October is in full swing, and the sporting world is going bonkers! The leaves are changing color, the air is cooling, and we are all getting our chance to wear our favorite hoodies and sweaters. These autumn vibes spell the beginning of the finest two months in sports fandom and here’s why: The MLB playoffs have begun. The NHL has just dropped the puck on another exciting season. The NBA is about ready to tip-off. And the NFL is still bringing the goods with parody for all. Let’s break it down!
Major League Baseball (MLB)
Who will be the next Mr. October? The 108-win Boston Red Sox are the popular favorites, but can they even make it past their archrivals, the New York Yankees? Can the Houston Astros find enough consistency to repeat as World Champs? Will the Tribe find a way to quench the the thirst of a 70-year drought and bring another championship to Cleveland? Or, does everyone want to be Atlanta Brave like so many did in the 90s? What about the top-seeded Brew-Crew from Milwaukee or the overachieving Colorado Rockies who won’t quit for nobody?
These are the questions that are swirling around baseball analysts’ heads across the country. As an impartial baseball fan whose favorite team (the Cincinnati Reds) has been an abomination, I have a feeling the Houston Astros will face the Los Angeles Dodgers again and they will repeat as champs. Boom!
National Hockey League (NHL)
Personally, I say that hockey is the greatest show on earth. If you haven’t seen an NHL game in living color, do me a favor and treat yourself to the heartpounting, tantelating, and truly exhilarating experience of 10 players skating at high octane speeds and slamming into each other like lightning bolts, all while trying to put the biscuit in the basket (that means putting the puck in the net for you soon to be hockey fans out there!).
The NHL has so much to offer. You want parody? In the NHL, any team has a legitimate chance of beating any other team on any given night. Outside of a few teams that will be “rebuilding”, most matchups are highly competitive and make for fantastic entertainment. The games are close and electrifyingly intense. There is hard checking and battles along the corners at a seemingly breakneck pace. And when the home team finally lights the lamp (by scoring a goal), the crowd goes bananas! Seriously, go to a game. I would be shocked if you didn’t enjoy it.
It’s too soon to tell frankly. I think the Washington Capitals have a chance at repeating, but I’m not banking on it with a new coaching staff. I’m not sure the Las Vegas Golden Knights will have the same motivations that drove them to the top in their debut last year. I’m looking for my own beloved Columbus Blue Jackets to finally win at least one playoff series, and I believe they will!
Ultimately, an all-Canada final between the Winnipeg Jets and the Toronto Maple Leafs (two teams loaded with young talent and good golatening) would be fantastic to watch. Canada would be dancing a jig all night long for two weeks in June. And fans from all over the world would flock to join the party!
National Basketball Association (NBA)
The NBA isn’t my bread and butter, so let me make this quick. The Golden State Warriors have won it three of the last four years and show no signs of letting up. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant lead an all-star roster that’s going to be tough to beat. But they won’t be facing off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for a fourth straight year. LeBron James went showtime and left his home of Ohio for the glitz and glamour of the purple and gold Los Angeles Lakers. Adding the best player in the world helps, but don’t expect much out of a young Lakers roster unless they add another superstar.
With LeBron out west, the Eastern Conference is open for the taking. The Boston Celtics are stacked and healthy. The Toronto Raptors made a bold move for top-5 talent Kawhi Leonard. And the Philadelphia 76ers are the team on the rise.
For my money, I’ll trust the master-mind coach Brad Stevens to lead the Celtics to the Finals…where they will promptly be swept by the dynastic Warriors.
National Football League (NFL)
The NFL is keeping their fans on the edge of their seats. Who saw the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals leading their divisions after four games? Not me. And I’m a Bengals fan! But can the Bengals sustain it? I think so.
In other news, over in Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes II is off to the best start in NFL history for a new starting quarterback, and it has been crazy to watch. Fantasy owners, rejoice! The Chicago Bears are playing out of their minds defensively, and their gamble to trade up for Mitch Trubisky might (and I mean might!) actually pay off. Either way, with that stifling D, the Bears will have a chance to win in every game they play.
In Philly, the defending champs find themselves in a bit of a dog fight in the NFC East. Repeating will not come easily for these champs. Heavy is the crown! But you gotta love it! Oh, and lest I forget, the LA Rams are 4-0 and don’t seem to be slowing down for anybody! How bout them Pittsburgh Steelers??? (Crickets…not such a great start!) Let’s go!!!
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the 4-0 LA Rams will stun the world as Super Bowl Champs, claiming victory over a Kansas City Chiefs team that looks good enough to outscore every team they play (except the Rams that is!). Play on!
Point blank, we have embarked on two months of fanaticism that is sure to have a little something for everyone leading up to the holidays. If you’re anything like me, you will find many different sporting events to enjoy on any given night.
Let’s all remember: the glory of sports is a reflection of God’s perfection. So grab some friends and celebrate!
Cover image courtesy of FlickrCC user Seth Carlson.