2014 World Series Preview and Prediction

world series

In a postseason that’s seen the lower ranked teams compile a 6-2 record heading into the World Series, it’s only fitting that the two wild card teams clash for a chance at October glory. However, being wild cards may be one of the only similarities these two teams have had in recent years. American League champion Kansas City has been the most surprising playoff team I can ever remember. Not only do they enter the World Series at 8-0 in the playoffs, they do so by beating the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the league in the Angels and Orioles, and this for a team without a 15-win pitcher, 20 Home Run hitter, or 75 RBI man. The Royals have redefined what it means to grind out games and execute flawlessly on fundamentals, whether it’s great pitching, timely base stealing, or clutch hitting.

Over in the National League, the Giants are quite familiar with being in this position. San Francisco seeks its 3rd championship in the last five years, which would tie Boston for World Series titles since the turn of the century and vault the Giants into the conversation for modern day baseball dynasty. San Francisco flaunts a great pitching rotation led by NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner, and brings the fire power on offense with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. The Giants have been incredibly clutch in the postseason as well, and are 7-2 in the playoffs overall after knocking out top seeded Washington and defending NL champion St. Louis. This team is stacked with veterans who have championship experience, and to them it’s business as usual as they prepare for the Fall Classic.

I’ve bet against the Royals for the entire playoffs, and they’ve proved me wrong every time. This team has the intangibles to win games that just don’t show up on the stat sheet. However, San Francisco simply has the better team, but unlike the other Royals’ opponents, they also have the winning mentality that’s made them a championship team twice in the last fours years. I expect this to be a great series, just like all the series have been this postpone. Kansas City has homefield advantage by virtue of the American League’s win in the all star game, which plays right into San Francisco’s hand, as Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner has been lights out on the road. The Giants will hand the Royals their first postseason loss and finish off the series in six games to win their 3rd title in 5 years.

Who do you guys think will win the World Series? Vote in the poll down below.

Thanks to everyone who read and feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

Thanks,

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 MLB Championship Series Preview and Predictions

alcs

royals orioles

Wild Card Kansas City Royals at #2 Baltimore Orioles

In without a doubt the most surprising league championship series since I began to follow baseball avidly in 2006, the Kansas City Royals will face off against the Baltimore Orioles for a trip to the World Series. There’s really no other way to describe the Royals’ victory over the Angels in the ALDS as anything other than shocking. Not only winning the series, but sweeping the team with the best record in all of baseball, the first time that has ever happened. A combination of good pitching, timely hitting, and excellent baserunning launched the Royals into their first ALCS since 1985.

On the other end, in a somewhat less surprising result, the Orioles swept the Detroit Tigers to reach their first ALCS since 1997. Although Detroit still has several big name pitchers and hitters, things just didn’t quite come together for them this season, in fact they nearly lost the division title to the Royals. As I said in my ALDS preview blog, I think Baltimore has been one of the most complete teams this season. They have good starting pitching, a solid bullpen, they play great defense, and they can hit for power and average. They play with the confidence of a veteran postseason team, and are a disciplined team led by a veteran manager.

Both teams will have five days rest before starting their series on Friday, so pitching rotations should not be a big factor. Kansas City does have one postseason veteran in James Shields, but Shields really has not been as impressive as everyone seems to think in both this postseason and prior years. The Kansas City Royals will simply be overmatched in this series as Baltimore advances to the World Series in five games behind series MVP Adam Jones.

 

nlcs

giants cardinals

Wild Card San Francisco Giants at #3 St. Louis Cardinals

Yet another Clayton Kershaw postseason collapse has eliminated my preseason World Series pick and sent the Cardinals to their fourth consecutive National League Championship Series. They will take on the San Francisco Giants in a rematch of the 2012 NLCS, in which the Giants rallied from a 3-1 series deficit and went on to win the World Series. In complete contrast to the ALCS, these teams are used to being at this stage practically every year. They have combined for 4 World Series titles since 2006 and represented the National League in the World Series 4 straight years (5 after this year).

