USA, Puerto Rico Travel Road to the WBC Championship

From March 6th to March 22nd, the 4th Annual World Baseball Classic took place in four countries around the globe. The road to the championship saw many surprising and exciting moments that led to a dramatic finish. The way the tournament is shaped up is the first and second rounds are round robin games with the teams in their pools with the top two teams from each pool moving on until the single elimination games in the semifinals.

Puerto Rico and the United States would both advance to the second round pool and meet in a round robin game. Puerto Rico would edge out the United States 6-5 and take first place in the pool.

After the loss to Puerto Rico, the United States needed to beat a red hot Dominican Republic to make it to the semifinal game in Los Angeles.

A home run by Giancarlo Stanton and an over-the-wall catch by Adam Jones would be key plays to the United States victory over the defending champions. According to Sports Illustrated, the United States played their best game of the classic and deserved to be in the semifinals.

The United States’ next challenge would be undefeated Japan in their semifinal game. All eyes were on the United States as this proved to be the make it or break it game for them. The United States would walk away with a stunning 2-1 win over the Japanese and would head to the championship game for the first time since the creation of the classic.

According to Sports Illustrated, the two runs that USA scored atoned to more luck than skill. A failed attempt to field a ground ball cleanly by Japan’s third baseman gave the United States a one-run lead to end the game.

Puerto Rico would also play a tough semifinal game against the Netherlands. The Netherlands kept the game close, but Puerto Rico would barely get past them, winning the game 4-3. Puerto Rico would set up another meeting between the United States.

During the tournament, the Puerto Rico team felt the need to bring the entire country with them. To show this connection between the players and their country, each player dyed his hair blonde. The idea was to bring their own unique aspect to the classic to show that the team played for each other and their country.

According to ESPN.com, third baseman Carlos Correa said the purpose of the hair was to unify the country. “There were no crimes, there were no assassinations back home while we were playing in this classic,” Correa said. “Everybody was dyeing their hair blond, so we had our whole nation behind us that is going through tough times right now.”

The United States was looking for revenge in the championship and got what they came for. They stunned Puerto Rico and shut them out 8-0. This was the first WBC Championship the United States ever won.

According to ESPN.com, United States outfielders Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen were not too happy when they heard rumors of Puerto Rico’s pre-celebratory plans.

“‘It didn’t sit well,’” Andrew McCutchen said. “‘We heard and we saw t-shirts were made and printed out for the Puerto Rican team. We even heard a flight was made for them for that parade because they said they were going to win. That ignited us, we were ready to go, and we showed that tonight.’”

“‘That didn’t sit well with us, so we did what we had to do,’” Jones said.

However, the players for Puerto Rico would reject these accusations saying they didn’t hear of any t-shirts being made up. No matter the outcome, the plane ride would be celebratory because the team brought the country together.

There was some comparison to the WBC Championship and to the MLB World Series. According to USA Today, many Puerto Rican players said the WBC Championship was a much more memorable experience.

Kike Hernandez decided to play for the Puerto Rico team rather than tryout for the Dodgers because he would rather play for his country.

“To be in this Classic, there’s no comparison with the experience of being in the Major Leagues,” said Hernandez.

Bracket Busters Foil March Madness

64 college basketball teams earn a spot to play and compete in one of the biggest sports tournaments, March Madness. This tournament is unpredictable because it usually doesn’t end with a Cinderella story.

Every year, there are bracket busters that mess up people’s brackets. These upsets shock the world and leave many with destroyed brackets. This year, there were four big upsets that took the world by surprise.

The first bracket buster occurred on March 18th, 2017 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY when Wisconsin defeated the defending champions Villanova. Many people had Nova going far in their brackets, but that didn’t last long when they lost in the round of 32 teams.

“I’m happy they made the game’s defining defensive play, ripping the ball away from Hart. The Wildcats quickly fouled Brown, who made one free throw to give the Badgers a three-point cushion that turned out to be more than enough as Villanova struggled to corral the rebound and saw its season ended earlier than expected,” the AP Wire Service of Fox News reported.

“Nova losing wasn’t a surprise because it is hard to go back to back,” junior Max Mygatt said.

The next bracket buster happened a day later on March 19th, 2017 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina when South Carolina beat Duke. Duke was a favorite for winning the whole tournament, but their run ended unexpectedly. South Carolina wasn’t worried about playing the number two seed, leading to their seven point win in the Round of 32.

SC

South Carolina celebrating after making it to the Final Four from The Inquisitor.

“Well, they [South Carolina] didn’t get here by talking about anything other than the step in front of them. But my, what a step they took Sunday,” reporter David Cloninger of The State said.

“Duke losing early really messed up my bracket because I had them going to the finals,” senior Dylan Pinsky said.

