The Ties that Bind – Court Street and Ohio University

Understanding the importance of living a life that breathes through your community is the first natural step in understanding what is ultimately the most valuable thing about a nation.     – E.E. Cummings

 

When living around the Ohio University area, it is easy to become fully identified with the culture of Court Street. This can often be done fluidly in the camaraderie of friends and usuals of the area, and it’s a process that ultimately binds us all as Bobcats. This is the one commonality that all students of the university, regardless of major, agenda, or passions, ultimately share. Feelings communicated interpersonally on a large scale are very rare – which is what makes them so precious. My identity as one who has resided around this area is something that I know I share and will continue to share with alumni old and young. Identity is everything, and it is something that can be both carried away or brought back.

 

Despite the admiration that those from Ohio University may share for the area; it is also important to remember that displeasures are carried just the same. Knowing that a common struggle has existed between groups of people indicates that, as part of a whole, one’s actions could very easily be influenced by the role of the whole. Economies and architecture are a very powerful reminder of this connection, and it is through video that I have documented and discussed these points in a way that reflects the feelings I have for our collective home.

JV baseball – Tigers take down Cadets 11-2

Thursday, 29 April 2017

The Fort Frye Cadets gather for a pre-game prayer

Beverly, Ohio – The Fort Frye Cadets (5-10) hosted the Marietta Tigers (14-4) at Cadet Stadium Thursday afternoon. Sidearming sophomore Hunter Douglas made his first start for the Cadets, but he struggled through an inning and two-thirds in an outing marred by walks.

After issuing two walks and giving up an infield single to Jackson to begin the game, Douglas walked Richards with the bases loaded to hand the Tigers their first run. Duck came up next with a line drive to center to score Moss and give MHS a two-run lead.

In the bottom half of the 1st, the Cadets couldn’t get anything going. Marietta Sophomore Kail Hill recorded ten punchouts on the afternoon, and he was dominant from the outset. Fort Frye went down in order, not giving Douglas much time to get rested after he labored through the 1st.

The Tigers played a patient game and drew four walks in the first two innings. They converted three of the four free passes into runs, and Douglas gave way to Brenden Huck. Huck recorded the third out of the inning after the first of two catcher’s interference calls against Matt Duskey, and the Tigers led 5-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd.

In the home half of the inning, Fort Frye came up with the only runs they would score on the day. Hill issued a rare walk and made an error on an easy grounder back to the mound, and Fort Frye’s Hunter Stoffel drove in two on a lazy popup to no man’s land in shallow right field to make the score 5-2 in favor of Marietta.

Huck stifled the Tigers, who couldn’t figure out his off-speed pitches. He mixed his fastballs with a steady diet of straight changeups that kept Marietta off-balance. He pitched 3-2/3 innings and was lifted after fifty pitches because the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association implemented a new pitch-count rule during the off-season.

Derek Joy is the scheduled starter for the first game of Fort Frye’s doubleheader against John Glenn High School on Saturday, but Coach Mason Lang decided to use him as a stopgap reliever to get out of the 6th. Joy didn’t enjoy the same success as Huck, though, and the Tigers played small ball to tack on two more and improve their lead to 7-2.

After the Cadets failed to get anything going in the bottom of the 6th, Joy walked Jared Hollister to lead off the 7th. Fort Frye Junior Zach Nesselroad entered to replace Joy, but he struggled to find the strike zone. He walked the first batter he faced and the Tigers took advantage of Nesselroad’s slow delivery to steal three bases on three consecutive pitches.

The Tigers would pile on four runs in their final inning at bat to take an 11-2 lead, and that’s where the score stood as Fort Frye went down in order to end the game.

The Cadets have four games left to finish the season. With a win, they had the opportunity to finish the season at .500, but the loss ensures their third consecutive losing season. Their final home game is against the Waterford Wildcats at 5:00 next Tuesday.

Athens’ favorite bakery

 

Village Bakery and Cafe

Nestled back on the corner of Alexander and West State Street,  with only a few parking spots, The Village Bakery and Cafe can be easy to miss if you’re not looking, but locals and students alike know this place very well.

