Breven’s Blog: USWNT Wins Second Straight World Cup

USWNT Celebration

Four years ago, the United States Women’s National Soccer (USWNT) team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in 16 years. This time, their goal was to defend that championship.

In every game leading up to the final, the U.S. scored within the first 12 minutes. However, that was not the case on Sunday and there was no score at the half. But at ten minutes into the second half, a foul would lead to a penalty kick for United States forward Megan Rapinoe, who was the Golden Ball winner for being the best player of the World Cup. She froze the goalie and scored the game’s first goal in the 61st minute. Eight minutes later, another U.S. goal came from midfielder Rose Lavelle.

Then, the defense stepped up and closed the game to win 2-0 over the Netherlands. With the win, this marked the USWNT’s second straight and fourth ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Both offensive and defensively, they were able to hold strong and score early and often.

That began in their first game in pool play of the World Cup by winning 13-0 against Thailand. They would go onto to sweep their pool. Then it was time for bracket play and the knockout rounds. In the round of 16, it was Spain. After an early goal by Rapinoe, the Spanish would score to tie things up a couple minutes later. A 1-1 tie would last until the 76th minute when Rapinoe would score for the second time via a penalty shot.

A 2-1 win over the Spaniards would lead to a date against the hometown Frenchwomen. In was one of the best game to look forward to. Some reporters called it the final that wasn’t. Like the game against Spain, Rapinoe would score twice and the United States would win 2-1.

In the semifinals, head coach Jill Ellis decided to not have Rapinoe in the match. Rapinoe’s backup, Christen Press scored via a header in the tenth minute. Then, one of the superstars of this World Cup, Alex Morgan scored for a third consecutive 2-1 victory.

The United States continues to dominate when it comes to women’s soccer. They did not have a deficit throughout the World Cup and proved to everyone when they were prone to fail, they couldn’t and wouldn’t both offensively and defensively. They demonstrated to everyone why they should be crowned the champions and win back-to-back World Cup titles.

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: MLB All-Star Snubs

The 2019 MLB All-Star starters and reserves were announced this past week for the annual Midsummer Classic. Every year, there are those that do not get in, but deserved to. They are called snubs.

Typically, there are a few snubs, but this year, there was an unprecedented amount. And they affected more than just the San Diego Padres. The Padres’ closer Kirby Yates, who has an MLB-leading 27 saves (entering July 1), was the only one who made the team. This means no Fernando Tatis Jr., no Manny Machado, no Eric Hosmer and no Hunter Renfroe.

Even if Fernando Tatis Jr. missed a month due to injury, he changes the hometown team from good to great. He does it all. Speed. Strength. Power. Awareness. Energy. The energy that he brings to his teammates, his coaches, the fans and to this organization is electrifying and attracts people to watching him and this team play. Even MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal said Tatis Jr. is an All Star, while CBS Sports has called him “special.”

In his first year, Tatis already has a 3.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), has scored from third base on a fly ball to the second baseman and scored from first on a single to right, and he became the first rookie shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra to record ten home runs and ten stolen bases before the All-Star Break. These are remarkable achievements in baseball, and it is unfortunate that his talent (including the other Padres that did not return) cannot be seen to the rest of the sport.   

Throughout MLB, there were snubs all across the league.  

In the National League, one of the biggest names besides Machado to not make the team is Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, who signed a 330 million dollar contract this past winter. 

There is also Los Angeles Dodgers’ infielder Max Muncy, who hit a walk-off homerun in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Muncy is tied sixth in the NL in WAR and 18 of the top 21 position players made the roster. 

Furthermore, Milwaukee Brewers’ starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff did not make the team and his numbers are one of the best so far in 2019. Woodruff leads the National League in wins with ten and is also in the top spot in WHIP (Walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) with a whopping 1.14. 

The American League is much of the same, whether a team is in a big-market city or not. 

That includes the New York Yankees. First Baseman Luke Voit, who suffered an abdominal injury last weekend during the London Series, was one of the biggest snubs on the American League side. Voit was outlasted by Chicago White Sox’s Jose Abreu and Seattle Mariners’ Dan Vogelbach. What makes this surprising from this is that Abreu is one of three White Sox (pitcher Lucas Giolito and catcher James McCann) to make the team, despite only having a 39-42 record. 

A couple other snubs comes at the shortstop position with Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts and Yankees’ Gleyber Torres. Both players are hitting over .290, getting on base more than 36% of the time and slugging at least 54%. Torres, along with Voit, were playing and not one to get hurt, like most of their teammates.  

