There is no question that baseball is the sport of the summer. With the MLB season’s second half underway, every game means so much more. Rivalries get more intense, and playoff races get tighter by the day. Two classic rivalries are featured in this week’s Top Five Live.
Although the UFC is taking over the combat sports scene, boxing is attempting to make a comeback. However, over the past couple decades WWE has remained a constant in the fighting and entertainment industry. The UFC is on a roll that will continue through the rest of July, but Monday night belongs to the WWE.
Lastly, the British Open takes over the weekend from Thursday to Sunday. Every course that hosts the British Open is steeped in golf history, and this week will no different. Let’s cross the pond and get started at Royal Birkdale.
British Open – Royal Birkdale – 7/20 to 7/23
For as much as golf has grown in popularity in the U.S., its most avid fan base can be found in Europe. Scotland is credited as the birthplace of golf, so any time the British Open comes around, fans from the United Kingdom flock to the course to see the best in the world compete. This year, the historic Royal Birkdale in Southport, England will host the year’s third major. Royal Birkdale is a challenging course, and the list of British Open champions here are some of the best players in the history of the sport. Winners include: Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Padraig Harrington.
In Europe, the most popular style of golf is played on a links course. This means that there is no surrounding woods or forest areas and the course is relatively flat. This makes the course sound easy; however, the flat course combined with the location close to the Atlantic Ocean allows for the elements to come in to play. Additionally, rain and wind are usually always part of the British Open whether they are invited or not. Bunkers also come in to play on every hole on this course.
The players that are likely to contend are Henrik Stenson, defending British Open Champion, and Brooks Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open back in June. Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are other contenders that will be looking to turn their season’s around after a lack luster first half. At tournaments such as these, it seems that history is made every year. The British Open is one tournament you won’t want to miss.
Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Fenway Park – 7/20
The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have been putting on a show for fans at Fenway Park this week. The teams have had two intense match ups on Monday and Tuesday of this week, with Toronto winning the opener 4-3 and the Red Sox striking back 5-4 the night after. Hanley Ramirez’s remarkable home run flew out of the ball park in the 15th inning for a walk off win.
As leaders in the AL East, the Red Sox have come out in the second half and just played okay. There seems to be no rhythm, and the wins they have been able to put together have been by slim margins. With the Yankees making a blockbuster trade to acquire thirdbaseman Todd Frazier, the pressure is on the Red Sox to start producing or make a move. Their offense has a few cornerstones, but has been unable to maintain their consistency. A big start from newcomer Doug Fister would give the team a boost and the opportunity for the bats to start producing.
Toronto is just focused on the next game at this point in the season. They have some work to do, but are still well within reach of a Wild Card playoff spot. The Blue Jays offense suffers from a similar problem as the Red Sox. Inconsistent play has frustrated the fan base, and they are in the bottom third of most important offensive categories in the league.
In other words, both teams need sparks heading in to the later parts of the season, and winning the finale of this four game series could be the answer.
UFC Fight Night: Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum – Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – 7/22
This summer, the UFC is putting on event after event. The list of enticing match ups has fans of the sport excited, especially the upcoming UFC Fight Night this Saturday night in Long Island. Hometown favorite Chris Weidman is headlining the main event along with rising star Kelvin Gastelum. Both fighters are at crossroads in their career, only adding to the hype surrounding the bout.
Chris Weidman, once the king of the middleweight division, has been beaten decisively in his last three bouts. After winning 13 straight to start his career, Weidman has been knocked out by Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi. He is still the #5 contender in the division, but will have to prove he still belongs in the top flight of the division with a much needed win against Kelvin Gastelum.
Gastelum had a productive 2016, going 2-0 and establishing himself in the division. However, a no contest and a suspension in 2017 has left fans and experts in doubt of what the next step for Gastelum is. He has all the tools to be a successful fighter in the UFC, and is much younger and fresher than Weidman. Experience is always huge factor in the UFC, but we’ll see if raw talent can overcome that in this upcoming fight. Gastelum is currently ranked 8th in the Middleweight division. A win for either of these fighters most likely positions them one more win away from the title conversation.
The other fight drawing attention is in the Featherweight division. Dennis Bermudez versus Darren Elkins will be a match up that pits two experience veterans against each other. Elkins comes in with the better form, but Bermudez has all the tools to win the match. Another classic night in the UFC is expected.
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Wrigley Field – 7/23
One of the longest standing rivalries in baseball is the is getting renewed this week. The upcoming series for the Cubs and Cardinals should be particularly potent. Both teams are firmly entrenched in the race for a wild card play off spot and the division lead. The Cubs currently have the upper hand on the Cardinals, but both teams are looking up at the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
The Chicago Cubs have seem to have righted the ship since they started this season with an understandable World Series hangover. Their current six game win streak has help considerably, as they seemed to have flipped the switch midway through the season. One aspect that would increase their playoff chances is an improved from their starting pitchers. Currently Jon Lester leads the starters with an incredibly average ERA of 4.07. Jake Arrieta leads the team with 9 wins. Most clubs have a pitcher or two in double digits at this point in the season. The Cubs realized their shortcomings and acquired Jose Quintana from their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox. His debut did not disappoint.
On the other hand, the pitching staff for the Cardinals is their strong suit. With Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals feel great about their starting pitching every night. Wainwright is a gamer with incredible stuff, and has tallied 11 wins this season. Carlos Martinez is an eccentric flamethrower that leads the with 133 strikeouts.
In the upcoming series, each team’s best pitchers will take the hill. Martinez vs. Arrieta, Wainwright vs. Lester and Wacha vs. Quintana are the projected starters for this pivotal NL Central showdown.
WWE: Monday Night Raw – Verizon Center – 7/24
Are you ready to rumble? Monday Night Raw in Washington, D.C. promises to be one of the best nights of the summer. A huge arena with greats fans coupled with a star-studded line up has fans excited.
Champions will be in the arena to showcase their skills, as well as some of the biggest names in Raw. Alexa Bliss and Bayley are slated to square off for the women’s division in Raw. Bliss is the current champion, but Bayley is a former champion looking to reclaim her belt.
WWE Raw fans will also be able to witness one of the biggest rivalries that has developed in recent years. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose is a match that every Raw fan can’t wait to see. They have been trading the Intercontinental Championship belt, with The Miz being the current owner. Dean Ambrose won’t stop until he gets back.
An epic fight from Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman is likely to ensue as well at the Verizon Center on Monday night as well. Appearances from Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Samoa Joe and the Hardy Bros are also expected. Find your cheap WWE tickets here for this must-see performance on Monday night.