Brandon Marshall: Matt Forte is NFL’s ‘best all-around’ running back

And while no one questions how good Forte has been, it’s certainly fair to wonder what type of player he’ll be now that he’s on the wrong side of 30. Running back is a young man’s position and players like Rawls, Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley are on the top of most folks’ (us included) “best all-around” lists.

Of course, the Jets have much bigger issues than a player entering his ninth season. Primary among them: Settling the quarterback position. Yes, Geno Smith technically is an option, and the team did use a second-round pick on Christian Hackenberg, but the ideal scenario involves re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has said that he’d rather sit on his couch than play for the paltry $8 million the Jets are offering him.

Whoever ends up under center, Forte will provide the offense with another weapon to go along with Marshall, Eric Decker and former second-rounders Devin Smith andJace Amaro. As always, whether it’ll be enough to unseat the Patriots in the division remains to be seen.

Before Ed O’Neill was Sofía Vergara’s husband on Modern Family, and decades before that, shoe salesman Al Bundy on Married with Children, he was a football player. O’Neill, who played at Youngstown State, was even good enough to sign a professional contract.

And in a recent Q&A,’s Bob Labriola talked about O’Neill’s very brief career in Pittsburgh.

“O’Neill was a defensive lineman during his college days at Youngstown State, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1969,” Labriola wrote. “But alas, he was waived during training camp, maybe because he was unable to replicate Al Bundy’s glory days at Polk High School …”

The Double-A Binghamton Mets will have a new nickname next season. The team will remain in Binghamton — there had been rumblings they would relocate — but they will no longer be known as the Mets. Fans were able to submit suggestions for the name change over the last few weeks.

Hey, adults who fight over baseballs in the crowd on a regular basis, maybe take a page from these two families and live together in a society?

Nah, that’s probably too much to ask. Regardless, great moment in Oakland.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus goes on an epic tirade after being ejected

Yankees’ Luis Severino heading to 15-day DL with triceps strain

Severino, 22, dropped to 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA on the season with Friday’s pounding. There had been talk the Yankees would send him to Triple-A. Last season Severino went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts, his MLB debut.

The Yankees have not announced who will replace Severino in the rotation. They are already without CC Sabathia, who is on the DL himself with a groin strain.

I feel like this is generally the time of year when I start to get a handle on which teams I might like in the upcoming season. The draft is a few weeks back, rosters start to settle, there is little meat remaining on the free agent bone and the schedules are out.

We don’t yet know which teams will be crushed by unavoidable injuries. We don’t know which undrafted free agents will become impact players. We don’t know which third-year players will get over the hump and turn into regular contributors. And we don’t know which quarterbacks will emerge as legit guys you can build around. But we do have a good idea of which teams seem to have amassed a surplus of talent and seem fortified to withstand the onslaught of inevitable turmoil yet to come.

Maeda, for his part, did say he plans to throw his fastball more going forward, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of difference that adjustment makes. His first four starts being what they were, you obviously want to stick it out with him.

He wasn’t really the headliner for the Dodgers on Monday, though. No, that honor went to a platoon outfielder whose brother is more famous than he is.
1. Big bats finding bigger roles

I’m referring, of course, to Trayce Thompson, brother to Steph Curry partner-in-crime Klay Thompson, who went yard twice in a spot start for Yasiel Puig.

Steve Pearce is a different story. I touched on him last week, but between the Rays’ willingness to play him at second base and Forsythe’s shoulder injury, Pearce is now almost guaranteed to play every day. And with six home runs now in 80 at-bats, he’s looking much like the slugger who produced a .930 OPS in a semi-regular role two years ago. He’s also just a game away from gaining eligibility at second base and, after shifting to third base late Monday, is only three games away from gaining eligibility at that position.

That’s quadruple eligibility, possibly, for a player with verified middle-of-the-order power who’s striking out at much lower rate than during his disappointing 2015. With so many hitter spots to fill in a standard Rotisserie league, I don’t know how someone so versatile and so potentially productive can go unowned. And yet he is in 80 percent of leagues.
2. Rookie reversal

One turn after Sean Manaea imploded for eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings, Jose Berrios got his rude awakening Monday at Detroit, allowing seven earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning with four walks and one strikeout.

Thomas is a fun one there, as the conversation regarding the greatest DH of all-time should contain both Thomas and Ortiz along with Edgar Martinez and Jim Thome. Sixteenth place, for those curious, is Mike Schmidt with 548. Ortiz would need a 45-homer season to get there and that’s not happening — though, boy, would that be something.

