Super Bowl LV: Tale of the Tape

Patrick Mahomes (left) and Tom Brady (right) – Credits: Justin Edmonds and Mike Ehrmann (People)

Surprisingly, we made it through a full season of professional football in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Super Bowl LV may be a dream matchup for casual and hardcore football fans. The defending champions, Kansas City Chiefs, face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a star-laden matchup. This game is highlighted by two quarterbacks destined for greatness.

Icon Vs Icon: The Young Buck Against The Savvy Veteran

We are seeing a generational matchup between two football icons. Essentially, this is a matchup between the past and future.

On one side we have Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs with an already stacked resume in his young career. Winning the Season MVP award, holding the Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl MVP nod, and passing over 50 touchdowns in a single season are some accolades he has already achieved. Most players in the NFL dream of achieving at least one of those feats in a 15 year career – Mahomes has done all of them in 4.

On the other hand, there is Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A household name that your mom probably knows – and many other casual fans. 21 seasons in the NFL, Brady doesn’t seem to slow down at the ripe age of 43. Most NFL players would have retired around this age (hence, Phillip Rivers and possibly Drew Brees), as their bodies naturally slow down. But for Brady still dominating the league is completely unheard of – especially someone in the late stages of his career. This being his 10th trip to the Super Bowl, Brady cements himself as the winningest quarterback in the history of the National Football League.

Any comparisons you want to make between these two: Ali versus Frazier, Pacquiao versus Mayweather, The Rock versus John Cena, Lebron James versus Kobe Bryant – the list goes on. We’ve seen an icon versus icon matchup before in sports, but the stakes have never been higher. They are playing for the most prestigious prize in American sports – The Super Bowl, baby!

All I’m saying is, expect an offensive slugfest between these two juggernauts.

The Narratives: Silencing the Critics

Of course, the media will heavily focus on these two NFL superstars until the game is conceded. Not only is the chip on the line but legacy as well.

Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and CBS sports analyst, puts it best: “The fact that Mahomes is somehow in this discussion as the GOAT shows you how amazing this guy is. There’s a chance for Mahomes playing this game, to climb the ladder. If Mahomes wins, he keeps that door open. If Brady wins, I don’t know how anyone can top him.”

A win here from the Chiefs will assert their dominance over the league for many years to come – as we witness one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL. But not only that, this outcome will be one of those “passing of the torch” moments in sports. Brady, a living legend, hands the keys over to Mahomes as the face of the NFL. Said best by Ric Flair, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man!”

Credit: Steven Senne – AP Photo (MassLive)

If Brady wins, he proves his critics wrong about his time in New England. Scrutinized as a “system quarterback” throughout his career, people heralded Bill Belichick for creating a formidable team in the past two decades. Since 2001, Brady has achieved: 9 Super Bowl trips, a NFL Season MVP, over 74,000 yards passing, and 14 Pro Bowl nods all under Bill Belichick.

Even though Belichick may be responsible for Brady’s successes, this year has already proven otherwise for The Patriots who finished 7-9 for the season and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

No stranger to critics, Brady has proved time and time again to shut them up. He is already the winningest quarterback in NFL history, but a win here cements him as the greatest football player of all time.

Legacy is on the line for both sides, so expect a great show on February 7th in Tampa Bay.

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting

Orioles Geared up For Playoff Push

The Baltimore Orioles continue to play great baseball heading into the final month of the season, and have grown their lead in the American League East to nearly double digits. Now, their roster is set for the push to October.

Baltimore made a pair of trades prior to the September 1 waiver trade deadline to set their roster for the playoffs. The Orioles acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Chicago White Sox on August 30 for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar. De Aza hit .243 with five home runs and drove in 31 runs in 122 games this season for the White Sox, who find themselves in last place in the A.L. Central. Blackmar went 10-1 with a 3.18 earned-run average in 26 games (18 starts) this season for the Frederick Keys, Baltimore’s high-A affiliate. In his last 10 starts with Frederick, he was 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA. Chalas, meanwhile, is being viewed as a relief pitching prospect.