While I think most places in Athens are unique, the Village Bakery and Cafe, is unlike any other place in our community, making it so loved and known to the community. Upon walking into the cafe, you’re greeted with an overwhelming smell of fresh bread, bright colors, and swarms of people that equal out to be much larger than the amount of parking. That’s how I know this is a favorite place-when you can barely find place to sit down. I’ve spent a lot of time here before, but when visiting to write this piece, I tried extra hard to soak up everything the bakery has to offer.

Bulletin boards fill the wall with local events, slogans, photos and local advertisements. One catches my eye that just says, “Socialism”, next to one from a student looking for work walking dogs. That’s what makes this place what it is: the mix of the unique community together in one place.

I come here for the food, like many others. With a limited amount of quick vegetarian and vegan options on Court Street, I come here for quick veggie frittatas, salads and pastries that I know will be fresh. To be as accurate and honest as possible for this article, I made sure I ordered a fair spread of food on this particular trip. I order the Karma, made with in-house bread, pesto and then topped with veggies. I also ordered their daily soup special, Tofu Curry and just to be safe, a raw, vegan Coconut and Blueberry ball, along with a cup of coffee, that’s also roasted locally in Athens.

Raw Coconut Blueberry balls
Tofu Curry soup
The Karma

The Village Bakery pride’s itself on creating their unique food by using local products and vendors, as well as growing their own food. Right now they are using products from over 15 vendors across the state of Ohio, and bring in new vendors each year to continue to grow. They also have their vendors locations’ painted on their walls.

Local, Christina Matzin says that not only is the food here good, but the “organization is run on some pretty respectable values”, making this one of her favorite spots in town.

Solar, wind, and geothermal are a few types sustainable energy sources that work behind the scenes to keep this bakery running. To accompany the bright, mismatching dishes, the walls are filled with hand painted slogans. “GeoThermal” is one that sits high above the pastry case, painted right on the air duct; representing the bakery’s efforts and pride in creating a place that’s not only welcoming, but also kind to the environment.

 

 

The Village Bakery’s tie to the community doesn’t stop at pastries and clean energy though. Their local grocery and fair trade gift section is another way they help to pull the community together, and help the local economy. Here, you can find a selection of wines from local vineyards, a small freezer of local grocery items and handmade gifts, jellies, syrups and more scattered around the bakery.

 

Owners, Christine and Bob took their passion for community and their success at the Village Bakery and opened up a second cafe on the other side of town. Just down the road from Larry’s Dawg House on Union St., the Catalyst Cafe, is a short bike ride from campus, and overlooks the Hocking River. The cafe opened less than 10 years ago to continue to bring delicious local products to the Athens community.

The two-story cafe offers a view of Athens like you can’t find anywhere else. Here you can find a few of the breakfast pastries offered at the Village Bakery, but at Catalyst. the main focus is on their locally roasted coffee, Italian Sodas, and smoothies. 

I opted for an Italian Creme Soda made with vanilla and almond, and a chocolate meringue cookie on my first trip to the Catalyst Cafe.

 

Student Phil Burdyn says he comes to the cafe to study, but his favorite part about the set of cafe’s “is their contribution to the local economy and the environment.”

The Invisibles of Ohio University

Steve Schall has been working for the university for 18 years, yet out of all the students I asked, not one had heard his name before.

So is it a privilege to have your existence recognized? For some of us, it is. The Resident Custodial Services at Ohio University are rarely seen, let alone thanked, for the vital work they provide to the campus area.

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” – Ralph Ellison

For more on the topic of work-related invisibility, read Peter Magdola’s, “Teaching, Learning, and Campus Custodians: Untidying the Conceptualizations of Wisdom in the Academy.”

LGBTQ Inclusivity Within Athens’ Churches

Keeping the faith during college can be a difficult task for students, especially for those who identify as LGBT.

Luckily for Ohio University students, Athens is peppered with a number of churches that advocate for LGBT inclusivity within their communities and doctrines.

Reverend Deborah Woolsey of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd said she’s seen an influx of LGBT students participating in liturgies and church activities since she started two years ago.

“The Episcopal Church has taken a national stance in favor of LGBTQ rights, and we’re a very supportive community,” Woolsey said.

Although the Episcopal Church has been accepting and welcoming of LGBTQ rights for decades, it officially announced its support for gay marriage in 2015 at the triennial General Convention, an event in which bishops from each diocese are invited to discuss church issues.

