At the beginning of the NBA season, many people and also players were really convinced that this year’s NBA season was not going to have an All-Star Game due to Covid-19 and the restrictions. The NBA had even mentioned at the beginning of the season that there was no interest in having an All-Star Game. A lot of players felt that the whole point of the All-Star Weekend is for it to be a very entertaining weekend with a sold out arena and fans seeing the best players in the world go at it. However, with Covid-19 there would be only a very limited number of fans that would be able to attend the event, which kind of defeats the purpose of All-Star Weekend.
Furthermore, teams like the Lakers and Heat–who were the last two teams standing in the bubble–felt that they deserved that little break and should not have to play in an extra game. Even after all that, the NBA decided to have an All-Star Game anyways. Players like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and De’Aaron Fox shared their thoughts on the NBA deciding after all to have one, and they did not like the idea of it.
LeBron James claimed that the All-Star Game being confirmed was, “A slap in the face.” Giannis also had something to say, which was, “I don’t care about the All-Star Game.” And De’Aaron Fox also shared his thoughts saying, “To be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid.”
Still, all that passed by, and NBA All-Star Weekend was finally happening. This year’s All-Star Weekend was very entertaining as it mostly always is, however it wasn’t the usual weekend that fans were used to. There were some big changes into how the schedule would be. This time it wasn’t an actual whole weekend where each day had different events, like the celebrity game, the rising stars game, the dunk contest, the 3-point contest, the skills competition, and then the actual All-Star Game. This year they did not do the celebrity game or the rising stars game, but they did do the 3-point contest, dunk contest, and skills competition.
They decided to do it all in one day though this time, with the skills competition and the 3-point contest being before the game, and the dunk contest being held during halftime. The winners for each event were, Domantas Sabonis for the skills competition, Steph Curry for the 3-point contest, and Anfernee Simons for the dunk contest.
Lastly was the All-Star Game itself. It was Team LeBron vs Team Durant. Team LeBron’s players were Giannis, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic for the starting five. Team Lebron’s reserves were Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, and Ben Simmons. Team Durant’s starting lineup did not include himself due to injury, but his starting lineup was Bradley Beal, Joel Embid, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Jayson Tatum. His reserves were Devin Booker, James Harden, Zach Lavine, Donovan Mitchell, Julias Randle, Nikola Vucevic, and Zion Williamson.
The game went pretty well, and it was very entertaining watching Steph Curry and Damian Lillard drain threes from all over the place. Team LeBron ended up dominating and winning by a score of 170-150. Giannis Antetokounmpo won All-Star game MVP, finishing with 35 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds, and shooting a perfect 16 for 16.
Friday, March 13, 2020. Does that date sound familiar to you, California? That was the date everything changed: the whole state, and most of the country, shut down.
We didn’t know it then, but that would be the last day any of us students–any of us athletes– would step on campus that year.
This shutdown is tough on everyone, but it is especially tough on the athletes like me who have been anxiously waiting to get back together with our team, back to our second families.
An athlete all throughout high school, I played both volleyball and basketball. And like most student athletes, I dreamt of senior year. I looked forward to being a senior and playing ball with my teammates.
Early on, I made a promise to myself that in my senior year, one of my teams–or hopefully both– would go to CIF.
We almost achieved that dream last year during my junior year. Both my volleyball team and my basketball team came close. We were one volleyball game and one basketball game away from going to CIF. But we didn’t make it. My teammates and I were devastated, but we told ourselves 2021 was going to be our year.
But COVID shattered that dream too.
Flashforward a year later to March of 2021, and we are FINALLY getting a chance to be back on campus and back with our teams!
Personally, I am so happy! But I am not the only one.
“How do you feel to be back with your team and to be playing football again?” I asked Senior football player Anthony Lira.
“It’s an amazing feeling just simply because I’m able to come back and be reunited with my teammates after a long year of being under quarantine in the whole pandemic. It’s just uplifting and brings back so much spirit to each player.”
