BLOG

It’s a sad day for Water Cooler Talk. We had to watch the 2015 MLB season come to an end on Sunday night (or Monday morning rather). Today marks the official halfway mark in the regular season of the NFL…weren’t we just getting excited for the preseason? Water Cooler Talk was right on some predictions…but the guilt felt for missing on others weights heavily. Let’s try to turn those frowns upside down, and let’s get Water Cooler Talk on the right track for this week as we prepare you to be the sports guru of the office.

MLB:

1280px-Major_League_Baseball.svgThe series didn’t go seven games as I predicted and Lorenzo Cain didn’t win the MVP despite a phenomenal performance in game five. The bullpens for both sides were the difference, and the Mets were on the losing end of that prediction. Games 1, 4, and 5 were blown by the Mets, but give credit to the Royals, they made opportunities happen when the chances arose.

The Royals just seemed destined to win it all this season after what happened to them last year in the World Series, and after 30 years of waiting, that organization and that patient fan base can now call themselves champions. Now we can look forward to free agency and wonder what will happen with Johnny Cueto. The Royals need an “A” starter on their squad, but the question is whether they’ll be big spenders.  I know the Royals would like to have Cueto back rather than just having him as a three-month rental.  Expect a signing to happen at the Winter Meetings.

Credit has to be given to the Mets as well. No one expected them to win the NL East and no one gave them a chance against the Dodgers in the NLDS. The front office made the right moves during the season to bolster their bench with Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, and of course made the big splash by acquiring Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline. The rebuilding is complete and now it’s time to spend money. Cespedes and Daniel Murphy are free agents, both of which should be priority 1A and 1B to keep on the squad. The Mets should also look to upgrade the bullpen as they need arms that can solidify the 7th and 8th innings and they could probably use a shortstop.  The starting rotation is set for at least the next four years, so the organization can build around that and have little doubt of contending for the NL East crown during that stretch.

NASCAR:

NASCAR-logo-268x130I haven’t given much attention to this sport despite being in the playoff season, and for that I apologize. I’ve failed to mention the drama since the Chase began…until now. Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth got together for the third straight week, resulting in Logano desperately needing a win or top-five finishes in the next two races to compete for the crown at Homestead. Would Logano have won if this incident didn’t occur? It’s hard to say. Jeff Gordon was solid as he usually is at Martinsville, and ultimately did win which assures him he’ll contend for the title at Homestead in the finale.

The drama is exciting for fans like myself and helps with ticket sales and TV ratings. However, a line must be drawn somewhere. If Kenseth isn’t parked for Texas this week I’d be surprised.

NCAAF:

1000px-NCAA_logo.svgTemple held their own on Saturday as they hosted Notre Dame, a game which surprised the “experts”, but not me. I thought Temple would win by two, but lost by four. Still, it’s nice to see small schools contend with the “big boys” of college football and I expect the Owls to win out and contend for a bid in a major bowl. Then there’s the Tar Heels of UNC, who jumped into the AP Top 25 after their defeat of Pitt. The ACC race is getting exciting…and no one is talking about it.

Speaking of an exciting ACC, did you see what happened between Miami-Duke? The officiating crew has been suspended, but if you ask me that crew should never officiate in the ACC again. Perhaps the Southern Conference would be a fitting conference for that crew (and that is not a knock on the SoCon…I’m just speaking hypothetically).

The game to watch for this week is LSU-Alabama.  The 7th ranked Tigers and the 4th ranked Crimson Tide look to secure their spot in the SEC Championship game this week.  Bama has no chance with a loss since they lost to Ole Miss earlier in the season.  LSU and Bama have had fantastic battles over the last several years and I expect the same for Saturday night.  I give LSU the edge because they can control the clock with Leonard Fournette in the backfield and they have the better defense.  LSU wins 28-21.

NFL:

NFL-logoWas I wrong about the Packers-Broncos game or what? Of course I wasn’t the only one, as everyone expected the Packers to win outside of the state of Colorado. That defense is legit, so legit that Aaron Rodgers was held to 77 yards passing…the entire game! Peyton threw for 340 yards and Demaryius Thomas looked like DT again with 8 for 168. The Broncos should cruise to week 12 when they face the Patriots.

