1) Todd Frazier wins the Home Run Derby; the AL Defeats the NL 6-3 in the 2015 All-Star Game
Over the past handful of years, excitement for the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby has dwindled considerably. But 2015 brought with it a youth movement that injected life back into the midsummer classic.
A totally new format was introduced to the Derby. Instead of each hitter trying to blast as many long balls as they could before making ten outs, the event was timed. Players had four minutes, as well as a thirty-second bonus round (awarded if the ball was hit a certain distance), to rack up the dingers.
Head-to-head matchups were added to the fray as well. Rather than competing against the entire field, individual players faced off in one-on-one bracket-style contests. You hit the more home runs than your opponent, you move on to the next round.
Changes were desperately needed to reinvigorate the Derby, and the updated format did just that. The head-to-head matchups worked because they had hitters noticeably trying to out-do each other. The event was very fun and competitive.
The Derby also had the perfect mix of established home run hitters and young talent. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder (two-time Derby winner) provided the star-power, while guys like Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant supplied the novelty and vigor.
Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier emerged as the winner in front of the raucous Cincy faithful, defeating Joc Pederson by a score of 15-14 in bonus time.
The 2015 All-Star Game wasn’t as exciting as the Derby, but it still had its moments.
Young pitchers were throwing absolute heat, consistently reaching the upper nineties and low hundreds on the radar gun. Jacob deGrom and Aroldis Chapman stood out, in particular. They each struck out the side in the sixth and ninth innings, respectively. Chapman touched 103 MPH on the gun multiple times, leaving players and coaches in awe.
Mike Trout of the American League took home MVP honors for the second consecutive year, going 1-for-3 with a leadoff homer. He’s the first player to smack a leadoff home run in the All-Star Game since Bo Jackson. Not bad company.
2) Dez Bryant signs a five-year, $70 million contract with the Cowboys; Demaryius Thomas inks the same deal with the Broncos.
Finally, wide receiver Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension. The deal is worth $70 million over five years, with $45 million of it guaranteed.
Jerry Jones made it clear after the Cowboys’ disappointing postseason defeat that re-signing Dez was a priority. They let star free agent and 2014 league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray walk to the NFC East rival Eagles, and they weren’t about to risk losing Dez as well.
Dez proved he was one of the best and “clutchest” wide receivers in the NFL, and that he deserved a long-term deal.
But Dez and the Cowboys had a difficult time reaching an agreement. Dez felt the ‘Boys were low-balling him, so he took to Twitter and threatened to sit out regular training camp and regular season games if the two sides couldn’t reach a suitable agreement before the start of 2015 NFL season.
Much to the relief of Cowboy fans, papers were signed and hands were shaken. The Cowboys have their elite wide receiver back, and team is poised to bring a championship to D-Town.
Demaryius Thomas signed the same exact deal as Dez Bryant with the Broncos, except for slightly less guaranteed money ($43.5 million). Thomas was one of the centerpieces for the Broncos offense in 2014. He became Peyton Manning’s favorite target and finished second in the league in receiving yards (1,619) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (11).
Throughout the Dez and Demaryius (sounds like the male version of Tia and Tamara) contract discussions, there were rumblings that the NFLPA would charge the Cowboys and Broncos with collusion. Apparently, the two organizations engaged in illegal conversations in which they tried to come up with a similar price and duration for their major free agent wide receivers.
When D & D signed pretty much the same deal, suspicions only heightened. The Cowboys and Broncos could face severe disciplinary action if the NFLPA wishes to pursue an investigation.
3) The British Open has been a total mess. The weather conditions have been so horrendous, that play was actually suspended on Saturday. The winds were just too strong to play through, with the average speeds at twenty-five MPH, and gusts up to forty MPH.
In a rare occurrence, the tournament will conclude on Monday, which is only the second time it has ever ended on a Monday. That should tell you just how determined they are to have golfers play through any conditions.
In terms of the leaderboard, the top ten has been in constant flux due to the weather. However, today, Jordan Spieth, the man who seems to be on top of the golf world at the moment, made a furious comeback, moving up over ten spots. All signs point to Spieth winning this tournament, continuing his momentum after winning the Masters and the US Open, but with these weather conditions, nothing is decided yet. He is currently in second place, behind Paul Dunne and two others tied for the lead.
4) The world’s most popular game (cough soccer cough) is in the offseason at the moment, but the transfer window is wide open.
For the most part, this has been a quiet transfer window, with few big signings in any country. Manchester United is certainly the winner so far, being the only team to make any sort of splash with their signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, for £25 million and £14 million pounds respectively.
EPL winner Chelsea has had a quiet summer so far, bringing plenty of young talent into their ranks, but not making any significant moves so far. Earlier in the summer they completed a deal with AS Monaco to receive Ramadel Falcao on a season loan.
Besides those two squads, Liverpool has made the most moves, bringing in a plethora of new talent, including Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Danny Ings and soon-to-be signed Christian Benteke. They also put an end to the Raheem Sterling drama, selling him to Man City for a reported £49 million.
Other transfers include Robin Van Persie leaving Man UTD, Carlos Tevez leaving Juventus, Jackson Martínez moving to Atletico Madrid and Giovani Dos Santos joining the LA Galaxy (hurray for MLS!).
5) The United States Men’s National team advanced to the semi-finals of the Gold Cup on Saturday, crushing Cuba 6-0. Jamaica also beat Haiti, 1-0, on Saturday.
Trinidad played Panama today, and after going to penalty kicks, Panama won, 1-1 (6-5). Mexico is currently tied with Costa Rica, 0-0, in the sixty-fifth minute. After those games, the semi-finals match-ups will be announced, and the USMNT will know their next opponent.