The best minor league promo jersey ever has a Star Wars them

Jordan Howard stays true to UAB roots

But the powerfully built tailback openly represents UAB, the school he attended from 2013-14 before the university pulled the plug on the football program.

Howard met the Chicago media on Friday decked out in UAB shorts and with a #FreeUAB green bracelet around his right wrist.

During a brief question and answer session following Day 1 of rookie minicamp, the first-year running back bitterly recalled UAB’s decision to cancel the 2015 season, which forced him to relocate to Indiana.

“I already had a big chip on my shoulder because UAB was my only offer coming out of high school,” Howard said. “It just made my chip even bigger. But I definitely wanted to play well for UAB and put on for UAB because their program shut down. They just took it from us like it was nothing.”

“I played every game with the bracelet. I don’t take it off.”

It was in Toronto during a frigid All-Star Weekend where Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat first learned he had a medical issue that would end up sidelining him for the rest of the season. And it was in Toronto on Sunday where their season ended, bringing the pending outcome of an unfortunate situation to the organization’s forefront.

Bautista and Odor were ejected after the brawl, as were Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson and Texas bench coach Steve Buechele.

Umpires needed about 10 minutes to restore order, and Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch when the game resumed, which caused both teams to leave their dugouts again, though this time no punches were thrown.

This would allow the organization to replace Bosh when his contract hypothetically comes off in the summer of 2017.

It’s a terrible situation to be in, but one the Heat have to responsibly investigate with Bosh as the summer unfolds.

If Bosh were to be cleared by Heat doctors and he had a recurrence of his condition, it would not only be potentially life-threatening but also reset the clock on the yearlong medical retirement process. Already, this appears like it may negatively impact three seasons and another setback could make it worse, not to mention the unthinkable issue of Bosh’s health possibly being at risk.

Before the finale of the three-game series between the teams on Sunday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon addressed the comments made by Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke that “anytime somebody like Arrieta hits somebody, you’ve got to assume automatically that one didn’t just get away.”

“I think Jake walked Locke on four consecutive pitches,” Maddon said. “I really don’t think that Jake was pitching around Locke. My point is, it can happen at any time, that a really exceptional pitcher can lose command of his pitches.

Will Ferrell to Play in 5 MLB Spring Training Games

Starting times for four of the games were adjusted to make Ferrell’s barnstorming tour possible.

Memorabilia collected during Ferrell’s tour will be auctioned off at, with proceeds going to College of Cancer and Stand Up to Cancer, according to HBO.

“Will is a big fan of our game,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “and many of us in baseball — among our clubs, players and our millions of fans — are big fans of his. Major League Baseball is happy to take part in what will surely be a fun and memorable day for a great cause.”

Ferrell is to appear in the following games: Seattle Mariners-Oakland Athletics to start at 12:05 p.m. PDT; Chicago Cubs-Los Angeles Angels at 1:10 p.m.; Cincinnati Reds-Arizona Diamondbacks at 2:10 p.m., San Francisco Giants-Chicago White Sox at 4:05 p.m.; and Los Angeles Dodgers-San Diego Padres at 6:15 p.m.

“This latest collaboration is one of those things only Will could pull off,” Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said in a news release. “I can’t wait to see him take the field.”

This is not Ferrell’s first foray into the game.

In 2012, he and Zach Galifianakis, promoting their movie “The Campaign,” threw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game.

And in 2010, he pitched — sort of — for Houston’s Triple-A club, the Round Rock Express, in a game against Nashville. Wearing a mustache in the guise of “Rojo Johnson,” a temperamental Venezuelan player, he threw one pitch behind a batter and was ejected. He ripped off the mustache as he left the field.

“Nashville’s got good stuff,” he said afterward. “They’ve got a lot of moxie.”

It gives a hint of what Major League Baseball is in for on Thursday.

He also wore purple cleats last year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is October, but did not receive fines. NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala noted that the cleats Gay wore are the official team cleats for the Minnesota Vikings, but it’s a violation for a Steeler to wear them as part of his uniform.

“I think we all know why I wore the purple cleats,” Gay told ESPN. He says he won’t appeal the fine.

Then, the Jazz put together an in-arena video prior to introducing Bryant one last time, and the video captured the essence of rooting against a player that would simply not be denied. The tribute featured Utah Jazz fans sharing their admiration for the NBA superstar in his 20th and final season.

At one point, a fan shares that he grew up wearing his John Stockton jersey practicing his “Kobe fadeaway” in his driveway. Another fan likened Bryant to the Joker character in Batman, as played by Heath Ledger.

NFL Draft Returns to Chicago Next Month

For the eighth straight year, the Chicago Blackhawks are heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs after they beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Sunday night.