It was a rough Sunday for Steelers Nation. First, they watched Le’Veon Bell get carted off the field with what is now a torn MCL, finishing his season. Then they had to watch the Bengals come from behind to win 16-10, which pretty much wraps up the AFC North. I know it’s only week 9, but let’s face it…that division is locked.

We may have seen the end of Steve Smith after he tore his Achilles on Sunday, which ends his retirement season. As a huge fan of Smitty, I hate to see this happen to him. Will 2015 really be his last season? It’s tough for anyone to come back from this injury, let alone a 36-year old player. But if anyone can do it, it’s Smitty, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he ‘Iced Up Son’ and came back for a 16-game farewell campaign in 2016.

Scoring is what the fans want, that’s what I’ve heard for years anyway.  Well they got it on Sunday when the Saints and Giants left their defenses in the locker room, as the Saints won the game 52-49.  Drew Brees had 7 TD passes while Eli Manning had 6.  Call me old school, but I like defense and don’t care to see triple-digit points put up in a game.

For the first 50 minutes of the game there wasn’t much to talk about except how the torrential downpour made both teams sloppy.  It was those final 20 minutes that are worth talking about between the Colts and Panthers on Monday Night Football.  Andrew Luck and the Colts looked awful offensively through three quarters, with Luck throwing 2 INTs and losing a fumble while throwing for less than 90 yards.  Then when the Panthers took a 23-6 lead, the Andrew Luck we know and love showed up and made the comeback to force overtime.  After exchanging field goals on the opening possessions, Luck threw his third pick which let Graham Gano kick the game-winning 52-yard field goal to keep the Panthers undefeated at 7-0.

The Colts did make a miraculous comeback by opening up the field and wearing down a thin defensive line for the Panthers.  But the other story of this game was the awful officiating.  They missed offensive pass interference on Andre Johnson in the 4th quarter when he scored a touchdown, called Greg Olsen for a hold that didn’t happen, marked Griff Whalen out of bounds when he was inbounds on the Colts last drive of the 4th quarter, and those are just the big calls.  Trust me…there were more.  That officiating crew will not be at Super Bowl 50.

Now I look ahead to Week 9 and the intriguing matchups just aren’t there this week.  There is however the Packers and Panthers which should be an exciting matchup.  Both teams have injuries, the Packers have linebacker and secondary issues while the Panthers have offensive and defensive line issues.  The Packers haven’t lost to Cam Newton since coming into the league in 2011, until this week.  Carolina moves to 8-0 with a 27-21 win.

That’s all for this week.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter to share your thoughts and to send those pictures of you standing around the water cooler talking to your co-workers.  Have a great week everyone.

So how did the Water Cooler Talk go last week with your work colleagues, or with your friends and family away from the workplace?  For your sake, I hope it went well and for my sake, I hope to give you great material every week to continue to sound like and be the “sports guru” wherever it is you may be.  Share your talks with me on Twitter by following me and commenting on @JasonSaulter.  Don’t be alarmed by all the smack talk about the Seahawks on my page, those fans and I have a history that dates back to my time being stationed in Washington state.  Now, let’s move onto to this week’s edition of Water Cooler Talk!

NFL:

NFL-logoOh what a fun week it was in the NFL! One undefeated was knocked off the throne, Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell earned his first win, Peyton Manning got booed, the Colts tried the most ridiculous play…possibly ever, the Seahawks can’t close out games, and we still don’t know what classifies a catch.

If you missed the play, check it out here.  Now I’ll be reasonable, the game is at a very high pace and it’s tough to get calls right, but there is no definitive rule on what is a catch.  Also, there’s instant replay, which was used for Tate’s catch, but even then the officials couldn’t get it right with technology.  I don’t want to hear the NFL will wait until the season concludes to get this figured out…I want them to fix this now and I think I speak for numerous NFL fans and players.

On a side note…I have Golden Tate on a fantasy team and I was happy he got the points, but my reality NFL far outweighs my fantasy football, and even though Tate got me points (in a matchup where I lost by 5 anyway) I was still furious.