Another upset occurred on March 19th, 2017 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana when Michigan beat Louisville. Michigan was just a seven seed, and they managed to pull off a four-point victory over the number two seed. Even though Michigan is a good team, they ended the favorite Louisville’s March Madness appearance in the round of 32.

“‘But our guys [Michigan], we started a tradition of taking a shower, I guess, without going into the shower after good wins. It’s not stopping,’” said coach John Beilein, reported by Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com. The Wolverines were excited about their huge win and they couldn’t hold back from showing it.

“It’s a whole different atmosphere. There is something about the tournament that makes the games close and the teams play better,” senior JP Woodward said.

The last upset happened on March 23rd, 2017 at SAP Center at San Jose in San Jose, California when Xavier defeated Arizona. Xavier was an 11 seed team who finished Arizona’s road to the finals in the Sweet 16. Xavier wasn’t supposed to go past the Round of 64, but they managed to make their way to the Elite Eight.

“We [Xavier] never split apart when the game went out of our favor. We stayed strong and knew if we followed our game plan, we were gonna win,” said guard Trevon Bluiett, reported by Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report.

“Xavier messed my bracket up the most because I had them losing in the round of 64. They won though because they played like they had nothing to lose,” senior Brooks Michel said.

This year’s March Madness has been crazy by how many better-ranked teams have been knocked out of contention for the title. Duke was a huge upset because of how much potential they had and how far they were supposed to go.

“I knew there were going to be upsets, but I just didn’t know who was going to lose and when. I look forward to the upsets each year,” senior Brandon Bradsher said.

“I was surprised to see teams who were thought to win the championship lose early in the tournament,” Woodward said.

Ravens’ Free Agency Woes Highlight Areas for Improvement

The Baltimore Ravens began their preparations for the upcoming 2017 NFL season on March 9, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. when the NFL free agency period began and the front office set out to improve the team by parting ways with some players and bringing new faces to Baltimore.

After finishing 8-8 in last year’s season and not making the playoffs, there are some improvements that need to be made this offseason.

Always a defensive-minded team, the Ravens will look to improve their secondary. The Ravens will also need to replace linebacker Zachary Orr after he announced his retirement.

If the Ravens hope to be more successful next season, they will need to protect their quarterback Joe Flacco. That starts with an offensive line that according to NFL.com allowed Flacco to be sacked 33 times last season. According to ESPN.com, Flacco was the 15th most sacked quarterback last season.

In the first weeks of free agency according to baltimoreravens.com, several key players signed deals elsewhere in the league. Wide receiver Kumar Aiken signed a deal with the Indianapolis Colts followed by defensive end Lawrence Guy when he signed on with the New England Patriots.

Then, fullback Kyle Juszczyk signed a new deal with the San Francisco 49ers, and right tackle Rick Wagner signed with the Detroit Lions. Offensive guard Vladimir Ducasse is also headed up north to Buffalo, NY to play with the Bills.

Although the Ravens lost several key players to opposing teams this offseason, they have already brought in a few key replacements. The Ravens made a few moves on the defensive side of the ball signing former Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Brandon Carr to a four-year deal. Tony Jefferson, a safety, who played with the Arizona Cardinals last year, also signed a four-year deal.

So far, the Ravens have done a decent job bringing in players that will help the Ravens compete next season but there is still more work to be done.

According to an article by Jordan Heck on sportingnews.com, the NFL draft is set to kick off on April 27, 2017.

The Ravens have the 16th pick in the first round of the draft. “The Ravens need to find their next great edge rusher at OLB. The Ravens need Breshad Perriman to step up soon but might be looking for more help at WR regardless. The cornerback spot will likely get at least one look if not two in this year’s draft,” Lance Zierlein wrote in an article on NFL.com.

According to draftsite.com, the Ravens will have one pick in each of the first six rounds. However, the Ravens are slated to have two picks in the third round.

There are dozens of sites that feature mock drafts for the upcoming 2017 NFL draft. Each one is different. Many have the Ravens focusing on defense; others have them selecting a wide receiver, offensive linemen, and cornerbacks.

Electrifying wide receiver John Ross from Washington is someone the Ravens have been projected to select in several mock drafts.

NFL: Combine

John Ross running his 4.22-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, photo courtesy of USAToday.com.

 

Chase Breadwood wrote in an NFL.com article that “Ross told NFL.com that he has visits scheduled next month with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.”

According to USAToday.com, Ross ran a 4.22-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. Ross’s time was the fastest ever recorded at the combine.

It will be too difficult to predict what will happen between now and the draft and even harder to predict whom the Ravens will be selecting. Until then, people can only speculate as to whom Baltimore will select when the 2017 NFL draft begins on April 27 in Philadelphia.

