Welcome back to Petey’s Sports Zone! Your daily dose of strong opinions and highlights of key events and topics that are happening in the world of sports each and every week.
After a week of constantly checking social media pages for Kawhi Leonard rumors, the 2019 Finals MVP finally came to a decision at the eleventh hour signing with the LA Clippers. Leonard’s decision could have ultimately been the cause of the massive earthquake that hit LA late last night, but he took just the right …
An early season slump followed by a mid-game feud with teammates back in November allowed for rumors to swirl about the future of Kevin Durant. Was this the beginning of the end of a three-year era for KD in Oakland or was it just white noise for analysts to discuss over coffee in the morning? …
Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors on dethroning the injury-ridden Warriors en route to Canada’s first NBA championship, all while halting the first 3-peat bid since the Lakers in the early 2000’s. Sorry Leafs fans – but that has to sting! Kawhi Leonard‘s play throughout the postseason quickly silenced the haters and made everyone that called …
DJ LeMahieu – June
Petey’s Sports Zone’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees.
In June LeMahieu hit .395 to go along with 6 home runs and was also tagged as the MLB’s Player of the Month for June. He currently leads the American League in batting average with a .337 and has been the heart and soul of the Bronx Bombers in 2019 will all of the injuries that have occurred up and down their lineup. The Yankees 2nd Baseman was selected to the All-Star Game this coming week, and will start for the AL in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The Yankees currently sit atop of the AL East Standings, 8.5 games up on the Rays, and are just 1 game back of the Dodgers for MLB’s best record. LeMahieu has helped elevate this injury-ridden Yanks roster to the top of the AL and will need to keep his All-Star play up in the second half if New York wants to add another pennant to the rafters.
Congrats on the award, DJ. Well deserved!
Tuuka Rask – May
Petey’s Sports Zone’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to Tuuka Rask of the Boston Bruins.
Rask carried the Bruins throughout the entire playoffs en route to the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. He recorded a .900 SV% in every game this postseason heading into the Finals and was the first goalie to do so since Jonathan Quick in 2012. The Finnish netminder won his second consecutive Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in round 1 and recorded a shutout in each of his teams closeout games in the second and third rounds respectively in May.
Although they fell one game short of the title, Rask could have easily won the Conn Smythe Trophy and nobody would have questioned the decision. Rask put a lot of questions of not winning the big game to rest and led the Bruins to their second finals in nine years.
Congrats on the award, Tuuka!
Christian Yelich – April
Petey’s Sports Zone’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The reigning 2018 AL MVP picked up right where he left off a season ago. Yelich hit consecutive home runs in four straight games to open the 2019 season in late March, and then connected on another 10 bombs in the month of April. He recorded a .333 batting average, an astonishing .700 slugging percentage, a .425 on-base percentage, while driving in 26 runners at the plate.
Part way through May, the Brewers currently sit atop of the AL Central with a 27-19 record in large part to their All-Star left fielder. Yelich is the heart and soul of the Brew Crew and has already made a name in the way-too-early MVP voting yet again.
Christian – congrats on the hot start as well as earning the A.O.T.M Award for the month of April!
Carsen Edwards – March
The Purdue Boilermakers had one of the greatest March Madness runs in program history in 2019 and were a mere rebound away from eliminating the NCAA Champions in the Elite 8.
Although Purdue’s season ended in heartbreak, the nation got to witness one of the greatest scoring performances in tournament history by Junior guard Carsen Edwards. In four games in the NCAA Tournament Edwards averaged 35 points-per-game and shot nearly 45% from the floor. The Atascocita, TX native sunk the defending champions in the round of 32 by dropping a tournament high 42 points in route of Villanova, and then followed that up by sinking two of three free throws after being fouled with no time on the clock against Tennessee to send the game to OT where they went on to eliminate the Volunteers.
Edwards’ best performance came in a losing effort against UVA in the Elite 8 where he dropped another 42 points on the losing end of a dramatic OT thriller that saw the Cavaliers hit a buzzer beater off of a missed FT to force the extra frame.
The Boilermakers fell short of advancing to the Final 4, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort and determination by the University’s Second-Team All American.
Petey’s Sports Zone’s Athlete of the Month Award for March goes to Purdue University’s Carsen Edwards!
February’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington.
Entering the 2018-19 season, Binnington was not on the starting roster for St. Louis. The Blues missed the playoffs on the final day of the regular season in 2018, but a number of offseason acquisitions made them poised for a return this year.
The Blues went in an opposite direction to begin the year and hit rock bottom at Christmas, reaching dead last in the entire NHL. After being written off by many analysts across the league, St. Louis called up Binnington from their farm team in the AHL (San Antonio) and have not looked back.
