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Week in Review (8/03/15 - 8/09/15)

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1. The Resurgence of the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets

What a difference a week can make.

The Blue Jays and Mets were incredibly active in the days leading up to the trade deadline (Friday, July 31st), and their moves have paid significant dividends. Now, a little more than a week later, both teams are on fire and have become favorites in their respective leagues.

The Jays have won eight games in a row (nine out of their last ten) and are within 1 and ½ of the American League East-leading New York Yankees. Since the trade deadline, they took three out four from the defending American League champ Royals, won four straight against highly-capable Minnesota Twins, and just swept the Bombers at Yankee Stadium—something they haven’t done since 2003.

David Price has pitched like a Cy Young, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.60 ERA in two games since joining the ballclub. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins, a “throw-in” in the Troy Tulowitzki deal, has appeared in five games and hasn’t given up a run yet.

Although they still trail the Yankees, the Blue Jays have become the favorites to win the AL East. The Yanks simply don’t have the firepower—starting pitching and hitting—to match the Jays. Toronto is so deep now, it seems like they’ll grab control of the division within the next week or so.

Expect the Blue Jays playoff drought (currently the longest in the MLB) to end at twenty-two seasons.

The Mets also find themselves in an unfamiliar position—atop the National League East division.

Yes, the Mets roared out of the gate to begin the season, but the Nationals quickly caught up due to the Mets’ severe offensive struggles. It looked like they were headed back to their normal position of mediocrity.

But the trade deadline hit, and the Mets did something very “un-Metsish.” They made a big splash, acquiring a legitimate offensive slugger, Yoenis Cespedes. They also landed veteran hitters Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.

Since making their various deadline moves (which also includes trading for closer Tyler Clippard), things are certainly looking up for the Mets. They’ve won seven out of their last nine games, the starting rotation has looked as dominant as ever, and they even expect former all-stars David Wright and Michael Cuddyer to return soon.

At full strength, the Mets are one of the most dangerous teams in the baseball. They have a deadly one-two punch (Harvey and deGrom), capable hitting, and a sturdy bullpen, all of which constitute a successful playoff formula. If the Mets can remain healthy, look for them to find success not only during the regular season, but deep into October as well.

2. 2015 NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

On Saturday, the NFL inducted eight new members into the Hall of Fame. The list includes Super-Bowl winning executives Ron Wolf (Packers) and Bill Polian (Colts); retired defensive end and stellar Jerry Jones impressionist Charles Haley; former Raiders’ wide receiver Tim Brown; Vikings’ center Mick Tingelhoff who was elected to the Hall during his 32nd year of eligibility; and Chiefs’ guard Will Shields.

A standout from this year’s class is former Steelers’ running back Jerome Bettis. The Bus was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh with his powerful running style (can you imagine trying to tackle a 250 lbs man moving at full speed?) and infectious smile. In 2006, he cemented his place in Steelers’ history by helping lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. During his speech, Bettis half-jokingly thanked Big Ben for turning his Super Bowl dreams into a reality by making a shoestring, game-saving tackle after Bettis fumbled the football late in the 2006 AFC Divisional playoff game.

Bettis will go down as one of the most unique, atypical running backs in NFL history. His combination of size, strength, and quickness at the RB position were (and continue to be) unparalleled.

The late Junior Seau was inducted into the 2015 NFL Hall of Fame. Seau, a linebacker primarily for the San Diego Chargers, had a historic career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twelve times and was named to the 1990s All-Decade team. But first and foremost, Seau was known as an incredibly passionate player and teammate.

Seau died of a self-inflicted gun wound in 2012, so his daughter Sydney made the acceptance speech on his behalf. Although the NFL was initially opposed to a Seau family member discussing Junior (due to the likely causes and nature of his death), they finally decided to allow it.

Sydney spoke honestly and eloquently about her father, touching on the love he had for the game, his community, and most importantly his family. Sydney called her father a “light”, whose passion continues to inspire.

Although Junior is physically gone, Sydney proved that his legacy lives on through her spirit and striking resemblance. He was and is truly one of the all-time greats.

To hear the extended version of Sydney’s speech, click here. It’s definitely worth a listen.

3. Barclays Premier League

Saturday marked the start of the Premier League season, with mediocre soccer being the theme of the day. Most teams were still trying to mesh together after summer transfers, and also trying to maintain their stamina levels.

Defending champions Chelsea drew with Swansea, 2-2, in a lackluster game for the Blues. Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea’s goalie, was sent off in the fifty-second minute, meaning he will miss the next match against Manchester City.

Other scores of interest were Arsenal’s loss to West Ham, 2-0, which was certainly an upset. Manchester United came out on top of Tottenham Hotspurs, 1-0, and the newly promoted teams faired pretty well, with Watford drawing with Everton, 2-2, and Bournemouth losing to Aston Villa, 1-0.

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4. Dr. Dre Releases Compton

The fifteen-year wait is over! However, instead of releasing the long awaited Detox, Dre dropped a different album called Compton.

Dre announced on his radio program on Apple Music that he was ultimately unhappy with Detox, even though he had dedicated years of work to the project. He decided to make Compton because he was inspired by the energy around the new film, Straight Outta Compton, a biopic about the rise of N.W.A, which he is heavily involved in.

The sixteen-track album features many familiar faces, as well as a few new ones. His fellow Compton natives, Game and Kendrick Lamar, along with his long-time California friends, Ice Cube, Xzibit, and Snoop Dogg, and his once protégé turned rap icon, Eminem, all joined him on the album.

The album focuses around Dr. Dre’s special connection with Compton, and just how much it has influenced his life and shaped him as an artist. Several tracks explore his rise to fame, mentioning his role in the formation of N.W.A. The features also add to his story telling, helping depict the juxtaposition of gang culture in Compton, and of life in general in the city of Los Angeles.

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