-JGHS Football Captain Anthony Lira
Sports bring so much passion to high school campuses and allow students to build lasting relationships.
We know our teammates are there for us during the blood, sweat, and tears of everyday practice and the wins or losses of every game too.
I am excited to be back, and I am anxious to see how the season goes for all of the sports teams this year.
We are in the fourth quarter; we are down 3 out of 4; but the game is not over. We are in this ‘til the end!
So, in what are sure to be guesses that look completely foolish in six months, it’s prediction time!
2021 Standings Prediction
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2. San Diego Padres 3. San Francisco Giants 4. Arizona Diamondbacks 5. Colorado Rockies
1. St. Louis Cardinals 2. Milwaukee Brewers 3. Chicago Cubs 4. Cincinnati Reds 5. Pittsburgh Pirates
1. Atlanta Braves 2. New York Mets 3. Washington Nationals 4. Philadelphia Phillies 5. Miami Marlins
1. Houston Astros 2. Los Angeles Angels 3. Oakland Athletics 4. Seattle Mariners 5. Texas Rangers
1. Chicago White Sox 2. Minnesota Twins 3. Cleveland Indians 4. Kansas City Royals 5. Detroit Tigers
1. New York Yankees 2. Toronto Blue Jays 3. Tampa Bay Rays 4. Boston Red Sox 5. Baltimore Orioles
NL MVP: Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom (Mets)
NL ROY: Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates)
AL MVP: Mike Trout (Angels)
AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole (Yankees)
AL ROY: Casey Mize (Tigers)
NL Wild Card Teams: Padres and Mets
NL Pennant Winner: L.A. Dodgers
AL Wild Card Teams: Twins and Blue Jays
AL Pennant Winner: Yankees
World Champion: Dodgers
The Dodgers and Yankees will meet in the World Series for the 12th time overall, and for the first time since 1981. Throughout their storied rivalry, the Yankees have beaten the Dodgers in 8 of 11 contests between 1941 and 1981, with the only Dodger victories coming in 1955 (Brooklyn’s only championship), a Koufaxian sweep in 1963, and a 1981 title led by Fernandomania. This time, exactly 40 years since they last met in October, the Dodgers will prevail again, becoming the first MLB champs to repeat since the Yankees did it from 1998-2000.
There are my fearless predictions. I’ll be sure to check back in with you in October to let you know how wrong I was; but, in the meantime, enjoy the return of baseball!
23-year-old welterweight boxer and rising star Vergil Ortiz, Jr. now has a perfect record of 17-0 with 17 knockouts, to go with his WBO International welterweight title, after his most recent victory on March 20 against Maurice Hooker in Fort Worth, Texas.
The fight went on until the 7th round. Throughout the fight, Ortiz landed more punches than Hooker did, and both fighters showed off their speed and endurance. Ortiz very much wanted to go the 12-round distance with Maurice Hooker. However, in the 7th round, Hooker took a knee as a result of an injury. Hooker said he twisted his hand as he was trying to get a punch in. The fight came to an abrupt end on a TKO on account of Hooker’s injury, and Ortiz kept his undefeated streak going.
After losing the boxing match against Ortiz, Hooker commented on his opponent’s skills and power inside the ring by saying that he believed Ortiz, Jr. is soon to become a champion in the boxing world.
It’s been a lifelong journey for Vergil Ortiz, Jr. At the age of 5, Ortiz began training with his father to become a boxer. Raised in Grand Prairie, Texas by his Mexican parents, he started boxing competitively at 8 years old and quickly surpassed his competitors in the ring.
As an amateur boxer, Ortiz had an impressive record, and his talent was quickly recognized by the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De la Hoya. In 2016, Vergil Ortiz signed with Golden Boy. Ortiz made his professional debut on July 30, 2016. Since his professional career took off, Ortiz has beaten every single one of his opponents by way of knockout.