One interesting story line in this series is that each of these teams will feature a starting pitcher from the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Both the Giants’ Jake Peavy and the Cardinals’ John Lackey pitched their respective teams to wins in the Division Series. Both rotations are pretty strong in general. The Giants feature Wild Card game winner Madison Bumgarner as well as veteran Tim Hudson in addition to a very good bullpen. The Cardinals will start the series with 20 game winner and Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright followed by Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller to go along with an equally good bullpen.

Clutch hitting was a huge reason that both of these teams advanced to the next round. Neither team has necessarily a big superstar such as a Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, but rather are well balanced on offense and make the key plays when they need to. Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey lead the Giants while Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams pace the Cardinals. Managers Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy are some of the best in the game as well, and it will be fun to watch them go head to head in a chess match with each other.

This should be a really entertaining series overall. I’m guessing the Cardinals will the favorites to win, but the Giants always seem to find a way when nobody expects them to, and they have this pattern going with winning the World Series every other year, so I think San Francisco will win the NL pennant in a hard fought 7 game series behind MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Who do you guys think will play in the World Series this year? Vote in the poll down below.

As always, thank you for reading this and feel free to share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

2014 MLB Division Series Preview and Predictions

alds

tigers orioles

#3 Detroit Tigers at #2 Baltimore Orioles

This is a matchup that features one team with several playoff veterans and another team with many newcomers. The Detroit Tigers clinched the AL Central for the fourth straight year while the Orioles ran away with the AL East to grab their first division title in almost 20 years. Despite a disappointing season from 2013 Home Run King Chris Davis, offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz led the majors with 40 home runs in an effort to prove himself during a one year deal. The Orioles pitching has been a huge strength this year as well. Gonzalez, Chen, Norris, Tillman, and Gausman all posted ERAs under 4.00 this year and are more than capable of going toe to toe with the likes of Scherzer, Verlander, Price, and Porcello during this series. Cabrera and Martinez lead the Tigers offensively, although I think the Orioles are the all around more balanced team. I like Baltimore to win this series in 4 games.

 

royals angels

Wild Card Kansas City Royals at #1 Los Angeles Angels

Just two months ago, it appeared that the Angels would end up as a wild card team as the A’s win the AL West. Oakland had baseball’s best record for two thirds of the season before nearly collapsing down the stretch and nearly missing the playoffs altogether. That’s why it was fitting that they collapsed in last night’s wild card game to give the Royals a berth in the ALDS. Meanwhile, the Angels caught fire towards the end of the season to run away with the division and the best record, despite some injuries to their rotation, most notably Garett Richard. The Angels staff still features ace Jered Weaver along with C.J. Wilson and Matt Shoemaker. Combine that with an offense led by likely MVP Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, I the Angels will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 MLB postseason. Meanwhile, Kansas City is one of those teams that doesn’t have any particular stars that stand out. Their offense is decent with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Their pitching staff has some playoff experience with James Shields, although he will only make one start after pitching in the wild card game. Manager Ned Yost has done a great job maximizing the performance of the team this season, a team that nearly overtook the Tigers for the AL Central. In the end however, I think the Royals will simply be outmatched by the Angels in all phases of the game. Los Angeles sweeps the series 3-0.

nlds

cardinals dodgers

#3 St. Louis Cardinals at #2 Los Angeles Dodgers

A rematch of the 2013 NLCS, this series may be one of the most fun to watch this postseason. Two veteran teams return to the playoffs again as the NL Central Champion Cardinals face off against the NL West Champion Dodgers. This series will feature two aces in Adam Wainwright and likely Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Both teams feature solid offensive attacks as well with St. Louis led by Carpenter, Holliday, and Adams, while the Dodgers feature Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig. I think this series will go the distance, but ultimately the Dodgers will come up with more key plays at critical moments. The Cardinals weren’t overly impressive for most of the year until snagging the division in the final weeks, and with home field advantage swapped for the rematch, and a potential Game 5 featuring Clayton Kershaw, I like the Dodgers to win the series in 5 games.