Father Time Wins Again as Third Quarter Closes

At the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, the 3rd quarter marking period came to a close on Friday, March 31st, and some students definitely were not ready for it to end.

Monday, April 3rd, marks the final quarter before the school year ends and students are dismissed for the exciting summer break.

That old saying, “We always have too much to do and never enough time to do it” seems to always hold true. That holds true at Boys’ Latin whenever the quarter is close to ending.

The views on the quarter coming to an end were varied.

“Wow, I better turn in my APES [Advanced Placement Environmental Science] study guides before I fail the class,” said Brian Oguike, a senior. “I’m just trying to get my APES grade up because I know it is very low,” said Oguike later on.

The senior and freshman responses did not match in their perspectives on the topic.

“I did not know the quarter ended Friday. That’s pretty crazy; oh well,” said Will Alokones, a freshman. “I got a 70 in History and was hoping to get that up but that’s  unlikely so that’s whatever,” said Alokones.

The fact that the freshman, Alokones, is less affected by the end of the marking period is unusual. It seems as though the freshmen are always the ones scrambling to turn in every assignment at the last minute.

This is as opposed to the seniors who are nonchalant and have already caught the killer illness known as “Senioritis.” The senior is in danger of failing a class and trying to be diligent. He is completely dodging the stereotype.

Most students are not at all excited to be in school longer than they have to. Therefore, knowing the end is approaching, the responses were what was to be expected.

“I will get a break from work. Senior year has been so much consistent work it is annoying. It will be good to have a break, ” said Oguike.

“I’m looking forward to the summer, not having to deal with History. I’m excited about getting new teachers and having new classes,” said Alokones.

The seniors’ last day in high school is May 12th. After that, they depart for their two-week internship. This means they have even less time on Lake Avenue and time is really of the essence for them.

“It is pretty crazy to hear our time is ending. We have gotten to the point where I am constantly looking back at the school year and reminiscing. It feels like just yesterday I was in fifth grade across the street, ” said Oguike.

“Everyone says it as a senior, and while we were in the stands as freshmen, they would tell you ‘Enjoy your time here at Lake Avenue because it goes quickly.’ After that,  I remembered thinking to myself, ‘It’s not gonna go that fast.’ It has been really crazy knowing that all this time has passed me by. It feels like literally just yesterday I was a freshman here looking for someone to be my friend. I will try to appreciate what I have left,” says JP Woodward, a senior at Boys’ Latin as well.

With all that said, “Father Time” remains undefeated in his battle against humanity.

BL Sports Teams Find Success on Spring Break

While many were enjoying the spring break on vacation or just spending time home with nothing to do, the spring athletes at Boys’ Latin spent their spring breaks playing and practicing to prepare for the upcoming spring sports season.

The spring teams at BL are baseball, lacrosse, tennis, and golf. While lacrosse, tennis, and golf all made their spring break trips to Florida, the baseball team made its trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The baseball team played two games and a scrimmage in Myrtle Beach. They finished with a record of 1-1 in the games and a loss in the scrimmage.

“I thought it was a successful trip although it was short. The biggest thing that came out of it was we learned what we needed to improve on and what we did well,” said JP Woodward.

The tennis team took on a different approach to their spring break trip. Instead of playing matches down in Orlando, they took the time in the good weather to train through practices and conditioning.

“We didn’t play matches, but I’ve never seen a tennis team be more focused and disciplined in the practices and in running and fitness. It was great to see. Personally, I got a lot out of the trip and tried to have a good balance of enjoying the sun and improving my game,” said senior Jimmy Magee

Along with the tennis team, the golf team also used the time to get better on their own rather than competing against other teams.

“We didn’t play any teams. We just played a lot of nice and difficult courses that really tested our skills in the preseason. The hope is that challenging ourselves early on, we could come back with a more refined skill set and mentality for the upcoming season,” said Garrett Glaeser of the golf team.

The lacrosse team played two games while in Florida. They won both games but they achieved something more important than winning.  “The team performed very well. We built better chemistry every day and pushed each other hard in our practices,” said junior goalie Chris Brandau.

Each trip was intended to improve each team over the time spent in the good weather, but the teams took advantage of free time and good weather to do activities other than sports. The baseball team in Myrtle Beach found time to play miniature golf in their free time, while tennis found themselves enjoying the Disney World parks in Orlando.

The golf team and lacrosse team found time hanging out with their own teams. Because they were in the same hotel, they found some time to hang out collectively.

While this trip for each team was comprised of students from each grade, this was the final spring break trip at BL for the seniors.

“I try not to think about that. I look at it as more of motivation as it is our last season and to do great rather than being sad about it being our last time,” said Woodward, a senior pitcher for the baseball team.

Magee stated, “It is a little surreal knowing that I won’t be going to Disney next year like I have the past four, but it made me focus on really bearing down for the home stretch of sports at my time on Lake Avenue.”

