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A die hard fan's takes on UCF, Liverpool, Orlando City, and more

The New York Yankees New Baby Bombers

It took the Yankees months of treading water. Well maybe treading is not an accurate word. They were a sinking ship with no direction. Instead of playing the young players they were satisfied with the likes of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Oh how the times have changed. Beltran is gone, so is Andrew Miller. Arod  was forced out and Tex announced his retirement. One would think that the yankees would be in. Full tank mode and out of playoff contention by now. Yet that is not the case. Since the trade deadline this collection of Yankee players have looked better than any Yankee teams assembled in the past 3 years. That is because the old guard is finally gone. Replaced with a new crop of young players that are carrying the Yankees into second wildcard contention(be it a long shot). 

Gary Sanchez has been even better than advertised. In 21 games since getting called up, Sanchez has 9 homeruns with 16 RBIs and a .386 batting average and a .797 slugging percentage. Most of those that read the blog know that I prefer the advanced metrics, so let us look that those. Sanchez has a wRC of 20, a wRAA of 11.5, wOBA of .505, and a wRC+ of 225. For those that do not know what those stats means let me put this in layman's terms for you: Gary Sanchez is pretty friggan good. In fact he has been outstanding. Well above what many had projected him to be. The Yankees have lacked power, outside of Beltran, for most of the season. Sanchez seems to remedy that. We haven't seen a debut like this since Greg Bird's last season. Sanchez also makes Brian McCann obsolete and should be moved this off season. After the failed promise of Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez is the catcher of the future.

Then there is Aaron Judge. Ever since  he was drafted, Yankee fans have been hopeful that Judge would be the promised child. The Yankees version of Giancarlo Stanton. The next great superstar to wear pinstripes. Sure there have been ebbs and flows of Judge (2 Homeruns 7 RBIs while batting .222) but that is the natural progression of a rookie. Let us look at his advanced metrics:his WRC is 5, his wRAA is -.2, his wOBA is .313 and a wRC+ of 92. So far average.  Of course you have morons(hi most New York Media outside of Mike Axisa), that  are already hitting the panic button. We have seen flashes in the pan, like Will Middlebrooks, fade. It is the players that have struggled early on and adjusted that have shown the longest staying power. Plus the Yankees should have called him up to start the season over the heap that is Aaron Hicks. Don't worry Yankee fans, Judge will be the player that he was promised to be.

You know early in the season, I bashed the Yankees for starting veterans like Dustin Ackley and McCann over these young prospects. That multiple people in the front office had no idea what they were doing. That these young prospects needed to be called up. That the Yankees did need to rehash and rebuild. Now you see why. Sure there have been some struggles from the young players, but atleast now the Yankees can see actually what they have. Instead of going against minor league pitching, the Yankees can see how these prospects against major leaguers. It is too bad that the Yankees wasted the beginning of the season relying on terrible veterans like Dustin Ackley and the likes of Torreyes. It would have been fun to see these young players from the start of the season.

So the New York Yankees have a new core of young players. A new set of Baby Bombers. This core has given Yankee fans a new sensation. The feeling of hoping the team will tank to rebuild even further. But here we are after the trade deadline and the Yankees were sellers. The fans couldn't be happier. Sure some casual Yankee fans will be upset by the selling off of names. But for the vast majority of fans, the Yankees were the clear winners of the trade deadline. Finally, Yankee fans can celebrate and rejoice. There is hope in the future for the New York Yankees.

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Celebrating Mediocrity: The George O'Leary statue

​George O'Leary is getting a statue. UCF is going to build a statute for the man that coached the team UCF from 2004-2015. He is the only coach most UCF fans know. Under his tutelage UCF won 4 conference championships, won the first bowl game in school history, and guided the team to the biggest upset in Fiesta Bowl  history. O'Leary never wavered from UCF. He could have gone to other schools or return to the NFL, but he never left Orlando. Under O'Leary UCF has had multiple players in the NFL. The likes of Brandon Marshall, Kevin Smith, Latavius Murray, and Blake Bortles all owe their careers to George. He was the staple in the program. The face of UCF.

You see I can whitewash history too. The idea of George O'Leary getting statue was first brought up by some writer for the college paper. I laughed, the idea about honoring George O'Leary with a statue was ludicrous. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it was a practical idea. Never did I think my beloved university would ever stoop to those lengths. But here we are. UCF honoring O'Leary with a statue following the worst season in program history. And all I can ask is why? Why are we honoring this man that was mediocre on the field and even worse off of it. 