 

giants nationals

Wild Card San Francisco Giants at #1 Washington Nationals

Both teams return to the playoffs after a one year absence in a very interesting matchup of the playoff veteran against the relative newcomer. The San Francisco Giants disposed of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card game to make their 3rd trip to the NLDS in the last five years, with the previous two ending in World Series championships in 2010 and 2012. The Washington Nationals were dominant in their run to the 2012 postseason but were quickly knocked off by the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. Having regained form here in 2014, Washington hopes to use that experience to able to advance to the NLCS. The Nationals are led by Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth on offense, while Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman anchor the pitching rotation. San Francisco has several players left over from their recent championships, including Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Pablo Sandoval in the starting lineup in addition to Tim Hudson, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation. I think Washington is the better team and should win this series, but the Giants have the intangibles that won them the title in 2010 and 2012 when they weren’t expected to, so I think they will follow the trend again in 2014. San Francisco takes the series in 5 games.

Let me know what you guys have for predictions in the comments down below. Also vote in the poll below.

Thanks,

Jeff

 

 

 

The Leftovers Season 1 Reaction

leftovers

The Leftovers is an intense drama on HBO directed by Damon Lindelof and based on a book by the same name by Tom Perrotta. If you haven’t seen this series yet, there will be some spoilers, so you have been warned ahead of time. Set in the Mapleton, New York, the show begins three years after the mysterious disappearance of approximately two percent of the world’s population. No rhyme or reason is given as to why they disappeared, and everyone from babies to adults, children to parents, good people to criminals are among the departed. We follow one main family, the Garveys, along with several other key characters throughout this first season, and it is one heck of a ride. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the first season of The Leftovers.

kevin garvey

I think right off the bat, my favorite character is the chief of police, Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux). The acting overall in this show is phenomenal from everyone (even the characters that don’t talk), but I feel like Kevin is the most “normal” person in the show, at least at the beginning. I think he deals with the disappearance about as well as you can, and tries to live a normal life despite all kinds of weird things happening in his town and a family that’s torn apart. For most of the first season, I feel like I can relate to Kevin in the sense that I would be making the same decisions as him if I were in that position. It seems like it’s up to him to hold everything together, although this doesn’t work out when he starts to go into his mysterious trances and ends up causing more trouble than he started with.

GR

If this these show were to be overtly oversimplified, you could describe it as the two distinct methods in which people choose to cope with this type of a tragedy. The first, followed by Kevin and most of the characters in this show, is to try to move on and forget about what happened. Thinking about it only leads to sadness and depression, and it is unlikely they will ever know the answer, so they try to move on and lead normal lives. On the other side is a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant who does exactly the opposite. They don’t ever want people to forget, they want to be “living reminders” of what happened on October 14. It’s easy to hate this group in the show, they are always causing trouble by bringing up the past that everyone else so desperately wants to forget. One of the most intense moments comes in the season finale when the GR quite literally recreates the scene right before everyone disappeared by using life-like doll replicas of the Departed. It is quite fascinating to watch how this group operates and the symbolism that they employ. The scene in the second to last episode where Kevin is talking to Patti out in the woods of Cairo is incredibly powerful and shows a very interesting tunnel into the minds of the GR.

garvey dad

One of the strangest themes throughout this first season is the hallucinations/trances that Kevin periodically goes into. This seems to indicate a higher power is at work, especially when his father, who hears strange voices, tells him that he has been chosen. The symbolism throughout this show is out of control as well. Whether its the three birds on the red stoplight, the national geographic magazine, the silence/white/smoking of the GR, or the religious undertones, every episode requires further research and analysis to understand exactly what is going on. There’s a million more things I could talk about and probably could blog about every episode, but at the end of the day this show keeps you wanting more by answering one or two questions and presenting three or four more. Some people have said this show isn’t about the two percent that disappeared, it’s about the psychological effect and coping mechanisms of the 98 percent that remained.

 

Thanks to everyone who read this blog. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex vs. Violence: the Media Contradiction

censored

One of the more blatant contradictions of today’s media (and that’s saying a lot) is the attitudes towards sex and violence. On the one hand, violence is borderline glorified with movies, TV shows, video games, and even the news making violence popular in today’s culture. No one is afraid to show blood and guts, or beheadings, or other viscious torture and murders. In fact, just about the only limitation that exists that I can think of is not being allowed to post videos involving the death of real people. We don’t think twice about violence in the media today, and have become desensitized to the point that it’s actually scary. However, I’m just restating what everybody already knows.

