft and would love to hear some thoughts from you in the comment section or on twitter @mattbell211 or @thesportsscript

NFL Hard Knocks 2013

The HBO hit, NFL Hard Knocks, returns again this year. They’ll also be returning to Cincinnati to cover the Bengals as they did in 2009. A lot has changed for the “Who Dey” nation. They no longer have the old faces of the franchise in Chad “Ochocino” Johnson or Carson Palmer. It’s a little disappointing that we won’t get to see Chad Johnson up to his old antics. With new youth on a rebuilt franchise though, the Bengals should make for a good series of shows.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will without a doubt be the two players that the cameras will want to follow around camp. The “Red Rifle” has a big season coming up, and what better way to watch him get prepared for it. In the midst of Dalton improving upon some things to take his game to another level, I hope producers will be picking his brain in interviews. We’ll get to see him in the film room, which is always fun watching coaches, coaching their players up. We’ll get to see A.J. Green, the things he’s doing to make himself a better receiver, and how he’s preparing for the different looks defenses are going to be throwing at him. Hopefully, I get to see rookie, Giovanni Bernard. I’m sure the producers will either focus in on him or the other rookie, Tight End Tyler Eifert, but I would like to see a lot of Bernard. I thought coming out of the draft, he had a little Chris Johnson in him, and was the best home-run threat at Running Back the draft had to offer. We all know they’ll follow someone on Offense who is an underdog to make the team. It’s hard to guess whom that might be. Rookie Wide Receiver Cobi Hamilton from Arkansas (6th Round pick), or un-drafted Wide Receiver Roy Roundtree from Michigan, would be my picks.

Geno Atkins has to be a player on Defense that HBO should focus on. One of the top, most disruptive players in the league, Geno doesn’t get a lot of exposure to the casual fan. He needs to be put on display for the world to realize who he is and what talents he’s garnered. A person that’ll we see from the 2009 show should be Ray Maualuga. He was a rookie in the past show and they could make an interesting play off him by showing how he’s evolved as a player since ’09 and learned the ropes of the game. One Linebacker I’m personally interested in them following is Bruce Taylor, rookie from Virginia Tech. He could be their underdog on Defense as he went un-drafted. Many, including myself, had him going in the 2nd to 4th Round. When I think of the Secondary, there are a few players they could go with. Adam “Pac Man” Jones, who was on Hard Knocks with the Cowboys in 2008, is the first that comes to mind. Reggie Nelson is another, as he’s been a steady player since coming into the NFL, and vital to the Defensive Backs. The player I would like to see the most on Defense might be Dre Kirkpatrick. The 1st Round pick from the 2012 draft was injured all last season and really didn’t get a chance to see the field much. I’ll find it interesting to see how Dre gets ready for potentially his first full season, and prove that he was worth the pick that they used on him.

There are also a few obvious talents that I have left off this list (Jermaine Gresham, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Michael Johnson, and Devon Still) but I listed the ones that I’m most interested in seeing. The best part of this show will be the cut scenes, as usual. Even though it’s a low moment for the player, we as fans are interested in seeing that part of the show for whatever reasons. On August 6th the show will begin, so make sure to clear your DVR’d shows and tune in for what is always an exciting series!

World War Z Review


I had the opportunity to see an advance screener of World War Z last night, thanks to Cinemit and GoFobo. I was skeptical about the movie, after hearing that there were re-shoots only a month before the movie was scheduled for release. I had modest expectations when it came to this movie and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Zombie movies are really hit and miss and I was curious to see how it would be portrayed in a Summer Blockbuster.

*Warning before reading below, I do own this book but I have never read it. I will not attempt to compare the two in any way.

Gerry Lane (Pitt) a former United Nations employee is forced to travel the world and figure out why a Zombie epidemic has broken out.

*Some spoilers below*

The Good –

Marc Forster (Director) – He really had his hands full with this movie. He had to bring a widely popular book and make it a Summer Blockbuster. On top of both of those, Forster had to make it about Zombies. I think he did a successful job, and had everything you could ask for in a movie. It was an action packed thrill ride that kept you on the edge of your seat. Throughout the film, he did a great job of building the story, piece by piece, to have a great pay off in the end.

