Greetings sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back in the saddle once again to bring you the latest sports news.
It's crazy to think that football is right around the corner. The college football season will begin in just over a month and the NFL calendar will get underway a few weeks after that. In fact, NFL players will be reporting to their respective training camps over the next week or so.
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I, for one, absolutely love baseball and don't mind it being the only sport going on once the NBA and NHL wrap up. However, it's so much fun to have football back on top of it. I think I'm anticipating it even more this year because we can actually go to games again. I haven't been to a sporting event since 2019 and I'm itching to return.
Let's jump into the sports news on this Tuesday morning.
📰 What you need to know
1. MLB trade deadline deals we'd like to see ⚾
The Major League Baseball season is coming down the home stretch with the All-Star break now in the books. We're starting to get a better idea of who the contenders are going to be as head towards October. But before that, now is when teams must decide if they are going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
We may see a large amount of star players moved by the time the deadline rolls around on July 30. The Chicago Cubs are expected to be one of the most active teams at the deadline considering that players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez are all impending free agents. It's unlikely that the majority of these players are re-signed and we already saw the team trade Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves last week.
But this isn't just about the Cubs. CBS Sports MLB scribe Mike Axisa gave baseball fans 10 trades that he would like to see happen prior to the trade deadline.
- Kris Bryant to the Mets: "The Mets already have three players who can play third base (JD Davis, Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar), but none can impact the game like Kris Bryant, who would also balance New York's lefty-heavy lineup. The Cubs can give Bryant the qualifying offer after the season, so you have to give up something worth at least a supplemental first-round draft pick to get him, and that's a price the Mets can (and should be willing) to pay. The Mets are among the lowest-scoring teams in baseball and Bryant would be a huge lift."
- Joey Gallo to the Yankees: "The whole 'this lefty hitter will hit 50 homers in Yankee Stadium!' idea is overblown, but Joey Gallo might? If nothing else, he would give the Yankees a sorely needed left-handed bat, and he'd be a defensive upgrade in the outfield as well. Gallo is also under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year, so even if the Yankees continue fading out of the race, they'd have him next year. The Rangers may never be able to get more for Gallo than right now, in the post-foreign substance crackdown world."
- Trevor Story to the Reds: "We're in the second half now and the Reds remain within striking distance in the NL Central. They don't have a true shortstop on the roster -- their leaders in games played at the position are a catcher (Kyle Farmer) and a third baseman (Eugenio Suárez) -- and they've received sub-replacement level production at the position. Trevor Story is one of the best shortstops in the game, so he's an obvious upgrade, and he's an impending free agent the Rockies should be motivated to trade."
There's a little bit of everything on this list. You have your star players in the form of Bryant, Gallo and Story on the move. In addition, there are some extremely underrated players that could be had for more of a bargain, like Adam Frazier, Kyle Gibson, and -- another Cub -- Craig Kimbrel.
There could be a ton of movement when the trade deadline rolls around. Maybe even more so than usual considering that many high-profile players will be free agents in the offseason.
2. Takeaways from SEC Media Days 🏈
It's hard to believe that the college football season is just a little over a month away. Compared to last season, the hope is that more players will continue to be vaccinated and the majority of college football games will be played without any disruptions this fall.
As far as the on-field product, there's so much talent across the college football landscape with Power Five conference like the Big Ten, ACC, and Big 12 producing some of the more dangerous teams in the country. However, the SEC is always the center of attention for the college football world and that certainly won't be changing in 2021.
Since the inception of the College Football Playoff, four of the seven national champions came out of the SEC with Alabama winning three times and LSU winning once. CBS Sports college football scribe Ben Kercheval recapped the opening of SEC Media Days with his takeaways from Monday's happenings.
- On new quarterback Emory Jones: "No Kyle Trask? No problem for Florida's offense -- or so said (Dan) Mullen about new starter Emory Jones. The former four-star recruit in the 2018 class now has three seasons of development under his belt, and his time as a change-of-pace option to Trask over the past two seasons should make his transition to full-time starter more seamless. Jones, after all, has 24 career game appearances and 11 total touchdowns to just one interception. The key, Mullen said, will be ... utilizing his mobility while taking shots down the field with his arm strength."
- New South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer shines: "Every coach is undefeated at the press conference, but it's hard not to be impressed with South Carolina's new coach after he closed out Day 1 of SEC Media Days. Beamer was already in midseason form with his opening remarks filibuster, but it's clear he has the 'CEO' part of being a first-time head coach down ... Beamer's high energy has transferred over into roster building. The Gamecocks' 2021 class ranked as the SEC's worst (and 80th overall), but Beamer arrived right before the early signing period. He's since added in a lot of names through the transfer portal, and South Carolina's 2022 class currently ranks in the top 20.
- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on COVID-19 vaccination rates in the SEC: "As of Monday, six of the league's 14 teams have reached 80% vaccination rates. 'That number needs to grow, and grow rapidly,' Sankey said. 'We have learned how to manage through a COVID environment, but we do not yet have control of a COVID environment, and that finds us preparing to return toward normal this fall, but we see realities around us.'"
There's a lot of new blood around the SEC this coming season. Of course, Alabama is always going to be the team to beat, but it'll be interesting if Florida can pick up where it left off despite having a new quarterback under center. In addition, South Carolina has finished under .500 in three of the past five seasons under former head coach Will Muschamp.
Change was definitely needed for the Gamecocks and Beamer could bring new life to the program.
3. Our latest MLB Power Rankings ⚾
It's been so refreshing to see a fairly normal MLB season this year after we had a shortened season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We haven't seen an outrageous amount of positive tests and have been able to enjoy the product for the duration of an entire season.
As the aforementioned trade deadline draws near, we're really learning who the top teams are around the majors. The Los Angeles Dodgers are certainly in prime position to potentially repeat as World Series champions based on the year they've had up to this point. The team has even had to deal with many injuries and the off-the-field issues surrounding Trevor Bauer. Still, the Dodgers have won four of their last five games and had a great week.
CBS Sports MLB scribe Matt Snyder forecasted the league in his latest edition of MLB Power Rankings.
- 1. Los Angeles Dodgers
- 2. Chicago White Sox
- 3. San Francisco Giants
- 4. Boston Red Sox
- 5. Houston Astros
- 6. Tampa Bay Rays
- 7. Milwaukee Brewers
- 8. San Diego Padres
- 9. Oakland Athletics
- 10. Toronto Blue Jays
4. A look at which players are protected in the NHL Expansion Draft 🏒
The Seattle Kraken are set to become the latest NHL expansion team and will begin play during the 2021-22 season. Earlier this summer, the team hired former Philadelphia Flyers bench boss Dave Hakstol to be their first head coach. The Kraken will begin shaping their franchise beginning with tomorrow night's NHL Expansion Draft.
Each NHL team is allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender in advance of the Expansion Draft. The league's 31 teams have submitted their list of players that they are protecting from being selected by the Kraken.
There were certainly a few surprising decisions around the league. As a Flyers fan, I was a little surprised by what the team ended up doing. On Saturday, the team traded forward Nolan Patrick and defenseman Phillipe Myers to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Ryan Ellis. Sure, it helps the Flyers defensively, but I assumed the move was made so that James van Riemsdyk would be protected. Instead, the Flyers chose not to protect van Riemsdyk when the lists were unveiled.
Here are some of the stars the Kraken could select on Wednesday:
- Carey Price (G, Montreal Canadiens)
- Jonathan Quick (G, Los Angeles Kings)
- Vladimir Tarasenko (F, St. Louis Blues)
- Jeff Skinner (F, Sabres)
- James van Riemsdyk (F, Flyers)
- Yanni Gourde (F, Lightning)
- P.K. Subban (D, New Jersey Devils)
- Mark Giordano (D, Flames)
- Kevin Shattenkirk (D, Ducks)
Back in 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights completely bucked the trend when they advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Many players that they selected in their expansion draft weren't exactly household names who excelled and blossomed into stars.
I don't know if I see the Kraken having quite that level of success, but there's several extremely talented players that are ripe for the picking. It appears that Seattle is examining the injury history of Price, but I think it would be a mistake for the Kraken not to take Price. After all, look how well it worked out for the Golden Knights when they took Marc Andre-Fleury in the Expansion Draft.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop became the first active NHL player to come out as gay. Prokop announced the news in an Instagram post and has received support from around the league
- With the MLB trade deadline right around the corner, the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies are interested in acquiring Miami Marlins outfielder Starling Marte
- Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine has been placed in health and safety protocols. As a result, LaVine won't travel with his teammates for the Tokyo Olympics
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Red Sox vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. I TOR -145 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Indians vs. Astros, 8:10 p.m. I HOU -177 I TV: MLB.TV
🏀 NBA Finals Game 6: Suns vs. Bucks, 9 p.m. I MIL -200 | TV: ABC
🥇 Best thing I saw on the internet
I had already submitted Monday's newsletter by the time this insanity broke the internet, but I had to give a certain star his just due. During WWE's "Money In The Bank" pay-per-view on Sunday, universal champion Roman Reigns continued his reign of dominance as he defeated Edge. While the two put on a great match, that wasn't exactly what had the internet in an uproar.
After Reigns won the match, WWE icon and Hollywood star John Cena made his return and surprised Reigns and the entire WWE universe. I have to admit I was completely caught off-guard and was freaking out when Cena's infamous music hit. It's hard to be too surprised at much that happens in the world of wrestling, especially in the age of social media. However, this was a pop for the ages and it was so cool to see fans in attendance when "Big Match John" made his return.