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Schwarber, Starting Staff, And The Status Of The System

Not long ago, the Nationals’ offense was starving for production from anyone other than Trea Turner and Juan Soto. The pro-Max Scherzer trade crowd was also gaining some legitimacy, and even the minor league system was barely treading water – providing no contingency plans for big league ballplayers that seemed to keep getting injured.

The season was slowly slipping away from them.

But all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, Washington starting winning games left and right – 12 of their last 15, to be precise. In a lot of ways, it makes no sense, but in others, it’s exactly like it always goes: predictably unpredictable.

Clearly, the Nationals have transformed themselves into a different team recently. Is it sustainable, though?

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It Wouldn't Be Impossible. But It Would Require Perfection

The recent proposed move to 12 teams in the College Football Playoff has provisions to ensure at least one “group of five” team makes it into the field each season.

So with that in mind, what would it take for Old Dominion to claim that spot?

In short, it would take perfection, but it is possible. Berths are proposed to go to the top six highest-ranked conference champions, assumably in most seasons, the SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, PAC-12, and ACC champs otherwise known as the “Power Five” conferences. The sixth would go to a “Group of Five” conference champ, either Conference USA, Sun Belt, American, Mountain West, or Mid-American Conference.

The move to a 12-team playoff is not official yet, but it is the first step in the conversations. The intention appears to be a playoff with 12 teams sooner rather than later, with it happening in 2022 at the earliest. 

With ODU in Conference USA, the first thing the Monarchs would need to do to obtain an automatic bid, or for that matter, an “at-large” bid, is win their conference. That alone may not be enough, as an 8-5 C-USA champ would never make it in. There would almost certainly be another G5 conference with a stronger record, so it’s not that simple.

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Dean Kremer Facing A Crossroad In His Career With Orioles

Two years from now, Dean Kremer will know a lot about real estate.

One way or the other.

The Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect found himself back on a flight to Norfolk for the second time this season Friday, fresh off the worst start of his major league career. Thursday night, Kremer retired just one batter, walking five and allowing two hits en route to six earned runs. Kremer’s bags were probably packed before he went to bed that night.

Putting it mildly, Kremer has been bad this season. After four starts in 2020, Kremer holds a 7.25 ERA through 49.2 innings in 2021. Conventional wisdom was that Kremer was turning a corner after consecutive solid outings when he returned to Baltimore on June 14. Instead, it looks like Kremer is in dire need of some pitching help.

He’ll get the help he needs at Triple-A Norfolk, but whether he heeds it or not is up to him. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out of the league selling real estate before he turns 30. If he does, he’ll remember that like real estate, pitching is about location, location, location.

Why is it all about location for Kremer? His stuff is actually quite good. Kremer’s velocity is a bit below league average in 2021, but his movement is well above average. His fastball, changeup and cutter/slider are above league average in both vertical and horizontal movement, while his curveball is well above the league average in vertical movement.

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Morrison, Mosley Emerge As Candidates For Wizards HC

So far, four NBA teams have hired a new head coach since their seasons ended.

The Washington Wizards, on the other hand, have been fairly quiet since moving on from Scott Brooks.

That was true until Friday. With Ime Udoka, Rick Carlisle, Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups – all of whom were among my initial candidates for the job in Washington – each agreeing to terms as head coaches with other teams, the Wizards have reportedly ramped up their search. Scott Morrison of the Boston Celtics has interviewed with Washington (first reported by Peter Yannopoulos of Réseau des sports in Canada), and Jamahl Mosley (pictured at right) of the Dallas Mavericks has also received an interview request (per Marc Stein of The New York Times).

As recently as Wednesday, Sports Betting Dime viewed Sam Cassell, Wes Unseld Jr. and Kenny Atkinson as the frontrunners for the Wizards.

Interestingly, their odds closely resemble my initial predictions. Their top four were my finalists, and the only coach they included that I did not was Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, a heavy long shot for the job.

This, however, was prior to the release of the news regarding Morrison and Mosley. It’s not entirely clear how seriously they are being considered, but the fact that they have received interviews should not be cast aside.

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To No One's Surprise, Keve Aluma Returns To Virginia Tech

Two days after Virginia Tech dropped a big hint that Keve Aluma would be returning by using his picture on a season ticket renewal graphic, Aluma himself made it official.

Today on Twitter, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer last season posted a picture of the back of his jersey along with the words “Round 2….Let’s run it back.”

Aluma had entered the NBA draft back in April, but did it in such a way where he preserved his eligibility at Virginia Tech so he could come back. It seemed apparent that Aluma wanted to see where he stood in regards to making it to the next level, and if he fell short, wanted to see the areas he needed to work on if he tried again next year.

That’s pretty much what happened, as he was one of 40 invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, which was held last weekend in Chicago. While he did well enough to be invited to that event, he was not chosen to join the prospects who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which is where the elite prospects worked out for NBA scouts.

Seeing that, Aluma realized his chances of going undrafted were a distinct possibility, and also saw where he needed to improve his game.

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UVA Ace Abbott Has Had An Unusual Group Of Followers

Andrew Abbott has had an unusual group of followers as his Virginia baseball career comes to a close in the College World Series.

Abbott, a left-handed All-American pitcher who has been the ace of the Cavaliers' staff, is remembered by high-school rivals who competed against him in another setting.

"He swam at the South Boston YMCA and I know he swam all four years in high school," said Tyler Smith, a graduate of Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.

"I did swimming and then cycling, and he did swimming and travel baseball. The best I knew him was when we were in middle schools."

Abbott's mother, Jeannette, coached the South Boston YMCA Sea Serpents. of which Andrew was a member.