In 19 games as the starter Binnington has a 15-3-1 record to go along with a 1.68 GAA and a .933 SV%. In the month of February he has a 9-1-0 record, a .945 SV% and four shutouts. He has helped to propel the Blues into the playoff picture and they sit just six points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the division lead.
St. Louis is heating up at the perfect time to make a deep playoff run behind their new star goalie. Maybe, just maybe, this is finally the year the Blues break through.
Congrats on the award, Mr. W(B)innington!
James Harden – January
January’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to the NBA’s most prolific point guard, James Harden.
Entering the 2018-19 season the Rockets had high expectations and were picked by many to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. After falling short last May when Chris Paul got injured ahead of game 6 they brought in Carmelo Anthony, but things didn’t go as planned and Houston was sitting near the bottom of the West.
Now, Houston has turned the page and are now in a position to make a deep playoff run behind their leader “The Beard.” In the month of January Harden averaged 38.8 points per game, and is currently on a streak of recording 30 or more points in 38 straight games. Harden’s dominance has positioned his team right back in the thick of things as the All-Star Break nears and they are where everybody expected them to be back in November.
I don’t know how much longer Harden can keep this record streak alive or what is inside of that grizzled beard, but boy is it fun to watch! Here’s to 60 point games and possibly threatening the Warriors’ dynasty come June.
Nikita Kucherov – December
December’s Athlete of the Month Award goes to Tampa’s star forward, Nikita Kucherov.
After a somewhat of a slow start to the 2018-19 season, Kucherov caught fire and now leads the entire NHL in points. In the month of December he had 9 goals and 21 assists for 30 points, all while passing Colorado’s dynamic duo in the process.
The Bolts’ star player has 76 points to date, but it was his spark in December that separated the Lightning from the rest of the league. Tampa owns the best overall record in both the East and West, and they have a comfortable lead in their Atlantic Division.
Although the Bolts have had their string of difficult playoff losses, this season seems to be the year they might finally get back to the Finals. This roster is loaded from top to bottom, but its is the Russian play maker that has elevated this team to new heights.
Congrats on the award Kuch, well deserved!
Andrew Luck – November
The first ever Athlete of the Month Award goes to the likely 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year…Andrew Luck.
After missing the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, Indy’s starting QB has been nothing short of spectacular. He has thrown for 3+ TD in 8 straight games and the Colts have won 5 games in a row.
In the month of November, the former Stanford alum has thrown for 925 yards and 9 TD in 3 starts and the Colts sit just 1 game back of a playoff spot. Indy seemed like an afterthought for the 2018 postseason, but now they look like a team no top seed wants to face. Andrew Luck is on a different level right now and will be a finalist for MVP when the regular season concludes at the end of December.
Congrats on the A.O.T.M. honor, Mr. Luck. Well deserved!
Joe Pavelski (11/18/18)
This week’s Athlete of the Week award goes to Sharks forward Joe Pavelski. San Jose’s top centerman tallied 9 points in 4 games this past week to boost his overall total to 16 on the year. His 6 goals were the most over the past 7 days out of any player in the NHL, pushing his goal total to 13 on the season, T-3rd in the league overall.
The Sharks went 3-1-0 last week and currently sit atop of the Pacific Division, while their captain has been one of the biggest reasons for their success this November.
Thanksgiving is usually a strong indicator of where team’s will be come April, and the Sharks look to be hitting their stride at the right time.
Congrats on the A.O.W. honor, Joe. Well deserved.
Kawhi Leonard (10/23/18)
This week’s Athlete of the Week honor goes to the newest member of the Toronto Raptors–Kawhi Leonard.
After one of the biggest offseason trades in the NBA, the former Spur was dealt for DeMar DeRozan this past summer. Many thought Leonard would end up in LA as he publicly announced, but Popovich had other plans.
Now, the Raptors went from a top-3 team in the East to what appears to be THE team to beat. The Raptors are undefeated through 5 games in large part due to the Claw. He is averaging 26.6 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists, and has sparked new life into the city.
They defeated the Celtics easily last week, the team everybody said could possibly be Golden State’s biggest threat…but now it looks like the Raptors have a really deep roster. It is still early but Leonard is a top 5 player in the NBA and he has played like a man trying to prove something.
Congrats, Claw! Well deserved.
Brock Osweiler (10/17/18)
This week’s Athlete of the Week is awarded to none other than…Brock Osweiler.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Miami Dolphins backup not only awoke to a text message Sunday morning telling him that he will be starting, but he played one of the best games of his career in the process.
BROCTOBER guided the Dolphins to a come from behind victory in OT over the Chicago Bears after Ryan Tannehill was ruled out with an injury. Osweiler was thrown into the fire and was going up against one of the best defenses in the league. He completed 38/44 passes, and threw for 380 yards and 3 TD.
