WBC 2017: Schedule, scores, highlights, and more

The greatest international baseball tournament on Earth is back, with 16 countries battling it out in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Some of the best players in Major League Baseball are a part of the event, including MVP winners Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Andrew McCutchen, Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, and younger stars like Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor and Manny Machado.

“Coach Keith [Williams, the Nebraska WR coach, San Diego State alum, and former longtime assistant at smaller Cali schools], he’s just a great coach, and I feel like I’d be very happy to be coached up by him,” he said when asked about the Huskers. He added that he thinks he’d fit their offense well and that Nebraska is using its “Calibraska” slogan, an expression that refers to the program’s history of signing talent from the state, recently amplified by longtime Pac-12 head coach Mike Riley taking over in Lincoln.

Here was retired NFL star Keyshawn Johnson using the slogan to celebrate three of those recent Cali Huskers, which include his son:

Allen says Utah also stands out among his recent offers, with confidence that he’ll be able to build a strong relationship with that staff.

He still wants to visit Ole Miss, Oregon, Washington State, and Georgia, indicating he anticipates receiving a UGA offer. He doesn’t plan to enroll early, but will consider signing in December if the NCAA makes that an option.

The 39-year-old Belfort (29-14), whose career spans back all the way to the UFC’s one-night tournament days, has now lost three in a row and been finished in four of his past five. Despite obvious questions about retirement, Belfort indicated he wants to have at least one more go.

“Kelvin was the better fighter tonight,” Belfort said. “I have one fight on my contract, I’d like to fight in my hometown of Rio and then we’ll see from there.”2

For a long time, that looked like it would be the winner, with the wind seeming to be out of Barcelona’s sails.

The second half started little better for PSG, with right-back Thomas Meunier tripping at the edge of his own penalty area and knocking down Neymar in the process to give up a penalty, one that Lionel Messi converted with ease. With the aggregate score suddenly sitting at 4-3, you could almost see fear in the eyes of PSG’s squad — but that fear turned quickly into focus, and that focus cost Barcelona dearly.

That price came in the form of PSG finally starting to get a cogent attack going, with momentum starting to build behind the French side’s front line, especially after Angel Di Maria was brought into the match.

For a long time, that looked like it would be the winner, with the wind seeming to be out of Barcelona’s sails. But as stoppage time came closer, Barcelona’s energy came back with a vengeance. Neymar’s eye-popping brace of goals right at the end of the 90 minutes — albeit assisted by a dubious penalty decision on his second — suddenly had the score even at 5-5. That would have been enough for PSG to win anyway, but Barcelona had five minutes of stoppage time to use.

Coyotes roommate, rejected, calls his father, Gary. Gary stands in the middle of town and screams “IF YOU DON’T FIND MY SON A PLACE TO LIVE, HE’S GOING TO LEAVE THIS CITY!”

That’s why Bettman chose to lash out at the local legislature. He knows that options are dwindling, and losing an eight-year battle to keep the Coyotes in Arizona will reflect very poorly on his vision and his long-term branding of the NHL.

But sports fans in the Valley are smarter than they look. The Coyotes have failed on their end of the bargain, running their franchise on the cheap while depending on handouts to survive. If this team had consistently exposed Arizonans to the majesty of playoff hockey over the past decade, this conversation would sound much different.
That seems to get at the heart of the issue!1

The NBA MVP race still has many chapters left to play out

Kawhi Leonard drew some fresh heat in the NBA MVP race this week after a masterful two-way performance against the Rockets and their MVP candidate James Harden. This isn’t to say that Kawhi is a sudden MVP candidate, just that his candidacy reached a fever pitch this week.

One night later, Russell Westbrook put up 58 points in vain as the Thunder lost their fourth straight. Make no mistake: Oklahoma City lost in spite of Westbrook. The Thunder won the 35 minutes Russ was on the court and badly lost the 13 he sat.