“It took some time because it’s not just approving the marriage, but liturgy is also very important, so we also had to approve the materials,” Woolsey said. “We wanted to create materials that were respectful and understandable for everyone.”

After the church’s announcement, materials were altered to exclude the words “male” and “female” wherever possible, in order to be more inclusive for all worshipping.

The Episcopal Church is also very accepting when it comes to LGBTQ individuals serving higher roles. The church has a large number LGBTQ priests, bishops, and other administrators within the Church.

Woolsey said the Good Shepherd’s congregation is constantly changing and gaining new members because of their location within the heart of Ohio University.

“We’re willing to welcome and receive the gifts that everyone brings, regardless of sexuality or gender,” Woolsey said. “We’re grateful for however long people decide to stay with us.”

While many churches in Athens advocate in favor of gay rights, some LGBTQ students have not quite found a community in which they feel entirely comfortable in.

Kelly, a sophomore studying journalism and political science, said she has not yet found her religious niche in Athens. Because she is not out to her family, her name has been changed in this story to keep her identity anonymous.

Kelly was raised within the Methodist Church, and spent countless hours attending worship, participating in church activities, and volunteering before coming to college.

While the Methodist Church’s doctrine has no official stance against LGBTQ individuals as lay people, they do not condone homosexuality within church positions, such as ministers or ordained persons.

“I feel a lot more connected to my Church back home where I know a lot of people in the community and grew up with them,” Kelly said. “I know how judgmental it can be, and I don’t really know how comfortable I am joining another church.”

Because Kelly is not out to her family or church congregation back home, she has not personally gone through any unpleasant experiences with unwelcoming members, like some Methodist LGBTQ individuals.

Regardless, Kelly believes her personal faith is more important than any role she could possibly have in a church congregation.

“I just remind myself that I have the right to be there,” Kelly said. “No matter what other people in the church might think of me and my sexuality, I still feel like it’s part of who I am.”

 

Robotic toy cars for kids

Having any kind of powered toy car meant you were the coolest kid on the block. All the other kids wanted one after seeing you driving down the block. Over time everyone ends up outgrowing the toy and packs it away, deep into the garage. These old toy cars can now be brought back to life, due to talented robotic students.

FRC, Shot by Troy Dramble

A robotics club at Dublin, Coffman high school is working hard to turn the toys into something useful. They are transforming it into a remote controlled car to enable kids with disabilities. Allowing a child with disabilities to ride in a toy car can be beneficial to their mobility and growth.

The advisors and students at Coffmans robotics team are trying to spread awareness for this cause. The robotics team is part of FIRST Robotics Competition. If you visit the website you can find teams around your area and help them get involved.

How Athens County is the poorest in Ohio — and how it represents Appalachia as a whole

According to the 2010 census, Athens County, Ohio is the poorest county in Ohio per capita — by a decent margin.

How and why is a region so culturally diverse and rich so economically poor?

Check out my podcast, “Eighty Eighth” for an in-depth look at the region.

Blow off the bars, Smoke Hookah


Binge drinking is dismissed as a temporary and accepted part of every college student’s life, underage drinking is viewed as a sort of right of passage for college students. What are the options for those who want to go out on the weekends and not underage drink though? Hookah.

Hookah!

Xan Spalding (19 years-old, Ohio University) is a Resident Assistant in one of the university residence halls. For Xan, underage drinking is an even bigger risk than for other students. If an RA is caught drinking underage they not only face the fines and legal charges everyone else does, they will lose those their job and be out a place to live.

“The awkwardness of running into one of my residence is not worth it! I’ve built friendships with all of them…but at the same time, I would be required to report them.” -Xan Spalding

Maybe you’re thinking that you would still be missing out then. Missing out on what though? While Hookah culture is definitely a unique one, it’s not called a hookah “bar” for nothing. Just about anything you can do at a bar, you can do at a hookah bar.

You can still dance and sing

Pyramids Athens Hookah Bar, much like other hookah bars, plays various hip-hop/R&B/dance music. If you were expecting tranquil Indian folk music…well, you are about to be disappointed.

Just like the groups of drunk people a few doors down, when a ’90s throwback or a favorite single comes on everyone dances and sings along. The best part? In Pyramids Athens Hookah Bar, you can control the AUX cord.