The Brocketship is now 3-0 career against the Bears while starting at quarterback for three different teams in the process. Unreal. Miami is now 3-0 at home in 2018 and are tied at the top of the AFC East. Who would have thought that the former Bronco, Texan and Brown would be keeping South Beach afloat in October. Congrats, Brock. Well deserved!
Clayton Kershaw (10/10/18)
This week’s Athlete of the Week honor goes to one of the best pitchers in all of baseball–Clayton Kershaw.
The 30-year-old lefty undoubtedly had the best playoff outing of his career last Thursday, posting a two-hit shutout while nearly going the distance. The eight inning Game 1 performance was a playoff record for Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-five Divisional Round series to advance to the NLCS for the third consecutive season.
With the Game 1 victory, Kershaw is now back above .500 (8-7) for his career as a starter in the postseason. The Dallas native has been known for his playoff struggles over the years, but he may have finally turned over a new leaf this fall.
Kershaw will take the mound Friday night in Milwaukee for Game 1 of the NLCS as the Dodgers attempt to make the Fall Classic for the second straight season, and also look to claim their first World Series title in 30 years.
Congrats Mr. Kershaw, well deserved!
Patrick Mahomes (10/2/18)
He can’t win against a good defense. He can’t win at mile high. Teams will figure him out. The list goes on and on…but one thing remains the same–the Chiefs keep winning.
The second-year pro from Texas Tech has taken the NFL by storm and has the chiefs sitting in first place in the AFC. Monday night Mahomes went into one of the toughest environments in the league and handed the Broncos their first ever home loss when leading by 10 points or more since 2007. He made the play of the game on a critical third and five inside his own territory by avoiding a Von Miller sack and switching hands while flipping the ball to his receiver for the first down.
Mahomes is the most electric player in football right now and has 15 total touchdowns in the first four games of the year. Nobody could have predicted this start except the Chiefs, which is why the Tyler, Texas native is Petey’s Sports Zone’s Athlete of the Week. Well deserved, Mr. Mahomes.
Tiger Woods (9/25/2018)
TIGER WOODS IS BACK! The 42-year-old ended a five year PGA Tour winless drought this past weekend down in Atlanta, Georgia, capturing the Tour Championship on the final Sunday of the season. Woods is this week’s Athlete of the Week for defying all odds and finally making his way back into the winners circle.
Tiger put himself into contention in the opening round at the East Lake Golf Club Thursday morning after firing a 5-under, 65, and followed it up with a 68 Friday and another 65 on Saturday, including six birdies through the first seven holes. Woods entered Sunday with a four stroke lead and an outside shot at winning the FedEx Cup playoff, but fell one stroke short as Justin Rose birdied the final hole to claim the overall PGA season. Tiger fired a one-over, 71 on Sunday to win the Tour Championship by two strokes, but the scene walking up the 18th fairway was incredible. Thousands of people were following the Stanford product up towards the green and it looked like a scene from a movie. It was truly remarkable.
Tiger is Petey’s Sports Zone’s A.O.W for silencing all of the doubters and putting together an unbelievable weekend while fending off some of the PGA’s best athletes and capturing his first title since 2013. Congrats El Tigre, well deserved!
Ryan Fitzpatrick (9/17/2018)
Fitzmagic is Petey’s Sports Zone’s first ever back-to-back Athlete of the Week winner. Not only did he wind back the clock last week in New Orleans, but he put up similar numbers against the defending Super Bowl champs in Week 2. The Harvard alum helped guide the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to another upset victory, this time at home, defeating the Eagles 27-21. The 35-year-old is filling in for Jameis Winston‘s 5 game suspension, but he played like he was actually the former first-rounder.
Fitz not only opened the game with a 57-yard bomb to Desean Jackson a week ago, but he struck first with a 75 yard bomb to Jackson again on the first play of the game. He threw for 402 yards, 4 TD’s and 1 INT, his second straight game of 400-plus yards and 4-plus touchdowns.
What makes this story even more bizarre is that Tampa was picked to finish dead last in the NFC by many analysts and the Saints and Eagles are both heavy Super Bowl favorites. Magic’s post game attire was another reason to love this guy. He wore Jackson’s deep v shirt and gold chains while showing off his chest hair and capped off the outfit with black aviators. He looked as if he was Connor McGregor’s cousin! This is a great story and I hope he continues to ball out going forward.
Fitzpatrick is my athlete of the week again for not only rising to the occasion of taking on two of the best all around NFL teams to open the 2018 season, but for also accounting for the most fantasy points by a QB in the first two weeks after being rated as one of the” worst” opening day starters this year. Well deserved, Mr. Magic!
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