Sports hot takes: Aug-O style

MAX CURTIN & JOEY SEMEL, EDITORS-IN-CHIEF — Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Max Curtin, and Joey Semel. What are these people known for? Hot takes, baby. Here are some of our favorite baseball, basketball, and football hot takes.

Max’s Hot Takes:

  1. Baseball: The Chicago Cubs are bound for the Fall Classic once again. All season long, it’s been all but a foregone conclusion that the Los Angeles Dodgers would be coming out of the National League and making their third consecutive World Series appearance. It would take a perfect storm for a fringe-playoff team like the Cubs to make this kind of run, but it can happen. And it will happen. As superstar middle infielder Javier Baez has emerged as one of the most electric position players in all of baseball, Chicago fan-favorites like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have taken a step back out of the spotlight. But these guys are still playoff-tested, and that matters. Someone else who is playoff-tested is Joe Maddon, the team’s manager who is never afraid of making a move when the game is on the line. Another part of going on a magical run is rock-solid pitching, and although starters like Yu Darvish and Jon Lester have had down years, there is plenty of other arms who can step up and get meaningful outs with a season on the line. Again, I want to clarify that the Cubs have not had the season they had hoped for to this point — not by a long shot. But the perfect storm is just around the corner and the Cubs are about to get hot at the most important time of year. 
  2. Football: The Cleveland Browns will not make the playoffs. Now, usually this would be the coldest of takes given the Browns’ recent history, but everyone following football is well aware of the hype train behind Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., and perhaps the most talented young defensive core in all of football. I have nothing bad to say about these players individually — I think they’re a ton of fun to watch with big personalities and boatloads of talent on both sides of the ball. But Mayfield and his mustache are still one year away from snapping their 16-year playoff drought, the longest active streak in the National Football League (NFL). My biggest reason for this is the expectations. In the NFL more than any league, there are always massive expectations for teams, especially when you add in a fanbase as devoted and passionate as Cleveland’s. I think Mayfield takes a step back this season after being weighed down by the hopes and dreams of northern Ohio, although I still believe he has an incredible career ahead of him. The Browns will finish 9-7 after a roller coaster ride of a season and be left on the outside looking in for one more year come playoff time.
  3. Basketball: The Utah Jazz will not only surprise fans around the National Basketball Association (NBA) with a 55+ win regular season, but they will represent the Western Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals. Crazy? Maybe. But hear me out — this squad is built to match up against the best of the west in a seven-game series. Coming off consecutive eliminations at the hands of James Harden and the Houston Rockets, the Jazz reloaded this offseason with two major acquisitions in Mike Conley Jr. and Bojan Bogdanović, two players who averaged 21.0 and 18.0 points per game respectively last season. Donovan Mitchell has been an internet sensation since entering the league with his flashy dunks and 4th quarter takeovers, but with the addition of these two, he will finally have the chance to play alongside established scorers for the first time in his young career. Did I mention they still have the back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, their defensive anchor who is still just 27 years-old? Well, yes. They do. And even though they’re a young team, they have some valuable playoff experience and will look to feature one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the league with an established defense. The Jazz — not the Clippers, Lakers, Rockets or even the Trail Blazers — are going to The Finals.

Joey’s Hot Takes:

  1. Baseball: The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been considered destined for the World Series. They’ve made it that far in back-to-back years with nothing but a disappointment to show for it. Well, I’m here to tell all you Dodgers fans that you can be a little less disappointed this year. Or more disappointed… depending on how you look at it. The Los Angeles Dodgers will not make the 2019 World Series. The team that will? The Washington Nationals. On May 10th, the Nationals had the 3rd worst record in all of baseball at 15-23. Now? They’re 71-57, have a +100 run differential, and have probably the best rotation in all of baseball. Max Scherzer is finally healthy. Him on the mound for the wild card game? Sign me up. If they win that, then they still have Stephen Strasburg to pitch game one against the Dodgers. As good as Kershaw is, Strasburg can hang with him. These two teams both have really good starting rotations, and really not good bullpens. Ultimately, it will come down to who’s bullpen steps it up in October. I’m putting my money on the Gerrado Parra and Baby Shark to live on until late in the Fall.
  2. Football: Your 2019 NFL MVP isn’t Patrick Mahomes. It’s not Aaron Rodgers. And it’s not Tom Brady. Who is it? Drew Brees. I can’t for the life of me figure out why people say he’s declining. At age 39 last year, all he did was casually throw 32 TDs against 5 interceptions while leading the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating. I love Mark Ingram, don’t get me wrong, but it’s almost an addition by subtraction situation for Brees. No Ingram means more Alvin Kamara. To me, that means more yards, more touchdowns, and an MVP award. Michael Thomas (Bonus hot take: Thomas is the most underrated receiver in the NFL, and it’s not even close) is back as well and is only getting better. At age 40, winning the award would tie Brees with Brady for the oldest player to win an MVP in a major U.S. sport.
  3. Basketball: The Houston Rockets are not only the best team in the Western Conference but in all of basketball. I’d be lying if I said my first reaction to seeing that the Rockets added ball-dominant guard Russell Westbrook to a backcourt that already has James Harden and Eric Gordon wasn’t: “Dang. They need two basketballs.” But, as I continued to think about the fit, I realized that Mike D’Antoni’s offense is predicated on the fast break (where there’s no better guard than Westbrook) and spreading the floor (where both Harden and Westbrook really shine). Not to mention they still have Clint Capela, who just continues to get better and will likely improve on the nearly 17 points and 13 rebounds he averaged per game last year. can picture it now. Russ drives on Eric Bledsoe in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and kicks it to a wide-open James Harden, who promptly nails a go-ahead triple.

These are our opinions, and we invite discussion and disagreement. Can you handle the heat? Email us at denisonian@denison.edu to discuss.

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