Big news, fantasy managers. Yahoo's in-game player rankings will now reflect the custom stat categories used by your specific league.

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest today]

This means two things for you as a fantasy player:

First, all leagues’ player rankings are based on their settings. Before this update, rankings for all leagues were based on default public league settings, even in private, custom leagues whose settings can be very different from the default settings in public leagues.

Second, default player rankings have been updated. They are more accurate than previous default rankings. You will see these changes in public leagues, pro leagues and any private leagues using Yahoo’s default league settings.

The new rankings will be displayed everywhere we currently show ranks: Roster; Players; Trades; etc. They will also be available on both PC and mobile.

So for example, if you play in a baseball format that uses on-base percentage for hitters in place of batting average, then Carlos Santana will finally get the respect he deserves. And Billy Hamilton will now receive the appropriate level of disrespect.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now!]

The next time you visit your league's main page looking for a free agent, simply hit the "Players" tab, then sort by "Current" rank. You'll find all available players arranged by their year-to-date value in your custom scoring system, no matter how quirky it is.

Happy adding, gamers.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: May 5, 2016, 11:07 pm

It's a Thursday edition of MAREK VS. WYSHYNSKI, and we're talking about:

- Breaking down the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including whether or not the Capitals are cooked.

- The Arizona Coyotes hire youngest GM ever, and our analysis of what these changes mean for the organization. 

- How did you follow sports as a kid vs. now?

- The Calder Trophy and the McDavid debate.

- News and notes from around the NHL.

The Marek vs. Wyshynski Podcast is hosted by Jeff Marek of Sportsnet and Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports, breaking down the NHL on a (somewhat) daily basis with their particular brand of whimsy and with guest voices from around the hockey world. MvsW streams live while its being recorded: LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

GET MAREK VS. WYSHYNSKI T-SHIRTS HERE! PROCEEDS GO TO HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER!

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:42 pm

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)Bruce Judson remembers the specific moment when he knew his commitment to Ohio State would not stick.

Judson, a four-star athlete from Cocoa, Florida, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that during a July visit for OSU’s “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer did not recognize him. Judson, who had been verbally committed to OSU for five months at that point, was walking with another recruit (four-star Georgia commit Richard LeCounte) when Meyer stopped them.

[Check out Dr. Saturday on Tumblr for entertaining things you won’t see on the blog]

Here’s how Judson described the encounter:

“Long story short, I was walking in the hallway about to go to the indoor field and work out. He was like, ‘Hey.’ I looked around. ‘Come here.’ He was like, ‘How you doing, you like your visit?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then he’s like, ‘What up Richard LeCounte? Are you showing this guy (Judson) around?’ I was like, ‘Coach, I’m showing him around.’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him Bruce. He said, ‘Oh, Bruce Judson from Florida. The speedy guy.’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘I’m glad that you’re on board and glad you got up here.’ After that, I knew I was de-committing.”

LeCounte corroborated Judson’s story to the AJC, though he said he thought Meyer may have been joking around since Judson was wearing a dark blue shirt. Michigan colors are frowned upon in Columbus, but Judson didn’t see it as a joke.

“We had met face-to-face before at a satellite camp, so he should have known who I was, especially with me being a commit,” Judson.

Judson, the No. 88 ranked player in the country, eventually backed off his OSU pledge in October. He said the level of contact with Meyer dropped off considerably after he made his verbal commitment.

"Once he got me, he told me make sure I keep calling him. But after a couple months, he just stopped talking to me," Judson said. “The rest of the staff stayed in touch, but I didn’t get any love from coach Meyer. If I’m committed there, you should treat me how you treat the recruits that you still want.”

[Visit Dr. Saturday on Facebook for stories you might have missed and chat with the writers]

Judson has visited Florida, UCF, Arizona, Georgia, Auburn, Florida State and Pittsburgh in recent months. He has yet to narrow down his list.

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

Follow @SamDCooper

Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:41 pm

Stephen Curry joins the fray. (Getty Images)The Portland Trail Blazers will attempt to come out red hot and rollin’ against the Golden State Warriors in Saturday’s Game 3, hoping to avenge a pair of double-digit losses to begin the Western Conference semis while holding ground on their home court.