The Minnesota Twins, one of baseball’s surprises in 2019 with a 53-30 record have two All-Stars.  

That was starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi and shortstop Jorge Polanco. However, a couple others from the team had the potential to also be on the team. One of those is outfielder Max Kepler. He already has a career-high 21 home runs. 

It is surprising that the Twins, who are in first place of the AL Central by eight games to the Cleveland Indians, the host team, and 13 games to the Chicago White Sox, only have two players going, but the Indians and White Sox each have three members.  

Even though the reserves were announced this past Sunday, players that had already received the invitation, have the option to decline and not participate in the game for any reason (injury, personal, etc.). Most likely, a couple of players from each side will back out opening it up for some of these players to make a dream turn to reality and be a part of a showcase with the game’s best players. 

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: McDaniels Drafted by Hornets

Jalen McDaniels

The only question heading into last season for former Aztec basketball player Jalen McDaniels was whether or not he was going to be drafted.

This was one thing to look forward to this summer, as mentioned in my earlier preview. McDaniels had a great freshman year and some even compared him to former Aztec, Kawhi Leonard. McDaniels was only one of four freshmen in the country to average at least 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and shoot at least 58% from the field. That is how great he was as a freshman and why people were comparing him the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

After his freshman season was over, he tested the NBA waters, which meant participating in camps and playing in front of scouts to see what parts of his game needed to get better for year(s) to come. Obviously his weight was a factor for the position he played (195 pounds) at the power forward spot and sometimes at center. Even SDSU men’s basketball coach Brian Dutcher would refer to him as “the skinniest player in college basketball.” For reference, Anthony Davis has the same height as McDaniels (six-foot-10), but weighs 254 pounds, almost 50 pounds heavier. If Davis were to post up on McDaniels, terms like “Barbeque chicken” or “Bully ball” would be heard (credit to Shaquille O’Neal for those terms). Besides his weight, scouts also wanted to see McDaniels’ perimeter shooting improve.

And McDaniels did improve through his points.

During his freshman year, McDaniels averaged 10.5 points. In his sophomore year, he would increase that to 15.9 points per game. His outside shooting game is one of many factors related to the five-point increase. McDaniels started to not only post up and drive to the basket, but he would take shots from three-point range or make a one-dribble pull-up shot, just inside the 3-point arc.

Having a perimeter shot is huge in the NBA, especially for big men. Big centers or tall power forwards use their mid-range jumper to their advantage like San Antonio Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge. People wouldn’t expect a big man like Aldridge to shoot a mid-range shot; thus, when he does take the shot, it goes in.

Two months before draft, mock drafts had McDaniels as a late first-rounder or early second rounder. 

On draft night, McDaniels was the 52nd overall pick during the second round by the Charlotte Hornets, owned by one of the greatest basketball players to ever play, Michael Jordan. This settles the question of whether or not McDaniels was going to be drafted.

In McDaniels’ two years as an Aztec, he played every game of his career. He averaged 13.2 points, that includes a 30-point game against UNLV this past season, averaged 7.9 rebounds, shot 76% at the free-throw line, shot 50% from the field in two years and had 101 assists. 
In addition, McDaniels recorded 20 career double-doubles, which is the sixth highest in school history and second behind two-year players (Leonard leads with 40).

Written by: Breven Honda

An Interview with My High School English Teacher

Nicholas Lograsso went back to the past to revisit one of his most influential figures. Mr. Lamerto, if you’re reading this, thank you!

Hi readers, listeners? KCRr’s? Never written a blog before but here goes. If you are wondering why I decided to write this now, there is little story behind it. I joined KCR four years ago and looking back I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended with such a positive experience and being connected to people through the music. My experience here reminded me of someone influential during my time in high school. My English teacher, Mr. Lamerato, who would always try to make our class more enjoyable by retelling stories of his time in college and exposing us to some of the music he holds dear. Also, I might have used the intro he began class with as the intro for our radio show. This was another reason I wanted to give him a visit as I felt that he had a right to know after four years. 

Nick: So, how are you? 

John: Doing well, sixteenth year at St. Augustine High School and yeah just wrapping up another school year.  

N: So, I have a confession to make…since I know the greeting you use for your classroom is so iconic. I might have, possibly, stolen that for a wonderful intro for our radio show.  

J: I love it that’s great. It’s the sincerest form of flattery.  

N: You’re not going to retract my grade? *laughing* 

J: No, I will not retract your grade *laughs* That’s awesome, I’m glad something I taught you is of use, years later. 