Zero. Zilch. Nada. As many goals as I have in my NHL career. Forget Patrik Laine vs. Auston Matthews or the Blue Jackets’ historic win streak. When all is said and done, Riley Sheahan’s goal drought might be the most amazing stat to come out of the 2016-17 NHL season.

How rare is it? Only 21 players in NHL history have played at least 60 games without a goal. And Sheahan is about to become the guy with the most shots and no reward in NHL history.

Sheahan’s season is so bad, so perplexing, that the Red Wings seriously considered just moving on from him at the trade deadline. Remember, he’s just 25 years old. He might’ve been the best buy-low player on the market.

TSN held a segment called “Is Ho-Sang wearing 66 disrespectful?” Blogs primed themselves for debate.

Never mind the fact that billions of players have worn Gordie Howe’s 9. Or Yzerman’s 19. Or Sakic’s 19. Nobody seemed angry when five other players wore number 66.

But Ho-Sang was the lightning rod that required this “respect” discussion to happen. Here’s a list of players who’ve had that “respect” debate follow them early in their careers: P.K. Subban. Evander Kane. Nail Yakupov. All players of color or Europeans. Hmm. Interesting. Surely a coincidence, and not a deeper cultural issue buried even deeper than the sport’s team-first culture.1

The procedure is a minor one for Jones and won’t affect his training camp availability

Tom Brady’s humble NFL beginnings long ago entered gridiron lore. If his backstory is unfamiliar to you, you’re likely a visitor from another planet.

If you are indeed an alien: The man now widely recognized as the greatest quarterback of all-time began his career as a pro football afterthought, a sixth-round draft pick. There were 198 players selected before the Patriots picked Brady, a small village that included six fellow quarterbacks.

The Warriors had planned to sign Jose Calderon for the remainder of the season, but will instead sign then waive him in order to make room for Barnes.

Barnes, 36, was a member of the Warriors from 2006 to 2008. He’s averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds over his 14-year NBA career.

The procedure is a minor one for Jones and won’t affect his training camp availability, Rapoport was told.

Trubisky, the top-rated quarterback on NFLDraftScout.com’s board, threw the ball well, showing the efficient set-up and delivery, smooth throwing stroke and accuracy that belies his 13 career starts.

Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II and California’s Davis Webb also fared well in the afternoon quarterback session. Like Watson, Mahomes and Webb were each surprisingly smooth in their drops despite playing their entire careers in Air-Raid spread offenses. Mahomes has an absolute rocket for an arm and showed good trajectory on the deep ball and post-corner. He does have a three-quarters delivery that will be a concern for some, especially given that he measured in at “only” 6-foot-2.

Webb created buzz at the Senior Bowl and built upon that momentum Saturday. He was especially impressive on the deep dig routes, hitting receivers in stride on the throw some feel is the toughest quarterbacks are asked to complete in Indianapolis because it requires timing with receivers they’ve just met.1

Tom Brady shared words of encouragement for everyone at the NFL Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine isn’t just a time for prospective players to show off their skills, it’s also a time to remember. Tom Brady did just that on Friday.

Brady wore his combine shirt from 2000 during a workout and used it as an opportunity to poke fun at the people who doubted him. Here’s what the Patriots quarterback wrote on Instagram.

National Letters of Intent are binding documents that tie prospects and schools together. But they’ve also got stipulations which can empower a school to get out of an NLI if a player gets into trouble before his enrollment.

Ole Miss, for its part, has bigger problems than this one. Our Rebels blog, Red Cup Rebellion, doesn’t think Reed’s departure changes a whole lot:

Most believed that the 6’4, 295-pound Reed was going to be a sign-and-place candidate anyway, so it was going to be at least a year before he was donning the red and blue. But with Fadol Brown, D.J. Jones, and John Youngblood gone, Ole Miss faces a potential shortage of depth on the D-line.

