Image c/o Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
By Oliver Collins
Most people counted Messi’s career out after leaving Europe amid his time at powerhouse French club, Paris St. Germain. But the end of one chapter marked the beginning of a new era in America’s Major League Soccer. Since his arrival in the MLS Messi has done nothing but impress. Game winning goals, hat tricks and the winning mentality of soccer’s G.O.A.T has brought a new found hype to the world of American soccer fans. If anyone questioned whether the Argentinian super star still has it, those questions have been answered and then some.
If you’ve missed Messi’s global media headlines throughout the last few months, here’s a summary of how things have gone. To say Messi’s debut for the Inter Miami side was successful would be an understatement. After being subbed on after the half and being given the opportunity to take the last free kick of the game, he delivered. A strike into the top corner of the net won the game for Inter Miami and provided an iconic moment for an organization hoping to make it clear that they weren’t just looking for an increase in supporters and jersey sales, they were looking to win.
Messi’s success didn’t stop there. Braces (two goals in one game) in the following two league cup games, exceeded the already high expectations the soccer world had for the recent world cup winner. What the club didn’t expect, however, was Messi’s profound impact on Miami culture and the sheer espouse the city has extended to the seven time ballons d’Or winner. New York Times reporter James Wagner said it best in his July article, “He already has and likely will continue to have a substantial cultural influence on a city — and region — known as the unofficial capital of Latin America. Restaurants have changed their menus to include Messi-themed dishes. Murals and signs of Messi have popped up everywhere. Argentine culture is spreading through him.” It’s safe to say Messi’s time in Miami has been a hit, but in reality this is only the beginning.
Image c/o https://www.nbcnews.com/news/sports/aaron-rodgers-injury-ban-artificial-turf-rcna104902
By Oliver Collins
Monday night had the potential to turn a new leaf for a Jets football team that has seen its fair share of failure in the last few decades. But, a team battered by busted draft picks and lackluster coaching had finally found their duo, a successful defensive minded coach in Robert Salah and one of the great quarterbacks of all time, Aaron Rodgers.
Metlife stadium was an absolute madhouse ahead of their season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Fans were buzzing with the anticipation of seeing their new star quarterback take the field. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, until just three minutes into the game, when everything changed.
“Protection breaks down and time runs out, Rodgers goes down on the sack from Leonard Floyd. Loss of 10 on the play and the Jets are hoping that’s the only loss on that play.” Joe Buck commentates as Aaron Rodgers takes a tough, but seemingly harmless tackle in the Jets backfield. Rodgers swiftly got up, but eased to his backside after feeling a sharp pain in his lower leg. Team doctors were quick to come to his aid but the damage was done. Jets fans watched in horror as their hero was gingerly escorted to the sideline and placed on a facility cart before being taken to the locker room. Just mid way through the game, nightmare turned to reality for Jets fans as concerns on word about Rodgers came to fruition. An achilles tear. Which, for the Jets, would bench their $150 million man for the remainder of the season.
Memes and online hate were quickly spread across social media after news broke out, but Rodgers, who has endured his fair share of disheartening injuries, was quick to respond to the critics. “The night is darkest before the dawn… And I shall rise again”. It seems like the 39 year old is more than ready to take on the rehab process and return to full health for his fans, teammates, and family.
As for the Jets, they will be forced to rally around young BYU product, Zach Wilson, to carry the team and silence haters of his own.
Sources: https://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2023/09/13/aaron-rodgers-jets-quarterback-breaks-silence-instagram-message-achilles-injury/70847760007/ - Aaron Rodgers quote
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bVDfY60Q4Y - Joe Buck quote
image c/o Duane Burleson/Getty Images
By Oliver Collins
If you know anything about the San Francisco Giants it’s that they have always been underdogs. Even through their many championship spoils, the Giants were at one point or another counted out. A team without the budget that powerhouses like the Dodgers or Yankees possess, this has put the Giants into a difficult situation this season. Having lost six games straight after getting swept by the Chicago Cubs they now find themselves two games back in a very competitive wildcard race. It’s now or never for a club that has already exceeded expectations for this season but is hoping to make that final step to become a 2023 playoff team.
