From the Bleachers: Where White’s Legacy Stands after Third Gold, Who’s Going to Move on in the Champions League, and Can Recent Moves Fix the Cavaliers?

Credit to Alyssa Barber

Dominic Hoscher, editor, points to the field on the bleachers of FHN.

By Dominic Hoscher, Editor

The past seven days in all of professional sports have been full of exhilarating moments and game-changing moves. One of the biggest names in the MLB’s free agency market finally found his new home, a frenzy of trades have shaken up the NBA, and two of the world’s most popular competitions made their return in thrilling style. One of these competitions is the Winter Olympics.

In South Korea, the 23rd Winter Olympics have gotten off to a flying start, with many key moments already showcasing what makes these Games so great. Red Gerard and Chloe Kim, two of the youngest athletes in PyeongChang with both being just 17 years old, won gold in their separate snowboarding events for the United States while Canada came out on top in a team figure skating event that saw three countries fight for gold all of the way up until the final skaters took the ice. The list of notable moments is a long one, but the one that has grabbed the most attention so far is in the halfpipe with arguably the Game’s biggest name: Shaun White.

White was able to add yet another gold medal to his already legendary legacy in his snowboarding event. With this, the 31-year old snowboarder has taken the sport’s world by storm. Some have just marveled at the pure genius of White’s performance, while others have taken it a step further as to the point where they’re starting to wonder where his legacy stands among some of the Olympics’ greatest athletes.

From the Olympics to the world’s biggest sport, the first four matches of the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League took place all across Europe. Between some of the sport’s top clubs contesting in high-scoring affairs to top showings from some of its’ best players, the opening set of games has already provided plenty of excitement and storylines. But these were just the first legs of the knockout round, and plenty of soccer is left to be played. How will the second legs play out, and who will advance to the quarterfinals?

Returning to the States, moves in both the NBA and MLB have the potential to shake up both leagues. A flurry of transactions have shifted the balance of power in basketball back to familiar favorites, while a rare signing in this offseason window looks to have a drastic impact on some of the tightest races in baseball. What do these moves mean for their respective leagues, and are these just the first dominoes to fall in the MLB? Each of these questions will be answered in this week’s column.



On Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning in PyeongChang), history was made in South Korea. American snowboarder Shaun White won a record third gold medal in his halfpipe event, and did it in thrilling style. In the final round of the halfpipe, it was a three-horse race between White, Australia’s Scotty James, and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano. The three were the heavy favorites coming into the event, and not a single one of them disappointed. After the first run, the American was able to jump out in front with a score of 94.25, while James finished second in the round with a 92.00. Hirano was able to turn it around in the second run, however, leaping up to first place after putting up a 95.25.

Where does Shaun White rank all-time among greatest US Olympians?

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Through the opening two runs, the Japanese snowboarder led the pack with White and James right behind him. What came in the third and final run was special, and led to the history books being rewritten while also producing lots of hugs and tears. The first of the three to drop into the halfpipe for their final run was Hirano who fell after one of his last jumps and was forced to rely on his previous score. Next up was James, who was eliminated from gold medal contention after he hit the snow after his fourth jump. Finally, it was White’s turn to deliver and deliver he did. After nailing each jump and trick he attempted, Shaun White earned a score of 97.75 and a spot on the top of the podium.

White’s third gold medal was an event record, and has put him on top of the snowboarding world once again. While the Olympian reacted with a flood of tears, the sports world responded in a different way. They responded with a question, one that asks where does this historic accomplishment place White among some of the United States’ greatest Olympians. For him to get on the level of greats such as Michael Phelps or even Bode Miller, he would first have to achieve greatness and earn the title of “greatest of all time” in his sport. White has certainly already accomplished this with a record total of gold medals.

Next, he would have to become an icon in the sport to go along with producing iconic moments. When the average Olympics fan thinks of swimming, their first thoughts, more often than not, will go immediately to Phelps. This has occurred not just because of the golds he has won, but also all of the heart-stopping races he won and the many memorable moments in which he produced. Through winning gold at the age of 19 and now overcoming medal-worthy performances out of James and Hirano after disappointment four years ago in Sochi, White has also done more than enough to be an icon in the sport of snowboarding.

