Clark’s Corner 11/30

Joe Clark, Sports Editor

After a hiatus of well over a month, I’m back with another Clark’s Corner. I apologize for the delay…the college application process is a grind and hasn’t left me with a ton of time to write.

-The last time I checked in, the MLB playoffs were still in the Division Series. Now, the offseason is in full swing with the GM Meetings ending and the Winter Meetings beginning in a few weeks. However, there really hasn’t been much action at all. The big news has been the inevitable trade of Giancarlo Stanton and the pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. The only two signings with much significance have been the Rangers inking Doug Fister to a one year deal, and the A’s signing Yusmeiro Petit, long one of the most undervalued relievers in baseball, to a two-year deal. Fister did his job for the Red Sox, and now they’ll seek to find a replacement for that ever-valuable spot starter position (I really hope it’s Chris Tillman), and I’m glad Fister got his due with an incentive-laden Major League contract instead of the minor league deal he settled for last year. Petit is a fantastic signing for the A’s, who have made a number of under the radar signings the last few years, including signing Rich Hill (who they traded along with Josh Reddick for prospects), in addition to claiming Danny Valencia and Andrew Triggs off waivers (Valencia was traded for Paul Blackburn who turned in ten really nice starts for Oakland last season). Oakland has some young talent on their big league roster and an improving farm system, so don’t be surprised to see them turn into a pretty good team within the next few years.

-The Bruins have had historical bad luck in terms of injuries, especially among their forward core. The only forwards to play all 22 games for the B’s have been David Pastrnak, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and Sean Kuraly. Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand, David Backes, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Patrice Bergeron, Noel Acciari, and Matt Beleskey have all missed time this season. On defense, Adam McQuaid is the only defender who has missed significant time. Still, the Bruins are third in the Atlantic with 26 points. In addition, the team has an ongoing goalie controversy, as the play of Anton Khudobin has outplayed starter Tuukka Rask, who has been declining for a few years now. Still, the fact that the Bruins are still in the playoff race, albeit early, is a good sign for a team that has had its share of struggles the last few seasons.

Tiger Woods makes his PGA Tour return today at the Hero World Challenge. I’m shocked that he returned after another back injury, and it will certainly be interesting to see how he performs.

-The Celtics season hadn’t even started when I last wrote, which means I didn’t even touch on Gordon Hayward’s devastating injury. When he went down, I thought it would push the Celtics more toward a three, four, or maybe even a five seed in the East, but behind the play of Kyrie Irving and Brad Stevens’ coaching, the Celtics are an NBA-best 18-4. I’ll be the first to admit I was 100% wrong when I bashed the trade that sent Irving to Boston, as he’s been one of the best players in the NBA and has really carried this team. Don’t discount the play of Al Horford though, as his defense has been one of the key reasons the Celtics have been so good. Right now, he’s the Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been much better than expected, while Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis have been two of the most underrated pickups of the offseason. I didn’t think any Celtics’ team could be more fun to watch than they were last season, but this team has been so far.

-Texas A&M has been the most surprising team in college basketball this season. The Aggies are ranked #9 in the nation and #6 on KenPom and have beat every team they’ve played by double digits. It’s not like they’ve had a cupcake schedule either, as they’ve played West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Penn State, and USC. Everyone knew Robert Williams would be one of the best players in the country, but the contributions of TJ Starks, Tyler Davis, and Duane Wilson have been huge for the Aggies. Their matchup with Arizona on December 5th will be one to watch.