What truly sets the Giants apart this season is their exceptional team depth and their next-man-up mentality. Manager Gabe Kapler has fostered an environment where every player feels valued and contributes to the team's success. Kapler also looks to statistics to decide lineups and matchups against various opponents, taking the unpopular statistical approach founded by mathematician Bill James (if you want to learn more, watch the film Moneyball for further explanation). Every single man on the roster is important to the team’s success which can create an epic sense of team confidence, but this has seemingly backfired in recent months.
Kapler has become notorious for prioritizing matchups throughout his tenure in coaching. So why does Kapler believe so deeply in the power of lefty/righty vs. righty/lefty matchups? Mark Brooks at Applied Vision Baseball wrote on this new coaching strategy, “Conventional wisdom in baseball is that yes, a left-handed batter does better against a right-handed pitcher… Most of a right-handed pitcher’s breaking pitches will move away from a right-handed batter, making them harder to hit. A right-handed batter has to lunge after an outside pitch and has a weaker swing as a result. But those same breaking pitches will curve toward a lefty, thus making them easier to hit.” The question is whether or not this strategy is working as the Giants have found themselves in a do-or-die situation.
While Kapler has certainly found some success with this Giants team they have yet to separate themselves as a perennial threat in the MLB. Fans are growing restless and many are calling on him and general manager Farhan Zaidi to pay more to bring in superstars like international Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani next season. If the Giants don’t make the postseason in 2023, it’s most certainly time to break the bank and bring a new hero to the Bay.
The downfall of one of the most prominent NCAA athletic conferences.
image c/o Tod Fierner / Saint Mary's Athletics
By Drew Paxman
Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley (Cal) announced their departure from the Pacific-12 (Pac-12) conference on Friday, September 1. The Pac-12, marketed as the “Conference of Champions,” has now officially dwindled down to two schools: Oregon State and Washington State.
In addition to Cal and Stanford, eight other schools have left the conference: the University of Oregon, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California, and University of Washington will join the Big Ten conference; and the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Colorado, and University of Utah will join the Big 12. The reason for these departures? A failure on the Pac-12 to secure a media rights deal that would guarantee its member schools sufficient money.
“I think it is very sad for college athletics–especially on the West Coast,” said Saint Mary’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Michael Matoso. “If you look at the Pac-12 as a whole–it is the winningest conference in the country and to not have a Power 5 conference on the West Coast is pretty wild to think it will no longer be.”
With the departure of these ten schools, there have been a lot of conversations on the impacts this realignment could have on the mental health of student athletes, many of whom will now have to travel over 2,000 miles to play away games. Shannon Cunningham, softball catcher for Arizona State, was one of these athletes, taking to social media back in August 2023, “I chose to play in the [Pac-12] because of the ability to play close to home and in front of family. I chose the [Pac-12] so my family didn’t have to worry about far travel or giving up all their vacation time just to come see me. This affects athletes in every sport [and] academics.”
Sam DeCarlo, an infielder for the University of Washington’s baseball team, gave an example to further Cunningham’s argument, “[I]f we were to travel to a school like Rutgers in New Jersey, we might have to leave a whole day earlier to account for the time change. We always practice Thursday night after we make the [trip], but going to New Jersey we might have to leave Wednesday or very early Thursday morning in order to fit that practice in with the time change. This could lead to more missed class.”
Despite this different schedule, DeCarlo remains optimistic.
“I had a positive gut reaction to the news of Washington making the move to the Big Ten,” he explained. “Separating from schools like Stanford and Arizona will feel odd. However, I’m excited for the opportunity because I know it is the best option for our school and will ultimately elevate our school and athletic programs.”
Other than the departure of Brigham Young University (BYU) from the West Coast Conference and some other scheduling alignments, Matoso paints Saint Mary’s as being mostly unaffected by this news. “What could impact us is our scheduling with a lot of our sports as many of the Pac-12 schools may have increased conference schedules which could impact some of our non-conference scheduling,” he explained. “On the flip side, I am sure they will want to have some more regional opportunities to schedule.”
