Monthly Archives: May 2017

Thirty very real, reasonable solutions to MLB’s length-of-game, pace-of-play issues

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Elite Youth Lavonte David Jersey Now that the fabric of baseball is changed forever with the removal of the four-pitch intentional walk, it’s high time we take a deeper look at possible ways to speed up and shorten the games.

Why stop at the intentional walk? It’s not even a half-measure. If we’re going to peel back the layers of the stinky, problem onion that is pace of play, then we need to go deeper, like Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception.

Trust me on this. Here are some very serious, very real possibilities that commissioner Rob Manfred and the rest of baseball should consider:

Which brings us to another hard truth: Baseball has no national names. There is no face of baseball that’s instantly recognizable among casual sports fans on the street. Not Mike Trout. Not Bryce Harper. Not Kris Bryant. Not anyone. This is a major problem.

There is no LeBron James of baseball, no Tom Brady of baseball. Many fans have their heads in the sand about this, assuming, for example, that just because Trout is statistically the best player on the planet that he’s also the most famous player on the planet. These are definitely not the same thing.

That MLB has failed to market itself properly isn’t a new revelation, but it remains an important one. If baseball wants casual fans, especially younger ones, to get excited about the sport, it must go out of its way to make the sport’s stars known. There’s no reason why an exciting and eye-friendly in-sport star such as Bryant can’t be a beyond-the-sport superstar with the likes of James and Brady.

MLB clubs with deepest position groups in spring training

Spring training is a time when major league teams troll for roster depth, either from within or outside the organization. As opening day moves closer, some clubs will be looking for help from teams that are loaded with talent at a particular position.

Those needy clubs could do worse than to pick off players from these deep groups, one for each section of the roster (catcher, middle infield, corner infield, outfield, rotation, bullpen) and ranked in terms of quality. Not that the clubs with all that surplus talent are overly eager to deal any of it away:

Include prospective front-office executives, it’s safe to believe. In that current management set-up, Snyder and team president Bruce Allen, why would someone volunteer to get the same treatment if things go wrong, or if you just rub the bosses the wrong way?

Should any executive who shows up there have to wonder what in their past the bosses will dangle over their heads when times get hard? Should they wonder if management is looking for candidates with character flaws and limited options, something that can be exploited when the time comes?

Is that how they run things there? And wouldn’t it be smarter to go work for a franchise where you know that’s not how they do business?
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One wonders now if the current personnel people in Washington have to watch their backs and examine their pasts for deeds that will get the knife stuck in those backs some day.
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After all, based on player reaction to the firing, McCloughan was widely liked and respected. Just not in one specific office, and that was the only one that mattered.

That’s going to matter for a while in Washington, unless the people in charge give a reason why it shouldn’t. That sure won’t happen right away, though.

NFL Draft 2017: Panthers find help for Cam Newton in multifaceted RB Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers got some help for Cam Newton.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey was selected eighth overall by Carolina Thursday night in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

McCaffrey is a three-in-one player who can also be a workhorse back. He does everything well, including running between the tackles against a stacked box. McCaffrey is a sure-handed receiver and dynamic returner who is explosive and elusive in the open field.

The 5-11, 202-pound son of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey was a Heisman finalist in 2015 when he ran for 2,019 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 45 passes for 645 yards and five scores. He also had 1,200 yards as a returner with two more touchdowns and set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards.

He then ran for 1,603 yards and 13 scores last season with another 310 receiving yards and three touchdowns and 328 yards in return yardage.

New Panthers receivers coach Lance Taylor was McCaffrey’s position coach for each of his three seasons at Stanford. Under Taylor, McCaffrey’s 6,191 all-purpose yards over his final two college seasons are the most in NCAA history. McCaffrey’s 284 rushing yards in last November’s 45-31 win over California were the most-ever in the storied rivalry.

With the strength to run between the tackles and the speed to get to the edge, the elusive McCaffrey could be a dangerous weapon for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

“He ran the slot routes maybe better than any slot wide receiver had run them at the combine this year. It blew people away,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of McCaffrey. “Then they sent the other guys in, and he stood out and returned punts. He looked like a natural punt returner.

“His label is running back, but the fact that he could line up in the slot or out wide or run routes from the running back position, all that does is help him.”

Which Jake Arrieta will show up this season?

You know Eric Thames is popping homers almost every night. He does more than that, though. These are all very small sample sizes, of course, because we’re only a month in, but Thames is batting .400 with runners on base, .429 with two outs and runners in scoring position and .435 when he comes to the plate in a tie game. He’s hitting .323 vs. right-handed pitchers and .421 against lefties. He’s batting .452 on the road, with six of his 11 homers away from Milwaukee.

A total of 17 qualified starters are averaging at least 10 strikeouts per nine innings, a list topped by Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, at 13.0 per nine. The most surprising name on the list has to be Baltimore’s Wade Miley. In nearly 1,000 career MLB innings heading into this season, the lefty averaged 7.1 strikeouts per nine; through five starts this year he’s at 11.0. Go figure.
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Chris Owings leads all qualified hitters with a .524 average with runners in scoring position; he has 15 RBIs in 23 such plate appearances. Owings is batting .231 with the bases empty.

