The Price was right in the postseason, Walk stellar, Tony, our upcoming 2019 team, Football excels at Ark, Basketball prepares for season, women's soccer superb

David Price pitched a performance for the ages in the postseason, capped off by a sensational, historically superior outing Sunday Night to help the Boston Red Sox clinch their 4th World Series championship in the last 15 years.

 Walker Buehler was terrific for the Dodgers last Friday Night and all season (Photo, Deadspin).

Walker Buehler was terrific for the Dodgers last Friday Night and all season (Photo, Deadspin).

Squaring off with Clayton Kershaw in game 5 of the Series in Chavez Ravine with the Red Sox holding a 3-1 lead in the series but needing a victory with a thinned out pitching staff, David answered the bell emphatically.

David out-dueled Kershaw and the Dodgers, 5-1, going 7, allowing only 3 hits, 1 run, a leadoff homer by David Freese in the first, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. It was an epic that capped off a phenomenal performance by the 33 year old superstar from Vanderbilt University.

David threw 89 pitches with 58 for strikes against 31 balls, and his changeup coming in at 85 MPH was masterful, while his fastball was hitting 93-94, he even hit 95 once or twice. His cutter was hitting the corners like it had throughout the playoffs. But the changeup he’s developed as he’s moved into his 30’s and lost about 3 ticks off his fastball, was the difference. David puts it in the perfect spot and has the hitters totally baffled. It was unhittable and left the Dodger hitters shaking their heads.

The whole postseason was beyond spectacular for David. , Dave was 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA while also coming on in relief last Friday Night in the bottom of the 9th and getting 2 outs in the Dodgers only victory, an 18 inning 3-2 victory. David’s history in the postseason tormented him. He had come into this postseason with an 0-9 record and a 6.03 ERA capped by a miserable division series game against the Yankees on Oct. 6th.

But everything changed in game 5 of the ALCS when David squared off with the great Justin Verlander of the Astros. The Astros were a unanimous pick to win it all by the media. I include myself in that although when I saw the Red Sox go 17-2 in spring training and defeat the Astros in the final game of spring training with many starters playing for both sides, I thought I might pick them. Out thought myself and picked the Nationals over the Astros. The Red Sox went 10-8-54 in the regular season and 11-3 in the postseason. That’s phenomenal.

With Verlander, Gerritt Cole, Dallas Kuechel, and Charlie Morton and those awesome bats of Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, etc… the Astros were a seemingly unbeatable team. But the Sox took a 3-1 lead on an Andrew Benintendi superior catch in the left central field gap with the bases loaded and the Red Sox leading by a run with 2 outs in the 9th in game 4 to secure the 3-1 series lead for the Sox. David did the rest and out pitched Verlander, going 6, giving up just 3 hits, 0 runs with 0 walks and 8 K’s. He had the Astro hitters totally perplexed. They had no clue how to hit him. The Red Sox won 4-1, and advanced to the Fall Classic, where David was brilliant.

The great New York Times baseball writer, Tyler Kepner, interviewed Coach Tim Corbin during the game Sunday while Corbs was in Nashville. Corbs, a native of Wolfeboro, N.H., told Kepner how difficult it is for players in Boston. David has been through a lot. With his heated exchange with Dennis Eckersley, the former great reliever and Red Sox commentator, who mildly criticized one of the Red Sox starters, Eduardo Rodriguez, last season, to his blow ups with the media. The pressure has been beyond intense in Boston. Corbs told Kepner, “Look, I remember when they gave Carl Yastrzemski a hard time, Jim Rice a hard time and my dad remembered when they gave Ted Williams a hard time. It’s like New York-we’re with you win or tie.”

I thought that was awesome. Also in the article, different Sox players talked about what an amazing teammate Dave is. He was the same way at Vanderbilt, always wanting the ball to help out his team and always supporting his teammates. When Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi took the loss Friday Night giving up 2 runs, with only 1 earned, in 6 innings of work, David stayed with him throughout most of the night. That’s the kind of teammate David Price has been and always will be. Just a massive heart in the 33 year old from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who will always be an epic Commodore. David donated $2.5 million to the Vanderbilt baseball program to help complete the amazing baseball complex we have now. It was selfless and shows what a devoted person he is to his former coach and his former program. David Price loves Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt loves David Price. No more questions about David Price in the postseason. He now owns a sensational resume and there’s more history to write.

Not lost in the World Series, at least to me and plenty of other VU fans, was the performance by Walker Buehler last Friday Night. Walk went 7 against the BoSox, giving up only 2 hits, 0 runs with 0 walks and 7 K’s. It was masterful. Walker threw 108 pitches with 72 for strikes against 36 balls, which is excellent, a 2:1, ratio. And, of course, Walker issued no free passes, which is always tremendous. His fastball was clocking in at 98-99. Walk was dominant. He gave the Dodgers hope with his performance. Walker’s future is beyond stellar. Walker says he wants to be the next Justin Verlander. He may be better.

Tony Kemp was sensational for the Astros versus the Red Sox in the ALCS making an amazing leaping catch against the MInute Maid Park wall in left on a ball destined to be a double or triple. Tony elevated to what looked like 4 feet and grabbed the ball right before it hit off the wall. Tony has always been a stellar, clutch player and I’m ecstatic the Astros are finally recognizing that. Tony also hit a homer and had 3 hits in the series in the games he played in. He should be a major piece in the Astros’ future plans. They still have an amazing collection of players returning next year, so we’ll see if they can win another Fall Classic, though Boston and New York among others will have a major say in that.

Dansby, Sonny and Ryan Flaherty were also in the playoffs. Dans’ future is bright with the Braves. Would like to see him hit .280-.300 like he’s capable of doing. He’s got such a textbook swing and is such a superior athlete so I expect him to do that next season. Dans was injured and not available in the playoffs. Hopefully Ryan will be in the Braves’ plans next season. Ryan is a solid player. If the Braves don’t bring him back, which they very well could, he’ll get a shot elsewhere with his solid talent and him being such a great team player.

I don’t know what to think about Sonny’s situation. I wish he could get out of New York and get to Atlanta. Sonny would be an awesome Brave. I wish that would happen. New York doesn’t seem to work for him. Sonny’s more of a smaller market pitcher. He can certainly excel in the right place.

Kyle Wright looks to be a potential starter in the Braves rotation. Kyle was impressive in his appearances in September for the Braves. Kyle, with his electric fastball at 96-97 and his electric stuff in general, will be a major factor on the Atlanta Braves team next season.

Curt Casali had a very solid season for the Cincinnati Reds. I expect him to have another excellent season next year with the Reds or somebody else.

There are plenty of other guys from our program who will make an impact in the big leagues next season. I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Still believe Pedro Alvarez can be a great major league player. His status is up in the air right now. Just know what a great guy and player Pedro is and his story from his upbringing where his father, a taxi driver, and he would hit balls in the basement of their apartment building constantly with his father throwing to him and Pedro hitting into a net, and coming to Vanderbilt when Corbs saw him launching home run after home run in Yankee Stadium the summer before his senior year in high school and Corbs thinking he didn’t have a chance to get him to VU. Pedro was drafted pretty highly, but chose Vanderbilt for the education and the baseball. It was very admirable. So I never give up on Petey. Will always believe in him.



Our 2019 baseball team looks special. I’ve gone over our talent with Stephen Scott, Austin Martin, J. J, Bleday, Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke, Pat DeMarco, just some serious lumber. We’ll play excellent defense as well. The pitching will be the key and we’ve got some potentially stout starters and a bullpen that could be lockdown. The SEC is a challenge, but that’s what our team likes. Will have more in January on this year’s squad when I talk to Corbs. I’ll have more in November and December, too.



Football dominates in Fayetteville

 The Mamba, Ke’Shawn Vaughn was electric in Fayetteville (Photo, Saturday Down South).

The Mamba, Ke’Shawn Vaughn was electric in Fayetteville (Photo, Saturday Down South).

Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 172 yards and 3 TDs, tight end Jared Pinkney caught 5 passes for 93 yards and 2 TDs, wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb caught 4 passes for 44 yards, Kyle Shurmur played an efficient game completing 13-of-19 passes for 192 yards, 2 TDs and 0 ints, and JoeJuan Williams and Louis Vecchio registered NFL like interceptions in the Commodores’ 45-31 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville.

It was a tremendous team victory. Left tackle Justin Skule was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance. Justin, left guard Cole Clemens, center Bruno Reagan, right guard Saige Young and right tackle Devin Cochran put on a spectacular performance opening hole after hole for the Mamba and Khari Blasingame, who played very well also running for 46 yards on 10 carries and a TD. Khari also caught 2 passes for 42 yards including a big play 23 yard screen that was set up to perfection. The blocking was tremendously good. Kyle had good time in the pocket. He was sacked 3 times, but the Razorbacks brought the house quite often. For the most part, the o line was flawless. Ke’Shawn is a very, very special player for us.

The great JoeJuan Williams posted an amazing interception in the second quarter. Stepping in front of a Ty Story pass attempt to one of his receivers and picking it off in NFL fashion. It was a superb play by our stud corner. We posted 6 tackles for loss of 15 yards and 2 sacks. Louis Vecchio registered one of the sacks and made an interception that is maybe the best play we’ve made all season. We put great pressure on Story and as he threw it, the ball was jarred from his arm. His arm was moving forward. Louis was falling on his back, batted the ball in the air and as he fell on his back, he reached back with both hands and he grabbed the ball from behind his helmet with both hands right before it hit the ground. Odell Beckham Jr. was envious. Such a superb play. As was JoeJuan’s. Our defense played extremely well. We gave up a touchdown late with our backups in. Linebacker Dimitri Moore led us with 8 tackles. Awesome safety LaDarius Wiley added 6, and inside linebacker Jordan Griffin, who is leading the SEC in tackles, added 5. Griffin and Dayo Odeyingbo had 1 1/2 tackles for loss, Allan George and Vecchio had 1 and Darion DeBrossard and Cameron Tidd had a 1/2 TFL apiece. Tidd had 1/2 sack, as did Dayo and Vecchio had 1.

It was a phenomenal effort by Coach Mason and the team. Coach Mason kept the esprit de corps up when things weren’t looking so positive and it paid huge dividends last Saturday.

We’re off this week, which is excellent timing to get everybody healthy and get ready to visit the Missouri Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 10th at 11 AM CT on the SEC Network. The team is now 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the SEC. Excited to see what we can do the rest of the way with games at Missouri, Nov. 10th. and at home versus Ole Miss and Tennessee on Nov. 17th and 24th respectively. If we can get a strong finish, we can get to a bowl game and reward this team for all its hard work, let them enjoy the excitement and fun of playing and competing in a bowl game, get more reps for the players coming back in 2019, which is huge, and get a big boost in recruiting.

I like the recruiting class we have right now. We have 16 commits, with 4 star safety Anfernee Orji leading the way. He is 4 star freshman linebacker Alston Orji’s little brother. Both will be tremendous players for us. Read about our quarterback commit, Jamil Muhammad, from Madison, Alabama and James Clemens High School on Saturday. Jamil lead his team to the Class 7A, Region 4 championship last Friday Night. He’s a true dual threat quarterback with a rocket for an arm and awesome wheels. He’s another edition to our quarterback group which features Deuce Wallace, as Deuce will be coming back next semester after being suspended for the season and I hope he has his act together as he’s a talent, the talented Syracuse transfer Mo Hasan, who can make plays with both his arm and his legs as he showed Saturday in Fayetteville, and high 3 star freshman Allan Wallace, whom Coach Mason is really high on. So we’re in good shape at quarterback for the future. Just need to keep adding one every year. Jamil’s teammate, Daevion Davis, is a 6’2”, 314 defensive tackle commit to us and is a dominant player. Daevion is a 5.7 and 87, 3 star and a super get for the staff. Really like what we’re getting with this class and if we can keep winning, we can add some more excellent pieces to this 2019 group.




NFL guys

 JMatt was back to being JMatt last Sunday in London (Photo, Philly.com).

JMatt was back to being JMatt last Sunday in London (Photo, Philly.com).

Jordan Matthews had a huge day for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday in their victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. JMatt caught 4 passes for 93 yards. He was terrific. JMatt was cut by the New England Patriots before the season started because of what looked like a season ending hamstring injury. But JMatt, being the dedicated professional that he is, rehabbed hard to get back and it’s now paying off. Jordan looks like a major part of the Eagles’ plans the rest of this season.

Zach Cunningham got hurt Thursday Night, but it was minor and Zach has been a tackling machine for the Houston Texans., Zach could very well be having an All Pro season for the surging Texans, which, after losing their first 3 games of the season, have won 5 in a row, and are rolling. Amazingly, Andre Hal is back and playing. Andre has recovered brilliantly from the Hodgkins Lymphoma and is now in the Texans lineup. He was hurt Thursday and didn’t play, but played the game before, and Andre should be fine for the Texans next game @ the Denver Broncos this Sunday.

Oren Burks is a key part of the Green Bay Packers defense at inside linebacker, as is defensive end Stephen Weatherly for the Minnesota Vikings. Adam Butler is playing a good bit on defense for New England, and Wesley Johnson is the backup center for the MIami Dolphins. Also, Spencer Pulley, is the backup guard and center for the New York Giants. Kenny Ladler is a backup safety for the Washington Redskins. Kenny was awesome in the Canadian Football League corralling 7 interceptions last season and earned a spot in the NFL. Really believe in Kenny’s ability along with all the guys.


So our guys are doin serious work in the National Football League.

 The great Saben Lee leads an exceptional 2018-19 Vanderbilt basketball squad (Photo, The Tennessean).      The 2018-19 basketball team      Bryce Drew gets ready to send his 2018-19 team to the floor next Tuesday, Nov. 6th at 8:30 PM CT versus Winthrop SEC Network+ will broadcast on the computer. Other key preseason games include a trip to Los Angeles to play USC on Sunday, Nov. 11th at 8 PM CT on the Pac-12 Network. Will have reports on both games.    We play in the Miami Hoophall Invitational versus N.C. State Saturday, Dec. 1st at 4 PM CT on ESPN 2.  We also host Arizona State on Monday, December 17th at 6 PM CT on the SEC Network.    We open SEC play versus Ole Miss at home on Saturday, January 5th at 7:30 PM CT on the SEC Network.    We go to Lexington to play Kentucky on Saturday, January 12th at 7:30 PM CT on the SEC Network.  Kentucky comes to Memorial on Tuesday, January 29th, at 8 PM CT on ESPN or ESPN2, most likely ESPN.    The SEC Tournament is March 13th-17th, a Wednesday through Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.    Kentucky is loaded as are Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina are all dangerous and talented.    Do we have a chance to win the conference and go deep in March? Absolutely.  With our freshmen, 5 star 6’10”, 240 pound power forward Simi Shittu, 5 star freshman point guard Darius Garland, high 4 star (97 by 247 sports) small forward Aaron Nesmith (6’6”, 213) along with transfers, 6’10”, 240 pound center Yanni Wetzel from St. Mary’s College in Texas, 6’8”, 209 power forward Matt Ryan from Notre Dame, who is a sharpshooter from deep and a physical presence in the post. They join our super sophomore class led by point guard Saben Lee, who had a terrific freshman season. do everything small forward Maxwell Evans who can fill up the basket and rebound, steal the ball and pass. I’m also looking for big things out of 6’10”, 234 power forward Ejike Obinna. Ejike flashed signs of being a stellar player last year, he just needed to keep learning. Looking for him to break out this season.  Returners Joe Toye (6’7”, 210 senior) and Clevon Brown (6’8”, 240 junior) look to have special seasons for us as well.    The key to the season is we HAVE to stay healthy. If we do, we can be spectacular.

The great Saben Lee leads an exceptional 2018-19 Vanderbilt basketball squad (Photo, The Tennessean).

The 2018-19 basketball team

Bryce Drew gets ready to send his 2018-19 team to the floor next Tuesday, Nov. 6th at 8:30 PM CT versus Winthrop SEC Network+ will broadcast on the computer. Other key preseason games include a trip to Los Angeles to play USC on Sunday, Nov. 11th at 8 PM CT on the Pac-12 Network. Will have reports on both games.

We play in the Miami Hoophall Invitational versus N.C. State Saturday, Dec. 1st at 4 PM CT on ESPN 2.

We also host Arizona State on Monday, December 17th at 6 PM CT on the SEC Network.

We open SEC play versus Ole Miss at home on Saturday, January 5th at 7:30 PM CT on the SEC Network.

We go to Lexington to play Kentucky on Saturday, January 12th at 7:30 PM CT on the SEC Network.

Kentucky comes to Memorial on Tuesday, January 29th, at 8 PM CT on ESPN or ESPN2, most likely ESPN.

The SEC Tournament is March 13th-17th, a Wednesday through Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Kentucky is loaded as are Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina are all dangerous and talented.

Do we have a chance to win the conference and go deep in March? Absolutely.

With our freshmen, 5 star 6’10”, 240 pound power forward Simi Shittu, 5 star freshman point guard Darius Garland, high 4 star (97 by 247 sports) small forward Aaron Nesmith (6’6”, 213) along with transfers, 6’10”, 240 pound center Yanni Wetzel from St. Mary’s College in Texas, 6’8”, 209 power forward Matt Ryan from Notre Dame, who is a sharpshooter from deep and a physical presence in the post. They join our super sophomore class led by point guard Saben Lee, who had a terrific freshman season. do everything small forward Maxwell Evans who can fill up the basket and rebound, steal the ball and pass. I’m also looking for big things out of 6’10”, 234 power forward Ejike Obinna. Ejike flashed signs of being a stellar player last year, he just needed to keep learning. Looking for him to break out this season.

Returners Joe Toye (6’7”, 210 senior) and Clevon Brown (6’8”, 240 junior) look to have special seasons for us as well.

The key to the season is we HAVE to stay healthy. If we do, we can be spectacular.

 Coach Darren Ambrose is doing a phenomenal job with his Vanderbilt women’s soccer team (Photo, Vanderbilt Athletics).

Coach Darren Ambrose is doing a phenomenal job with his Vanderbilt women’s soccer team (Photo, Vanderbilt Athletics).

Women’s Soccer

The women’s soccer team finished the 2018 season going 15-2-1 and 8-1-1 in the SEC to win the conference regular season championship. It was an awesome performance by Coach Darren Ambrose and his team. Darren won SEC Coach of the Year. We are No.7 in the country. Redshirt freshman Haley Hopkins won SEC Freshman of the Year. Nia Dorsey landed on the second team. Ella Shamburger was also selected on the All-Freshman team.

Our team opens SEC Tournament play tonight against Florida with a 5 PM CT game on the SEC Network. The Tournament is being played in Orange Beach, Alabama. The NCAA Tournament starts Nov.9th at campus host sites. The Women’s College Cup, the Final Four will be played in Cary, North Carolina November 30th-December 2nd. Hopefully, our women will be hoisting a national championship trophy on December 2nd. Got a lot to do to get there though starting this afternoon versus Florida.





















Predictions on Troy-South Alabama tonight, Fall Classic and thoughts on Bama, AU and national picture

I like the Troy Trojans under stellar coach Neal Brown to go into Mobile and defeat the South Alabama Jaguars, 42, 28. 7 PM on ESPN2 tonght.

World Series
Tonight: 7:09 PM CT, Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers versus Chris Sale of the Red Sox in a marquee pitching matchup. Tomorrow night, 7:09 PM CT as Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches for the Dodgers versus David Price of the Red Sox. Both games will be in Boston, games 3,4,and 5 will be in LA, Friday-Sunday, and games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be in Boston next Tuesday and Wednesday, 10-23 and 10-24.

This should be an outstanding series. I like the BoSox outfield of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi to be the difference makers for the BoSox. FOX will televise with Joe Buck, Smoltzie, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal on the call.

J.D. Martinez' bat will also be a difference maker.

BoSox in 7

MVP: J.D. Martinez

Bama looked spectacular on Saturday. Tua now with 25 TDs and 0 ints. Heisman leader for sure. The receivers and Irv Smith are superb players. DeVonta Smith is expected back for LSU in 2 weeks, Saturday, Nov. 3rd at 7 PM on CBS. Defense looks pretty darn solid overall. The offensive line is nothing short of phenomenal and the running backs, led by Josh Jacobs, are as good as you can find in college football. A lot of All Americans and first round picks out of this group. Jalen Hurts injured his ankle but it appears he will be OK for LSU.  

Clemson, Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, I guess, though not totally sold on their coach, Brian Kelly, to get them to the playoff though they have a fairly navigable path. Georgia is still not out of it if they can get quarterback settled.  I really like 5 star freshman Justin Fields. He was the number 2 player in the country for a reason. If he gets a shot, he can do what Trevor Lawrence is doing for Clemson. Not totally giving up on Jake Fromm, but if he struggles against Florida early, I would go to Fields if I'm Kirby Smart. Florida is a must victory for Georgia or they're done. LSU right in the thick of it. November 3rd will be a spectacle in Baton Rouge. Not counting out Florida either if they can defeat Georgia on Saturday. UCF is the wild card, but they'll need quite a bit of help.

AU played a superb game on Saturday at Ole Miss. Auburn could be back on track for a solid season. Boobie Whitlow ran for a buck 70. He came out with an injury so that's something to watch for the Tigers. Still liked the way Marlon Davidson, Deshaun Davis and how the defense performed. And the offense looked like they figured it out. If Stidham and company can play like that, Auburn can finish their season well, and have a shot with Georgia. I don't know about Alabama, but you never know in that game, particularly if the Tigers keep improving. My man, JC Cox predicted an Auburn blowout and he was right on the mark. Great job JC.

Next up for the Tigers after a bye this week is Texas A&M at Jordan-Hare next Saturday in a massive matchup. TV either ESPN or SEC Network at 11 AM CT (ESPN) or 3 PM CT (SEC). That will be determined later this week so will keep you posted.

David Price with a Performance for the ages, VU pros, VU baseball 2019, football with a shot in Lexington

David Price was nothing short of spectacular last night against the Houston Astros in a 4-1 Red Sox victory, which clinched the ALCS for the BoSox and sent them to the World Series where they'll face either the LA Dodgers or the Milwaukee Brewers starting next Tuesday Night in Boston.

David went 6, gave up only 3 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and struck out 9. It was phenomenal. David's fastball was cookin up to 96, and his changeup and cutter were superb. He was lights out great.

David has had his struggles in the postseason. In 12 appearances, he was 0-9 with a 6.75 ERA coming into the start against the Stros last night. But threw those numbers out the window with an amazingly clutch performance.

What was noted on the TBS broadcast in game 2 when David pitched against the Stros in Boston, was how good David had been out of the bullpen in 2008 leading the Rays to the World Series, where they fell short to the Philadelphia Phillies but put together a historic season. Making the World Series with a team with a limited budget is next to impossible but the Rays did just that and David was extraordinarily good out of the pen in '08. He also was superb last year in the Division championship series for the Sox though they lost to the Astros in that series. And in game 163 against the Rangers 3 or 4 years ago, David pitched a complete game for the Rays allowing them to advance to the playoffs in a play in game for the last wild card spot in the American League. it was a flawless performance. So his postseason has been pretty impressive at times. Last night he cemented his legacy and can do so even more in the Fall Classic.

Tony Kemp played outstandingly well for the Astros in left field. Tony, getting a shot to play, made a phenomenal catch against the wall on Wednesday Night elevating 5 feet in the air and catching a ball that looked destined to be a double off the 25 foot wall in left field at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Tony also was 2 for 3 Wednesday with a homer. He played terrifically well. Proud of Tony.

Walker Buehler pitched Monday for the Dodgers in a 4-0 defeat and took the loss, giving up 6 hits, 4 earned, but Walk still struck out 8. Walker has been stellar for the Dodgers this season, and he'll get another shot, maybe tomorrow night, if the series goes to a game 7 with the Dodgers leading the series, 3-2, and game 6 tonight @ 7:39 on Fox Sports 1.

But awesome performance by David, and a tremendous effort by Tony. Walker pitching very well. Love what our guys are doing. Dansby, Sonny and Ryan Flaherty were in the playoffs as well though Dans was hurt. All will be back next season along with Mike Minor and Curt Casali and some others most likely. Excited what our baseball team can do this year with a super sophomore class led by Austin Martin and Pat DeMarco and a senior class that has guys like Ethan Paul, the great Stephen Scott, and Patrick Raby returning. We've got some excellent juniors and a solid freshman class. We have the tools in place to be a special team. Pitching has to come through. If it does, this could be a memorable season that ends up in Omaha where we can win it all. 

Hopefully, David's performance will inspire our football team that came very close to upsetting Florida last Saturday, but fell, 37-27. Losing Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the second quarter hurt the cause immensely. The Mamba had caught a pass and raced 75 yards for a TD, and had another 60 yard run earlier in the game. It was a tough blow to overcome. 

But we've got a shot in Lexington. Ke'Shawn will start. Kyle and Ke'Shawn will have to be good, the line will need to impose their will on the Kentucky front, and Jared Pinkney, Sam Dobbs and the wide receivers need to play get open and make critical receptions. Our defense will need to play aggressively, tackle Benny Snell and all the Kentucky offensive players well, and create turnovers.

I think we can get this done. 

Have an awesome weekend.  





Who will capture the 2018 World Series, a look at the postseason

Exciting times in Major League Baseball as 10 teams compete for The Commissioner’s Trophy and the world championship championship that comes with it. Can the Astros do what is one of the toughest things to do in all of sports, that is to repeat. Can the Amazing Bronx Bomahs or the hard hitting, great pitching Boston Red Sox win it all in late October. The Oakland A’s are certainly a darkhorse and you can’t count out the Cleveland Indians in the American League.

On the senior circuit, the best story of 2018 is the Atlanta Braves and what manager Brian Snitker has done with a young, yet talented squad that looked to be at least a year away but accelerated the process this season with an improbable division title. The LA Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies in a tiebreaker in the NL West yesterday to capture the division. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Cubs in Chicago yesterday in the first tiebreaker game and secured the NL Central crown, and, with the best record in the National League, home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

Here’s a look at who I like to advance in the postseason and my ultimate winner. The World Series commences Tuesday, October 23rd, with the team with the best record from the respective leagues having the home field advantage. If it’s the Red Sox, Astros or Yankees emerging from the American League, those teams will host. FOX will televise the Fall Classic running from Oct. 23rd to Oct. 31st, with game 7 scheduled to be on Nick Saban’s birthday. Joe Buck, Smoltzie, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal will be on the call for FOX. ESPN and TBS will handle the NL wild card tonight (ESPN) and the AL Wild card Wednesday Night (TBS). TBS will handle the American League Division Series, and Fox Sports 1 and MLB Network will broadcast the National League Division Series. TBS will carry the ALCS and FOX and Fox Sports 1 will televise the NLCS.

Tonight

National League Wild Card Game

Colorado Rockies @ Chicago Cubs

Kyle Freeland (Rockies, 17-7, 2.85 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (18-6, 3.32)

7 CT

ESPN

I like the Rockies, one of the best teams in baseball not a lot of people know about, to upset the Cubs at Wrigley and move on to face the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS.

Rockies 4, Cubs 3


Wednesday

American League Wild Card Game

Oakland A’s @ New York Yankees

Liam Hendricks (A’s, 0-1, 4.13 ERA, A’s using a bullpen rotation tomorrow night) vs. Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39)

7 PM CT

TBS

I like the Yankees in the Bronx, but this will be a highly competitive game like the NL game tonight. Giancarlo Stanton and the Bombers move on to face the BoSox in the NLDS.

Yankees 6, A’s 5


ALDS

Yankees over the BoSox in 5

That power of the Yankees is the difference. Chris Sale and David Price get hit around some and the BoSox bullpen isn’t as strong as the Yanks’s is.


Astros over Indians in 4

Stros have too much of everything for the Tribe.


NLDS

Dodgers over the Braves in 4

The Braves are an awesome story, but I don’t see them as having as much pitching as the Dodgers, and the Dodgers go yard quite a bit. Like Kershaw and the Bums to move on.


Brewers over the Rockies in 4

Very high on this Brewers team. They have some serious hitters, and their closer, 24 year old Josh Hader, is the best closer in baseball right now.


ALCS

Astros over Yankees in 6

The Stros have the best starting rotation in baseball. They are the difference along with some excellent bats.


NLCS

Brewers over the Dodgers in 7

This Brewers team is for real, and very confident. It’s an awesome series, but the Brewers win game 7 at home.


World Series

The Brewers are another tremendous story this season along with the Braves and the Oakland A’s. I’m very bullish on them this year and in the forthcoming years. But these Astros with Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole etc on the hill are an off the charts great starting rotation. And Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, etc.knock the cover off the ball. The Astros capture the World Series again this year.

Astros in 5 over the Brewers


World Series MVP: Alex Bregman


 Alex Bregman and the Stros go back to back World Series titles (Photo, Wikipedia).

Alex Bregman and the Stros go back to back World Series titles (Photo, Wikipedia).

Here’s a hype video for the 2018 Postseason:















Week 3 with some Spectacular Showdowns

Before we get started on week 3, I want to pass along thoughts and prayers to the people in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and everybody who will be affected by Hurricane Florence.

CNN, of course, is predicting the worst outcome, but I’m hopeful that the storm will weaken, everybody will be safe and there is minimal damage in those states.The only positive out of a hurricane is it brings people together. The awesome J.J. Watt raised $41 million for hurricane relief for the people from Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Texans star defensive end is some kind of class act. Tragedy does bring people together. So that’s a positive. Hopeful for a weakening and no casualties.

 Anthony Schwartz gives Auburn world class speed and big play potential every week, including this week against the Bengal Tigers (Photo, Montgomery Advertiser).

Anthony Schwartz gives Auburn world class speed and big play potential every week, including this week against the Bengal Tigers (Photo, Montgomery Advertiser).

Onto week 3 in college football. South Carolina’s game with Marshall is cancelled.

Last week: 18-5

Overall: 47-11 (81%)


The Crimson Tide heads into Oxford with an explosive offense led by the great Tua Tagovailoa and a group of awesome skilled players which include running backs Damien Harris, Najee Harris, Josh Jacobs, and wide receivers DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III along with a physical offensive line led by the great left tackle Jonah Williams.

The Auburn Tigers host the LSU Tigers in a clash on the Plains. Expecting a highly physical contest in Jordan-Hare on Saturday.

Huge matchup in South Bend as the Vanderbilt Commodores take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Commodores are looking for a program changing upset against the No.9 Irish.

Another tremendous national matchup features the No.4 Ohio State Buckeyes squaring off with the No.15 TCU Horned Frogs in Jerry World. ESPN Gameday will be in Fort Worth Saturday morning. My daughter is hyped up for her Horned Frogs in this game. Should be an epic.

Some other national clashes, USC@Texas and Washington @ Utah, should be riveting games.

So we’ve got quite a week 3 on tap. Here’s a look at all the electricity of this week in college football.

All Times CT. All games Saturday unless otherwise noted.


No.1 Alabama @ Ole Miss

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford (64,038)

6 PM

ESPN

Sean McDonough, Todd, Holly

Crimson Tide by 21 1/2

I am high on this Crimson Tide offense. They put up yards and points in massive amounts. Tua is a phenomenal quarterback and the skilled players are off the charts good. The offensive line is dominating, and you can’t discount this Alabama defense. They’ve been very strong in the early season, not only allowing minimal rushing yards, but getting interceptions for TDs and scoring 3 non-offensive touchdowns. The Rebels have a solid quarterback in senior Jordan Ta’amu, and their receivers, A.J. Brown, DeKaylin Metcalf and DeMarkus Lodge, are serious weapons.

Ole Miss might be able to score some points on the Crimson Tide, the Tide secondary will be tested, but their defense can’t stop this offensive juggernaut. The Crimson Tide heads into the Grove and lights up the scoreboard and keeps their impressive season charging along.

Alabama 56, Ole Miss 21


No. 12 LSU @ No. 7 Auburn

Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)

2:30 PM

CBS

Brad, Gary, Jamie Erdahl

Auburn by 10 1/2

I don’t see quarterback Joe Burrow and the LSU offense scoring many points on the Auburn defense. The Auburn Tigers defense looks dominating and gives them a chance to play into January if Jarrett Stidham and the offense can keep playing well. Anthony Schwartz emerged last week at wide receiver. A world class sprinter, he posted a 57 yard TD reception and a 23 yard TD run.He’s another big play receiver and now the Tigers have Eli Stove and Will Hastings back, amazingly, from ACL injuries they suffered 4 1/2 months ago. I like these Auburn Tigers to keep progressing on offense and dominate on defense. The Tigers will have to go through a rigorous schedule which includes games @ Mississippi State (10-6), @ Ole Miss (10-20), vs. A&M (11-3), @Georgia (11-10) and @Alabama (11-24), so they have their work cut out for themselves. But with this defense, Auburn will have a shot to win every one of those major games this season.

Auburn 31, LSU 14


Vanderbilt @ No. 8 Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN. (80,795)

1:30 PM

NBC

Tirico, Flutie, Kathryn Tappen

Notre Dame by 13 1/2

This will be a battle of 2 terrific quarterbacks. The Commodores’ Kyle Shurmur is one of the most underrated signal callers in the country. His father, Pat, is the head coach of a little outfit called the New York Giants, and his grandfather, Fritz, was a longtime defensive coordinator in the National Football League for the Lions, the Patriots, the LA Rams, the Phoenix Cardinals and the Packers from 1977-1998. Kyle’s got high football IQ in his genes. He’s smart, a leader, has a cannon, and is extremely accurate. The Irish’s Brandon Wimbush is a playmaker with his arm and with his wheels. Wimbush did throw 3 interceptions last Saturday in a surprisingly close 24-16 victory over Ball State.

The Commodores got a little overly hyped last year after going 3-0 and doing the absolute worst thing a team can do, challenging the Crimson Tide. That worked out to a 59-0 annihilation. Coach Derek Mason and his Commodores have learned their lesson from that disaster, and that is to be humble heading into a major challenge.

KIrk Herbstreit has a Notre Dame on upset alert. I agree with Herbie.

Vanderbilt 28, Notre Dame 27


NO.4 Ohio State @ No.15 TCU

AT&T Stadium, Dallas (100,000)

7 PM

ABC

Chris, Kirk, Maria

Buckeyes by 12 1/2

TCU has an explosive offense commandeered by quarterback Shawn Robinson and several game changing skilled players. But Ohio State has even a more explosive offense led by terrific quarterback Dwayne Haskins, running backs MIke Webber Jr. and J. K. Dobbins and super wide receiver Paris Campbell. The Horned Frogs will be able to score points on the Buckeyes and Jerry World will be rockin, but the Buckeyes will score a few more and they “Will get by,” as the other Jerry so artfully sang. This will be a classic.

Ohio State 38, TCU 35


Middle Tennessee @No.3 Georgia

11 AM

ESPN News

Georgia by 34

This game is being played earlier due to the potential hurricane fallout. Georgia took South Carolina to the woodshed last Saturday, and are a phenomenal football team. Georgia and Alabama look like the best teams in the country at present. D’Andre Swift is a spectacular running back and the guys behind him are pretty sensational also. Georgia has got all the tools to win it all. Alabama will have a big say in that. So will Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn. But this is an impressive group.

Georgia 45, Middle Tennessee 3


No. 16 Mississippi State 48, Louisiana 10

6:30 PM

ESPN 2

State played well at Kansas State last Saturday winning 31-10. Nick Fitzgerald is explosive but struggles with his passing accuracy. Running back Kylin Hill ran for 211 yards and a couple of TDs against the Wildcats and looks to be a star in the making. If Fitzgerald can find more accuracy, this team will be in the hunt in November.


Missouri 42, Purdue 38

6:30 PM

Big Ten Network

Drew Lock and the Tigers offense are lighting up the scoreboards. They’ll keep the offense cookin in West Lafayette but will be tested.