So then, what’s next for this new world of college athletics?
Well, there is still one more year of Pac-12 sports to be played, and this next year has already started off as a wild one. A judge from the Whitman County Superior Court in Washington “granted a request by Oregon State and Washington State for a temporary restraining order on Monday to prevent departing Pac-12 members from meeting until it can be determined who has the right to chart the future of the disintegrating conference” (Russo, Associated Press). The logistics and outcome of this restraining order remain to be seen.
In other news, the Pac-12 topped headlines with eight of its current 12 member schools making the AP Top 25 Poll for football, including Oregon State (16) and Washington State (23).
But for the long-term consequences, Matoso sees these changes as completely changing the culture of college athletics. “I think the NCAA should have been more active in finding a solution to separate football out,” he began. “Bottom line on all of this is it’s about football and TV money. We talk a lot about student-athlete welfare and mental health right now and I think these moves are the direct opposite of what is best for our student-athletes.”
The actions of a selfish man now defines this year’s Women’s World Cup.
image c/o Eurasia Sport Images / Getty Images
By Val Hill
Yet again Women’s sports finds itself at the mercy of a selfish man’s actions. This time it was the Spanish Women’s World Cup victory over England when player Jenni Hermoso was forcibly kissed by Luis Rubiales, the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation’s President. This sexual misconduct has caused massive outcry in not only the soccer world, but in women’s sports in general. Jenni stated “an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part,” when speaking out about the kiss. Since the kiss was caught off camera, Rubiales claims that the kiss was consensual. Despite that, the cries for the removal of Rubiales’s position as President have been numerous.
The cries of the public were subsequently answered, with Rubiales deciding to resign from his position. The Royal Spanish Soccer Federation faced massive backlash not just from the general public, but also saw numerous protests from players, on both the male and female teams. Even some of the coaching staff for the women’s team has resigned in protest. Dozens of female players have stated that they will not be playing for the Spain’s national team until Rubiales’s resignation. Since the resignation has occurred, it is unclear if the players will return to the team.
This Women’s World Cup shouldn’t be defined by the acts of a selfish man, however this has become the reality for most major women’s sporting events. Today there are more female athletes than in years past, but only become popular in the media’s eyes when a male is somehow involved. This should never be the case for women’s sports, these women need to be recognized for their athletic achievements, not in response to a man’s selfish action. Actions like this have gone on for far too long in the history of women’s athletics, not only for professional athletes but also for all female athletes across the globe.
They are too tall!
By Madison Sciba
Saint Mary’s students have started boycotting the school’s most popular sporting events, men’s basketball games. This is out of growing fear for the players who tower over the average students at Saint Mary’s. Most of the players stand over 6 ’0, well above some of the rather vertically challenged students. This is a phenomenon that is stressing out students, with some even explaining that they are unable to concentrate in their classes just knowing that people who are over 6 '5 are just wandering around campus.
“The thought of it just scares me,” one student said, “they are just so tall.”
Most students who complained to the Collegian wished to remain anonymous, afraid that they would be targeted by the school’s basketball fans.
“They are everywhere,” another student explained, “you can’t say one bad word about the team without someone acting like you committed a war crime.”
Saint Mary’s students are scared and too worried to show their true feelings on campus.
That same student said, “If Gael Force even got a whiff of someone saying they hate men’s basketball, you are canceled at SMC.”
In response to these overwhelming fears that are popping up around campus, a group of students have started a movement calling for a boycott of games. They are calling themselves the Allegiance Against the Vertically Gifted. Their mission is to educate on the dangers of admiring those who are tall, explaining the various reasons for their stance.
These among many others are the reasons why the Allegiance Against the Vertically Gifted are calling for a boycott of basketball games. To learn more about the Allegiance and their mission please visit: www.gigantasophobia.com
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY FROM THE COLLEGIAN STAFF!
One year on, what’s changed?
C/O Kiera O'Hara-Heinz, Collegian Staff
By Kiera O'Hara Heinz
Chief Conspiracy Theorist
We all know that the first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club, but as we all discovered last year, this news was just too juicy to keep a secret.
