2016 ALCS and NLCS Preview and Predictions


ALCS: Wild Card Toronto Blue Jays @ #2 Cleveland Indians


Both teams enter this showdown coming off series sweeps of the ALDS. Toronto’s power lineup featuring Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion has carried them along with great starts from starters Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada. The Blue Jays also have playoff experience on their side, having reached the ALCS last year before losing to eventual World Series champion Kansas City. Cleveland, despite missing two starters in Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, still has excellent pitching which includes former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber along with Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. This trio was able to silence the Red Sox #1 offense holding them to under 10 runs total in the ALDS. Cleveland also has an advantage at manager, with two time World Series champion Terry Francona who has plenty of playoff experience. Despite sweeping the Red Sox, I still think Cleveland is being underrated in this series partly due to the flashy and more exciting Blue Jays. However, I like Cleveland to win this series in 5 games and advance to the World Series.


NLCS: #3 Los Angeles Dodgers @ #1 Chicago Cubs


Much like the Toronto Blue Jays, the Chicago Cubs are also one step away from the World Series for the second consecutive year. Clearly the 103 win powerhouse Cubs are the odds on favorite to win the World Series, so the only question is if they can handle the pressure and actually deliver. For a young team, having had previous postseason experience last year will make a big difference this time around. Kris Bryant has emerged as an MVP candidate this season, the starting pitching is lights out with Lester/Hendricks/Arrieta, and the acquisition of closer Aroldis Chapman at the deadline has the Cubs a complete team. For the Dodgers, their chances in this series will come down to how Clayton Kershaw is able to perform. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game, but has had consistent postseason struggles. He will need to deliver 2 lights out performances against the high powered Cubs offense to give them a chance. I think the Chicago Cubs ultimately win this series in 6 games.


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2016 MLB Division Series Preview and End of Season Awards



Wild Card Toronto Blue Jays @ #1 Texas Rangers


In what has become somewhat of a heated rivalry lately, the Toronto Blue Jays will head to Arlington, Texas to take on the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s ALDS, which Toronto won in 5 games. It should be another great series this time around, as both teams have star power in their lineup, a solid rotation, and most importantly recent postseason experience. For Toronto, the duo of Bautista and Encarnacion was clutch in the playoffs last year and has already come through again this year in the wild card game. The Rangers improved their lineup by signing Ian Desmond who hit .285 with 22 HR and 86 RBI while stealing 22 bags this year, and trading for Carlos Beltran at the deadline. This series will come down to which pitching staff shows up for their respective club. With former World Series champion Cole Hamels starting Game 1, I think the Rangers will win another hard fought 5 game series with Hamels closing it out in Game 5.

#3 Boston Red Sox @ #2 Cleveland Indians


The AL East champion Boston Red Sox will start the playoffs in Cleveland and take on former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and the AL Central champion Indians. After consecutive last place finishes, general manager Dave Dombrowski has Boston back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 2013. The story of the season has been the offense, which led the majors in runs scored (878), batting average (.283), on-base percentage (.349), slugging (.462), OPS (.811), and was second to the Cubs in run differential (+184). The question will be the pitching, which has been up and down during the season. Price had one of his worst seasons, and has been historically bad in the playoffs. Porcello is a Cy Young candidate this year, but Rodriguez has no playoff experience and Buchholz had been anything but reliable. On the other hand, Cleveland had one of the best rotations to start the year but are without Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco for the playoffs. For this reason, I think the Red Sox will sweep the division series.


Wild Card San Francisco Giants @ #1 Chicago Cubs


The 103 win powerhouse NL Central champ and #1 overall seed Chicago Cubs begin their quest to finally win a World Series against the most successful team of the past 6 years – the San Francisco Giants. The Cubs are one of the most complete baseball teams that have ever been assembled. Their pitching is led by Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks while Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo lead a potent offense. That has led to an absurd +252 run differential for the Cubs season. The big question is how they will handle the pressure of expectations this year, especially against a team who may be among the best under postseason pressure. Madison Bumgarner reminded everyone he’s the best postseason pitcher in baseball by tossing a complete game shutout on the road against the Mets on Wednesday. The additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardijza have helped the rotation as well. However, the Giants bullpen has been historically awful this year and I don’t think they have enough firepower on offense to handle the Cubs pitching rotation. The Cubs will win the series in 4 and advance to the NLCS.

