SPORTS TALK: This and That with Chris Grant


Juiced MLB

There’s a lot going on in the sports world right now. Pennant races, football, the World Cup of Hockey. Might as well dive right in.

With less than two weeks to play in the regular season, there is still a lot up in the air in Major League Baseball. Just one team is officially in the playoffs, and that’s the Chicago Cubs — pretty much everyone’s favorite to win the World Series.

This might be due more to a weak division than anything else. None of the other division races are that tight. Boston has the smallest division lead, up five games on Toronto with 11 to play. The Indians and Rangers appear to be in, as do the Nationals. Only an epic collapse would stop the Dodgers from winning the National League west.

However, the wild card is a different story. Seven teams in the American League are within five games of the playoffs. Same holds true in the National League. I know a lot of people don’t like the wild card, but I am not one of them. Keeping that many teams in the playoff hunt this late in the season is a good thing for the sport. Should be a heck of a final 10 days in MLB. A lot of champagne will be wasted and a lot of hopes will be dashed.

Speaking of dashed hopes, the United States hockey team was quickly eliminated from this year’s World Cup of Hockey. The Americans lost their first two games in pool play and have no chance of advancing to the final tournament.

As you probably know, I love hockey. I love international hockey even more. One of my first great sports memories is of Team USA winning the 1980 Olympic hockey medal and I think because of that, I have been a hockey fan my whole life. That said, I can’t abide these dismal showings by the American team in these big competitions.

The United States has plenty of hockey talent. Just look at the NHL, then look at the guys on the NHL all-star teams. There are plenty of Americans there. Thus the problem has to be with the system. I sure wish they would get it straightened out before the next big international tournament so maybe we can see Team USA bring home the gold (or the World Cup) sometime soon.

There must be a lot of disappointment in Minnesota as well. The Vikings came into the season looking like a playoff team. They had a superstar in-waiting with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and they had Adrian Peterson, still one of the best running backs in the league. Well, they lost Bridgewater to a season-ending injury before the season even started. Then last week they lost Peterson to a torn meniscus that will probably keep him off the field until December at the earliest. The Vikings are a prime example of the best laid plans going awry.

They certainly still have a lot of talented players, but it seems unlikely they are going to win a bunch of games without their two leaders on offense. It just goes to show that you can build a perfect team, but fate will always have the last say in whether you have a successful season or not.