Weekly Nickel 8-1-2011

Photo courtesy of prorumors.com. Ryan Braun (pictured above) and the Milwaukee Brewers have a huge series against division rival St. Louis this week at Miller Park.

By Josh Kramer

Just like the rest of you, I am trying to recover from arguably the wildest week transactions wise in sports that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.  The NFL returned.  Then the MLB Trade Deadline came like a world wind.  Plus there was big time soccer in the US and the X Games.  So after catching your breath, take a look at what is in store for this week.

5.  Following the always exciting Brickyard 400, NASCAR heads to Pocono on Sunday.  Jimmie Johnson is right in the hunt as usual, but has not won a race since his victory on April 17th at Talladega.  Winning in Pennsylvania could go a long way in helping Jimmie Johnson accomplish an amazing six-peat, as Sprint Cup Series champion.  In each of his previous five Sprint Cup Series titles, Johnson took home at least five first place finishes.  He only has one thus far this year.

4.  As the World Football Challenge continues, Barcelona continues their tour of the United States.  So what if Manchester United got the best of Barcelona on Saturday in DC.  This is still a phenomenal team that is a step above anything we get to witness in the MLS.  They have two more games left in the States.  On Wednesday, they will take on Guadalajar at 8PM in Miami.  Then they will conclude their participation in the World Football Challenge in Dallas versus America, out of the Mexican soccer league on Saturday.  So make sure to tune in to at least one of these matchups if you want to see soccer played at the highest level.

3.  The best six weeks of tennis in America continues on with a week-long stop in the nation’s capital.  The Legg Mason Tennis Classic is always an exciting tournament, despite not being one of the big nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events (mandatory tournaments for the top players along with the four Grand Slams).  This is a tournament that many of the top players love to participate in while preparing for major events in Montreal and Cincinnati.

Also this is a tournament that traditionally has been won by American stars.  Since 1995, there have been nine American Champions.  And despite the absence of American star Andy Roddick, among other top players this year from the event, maybe this can be the tournament that really gets Fish, Isner, or dare I say James Blake going as we are just under a month away from the US Open?

2.  As NFL training camps heat up, signings will continue to happen.  Though transactions have occurred at the most rapid pace any of us have ever had the pleasure of witnessing over the past week, this frenetic pace will continue as teams look to fill out their rosters.

1.  This is the time of year where Major League Baseball is still on center stage.  Sure NFL training camp has gotten under way, and transactions are occurring at a warp speed pace, but real football has not started yet.  Baseball is heading towards the stretch run as the trade deadline has come and gone.  There are a plethora of major matchups this week, but one occurring in Wisconsin has really caught my eye.

St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers:  I think it is safe to say that the NL Central, though a division defined by mediocrity is going to be a dog fight until the very last day this year.  Both of these teams appear to be the two frontrunners to represent the worst division in the National League in this year’s postseason.  Each team has been playing solid baseball as of late and rely heavily on their lethal lineups.

St. Louis leads the NL in runs scored and batting average while Milwaukee is 2nd in the NL in home runs.  Plus Milwaukee ranks in the top six in nearly every major offensive category.  There is one key factor to note heading into this series though.  It is set to be played at the lovely confines of Miller Park.  Though Milwaukee averages just 35,959 fans a game during their 52 home games this year, which ranks just 11th in the MLB, they have the best home record in the game.  So what if the Brew Crew cannot win on the road.  They sure know how to win on the road.  Expect Milwaukee to take 2 of 3 and end up with a larger lead in the NL Central come Wednesday evening than they had heading into play on Monday evening.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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