Good news, America! The World Series is officially here! But since only two teams can make it to the final dance, a big portion of you baseball fans are finding yourselves without a hometown team to root for. But not to worry! Our World Series Fan Flow Chart has you covered:
Professional athletes are undoubtedly very knowledgeable about their respective games. Would anyone question that Michael Jordan knows almost everything there is to know about basketball? Or if Joe Montana is familiar with the ins and outs of football? That being said, living and breathing the game doesn't necessarily mean they'd be good at coaching. However, there have been many big-name players who have made the successful transition to coaching.
Robin Ventura - Chicago White Sox
Though nobody would place Robin Ventura in the all-time greats, he was among the most productive players of the last couple decades (not to mention he got in a legendary fight with Nolan Ryan). He played most of his career with the White Sox before finishing it off with stints with the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers. After retiring, he was quickly hired by the Sox to manage his former team.
In 2012, just his first year at the helm, Ventura has made the White Sox one of the best teams in the American League. Many baseball insiders expected the Detroit Tigers to run away with the American League Central, but Ventura's leadership has brought the Sox into a fierce divisional battle.
Jim Harbaugh - San Francisco 49ers
Over the last 10 years, few teams have been as continually disappointing as the 49ers. The team was a revolving door of coaches, players and inconsistent results. That all changed in 2011, when ownership brought in former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh to turn things around. With a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship game, it's clear he did just that.
Harbaugh's success at the professional level mirrors his work in the college game. As coach at Stanford, he turned a former Pac-10 also ran into a national title contender, and helped tutor eventual number one draft pick (and current Indianapolis Colts QB) Andrew Luck.
Doc Rivers - Boston Celtics
Perhaps no player was better suited for coaching than Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach played for 13 years as point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs. His experience as a point guard made him adept at leading a team and his in-game strategy is among the best in the NBA.
He got his start coaching with the Orlando Magic, but his work with the Celtics has been truly remarkable. He helped turn a struggling team into a title contender in just one year, bringing a championship back to Boston in 2008. Since then, the C's have been among the best teams in the league, and they have Doc to thank.
The 100 game mark came and went last week, and so far this baseball season has been anything but ordinary. Although there are some teams and players that have performed as expected, many pre-season predictions proved to be way off base. As the season reaches the home-stretch, here's a look at some of the most surprising storylines of this year.
Pittsburgh Pirates in contention
Without question, the stellar play of the Pittsburgh Pirates is the biggest surprise of the 2012 season. Coming into the year, the Pirates had achieved one of the all-time most dubious honors in sports: they had suffered through 19 consecutive losing seasons dating back to 1993, but all that has changed.
Led by the exciting play of center fielder Andrew McCutchen (the presumptive National League MVP), the Bucs have risen to become among the best teams in the league and are challenging the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central crown with less than 60 games to go. Whether they make the playoffs or not, it's clear the era of futility is behind these Pirates.
Young talent abounds
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made waves this offseason by signing free agent Albert Pujols, but it is someone else who has made the biggest splash. Rookie outfielder Mike Trout, just 21-years-old, is expected to not only be the American League Rookie of the Year but also the MVP. As of August 6, he was hitting .346, with 19 home runs and 58 RBI, and with his stellar defense it is hard to argue.
Trout is not the only youngster bringing his team into playoff contention. Over in the NL, Washington Nationals wunderkind Bryce Harper has been turning heads since he first burst into the league. Just 19, what Harper has brought to the Nationals is undeniable and the former bottom dwellers of the NL East have staked a commanding lead.
Good teams gone bad
At the beginning of the season, most fans assumed both the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies would be in the playoff hunt. Though both were not World Series favorites, they had enough talent to be in the conversation. However, after the 100 game mark, both these teams are nowhere near playoff contention.
Both teams have been plagued by injuries, with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay all missing time for the Phillies while David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford sitting out for the Sox. As a result, the Phils are well below .500 and in last place while the Sox have been hovering around .500 and are well behind rival New York Yankees. Washington Nationals.