N: There’s definitely more than that*laughs* Cool, glad that didn’t go in a totally different direction. Alright first question, what are some of the artists that shaped your college experience? 

J: In college, I was finally on my own. So I had a little more free time to do what I wanted to do. Also I had friends in different colleges that allowed me to have a reason to road trip somewhere. So I’d say the band that probably defined my college experience would be the Dave Matthews Band and that was because when they released Before These Crowded Streets which I want to say was released in 1998. That became probably their highest grossing album and at that time they were touring and selling out places like Soldier Field, two night in a row. So that was the height of their career and that was the height of me having some money and having the freedom to actually follow a band for the first time. Still a huge Counting Crows fan, during my time that was a big deal and probably the start of Radiohead and Coldplay at that time. So I remember exchanging CD’s with people, which I know don’t really exist anymore, but I remember this girl sent me a package that had Coldplay’s first album Parachutes and Radiohead’s OK Computer and I had never heard of either band. So to get that in one package and be exposed to that was amazing. 

NDo you think you would have had the same college experience if you did not discover those artists? 

J: Um, that’s a good question. I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because to me music is completely intertwined with my life. So any major life moment that has a soundtrack to it, certain songs can immediately take you back to a place. So, as an example, Third Eye Blind’s first album Third Eye Blind that came out right when I stepped onto a college campus and they actually did their first tour and came to my university (Central Michigan University). So whenever I hear that album, I immediately think of studying for honors pre-calculus on a college campus, living with my roommates, getting use to that whole lifestyle. I remember vividly in my sophomore year we went to Dave Matthews in Gran Rapids, which is about two hours away. We were nerds so we were in these honors classes and actually came back the next morning for class. So the whole general connection we had, a lot of that centered on the music. So I think no, I think music intertwines and defines a lot of what we do and becomes a soundtrack.  

N: Has your music taste changed at all? Or do you still listen to the same artists and bands? 

J: I think one of my biggest challenges is being married, having kids, having more responsibilities, not being in college has been staying on the cutting edge of new bands that are coming out. So one of my favorite things is to go to The Casbah (a venue here in Downtown San Diego). The only way you are going to see a show at The Casbah of a band you like is that you have to be on the cutting edge, so it has to be their first tour. They have to be small enough but also big enough, they have to fall in a small niche that fits that. I unfortunately don’t have the time to be as invested in that. I do try to stay open to new bands. Probably my favorite “newish” band is a band is called Lord Huron. They are more of like a folk-type band, love them. The War On Drugs, their last album is when I finally got into them, which is an amazing album. I try to keep an open mind, but I still end up often going back to the bands as previously mentioned. I went to the Metric show on SDSU’s campus not too long ago and I was super impressed by Zoé, which is a Mexican band that opened for them. So still piecemealing a few bands but not necessarily cutting edge.  

N: Would you say music defines who you are? 

J: I wouldn’t say music defines who I am. I think what you say, how you act, what you do, defines who you are as a person. I do say that music influences me, influences my mood, influences what I’m doing. I would say it also provides me the atmosphere I live in. So I wouldn’t say it defines me as a person, but defines the world I live in.  

NIf you had a chance to experience college one more time what would you do differently? 

J: To me one of the biggest bummers of college, but when you’re living it, it’s hard to understand how unique that situation is. What I mean by that is living with your friends most likely or some of the time. You most likely don’t have a full-time job so you’re doing these classes which are challenging and keep you busy, but you’re not obligated to be up at 6:00 am every day. What would I do differently? Not much to be honest, I went to a college where it was a college-town compared to SDSU which is in a major city. The people who enjoy college are the ones that stay over the weekends, who involve themselves. Whether that means going to a football game, whether that means seeing a speaker on campus, whether that means going to a show on campus. The ones who hated college or just didn’t like were the ones that got their cars packed and headed home each weekend. So I think the immersion of it, which is what I did, is something that I think is the key to enjoying or not enjoying it and I really wouldn’t change it. I had an awesome, unbelievable 5 years of college and would love to do it again. At the same time I’m very blessed and happy with where I am in life right now.  

N: Ok, one last question, what is music to you? 

J: To me, music sets the mood. So if I’m in the gym, I have a specific playlist. If I am relaxing in the evening, I have a certain playlist. If I’m on a road trip, I have a certain playlist. So to me it is a mood setter and accentuates the situation that I’m in.  

Written by: Nicholas Lograsso