Authentic Youth Chris Jones Jersey Of the 105 starters who have thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title at the moment, only three have yet to allow a home run Mike Leake (1.35 ERA), James Paxton (1.39) and Noah Syndergaard (3.29).

Which Jake Arrieta will show up this season? If Jake Arrieta returns to the form he had from 2014 through the All-Star Break of 2016, the Cubs rotation of Lester/Hendricks/Arrieta is second to none. But the big righty was inconsistent in the second half of 2016, posting a good but not exceptional 3.69 ERA after the All-Star break, before figuring things out a bit in the playoffs. If Arrieta returns to Cy Young status, the Cubs will have a great shot at replicating their 2016 regular season success. If it’s a full year of second-half Arrieta, the Cubs could see a much smaller total in the win column.

Jose Altuve cleared of concussion after collision with Astros teammate

Jose Altuve was removed from Tuesday’s game with the Indians after a collision with Astros teammate Teoscar Hernandez.

The All-Star second baseman appeared to get hit in the head as he ventured into the outfield to track down a fly ball hit by Yan Gomes in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hernandez, playing right field, was unable to slow down in time as the two collided.
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Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game Altuve did not suffer a concussion, but Hernandez did suffer a left knee contusion and was in a lot of pain.

Both players are considered day to day, Hinch said.
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The rotation is Noah Syndergaard and hold your breath. Matt Harvey (rib), Jacob deGrom (elbow) and Steven Matz (shoulder) all missed time last season. Who knows when Zack Wheeler (elbow) will be able to contribute?

Translation No. 3: Stay loose, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.

Backup outfielder Juan Lagares hurt his wrist last season and then hurt his shoulder in winter ball. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is still trying to stay healthy for a full season.

The good news is that the Mets powered through a ton of injuries last year to make the NL wild-card game and a lot of the people mentioned above helped make that happen.

Let’s remember, though, that the Pirates moved the 30-year-old McCutchen to a corner (after not unloading him) because he had a bad year in the field in 2016. He was last among qualifying major league center fielders with minus-28 defensive runs saved. That figure was more than twice as bad as the next-worst center fielder, the Marlins’ Marcell Ozuna, who also had to change positions. McCutchen tried to blame the Pirates for playing him too shallow.

Watch: Mets prospect makes insane barehanded grab of flying bat in dugout

Luis Guillorme’s value as a prospect in the Mets farm system is based mostly on his work with the glove. Turns out he doesn’t even need it.

The 22-year-old infielder made one of the best defensive plays of spring training Thursday while standing in his own dugout, catching a bat that windmilled out of the hands of Marlins hitter Adeiny Hechevarria.

Arik Armstead Limited Jersey Impressive as the grab would have been anyway, Guillorme gets style points for his nonchalance in making the play and coolly flipping the lumber back to Hechevarria while others in the Mets dugout still see their lives flashing before their eyes.
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It didn’t take long for plans to change.

To the shock of the baseball world, the Braves began 1982 on a torrid streak, eventually setting an MLB record with 13 straight victories to start the season.

Their on-field results weren’t supposed to factor much into the documentary, but this was a story that couldn’t be ignored. Despite the outline, despite the plans, the on-field drama had hijacked the narrative.

Dropped into history is how Diamond describes it. The kind of history that made April feel more like October.

When the Braves returned from a road trip after winning their 11th straight game to tie the old MLB record, set just a year earlier by the Oakland A’s, more than 6,000 raucous, sign-waving fans greeted them at the Atlanta airport.

Two days later, when they won their 12th straight game to break the record, hundreds of euphoric fans stormed the field, much like after Chris Chambliss’ walkoff homer for the Yankees to beat the Royals in the 1976 ALCS.

Los Angeles has lost in the first round in consecutive seasons.

Los Angeles will be spending almost as much on the luxury tax — or maybe even more! — as they are on their actually salary cap. That is ludicrous. That is the most extravagant way to burn money I can think of in this entire damn world, outside of actually piling up $150 million and physically burning it. There is no question that this could be the single most expensive experiment in NBA history.

Fortunately, the Clippers are owned by the right person: Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, who was estimated to be worth $28 billion last December. Yes, he can afford this.

Los Angeles has lost in the first round in consecutive seasons. It’s perfectly normal, reasonable, and smart to ask yourself: Should the Clippers invest more than $200 million (conservatively) in an aging core who hasn’t had playoff success in a Western Conference that will probably be run by the Warriors for several seasons, at least?

So, essentially, when it comes to panic-trading a star player to try and fix a perceived illness, Marc Bergevin has form. When a GM has form for making silly decisions, you tend to be hypersensitive towards history repeating itself.

Of course, the Habs (and Price himself) are saying all the right things…but PK Subban and the Habs said all the right things this time last year, too.