So, there’s dancing and singing…what about the pointless (but strangely still captivating to any bystander) party tricks?

Tequila shots with no cringing, going shot for shot, or chugging a pint of beer while spilling half of it down your freshly ironed t-shirt can be impressive (I guess?) but people can learn to blow O-rings, stack choo-choo trails, and blow hearts toward an admirable cutie at the hookah bar. The best part? They probably won’t throw up afterwards and can safely go home and make decisions for themselves.

While hookah isn’t for everyone and has it’s own list of concerns (cardio-respiratory health may be somewhere to start), it’s an alternative night life scene that is worth checking out.

At the ballpark: A look at all 30 teams heading into the 2017 season

Spring is upon us and that means one joyous thing; Baseball is back. The 2016 season left us with one of the greatest World Series in history. The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in over 108 years. They came back from a 3-1 deficit. (Will the Warriors jokes ever get old?)

The big question is, can 2017 live up to the hype? Will we see a Cubs repeat, or will another cinderella capture the crown? Who made moves and who is still stuck in the mud? I make my predictions and let you know about all 30 teams in this listicle of “At the Ballpark”

Down below you will find a short introduction on the good and the not so good of each team, along with a 2017 predicted record.

AL East

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox at Orioles May 21, 2012, Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Boston’s pitching staff has silently become one of the best in the league. At least on paper. David Price, Rick Porcello, plus the addition of Chris Sale should *cough* should make for a dominant season.

The Bad: With the loss of David Ortiz, possibly the Red Sox’s best hitter in franchise history, will the Red Sox be able to find a replacement that can adequately fill that void? Injuries to Dustin Pedroia and other key players could stall the offense.

Predicted Record: 91-71, First place in the AL East

Baltimore Orioles

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles June 28, 2013, Photo Via Flickr

The Good: There’s no debate. With Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and 2016 home run leader Mark Trumbo, these guys can hit the ball hard and far.

The Bad: Pitching. While their bullpen is anchored by Zach Britton and company, questions remain about the starters. Ubaldo Jiminez is a shell of his former dominant self, and with the rotation going a combined 38-44, the Orioles pitching will be the reason they lose the east, even with the additions of Zach Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Predicted Record: 82-80, Third in AL East

New York Yankees

New York Yankees April 23, 2011, Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Marashiro Tanaka is an ace in the starting rotation. With the return of Aroldis Chapman, the bullpen is strong again. And good bats in Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge will help lead the offense.

The Bad: Outside of Tanaka, the Yankees rotation struggles. The bullpen of Chapman and Dellin Betances will aid in later innings, but the starters will need to up their game.

Predicted Record: 84-78, Second in AL East

Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays at Orioles April 25, 2012, Photo Via Flickr

The GoodThe pitching prowess of Fransisco Liriano, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada will shut down offenses. Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donalson, and Russel Martin will continue their dominance over opposing pitchers.

The Bad: The Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion, a powerhouse first baseman who hit 42 homers for them last season. In addition, injuries plague Tulowitzki and Donaldson, two more power hitters.

Predicted Record: 81-81, Fourth in the AL East

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays at Orioles May 11, 2012, Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Like the Blue Jays, the Rays have great pitching potential. Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi are all solid and Blake Snell has a bright future ahead.

The Bad: The Rays need to score more runs. With the exception of Evan Longoria, the lineup struggled to plate runs. Kevin Kermaier, Colby Rasmus, Corey Dickerson, Matt Duffy will need to step up and find their swing if the Rays want a shot at the East.

Predicted Record: 72-90, Fifth in the AL East

AL Central

Cleveland Indians

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco were two of the most dominant pitchers in 2016. With Andrew Miller to close out games, pitching is no problem. The addition of Edwin Encarnacion and the return of Michael Brantley will vastly improve the offense.

The Bad: Injuries always seem to happen at the worst of times for the Tribe. Brantley is healthy, but for how long? Bauer cut his finger in the World Series, and Jason Kipnis is returning from the disabled list. The team needs to stay healthy if they want a return trip to the playoffs.

Predicted Record: 94-68, First in AL Central

Detroit Tigers

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The offensive lineup of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Nick Castellanos will return and again wreak havoc on opposing pitching.

The Bad: The Tigers give up too many runs on too many defensive mistakes. Not to mention the up and down pitching of Justin Verlander and company.