In just four weeks, the NFL draft will once again return to Chicago, and this year’s draft experience will offer even more.

“With a second year we have a second chance and that means bigger and better, and more ways to engage fans,” said Chicago Sports Commission executive director Kara Bachman.

“You will see even more kids and family activities out here where they can touch and feel the game. We’re building a massive Ferris wheel that will be just fun and will showcase each car wrapped in a different team logo,” O’Reilly said.

The NFL and the city both said the 2015 “Draft Town” experience turned out to be a success, and had an $86 million dollar economic impact for the city.

Other cities tried to steal the draft, but the NFL said Chicago offered the best venue for its fans.

“Chicago showcased the passion of our game in a way that we had never seen around the draft before so coming back here was an opportunity to not only reward the city and those fans for that but also build on that success,” O’Reilly said.

The Chicago Blackhawks will be looking to keep their Central Division title hopes alive on Thursday night, but they’ll be battling the St. Louis Blues with one arm tied behind their backs.

The Blackhawks will look to keep the momentum going on Sunday night when they head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks.

He had a rough first inning, but he settled down and cruised like he always does,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “He’ll be ready. It’s hard to get the juices flowing at the end of spring, but we’ll be able to in a few days.”

If Von Miller were in charge, Johnny Manziel would already be on Broncos

The “can’t win a playoff game” narrative isn’t some fictional creation. Lewis is 0-7 in 13 years with the Bengals, including five straight losses in the Bengals’ opening round.

But it’s worth noting the Bengals didn’t go to the playoffs for 13 straight years before Lewis arrived — the last time Cincy made the playoffs before Lewis’ arrival was in 1990. They were the laughingstock of the NFL during the ’90s, the modern-day Browns before the Browns returned.

Speaking at what appears to be an A&M event, Miller said if he could make the call he’d have Manziel on the Broncos right now.

There’s a big “but” there.

And it involves John Elway, who has done an effectively superb job of analyzing the quarterback market so far. He rooted out the Tim Tebow problem in Denver, brought in Peyton Manning, managed to nearly coax a Super Bowl out of Manning when he played well and actually got Manning to win a Super Bowl when he wasn’t.

You may want to make sure to use a washable red marker though, you know, just in case this Clausen thing doesn’t work out for the Bears.

If you’d rather not be seen in a Clausen jersey — and I wouldn’t blame you — then you have another option: Kevin Butler. The former Bears kicker (1985-95) was also No. 6 and his name is ridiculously close to Cutler’s.

If you want my two cents: Go with Butler. It will give you an excuse to talk about the 1985 Bears all day.

Syracuse Women Beat Washington 80-59, Reach NCAA Title Game

Alexis Peterson scored 18 points and Brittney Sykes added 17 to help Syracuse roll past Washington 80-59 and into the program’s first women’s national championship game.

The Orange (30-7) will face UConn, the three-time defending champions, on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. The Huskies set a semifinal round record with a 29-point victory over Pac-12 champion Oregon State in the early game.

Syracuse made it look almost as easy.

The story line looked awfully familiar.

In their first meeting this season, Syracuse built a 21-point lead before Washington rallied to within one. The Orange held on for a 66-62 victory.

This time, Syracuse never let it get that close.

When Washington cut the halftime deficit to 43-31, Peterson hit a 3 to start a 9-4 spurt that made it 52-35. When the Huskies got within 11, Syracuse used a 15-2 run to make it 67-43. And when Washington closed to 72-59 midway through the fourth quarter, Sykes and Brianna Butler made back-to-back 3s to seal it.

Now the Orange will try to prevent their former Big East foe, UConn, from winning a fourth straight national title and finishing another perfect season.

The two teams came into the night averaging 16.2 3-pointers. They nearly matched that total in the first half and wound up combining for 23. Syracuse made 12 and broke UConn’s 15-year-old record most 3-point attempts in a Final Four game. UConn had 31 in a semifinal game against Notre Dame. Washington finished 11 of 25. Until Sunday, only two teams had ever made 11 in a Final Four game.

That player is Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for his performances over the last seven days. In his last three games, Panarin has racked up eight points, with three goals and five assists over that span.

Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks was named the league’s Second Star of the Week, and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matthew Murray was the league’s Third Star.

The Blackhawks’ offense was struggling to score goals on a consistent basis as the season drew closer to its end, but Panarin and Patrick Kane have helped things get back on track in the team’s last two games. Kane notched a hat trick and reached the 100-point plateau in Sunday’s win over the Boston Bruins, and Panarin added a goal and three assists as the Hawks clinched at least the third spot in the Central Division standings.