Ortiz never even boxed beyond the 6th round until during a fight against Samuel Vargas on July 24, 2020. During the first few rounds, Ortiz used jabs with impressive accuracy. Throughout the fight, Ortiz was keeping Vargas at bay with his jabs. In the first round, Ortiz showed how effective he could be at finding new angles in the ring. He was able to get Vargas into a vulnerable position that left him exposed to Ortiz’s body shots. The fight came to a stop after Vargas received several hits to the body and head.
Vergil Ortiz, Jr.’s record speaks for itself in and out of the ring. He is an intelligent and effective boxer. His level of discipline and determination is inspiring and proves that he is deserving of better opponents.
Sometimes, when you start by taking even the smallest step, life has a way of reminding you that things are going to be okay if you just keep going.
Walking into John Glenn High School Stadium on Friday, March 26 was not only a return to a place that had not held a football game since October 18, 2019, it was also a return to a rare, official, in-person school event during the time of the Covid virus. As we enter the tail-end of this once-in-a-century pandemic, a small crowd of dedicated students, athletes, cheerleaders, alumni, parents, teachers, and staff, showed up to cheer on the Eagles in their 605-League contest against the Cerritos Dons.
Even the security guards and administrators greeted guests at the gates with smiling eyes, voices muffled behind their masks and agreeing that, “It’s so nice to see you again.” Fans politely clapped and cheered, proud of their Eagles for showing up and doing their best for new head coach, Mr. David Cruz.
By all accounts, everything went smoothly. People cooperated by wearing masks, keeping socially distant from others, and coming in and out of the stadium with orderly understanding. There were no major injuries to report, players were largely respectful, and everybody in attendance got to experience an honest-to-goodness football game under Friday night lights on a beautiful spring evening. What more can you ask?
The results of the game are secondary to the uniqueness of the event. It doesn’t really matter that the visiting Dons ran roughshod over the Eagles young defense, rushing for six touchdowns by halftime. The powerful Cerritos attack was led by junior running back Connor DeFrain, whose 2 touchdowns matched starting quarterback David Sagun for the team lead. By the time it was over, the scoreboard read that the visitors won by a final score of 56-0.
With only six seniors on the roster–led by quarterback Matthew Huxtable, wide receiver Rafael Valdez, and team captain Anthony Lira–this young Eagles team has a long way to go to reclaim the glory of 605-League Championships and CIF Playoff appearances.
But, in the end, the important part is that they took that important first step. Didn’t we all?
It’s that time of year again, baseball fans, where we hear those four beautiful words that officially signal the arrival of spring: “Pitchers and catchers report.” Yes, spring training camps in Arizona and Florida are open, and Major League Baseball is set to return for the 2021 season.
Let’s check in on the offseason moves for our local teams, and preview the 2021 season.
The 2020 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers (did I ever mention they are the World Champions?!) spent much of the offseason quietly celebrating and saying goodbye to several free agents. But just before spring training camp opened, they made a February splash by signing ace Trevor Bauer and bringing back third baseman and clubhouse leader Justin Turner.
All winter long, Turner and the Dodgers were at a stalemate, with Turner reportedly seeking a 4-year deal and the Dodgers not willing to go that long for the 36-year-old. Teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays were rumored to have shown interest, but Turner finally signed a two-year, $34 million contract to stay in L.A. (with a $16M club option for 2023).
With just days left in the offseason, Turner decided to stay home, where he has steadily played the hot corner and provided a clutch veteran bat since 2014. At a press conference on February 19 Turner shared his relief, saying, “At the end of the day it all worked out like it was supposed to, and I’m back in Dodger blue like I was supposed to be.” He figures to continue to slot into the #3 spot in the lineup and play steady defense.
The lack of clarity on the universal DH throughout MLB was casting doubts on Turner staying with the Dodgers in the National League, but in the end, they decided his veteran leadership was too valuable. His .886 OPS as a Dodger puts him in the franchise’s all-time top 10, next to Hall of Famers like Mike Piazza and Duke Snider. Turner is also a clutch postseason player–he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40), and RBI (41).