Smith is a graduate of Virginia Tech who happened to stop by the Hokies' baseball game with visiting UVa earlier this spring.

"It was curiosity," Smith said. "I recognized him when I was on the mound. He did not know I was there. I wish I'd kept better touch with him but I didn't."

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Max Scherzer Gives Joe Girardi The Treatment He Deserves

Tuesday night was a fun sports night.

Besides the Orioles blowing another decent pitching performance from Jorge Lopez, there was a lot going on that caught my attention, and all of these topics relate in some way to Washington D.C. sports teams: 

Girardi Makes A Mockery of Baseball, Gets Mocked by Scherzer

At first, all I saw was Nationals star Max Scherzer mocking the hell out of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, which would amuse me in any situation as it is.

But once I found it was after Girardi had Scherzer checked three times for banned sticky substances on the pitching mound, it was even better.

Scherzer gave Girardi the treatment he deserved. If somebody accused me of cheating the game on three separate occasions, then I’d give them the death stare walking back to the mound as well. And for Girardi to take offense to it shows what kind of coward he is. If you’re going to wrongfully accuse someone three separate times of cheating, own it and sit down when you’re wrong.

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Virginia Tech Football Gets 6 Commitments In Last 7 Days

Anytime a school gets a handful of commitments in a single week, you should set aside some time to figure out who the newbies are.

Virginia Tech has added six separate commitments in the last seven days — running back Bryce Duke, offensive linemen Johnny Garrett and Jakson LaHue, tight end Matt Hoffman, defensive back Malcolm Jones and athlete Xavier Simmons.

Let’s take a moment to parse through each of these six commitments…

Running back Bryce Duke (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) — Leesburg, Va.

Duke - who played for Tuscarora here in Loudoun County - committed to Tech on Tuesday, giving the Hokies their first tailback in this cycle. He’s got average size and rates as a middle-of-the-road three-star prospect. 247Sports puts him 23rd in Virginia’s 2022 class.

Virginia Tech didn’t face stiff competition for Duke. Rutgers and Duke are his only other Power 5 offers, though the northern Virginia native also holds offers from App State, Cincinnati and Old Dominion.

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This Seems To Be A Huge Clue About Aluma's Return

If you were wondering if Keve Aluma was coming back this season to play basketball at Virginia Tech, the Hokies might have offered a pretty big clue in its push for season ticket renewals.

Aluma back in April entered his name on the list for the 2021 NBA Draft while still maintaining his eligibility as a Hokie. He said he was exploring his options, while still leaving open the possibility of coming back to play in Blacksburg another year.

Aluma was the team’s leading scorer (15.2 points per game) and rebounder (7.9 rebounds per game) while earning second-team All-ACC honors. His return would certainly be great news for the Hokies in Coach Mike Young's third season at Virginia Tech.

There has been no definitive announcement that Aluma is definitely coming back for the 2021-2022 season, but a person who I trust (who seems to know these kinds of things in Blacksburg) told me several weeks ago he would definitely be back. That’s all well and good, but I’ve seen many a situation where someone was definitely coming back…until they weren’t.

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Have the Nationals Rediscovered the Magic?

After we’ve all experienced a global pandemic, this year is undeniably much different than 2019. However, things on the baseball diamond are beginning to look much like they did two years ago for the Washington Nationals.

Following a series-opening loss to the San Francisco Giants on June 11, the Nationals found themselves sitting nine games below .500. Stephen Strasburg was on the IL, Max Scherzer and Daniel Hudson had suffered injuries and were also heading to the IL, and the Nationals appeared to have a very difficult road ahead of them.

Miraculously, Washington won eight of its next 10 games, its starting rotation looked like one of the best in the league, and they began to add reinforcements to their roster.

Much like 2019, it’s difficult to understand exactly what sparked this turnaround, but with players suddenly firing on all cylinders, the future looks much brighter than it did less than two weeks ago.

The Pitchers Are Performing

Erick Fedde hasn’t allowed a run since Scherzer went down. In fact, dating back to mid-May, Fedde has thrown 20 consecutive scoreless innings. He’s lowered his ERA to 3.33, and it’s as low as 2.54 if you exclude his first start of the season.

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Orioles Fans Need To Be Patient For Only A Little Longer

Patience is a virtue...for a reason.

Not many people have it, and for those that do, they often can’t hold onto it for very long. Most, in fact, can only put up with something for so long before they’re ready for things to get better. 

For Baltimore Orioles fans, however, it's looking like you need to be patient for only a little while longer. The Orioles' cavalry is en route.

Baltimore fans have plenty of reasons to eschew their patience — the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 and since 2018, when the club won an abysmal 47 games, the O’s have been one of the worst clubs in baseball. The poor hitting, revolving door in the starting rotation and consistent losing has grown tiresome.

The constant losing has led some to question the rebuild stewarded by Mike Elias. Grumblings about the future of Brandon Hyde’s managerial tenure in Baltimore are growing louder. But rather than talk about whether or not Hyde should keep his job — frankly, it doesn’t matter all that much as everyone knows Hyde won’t be the manager during this club’s potential competitive window — let me direct your attention to the Orioles’ minor league system, specifically Double-A Bowie.

Bowie is a gold mine of Orioles’ talent at the moment. Six of the O’s top 30 prospects are assigned to Bowie. The most notable among them being Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez.

It’s hard to not imagine them leading a stretch of winning baseball. Rutschman is justifying the hype this season, slashing .293/.430/.531 with 10 homers in just 40 games. Despite missing almost an entire season of minor league ball, Rutschman looks to be on track in his development.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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