Also on August 30, the Orioles acquired infielder Kelly Johnson from the last-place Boston Red Sox. The move came exactly a month after Johnson, who was on the disabled list at the time, was traded to the Red Sox from the Yankees.

The countdown of the magic number to clinch the division has begun for the Orioles. Their magic number, the combination of wins and losses by New York, was at 15 heading into the start of a six-game road trip to Tampa Bay and Boston.

Wieters to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Miss Rest of 2014 Season

The unusually high number of Tommy John surgeries that have wreaked havoc on pitching staffs already this season has now claimed a new victim: a catcher.

The Baltimore Orioles announced before the start of their series at Tampa Bay on June 16 that All-Star and Gold Glove catcher Matt Wieters will undergo ulnar collateral ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery on his right elbow. Well-known orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the procedure at his office in north Florida. It’s expected that Wieters will need nine months of recovery time in order to be ready for the start of next season. Baltimore had set a July 1 deadline for deciding whether or not Wieters needed surgery.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wieters had been trying to avoid surgery by going with the rest-and-rehab route. However, after having a good day of throwing, Showalter says Wieters’ elbow was sore the next day, and that was the indication to Orioles trainers that the injury was to the UCL. Wieters hadn’t played in a game since May 10, and hadn’t caught in a game since May 4. He’s been on the disabled list since May 11. Wieters believes he originally suffered the injury while making a throw to second base during a game in Boston in April. He was off to a great start prior to the injury, hitting .308 with five doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI.

The Orioles traded reliever Troy Patton to San Diego on May 24 for catcher Nick Hundley to add depth at catcher in case Wieters was going to be out for any significant length of time. Caleb Joseph is the backup catcher, and Steve Clevenger is also available at Triple-A Norfolk.

Dylan Bundy Makes First Rehab Start With Aberdeen

Dylan Bundy threw in a professional game for the first time since 2012.

Bundy allowed just a run in five innings on Father’s Day as the Aberdeen Ironbirds hosted the Hudson Valley Renegades in New York-Penn League action. After the game, Bundy wrote on his Twitter account “First outing in the books! Felt great!”

Bundy underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2012 season.

Gonzalez Set to Return From DL

Right-handed starter Miguel Gonzalez is scheduled to be activated from the DL and start the middle game of the series in Tampa Bay. When he’s activated, the Orioles will go to a six-man starting rotation. Showalter says any of the other starters could be asked to occasionally serve as long relievers out of the bullpen. He added that the rotation will be worked out in the coming days, and could be helped by the result of Manny Machado’s appeal of his five-game suspension. The appeal will be heard prior to the start of the Orioles’ series against the Yankees in New York.

Orioles Sign Reliever Bell, Designate Meek For Assignment

By Andrew R. Koch

After consecutive blown saves by Tommy Hunter against the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has decided to shake things up a little in the Orioles bullpen.

The Orioles announced on May 16 that they’d agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran right-handed reliever Heath Bell. Pending a physical, Bell will report to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. He began the season with division-rival Tampa Bay, where he was 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in 13 games. Bell was designated for assignment by the Rays earlier this month, and was then released. Now in his 11th season, Bell has a career record of 38-32 with a 3.49 ERA and 168 career saves. The Orioles will have to pick up little, if any of Bell’s salary because he’s still being paid not just by the Rays, but also by the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, whom he played for in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

In other roster moves, the Orioles designated right-handed reliever Evan Meek, and recalled another right-hander, Brad Brach, from Norfolk to take Meek’s spot on the 25-man roster. In 12 games this season, Meek was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA.

This is Brach’s second stint with Baltimore this season. In his first stint, he appeared in two games, and allowed three earned runs in an inning and two-thirds. He went 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA and one save for the Tides. Showalter says the addition of Brach will provide the Orioles with another reliever who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Orioles Notes

Bench coach John Russell managed the Orioles during the third game of their series in Kansas City. Manager Buck Showalter was on leave so he and his wife could attend their daughter’s graduation from law school in Dallas.

Right-hander and top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy continues to progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. Bundy is scheduled to pitch an inning in an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Florida on May 20.