[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

Be careful what you wish for. In pushing the series to a 2-1 mark in favor of Golden State, a win might inspire Warriors coach Steve Kerr to dust off probable two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, still recovering from a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Possibly.

As for Game 3? Even with three days off in between Games 2 and 3, Warriors coach Steve Kerr just about put the kibosh on an early return after Stephen sat out yet another practice on Thursday. From Janie McCauley at the Associated Press:

''It's tough to see him playing Saturday,'' coach Steve Kerr said. ''He's gotten better and better each day.''

In fact, Kerr said ''probably not'' when asked about Curry playing Saturday. Game 4 on Monday is still a conceivable option if Curry keeps making good progress.

''Everything has gone very smoothly. He hasn't had any setbacks,'' Kerr said. ''He's ramping up things in the weight room.''

The last we heard from Curry, the Warriors guard was ducking questions about receiving platelet-rich therapy on his knee in the days following his sprain on April 24. The Warriors themselves were also coy on whether or not Curry took in the treatment – famously given to stars such as Kobe Bryant, Curry teammate Andrew Bogut, and the last Warrior guard to start in front of Stephen: Acie Law.

Warrior general manager Bob Myers told the press on Wednesday that he’d like to see his guard go through a 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 practice first before making the call, something Kerr re-iterated on Thursday, referencing the ankle sprain that Curry suffered in the first game of his team’s postseason:

''That's what we did in Houston with the ankle. He wanted to play but he hadn't practiced,'' Kerr said. ''We gave him two straight days of three-on-three, five-on-five, and he felt pretty good. So that's why he started out Game 4. We probably need to get through that process. We need to see him in rhythm, cutting, moving and see how he responds the next day as well.''

A return on Monday in Game 4 would come exactly two weeks after the “two-week” window announced by the team when an MRI revealed no tear but a nagging sprain in the right knee. That window was merely placed as an evaluation and not a stated return point, however, with Curry always given the chance that he could not only return early (like on Saturday, 13 days following the actual sprain) or well after the diagnosis.

Even with all the positive notes about his recovery, and even if Curry returns with the full go-ahead in Game 4, this is still an injury that could linger until Golden State’s season has ended. That isn’t to say the Warriors are pushing Curry back or endangering his career, that’s just how these sorts of sprains go. Even the best treatment in the world, which Stephen is no doubt receiving, can’t take away from the handicap of the injury itself.

Which is fine, in the interim. Golden State has won four straight in the wake of Curry’s setback and even though Portland is full of dogged performers (working in front of a home Portland crowd that rivals Golden State’s for its voraciousness), it would not be a surprise in the slightest if the Warriors swept.

Nor would it be a surprise if we didn’t see Stephen Curry pair up against Portland’s Damian Lillard all series. Which is a shame, but you get the feeling this potential rivalry has a long way to go.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

Author: Kelly Dwyer
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:35 pm

The Chicago Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball and they’re also one of the most interesting on a day-to-day basis because you never know what manager Joe Maddon might try next.

So it should be no surprise that on Cinco de Mayo, Maddon and the Cubs welcomed a mariachi band into the clubhouse before the start of a four-game series against the Washington Nationals, another one of the best teams in the National League.

Numerous Cubs players shared the experience on social media.

[Elsewhere: How Colby Rasmus learned from the past and found peace in Houston]

Cinco De Mayo para los Cachorros. pic.twitter.com/uS8BLT9f98

— Dexter Fowler (@DexterFowler) May 5, 2016

[Elsewhere: Curtis Granderson fakes recording Lucas Duda with an MLB iPad]

Cinco de Mayo in @Cubs clubhouse!!! Someone help me understand...sounds beautiful!!! pic.twitter.com/HZfaGSbYEr

— Justin Grimm (@GrimmReaper_52) May 5, 2016

Back in spring training, Maddon brought bear cubs to practice one day. He drove his van on the field another day with a clown emerging to perform for the team. He had a mime lead the team in stretches and had karaoke after workouts. The Cubs recently took their first themed road trip of the season with everyone on the team wearing a zany suit.