Before bringing back Turner, the Dodgers said goodbye to several key pieces. Most notably, utility man Kiké Hernandez signed with the Red Sox, and outfielder Joc Pederson moved on to Chicago to play for the Cubs. Relievers Pedro Baez (Astros), Alex Wood and Jake McGee (both now on the Giants) also departed.
Speaking of “goodbye,” the Dodgers also mourned the loss of two Hall of Famers — manager Tommy Lasorda and pitcher Don Sutton. The team will wear #2 and #20 patches to honor both legends throughout the 2021 season.
Despite those notable losses, the Dodgers are still one of the best teams in baseball and didn’t need to re-tool the roster too much. While the San Diego Padres vastly improved by adding starting pitching galore (trading for two aces in Yu Darvish and Blake Snell), the Dodgers locked up reigning Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to a unique short-term deal that makes him the highest paid player in baseball. Despite several often-controversial tweets and social media blunders, the polarizing Bauer remained the top pitcher on the market. The Dodgers came out ahead, beating out the New York Mets at the last minute by giving the L.A. native a deal for three years and $102 million, which includes opt-outs after each of the first two seasons.
By adding Bauer, along with the return of veteran David Price (acquired in last year’s trade with Boston that brought in Mookie Betts), the Dodgers have a rotation that is at least seven-deep in quality arms, probably lining up in this way in 2021:
Julio Urias/Dustin May/Tony Gonsolin
Because of their depth, at least two of Urias, May, and Gonsolin will move to the bullpen, which allowed the Dodgers to trade two veteran relievers in Adam Kolarek and Dylan Floro for minor league depth on February 12.
In addition to the excess starters, the bullpen should line up with mostly familiar faces:
Scott Alexander (LHP)
Victor Gonzalez (LHP)
*Acquired via trade from MIL on 12/2/20
On the position player side, the Dodgers return a strong core led by Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger (who is coming off winter shoulder surgery). While their depth took a hit by losing Pederson and Hernandez, the starting lineup remains about the same as their Championship team from 2020:
Mookie Betts – RF
Corey Seager – SS
Justin Turner – 3B
Max Muncy – 1B
Cody Bellinger – CF
Will Smith – C
AJ Pollock – LF
Gavin Lux – 2B
Bench pieces and platoon players include Edwin Rios, Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry (who hopes to take the role as the new super-utility player following the departure of Hernandez).
The future looks bright for the Dodgers, too, as top prospects like Keibert Ruiz (C), Josiah Gray (RHP), and Mitch White (RHP), join DJ Peters (OF), and the recently acquired Sheldon Neuse (IF) waiting in the wings.
It’s a two-team race in the division as the Giants and Diamondbacks are still rebuilding and the Rockies are basically tanking after trading star 3B Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals. Despite a strong offseason from the Padres, manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers should find themselves winning the NL West for the 9th consecutive season in 2021 and competing for back-to-back championships.
After another disappointing season, the Angels had an opportunity to take advantage of a weakened AL West, where the trashcan-banging Houston Astros are lessened by the departures of George Springer and Josh Reddick, as well as several key bullpen arms. Furthermore, ace Justin Verlander will be out the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. The Oakland A’s lost both Marcus Semien and former Angel Tommy LaStella to free agency, as well as star closer Liam Hendricks. The Rangers and Mariners did not make any notable moves to improve and will likely struggle to be .500 ball clubs.
They never appeared to really be in the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, and they also do not have the prospect depth to make a trade for the starting pitching they still desperately need (if you’ve heard this before, it’s because this has been the problem for the Angels for several years, now).
The Angels added veteran starters Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb to join Andrew Heaney and last year’s standout Dylan Bundy. Still, the Angels lack a front-line starter, and they may have to constantly try and out-slug their opponents in order to help the pitching staff. Angels starting pitchers combined to post the second-worst ERA in the Majors in 2020.
The 2021 rotation will likely line up this way:
Ohtani, the sensational two-way player from Japan, may be limited on the mound, again, as injuries caused him to throw just 1.2 innings in 2020. The Angels may not be expecting much from Ohtani, but they could go to a 6-man rotation if he is healthy.