Glaeser stated, “It was definitely a surreal experience. I’ve played some phenomenal golf courses over spring break over these past few years. I’ve had the incredible honor and privilege of playing courses professionals have played. It’s been a very humbling experience every year. I’ve enjoyed spending time with the guys on the team. The week has always been very special to me.”

Drake Releases New Album “More Life”

Rapper Drake released his latest album entitled “More Life” on March 18, 2017 internationally through many music sharing websites.

The album was released by OVO Sound, Cash Money Records, and Young Money Entertainment. Drake described the album as a playlist.

There are a total of 22 songs on the album with a few different rappers featured on some songs. According to Spotify, “More Life” gained a total of 61.3 million streams in a single day.

Responses ranged from bad to good when several students were asked about the album and if it was over-hyped.

“I think the album did live up to the hype. The album overall was amazing. Most of the 22 songs were all fire. I am talking straight fire, too. It’s hard to put one song over another,” senior Jalen Milton said.

“‘Do Not Disturb’, ‘Passion Fruit’ and ‘4422’ were all the best songs. They are the best because he implements his more emotional side which gets you in your feelings while also adding some rap lyrics. It is a good balance,” Milton added.

“Drake’s album might’ve been his best album he’s put out so far. His lyrical greatness is a gift, and his album sounded more like a playlist because of the different genres he covered throughout,” junior Jaylin Andrews said.

“‘Since Way Back’ and ‘Teenage Fever’ were the songs I listened to for my emotional side because the songs have a sound that puts me in my feelings. ‘Gyalchester’, ‘Free Smoke’, ‘Can’t Have Everything’, and ‘Do Not Disturb’ are his rap songs which I enjoyed but not as much as the two emotional songs,” Andrews confessed.

“Drake’s recent album is possibly his greatest album he’s made. Each of his songs on the album flow into each other. People can listen to this full album the whole way through,” senior Logan McWilliams said.

Some people did not like the album and others were indifferent.

“I think “More Life” was okay. I just think the album got too hyped up and didn’t live up to its standards. I did like a couple songs on his album, but I personally think that he’s done better. I just didn’t like the beats and moods of the songs on this album,” senior Jordan Douglas said.

“More Life” was a disappointment because he tried to produce too many songs at one time. There are about four good songs on his album,” sophomore Noah Queen said, who was not in favor of the album.

Green Day Takes the Stage at the Verizon Center

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Green Day performed at the Verizon Center on March 13th, 2017, and I was lucky enough to see them.

Their performance started off with the song “Know Your Enemy” which is off of their 2009 album “21st Century Breakdown.” This song was a great opener, getting the crowd and the band pumped up.

The band then moved forward with two songs off of their new album, “Revolution Radio” (album), “Bang Bang”, and “Revolution Radio” (song). These two songs work perfectly together to introduce the audience to the new material while simultaneously pumping up the crowd even more.

The band then proceeded to play some hits off of their 2004 album “American Idiot.” These songs were “Holiday,” “Letterbomb,” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” really stood out to me among the set not only because it is one of my favorites by the band, but also because they played the first verse and chorus acoustically letting the audience sing.

The band then spent most of the rest of the show playing hits from the 90s such as: “Longview,” “When I Come Around,” “Basket Case,” and “She” with a couple of newer tracks riddled throughout.

Another standout moment of the concert was when the band brought up a 16-year-old girl to play guitar with the band to a cover of Operation Ivy’s song, “Knowledge.” After she finished the song, the band let her keep the guitar.

The band finished off the main set with two songs from their new album called “Still Breathing” and “Forever Now.”

“Still Breathing” is my personal favorite song from “Revolution Radio” and had the entire audience shouting along with Billie Joe Armstrong as he sang.

“Forever Now” is a six-minute long track that wasn’t my favorite when listening to the album; however, listening to it live was a completely different experience. Green Day pulled off the transitions into the different movements perfectly and really made me appreciate the epic song.

The band then came on for an encore and played “American Idiot” and fan favorite “Jesus of Suburbia.” “American Idiot” was awesome, but “Jesus of Suburbia” was unreal.

“Jesus of Suburbia” is a nine-minute long song with five different movements that the band transitions through perfectly. The only way I can do this song justice is to tell you to find a live performance on YouTube and you will get half of the experience I had seeing it live.

Armstrong then came out with an acoustic guitar and played the songs “Ordinary World” off of Revolution Radio and “Good Riddance (time of your life)” off of 1997’s “Nimrod.”

“Good Riddance” happens to be my favorite song and is always the last song at a Green Day concert. The experience I had watching my favorite band play my favorite song will probably not be matched ever again.

The concert was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I recommend that if you are into rock music, it is a must to go see this band perform because it is something special.