Weekly Nickel 8-27-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Tony Stewart (pictured above) was not a happy camper in Bristol on Saturday night.

By Josh Kramer

Tiger Woods continued to prove that his game remains out in the “woods.”  RGIII and Andrew Luck squared off for the first time in what will hopefully be long and successful careers.  And Japan’s Little League team not only proved that they were the best Little League team on the planet by far, they also brought up the question of whether they could compete against the Houston Astros (just kidding).  Last week was a bundle of fun, but this week will be great in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Bristol was filled with fireworks as is typically the case.  Just ask Tony Stewart.  Denny Hamlin was the man who stood on the podium as the winner in the end though.  There are only two more races until the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16th.  Who will nab the final spots?  We will know a little more after Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

4.  The countdown is down to nine.  Are you ready for some football?  NFL football is now entering the fourth and final week of preseason football.  Though the games this week will be pretty inconsequential, they will mean a lot for the players looking to nab the final spots on the 53-man rosters.  As fans, just deal with a little over a week more of “fake” football.  The regular season is almost upon us.

3.  The dog days of August are finally going to end this week.  I am sure many teams are psyched for September and October baseball, while others are already making plans for next season.  Due to the expanded playoff format, things will be as crazy as ever until the final pitch on Wednesday, October 3rd.  Also, keep an eye on the Dodgers after one of the craziest blockbuster deals of all-time was completed on Saturday in which the Boston Red Sox shed around a quarter of a billion dollars worth of salary.  My matchup of the week takes place in the Steel City.

St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates:  The Pirates and R.A. Dickey were the two best stories in baseball up until recently.  The wonderful story about Dickey continues on, while the Pirates continue to dwindle.  After 19-seasons of sub-500 records, the streak may end after all in 2012, but the playoffs appear more unlikely by the day.

This series set to start tonight may be the biggest baseball series Pittsburgh has had since the last time the Pirates were relevant (1992).  The Pirates currently sit two games behind the Cardinal, which puts them on the outside looking in for an NL Wild Card spot.  Luckily for Pittsburgh, their ace takes the hill tonight (A.J. Burnett).  Plus, the Cardinals are not a very good road team.  With all of that being said, I still expect St. Louis to take two of three in this huge series where all of the pressure seems to be on Pittsburgh.  The Cardinals looked great in Cincinnati this weekend and appear poised to make the playoffs for a second-consecutive year.

2.  College Football is officially back baby.  The Week 1 magic gets under way on Thursday night, and will conclude with a huge matchup between Michigan and Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.  In case you missed it last week, here is my full preview that came out this past Thursday.  In addition, as has become tradition, my picks for the marquee matchups will come out on Thursday morning.

1.  Welcome to the 2012 US Open.  The year’s fourth and final Grand Slam is upon us.  New York City will be treated to hard-court tennis at its finest.  It does not get much better than a match on Center Court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  This should be a wild two weeks as Andy Murray looks to take advantage of a Nadal-less draw and the “Kim Clijsters Farewell Tour” hits its final stop.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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