#3 Los Angeles Dodgers @ #2 Washington Nationals


Washington is back in the playoffs after a one year absence and will take on the 4-time defending NL West champion Dodgers. Bryce Harper has been mediocre following an MVP season in 2015, but the acquisition of Daniel Murphy and the emergence of rookie Trea Turner have powered the Nats to the NL East title this year. 20 game winner Max Scherzer has been dominant at the front of the rotation, but the loss of Stephen Strasburg for this series means that pitchers like Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez will have to step up. The success of the Dodgers in the postseason always seems to hinge on the success of perennial Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw, who has historically struggled in the postseason. In a battle of aces and potent lineups, I think this matchup will go the distance with the Nationals winning in Game 5.



AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona (CLE)

AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Fulmer (DET)

AL MVP: Mookie Betts (BOS)

AL Cy Young: Rick Porcello (BOS)

NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon (CHC)

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager (LAD)

NL MVP: Kris Bryant (CHC)

NL Cy Young: Jon Lester (CHC)

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Tragedy Rocks Major League Baseball with the Devastating Death of Miami Marlins Superstar Jose Fernandez


It’s been about 12 hours since I first learned of the shocking death of Miami Marlins superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez this morning, and it’s still hard to even fathom what happened. Fernandez, and two of his friends, passed away this morning after a horrific boating crash off the coast of Florida. The news sent shock waves throughout the baseball community and prompted Miami to immediately cancel today’s game against the Braves.


Fernandez made his major league debut for the Marlins in 2013, and went on to be an All-Star and win NL Rookie of the Year that season with a 12-6 record and 2.19 ERA. Over his four year career, he went 38-17 with a 2.58 ERA while being one of the most exciting pitchers to watch in the game and helping revitalize a Marlins franchise that had become irrelevant for over a decade. There is no doubt that Fernandez was going to be one the best pitchers in the game for the next 10-15 years and headed toward multiple Cy Youngs and a Hall of Fame career.


It’s devastating enough that a 24 year old superstar with so much promise and potential suddenly lost his life, but the story behind Fernandez and how he arrived in the U.S. from Cuba makes his passing that much more tragic. Jose defected from Cuba at the age of 15 along with his mother and several others. He left his grandmother behind, who he was extremely close with and who was his biggest fan from a baseball perspective. While en route from Cuba to the U.S., he saved his mother’s life who had fallen overboard without even knowing who had fallen overboard when he dove in. He was rewarded several years later when the Marlins arranged for his grandmother to come to the U.S. on a two year visa and she was able to see him pitch on opening day in 2014.


In case this story wasn’t sad enough, Fernandez announced just last week on Instagram that his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child.


Finally, the outpouring of love and support from other Major League Baseball players shows just how much Jose Fernandez was well-liked and well-respected by his peers. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and the tragic events that took place this morning will hurt for a long time. This young man should have had an outstanding career and an even better life with his family in the United States of America. The world lost an amazing athlete today, but even more importantly it lost a great human being.




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The Night Of: Thoughts and Reaction


The Night Of is an HBO crime drama starring Riz Ahmed as Nassir Khan and John Torturro as John Stone. Nassir, or Naz, is a Pakistani American living in New York City. One night he goes out, planning on going to a party, but ends up meeting a young woman on his way there. They end up going back to her place for a night of drug-infused romance. The next morning, Naz wakes up to find the woman brutally murdered and is arrested by the police not long after. In the remainder of this blog, I’ll give my thoughts on this series and what I found the most interesting. There will be spoilers, so don’t read further if you haven’t seen this show yet and plan on watching.

the night of

My first reaction to The Night Of was a fear that the type of situation Naz found himself in was not all that unrealistic. Everything about what happened that night makes it seem very obvious to those on the outside that Naz was the killer. It’s a rather extreme circumstance of “this is not what it looks like”. You can’t really blame anyone in the show for automatically assuming it was him. He was at the house, he had the murder weapon, a witness saw him leave the house, and he tried to run from the police after he was arrested. As if he wasn’t unlucky enough, he ends up getting pulled over after leaving the house which ultimately does him in. Any one of us could end up in a situation where, despite doing nothing wrong, all of the circumstances point toward guilt and there’s nothing you can really say to defend yourself, which is a scary notion. Even Naz’s own mother turns against him at one point during the trial.


Something I found interesting throughout this series was the prison culture. When Naz first enters prison, he’s scared, lonely kid who doesn’t look like he’ll last more than a few days. However, after becoming allies with Freddy, the ring-leader of the prison, he realizes what he has to do to survive. We watch him transform from a defenseless kid to a ruthless prisoner smuggling in drugs and viciously beating other inmates. In an ideal world, we would expect the prison system to reform criminals. It should help them see the error of there’s ways so that they can be a better person when they are released. In The Night Of, we see the exact opposite happen to Naz: he was a very kind, gentle, and hard-working young man before being arrested, but eventually leaves a prison a cold, angry, hardened young man with an addiction to heroin. The Night Of did an excellent job of showing that, while there was a happy ending with Naz finally getting out of prison, prison life does take a toll on people with permanent consequences.