Pittsburgh bound🇺🇸⚾️ pic.twitter.com/5k4VUjoQIw

— Kris Bryant (@KrisBryant_23) May 1, 2016

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Kyle Ringo is a contributing writer to Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KyleRingo

Author: Kyle Ringo
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:31 pm

In the world of combat sports, just about everyone has taken a swing at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Whether it's different philosophies on culture, finances or politics, Trump has proven to be quite the polarizing personality.

Miesha Tate is still not a fan of Ronda Rousey. But one person who has found common ground with Trump happens to be UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.

Tate recently stated that she would like to see a Republican in the White House and explained that both her and Trump share similar resilient traits where they can bounce back from failure and shock the world.

But perhaps the thing they share most is a common enemy.

“We do have one thing in common: he’s not a Ronda Rousey fan,” Tate told TMZ. “That’s one thing he’s got going for him if I can give him any credit where credit is due.”

Tate’s feud with Rousey has been one of the better-documented rivalries in mixed martial arts. Tate failed on two occasions to upend Rousey but managed to defeat Holly Holm, who knocked out Rousey last November, to become the women’s bantamweight champion. A third fight between the two appears to be almost inevitable when Rousey returns, as long as Tate does her part and defeats Amanda Nunes at UFC 200.

As for Trump, Rousey slammed the idea of Trump becoming president last July. Trump fired back by taking a shot at Rousey shortly after she was knocked out by Holm.

Glad to see that @RondaRousey lost her championship fight last night. Was soundly beaten - not a nice person!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2015

If and when Tate and Rousey have their rematch, the current UFC bantamweight champion will step into the Octagon knowing that she’ll have the full support of perhaps the next president of the United States.

Author: Andreas Hale
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:23 pm
Newly appointed Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka speaks at a news conference announcing his promotion, Thursday, May 5, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. Chayka is the youngest GM in NHL history. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Like many hockey-obsessed 26 year olds, John Chayka would occasionally fire up his gaming system and play a little EA Sports NHL. Those games included a “Be A GM” Mode, in which you manage a team under the salary cap, make trades and even help facilitate locker room chemistry. 

Unlike many hockey-obsessed 26 year olds, John Chayka now has a chance to do all of this in the actual NHL, rather than the pixelated one.

“I can certainly tell you from my experience here and around the league that, in general, it’s a much different approach to making a trade [than in a video game],” he said on Thursday, hours after being announced as the Arizona Coyotes new general manager.

Chayka becomes the youngest GM in NHL history, surpassing Gord Stellick, who was 30 when he was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1988. He replaces Don Maloney, who was fired after nine years at the helm. He joined the team last season as an assistant general manager with a focus on analytics, involved in all areas of hockey operations and player development.

Previously, he co-founded Stathletes, Inc., a hockey data-tracking firm that used video analysis. A native of Jordan Station, Ontario, Chayka’s hockey playing career was limited to Junior ‘A’ in the Maritimes.

So the Coyotes hired a 26-year-old analytics nerd as their general manager.

That sound you just heard was the old boys club’s heads exploding.

Then again, Chayka’s job is to work with one of the “old boys” to lead this franchise to success: Head coach Dave Tippett, who has coached 1,032 games in the NHL after playing in 721 games.

His rookie season was 1983, or roughly six years before his new boss was born.

“John gets painted, because of his age and because of the company he started, with a very analytical brush. What people are going to find out about John is that he’s a very smart guy. A very intelligent guy. But that intelligence leads him to having a balance, where there’s an analytical approach but there’s a common sense approach,” said Tippett.

The veteran coach doesn’t shy away from analytics. In fact, he laughs at the notion that they’re something revolutionary and new: Tippett said he was tracking similar data as an assistant coach with the Houston Aeros back in the mid-1990s as a player/assistant coach.

So he’s down with the gospel of Chayka, much like he’s down with Chayka as the new general manager.

“We all get to meet a lot of people in the world, but there are some that just strike you and you say ‘hey, that guy is special.’ Over the last year, I’ve seen those things in John that [make you say] this guy’s going to be a difference-maker,” said Tippett.

“If you have a difference-maker on your team, it makes everybody better.” 

That said, this is very much Tippett’s team.

***

Chayka said the buck stops with him, but the reality is that this is total collaboration between the GM, the coach and ownership.