Texas A&M 34, UL Monroe 7

6:30 PM

SEC Network

After a heckuva’n effort against Clemson last Saturday in College Station in which they barely lost, 28-26, that included controversy on a fumble by an A&M wide receiver with A&M down 28-21. The ball looked to go out of bounds at the Clemson 1 but was called out of the end zone which resulted in a touchback and Clemson’s ball on the 20. A touchdown would have led to a tie game and given A&M all the momentum in the electric Kyle Field and the ability to pull off the upset. It was a tough way for the Aggies to lose. They played their hearts out. The Aggies plod their way through this game after a hard fought battle last Saturday. Kellen Mond is looking like an elite quarterback.


Florida 27, Colorado State 24

3 PM

SEC Network

The Gators looked pathetic on offense last week as Kentucky went into the Swamp and pulled off the 27-16 upset, the Wildcats first victory over the Gators since 1986, 32 years. The Gators barely get by the Rams. The Rams pulled off the upset of Arkansas 34-27 last Saturday at Colorado Springs.


Kentucky 34, Murray State 14

11 AM

SEC Network

The Wildcats have a bit of a hangover after a massive victory over the Gators last week. Benny Snell is one of the elite running backs in the country and ran for a buck 75 against Florida last Saturday. Quarterback Terry Wilson played very well against the Gators also completing 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards and 2 TDs. Kentucky could be asserting themselves as the second best team in the East though that’s still very much to be determined.


Tennessee 48, UTEP 10

11 AM

SEC Network Alternate Channel

Jeremy Pruitt is in an all out rebuild in Knoxville. They’ll have an easier time this Saturday but the brutality of conference play is coming up, and Pruitt and his Vols will really be tested severely then.


North Texas 31, Arkansas 30

3 PM

SEC Alternate Network

Chad Morris is in the same situation as Jeremy Pruitt. North Texas defeated SMU 46-23 at home in their opener, so they’re a good team. The Hogs drop another one after losing to Colorado State last Saturday.


No. 10 Washington 34, Utah 28

9 PM

ESPN

Utah can hang with the Huskies for a while, but their quarterback play isn’t good enough for them to win the Pac 12. Jake Browning and his Huskies team survives Salt Lake Citry.


Texas 34, No. 22 USC 14

7 PM

FOX

I’m not really clear on why the Trojans are even ranked. Their starting quarterback is out for the game and they’ve looked dismal so far this season.


No.2 Clemson 42, Georgia Southern 14

11 AM

ESPNU

The Tigers looked vulnerable last week at College Station. I like the freshman, Trevor Lawrence, to be their quarterback. He gives them a chance to make the playoff and win it. Kelly Bryant can possibly get them to the playoff, but won’t take them past the semifinals.


Iowa State 31, No.5 Oklahoma 30

11 AM

ABC

The Sooners get their sternest test of the season in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State can be a giant killer, and I see them doing that this Saturday. The Sooners spectacular running back, Rodney Anderson, is out for the season with a knee injury. The great young coach Matt Campbell gets his Cyclones over the top.


No.6 Wisconsin 45, BYU 20

2:30 PM

ABC

The Badgers Jonathan Taylor ran for 253 yards and 3 TDs last Saturday in a 45-14 victory over New Mexico. I don’t like to say this so early in the season, but he’s right up there at the top of the Heisman conversation.


No. 11 Penn State 48, Kent State 10

11 AM

Fox Sports 1

Penn State starts clicking on all cylinders heading into the Big Ten Conference schedule.


Arizona State 34, San Diego State 28

9:30 PM

CBS Sports Network

I would have predicted an upset if Aztecs’ quarterback Christian Chapman wasn’t out indefinitely with a knee injury.


No. 17 Boise State 38, No. 24 Ok State 35

2:30 PM

ESPN

The Broncos are a 2 1/2 point underdog despite being ranked higher. They are on the road in Stillwater, so that explains why the Cowboys are favored. Like the slight upset here.


Duke 31, Baylor 30

2:30 PM

Fox Sports 1

Duke lost their star quarterback Daniel Jones for the season to a broken collarbone in their 21-7 upset victory over Northwestern last week @ Northwestern. That’s a shame because they have a really good football team. But David Cutcliffe will keep his quarterback play solid with Quentin Harris under center now. I like Duke to pull off another upset, this week in Waco.


Today

Boston College 35, Wake Forest 28

4:30 PM

ESPN

I’m bullish on this Golden Eagles squad. Quarterback Anthony Brown has completed 17 of 23 passes for 322 yards and 4 TDs against 0 interceptions in his first 2 games. He’s a stud. Like BC to take the conference victory in Winston-Salem and be threat to Clemson in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.





















MLB players are putting out some serious work, NFL guys impressive, VU football gets ready for MTSU

David Price is pitching sensationally. Sonny Gray had a spectacular start @ the Orioles on Saturday Night. Mike Minor and Walker Buehler are cookin on the hill. Dansby is on fire with the Bravos. Tony Kemp is playing excellently for the Astros and Curt Casali is performing exceptionally well when called upon by the Cincinnati Reds.

Our NFL guys are impressive in the preseason. Will take a look at each guy.

And our Vanderbilt Commodore football team opens the season Saturday Night at 6:30 PM CT @ Vanderbilt Stadium versus a dangerous Middle Tennessee squad that won its bowl game last season and finished 7-6 and will be ready to knock us off. 

David Price

David just pitched a 3 hit shutout over 8 innings against the Cleveland Indians last Thursday afternoon at Fenway. The BoSox had lost the first 2 against the Indians then won Wednesday and David was firing darts on Thursday in a 7-0 Red Sox victory. David didn't walk anybody, hit 1 batter and struck out 6. He threw 101 pitches with 68 for strikes against 33 balls. He was nothing short of spectacular, as he has been in his last 7 starts. He's won 5 of them and had a no decision in the other 2, but pitched well in both and the Sox won both games one of them over the Yankees, 5-4, in which he exorcised his Yankees nightmare out of his system. They have caused David problems since he's been with the BoSox, but against them on Sunday, August 5th, David went 6, giving up 4 hits, 2 runs with 3 walks and 5 Ks. He hung tough against one of the most potent lineups in baseball, top 3 along with the BoSox and Astros. David is using a lot of off speed. His 85-86 change up is cookin. He did use his fastball more on Thursday against the Tribe, hitting 93-94 consistently. David has won 5 straight, he's 14-6 with a 3.50 ERA and posts a very impressive 1.15 WHIP, walks plus hits per inning pitched. His ERA in his 6 starts since the All Star break has been 1.09, which is best in the majors. Great stuff coming out of DP.