This time last year, I uncovered a super top secret underground fight club at Saint Mary’s. After living in disguise for over a month, I had the proof to expose the extracurricular activities of the Lasallian Brothers at SMC, and finally clarified what exactly happens in the catacombs underneath the school: between prayers, and teaching and advising responsibilities, the brothers formed a wildly violent bare knuckle boxing ring.
Known for their black robes and white collars, community members were shocked to discover the clandestine martial arts community thriving underneath the surface of our small Catholic school.
While I have personally taken some time away from our deceptively quiet campus in Moraga to investigate the Leprechaun worshiping cults of Western Ireland, I have heard many credible reports that these fights are still happening.
My mole within the brothers has told me that one particularly agile brother has hit a recent winning streak, knocking out a record six brothers in a row with his unique mix of traditional boxing styles with the more exotic ones of Brazilian jiu jitsu. Though the name of this champion fighter was not shared with me, all evidence points to Brother Glen Bolton (don’t tell him we know!)
Last year students started a gambling circle to place bets on who would win, culminating in a tournament between the SMC Brothers and the SCU Jesuit Brothers. No such fight has occurred this year. But hopefully with much community prompting another event of this type can take place.
So reach out SMC! This tradition is too great to hide in the shadows!
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY FROM THE COLLEGIAN STAFF!
A one-on-one interview with Coach Randy Bennett
Photo c/o AP Photo/John Minchillo
By Val Hill
Being West Coast Conference regular-season co-champions set the tone for the NCAA tournament for the Gaels. To participate again in the NCAA tournament is a tremendous accomplishment. Only those at large teams can compete, with only 64 teams eligible for the tournament.
“It’s just an amazing recognition for the great season we had, and being able to go back two years in a row. And being able to be recognized for having this season, and all those little accomplishments,” Head Coach for the Gaels, Randy Bennett, explained.“When the fear and anxiety hit, underneath is a sense of worth and accomplishment. Approaching things one step at a time and improving has been the Gael's strategy since day one. You have to approach things one at a time, coaches can say anything they want. But it’s about improving over time.”
However, tournament games are not as simple as in the regular season, with every game being fought tooth and nail. Even a one-seed going up against a sixteen-seed will not be an easy game. Despite that, Bennett says, “ It comes down to who is playing that game well, that's what it all comes down to.” For the Gaels, being the fifth seed was not seen as an obstacle in their path to victory against VCU.
For the Gaels, many working parts allowed the team to thrive, but the one that stood out the most was senior guard Logan Johnson. The fearless leader both on and off the court, he was a key asset for the success of the Gaels.
Bennett said of Johnson, “He had the biggest jump from starting this year, coming back from having shoulder surgery last year. Not being able to play much last summer was a setback.” Logan was the top scorer for the Gaels in almost every game in the regular season. He set the bar for the level of leadership allowing others as expected which includes seniors Alex Ducas and Kyle Bowen. Of the three, Bennett explained, “They have taught these younger players what it looks like. So they have left them in a position where they can be the next leaders. That’s the goal and the challenge that I gave them. And I think that they have truly embraced it.”
These seniors have embraced being the leaders and handed the reins to the younger players. Players like freshman Aiden Mahaney have started becoming the leader the team can rely on. Even though he is merely a freshman just now walking into this collegiate basketball world, he has stepped up. Coach Bennett talked about how he is more of a behind-the-scenes leader. “So being a freshman, you have to lead by example, because you’re already taking in so much as a freshman, on top of that you’re playing guys who are 23 to 24 years old. So he will become one of our key leaders.”
The Gaels had an incredible season, showing the college basketball world that Saint Mary’s is still a top competitor. Coach Randy Bennett has created a team that is a force to be reckoned with.
The United States fails to reclaim the title.