I thought this was a really great show overall. The premiere was one of the best episodes of television of the year, and the acting was phenomenal throughout the whole series. While there were a few extraneous story-lines such as the cat and John Torturro’s ongoing feet problems, the show’s writer Richard Price did a phenomenal job of showing how the criminal justice system operates – from the detectives, to the police, to the prison, and to the lawyers and jury during the trial. I also thought the finale was more than satisfactory. We get to see Naz freed from prison and the show strongly hints at the real killer and what actually happened that night. I would highly recommend The Night Of to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

Thanks to everyone for reading. Let me know your thoughts and opinions on the show in the comments down below.





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2016 Rio Summer Olympics Recap


As the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro come to close tonight, it’s time to look back at what, in my opinion, were the most significant parts of this summer’s Olympic Games.


Controversy leading up to Olympics


Mosquito sucking blood on a human hand


There was no shortage of concern for Olympic athletes in the months leading up to Rio. Several notable athletes dropped out of the Olympics over concern about the Zika epidemic raging across Brazil and Southern America. Team USA basketball even decided to live on their own personal mega yacht during the Games rather than stay in the Olympic village, in what was one of the biggest power moves of all time. The other major concern during these Olympics was the safety of the players, which is illustrated perfectly by the picture above of protesters greeting athletes at the airport. Despite these major concerns, there were fortunately no major incidents that harmed any of the participants.


USA Swimming Dominance


Between the men’s and women’s teams, the United States racked up 33 medals, including 16 gold, in swimming alone. Australia was the next closest with 10 swimming medals (3 gold). Of course, the two biggest stories were Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. Phelps, 31 years old and playing in his 5th Olympics, added six more medals this summer, including five gold, to bring his record-breaking totals up to 28 career medals and 23 golds. My favorite Phelps race was the 200m Butterfly Final, in which he avenged a previous Olympic loss by winning gold and destroying rival Chad Le Clos who failed to even medal at the event. Ledecky was arguably more dominant this Olympics, racking up 4 golds and 1 silver by destroying not only the competition, but the record books. This was never more obvious during her performance in the 800m freestyle, in which she won by an absurd 12 seconds over the silver medalist while smashing the world record.


USA Women’s Gymnastics


Out of all the Olympic events, gymnastics will always be the one I’m most impressed with. The USA women’s gymnastics team set out to dominate again, this time led by a record breaking performance from 19 year old Simone Biles. I’m pretty sure my bones almost broke just by watching her floor exercise routine. That amount of athleticism and coordination is mind-boggling. She took home five medals this Olympics and became the first gymnast in US history to win 4 gold medals at a single Olympics. Fellow American, and Massachusetts native, Aly Raisman added 3 more medals to her total in her second Olympic stint following London in 2012.


Usain Bolt’s Triple Three-peat


Usain Bolt can run 100 meters before I even finish typing this sentence. The Jamaican once again established his dominance by winning the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100 relay for an unprecedented 3rd straight Olympics. He finished with a world-record breaking 9.58 seconds in the 100m this time. Just to put that in perspective, 100 meters in 9.58 seconds translates to TWENTY-TWO AND A HALF miles per hour. Usain Bolt can literally run faster than I can bike. He will go down as the fastest man on earth.


Team USA dominates basketball



My favorite thing to watch in the Olympics every year is the USA Men’s basketball team. Team USA had its struggles with some games early on in group play, but when it mattered most they came through led by Kevin Durant’s 30 points in a 30 point blow out win over Serbia for the USA’s third straight Olympic gold medal and record-breaking 76th consecutive win in international play. It will be the end of an era for Coach K, the only coach to win 3 gold medals, and Carmelo Anthony, the only player to win 3 straight gold medals. On the women’s side, Team USA was able to capture it’s 6th straight gold medal by dominating Spain in the gold medal game.



medal count


Let me know your favorite moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics in the comments down below.

Thanks for reading,


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Looking Glass Self theory: Are we who we think people think we are?