They are hoping that these key additions will help stabilize a bullpen that blew an MLB-worst 14 saves in the shortened 2020 season.
The 2021 Angels bullpen looks to feature:
Alex Claudio (LHP)
On the other side, the Angels return a very powerful lineup, led by two of the top players in baseball: Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
Albert Pujols will likely play the final season of his Hall-of-Fame career, and the last season of his massive 10-year/$240 million deal with the Angels. However, they have lost Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Minnesota Twins in free agency and their depth and farm system remains thin.
Replacing Simmons is veteran SS Jose Iglesias, acquired in a trade with Baltimore in December. The 31-year-old hit an eye-popping .373/.400/.556 in 2020, albeit in limited action at just 39 games. The Angels also added to their bench with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki and outfielders John Jay and Juan Legares, while trading for Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler. The 2021 lineup is expected to look like this from manager Joe Maddon:
David Fletcher – 2B
Jared Walsh – 1B
Mike Trout – CF
Anthony Rendon – 3B
Justin Upton – LF
Shohei Ohtani – DH
Dexter Fowler – RF
Jose Iglesias – SS
Max Stassi – C
Bench players and depth pieces include Jo Adell, Taylor Ward, Franklin Barreto, & Luis Rengifo, along with Pujols, Suzuki, Legares, and Jay.
Overall, the Angels may not have made any big splashes over the winter, but in a weakened AL West and a top tandem of Trout and Rendon, who knows? They could stay in contention and become a fringe playoff team, hoping to play meaningful October games for the first time since 2014.
That wraps up our local MLB offseason review, as we look forward to a full 162-game season in 2021. With spring training opening and allowing a limited number of fans in Arizona’s Cactus League stadiums during exhibition season, here’s hoping baseball fans can also sit in Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium for regular season games very soon.
The CIF organization made two important announcements about the future of high school sports in the 2020-2021 school year. On January 19, 2021, they announced that fall sports will no longer have a playoffs. This will give these sports a larger window to have a regular season, meaning the likelihood of playing more games overall but also having no postseason to look forward to. Instead, student-athletes will have to wait ideally for the possibility of playing this year, as it is still each individual district’s decision if sports will resume at their schools.
Just two days later, on January 21, CIF released another document stating the regulations and guidelines for sports as their seasons approach and begin. The general consensus from these documents is that all athletes would be required to wear masks, benches will not switch sides, electronic whistles will be used by referees, and more health and safety protocols. All of these regulations are done to help reduce the spread and keep the athletes safe while still giving them the opportunity to compete.
*Note: COVID Regulations differ for each sport due to differences in rules and method of playing*
Dustin Poirier finally got his revenge, beating Connor McGregor in the big re-match during UFC 257, held on Jan 24, 2021.
The PPV event was shown on ESPN+ which is a separate subscription, and the PPV itself was $69.99. It had many exciting matches throughout the night, especially the main card. In the undercard fight, Dan Hooker squared up against Michael Chandler, who made his much-hyped UFC debut. Chandler’s debut couldn’t have gone any better, as he TKO’d his opponent in the first round in 2:31.
In the main event, Conor McGregor made his return once again after last fighting exactly a year before this event. This matchup had a lot of intensity because it was a rematch and Poirier wanted his revenge. The first time they fought, Connor knocked out Dustin in the first round and made it look easy.
This time it ended differently though–Poirier got his revenge, and knocked out McGregor in the second round. Poirier injured his opponent’s leg badly with leg kicks and forced McGregor’s defense to be exposed, catching him with a combination that left McGregor laying on the canvas. Now Connor’s dream at a shot with a Khabib rematch to get his redemption is most likely not going to happen anymore.
The 2020 NFL season is over, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl over last year’s champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Here is an overall recap of how the season went.
Before it even started, there was some doubt on whether or not the new season should even happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was confusion on how things would be scheduled around outbreaks, if it did happen, but they decided to just begin the new season anyways. In doing so, they had very strict health rules and protocols for the teams to follow. Every player had to keep getting tested over and over again every week. Only some teams allowed for there to be a limited number of fans in the stadium.