With No.1 starter Chris Sale out with an injury, David is carrying a heavier load. He and Sale are really 1A and 1B and they're interchangeable. David likes being the unquestioned Number 1 guy. He thrives on that. Sale looks like he's out till mid September, so the Sox will be relying heavily on David's talent and leadership. That's what he likes. He's a total team guy. David is on the hill again Wednesday vs Trevor Richards of the Miami Marlins at Fenway for a 5:35 PM CT start and broadcast by ESPN+ on the computer. Richards is 3-7 with a 4.32 ERA. David has been excellent with his control. He rarely walks batters. He has 41 walks on the season against 149 strikeouts. The Sox got swept over the weekend by the Rays in Tampa, so they need to rebound against the Marlins. The series starts tomorrow night. The Sox are 90-42, .682 ball, and only 6 games ahead of the Yankees, who I also pull for as Sonny is back in the rotation, possibly at some time again. The Sox were 9 1/2 last Thursday after their victory over the Indians, but the Yanks are studs and aren't going away, so the Sox need to turn it around starting tomorrow night. The Rays are an extremely impressive team. Outside the Oakland A's, they're the best story in baseball this year. They are 70-61, 19 1/2 back of the Sox, but just 9 back of the second place A's in the wild card with a full month of baseball to go. So a lot can happen and this impressively, super frugal team is making real noise. The A's are a spectacular story, too. They are 79-52 and just a game and half behind the Astros in the AL West. They are in 2nd in the wild card, 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees and a full 5 games up on the 3rd place Seattle Mariners in the wild card standings. The A's and the Rays have the lowest team salaries in baseball so that just speaks to what super leadership they have in their organization from the general manager to the on field manager along with some very hungry, hard working players, who have talent. You have to have talent to play in the big leagues. It's really special what these 2 teams are doing and good for baseball that the small market teams can compete with excellent leadership and ambitious players. 

Sonny Gray

Sonny had a stellar spot start for the Yankees Saturday Night against the Orioles in a 5-1 victory. Sonny went 6.1 innings, he gave up only 3 hits, 0 runs, with 1 walk and 7 K's. It was his first start since August 1st against the Orioles. He had been struggling as a starter, mainly at Yankee Stadium, but he was awesome at Camden Yards Saturday Night. Sonny threw 79 pitches with 48 of them for strikes against 31 balls. His fastball was hitting 94, and his curve and slider were terrific. He struck out several Oriole batters on his curve, hitting 81-82 and just disappearing under their bats. His slider, hitting about 84-85, had the same effect. It was a sensational performance by Sonny. He moved to 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA on the season, and that was a huge momentum builder for him. I was looking at the Yankee starting rotation this week and it looks like Lance Lynn, the starter for the Yankees Tuesday Night, has been struggling, so maybe that's an opening for Sonny if Lynn keeps struggling. He has a 4.84 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP with an 8-9 record. In his last 2 starts he's given up 5 earned runs in 4 and 5.1 innings respectively against the Toronto the Miami Marlins. So there's a chance for Sonny to get back into the rotation if Lynn continues to struggle. Sorry to pull against the guy, but Sonny is a big league starter and a potential number 1 guy and he's our guy, so I'm pulling for him to get another shot. For right now, Sonny will pitch out of the bullpen and get spot starts. Hopefully, in time, Sonny will be back in the rotation. Saturday Night was super impressive. I know Yankees manager Aaron Boone thought so.

Mike MInor

Mike continues to put up stellar start after stellar start for the Texas Rangers. In his most recent outing against the powerhouse Oakland A's, Mike pitched 6 innings, gave up 1 hit, with 1 walk and 4 K's. The Rangers defeated the A's, 4-2. Mike has now won 4 in a row and his record is 10-6 with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP, which is an excellent WHIP. Mike has only walked 28 and struck out 104. His fastball is hitting 95 and his curve and slider are extremely sharp. Mike said after the A's game that he wants to get better with his curve, so he's always trying to improve. He threw 73 pitches with 50 for strikes against 23 balls, outstanding. Mike missed his start before last Wednesday with back stiffness, so Rangers manager Jeff Banister is being careful with him which he should be. The Rangers are 58-74, so they're out of it with 30 games left, but they've got a really exciting young team that has a bright future, so Banister wants to preserve Mike for the rest of this season and what could be a greatly improved 2019 team with a chance to make it into October.

Mike's next start is Wednesday against the LA Dodgers at 7:05 PM CT from Globe Life Park in Arlington. He'll face the great Alex Wood of the Dodgers (7-6, 3.60, 33 walks 117 K's, 1.19 WHIP). Mike is on fire right now.

Walker Buehler

Walker just keeps excelling for the Dodgers with his recent outing, while a loss, impressive. Walker went 7 against the Cardinals, giving up only 3 hits, 0 runs, with 2 walks and 9 K's. Walker threw 104 pitches with 71 for strikes against 33 balls, which is terrific. Walker regularly hits 96-97 and can get to 98-99. I've even seen him hit 100, and his curve has that great dropping ability like Sonny's and Mike's. Walker is 6-4 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. The Dodgers are 70-61 and 2 1/2 back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Colorado Rockies are 71-59 and 1 back of the 72-59 Dbacks. It's quite a race going on in the NL West. The Dodgers are 2 1/2 back of Milwaukee and 3 back of St. Louis in the wild card, so September should be spectacular in the NL. Colorado is 1 back in the wild card, Philly is 2 back, so it's going to be a horserace with a photo finish on Sept. 30th, the final day of the regular season. The Dodgers are used to October baseball, so they are going to be locked and loaded starting right now. They finished off a sweep of the Padres over the weekend with a 7-3 victory yesterday at Dodger Stadium. Walker pitches again tomorrow @Texas, a 7:05 PM CT start. He'll square off against Ariel Jurado of the Rangers (2-3, 6.40 ERA). 

Dansby Swanson 

Dansby has been really performing for the Atlanta Braves lately. In his last 7 games, Dans is hitting .300 with 3 homers and 5 Ribeyes. He now is hitting .244 for the season with 13 homers and 53 RBIs, 22 doubles and 3 triples with 6 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Dans can be a 20 homer, 85 RBI, .285 hitter and 25+ stolen base player. He has that in him. Ready to see him explode going forward. His defense has been spectacular lately, too. The Braves are still in first place in the NL East at 73-57, 3 games ahead of the 70-60 Phillies and 8 1/2 clear of the struggling Nationals. This Braves team is for real to me now. They are heading into September maybe in first place if they have a good week this week. They host the red hot Rays Tuesday and Wednesday after a day off today, and then the first place Cubs of the NL Central (76-53) come to Suntrust Park for a 4 game set beginning Thursday Night at 6:35 CT. So a major test for the Bravos this week. This is awesome for Dans to be in the heat of a division race in late August. He's stepping it up in a big way. 

Tony Kemp

Tony has gotten a ton of playing time for the Astros with starting center fielder George Springer out. He struggled yesterday at the plate, but was 3 for 4 on Thursday Night in a 10-7 Stros victory over Seattle. Tony is playing mainly center field right now. His fielding is terrific. In 73 games, he's hitting .279 with 5 homers and 26 RBI's, 12 doubles and 8 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Good stuff from T Kemp. 

Curt Casali

When called upon, Curt has been outstanding. Saturday Night against the Cubs in a 10-6 Reds loss, Curt was 2 for 3 with a homer, a 3 run shot, and an RBI double. He played catcher Saturday Night. Yesterday, he was 0 for 3, playing 1st base, but he's hitting .322 in 36 games with 4 homers and 15 RBIs. Curt has added 7 doubles. The Reds are a team, like the Rangers, who are out of it, but have a bright future. I expect Curt to be a part of that future. He's been excelling when called upon.

NFL guys in the preseason

Casey Hayward  and Zach Cunningham are established starters for the LA Chargers and the Houston Texans, respectively. I expect big years from both studs. Andre Hal has been coming to preseason games at home for the Texans and appears to be doing better. Andre was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in June which was heartbreaking, but he has the attitude of a champion as you would expect from a Vanderbilt football player, and he's a superb young guy who is battling this and wants to be cancer free and resume his playing career again. He has been the starting free safety for the Texans and a trusted member of their team. I've been saying my prayers for the man frequently and fully expect Andre to recover and even play football again. He's a really strong faithful young man who has a ton of courage and fortitude, so I expect nothing less than Andre being a starting safety for the Houston Texans in the next year or 2. They love him on the Texans. All of the guys and Coach Bill O'Brien are highly complimentary of Andre, and the whole organization is with Andre the whole way. He's superb.

Oren Burks has played spectacularly well for the Green Bay Packers in the preseason. Oren had 6 tackles in each of the Packers first 2 games this preseason before suffering a shoulder injury Friday in pregame warmups @ the Oakland Raiders. But Oren is expected to be back for the regular season opener against the Bears @ Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Sunday Night Football at 7:30 PM on NBC, September 9th. He will start if he's ready and has been super impressive in the preseason. Very proud of Oren. Super young guy.

Stephen Weatherly is a valuable defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings and should see a lot of playing time for them this season. Jonathan Wynn is also competing for a job for the Vikings and has a shot to make the team.

Caleb Scott caught 2 passes for 69 yards for the Seattle Seahawks in their game Friday Night at Minnesota. Great night for Caleb. He has a good shot of making the team.

Don't want to forget the great Ralph Webb, who was sensational in the New England Patriots opener against the Washington Redskins rushing for 46 yards and 2 touchdowns and catching a 2 point conversion. Ralph was awesome in that game. He hasn't gotten as many chances in the last 2 games and the Patriots backfield is crowded, but he's got another shot Thursday Night @ the Giants. Adam Butler is entrenched on the Patriots defense at defensive tackle. He'll be on the team. Belichick likes him. Hoping Ralph will join him. If not, Ralph should get on some team with his work ethic and talent. 

Tough news for Jordan Matthews. JMatt suffered what was called a severe hamstring injury and was released by the Patriots. Jordan is only 26 though and can work hard this year, maybe help our college team some, and get back on a team and be an established player in the NFL once again.

Trent Sherfield had a super game for the Arizona Cardinals last night in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Trent recovered a fumbled Dallas punt return in the end zone for a TD and caught a pass for 7 yards. Trent's got a shot to make the team. C.J. Duncan is also battling for a spot on the Zona roster. They will both get an opportunity Thursday at 9 PM on NFL Network versus the Denver Broncos. The season opener is Thursday, September 6th with the Atlanta Falcons visiting the world champion Philadelphia Eagles at 7:20 PM CT on NBC. 

I would be remiss to not mention our o linemen in the NFL. Spencer Pulley is the starting center for the LA Chargers, Wesley Johnson is the backup center for the Detroit Lions and Will Holden is a backup tackle for the Arizona Cardinals. All 3 should make their respective teams.

VU Football

Our football team opens the season at home Saturday Night versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, which finished 7-6 last year including a 35-30 victory in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State. The game is at 6:30 PM CT on SEC Network Alternate Channel or Watch ESPN. We defeated Middle Tennessee last year and the year before that, but they've beaten us before and they have veteran quarterback, Brent Stockstill, returning. Stockstill, MTSU head Coach Rick Stockstill's son, completed 138 of 239 passes last season (58%) for 1,672 yards, 16 TDs and 8 interceptions. Those aren't eye popping numbers, but he's got a ton of weapons to throw to and hand off to. This team is dangerous.

Kyle Shurmur returns for his senior season after completing 220-of-380 passes (58%) for 2,823 yards, 26 TDs and 10 ints. Everybody has high hopes for the team with Kyle under center. We need to play better defense this season. Our linebackers have to tackle better in space and we've got to be tougher up front. I like our talent everywhere on defense. Cornerback Joejuan Williams is primed for a massive season, and I like linebackers Jordan Griffin, Josh Smith, Charles Wright and Caleb Peart very much. Donovan Sheffield should be an excellent compliment to Joejuan at the opposite corner and LaDarius Wiley will be a superb safety and I like Zaire Jones playing alongside him. We seem to have more depth up front and Dare and Dayo Odeyingbo should be terrific. But we'll need depth to step up on defense. I like a lot of players on that side of the ball though.

On offense the line is loaded led by left tackle Justin Skule  and canter Bruno Reagan. We've got good depth up front and very good starters. Running back looks excellent with Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Khari Blasingame leading the way. That's another position of strength for us along with the o line and quarterback. Wide receiver will be led by the awesome Kalija Lipscomb, who caught 37 passes for 610 yards and 8 TDs last season. I'm expecting another huge season from Kalija. Some other guys will have to step up out wide, even freshmen like Cam Johnson and C.J. Bolar, both of whom have had awesome preseasons. Guys like Alex Stump, Chris Pierce and Donaven Tennyson will need to be playmakers for us also. All are talented. At tight end, Jalen Pinkney has had an awesome camp, and Sam Dobbs is also exceptional. Freshman Gavin Schoenwald will also get some valuable playing time. We'll need another player or 2 to step up there. Unfortunately, freshman Ben Bresnahan is out for a while with an injury.  But Ben's got good talent and size and will be back at some point, hopefully this season. 

Some other freshmen who have been turning heads are inside linebacker Alston Orji and wide receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman. Heard good things about both guys. Alston was a 5.9 4 star and should see significant time this season. He's ready. Amir might too. He was spectacular on his film in high school. 

With Deuce Wallace suspended for the season for unspecified reasons, the backup QB is Syracuse transfer Mo Hasan, who has looked good in the preseason. Freshman Allan Walters has a ton of talent, too, so he can help us this season, if necessary, but hoping Kyle can handle it and Mo can come in late in games that we've won for experience. Deuce is expected to be back on the team next year, so he'll be battling it out with those 2 guys for the starting job next season. 

We're a 3 point favorite over Middle Tennessee after starting out as a 6 point favorite. It's a toss up game and a very important one for us It'll set the tone for the season. We'll have to be ready come Saturday at 6:30 PM CT on SEC Alternate Network or Watch ESPN.  We are certainly capable. They're good though. We need to be locked in. 

 

 

Predictions for the 138th U.S. Open

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City will host the 138th playing of the U.S. Open the final major of the year, and looks to be a classic. Here are my predictions.

Men's

I see a final between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. Rafa has won 17 Slams and Djoker has 13 on his resume. I like the way the 31 year old Serb is playing right now. He just defeated Roger Federer in straight sets 2 weeks ago at the Western and Southern Open in Cincy, and defeated Rafa in the semis at Wimbledon in a classic 5 setter and then backed that up by defeating Kevin Anderson in the final in 3 sets. Djoker captures his 14th major and 3rd U.S. Open title with the prior 2 coming in 2011 and 2015.

Djoker over Rafa 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4

 

Women's

I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick the 13th seed in the women's draw. This 26 year old from Breda, in the Netherlands defeated Simona Halep in Cincinnati 2 weeks ago 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 to capture the Western and Southern Open, on hard courts like Djoker's victory over Roger was. So with the way the women's is always so wide open in majors and with so many possibilities for champions, I'm going to take the hottest player playing in women's tennis right now.

Kiki Bertens over Simona Halep 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4)