I mentioned last week that I’d put teams in the playoffs after week six…and I didn’t lie:

The Broncos, Packers, Panthers, and Patriots escaped this week to remain undefeated. All are good teams, but all probably should’ve lost their week six matchups.  The Broncos and Packers have the weakest divisions to get through, so I’ll put them in now.  The Panthers and Patriots have to face the Falcons and Jets twice respectively, but despite possibly not winning their divisions (though not likely) I have to put them in as well.

The Bengals are for real. I’ve got them in the playoffs and I’ll even say Andy Dalton finally wins a playoff game.  I won’t say they’ll win the division just yet though, because I think the Steelers are going to be tough.

Speaking of the Steelers…4-2?…really? I don’t know how they’re doing it, and I’m wondering if it’s something they’re doing right or if their opposition is doing something terribly wrong in the second half of games.  The Cardinals should’ve destroyed the Steelers at Heinz Field, but they couldn’t score despite Carson Palmer throwing for 421 yards with John Brown on the receiving end of 196 of those yards.  Turnovers hurt the Cards, and so did Landry Jones.  If Jones doesn’t get the start this week over the ineffective Mike Vick…Steeler Nation may have a collective aneurism.  If Pittsburgh can win this week and get Big Ben back for Cincinnati in two weeks, things may get very interesting.

Overall, it was an exciting week for the NFL and the storylines are coming fast and furious each week which keeps guys and gals like me busy on Sunday and Monday nights. Week 7 begins at 9:30 ET, which means 14 hours of NFL football!

MLB:

1280px-Major_League_Baseball.svgDaniel Murphy’s postseason to this point must mean he’s a $150-200 million player at season’s end. Seriously, his postseason numbers prove it, and guys with similar stats have gotten fat-stacks for doing it.  He is a free agent after this season, and I’m more than willing to bet he’ll ask for more than the $8 million he made for 2015.

Murphy, along with The Dark Knight and Thor, have helped their team to a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. The Mets are absolutely riding on their young starting staff, but if it gets them to the World Series they won’t complain.  It’s going to be tough for Joe Maddon and the Cubs to bounce back from their 2-0 hole, but crazy things happen in the postseason, so never say never.

Unfortunately for me, the crazy series finale between the Blue Jays and Rangers in the ALDS is old news, or I’d talk about it for the next four or five paragraphs.  Luckily for you, three games have been played in the ALCS so I’ll stick with what’s current.

The Blue Jays are finally in the win column after a crazy Game 3 last night where they won 11-8.  The Toronto crowd was absolutely insane last night, and it helped when Tulo hit a three-run bomb off Johnny Cueto to put the Jays up 6-2 in the 3rd inning.  I literally got goose bumps when the crowd erupted.  It’s like they haven’t seen their team in the playoffs in the last 22 seasons…oh, right.

All in all, the postseason hasn’t disappointed and if it wasn’t for the NFL coinciding with the schedule, there would be tons of baseball talk. It just goes to show that unfortunately baseball is less and less becoming America’s favorite pastime.

NCAAF:

1000px-NCAA_logo.svgYeah, yeah, Ohio State won.  I’m still waiting for them to face a good opponent before I acknowledge they’re the #1 team in the nation.  In back-to-back weeks they face Michigan State and Michigan on November 21st and 28th, until then, it’s the usual cruise control.

Do you like how I tied in Michigan State and Michigan there? My English professors should give me extra credit for that!  Anyways, there was a reason for that.  I don’t need to tell you about it, you just need to see it for yourself.  This isn’t the first special teams blunder by the Wolverines this season, it happened opening week at Utah as well.  To be fair, special teams helped them win against Oregon State, so it’s not all bad.  However, we could possibly be talking about Michigan being undefeated had it not been for the two “oops” this season.

Before , I thought I should take the time to introduce myself and give you a preview of what’s to come.  My name is Jason Saulter and I’m a student at Mansfield University where I’m studying Communications.  Before attending Mansfield U. I went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting where I found my passion of the media industry, especially sports media.  I’ve covered sports and entertainment for various broadcasts over the past few years and I am excited to share my take.