Predicted Record: 81-81, Second Place in AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: With great hitting from Jose Abreau, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, and Tim Anderson, the White Sox look poised to have a solid offensive year.

The Bad: The White Sox lose their best pitcher in Chris Sale and arguably their best hitter, Adam Eaton. Replacements and others in the lineup won’t be enough to fill the void.

Predicted Record: 68-94, Fourth Place in AL Central

Kansas City Royals

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain lead a strong offense. They do have a budding ace in Danny Duffy

The Bad: Royals wish it could go back to being 2015, when they won the World Series. With the loss of Kendrys Morales, the offense will struggle again this season. With the tragic loss of Yordana Ventura (R.I.P.), the pitching staff leaves something to be desired.

Predicted Record: 77-85, Third Place in AL Central

Minnesota Twins

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Max Kepler is a powerhouse for the Twins and will help lead the offense to great outputs. Bryon Buxton is looking to excel after his breakout season last year.

The Bad: The pitching staff is not good. Ervin Santana is the guy at number one, but he and Kyle Gibson just don’t cut it on talent.

Predicted Record: 67-95, Fifth place in AL Central

AL West

Texas Rangers

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Pickups of Mike Napoli and Jonathon Lucroy, along with the young talents of Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar, means the Rangers offense will lead most of the league.

The Bad: After Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, the Rangers rotation really drops in talent. With a so-so bullpen, the pitching staff is the weak link.

Predicted Record: 90-72, First in AL West

Oakland Athletics

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Khris Davis has tremendous power. Combined with Rajai Davis, Trevor Plouffe, and Matt Joyce, the A’s should have a solid offensive year.

The Bad: Sonny Gray is injured. Without their star ace, the Athletics pitching remains lackluster in a stellar division.

Predicted Record: 72-90, Fifth in AL West

Houston Astros

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Jose Altuve is one of the best two-way players in the league. George Springer and Carlos Correa add good power while their bullpen will help close out games.

The Bad: The starting rotation leaves questions in the minds of fans. Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHough had less than ideal seasons last year and will be hoping to improve.

Predicted Record: 84-78, Second in AL West

Los Angeles Angels

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Mike Trout may be the best player in baseball right now. His power is unmatched and his defensive playmaking ability is uncanny.

The Bad: Like many other teams, pitching is the problem. The Angels don’t have an ace and the bullpen isn’t strong. Their best hope is that Kole Calhoun can elevate his play to have a great season.

Predicted Record: 77-85, Fourth in AL West

Seattle Mariners

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Hitting the ball is no problem for this team. The combo of Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz will lead the offense.

The Bad: Felix Hernadez had a rough 2016. Will he be able to bounce back? The starting rotation needs to be more consistent and reliable if the Mariners want to win the West.

Predicted Record: 80-82, Third in AL West

NL East

Washington Nationals

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Bryce Harper is good. He is young and talented. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg headline a strong pitching staff.

The Bad: Injuries and relationships will be the two biggest factors to the Nationals success or downfall. Without Harper, there is not really a power hitter and the Nationals have been known to quarrel in the clubhouse.

Predicted Record: 91-71, First in NL East

Miami Marlins

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Giancarlo Stanton continues to pound baseballs over the fence. Along with Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich, this offense will score many runs.

The Bad: With the tragic loss of Jose Fernadez (R.I.P.), the Marlins don’t have an ace. The rotation is mediocre and the bullpen is just okay, lead by Brad Zeigler and Junichi Tazawa.

Predicted Record: 72-90, Fifth in NL East

New York Mets

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The Mets have good power in Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, and Travis d’Arnaud. Along with a great pitching staff of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets look poised to make a playoff run.

The Bad: With good hitting and pitching, the thing that plagues the Mets is defense. Also, this is an aging squad and with that also comes injuries.

Predicted Record: 88-74, Second in NL East

Atlanta Braves

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The Braves added quite a few players to their roster. The additions of Matt Kemp and Brandon Phillips will improve their offense. The pitching staff gets the additions of seasoned pros, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey.

The Bad: The rotation is young and inexperienced outside of Colon and Dickey. The pitching staff must work on lowering their ERA if they wish to compete for a playoff spot.

Predicted Record: 73-89, t-Third in NL East

Philadelphia Phillies

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Breakout seasons from Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez, along with the veteran Clay Bucholtz makes the Phillies pitching rotation a force to be reckoned with.

The Bad: The offensive lineup leaves something to be desired. Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders are veterans that can groom some of the rookies, but the talent just isn’t in the Phillies’ bats.

Predicted Record: 73-89, t-Third in NL East

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The World Series champs see much of the roster stay the same. Good output in Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber leads the offensive front and the pitching rotation has depth and talent.

The Bad: The loss of closer, Aroldis Chapman hurts the Cubs. While the pitching staff may be stacked, Jon Lester and John Lackey are in the finals seasons of their careers. Injuries could become a factor.

Predicted Record: 99-63, First in the NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The Cardinals have an ace in Carlos Martinez and other great arms in Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha pave the way for a good pitching staff. The addition of Dexter Fowler in center field will also add a good bat in the lineup.

The Bad: The Cardinals lost ace Alex Reyes, a key part of their solid rotation. Without him, the rest of the staff will need to step up and improve their best in order for the Cardinals to compete.

Predicted Record: 86-76, Second in NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The Pirates should have a strong pitching rotation in Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova this season. Andrew McCutchen is looking to bounce back and return to his former MVP style of play.

The Bad: Injuries and poor play crippled the Pirates hopes of contending last season and still could be a factor this season. Without good output from McCutchen and the starters mentioned above staying healthy, the Pirates will find themselves in trouble.

Predicted Record: 76-86, Third in NL Central

Cincinnati Reds

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, and Jose Peraza will look to build on the strong finishes that they had last season. They have a lot of young talent, however, most of it is untested rookies on the pitching staff.

The Bad: The pitching staff needs to improve. They posted a 5.09 ERA last season and were plagued by injuries. Without vast improvements, the Reds will not be seeing any chances of competing.

Predicted Record: 68-94, Fifth in NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Ryan Braun continues to hit well. The Brewers found two great pitching stars in Junior Guerra and Zach Davies and two emerging offensive talents in Jonathon Villar and Keon Broxton.

The Bad: The pitching staff lacks an ace and is overall subpar throughout the rotation. Every pitcher was below the league average in wins and struggled with command and ERA.

Predicted Record: 71-91, Fourth in NL Central

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Clayton Kershaw’s reliable stellar pitching and the offensive lineup of Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez, and emerging talent Corey Seager will power the Dodgers to the playoffs.

The Bad: After Kershaw, the Dodgers lack depth in talent. Rich Hill is aging, Kenta Maeda struggled to close out 2016, and besides closer, Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers bullpen staff is less than ideal.

Predicted Record: 92-70, First in NL West

San Francisco Giants

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: The Giants have a great starting rotation including Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Moore. Also, the addition of Mark Melancon will really help out the bullpen.

The Bad: The bullpen struggled last season and was the downfall of the Giants. They blew 30 saves and struggled mightily with keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Predicted Record: 89-73, Second in NL West

Colorado Rockies

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: After leading the NL in runs last season, Ian Desmond, rookie sensation, Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, and DJ LeMahieu look to continue the hot hitting for the Rockies.

The Bad: Injuries could plague the pitching staff and possibly the lineup. Desmond and two pitchers are already injured and if the Rockies wish to return to being a dark horse contender, they need to stay healthy.

Predicted Record: 76-86, Third in NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Additions of Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta will vastly improve the Diamondbacks pitching core and Paul Goldschmidt looks poised to lead the offense.

The Bad: After Zach Greinke, the pitching staff doesn’t look like it will be able to support the team. After giving up the most runs last season, the Diamondbacks will need to figure out how to better their pitching staff.

Predicted Record: 70-92, Fourth in NL West

San Diego Padres

Photo Via Flickr

The Good: Wil Myers is an all-star candidate hitter. Along with additions of Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, and sluggers Hunter Renfroe and Ryan Schimpf, the Padres offense is looking poised to be in for a great 2017.

The Bad: Like many other teams, the pitching staff seems to be the downfall of the Padres. Last season’s 4.43 ERA can’t cut it in the league. Without an ace or any strong talent in the bullpen,  the pitching staff loses the Padres any chance at contending.

Predicted Record: 67-95, Fifth in NL West