The issue is that our acceptance of violence is a direct contradiction to our repulsion against sex. Why is it that sex in TV, movies, or other types of media is always censored when violence is not? Why are you looked down upon for watching pornography but not for watching an action movie with a lot of violence? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I think it can be universally agreed upon that having sex is something people do all the time and is generally a good thing, while being violent is not something that we teach people to do and is considered bad. However, these two things play the reverse role in the media. It makes absolutely zero sense to say looking at the nude celebrity hacked photos makes you a pervert or a scumbag, yet watching all of the war and violence on the news just makes you a regular, informed person.

It makes more sense to show pornography on TV then to show coverage of the war in the Middle East. Watching people have sex does not affect someone mentally the way being exposed to violence could. One is a harmless activity for pleasure, the other could plant a seed in someone’s head down the road to do something horrible. Nothing good comes out of watching violence on the news or for entertainment. It can be depressing, or even worse it could make people the opposite and gain pleasure at the hands of others suffering. Weapons are viewed as cool and a sign of power. Sex toys are looked at as weird and gross. The word sex is even being censored on some radio stations now, where death metal songs about ripping people’s heads off are not censored at all.

The main point is that there is a fundamental contradiction between the way sex and the way violence are portrayed through the media. In effect, our society censors love and glorifies hate. The porn industry should not be looked down upon and Hollywood should not be praised. The former is a much healthier form of entertainment than the violence included in the latter, and that is one of the more noticeable problems (again, among many) of the media today.

Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

2014 NFL Season Preview: NFC

If you haven’t read it yet, read my AFC preview first (http://jpierro21blog.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/2014-nfl-season-preview-afc/) because my Super Bowl prediction will be included at the end of this post. Without further ado, here is my breakdown of the NFC this year.

NFC East

nfc east

Much like the AFC North, I think this division could be up for grabs as well, with the Giants playing the role of Cleveland in that they’re the least likely to finish on top. If RG3 stays healthy, him and newly acquired weapon Desean Jackson can light it up on offense with a balanced running attack from Alfred Morris. Health will be the most important factor for the 2012 NFC East Champs. For the defending division champs, I expect much the same from last year. Nick Foles and Lesean McCoy lead an up tempo Chip Kelly offense and the Eagles are certainly talented enough to win the division again. Finally, there are the Dallas Cowboys. Having finished 8-8 and lost the division to each of the other three teams in three consecutive years, I’m picking the Cowboys to finally come out on top this year. They’ve always had the talent, but questionable coaching, off the field controversy, injuries, and inconsistency have plagued them in recent years. There’s no reason they can’t break through this year in a division that doesn’t have a powerhouse team.

 

NFC North

nfc north

There may be a shake up in this division in 2014. The Green Bay Packers have traditionally been the favorites the past few years, but their defense does not look good at all and I don’t think even Aaron Rodgers will be able to make up for it on offense. The Vikings have questions at quarterback, but Bridgewater has the potential to at least give the Vikings some game through the air, and Cordarelle Patterson is always a threat. In addition, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has said he is going to use Adrian Peterson in the passing game more this year which I think is a great idea. Detroit is coming off of a disappointing season and nothing they did during the offseason indicates they will be much better this year. Finally, I think Chicago is similar to Dallas in that they certainly have the talent to win the division and have been close in recent years, but haven’t quite pulled through. I think Jay Cutler is ready for a breakout year with the emergence of Alshon Jeffery alongside Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte out of the backfield. Along with a solid defense, I think the Bears are 2014 NFC North Champs.

 

NFC South

nfc south

The Carolina Panthers, led by a great defense and the arm of Cam Newton, look to build on last season’s breakthrough year in which they finished second only to the Seahawks in the conference during the regular season. Their defense should be great once again, but the loss of wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon Lafell on offense could be an issue for Cam Newton. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin may have to play a big role, and could be a possible offensive rookie of the year candidate. The Falcons are coming off a very disappointing season after reaching the NFC Championship the year before. A healthy Julio Jones this year should help, but I don’t think they will be much better. The Buccaneers parted ways with star corner Revis in the offseason and still don’t have a reliable quarterback, while Drew Brees and the Saints are more than capable of winning the division this year, which I think they will by a game or two over Carolina.