Brad Pitt – This movie would’ve been really nothing without him. His presence alone brought the blockbuster feel to the movie. The film is simply based on Gerry Lane and Zombies; so Brad Pitt really had to bring it to the table. The 3rd act of the film may have been Pitt at his complete best. It was so good it made this film.

Writing, Visual & Score – Ben Seresin (Cinematography) & Robert Richardson (Original shoot) brought a beautiful film. You could see the CGI’ness to the movie, but it didn’t deter from how great it looked visually.

Marco Beltrami’s score put things together really well, and went good with the flow of the movie.

Matthew Carnahan, Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof (Screenplay writers) did an amazing job putting this film together. It kept you interested from the start to finish, and they should be applauded for that.

Fana Mokoena & David Morse – Their roles weren’t huge in the film, but when they were on screen, they were effective and good. Morse has always been one of my favorites to watch, and he nailed it in this film as well.

The Ending - I read online that they changed the ending to give it more of an intimate feel. I feel they accomplished that and so much more. Ending of movies can really make or break a film. This ending, took a really good movie, and turned it into a great one.

The Bad –

One could complain about how Pitt survived with his great heroism. Whether it was taking Zombies on a plane, surviving a plane crash, or just randomly being on the right plane to get him to the World Health Organization (where they are trying to make a Zombie vaccine). If you are being nit-picky, those are areas that you could question. If you believe in movies like I do though, you really didn’t have much of a problem with this.

The Ugly –

The 3D part of the movie –

Sadly, one or two scenes in this movie were nothing worthwhile to see in 3D. On another note, I really can’t stand 3D movies either.

The Verdict –

4 out of 5 stars

This is what a Summer Blockbuster is all about. This is easily one of my favorite movies of the summer. It had everything you could hope for in a flick. The acting wasn’t Oscar worthy by any means, but Marc Forster & Brad Pitt team up to bring us an action packed thrill ride you will enjoy from start to finish.

World War Z hits theaters this Friday and is rated PG-13.

5 Questions for Game 7 of the NBA Finals

1. Who is the key player for the Heat?

Chad Woodroof: Chris Bosh. Normally I would say James or Wade, but Bosh needs to drop 15+ with 10 or more rebounds, and needs to play great D down low to stop Tim Duncan.

Matt Bell: No doubt about it, no headband LeBron is the key player. If that dude shows up, it’s over no question about it.

Matt Wincherauk: I’m going with Chris Bosh. Bosh had been lacking the entire regulation period, but his few key plays not only saved the Heat’s season, but also extended it one final game. With rebounds becoming rather scarce, outside of LeBron and “Birdman” Anderson, Bosh needs to be incredibly active on the glass, and keep Duncan as far away from the paint as possible. His defense was also stellar in the final few minutes, including a block on Parker and Green. If Bosh can hit his jump shot consistently, the Heat should be in for a good night.

Richard Valero: LeBron James. He hasn’t played 4 quarters of basketball the way he is capable of all series.

2. Who is the key player for the Spurs?

Woodroof: It’s hard to pick just one. Tony Parker needs to play a full 48-min game without tiring out and have limited turnovers. Danny Green needs to hit 3-point shots, like he has been throughout the series, to make the Heat have to guard the 3-point line as well as the paint.

Bell: Manu has to forget the game 6 performance and repeat his game 5 performance.

Wincherauk: I’ll take Danny Green. Green, up till last game, had been my Finals MVP. Raining threes, opening up the Heat defense, creating shots for his teammates. When the Heat locked down on him, he disappeared. Green is vital for the Spurs offense to work correctly. Without his ability, guys like Parker, Ginobili and Leonard will have trouble getting to the basket, if all the Heat is going to do is collapse.

Valero: It’s hard to just pick one of the guys, but I will go with Danny Green. He has to be able to find a way to get his shot. After having 5 really solid games, the Heat just took him out of game 6 all together.

