Best of FanRag Sports: May 20


Every morning we collect the most entertaining, intriguing and informative stories from around the FanRag Sports network and bring them to you all in one place. Here you can find the top NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA and fight-sport stories of the day prior to get caught up on the news you need to know before starting your day.

Today’s edition features two different ways to build MLB teams, the introduction of a new hockey league and a fight to crown a new undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion.

Sit back, relax and take a look back at an exciting day in the world of sports. Here is the best of the best courtesy of FanRag Sports.


Today’s Knuckleball

MLB: OCT 25 Cubs Name Theo Epstein President of Baseball Operations

The Cubs, Padres and Two Ways of Rebuilding

The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres are in the midst of a three-game series in San Diego. Each team has had relative success early in the 2015 season, but their paths to get there have been very different.

Chicago has slowly built their team under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer with youth, either through the draft or via savvy trades. San Diego improved its roster seemingly overnight with big trades that brought MLB-ready pieces in right away.

Which way is the best way to succeed? The answer is not yet known. But, Knuckleball’s Kevin Michell breaks down all the additions and subtractions the two teams have made and looks at where the franchises stand now and going forward. The next few seasons will dictate whose path back to the postseason is ultimately more successful.


Today’s Slapshot


NWHL Boston Pride Free Agents ‘Shaking The Rust Off’

A great new feature over at Today’s Slapshot is their coverage of the inaugural National Women’s Hockey League season. There are four teams in the league (Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale) and each one is covered.

Slapshot’s Kate Cimini traveled to the first day of free agency training camp for the Pride and reported on the women attempting to make the team. Cimini talks to personnel and potential players as they gear up for the season ahead. There are challenges not only for the women hoping to continue their playing careers after college, but for the clubs as well.

Follow Today’s Slapshot for continuing coverage of this new league as it attempts to change the landscape of women’s hockey in the United States.


Today’s Fastbreak

NBA: APR 15 Spurs at Pelicans

An Ode to Monty Williams the Man

Did Monty Williams get a raw deal in New Orleans? Fastbreak’s Andrew Ford says no, but that does not mean he did a poor job as head coach of the Pelicans.

He exceeded expectations last season, leading New Orleans into the postseason before getting run over by the Golden State Warriors. He improved the team’s record every season but one. The Pelicans fed off his energy and leadership. He remained a genuinely nice person even after his firing. Ford believes those qualities need to be remembered.

However, Ford points out confusing rotation decisions, poor play calling and bad defense that ultimately led to his coaching demise. The Pelicans will move on without him, hoping for more on-court progress.


Today’s Pigskin

NFL: NOV 23 Cowboys at Giants

New York Giants’ Defensive Line Has ‘Giant’ Shoes to Fill

Quality defensive line play has been a staple of the New York Giants for the better part of the past decade. Players like Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and others have led the Giants to Super Bowl victories by making the opposing quarterback’s life miserable.

However, since New York’s last Super Bowl victory in 2012, the playoffs have eluded them and poor play from the front-four is a big reason why. With Steve Spagnuolo back as the team’s defensive coordinator and Jason Pierre-Paul retuning for another year, the Giants are poised for a flashback performance.

Pigskin’s Billy Nayden sees the Giants rotating defensive ends Robert Ayers, George Selvie and Damontre Moore opposite of Pierre-Paul in an effort to free up the Pro Bowler. Third-round draft pick Owamagbe Odighizuwa may make an impact in limited snaps as well. Either way, the Giants may be poised for a return to defensive greatness.


Today’s Knockout

MMA: SEP 10 Strkeforce Grand Prix Semi Finals

Ready to Rumble – Why DC Wins at UFC 187

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Daniel Cormier will meet at UFC 187 on Saturday in a light heavyweight title fight. While Johnson’s knockout ability is a very valuable asset, Cormier has more experience to lean on if he can survive the early onslaught.

Knockout’s Jordy McElroy believes Cormier can avoid an early knockout and wear Johnson down as the fight drags on. There is little doubt about which fighter has the better knockout punch, but unless Johnson can dictate the fight from start to finish, he may be in trouble.

When evaluating skill sets, McElroy says Cormier is the superior fighter and will use his boxing and wrestling skills to coast to victory by unanimous decision. For the first time in four years, there will be a new undisputed light heavyweight champion.


Today’s U

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 29 Minnesota at Wisconsin

Wisconsin Run Game in Good Hands with Corey Clement

It’s not easy being a Wisconsin Badgers running back. There is a ton of tradition and subsequently a ton of expectation for whomever dons Badgers red. Alan Ameche, Ron Dayne, Montee Ball and most recently Melvin Gordon are just a few of the dominant backs that slashed and sprinted across the field at Camp Randall Stadium.

Corey Clement, a junior from New Jersey, will become the latest running back to carry the load for Wisconsin, and according to U’s Kyle Kensing, the program will be in good hands.

Clement has nearly 1,000 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 147 carries working as Gordon’s backup. With MGIII in San Diego with the Chargers, Clement upgrades from change-of-pace duty to full-time starter. Kensing believes the 20-year-old will not only be successful, but will live up to the expectations set by Badgers past.



NHL: NOV 11 Lightning at Blackhawks

Breaking Down Potential Stanley Cup Matchups

Only four teams remain in the tournament to crown the 2015 Stanley Cup champions. The New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are battling it out to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

There are four possible final matchups. Luke Lapinski breaks down each matchup and compares how the four teams fared against each other in the regular season to the way they have been playing lately. Success earlier in the season may not translate to success now.

While it may seem obvious that the final four teams in the NHL playoffs had successful seasons, a closer look reveals a pattern of past success for three of the remaining teams. The Rangers won the Eastern Conference last season, the Blackhawks have won it all twice since 2010 and the Anaheim Ducks have won their division three consecutive seasons.

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