Playoff Party Starters


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning 

We have playoff baseball in just a few hours. Wild Card week is coming in fast. Read on to see previews and predictions of this week’s matchups.

Plus, another New York football primetime letdown, and NBA media days signal three weeks to tip-off. Let’s do it.

Letter Rip!


Playoff Party Starters

Image via Giphy

Previews & Predictions for All 4 Wild Card Series This Week as MLB Playoffs Begin

Baseball’s 162-game marathon season has come to a close, and one final month of playoffs is going to be epic. Three teams cracked 100 wins this year, and a fourth got to 99, but nobody else sniffed the century-win mark. And that should tell us a lot about the four favorites entering the postseason. One of those four teams — the Rays (99-63) — will end up playing in the first round, while the Orioles, Astros, Braves and Dodgers get a pass into Round 2. Eight clubs are ready to go toe-to-toe for the Wild Card rounds today, and we finally have matchups to discuss. Before we begin, a quick refresher on baseball’s postseason format:

MLB Playoff Format

Wild Card (Rd 1): Best-of-3 (This Week)

Divisional Series (Rd 2): Best-of-5 (Oct. 7-15)

Championship Series (Rd 3): Best-of-7 (Oct. 15-24)

World Series (Rd 4): Best-of-7 (Starts Oct. 27)

It’ll take 13 wins in 30 days to secure the World Series (11 with a bye). Who’s ready?

Wild Card Series Previews

AL: #4 Rays vs. #5 Rangers

The matchup between the Rangers and Rays should’ve been downright awesome, but it’s missing far too many aces to have the effect we would’ve hoped for. The three biggest arms in this series are all out with injuries: Shane McClanahan (Rays), Jacob deGrom (Rangers) and Max Scherzer (Rangers). Instead, the series will feature Jordan Montgomery (LHP, Rangers) against Tyler Glasnow (RHP, Rays) in Game 1. There’s a ton of offensive firepower, and a few missing pitchers could mean high-scoring games in this series. Both teams ranked 3rd and 4th in scoring offense. Tampa Bay is a slight favorite, and that’s how we see it, too. Prediction: Rays in 3 (2-1)

AL: #3 Twins vs. #6 Blue Jays

The other AL Wild Card series is a tighter split. The Twins hold the edge in scoring offense and home runs, but it’s Toronto who has a better batting average and on-base percentage. Both these teams were known for their defense in 2023 with the Twins (1st) and Blue Jays (4th) ranking top-4 in the AL in runs allowed. It’ll be Kevin Gausman vs. Pablo Lopez in Game 1 — the two AL leaders in strikeouts — while Sonny Gray gets the start for Minnesota in Game 2. Oddsmakers have this one split pretty close, but we like the underdogs from up north. Prediction: Blue Jays in 3 (2-1)

NL: #3 Brewers vs. #6 Diamondbacks

It’s hard not to root for the D-backs after they defied the odds all season long. Few expected Arizona to be playing baseball in October, but here we are. Game 1 pitching forecasts give Corbin Burnes (Brewers) and Brandon Pfaadt (D-Backs) the nod in the opener. Zac Gallen (D-Backs) will be available in Game 2. Both teams rank last among playoff participants in scoring offense and home runs. And while Arizona has zero pressure and could pull off something amazing, the Crew are more experienced in this scenario. Prediction: Brewers in 3 (2-1)

NL: #4 Phillies vs. #5 Marlins

A showdown on the East Coast will get plenty of attention this week as the Phillies have unfinished business and the Marlins enter October hotter than anyone. This series boasts the highest get-in ticket prices of any Wild Card matchup, largely due to Philly fans. This is another example where experience wins out. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola will be on the mound in Games 1 and 2, respectively, and I think Philly will be lit for a quick trip to the NLDS and a potential playoff reunion with the Braves. The Marlins have been fantastic of late, but there’s no way the Phillies crumble here. Prediction: Phillies in 2 (2-0)

World Series Odds

1. Braves (+260)

2. Dodgers (+410)

3. Astros (+480)

4. Orioles (+700)

T5. Phillies (+1200)

T5. Rays (+1200)

Remaining Teams: Rangers (+1800), Twins (+1800), Blue Jays (+2000), Brewers (+2000), Diamondbacks (+4000), Marlins (+5000)

Tonight’s Schedule

AL: #5 Rangers at #4 Rays (3:00 pm ET)
AL: #6 Blue Jays at #3 Twins (4:30 pm ET)

NL: #6 Diamondbacks at #3 Brewers (7:00 pm ET)
NL: #5 Marlins at #4 Phillies (8:00 pm ET)

*Wild Card Best-of-3 Series to Take Place Today, Tomorrow & Thursday

Three straight days of the Wild Card rounds will have us playing in the NLDS/ALDS by the weekend. October, the time is now.