 

NFC West

NFC west

This division looks to be the best in the NFL. Even with the loss of Sam Bradford, the Rams have a good enough defense to still compete. They could post a 7-9 season and still finish last in the division this year. Defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle looked as good as ever in the season opener, and I think they will eventually come out on top again in the division. San Francisco and Arizona are both capable of clinching wild cards but I like the Cardinals more than the 49ers this season. I think wide receiver Michael Floyd will have a big year and the Cardinals defense is among the better ones in the league. The 49ers have questions on offense and defense, and I’m not sold on Kaepernick under center either.

 

Playoff Predictions

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. Chicago Bears

3. New Orleans Saints

4. Dallas Cowboys

5. Arizona Cardinals

6. Philadelphia Eagles

 

NFC Champion: Chicago Bears

Super Bowl Champion: Chicago over San Diego

 

Let me know what you guys think about the NFC in the comments down below. Like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

 

2014 NFL Season Preview: AFC

nfl 2014

After a long and interesting offseason, the NFL finally kicked off on Thursday night as the defending champion Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers. The remainder of Week 1 will be in full gear tomorrow so here is my division by division preview of the 2014 NFL Season.

 

AFC East

Revis

Perennial AFC powerhouse New England made some noise this offseason by acquiring star cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to bolster their defense, while signing Brandon Lafell, resigning top receiver Julian Edelman, and trading for tight end Timothy Wright to improve the offense. With a slew of offensive weapons that also include Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Rob Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady should have no problem on the offensive side this year, assuming everyone remains healthy. I don’t think the Patriots will necessarily run away with this division though, I expect the Jets and Dolphins, who both finished at 8-8 last year and improved in the offseason, to be decent teams this year. The Bills on the other hand, without a legitimate quarterback and their best defensive player on injured reserve, will finish last again, although one bright spot could be rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins if he stays healthy.

 

AFC North

manziel

Ok, I admit I’m trolling a little bit by using Manziel as the picture for the AFC North preview, but I honestly believe that he could end up as a starter in a division that is up for grabs this year. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati all have a great shot at winning this division, and if Manziel has a great season and Josh Gordon comes back under a new drug policy, you can’t rule out Cleveland either. Ultimately, I think this division will eventually come down to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as the Ravens just don’t have a good quarterback and their offense will struggle. I like Pittsburgh to go 10-6 and win the division because they finished strong last year and have missed the playoffs three straight years in a LONG time. Two time super bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger is still capable of putting up big numbers and rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton has potential for a big year as a starter.

 

AFC South

clowney

I have been a huge JaDaveon Clowney fan since the borderline criminal hit against Michigan two years ago. I think he will easily win defensive rookie of the year, however I don’t expect much else from the Texans this year. With the loss of Matt Schaub to the Raiders and injury prone players like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, they will be competing with the Jaguars and for third place in the division, with Tennessee not too far ahead. Andrew Luck will once again lead the Colts to the division title, although with an ineffective Trent Richardson and loss of Donald Brown to the Chargers, they will have to rely on Ahmad Bradshaw if they want to have any type of ground game.

 

AFC West

afc west

The AFC West will be the best division in the AFC. Three teams from this division made the playoffs last year and there is a good chance it will happen again this year. Although they won’t put up the numbers they did last year, the Broncos will once again win the division with a great offense and improved defense but will face tough competition from San Diego. The Chargers split the regular season series last year including a win at Denver in prime time. With young weapons on the offensive side in Keenan Allen, Ryan Matthews, and Ladarius Green, I think Philip Rivers is due for an MVP type season. I think the Chiefs will be average at best, and the Raiders may surprise some people this year if Matt Schaub has a bounce back season and Maurice Jones-Drew lights it up on the offensive side.