So, let’s play a game. Let’s assume that nike_steelers_954, driven by the fearlessness of youth, the pride of off-season moves sitting in front of him like an open cornucopia of possibilities, and the sheer audacious thinking that seems to be alien to most of the NHL, decides to pick up the phone, and see if lightning will strike twice.

Lavar Ball’s lofty ambitions cost son Lonzo sneaker deals with Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour

Lonzo Ball won’t have a sneaker deal with Nike. Or Adidas. Or Under Armour, either.
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The star point guard out of UCLA tabbed to be a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft has been passed over by all three, according to ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell. It’s the first time the Big 3 of sneaker companies have each stepped away from a top prospect.

This series took a sharp left turn when it shifted back to Memphis. For two games, the Spurs were exactly who we thought: a team that isn’t spectacular, isn’t sensational, but is consistently better than whomever they’re playing.

Once the Grizzlies were in their home confines, though, everything changed. They took Game 3 rather handily, and Game 4 might have been the game of the year so far when it ended on a Marc Gasol buzzer beater. But Memphis still cannot guard Kawhi Leonard, and that bit them once again.
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Leonard dropped 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, with six assists and a telling plus-19 while on the court. A bench lineup featuring him, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and Patty Mills (20 points, plus-22) annihilated Memphis. Leonard’s stats could have been gaudier, but there were times where he basically sat at the half-court line, drew a defender out past the three-point line, and allowed his teammates to play four-on-four basketball. The extra spacing tends to work out, and their 53-percent shooting and 50 percent from downtown tells you all you need to know.

The Grizzlies aren’t friendly at home and they certainly don’t give up easy. But they would be wise to take a lead into winning time in the fourth quarter, and figure out something, anything, that could potentially turn Leonard into another player, not a superhuman force.

Otherwise, their season won’t be continuing on past Thursday’s game.

Russell Westbrook posted the fastest playoff triple-double in the last 20 years

If you thought Russell Westbrook was finished breaking records, you haven’t been paying much attention to this season.

Westbrook recorded his third consecutive playoff triple-double, posting 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in the first half of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Game 4 showdown against the Houston Rockets on Sunday. In doing so, he recorded the fastest playoff triple-double in the last 20 seasons, according to ESPN.

The one thing that was clear in Game 4 was that Isaiah Thomas was having fun again while playing basketball. After suffering the tragic loss of his sister just before the start of the playoffs, it put Thomas in an extremely tough spot trying to navigate his emotions while also playing basketball. On Sunday, after his fantastic performance of 33 points, seven assists, and four rebounds, he was able to find some time to smile. After all that he and his family have been through, a happy Thomas is something we can all root for. A win too is just icing on the cake.

Limited Mens Rod Woodson Jersey The Celtics have regained homecourt advantage, and now this series becomes a best-out-of-three with two of those games back in Boston. It’s hard to get a real handle on these two teams, but we at have least two more games to figure that out. For the Celtics, Brad Stevens went with his starters at the 10:10 mark of the fourth quarter and never looked back. It proved to work as they were able to hold off a Bulls’ run that started in the third quarter.
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For the Bulls, things oddly changed in this series when they lost Rajon Rondo after Game 2. Rondo was not a prominent part of the Bulls’ regular season, but he was in Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs. Now without him, the Bulls have had to rely on Isaiah Canaan and Michael Carter-Williams for minutes. For Canaan, Sunday was his first-ever playoff game, scoring 13 points. It was a brave performance, but the Bulls are missing the play of Rondo.

Markieff Morris won’t let Isaiah Thomas complain to referee

Elite Zach Strief Jersey Isaiah Thomas just wanted to complain to an official about a call that surely wronged him egregiously. (I mean, I don’t know, but that’s what they always say, at least.) However, Markieff Morris wasn’t buying it.
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Thomas took it in stride and used his top-notch elusiveness to get a free lane to complain to the referee, anyway. That’s the type of creativeness that has Thomas as one of the top scorers in the league.

The most logical conclusion is that, with three or four quality defensive prospects banging on the door, any gaps that stand in the team’s defense now are going to be filled by those players. And if you’re looking for a good NHL defenseman that’s meaningfully younger and better than Del Zotto, you’re probably going to have to pay a hefty price to get him.

So the idea that the Flyers will definitely look to shake up their defense with an NHL-level piece seems questionable. But again, we’re saying what we think would be fun, not what we necessarily think is going to happen. So the question is this: can the Flyers find a player with NHL experience that they could swing a deal for in order to use their third and final protection slot on him, and would it be worth it given what the cost will be?

What can they do? Expansion is going to force a lot of teams to make tough decisions, not just the Flyers, and some teams are being squeezed hard when it comes to their defensemen. The Flyers, who may have an opening in their third defensive spot, could look to make a deal with one of those teams, giving them a chance to add an NHL-caliber player while allowing another team to get something for a good defenseman rather than lose one for nothing.