Image c/o Getty images
By Madison Sciba
Associate Editor/Visiting Sports Reporter
It was the bottom of the ninth inning of the final game in Miami. World Baseball Classic 2017 Champions were on their home turf hoping to defend their title against two-time champion Japan. Both countries, known for their love and dedication to baseball, hosting this year's events and hoping to take home the title. LoanDepot stadium was filled with chants, “USA, USA!” booming from the stands, American fans eager for another win while Japan is hoping to bring home a title for the first time since 2009. The whole stadium on edge. The only hope for the United States and Japan being Los Angeles Angels teammates Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, respectively. Pitching around 100 mph, Ohtani stood on the mound breathing heavily. Trout at the plate, focused in on the ball about to escape Ohtani’s grasp.
The most watched World Baseball Classic in the event's history ended on March 21,with a win for Japan. Taking place in Miami, Florida, Japan received their third World Baseball Classic title after beating the United States 3-2. The last inning was a nail-biter as LA Angels teammates Shohei Ohtani (Japan) and Mike Trout (USA) faced off. After an impressive double play by Japan that left the United States with two outs in the ninth inning, Ohtani was on the mound as Trout stepped up to the plate. Two balls, one strike. Tension is rising as both men, teammates in what seems to be another life, know that this could win or lose the game for either team. Two balls, two strikes. One country is going to leave victorious, one is going to leave with silver. Three balls, two strikes. It could go either way. Ohtani could throw another ball and walk Trout, something Ohtani did to McNeil just moments before. It was now or never, Ohtani pitches, sending the ball over the plate. Trout swings but misses, ending the game. The Japanese dugout explodes with excitement at winning their third World Baseball Classic.
Gael’s Great At The Free’s But Not Enough To Save The Game
Image c/o Erick Doxey, Inlander.com
By Vivian Hill
This was not an easy game for anyone involved, and the West Coast Conference Championship in Las Vegas did not treat the Gaels well during the final game against Gonzaga. The Gaels were on a roll from the game against BYU, taking a major lead in the second half. However, that was a short lived victory when Gonzaga went in and swept the Gaels away. In the first three minutes of the game the Gaels fought hard, but no points were scored. This game, by far, was the most technically stacked game with Logan Johnson pulling through with the first shot of the game. The team worked as one cohesive unit after Johnson started off strong. The Zags pulled an early lead, which put more pressure on the Gaels for points. However the Gaels were unable to control the tempo and speed of the plays, which started the domino effect that led to the Gael’s demise. This forced the Gaels to work both sides of the court, while freshman Aidan Mahaney had to handle making plays. A natural scorer, he really had to force his way through the Bulldog’s defense.
Freshman Joshua Jefferson made his major appearance, starting with a strong rim attack. With a start of making a name for himself while Mitchell Saxen and Kyle Bowen were struggling. Meanwhile, Mahaney’s need to be aggressive the entire game was delivered, while being surrounded by team veterans. The tempo and speed were not in the Gael’s favor, they were hesitant to shoot, and allowed the Zags to pull away. Also pushing the Gaels into unfavorable rotations, forcing 5 turnovers that made the Gaels struggle for rhythm. Despite all those obstacles, the Gaels were making almost every free throw that was given to them. They took their time on the line and calculated every shot. However, this would not be enough to overcome the lack of toughness, which was quite unusual for the Gaels. Within the first half, the Gaels struggled to keep the plays together, thus further pushing them into taking too much time to shoot.Thus at the end of the first half Gonzaga led the score at 37 points with only 19 points for the Gaels.
The main goal for the Gaels in the second was to lock in and get a better handle on the ball. At 18:08, Bowen brought in a bucket, and got the Gaels moving again. The Zags continued their rundown of closing all windows for the Gaels, making the Gaels struggle moving forward. Breaking in at 15:55 was Jefferson with a big 3 point shot, another attempt to pull the Gaels out of their major funk that had taken over the game. With only 53.2 seconds left on the clock, Johnson secures a basket. He then goes back for more and secures a and secures a 3-pointer-pointer at 34.0, and another basket with 1.3 seconds left. This was not enough to save the Gaels, with the game coming to an end score of 77 for the Gonzaga Bulldogs and 51 points for the Saint Mary’s Gaels.
Madison Sciba '24,