 

Playoff Predictions:

1. New England Patriots

2. Denver Broncos

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

5. San Diego Chargers

6. New York Jets

 

AFC Champion: San Diego Chargers

 

Let me know what you guys think of the AFC this year in the comments down below. Please like the post, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks!

Jeff

Time to Repeal the Second Prohibition

marijuana-3000-2000-wallpaper

A generation in the United States that has already had a big enough influence to impact legalization of gay marriage and universal healthcare is well on its way to achieving the next goal: Federal legalization of marijuana in the United States. Having recently been legalized in Colorado and Washington state, the legalization of marijuana has to become a hot topic as of late, so I figured it is time to officially weigh in on the matter.

Like alcohol, marijuana was banned throughout the country beginning in the early 1900s. Unlike alcohol, laws banning the possession, sale, transport, and cultivation of marijuana have not been repealed since. Several reasons have been given for the federal ban on marijuana, some being valid and others being outdated. Let’s break down each one to determine if it is rational or not.

gateway

Probably one of the oldest and least informed arguments is that marijuana is a gateway drug. This argument makes the assumption that smoking marijuana will lead users to try more dangerous drugs that can be very dangerous to your health. Many researchers have since found that there is no causal factor between the smoking of marijuana and the use of more dangerous drugs. Out of over 100 million Americans who have tried marijuana, only one-third of them have tried cocaine and just four percent tried heroin. There is strong evidence to suggest that even the minority who did go on to use hard drugs most likely did so not because of marijuana, but because of mental health or stress related problems. The Institute of Medicine stated that “Marijuana does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse.” In fact, tobacco and alcohol are much more likely to be used as gateway drugs.

The most common argument for the prohibition of marijuana is its negative health impacts. First off, there is the concern about potential addiction to the substance. It is possible to become addicted to marijuana, but the chances are very low. Marijuana does not cause biological addiction from which your body becomes depedent on the substance. It becomes a psychological dependence for some people. Furthermore, a 1999 study from the Institute of Medicine showed that 32% of tobacco users develop a dependence, 23% of heroin users, 17% of cocaine users, 15% of alcohol users, but just 9% for marijuana users. To look at those statistics in another way, you are more than three times more likely to become addicted from legal cigarettes than illegal marijuana. The study concluded that few marijuana users develop a dependence, and the depedence for those who do is far less severe than other drugs.

10 reasons

The second health concern is the possibility of developing cancer as a result of smoking marijuana. In fact, there is no clear causal connection between the smoking of marijuana and lung cancer. Granted, part of the reason for this is the lack of data available due to marijuana’s illegal status. What is known is that marijuana contains a fraction of the carcinogens found in cigarettes, which are directly related to lung cancer. A study conducted in 2012 found the heaviest smokers of marijuana could develop bronchitis, but that moderate smoking had little to no risk. Marijuana can increase heart rate and blood flow, but experts say this would not pose a health problem to people who are old or don’t have heart problems to begin with. Furthermore, unlike alcohol and tobacco, there is no clear connection between marijuana and any sort of deadly disease, and it is not possible to overdose on marijuana.

In 2010, an independent scientific committee compared the harmfulness of 20 drugs based on the damage they caused to individual users and to society as a whole through crime, family breakdown, absenteeism, and other social ills. The results showed that the most harmful drug was alcohol, and marijuana ranked eighth on the list with approximately a fourth of the harmfulness of alcohol. The government’s response to the seemingly much less harmful marijuana was that the damage would increase a lot more if the substance was legal because there would be more use. However, the World Health Organization refuted this by saying that even if marijuana use rose to the same levels as alcohol and tobacco, the public health costs would still be far less than the two legal substances.

alcohol vs weed

Many of the dangers of marijuana come from the fact that there many different strains that could be laced with anything, and users don’t always know exactly what they are smoking. Regulating a legal marijuana industry would greatly reduce this problem. In addition, it has been proven that there are ways to ingest marijuana that are even less harmful than smoking, such as using a vaporizer or ingesting it through edibles. Also overlooked is the myriad of benefits that medical marijuana has provided, ranging from assisting with simple to body pain to being able to help with depression, seizures, and even HIV. Early reports out of Colorado have indicated a 10% decrease in crime rate since the legalization of marijuana, and an infusion of millions upon millions of dollars into the economy, two critical societal benefits.