Tippett was not only handed a five-year contract extension, but a promotion to executive vice president of hockey operations. This isn’t unprecedented – Patrick Roy has a player personnel role with the Colorado Avalanche and people like Darryl Sutter and Bryan Murray have been dual coach/GMs in the past. But it’s the first time in recent memory that a team has cleared out its general manager and then not only kept the head coach but gave him a contract extension and a promotion.

“We’re going to pursue players that optimize the group and bring specific attributes to this team that will fit within Tipp’s blueprint for success and structure,” said Chayka during his press conference.

That blueprint has resulted in four straight seasons outside of the playoffs, which followed three straight seasons in which Tippett led the Coyotes there. He was hired in 2009.

We asked Chayka if Coyotes Hockey was synonymous with Dave Tippett Hockey.

“I think Coyotes hockey is winning hockey. And Dave Tippett has a history of winning and has been very success,” he said.

“My point is that it’s not about collecting good players. It’s about collecting players that fit our system, that fit our blueprint. Dave Tippett’s going to be a big part of that blueprint. We’re in the process of defining that criteria and narrowing our scope.”

Under this structure, Chayka and Tippett will combine their analytical and hockey knowledge on decisions, and then take that collaboration up to Gary Drummond, the team’s alternate governor who will now formally serve as President of Hockey Operations.

[WATCH: Greg Wyshynski on Coyotes GM hiring on Yahoo Canada Facebook Live!]

Drummond was an investor and Board member on several private and public companies including Baytex Energy Corp., Crew Energy Inc., Comaplex Minerals Corp. and presently Bonterra Energy Corp. and Pincliff Energy Ltd. He’s a member of the IceArizona ownership group.

Said the Coyotes: “Drummond’s main role will be to ensure communication and collaboration within the department and serve as a catalyst for ensuring an alignment of vision and objectives between ownership, management, coaches and the team’s core players.”

Translation: Make sure that the hockey operations side is working with ownership and the coach, unlike what happened under Maloney.

The model of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals was mentioned frequently on Thursday. Michael Bidwill is the team’s president (and son of the owner). Coach Bruce Arians and GM Steve Keim work in concert with him.

“Collaboration, communication and the modernization of processes” was the oft-spoken mantra at the Coyotes’ presser.

Which is to say that, perhaps, that wasn’t there in the previous regime, if one is to read into the words of Tippett.

“[There will be] collaboration between the whole management group. I think a lot of the times the management collaborates and they go to the coach, and now the coach will be involved” in the initial discussions, he said.

***

The MVP here is Tippett. He obviously has been entrusted by ownership to be the steward of the franchise, and one imagines that the Coyotes don’t promote Chayka if Tippett doesn’t sign off on it.

That he did is inspiring, because it shows a willingness from the old school to accept and worth with the new school. It’s like when Kyle Dubas was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as their analytics whiz kid, and then was accepted when Lou Lamoriello arrived as the new general manager. 

Dubas, for what it’s worth, doesn’t believe he personally is ready to be a GM at 29 years old. “I have a lot to learn,” he said last month. “Frankly speaking, what I’ve learned is that I have a lot to learn to get to that level [as a GM].”

Like Dubas, John Chayka is south of 30 years old. Unlike Dubas, John Chayka never toiled in the front offices of junior hockey for years.

John Chayka isn’t an ex-player trading on his name recognition for a post-career job, nor is John Chayka some old retread bouncing to yet another front office gig.

He doesn’t fit the mold.

Imagine what the NHL would look like if other teams had the boldness to break their own paradigms and hire outside the same pedigrees and demographics. 

That alone is a reason to root for the Coyotes' success.

-- 

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:16 pm

Professional sports opinion-haver Colin Cowherd has brought us a doozy: He said Bryce Harper is baseball's version of Donald Trump. Well, ummm ... maybe? They do both have fascinating hair.

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now]

Cowherd, who not long ago jumped from ESPN to Fox Sports, has a certain way of cherry-picking facts and bowling over straw men to make his arguments. He also just straight-up puts his foot in his mouth sometimes, like when he said baseball is "too complex" for people from the Dominican Republic. That one expedited his exit from ESPN.

