Weekly Nickel 8-8-2011

Photo courtesy of latinorebels.com. Can Asdrubal Cabrera (pictured above) come up big for the Indians in a huge AL Central duel against the 1st place Detroit Tigers?

By Josh Kramer

A week defined by NFL Training Camp, gambling issues, and a memorable Hall of Fame induction in Canton has paved the way for another great week in the wide world of sports.

Here are the upcoming events you should be aware of.

5.  Who cares if it appears there will be no NBA season come October.  At least there will be a D-League season and many of our favorite stars will be playing overseas right?  Okay, not really.  But keep an eye out for some crazy moves over the course of the next week as an NBA season continues to look more and more unlikely.  Bruce Pearl, the former Volunteer’s coach is being offered $500,000 by the D-League.  D Wade is considering playing overseas.  This could get awful interesting in a hurry.

4.  The preseason top 25 is out.  College Football is back as we anxiously await opening night on Thursday, September 1st.  It is hard to believe in that it feels like just yesterday that  Auburn defeated Oregon in Glendale, Arizona behind a Wes Byrum 19 yard field goal as time expired.

3.  Though the preseason was supposed to open up in Canton yesterday, that does not mean that football is not just around the corner.  Games are scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Sure it is just the preseason, but we have all been thirsting to watch some sort of NFL game action since the Packers finished their improbable run to the Super Bowl on February 6th.  Well this week, for the first time in over 6 months, NFL action (though preseason) returns.

2.  Tennis is starting to take center stage.  This is where the always exciting US Open Series 6 week circuit really begins to heat up.  The men begin to get separated from the boys as the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 heads north to Canada.  Each year the tour stops in Toronto or Montreal.  This year, the stopping point is Montreal.  Will any American begin to emerge?  After great showings last week at the Legg Mason, Donald Young and John Isner look to continue to carry the American torch towards Flushing.

1.  You know how the saying goes.  When the trade deadline comes to a close, the pennant race begins.  Well it is that time now as all of the new acquisitions have settled into their new surroundings.  Here are some questions that will get answered over the next couple of months.

American League:

Who will emerge victorious in the mighty AL East?

Will Detroit run away with the AL Central?

Can Texas hold off the stellar pitching of the Los Angeles Angels?

National League:

What type of records can the Phillies set behind their amazing pitching staff?

Is Milwaukee really the cream of the crop in the lackluster NL Central?

Can the defending champs (Giants) hold off a potent Arizona Diamondbacks lineup led by rising star Justin Upton?

Stats to think About:

No team in the AL Central has a positive run differential -181 going into Sunday while the Yankees and Red Sox have a combined run differential of +311 heading into Sunday’s duel on baseball’s biggest stage, Sunday Night Baseball.

No team in the American League has scored within 25 runs of the Yankees (or Red Sox).

The Cincinnati Reds have a +35 run differential yet they are 4 games under 500.

The Milwaukee Brewers are in first in the NL Central, yet they are 12 games under 500 on the road.

My matchup of the week occurs in a city that has not seen a lot of happiness in the past year (largely due to the Decision).

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians:  Now many of you are probably asking why this is the matchup of the week.  Milwaukee takes on St. Louis again this week.  The Rays claw for dear life as they head to the Bronx to take on the red-hot Yankees.  Well the answer is simple.  This is a series in my eyes that could already determine the outcome in the AL Central in the middle of August.  The clock appears to be striking midnight on both of this year’s feel good stories (Indians and Pirates).  It is no secret that the Indians have struggled mightily since the All Star Break.  One could even make the argument that they have not been the same since the end of May.  But you can’t fault their effort level.  The Indians went out and got the best pitcher available on the market.  They have hung around into the middle of August with a team that nobody expected to make any noise this year.  And they are still in the hunt.

Sadly for the Indians, their chances of postseason baseball for the first time since 2007 may be over come Thursday night, if this series goes the way I expect it to.  The Indians have made a valiant effort.  But they are just not quite ready to make that next step just yet.  Now they do luck out in missing Verlander during this three-game set, but the Tigers are a decent road team.  The Indians are struggling, plus there is added pressure on Cabrera and Co. knowing the importance of this series.  I expect the Tigers to take 2 of 3 despite the absence of their ace during any of the three games.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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