health benefits

One legitimate concern from the legalization of marijuana would be the increase in underage use. The brain undergoes active development until about age 21, and heavy use of marijuana (like any other drug) could impact the development of the brain. Like any other threat in society, education and strictly enforced minimum age laws would need to be enacted to try to keep those who are underage from using.

weed economy

In my opinion, it will only be a matter of time before marijuana becomes recognized by the federal government as a legal drug throughout the United States. It is not a completely harmless substance, but it is one of, if not the least, harmful drug out there and has untapped potential for benefiting society. If nothing else, it times for the laws to at least become consistent. A War on Drugs in which two of the most harmful substances out there are legal, and one of the least harmful isn’t, sends a contradicting message on exactly what the whole point of the War on Drugs is.

That being said, a bill has been introduced in Congress, and you can see the summary in the link below.

https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/499

Sources: New York Times: “What Science Says About Marijuana” By PHILIP M. BOFFEY

Thanks to everyone who read this post, please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

Final Thoughts on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

world cup

World Cup Fever has been raging across the world for the last month, with many exciting moments, big surprises, unlikely heroes, and an epic conclusion. From the perspective of someone who only tunes into soccer during big events such as the World Cup, here are my thoughts on everything that has happened in Brazil over the last month.

group of death

A collective groan was heard across the country in December after the United States found out what group they would be to start the World Cup. Nicknamed the Group of Death, Group G featured #2 ranked Germany, #4 ranked Portugal, and a Ghana team that had knocked the USA out of the last two World Cups. This was a group so tough, even coach Jurgen Klinnsman told US fans not to expect the United States to win. Controversy rose once again when one of the best players in United States history, Landon Donovan, was left completely off the roster.

Despite the odds being stacked against our country, many people, including me, still believed the USA had a chance.

And they did not disappoint.

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/videos/highlights/match=300186512/index.html

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/videos/highlights/match=300186483/index.html

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/videos/highlights/match=300186469/index.html

http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/videos/highlights/match=300186497/index.html

The United States posted a 1-1-1 record in the group stage, with an even goal differential, and their only loss being a 1-0 contest against eventual champion Germany. They would fight to the bitter end in the knockout stage against Belgium, finally losing 2-1 in extra time despite an all time great performance from goalie Tim Howard. I watched this World Cup first as a United States fan, and second as a sports fan. I was proud of what my country was able to accomplish: Surviving the Group of Death, advancing to the knockout stage in back to back World Cups for the first time ever, being able to overcome adversity such as Clint Dempsey’s broken nose and Jozy Altidore’s leg injury, having everyone from star players to substitutes to the goalie give 100% effort at all times, and making it farther than Italy, England, and defending champion Spain.

super stars

brazil

belgium

tim howard

usa fans

This was the second World Cup that I followed in depth, the previous one being the 2010 South Africa World Cup. I learned a lot more this time around and realized that this event was about far more than soccer, and that even non-soccer fans and non-sports fans can get excited and rally around their country for this event. I learned that the United States truly does care about soccer and that their programs are moving in the right direction. I was surprised at how many hardcore soccer fans there were here. The World Cup certainly brought out a lot of the bandwagoners along for the ride, but gave the true soccer fans a chance to get excited as well. I think the World Cup as a whole was very exciting this time. Whether it was powerhouses like Spain, Portugal, and Brazil getting eliminated shockingly early, underdogs such as the United States and Costa Rica advancing farther than anyone thought, witnessing the second highest scoring World Cup, a 95th minute World Cup saving goal, epic penalty kick shootouts, the biting incident, the final goal in extra time of the championship, or all of the mayhem surrounding Brazil in general, it was certainly a memorable 4 weeks.