3. Who needs to step up?

Woodroof: Manu Ginobili. Manu had 9 points with 8 turnovers last game. That wasn’t the sole reason San Antonio lost the game, but if the Spurs are going to take Game 7 on Miami’s home court, Manu is going to have to have a game like he did in Game 5.

Bell: Danny Green. If the Spurs pull off game 7, after all his shots in the first 5 games, I feel he will be the difference, if he can get open.

Wincherauk: Manu Ginobili. We saw the one game that he showed up to, Game 5, and the Spurs outright dominated the Heat. Ginobili is easily the streakiest player for the Spurs, but it can also make him the most dangerous. If he starts by getting a few easy baskets and mid-range jumpers down, then look out, we could see a classic Manu game. Also, enough with the flow killing threes at the top of the key, Pop will eventually kill him for those shots.

Valero: LeBron James. If he doesn’t step up and play the way we all know he can, the Heat has no shot at winning this game.

4. Who is the most important player for game 7?

Woodroof: LeBron James. No 1 player has a better scoring average in NBA history for elimination games than LBJ with his 31.5 average. He’s going to need to score 30. Ideally, Bosh should have 20 and Wade should have 25, but if those players come short of those numbers, LBJ is going to have to make it up in addition to his 30.

Bell: No question LeBron.

Wincherauk: LeBron James. It’s pretty simple to me. If LeBron can dominate, the Heat can win. If he’s unable to get those easy baskets in transition and in the half-court, the Heat will struggle. He got them back in the game last time, but if the Spurs can lock him down like they did in the first three quarters, then the Heat will be looking at another Finals loss.

Valero: Hate to sound repetitive but it has to be LeBron again. This is the biggest stage of them all; this is Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It’s time to put up or shut up. If he wants to be labeled as one of the best of All-Time he needs to step up and take this game over.

5. Who wins and why?

Woodroof: The Miami Heat. First, because of their home court advantage. Second, because San Antonio has given everything they’ve had the last few games, and I think they’re tired. They played an impeccable full 48 minutes in Game 5, and they played stellar for 36 minutes in Game 6. When it counted in the last 12 and the 5 of overtime though, their starts seemed to be pooped. I don’t think they have the energy to play at the level the Heat will be pumped up at by their home crowd.

Bell: I predicted Spurs in 6 and was 20 seconds from being right. Now I feel it’s the Heat who win at home in Game 7.

Wincherauk: I’ve got the Heat. Something has to click for this team. Eventually they will say to themselves, “Hey, we have Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LEBRON JAMES! Let’s go out and dominate!” It seems like what’s been holding the Heat back is not physical, but mental. Guys like LeBron and Bosh have been fragile in this series. I think this is finally the game where they really wake up and knock the Spurs out.

Valero: I’ve wavered back and forth because the obvious choice is the Heat but I don’t think the Spurs will lay down either. However, I do think the Spurs needed to win Game 6 to win the series, and they probably should’ve won the game. I think LeBron steps up to the plate and carries the Heat to back-to-back titles.

The LeBron Hatred

There is a lot of hate aimed towards LeBron James. I personally never get it. Sometimes I wonder if this is just due to social media today, and if players like Jordan would be getting the same kind of treatment. Nobody is a perfect human being. I am going to speak on why I can’t understand the hatred towards LeBron, and why the same thing doesn’t go for Kobe and Michael.

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players I’ve seen on the basketball court. Kobe has an arrogance about him that you see in many a superstar that is on the pedestal he is. So he can get a pass for thinking he’s above his teammates. Bryant was accused of raping a girl in Denver in 2003. As we know, he definitely did have sexual relations with that woman, to partially quote Bill Clinton, but we can’t honestly say that he raped her. What we can say though is that he cheated on his wife. Again nobody is perfect. Earlier this year, as the Lakers were struggling to piece it together, Kobe called the fans (and media) “dumb” and said they just needed to “shut up already.” The fans have no problem with this, but I do. Since when do you put an athlete that fans made into an icon, just as much as he himself has, so high on a pedestal that the athlete can demean you and you have no problem with it. That just baffles me. I don’t care how many rings he has or how many records he breaks, no player is above the sport, the fans, or common courtesy. The comment Bryant made shouldn’t be dismissed. Kobe’s following thinks LeBron is the one who is arrogant though, and chalks the Kobe stuff up to “Mamba Mentality.”