I’ve written about identity in several blog posts in the past, but I recently came across a very interesting theory that I had not heard before. The Looking Glass Self theory was coined by sociologist Charles Cooley and refers to the idea that our identity is shaped by social interactions with other people. What we believe about other people’s perception of us shapes who we really are, and how we observe others’ perception of ourselves comes about through social interactions. This happens in three steps: we come to a conclusion about how we appear to others, then we determine what judgments others are making about us based on appearance, and finally we imagine what others feel about us based on those judgments. Our behavior then changes to reflect what we think others feel about us.

looking glass 2

So how does this psychological phenomenon actually manifest itself in real life? Let’s say your a student and your teacher is really encouraging and always tells you that you are doing a good job. It doesn’t matter if you are actually doing a good job. It doesn’t matter if your teacher thinks you are doing a good job. What matters is that you think your teacher thinks you are doing a good job, and as a result you will view yourself as smart or successful. Another example could be when you tell a joke to your friends and they laugh.  You might not have thought the joke was that funny, maybe you were just trying to break the silence. Your friends might not have thought the joke was funny, maybe they were just being polite. However, if you perceive that your friends laughter was genuine then you will identify yourself as being funny regardless of whether  or not anyone thought it was funny.


So what’s the point of this theory? What can we learn? I think the first takeaway is that, whether we realize it or not, we all care about what other people think about us to the point that we project ourselves as a reflection of we think they view us. I’ve often thought that I do a good job of not letting other people’s opinions of me change who I really am, but I hadn’t considered that this could be happening subconsciously anyway. This reinforces the importance of surrounding yourself with positive influences wherever you can, because everyone you interact with is impacting your identity in some way, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

looking glass 3

I think another implication of this theory is its support for the “nurture” argument in the nature vs nurture battle regarding which impacts our identity more. My personal opinion is that identity is 80-85% shaped by nurture, or in other words our environment and interactions with those around us. We may be born with certain innate qualities, but according to this theory you are a completely different person if you grow up and live in one community or culture as opposed to another. Our brains are very fluid and designed to constantly change and adapt based on what we perceive and experience, so it only makes sense that our perceptions would change based on changes in the views of other people and the environment around us.


Finally, the last takeaway I have from this theory is looking at it from the outside perspective. We are able to shape who others think they are based on acting towards them in a manner that changes how they view what we think of them. For example, if I want someone to think that they are smart, I can tell them they are smart and consistently act like their achievements are impressive or their study habits are great, etc. It may seem obvious that what we tell other people can influence what they think of themselves, but what’s more important and probably more influential is the non-verbal ways in which we communicate with people. Let’s say I start avoiding someone I normally see or start acting differently in front of someone. These are the types of behaviors that start to impact what we think of ourselves, and are harder to ignore than just words that someone says to you.

As referenced in the title of this blog post, the Looking Glass Self theory can best be summarized by a single quote: “I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am.”

Thanks to everyone who read the post. Please like the post and leave feedback in the comments below!


Sources/Additional Reading: http://www.popularsocialscience.com/2013/05/27/the-looking-glass-self-how-our-self-image-is-shaped-by-society/










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Song Analysis: Take On Me by A-ha (1984)


This is an interesting song because I think it perfectly describes an all too familiar scenario that many of us have gone through: liking someone and not knowing how to tell them. Logic would say to just be honest and straightforward with that person, but the reality is that humans are complex emotional beings. While that often presents many obstacles for how we connect with others around us, it’s also what makes relationships so special in the first place. This song demonstrates the emotional battle that a guy is going through in trying to communicate his feelings in a way that will lead to a happy ending.

At the beginning of the song, he admits that he doesn’t know what to say but he still wants to talk to this girl anyway because he really likes her. The chorus “Take on me,
Take me on, I’ll be gone, In a day or two” is him hoping that she will take a risk and give him a chance, because sooner or later he won’t be able to handle it anymore and have to move on. This is again reiterated in the second verse when he says It’s no better to be safe than sorry.” It’s a constant battle between him deciding how to tell her vs. him waiting to see if she feels the same way about him.

I think one of the key parts of this song comes in the final verse: “The things that you say, is it live or just to play my worries away?” For me these words indicate that the two already have a close friendship, and he wants to know whether she is only interested in being friends or if she wants something more. Is this something real or is just casual flirting as friends? I personally think this is one of the toughest things to interpret. Sometimes you really can’t tell if someone likes you or if they are just being nice. It becomes a guessing game and that’s what the guy in this song is struggling over. Is it worth telling someone you’re close to that you like them as more than a friend and risk ruining a good friendship?

As someone who tries to approach everything from a logical and analytical perspective, I am always fascinated by these complex emotional dilemmas that people experience. My brain is wired to think that there’s a logical way to solve every problem that we face, but when it comes to friendships and relationships, it really can be just a guessing game and weighing of subjective opinions. As I said in the beginning, maybe that’s what makes it special to begin with. When things don’t work out it leads to heartbreak, but when we do make that connection than there’s no better feeling in the world and no logic to explain it.

Thanks  to everyone who read this post. Please like the post and leave feedback in the comments down below.








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