O'Leary always treated the fans like we were stupid. That he was Bear Bryant reincarnated. That the fans did not deserve him. He was above us. Oh and he wasn't afraid to mention that in his interviews. He lectured the fans about attendance. Hell he even begged fans of FSU and UF to become UCF fans. That he wanted "Gator-Knights". What George were we not good enough for you? You see George seemed to forget that UCF saved him. Rescued him from being blacklisted from college football following the resume scandal. UCF athletic director Steve Orsini saved O'Leary's coaching career. And how did George repay UCF? With scandal.

There is a segment of the UCF fandom that likes to pretend that Ereck Plancher was no big deal. In fact some will even go so far as to not refer to Plancher by name. That eight years have passed and it's time to move on. That is utter bullshit. You see no one knows exactly what happened the day Ereck Plancher died. No one knows for sure if O'Leary knew that Plancher suffered from Sickle Cell Anemia. Or if George verbally berated Plancher for not being tough when Plancher collapsed on the practice field. All we do know is that a young man is dead. A kid who was living the dream of going to college and playing the sport he loved. Ereck Plancher never graduated. He will never get to play in the NFL or hang out with friends. Ereck Plancher died unnecessarily. Ereck Plancher should always be mentioned when talking about O'Leary.  And that should be on the statue in big bold letters right next to George's accomplishments. 

I do not usually moralize when it comes to sports. In fact I think that Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame and that Lance Armstrong is still the greatest athlete I have seen. But when it comes to O'Leary I can not help but moralize. It hurts me to my soul that this man is the face of my alma mater. That UCF is now forever mentioned with George. I can not shake my gross distaste of him. His morals, his views, everything. Let us not forget that in the years following Ereck Plancher's death he questioned player's toughness. The 60 + year old man that had a player die on his watch is questioning college kids about toughness. I don't know if it was ignorance or arrogance, but whatever the case it shows George's lack of accountability. You see George never admitted when he was wrong. It was always the player's fault when the team would lose. He was the equivalent of Mike Rice minus the video. 

 Now some will say, what about the Joe Paterno statue? After all Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky for years. Well Penn State tore that statue down. Intelligent minds prevailed.  I can only hope that the same can be said for UCF. 

But let's talk about George the football coach. There has never been a more mediocre coach to be honored by a statue. Yes he served 11 years as football coach. Oh wait I mean 10 since he quit in the middle of last season. His record at UCF was an underwhelming 81-72(yes, I credited him with the 4 additional losses even though he quit last year). Yes he did win 4 conference titles and a BCS game, however he also a has the dubious honor of having 2 winless seasons under his belt. George O'Leary is nothing without Dave Huxtable and/or Charlie Taaffe. Can you name for me please another program that would honor a head coach that has 2 winless seasons? Let us not forget that prior to Bortles, Perriman, Hall, etc that George never strung back to back winning seasons together. You see George was not very good until the classes of 2010-2011 arrived. These players saved him from being fired. 

Fans will claim that George O'Leary built UCF. That UCF could not have gotten Scott Frost had it not been for what George built. But what these fans have forgotten is that he nearly destroyed the program. UCF stopped recruiting the state of Florida, in O'Leary's final years at the school. He torched every relationship he had with the Orlando and south Florida high schools. He ignored local recruits in favor of kids from out of state(go look up Paxton Lynch's recruitment and who O'Leary signed instead of Lynch). In fact UCF had more Florida based recruits in Frost's few months on the job than in O'Leary's last 2 recruiting classes. That is unbelievably bad and got away from UCF's identity. 

Then there was Brent Key. The golden child in O'Leary's eyes. His presumed  successor. Key had played for O'Leary at Georgia Tech  and came to UCF as offensive line coach. Key had proven on multiple occasions to not be worthy of his vast promotions. Yet there he was climbing up the coaching ranks while other deserving coaches( Tyson Summers), left the program. Primarily because Key played for O'Leary. George was more interested in protecting his good ole boy network than getting the right man for the job,  Luckily, Key was such a failure as offensive coordinator last year that he was fired and is now Alabama's problem now. But imagine if Key had been moderately successful and if George had stayed as athletic director. The damage that would have been done would have been catastrophic. 