stadium

copacabana

trophy

I found the culture surrounding the World Cup very interesting as well. Copacabana beach and Rio de Janeiro were big party scenes during the event. Most people would vacation near a stadium, watch all the games of the teams that came through, and then party hard during the off days. Other than an overhead passing collapsing, I think Brazil ultimately was a success with no major crime reports or other infrastructure problems occurring, despite completing only 10 or so of a promised 52 projects for this World Cup. The biggest disappointment for me, other than the United States loss to Belgium, was the injury to Brazil superstar Neymar. I wasn’t particularly rooting for Brazil in general, either because I liked them or because they were the home team, but I think the semifinals and finals would have been a lot more interesting with one of the world’s best players playing in his home country. One of the biggest highlights for me was actually during the final day. Snapchat introduced a Rio Live 2014 account that gathered all the snapchats from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil during the final game. It was really cool to see the event through the eyes of the fans.

game winner

The World Cup returns in 2018 in Russia, but for now we are left to appreciate, celebrate, mourn, and take in what was an unbelievable spectacle this year in Brazil.

Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

Celtics Draft Reaction and Free Agency Predictions

smart young

The 2014 NBA draft wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and now that free agency is in full force it’s time to take a look the future of the Celtics and the NBA. Boston had two first round picks in the draft, #6 overall and #17 overall, with the 17th pick being acquired from Brooklyn in the Pierce/Garnett trade. They chose star point guard Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State with #6, and I was not a big fan of this pick. As a huge Rajon Rondo fan, this likely means that his days are numbered in Boston. The Celtics already have three players that can play the point, with Rondo, Bradley, and second year man Phil Pressey. I also dislike Smart due to his flopping reputation and immaturity at times. I would have liked to see them draft Julius Randle, who went to the Lakers with the very next pick, to give them some inside toughness and rebounding. On the other hand, I like the James Young selection at 17. The 6’6″ freshman shooting guard out of Kentucky provides a dynamic scoring option in the backcourt that I think would complement Rondo and Bradley very well.

melo

One of the two biggest free agents this summer is superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. The 2012-2013 NBA scoring champion spent the last few years on the New York Knicks before becoming a free agent on July 1. Potential destinations for Melo to land have been rumored to be back to New York, Los Angeles with the Lakers, Chicago to team up with Derrick Rose and the Bulls, Houston to pair with James Harden and Dwight Howard, and even a mega deal to go to Boston along with Kevin Love. At this current moment, it is being rumored that the Lakers are the Knicks’ top threat to land Carmelo Anthony. I am skeptical that this will happen. At this point in his career, Carmelo is looking to join a team that will contend for the next several years. The Lakers were awful last year, and even if Kobe Bryant comes back healthy, Kobe is nearing the last couple years of his career and there is no supporting cast in Los Angeles.

I definitely don’t think the Kevin Love/Carmelo Anthony deal to Boston will happen. It also wouldn’t make sense to go to Miami because he is too similar of a player to Lebron. Of the three options left, I think it makes the most sense for him to return to New York. The Knicks clichéd the #2 seed in the East just a year ago, and with Phil Jackson running the show now, Melo can be sure there will a valiant effort to put together a championship team. Houston would be my second choice for Carmelo. He would thrive in that high-powered offense and create a dynamic big 3 with James Harden and Dwight Howard, not to mention Houston is already a playoff contender. Third choice would be the Bulls. The health of Derrick Rose is a main reason why Chicago might not be able to pull this off, but if they could and Rose remains healthy, Chicago will instantly contend for the East.

lebron

The biggest decision in the NBA this summer will be the future of the Big 3 in Miami, who have opted out of their contracts to become free agents in order to give themselves more flexibility in the future. Rumors have swirled that Lebron might return to Cleveland to join his old franchise and pair up with young starts such as Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. One reason for not returning to Miami would be the health and consistency of Dwyane Wade, who carried the Big 3 in the early years but has been injured and inconsistent at times during the postseason. Despite this, the Heat were still a title contender until they got smashed by the Spurs in the Finals. Rumor had it that Lebron essentially forced the Heat to trade up in the draft to acquire point guard Shabazz Napier. Other rumors have it that the Heat are trying to acquire guards Kyle Lowry and Luol Deng. With Miami being one free agent away or so to being able to compete with the top teams in the Western Conference, I think Lebron will ultimately return to Miami with Wade and Bosh under significantly different contracts.

Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.

Thanks,

Jeff

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