Michael Jordan is hands down the best Basketball player I’ve ever watched. When it comes to being clutch or scoring at will, there has been no other player I have seen do it as well as Mike! Jordan was also a gambler, fornicator, drinker, and smoker, with a lot of arrogance. Again, if you’re one of the best, media is going to mold that level of arrogance into you, no matter how hard you try to fight it. So we’ll give him a pass. His Hall of Fame speech was a little questionable. He didn’t show any type of humbleness and belittled numerous individuals throughout the speech. I guess that’s okay because he’s “MJ” right?? We’ve all heard the stories of Mike not signing autographs for kids at times. I can understand not wanting to be hounded 24-7/365 and sign for countless people, but we’re talking about THE KIDS. Speaking of kids, I never really saw Mike have his around like other players do. That could be for many reasons so I really won’t knock him for seeming like he never hung with them. I do remember him at one point telling his children, “You guys have a heavy burden. I wouldn’t want to be you guys if I had to.” Great fatherly advice! There was speculation a few years ago that Jordan’s first retirement was really a secret suspension for his gambling problems, as a well known drug dealer had a signed $57,000 check from him. Jordan said it was for a business adventure but under oath admitted it was to make up for a gambling debt. Again, nobody is perfect, but everyone wants to “Be Like Mike.”

LeBron isn’t an angel. We all know “The Decision” was a bad idea, but I think that was more pushed on him public relations wise. That doesn’t give him a pass but it did raise over $3,000,000 for charity. He has “Chosen One” tattooed on him. That was something he did in his teenage years, and we all know kids get dumb tattoos. So from me, he gets a pass for that. He calls himself King James. I’m almost 100% sure that other people gave him that name and it wasn’t self-proclaimed. He shouldn’t really refer to himself as King though, even if he has 25 rings. What isn’t justified about LeBron is to say that he’s an arrogant person. Unlike Kobe and MJ, you have never seen LeBron drinking, gambling, in the club, smoking cigars, or cheating on his wife. When you do see LeBron, he’s with his kids, with other kids giving back, working on his game or playing in one. I don’t see how that’s arrogant. That to me is a better role model than the other 2 individuals I touched on. What other 21-year-old kid do you know, that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and acts like he does. Usually kids act how you would typically expect them to, but I’ve never seen such things from LeBron. Earlier this season, a fan hit a $75,000 shot from half-court and James was so excited for him that he ran up and tackled the guy! Would MJ or Kobe every do that, I don’t think so. So for those who say he’s a great player but a horrible person, I don’t get it. For those who say he’s a good person but not a great player, I don’t understand your logic either. Sure he’s had his moments on numerous clutch occasions, but since 03/04 not one player has more game tying or go-ahead scores in the playoffs than LeBron James with less than 24 seconds left on the clock. He’s 7-16 in those situations and Kobe is 5-17. Kobe is clutch though and LeBron isn’t? LeBron is 61-143 with the 3rd highest percentage in clutch situations at .427 between 2006-2012. But he’s not clutch? LeBron never said he was MJ, that’s something the media and fans have put on him, so how is he accountable for all the “Not Better than MJ” talk?

The moral of this article is hate isn’t a good look. If you’re going to hate on a person because he’s all you hear about on TV, that’s not justified. It’s amazing to me that society loves people that act as they shouldn’t, and love to hate on the people who try set a good example for others. If you want to not like LeBron’s game for whatever reason, you’re entitled to that. If you want to not like LeBron as an individual, I question that. At least know the man and acknowledge the things he does off the court before you rake him over the coals. If I had kids, I’d want them to model themselves after James, more than I would want them to be like Mike or have that Mamba Mentality.