George demeaned toughness of his players, yet when the road got rough he packed his bags and left. Yes, he did help to give UCF national spotlight, but he almost destroyed the program. So if the school wants to honor a mediocre coach with a statue that is fine. But let us not pretend that George is in the same class as Bobby Bowden or Spurrier. 

As George got older he tried to be like Bobby and Spurrier with remarks that some had dubbed "George-isms". Of course O'Leary lacked the wit and charm of either of these men. George desperately wanted to be like these two. He wanted to become the beloved college football coach figure and failed. What he failed to grasp was that two court cases, treating the fanbase like idiots, and not being that good of a football coach made him(and by extension UCF)  a punching bag rather than beloved.

 I will never forget the headlines after UCF won the Fiesta Bowl. I had hoped that it would be about the underdog nature of the team. The players that had been neglected by big programs and came to UCF. How this was the ultimate college football underdog. Instead they were about George and his failures in and off the field. Maybe that's why I am bitter, because instead of celebrating this team of players that I loved, it was all about George. 
So here we are the day I never thought was possible. George O'Leary is getting a statue and I can't help but feel dirty. 

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The Best Players in Modern UCF Football History: Number 8

Running backs have always been a priority at UCF. In fact some of the most productive players in UCF history have been running backs. Many of which can be considered for this list. But there are two in particular that really standout from the pack. Two that have provided UCF fans with a boatload of memories and should be revered in lore. Without these two backs, UCF would not have a conference championship or a bowl win. Still there is a gap between the two backs and we will get to the other running back later(though UCF fans can figure out who that is). But for now let us talk about the player  that is coming in at 8. A player that was supposed to be the heir app rant at the running back position in 2008 and delivered. A player that carried the team to a conference championship and the first bowl win in UCF history. 

Number 8: Latavius Murray
Latavius Murray was not a well known commodity to UCF fans when he was first signed. Murrary after all was from New York and not Florida. But Murray would soon become a beloved player in UCF fans hearts. Murray was an elegant bull. The reincarnation of Chris Perry. He wasn't the fastest of players, but he had the raw power.  The power to make people pay for trying to arm tackle him. If it wasn't for Kevin Smith, Latavius Murray could be considered the best running back in UCF history. Murrary was also one of the key contributors to one of the greatest upsets in UCF history. In fact one can say that without Latavius Murray that modern UCF football would look very different. He was the heart and soul of the teams that he played on and is one of the most beloved players. That is why he comes in at number 8.

Latavius Murray numbers are beyond impressive. In his years at UCF, Murray compiled 2,424 rushing yards with 37 touchdowns on 453 career carries. On top of this he had 50 catches for 524 yards and 6 TDS. To say that Murray was a workhorse is an understatement. The only reason why he didn't get more carries is because he was injured his true sophomore year. On top of his stats, Murray had a number of accolades. He was the 2010 Conference USA championship MVP, the 2010 Liberty Bowl MVP, he was the UCF offensive MVP, conference USA first team, and was named to the Doak Walker award watchlist in 2012. For any other program, Murray would widely be considered one of their, if not the, best running back. Latavius Murray was a special player.

Earlier, I talked about player's having special moments. Moments that last forever in a fanbase's collective memory. Well in 2010, Latavius Murray had his moment. In the Liberty Bowl against a favored Georgia team. The SEC prides itself on defense especially with stopping the run. Yet, Murray ran for 104 yards and was a heat seeking missile through the Bulldog defense. They couldn't figure out how to stop Murray. But the moment that truly stands is his run to seal the game. UCF was trailing 6-3 with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter. UCF had the ball at the ten yard line and a field goal would have sealed a tie. Instead UCF handed the ball off to Murray who took it in for a touchdown. It would be the game winning score and sealed UCF's first ever bowl win. Without that run, UCF is not the program that it is today. That touchdown shaped modern UCF history. That could not have occurred if not for Latavius Murray.

Latavius Murray was truly a special player for UCF. He is one of the most beloved players in UCF history.  He is probably the second best running back that UCF has ever had. One has to wonder if he hadn't gotten injured earlier in his career what his stats would have looked like. The only reason why Murray isn't higher up in this list is because Kevin Smith played here. If Smith did not exist, than Murray would be considered the greatest UCF running back in history. 
Hint for Number 7: The most Popular and productive defensive end makes an appearance.

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