However, even with all the new rules and protocols players had to follow, there were still some players that would test positive. There were difficulties with teams schedules, and some of their games were postponed because of players testing positive. Even after all these problems the NFL was having, they still decided just to keep going. And even with all the protocols the teams had to follow, and with their not being able to be as much or any fans at all for some teams, it was still such an exciting and thrilling season, especially when the playoffs started.
Wild Card Round
The 3 NFC Wild Card games featured the Colts vs Bills, Rams vs Seahawks, and Buccaneers vs Washington. The Bills beat the Colts in a thrilling ball game, hanging on until the end and beating the Colts 27-24 for their first playoff victory since 1995. Shortly after the game, Colts quarterback Philip Rivers announced his retirement after just one season with Indianapolis. The Rams beat the Seahawks 30-20 even with their quarterback injury issues, while the Buccaneers beat Washington by a score of 31-23.
The following day were the 3 AFC Wild Card games which featured the Ravens vs Titans, Bears vs Saints, and Browns vs Steelers. The Ravens got their revenge in a heated matchup against the Titans and beat them by a score of 20-13. The Saints easily beat the Bears by a score of 21-9, and finally, the Browns pulled off a major upset, dominating the Steelers by beating them 48-37.
When the Divisional Round started, the 4 teams left from the NFC were now the Rams, Packers, Bucs, and #1 seed New Orleans Saints. The 4 teams left in the AFC were the Browns, Bills, Ravens, and top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs. The first game was between the Packers and the Rams. The Rams had a tough time because of the injuries suffered in their previous game against the Seahawks, and it didn’t help with one of their injured players being their best player–Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald. He struggled all game trying to get through the O-line and to Rodgers, so his impact on the game was minimal. The Packers beat L.A. easily by a score of 32-18. Within a couple of weeks after the Rams elimination, they traded quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford.
The next game was the Bills vs Ravens, and the Bills held the Ravens to only 3 points the whole game, winning by a score of 17-3; although, part of it had to do with Ravens QB Lamar Jackson getting injured and taken out of the game. The next day held the 2 top-seeded games of Browns vs Chiefs and Bucs vs Saints. The Chiefs beat the Browns in a close game by a score of 22-17. The Browns had a chance to win after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was knocked out with a concussion, but they couldn’t convert late.
The Bucs vs Saints game was after that, and it was a very exciting and nerve-wracking game for Bucs fans. Both times that the Bucs and the Saints met in the regular season, Drew Brees and the Saints dominated Brady’s Bucs both times. However, this time, when it counted, Tampa Bay ended up winning a close game, 30-20.
Next up were the Conference Championships, the last two teams standing from the AFC were the Chiefs and the Bills, and the last two teams from the NFC were the Packers and the Bucs. The Chiefs and Bills game started off close and competitive, but eventually the Chiefs pulled away and dominated the rest of the game and beat the Bills 38-24.
Now it was time for the very hyped-up matchup between the Bucs and the Packers, mostly between Tom Brady and 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers. Brady won the rivalry against Rodgers in a close game, which ended up being a 31-26 victory for the Bucs.
Super Bowl LV
Finally, this brought us to the last game of the season–Super Bowl 55. This year’s Super Bowl had a lot of quarterback hype to live up to: Brady vs Mahomes, which some people referred to it as GOAT vs Baby GOAT. There were high expectations from fans for this game, and most people expected it to go down to the wire and have a lot of intensity. Yet, that is totally the opposite of how it ended up going, as the Buccaneers dominated the whole game, and it was never even close. They held the Chiefs to only 3 field goals, which is crazy because this Chiefs team had never been shut down like that.
The final score was 31-9, and Tom Brady got his 7th ring–which is now more rings than any of the 32 NFL teams have. For Tampa Bay, this was their second Super Bowl victory, and their first since Super Bowl 37 when they defeated the Oakland Raiders in 2003.