Breaking Down The 2013 HR Derby

The All-Star break is right around the corner and will be hosted at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. This week the captains were named for the 2013 HR Derby. They were David Wright for the NL and Robinson Cano for the AL. I believe it’s kind of funny that Cano is the captain considering he hit a big goose egg in last year’s competition. I suppose they wanted to do the whole New York vs. New York with picking these two.

This may be one of the least successful HR Derby’s to date. Citi Field is known as a pitchers ballpark and the stats really back it up since it open in 2009.

2009 – 158 HRs – 8th in MLB
2010 – 135 HRs – 6th in MLB
2011 – 147 HRs – 13th in MLB
2012 – 161 HRs – 13th in MLB
2013 – 59 HRs – 5th in the MLB(through 06/19)

So as you can see, it will be interesting how some of the players fare in this year’s derby. We might be in line for an uneventful derby if the stats hold true.

Now to get to whom I think Cano/Wright & the fans should pick for their teams.

Here are the choices the fans have to choose from. (There is a write-in option as well)

AL – Bautista, Beltre, Cabrera, Cano, Dunn, Fielder, Hamilton, Jones, Longoria & Trout
NL – Beltran, Braun, Harper, Heyward, Kemp, McCutchen, Posey, Stanton, Votto & Wright

First off, whoever nominated these players should be fired. You’ve got guys on this list injured as well as guys who are playing just terrible this season. AND WHERE IS DOMONIC BROWN????? Well fans, look no further than my list of players below. You may have to write some of them in, but these are the guys that DESERVE to be playing in the HR Derby this year.

AL – Obvious choice for the team is Miguel Cabrera, who appeared for the Marlins in 2006 (finished 3rd) and in 2010 for the Tigers (finished 4th). I do not see him appearing for the AL this season though.

Then there is 2-time winner and reigning champ Prince Fielder, who I think is more likely to be on the team. This would be his 4th appearance and he currently has 12 HR’s & 54 RBI’s this season. Of course the champ has to defend his title!

The easiest choice of them all? Chris Davis, who is on an unbelievable tear that no one saw coming. Davis currently leads the majors with 25 HR’s, and is 2nd in RBI’s as well as 5th in BA. So Chris should be a sure fire pick to be on the team.

So far we have Cano, Fielder & Davis. My last pick would come between Blue Jay teammates Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista. Baustista has appeared in the last 2 HR Derby’s, so I would think that he might get the edge. I want to see some fresh faces in the Derby though this year and who better than Encarnacion to have in it. He currently has 19 HR’s and has 21 more RBI’s than Bautista does.

So my AL roster would be Cano, Davis, Fielder & Encarnacion.

Now for my NL picks.

NL – The #1 pick of this team should be Domonic Brown. I am biased towards the guy because he plays for my Phillies, but there’s no one more deserving to be on this team than he. Domonic currently is 2nd in the NL with 19 HR’s and much like Davis, has been a very nice 1st half surprise.

My next pick would be Carlos Gonzalez, leads the NL with 20 HRs. He appeared in last years Derby, struggling with only 4 HR’s, and was knocked out in the 1st round. I would expect him to want to come out and show that last year was a fluke. (If he doesn’t participate, his teammate Troy Tulowitzki would be ideal as well.)

My 3rd pick would have to be Justin Upton. Even though he has struggled a lot in the month of June, he is still 4th in the NL in HR’s with 15. I think he would be a perfect choice to have in the Derby.

My 4th and final choice is Paul Goldschimidt, who is 3rd in voting right this second. This choice would have gone to Harper had he been healthy, but since he isn’t, Paul “My names is from Austin Powers” Goldschmidt, is the perfect choice for this team. He has 17 HRs which is more than Upton, leads the NL in RBI’s, and is currently hitting .304.

So my NL Picks are Brown, Wright, Gonzalez & Goldschimidt.

That’s all for now folks. Stay tuned for my 2013 AL/NL All-Star article coming soon.

Tell me whom you think should be in the Derby and who you don’t want in it.

Twitter: @RickyGangster