(CSN Washington / AP)Nothing that controversial this time around. But Trump and Harper is an interesting connection to make. Harper helped by hijacking Trump's "Make America Great Again" catchphrase for a "Make Baseball Fun Again" cap. That was, as the cap says, for fun.

But Cowherd looked for deeper connections about Harper's record-setting endorsement deal with Under Armour and Trump's establishment-shaking presidential campaign. Here's what he had to say, via The Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog:

“He enters baseball,” Cowherd said of Harper. “It has a proud tradition, it has the oldest fan base. He refuses to play by the rules. Some call him a show-off. There’s a fight with teammates. Gains massive momentum. Fans love him. Wins big deal. Now I’m going to read you Donald Trump. Enters the GOP. Proud tradition, the oldest party. Refuses to play by the rules. Some call him crass. We’ve seen fights. Gains massive momentum. Many people love him. Gets the big win" ...

“One’s a politician, one’s a baseball player, but the one thing I see with both is when you’re an outsider – and I’m not voting for Trump – but if you’re an outsider, man do people come after you,” Cowherd continued. “I mean, Bryce Harper got into a fight with a teammate. [People said] ‘He’s bad for the game,’ people throwing at him because he made people uncomfortable and he was different and big and broad and loud and flashy. He is the only bona fide superstar baseball now has. Clayton Kershaw is great, [but] Bryce Harper is a superstar in America. The sport doesn’t have another one. He is unbelievable and he’s made people totally uncomfortable. He’s got flaws, he’s not for everybody. Some say he’s too showy and too cocky. But there’s a reason he just signed that deal.” 

To boil that down even further, Cowherd's argument is basically: "He's successful and divisive + some people don't like him = the same." And while there's certainly a few elements of truth to what Cowherd is saying, it's not hard to find successful people who have a flock of haters. 

Like Taylor Swift, for instance. Or Cam Newton. Or LeBron James. Or even Colin Cowherd.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:14 pm

It's time for Happy Hour. As always, tweet us your thoughts or shoot us an email at happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com if you want to participate.

It's crazy to think that it's the beginning of May and we're talking about the 2017. Kudos to NASCAR for getting the schedule out incredibly early this year rather than waiting until the fall to release the schedule for the upcoming season.

It's also one hell of an idea to get Talladega away from the final race of the second round of the Chase. If Talladega is going to stay as part of the Chase (We'd be cool swapping Talladega out for a road course in the Chase provided Talladega gets to keep two dates on the schedule) it needs to be away from an elimination race.

Yeah, a big crash in the second race of the second round could ruin a driver's chances to make the third round, but it's much better for the field to have one more chance at advancement rather than drivers potentially ruing their title hopes as their cars are being towed back to the garage after a 15-car pileup because of a bump draft gone bad.

If we could wave a magic wand and leave politics and preferences out of it, here's how we'd like the Chase to look.

1. Chicago
2. Talladega (or road course if we're getting crazy)
3. New Hampshire
4. Dover
5. Kansas
6. Martinsville (a week earlier would help with any daylight issues)
7. Charlotte (on Sunday afternoon)
8. Texas
9. Phoenix
10. Homestead

It's not a total remodel of the Chase, but it makes minimizes the impact of Talladega's craziness as much as possible. Dover and New Hampshire are only pushed back a week and Martinsville is ahead of Charlotte because of increased sunlight and because it's further north.

Nice to not have the elimination race be a total crapshoot. Bloodthirsty fans may not agree. - Jim

@NickBromberg don't like

— Terry Hite (@ezbugn1320) May 5, 2016

As someone who lives minutes rather than hours from Kansas Speedway, the argument surrounding weather in late October is a strong one. It can be really random around here. The worst case is that it's 45 and cloudy during the race and the conditions negatively impact the racing.

But the Chase concerns outweigh the weather concerns. It's a smart move, and one that wasn't spur of the moment by NASCAR.

@NickBromberg I HAVE A QUESTION -- WHY ARE SOME NASCAR FANS SO MEAN TO THE MEDIA?

— ANNOYING RACE FAN (@annoyingracefan) May 5, 2016

Why are some people mean to everyone on Twitter? There seems to be a fair amount of people who feel having an egg avatar means you can say anything you want without any consequences.

