The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a starter in Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star game in four years. Josh Bell came close this year but got edged out in the voting by Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman.
Not since 2014 when Andrew McCutchen was voted in as a starter for the National League has a member of the Bucs earned enough votes to get on the field for the opening of the annual classic. The margin of difference for Ball and Freeman was a slim 1.1%. I call that ridiculous. The All-Star game has always been a popularity contest anyway with fans determining who shows up for the mid-season annual.
To break this down a little further, let’s look at these two first baseman’s stats to date. Their numbers are actually VERY close.
Freeman has been to the plate 321 times in 2019 and Bell 302. Their batting averages much like the fan voting is apart by just a point with Freeman hitting .312 and Bell .311. Home runs? It’s a tie at 22. Ribbies? 70 for Bell and 63 to the Brave. Runs are even at 61. Advantage hits to Freeman (100-94). There is only one stolen base here between the two and it belongs to their guy. Bell however leads by a larger margin in slugging percentage (.646 to .598).
So I ask you...who belongs as the starter? Freeman or Bell? Pirates fans will certainly tell you it Josh Bell.
In Steelers football today, Ryan Shazier has gone public with more comments about his desire to play again. Many like me think that’s an insane motivation given his injury. Why risk permanent damage. I’m sure he misses the game and really wants to get back on the field but at what cost? He’s taking a huge risk and if you watch him now, he’s obviously not fully recovered. That can’t be a good sign. Still, here’s his latest optimism:
“I still want to make the Hall of Fame, still want to be the best linebacker in the NFL. I'm not giving up on my goals, and the doctors said don't give up on my goals, so there's no problem with me doing that. I'm just going to keep working, and hopefully I'm going to be back as soon as I can.”
This afternoon beginning at 3:00 there is a HUGE showdown in France. The USA women’s soccer team plays host team France in what should be a tremendous game that will eliminate one of the two teams. It’s a quarterfinal matchup that will send the winner forward to play previous quarterfinal winner England on Tuesday. On Wednesday the other semi-final will pit the winner between Germany and Sweden against the winner of Italy.
Tomorrow in the UFC prepare yourselves for what should be a heavyweight fight with two men who pack a punch. It’s Junior dos Santos facing off against the mammoth Francis N’Gannou. N’Gannou has been fighting since just 2013 and has won 13 of 16 fights losing two in a row to Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic and the other in only his second pro fight a decision to Zoumana Cisse. Before the loss to Miocic which was a title fight, N’Gannou had won 10 straight fights including a historic one punch blast out of Alistair Overeem in what have been the hardest punch in the history of the UFC.
As for dos Santos, he has won 21 of his 26 fights dating back to his very first fight which interestingly enough came against another Santos, this one named Jailson Silva Santos. Junior has won three fights in a row aver losing three of the previous five. He lost by submission early in his career to Joaquim Ferreira surrendering to an armbar but the other losses were to big name fighters (Cain Velasquez twice, Overeem, and Miocic).
In his last outing dos Santos looked fantastic in beating Derrick Lewis by TKO and having fought since 2006, he certainly has the experience factor in his favor. Either way, this should be a doozy. The fight poster and official card appears on the MMA/Boxing page.
The last thing I’d like to mention today is the NBA’s first overall pick in this year’s draft, Duke’s Zion Williamson. This kid is only 18, played just one year of college basketball, and now he is a professional. But what I get from looking at this young man is that he is a BEAST. He’s huge! All 6’7” and 284 pounds of him. That’s scary.
In his only season of college hoops, as a freshman Williamson started in all 33 games averaging 30 minutes a game. He had a field goal percentage of 68% averaging nine two-pointers a game. He also averaged 3 ½ offensive rebounds per game and 5.4 defensively. With a scoring average of 22.6 points per game, Williamson became the hottest commodity in the draft and now he is a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Next season will be very intriguing to see how this kid performs.