Kliff Kingsbury isn’t letting his players wear Texas Tech’s logo inside the team’s facility. This should improve Tech’s nation-worst defense by at least 0.2 points per game.

“It’s a lot of goals and I’m still a long way off but Shearer was an idol of mine growing up, to see how many goals he scored was incredible. I take it season by season. I don’t like looking too far ahead because you never know what can happen.”

Now, however, the Premier League has become a crowded place for superstars. Kane is jostling for attention with Sergio Aguero, with Romelu Lukaku, and with whichever vastly expensive import rolls up next. Still, it’s the numbers, in the end, that speak loudest of all. And right now, Kane’s numbers are precisely where they need to be: excellent, with the potential to become extraordinary.1

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery both active for fantasy owners on Monday night

Chicago Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are both active for Monday night’s game against the New York Jets.

Both players are dealing with injuries and were limited in practice, but neither was expected to miss this game despite being listed as questionable. Marshall has an ankle injury and Jeffery is recovering from a hamstring ailment. They were game-time decisions in Week 2 but ended up playing against the San Francisco 49ers. Marshall went off for three touchdowns, while Jeffery was held to 47 yards on three catches.

Rudolph had three receptions for 27 yards before going down on the Vikings’ final drive against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“Something popped,” Rudolph told the Pioneer Press after the 20-9 loss. “I’ve been battling it for a while.”

Rudolph shed weight during the offseason to increase his speed and stay healthy after he missed the final eight games of 2013 with a broken foot. That, in addition to his Pro Bowl 2012 season, was enough to convince the Vikings to hand him a five-year contract extension in July.

Despite the high expectations, Rudolph has been unable to make a significant impact on offense. He has just seven catches for 69 yards through three games, though he did find the end zone in the opening win against the St. Louis Rams.

“We decided [not to investigate] because it had been elevated to a felony. It was very clear to us that they were going to get any piece of information they wanted. They have the power to get anything they want.”

“I feel regretful because in my heart of hearts if we had gotten the tape early on in the Spring and Roger had seen it, I think it would have been a precedent-setting, multi-game suspension or maybe indefinite.”1

Bills vs. Texans 2014 picks and predictions: Houston earning confidence from experts

The Houston Texans (2-1) are picked by many to beat the Buffalo Bills (2-1) Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium. Both teams enter 2-1 after a taste of defeat from Week 3, with Houston falling to the New York Giants while the Bills lost at home to the San Diego Chargers.

Buffalo has been aided by turnovers, currently tied for the fourth-best differential at +4. The Bills have only committed one turnover, an EJ Manuel interception. Manuel has been cautious when throwing, leading to ball control but also a limited pass attack. The Bills rank 28th in the NFL with 191.3 passing yards per game.

The Giants’s secondary has done its job, holding Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to just 89 yards and one touchdown through the air. Meanwhile on offense, the Giants are rolling in all phases of the game with 150 yards passing and 48 yards on the ground.

New York has struggled mightily on defense through three games and is looking to turn things around. If the Giants are without Rodgers-Cromartie for an extended period, that’s going to prove more difficult as they navigate the high-powered offenses of the NFC East.

The Giants currently lead Washington, 21-7, as the first half is coming to a close.

Washington cannot afford to lose any more players on offense as quarterback Robert Griffin III went down with a severe ankle injury in Week 2. Williams has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and hasn’t missed a game since becoming a full-time starter.

The 26-year-old out of Oklahoma is an important piece of the offensive puzzle for Washington as it tries to sort out its woes at quarterback. Kirk Cousins is in the midst of his worst game as a professional after throwing four interceptions through three full quarters of action.

On the other side of the ball, DeAngelo Hall is out for the season after rupturing his Achilles. Another injury to a major player would be devastating.1

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors

In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union’s agreement — such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

“Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don’t think it would have been a major adjustment for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule “beneficial in developmental leagues.”

Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who spent 16 seasons in the major leagues as a player, told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that he hopes the league and the union continue to have a dialogue over ways to enhance the entertainment value of the game without making too many drastic changes.