What ultimately is holding White back from this level is complete dominance of the sport. Winning three golds definitely appears to be dominant, and it is, but not quite to the extent as Phelps (and even leaving the States with Usain Bolt) has dominated his sport. Phelps and Bolt, year after year and event after event, consistently came out with gold and never truly faltered. The one blemish on White’s Olympic record is his Games in 2014, where he finished off of the podium entirely in Sochi, Russia. While this may keep him off of the top of the list of Olympic greats, White’s three golds place him among the next best set of American athletes who have earned a spot in their country’s record books.



It’s been a long two months since the last ball was kicked in the competition, but the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) finally kicked off in Europe with plenty of goals, stars, and storylines all coming out of the opening set of matches. Tuesday’s pair of games differed greatly in terms of the final scores, with England’s Manchester City smashing FC Basel 4-0 on the road and Tottenham drawing an exciting contest with the Italian powerhouse Juventus 2-2.

While the Manchester City tie is pretty much already decided barring a miraculous comeback by Basel in the second leg, Harry Kane and the Spurs have opened up numerous possibilities in their contest with Juventus after bringing the game back level despite trailing 2-0 at one point during the match. The two away goals have completely reshaped each team’s focus, as Tottenham are rolling with all of the momentum heading into the second leg in three weeks time at Wembley. Juventus, on the other-hand, are now forced to press on the offensive side of the ball which could prove dangerous in an away match with the likes of Kane and Dele Alli on the other side.

With all of that being said, the team that’ll advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League will still be Juventus. Yes, it could look a little bit better for the champions of Italy, but there are a few reasons as to why they’re still in the stronger position to advance, the first being experience. Juve has made it to the final of the UCL in two of the last three seasons, while this is the first time since the 2010/11 season that Tottenham has even made it to the knockout round. In this tournament and on this stage, having the edge in this category usually can be the difference between who moves on and who doesn’t. This was the case with Barcelona against PSG last season, and Real Madrid the past two years.

Which team, that won in their first match of the knockout stage, has the best chance of winning the UEFA Champions League?

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To go along with having the edge in experience, Juventus are also expected to have one of their most important players return for the second leg in Paulo Dybala. Dybala has scored 16 goals in 24 appearances in all competitions with Juve this season, and has been out since January 6 with a hamstring injury. Getting a player of his caliber back into the center attacking midfield role will have a monumental impact for Juventus, who are desperate for his creativity on the attack. Tottenham should be feeling good after the opening leg, but those feelings will soon come to an end with Dybala and an experienced Juve side coming into Wembley in a few weeks.

Prediction: Manchester City holds on vs. FC Basel, while Juventus overcomes Tottenham to advance to the quarterfinals

The next two games on Wednesday boasted similar results as to the one’s seen on the day prior. Yet another English side hammered another European club, as Liverpool netted five against FC Porto winning by a final score of 5-0. The match that drew all of headlines, though, was between the prestigious clubs of Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid, both of whom are widely considered as favorites to win the entire tournament. The matchup saw two of the biggest names in the world go head-to-head, as Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo battled under the spotlight.

Only one of the two stars were able to shine in the contest, as Ronaldo was able to net a brace and lead his Los Blancos past Neymar’s PSG by a score of 3-1 in Madrid. The result was a massive one for a Real Madrid team that has had a rather disappointing 2017/18 campaign, but there are still 90 minutes to be played and they’ll be played in Paris where anything can happen. Just over a year ago, Neymar led Barcelona back to complete an improbable comeback against his current club PSG. Now he’ll be asked to do the same with Paris, and has more than enough talent around him to do it again, with the likes of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe leading the French club’s attack.

If the three of these players all come out strong in three weeks, then the odds of PSG advancing to the quarters is likely. However, in order for this to happen they’ll have to commit more men up front and play a more risky, offensive game which could open up more room for a Madrid attack that features Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and potentially the speedy Welshman Gareth Bale. One away goal in the second leg shakes up the entire tie, which will force the champions of France to aim for a clean sheet and team’s that hope to do this against Real Madrid usually do not get their wish.

Prediction: Liverpool advances past FC Porto, and Real Madrid holds on to eliminate PSG



To say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have had a season that’s equivalent to a roller coaster ride would be an underestimate. Coming into the year, the Cavs were not just the favorites to win the Eastern Conference but were also given the best odds of defeating the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. With LeBron James, Kevin Love, and the newly acquired Isaiah Thomas leading the way, it was more than reasonable to think this. Cleveland had more than enough talent to be a heavyweight once again in the East, but it takes more than just having talent to be a true championship contender and the Cavs proved that through the first half of the season.