Read More

B/R: Final MLB Power Rankings of 2023 Regular Season

FOX Sports: 2023 World Series Odds: Braves Enter MLB Playoffs as Favorites

ESPN: Playoff Preview: World Series Odds, Keys to Success & Predicted Doom Date for All 12 Teams



Giant Problems in NYC

Photo: Sarah Stier / Getty Images

Seahawks Record 11 Sacks, Force 3 Turnovers & Rout Giants (24-3) on Monday Night Football

It’s getting ugly in New York. On back-to-back nights, back-to-back primetime games at MetLife Stadium saw the home team lose (at least the Jets competed). Both the Giants and Jets are now 1-3, but the Jets have their own saga at quarterback. The G-Men? They don’t have the Aaron Rodgers excuse. The Seahawks mopped the Giants on Monday Night Football (24-3) and sacked QB Daniel Jones 11 times last night. Seattle picked off Jones twice and forced two fumbles. Rookie CB Devon Witherspoon took one INT 97 yards to the house and tallied two sacks. In the end, the Seahawks defense scored more points than the Giants offense. A defensive clinic by Seattle’s defense? Or another display of ineptitude for New York? Seattle improved to 3-1, while New York tumbled to 1-3 and alone at the bottom of the NFC East. Let’s go deeper.

11 Seattle Sacks: Seattle’s pass rush looked like juggernauts on Monday Night Football. Whether or not they are, or the Giants O-line is horrendous, was hard to tell. Their 11 sacks nearly rewrote the record books. Only eight teams in NFL history have had more sacks in a game. The all-time record belongs to the Eagles (14, 1952).

Daniel Jones Through 4 Games (1-3)

The Giants’ only win of the season was a second-half comeback against the Cardinals in Week 2. In that half, Daniel Jones threw for 2 TDs and 0 INTs. In his other seven halves of football (14 quarters), Jones has 0 TDs, 8 turnovers, and he’s been sacked 21 times.

Giant Problems: After giving Jones a $160 million contract that made him a top-10 paid quarterback, New York has little time to turn things around in a loaded NFC East. Their next two opponents are the Dolphins and Bills before another date with the Cowboys (in Dallas) and two meetings with the Eagles. The G-Men might be cooked at 1-5 before mid-October.

Fun Fact: The Giants are 0-2 at home this season with a total of 3 points — the fewest combined total through two home games in NFL history.

QB Comparison

G. Smith (SEA): 13/20, 110 Yards, 1 TD

D. Jones (NYG): 27/34, 203 Yards, 2 INTs, 2 Fumbles

Other Top Performers

RB K. Walker III (SEA): 17 Carries, 79 Yards, 1 TD

LB B. Wagner (SEA): 17 Tackles, 2 Sacks

CB D. Witherspoon (SEA): 7 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 INT (TD)

Watch: Seattle Sack Party Smokes Giants on MNF (24-3)

Read More

SI: Giants, Daniel Jones Pushed to the Brink After Seahawks Blowout

B/R: Devon Witherspoon Shines as Seahawks Rout Giants

USA Today: Seahawks Safety Jamal Adams Leaves MNF With Concussion in 1st Game Back



‘Emo’ Jimmy Wins the Internet

Photo: Sam Navarro / Getty Images

NBA Media Days Welcome Players Back Before Training Camps, But No One Matched Jimmy Butler’s Arrival

We’re exactly three weeks away from Opening Night of the 2023-24 NBA season, and players across the league returned to the gym for preseason camps this week. Monday was media day — a chance for fans to see new players in their new threads, and a chance for headlines to be made. Enter Jimmy Butler, the headline-maker. The Miami Heat star has made plenty of entertaining media day appearances in the past, but his new hairdo (seen above) takes the cake. Butler claimed he was in his “emo” phase after an emotional week. Jimmy and the Heat hoped they would land Damian Lillard. Instead, Lillard is in Milwaukee. Sad Jimmy, and sad Eastern Conference. The social media jokes were endless after rockstar Jimmy’s latest statement. But it wasn’t the only headline from Monday.

Other NBA Media Day Stories

Top 25 Moments From NBA Media Day



 MLB’s Attendance Boom

If it seemed like more fans were in attendance at baseball games this season, that’s because they were — and in historic numbers. MLB announced that 70.7 million fans attended games this year, marking a 9.6-percent increase. (Yahoo! Sports)

 The Last Big 12 Red River Rivalry

Perfect starts to the season by #3 Texas and #12 Oklahoma have set up the 43rd Red River rivalry meeting where both teams are ranked. Sadly, it’ll be the last as members of the Big 12 with both programs moving to the SEC next year. (FOX Sports)

 The 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage

As Ryder Cup emotions continue to run hot, Michael Rosenberg, a native New Yorker, wonders whether it’s time for golf’s power brokers to tone down the rancor before the Bethpage crowds take it to a new level. (Sports Illustrated)





Today’s Must-Watch List

MLB Playoffs

AL: #5 Rangers at #4 Rays (3:00 pm ET)
AL: #6 Blue Jays at #3 Twins (4:30 pm ET)

NL: #6 Diamondbacks at #3 Brewers (7:00 pm ET)
NL: #5 Marlins at #4 Phillies (8:00 pm ET)

Champions League

Inter vs. Benfica (3:00 pm ET)
Lens vs. Arsenal (3:00 pm ET)
Man. United vs. Galatasaray (3:00 pm ET)

Napoli vs. Real Madrid (3:00 pm ET)
Full Champions League Schedule Today

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