Fitzgerald will be 34 this fall, and while he led the NFL in receptions (107), his career-low 9.6 yards per catch was a testament to both how the Cardinals used him and how Carson Palmer’s skills had declined behind center. The veteran wideout was targeted much closer to the line of scrimmage than in years past, in part to serve as his quarterback’s safety blanket in a disappointing season. Palmer’s QB rating dropped from 104.6 to 87.2 as he played out his age-36 season.

While those numbers and his age raise some red flags for the Patriots, New England would be thrilled to have the future Hall of Famer on the roster. Head coach Bill Belichick has often raved about Fitzgerald, even using him as the measuring stick by which other wideouts are compared.

Fitzgerald wouldn’t be a home run, but he’d be another solid hit for a franchise that’s piled up free agent and trade victories en route to a dynasty. The only question here is whether he’d be willing to leave the only NFL franchise he’s called home — and whether the cost would be low enough for the notoriously stingy Patriots to bite.235000253135345325-C201-1

I love playing against Clemson when I face Grady Jarrett.

I asked South Carolina guard A.J. Cann which NFL player he looks to emulate, and he mentioned Tennessee guard Chance Warmack. “I became friends with [Chance] a while back and ever since then I have been watching his game and just looking at him play.” Warmack was also known as a “pure” guard and a mauler in the phone booth, and went 10th overall in 2013.

As for Colorado State tackle Ty Sambrailo? “I watch a lot of Joe Staley, I’m from the Bay Area, and he came out kinda when I was starting to play tackle. He’s always been a great player. He’s fun to watch. Athletic, technician, great feet.”

South Carolina’s A.J. Cann: “I love playing against Clemson when I face Grady Jarrett. I think he’s a very good player. He’s a smart player and he’s very physical. He gives it all he’s got every time, and I love playing against guys like that. We had battles all the time.”

LSU OL La’el Collins: “Game planning against a guy like Dante Fowler, somebody who is an extremely good pass rusher, somebody who can cause problems. So being able to look at him and break down film on him, understanding his moves and what he likes to do and being able to compete against him is nice, against that caliber guy.”

Iowa OL Andrew Donnal: “Both at guard and at tackle I’ve faced some pretty good guys. What comes to mind is both the bowl games. I played against some good guys against LSU and Tennessee, against some good defenders. And in Big Ten play, every week’s a battle. There’s no real days off, which is a good thing, says a lot about the conference.”

Paying off bet, Zoo Atlanta names cockroach after Tom Brady

More than a week after the Falcons fell victim to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, an Atlanta zoo has named a cockroach after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Tom Brady says he doesn’t have a problem if some of his teammates decide not to go to the White House to celebrate New England’s Super Bowl LI victory.
Zoo Atlanta says on its Facebook page that it had a bet with Rhode Island’s Roger Williams Park Zoo that called for the loser to name a baby animal after the winning team’s star quarterback. Both zoos figured the loser would be pretty bitter about the game, so they agreed the animal in question would be a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

The zoo introduced a whole family of cockroaches in a video Monday, including a tiny Tom Brady.

Brady and the Patriots came back from a 25-point deficit to defeat Atlanta 34-28 in overtime to win the team’s fifth Super Bowl title.

The Chargers likely would be unwilling to match that kind of deal.

The franchise tag is a labor designation that restricts a player’s potential movement in exchange for a high one-year salary. It is governed by owners and players through the collective bargaining agreement.

There are two types of designations, exclusive rights and non-exclusive. The exclusive-rights franchise tag designation means a player is bound to the team for the upcoming season. A player’s agent is prohibited from seeking offer sheets elsewhere.

The amount earned is the average of the five largest salaries at the player’s position through the end of the current year’s restricted free-agent signing period (April 21 this year), or 120 percent of the player’s salary the previous year — whichever is greater.