A week prior to the trade deadline, Cleveland was getting decimated by teams such as the Thunder and Rockets, while also dropping games to the Pistons and Magic. LeBron was being asked to do too much, with Thomas and Love simply underperforming night in and night out. The Cavaliers were a mess, and needed change in one way or the other with the trade deadline quickly approaching. And change is what they got, even more so than anyone expected.

On February 8, LeBron’s crew blew up the trade deadline, dealing nearly half of their entire team in a span of a few hours. The Cavs sent out Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade and a 2018 first rounder and brought in Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, George Hill, and Larry Nance Jr. On paper, this new Cavaliers team was nearly unrecognizable from the one that was present just a week ago. The question was, could they also become an entirely new team on the court as well?

This was put the test almost immediately after the deadline, as the Cavs would take on both the Celtics and Thunder in the coming days. In both games, as well as the first one after the trades against the Hawks, Cleveland looked like title contenders once again. They won each of the three games, decimating the Celtics 121-99 in Boston and then took down the Thunder two days later by a score of 120-112 in Oklahoma City. These were games that the Cavs not only lost a few weeks ago, but weren’t even competitive in.

Heading into the All Star Break, a new question has surfaced for the Cavs: Are these games a sign of things to come for the reigning Eastern Conference champions? Even though it’s a small sample size, their last three games show that LeBron and company are back on track for yet another Finals appearance. James is playing his best basketball of the year, leading his team in points, assists, and rebounds during their winning streak. Clarkson and Hood have already made an impact on the offensive side of the ball, each tallying double-digits in points in both of their first two games with Cleveland while Nance Jr. and Hill have fit in perfectly, both having played 20+ minutes in their debuts.

The Warriors and Rockets are still the top two teams in the NBA going into the break. No trade could’ve changed that. However, the gap between them and the new-look Cavaliers has become much narrower than it was at the beginning of the month and Cleveland is once again back to being the favorites in the East.



While the Cavaliers’ season can be compared to a roller coaster ride, the MLB offseason is similar to waiting in line all day just to go on a two minute ride. There has been an usually low amount of transactions over the past few months in the world of baseball, with free agents like Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer still available despite spring training already kicking into gear. One of the biggest reasons as to why some of the big names are still on the market is due to the absurdly high asking prices of these players. Hosmer and Arrieta want something in the range of $140-160 million, but there have even been rumors of the two wanting closer to $200 million. That just isn’t going to happen, as most teams are looking to avoid overpaying for some of the players still on the market and until they lower their prices, they’re going to remain unsigned.

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One team that wasn’t deterred by the price of the player that they had set their sights on was the Chicago Cubs, who signed righty Yu Darvish to a six year, $150 million deal last weekend. In an NL Central division that is loaded with deep lineups but slightly weaker starting rotations, the Cubs now boast far and away the best starting five in the division with Darvish joining the likes of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana. Put this rotation together with an offense that consists of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and the Cubs are not just the best team in the Central on paper but may be as strong as any team in the league.

With this signing, the floodgates should finally open up with the remaining free agents. Teams still won’t budge on asking prices that are too high, but as the season draws closer these players and their agents will become more desperate and be forced to lower their prices. On the opposite end, teams like the Brewers and Cardinals who each have had strong offseasons will be looking to avoid being left in the dust by their rival Cubs and will also be forced to get out of their comfort zone and make a deal happen if they hope to remain in contention.

That deal, for both teams, involves improving their starting pitching. Milwaukee was able to strengthen their lineup with the acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, while St. Louis added Marcell Ozuna to an already strong outfield. Offensively, the Brewers and Cardinals can both contend with Chicago. That’s not the issue. The issue for the pair of them is that their rotations are full of question marks, and the only way for either of them to try and get onto the Cubs’ level (or get close to it) is through adding a starter either through trade or free agency.

This is where Arrieta comes back in. Both the Brew Crew and Redbirds have been reported to have interest in signing the ex-Cub, and Chicago’s signing of Darvish only ramps up their interest. While it’s unlikely they meet Arrieta at the exact price he wants, both parties could feel more inclined to reach an agreement that satisfies both the pitcher and the team. With time running and Milwaukee and St. Louis in desperate need of a move, the completion of this deal could happen soon.

Prediction: Jake Arrieta signs a five year, $125 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals