The United States, Mexico and Canada all placed a unison bid to host the 2026 World Cup in recent memory, which was a great idea. The three countries would divide up sites for the World Cup and represent North America for international soccer. However, the U.S./North America bid has fallen in limbo due to an emergence of a new candidate: Morocco.
Morocco's not a well-known locale unless you're an avid traveler, which you'll probably say it's a beautiful locale. You could say that the Anti-Trump sentiment is a part of why the United States/North America bid may not get the 2026 World Cup. However, the United States is being considered as an alternative (along with England) with Qatar's 2022 World Cup in limbo.
Speaking of Qatar, that brings up another point: FIFA's picks of hosts for the World Cup have been interesting as of late. With Russia in 2018 and the aforementioned World Cup in Qatar, FIFA has picked controversial locales for their World Cups. Part of this is former president Sepp Blatter's doing, who took a $1 million bribe to vote for Qatar to host and resided over Russia winning the 2018 bid. However, it still seems that Blatter's impact is being felt even with his absence.
As for the hosts themselves, Qatar's bid is a more interesting case. Russia's bid was challenged due to various racial incidents and LGBT discrimination. Qatar's bid is challenged due to crimes that are much more heinous: Workers dying as they construct the stadium(s) in Qatar along with the human rights record of Qatar has hampered its chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
Morocco's human rights record isn't pristine, either. Yes, Morocco has done better work with worker's rights than Qatar, passing a referendum in 2016 to protect workers by setting a minimum age for workers and negotiable contracts. However, Morocco has yet to establish a draft to protect refugees and migrants. Morocco's also seen its authorities disperse protesters, even during peaceful protests. Over 450 Hirak Rif protesters were arrested since the beginning of October 2016, many of which were because a fishmonger in al-Hoceima was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve goods that were confiscated by the authorities.
The North America bid may be in jeopardy because of a certain U.S. president whose Twitter rants and verbal barbs constantly get him in trouble. However, Morocco doesn't seem like a good alternative in the long run. In any case, FIFA must find sites that can step to the plate not just in a financial sense, but in a political sense.
When Romans Reigns won the No. 1 contender spot for Brock Lesnar's WWE Universal title at Elimination Chamber, answer this question. Were you surprised? Did you see this coming from a mile away? If you answered 'yes' to the latter, then you know how predictable and boring WWE has become in recent memory.
For nearly a year, Reigns vs. Lesnar has been heavily rumored as being the main event for Wrestlemania 34, with Reigns expected to get another big coronation at the end. It comes with a bit of reason: Vince McMahon is sold on Reigns being the 'top dog' in the company. Granted, Reigns doesn't sound as good on the mic as, say, John Cena or Hulk Hogan. But Reigns has improved in recent memory. However, the WWE Universe--or rather, its 'marks'--have grown tired of having Reigns shoved down their throats.
Ever since the Attitude Era, the WWE has taken a massive nosedive in ratings. Monday Night Raw, WWE's flagship brand, saw its first sub-2.0 rating a couple years ago (its first since 1997). But Vince and company aren't as adamant on the ratings as they are on pushing the WWE Network. Since its advent four years ago, the WWE Network has pushed its product by offering first-month trials along with every pay-per-view on the network at the price of $9.99. WWE Network has worked on adding more vintage programming , which will sit well with some of the marks.
However, that doesn't solve the issue of predictability. In the age of 'dirt sheets' and wrestling websites covering the latest rumors and contract situations of various WWE superstars, it seems that WWE has lost its luster as a product. John Cena just challenged the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 34, which would lead many to think that Cena would be getting the win considering Taker's age and physical condition. Ronda Rousey, WWE's recent marquee signing, has been rumored for a Wrestlemania return in a program with Stephanie McMahon for quite some time as well.
This may be a post that sounds like someone yearning for the glory days. However, Vince hasn't done a good job listening to its fans. Vince did well getting a younger audience to get behind John Cena and it may become true for Reigns one day. However, no one really cares for Reigns at the moment. There isn't a moment that stands out for Reigns in the eyes of pure wrestling fans. 'Marks' will remember Stone Cold giving the McMahon family the finger on top of a zamboni or Hogan bodyslamming Andre the Giant. But those were moments that came out of left field. No one saw those moments coming.
Wrestlemania's set to be one of the most predictable Wrestlemanias to date, with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura being the only 'main event' match that's too close to call (it's also one of the more anticipated matches for pure wrestling fans). WWE's problems don't just lie with being a predictable product: They also face impending lawsuits from many of its past employees. They also have to worry about many of its current roster members leaving after the success of Cody Rhodes in Ring of Honor, along with rising promotions like ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling (or promotions being discovered by the public). The WWE has many issues to face, but it can start by making the product more exciting.
No, I'm not talking about those buffoons in Washington, although that is a good question to ask. I'm talking about a team that made last year's Eastern Conference Finals, only to falter into disarray the next season: The Ottawa Senators. The Ottawa media is already calling for the owner's head and stars like Erik Karlsson are expected to be traded. Sitting at 52 points and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Senators have become a sad case of a team crashing back down to earth.
It's not like they started off poor, either. Ottawa got off to an 8-3-5 start (good for 21 points) before losing 12 of their next 13 games (only two were overtime losses). Ever since that poor stretch, nothing has gone Ottawa's way. Goal scoring, blue line play, goaltending and everything else under the sun has gone awry for the Senators.
Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Senators, has talked about moving the team if they "became a disaster". This left Senator fans uneasy and angry, with an uncertain future involving Ottawa hockey hovering over their heads. If Eugene Melnyk wants to make right with the fans, he'll have to lay low for a while. He'll also have to figure out a game plan with his front office in terms of rebuilding. Starting from scratch and vying for better draft picks may not be the best solution in the short-term. However, rebuilding can have some great long-term effects that can give Ottawa a future Stanley Cup.
For the first time since 2011, the Seattle Seahawks missed the playoffs. The endless pile of injuries along with an inconsistent offensive line proved to be fatal for the Seahawks as they watched the Los Angeles Rams take over the NFC West throne. What can the Seahawks do to regain their rightful spot?
Sitting atop the NHL hierarchy with 85 points this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are back in the Stanley Cup fold after falling short last season. Led by Nikita Kucherov (NHL leader in points with 80 and third in goals with 32) and a hot goaltending hand of Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL leader in wins with 35 and fourth in save percentage with .928), the Lightning appear to be the unstoppable force that general manager Steve Yzerman hoped it would become.
The key for Tampa Bay's success has been special teams, namely the power play. The Lightning rank second in the NHL in power play percentage behind only Pittsburgh with a percentage of 24.4. Steven Stamkos is second in the NHL in power play goals with 14 (Stamkos has 24 goals and 45 assists on the season).
Another big component for Tampa Bay's re-emergence aside from Stamko's return from injury has been goal scoring from everywhere else. Left winger Yanni Gourde (22 goals, 26 assists, +26 plus/minus rating) and center Brayden Point (24 goals, 29 assists, +18 plus/minus rating) have contributed nicely to Tampa's lines and have worked well with their fellow line mates. Other key contributors include centers Vladislav Namestnikov (20 goals, 24 assists, eight power play goals) and Tyler Johnson (17 goals, 26 assists).
In spite of Tampa Bay's dominant play, they still can't seem to shake their division rival, the Boston Bruins, who are three points behind them in the Atlantic Division. Also in the mix is Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are four points back of the Lightning. The race for the top of the Atlantic Division is essentially the race to the top of the Eastern Conference. Can Tampa overcome a surging Bruins team with Brad Marchand and a young, hungry Leafs team? The race to the top may require catching lightning in a bottle.
The Green Bay Packers were rolling last year. They looked like an unstoppable force... until Aaron Rodgers got injured. After that, everything became unglued for the Packers, leading to Dom Capers being fired as the defensive coordinator. Here's what the Packers need to do to get back into the playoffs and ensure success in the future.
After a successful 13-3 campaign in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys took a step back. This was mainly due to Ezekiel Elliott's suspension and various injuries. So what can the Cowboys do to usurp the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from their roost?
Welcome to another edition of "Blending Buddy", where I show you what I make to lead a better, healthier lifestyle! This week's edition is called "Orange You Glad"!
The county of Miami-Dade is suing Jeffrey Loria and current CEO Derek Jeter over disputes of money-sharing. This involves the Marlins getting a 5% cut from profits made if the team was sold in ten years. Expecting a cut from the $1.2 billion Jeter's group paid to purchase the club, what Miami-Dade got was Loria weaseling his way into not giving up his revenues.
This is nothing new in regards to Loria's antics. He was originally an owner of the Montreal Expos, where he demanded that Olympic Stadium be replaced with a stadium... funded by public money. His attempts to hold the city of Montreal up by forcing them to sacrifice their hospitals is a part of what made him a grease ball in the eyes of Canadians and Expo fans alike. What also hurt relations with Montreal is not renewing television and English-speaking coverage during the 2000 season when the Expos tried in increase revenue for broadcasting rights.
From gauging cities for public money to putting together cookie cutter teams, there's an intriguing question that should be brought up: Should Jeffrey Loria be permanently banned from baseball operations? I will admit that Loria's fervor for making a profit has been surprisingly good in spite of hurting taxpayers. However, he has also hurt the dignity of the game. Many of his teams were poorly run, with any attempt at building a contender half-assed.
In an ideal world, Loria (and any sports owner who squeezes the taxpayers for personal profit) would be ostracized from the sport. However, sports have become an outlet for owners to gain money using underhand tactics. Yes, a sports owner's goal is to make a profit. That's what doing business is all about. But when you let owners like Jeffrey Loria rig the game and rip off cities and municipalities, the only people that win are the owners themselves.
Photo courtesy of Slice Miami
After long-awaited (alright, not really) anticipation, it finally happened. This week, a Seattle group (Oak View) formally applied to become the 32nd team in the NHL. This isn't the first time the Emerald City's dabbled in the NHL: Seattle applied for an expansion bid in 1974, but had their bid terminated due to missing many key deadlines.
Now that Seattle's in the mix, it's time to realign the divisions once again. Now here's a little method to my madness. In order to reduce the travel cost (or try to, at least) and maintain the finest rivalries in the NHL, I've scrapped the Western and Eastern Conferences and have divided four new conferences, consisting of two four-team divisions. Scheduling will consist of playing teams outside of the division twice (one home, one away) with the exception of two games against the top/bottom two teams of the opposing division in conference. The two games will depend on where a team stood in their division from last season (if the Vegas Golden Knights were in first place in their division, they would face the top team of the opposing division at home and the second place team of the opposing division on the road. The top team in the division for that season would face the top team from the opposite division on the road for the next season and the second-place team from the opposing division at home. Think of a part of the NFL's scheduling format for this example). Division opponents will play each other eight times.
Playoff formatting will consist of a rotation format: Conference A will face off against Conference B for a 'Final Four' match-up, whereas Conference C will face Conference D. The next year, it would be Conference A vs. Conference C and Conference B vs. Conference D. The year after, Conference A would play Conference D, while Conference B would play Conference C. The top two teams of each division get in unless the third place team in one division has a higher point total than the second place team in the opposite division of the conference.
Now that I've gotten the explanations out of the way (phew!), here's how I'd align the divisions and conferences:
New York/New Jersey Division
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