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.
Last week the world lost one of most iconic athletes of all time. Argentine football legend Diego Maradona tragically passed away at the age of 60 on November 25th. Maradona’s longtime agent and Maradona’s spokesman both confirmed that he passed away just two weeks after a successful brain surgery and was released from a hospital in Buenos Aires.
A statement from the Argentina Football Association read: “The Argentina Football Association, through its President Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest pain at the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You’ll always be in our hearts.”
Argentina President Alberto Fernandez also confirmed three days of national mourning following the news. The Argentine government also confirmed that Maradona’s body will lie in state at the Casa Rosada government headquarters and that he will be given a state funeral. Additionally, the Argentine Professional Soccer League announced that the current First Division tournament will change its name to honor Maradona.
Many soccer stars paid their respect and gave tribute to Diego Maradona such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and many more. Maradona will always be remembered as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, from his flashy moves to his amazing goals. One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the “Hand of God” goal, came when the diminutive Maradona punched the ball into England’s net with his left hand during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals. He went on and led Argentina to it’s second World Cup title in history.
Maradona was touched by so many people around the world. Even the late, great Kobe Bryant had said before, “I love Maradona. When I was young in Italy, I used to always watch Maradona when he played for Napoli.” (Kobe spent seven years of his childhood in Italy.) In Italy, Maradona was untouchable, he helped the Italian side S.S.C Napoli win their two only league titles back-to-back, and he brought them back to relevance. The club has now renamed their stadium to Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Diego will always be remembered–he is not gone, he is immortal. The sports world will never forget the impact he brought to soccer and how he made so many people fall in love with it. From his days in Napoli to his days in Boca Juniors, Diego Maradona is one of the best soccer players to ever touch a soccer ball and will always be remembered for the legend he was and the amazing legacy he left behind.
On November 9, 2020, John Glenn High School volleyball returned to campus to start conditioning. Volleyball was one of the four sports set to return in November to hopefully have a season starting in December. These included football, volleyball, cross country, and cheerleading.
The school put in strict restrictions on athletic activity, such as maintaining 6-foot distance, temperature checks, grouping to contact trace anyone that gets sick, no carpooling, etc.
While these are adequate rules to hopefully prevent someone from getting sick, it does not assure anyone that they won’t get sick or even that students won’t go out with friends or family on the weekends. Also there are a bunch of teenage girls and guys working out together. How are 3 coaches going to be able to maintain that each student keeps their distance and keeps their mask on?
While many girls have signed to be able to return to these practices, so many more have decided not to go, which means that they do not agree with the school’s decision. I am one of these students. While at first I wanted to return to see my friends and escape my home, I could not bring myself to put my family and friends at risk. Having had my mom already get sick with COVID-19, how could I put them at risk as well as my teammates?
There just seems no way that this was actually going to work.
While I do understand why schools want to start athletics, do they understand the risk that they are putting their students in just by asking them to go back onto campus? The reasons people have been getting sick with COVID-19 is by simply coming into contact with someone who is sick, and the risk of this is that some people are asymptomatic (don’t show any symptoms of Covid), which is why COVID-19 is such a dangerous disease.
Aside from this decision about sports, the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District has still not yet decided if students will have to return to campus for the second semester. From what I’ve gathered, many students and families are worried about returning. Maybe, just like gathering for athletics, it is not going to work right now.
The Los Angeles Rams improved to 9-4 with a big 24-3 win over the New England Patriots. They are currently tied with the Seattle Seahawks for 1st place in the NFC West, although they hold the tiebreaker and are, more importantly, the #3 seed in the NFC, almost ready to clinch a playoff berth.
Remaining Schedule:vs NYJ on 12/20; at SEA on 12/27; vs ARI on 1/3
The Los Angeles Chargers continue to nose dive, sitting at a dismal 4-9, in last place in the AFC West, and have officially been eliminated from the postseason. They did come up with a last-second game-winning field goal in week 14 to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 20-17–one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season.