I hope that Water Cooler Talk gives you the knowledge you need to sound like the “sports guru” in your workplace, and if you happen to be talking sports next to an actual water cooler then please send a photo. @jasonsaulter

Now, let’s get to the real reason you came here.  I’ll assume you’re on your lunch break and needed a break from checking your fantasy lineups…but I’ll take it.

NFL:

NFL-logoAre ACL’s becoming the new concussions? Another star player went down this weekend as Jamaal Charles is out for the remainder of the season, after his second ACL tear in four seasons. A sad day for Charles, NFL fans, fantasy owners, and the Kansas City Chiefs who are now 1-4 and likely not to make up any ground in the AFC.

We saw too many star players go down during training camp and preseason games with torn ACL’s. Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin are absolutely missed in their respective offenses and let’s also not forget Dante Fowler Jr., Ryan Clady, and Louis Delmas who are dearly missed on their teams as well.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff…and that starts with Josh McCown. Yes, I said it. Who is Josh McCown? That’s the guy who is keeping Johnny Manziel off the field for the Browns and the guy who torched the Ravens through 4+ quarters on Sunday. No disrespect to McCown, but how does this guy throw for 457 yards? This speaks more to how badly the Ravens are this season than to how well McCown played. After Terrell Suggs went down in week one, the Ravens defense has been atrocious and there’s no sign of recovery. The offense has been abysmal as well, but when Steve Smith Sr. returns that should change (should being the keyword). If it wasn’t for two Josh Scobee missed field goals on Thursday Night Football in week four, the Ravens would be 0-5.

Speaking of records that aren’t what they should be, how about those Seattle Seahawks. The Bengals defied expectations and overcame a 17-point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the Hawks in OT. Had it not been for another referee miscue on Monday Night Football in Seattle (see the ‘Fail Mary’ play from 2012), the Seahawks would be sitting in the cellar in the NFC West, with a 1-4 record.

Then there’s the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I’ll be honest with you, I turned the game off at the 2:00 mark with the Chargers ahead 20-17 to watch the Mets-Dodgers game.  Mike Vick couldn’t do squat until the fourth quarter, but somehow turned it around.  It started with a beautiful double move by Markus Wheaton for a 72-yard TD with 7:42 left in the game to tie it up at 17.  Then the two-minute drill worked to perfection, capped off by Le’Veon Bell’s 5-yard wildcat scamper to score as time expired.  The Black and Yellow will take the 24-20 win and the 3-2 record, but you know they’re just biding their time until Big Ben returns.  Can’t Miss Play

Let’s give credit where credit is due now, all teams entering week five undefeated stayed undefeated. Carolina had the easiest path to keeping their undefeated mark…they had a bye. Besides that, the Bengals, Packers, Patriots, Broncos, and Falcons have all but sealed up a playoff spot. Too early? All right…I’ll wait until next week to start putting teams into the playoffs.

MLB:

Does nobody want to advance past the ALDS this year? The Astros had all but advanced last night, but they allowed a five-run eighth inning to let the Royals tie the series 2-2. The Rangers didn’t show up last night and now their series with the Blue Jays is tied 2-2, with the road team winning every game.

How about those Cubbies?  They go into the day with a 2-1 series lead over division rival St. Louis.  I know Bartman has already respectfully declined the offer to come back to Wrigley, but maybe the Cubs should pull the offer when they host a potential series-winning game.

If they split the MVP votes between the first half and the second half of the season, you could argue that Yoenis Cespedes should get the honor for the second half.  He has single-handedly been the Mets offense since being acquired at the trade deadline, and now the Mets are one game away from advancing to the NLCS after a convincing 13-7 defeat of the Dodgers on Monday night.  Did you see the long-ball Cespedes hit last night?  If you missed it…shame on you.

NCAAF:

1000px-NCAA_logo.svgThe news last night trumps all other college football material that has transpired over the last few days:  Steve Spurrier (70) is retiring.  Not at the end of the season, this is effective immediately.  After leading the Gamecocks to a 2-4 start to the season, the Ol’ Ball Coach ends his college coaching career with a 228-89-2 record with Duke, Florida, and South Carolina.  Thanks for the memories coach (for the record, I’m excluding the Washington Redskins memories).  Looking back at the Head Ball Coach