Remaining Schedule: at LV on 12/17; vs DEN on 12/27; at KC on 1/3
The Las Vegas Raiders have been in a free fall since we last checked in. In Week 14, their defense was nowhere to be found, as they dropped a home game to the Indianapolis Colts 44-27. Since their big win over the Denver Broncos in Week 10, the Raiders have now lost 3 of 4 (and the one win was a last second miracle to beat the lowly New York Jets). The Raiders now sit at 7-6, and find themselves fighting for their playoff lives on the outside looking in–if the season ended today, they would be the #9 seed in the AFC and miss the playoffs altogether.
Remaining Schedule: vs LAC on 12/17; vs MIA on 12/26; at DEN 1/3
Are you rooting for the current number 1 team in the NFL? Well, I’m just asking… because I KNOW I AM! Go Steelers!
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only undefeated team in the NFL through week 12 with an 11-0 record. Sadly, they now find themselves on a two-game losing streak, losing to Washington on December 7 by a score of 23-17, followed by a 26-15 loss to the Buffalo Bills during Sunday Night Football in Week 14.
The Steelers, who have already clinched a playoff berth (pictured, from NFL.com), now have a record of 11-2, dropping to the #2 seed in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs and just ahead of the 10-3 Bills.
The teams that Pittsburgh has defeated include the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens (twice), Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A lot of those games were close, but the Steelers were still able to defeat the opposing teams for the win.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of 28 NFL teams in the Super Bowl era, dating to 1966, to start a season with a record of at least 8-0.
So far the Steelers are having a great season. I hope they keep it up!
Let me also give you some background information about this amazing team. The Pittsburgh Steelers were founded in 1933 by a man named Arthur Joseph Rooney, and the team is still owned by the Rooney family today.
The team was originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates–the same as the Major League Baseball team. But owner Art Rooney decided the team needed a change, so he held a contest to choose a new name. According to the article “How the Steelers were Named,” 21 people submitted the name “Steelers.” The Rooneys decided they liked the name because it honored the city’s steel industry. The family awarded all of those 21 people season tickets! When the 1940 season began, the team was officially the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During this NBA offseason many things have happened so far, starting off with the NBA draft and a flurry of trades.
Although a lot of sports analysts and fans around the NBA had said that in this year’s draft there weren’t many players that can be considered “franchise changing players” or “generational talents,” there were some pretty big names in the draft. One of them being LaMelo Ball, whom a lot of people consider to be the player with the highest potential in this draft. The other two big names were James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards. All three of them were drafted in the top 3, with Anthony Edwards going number 1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, James Wiseman going 2nd to the Golden State Warriors, and Lamelo Ball going 3rd to the Charlotte Hornets.
This offseason there have also been a lot of trades–some big ones–and also some free agent signings. Arguably the biggest trade this off-season was the Houston Rockets trading Russell Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a protected 2023 first-round pick.
Another big trade was Chris Paul being traded to the Phoenix Suns from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Suns picked up Chris Paul and Abdel Nader, with OKC getting Kelly Oubre Jr, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jeromre, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick in return.
The Thunder stayed busy, as another major trade involved the Lakers, who acquired guard Dennis Schroder, with OKC picking up Danny Green and a 2020 first-round draft pick in return. Green didn’t last long in OKC, as he found himself flipped to Philadelphia when the Sixers sent Al Horford and some first-round picks to OKC for Green and Terrance Ferguson.
Speaking of the Lakers, arguably the biggest signing this offseason was the Lakers signing free agent Montrezl Harrell (pictured) from their crosstown rivals, the Clippers.
The Sixers also traded for Seth Curry, which sent Josh Richardson and a 2020 second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks. Kelly Oubre’s time as an OKC player didn’t last long either, as he was then traded to the Golden State Warriors in an attempt to fill in for Klay Thompson’s roster spot (following his devastating season-ending injury).
With all of the movement, especially in the Western Conference, the Lakers still remain in good shape to compete for a title for years to come. In addition to picking up Schroder and Harrell, the Lakers secured long-term deals for superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.