Perhaps it's because there are many people who feel they could do the media's job just as well, if not better. Maybe it's an extension of fandom. Many fans second-guess managers and executives and delusionally think they can do a better job than those in charge. So it's only natural to think that fans could believe they'd ask better questions than the people who are asking them in the first place.

You'll never see any griping about being a media member in this space (though griping about other things comes with the territory). Yeah, there's a lot of riff-raff to deal with, but every job has that. And there are a lot of people who wish they would get to watch sports for a living. Keeping this in perspective goes a long, long way.

@NickBromberg 6 winners so far, how many chase drivers will have a W? Who is taking over the page after the bowling pin attacks you Sat.?

— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) May 5, 2016

An over/under of 12 seems about right. You can make a strong argument for both sides. Under if you think the Joe Gibbs Racing dominance is going to extend all summer and over if you think all four Hendrick cars could get a win along with someone like Tony Stewart.

It's easy to get to 10 by assuming Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Joey Logano each get a win. Then there's still Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and others.

Saturday's race is the GoBowling.com 400 and we're hoping to see this creepy guy in victory lane again. And perhaps take a picture. Assuming we will not be eaten.

I am so excited to see how creepy this bowling pin looks in person. pic.twitter.com/rnELRQUyQD

— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) January 13, 2016

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 5, 2016, 10:07 pm

In a Game 3 of their second-round playoff series, the San Jose Sharks slipped against the Nashville Predators.

Up until that point the Sharks had cruised through the postseason going 6-1 and dispatching the Los Angeles Kings, a team with win-now Stanley Cup aspirations, in five games. Nashville was arguably the better team in Games 1 and 2 – both Sharks wins – but couldn’t get the big goals at big moments.

In Game 3, San Jose suffered their worst defeat of the playoffs, a 4-1 loss to the Preds. How they respond in Game 4, a contest where San Jose can put a 3-1 stranglehold on the series, will help determine if Game 3’s loss was just a blip, or something more troubling for San Jose

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today]

“I would expect our desperation level to be in a real good place tonight,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.

During the playoffs, DeBoer has tried to keep his team loose with off days and rest. On Wednesday in Nashville, his team held meetings, got treatment and played around with a soccer ball according to the San Jose Mercury News.

"I think the mindset is we're in a good spot, we're up 2-1," he said. "We were the best road team in the NHL all year and I like our spot."

During the series, the Sharks have held a 5-on-5 puck possession advantaged with a 52.1 CF%. San Jose had the best road record in the NHL this season at 28-10-3, and have gone 3-1 away from SAP Center this postseason. But Nashville’s home ice advantage is different than most, wrote On The Forecheck. 

When the Predators get rolling, especially at home, the crowd behind them is easily one of the loudest across the league. They've done a fantastic job of energizing the team during some of the tougher moments throughout the season and when they're dominating the opposition.

The Predators got back into the series thanks to some stellar play by Pekka Rinne in Game 3, and a strong performance from captain Shea Weber.

Rinne stopped 26 of 27 shots on goal in the Game 3 win and Weber blasted the game-winning goal and added an assist.

“I think always, when you move on from the regular season to the postseason, you’re a little bit nervous,” Rinne said according to the Tennessean. “It’s more excitement than anything, but also nerves. But not anymore. Now it’s business as usual, I guess.” 

After the game, a mic’d up video made by the NHL showed Weber in the Predators locker room after the win, where he immediately set the tone moving forward, “We’ve got a lot of work left to do, boys. Let’s forget about this one and move on to Game Four.”

Also the last game, the Predators forced the powerful San Jose power play into an 0-for-4 showing. They came into the game at 3-for-5, having scored in their first two games. The Predators also held the line of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl to just one point between the three.

It will be tough for Nashville to keep both the power play and the top line mostly off the board for a second consecutive game.

“We expect it’s going to be hard to score five-on-five, you’re going to have to earn your goals, and we’ve definitely had to,” Thornton said according to CSN Bay Area.

Added Pavelski, again per CSN Bay Area, “It’s tight, [the Predators] don’t give up a whole lot. With that being said, we can definitely create a little bit more. We can have more support. We’ve been a little spread out at times, I think.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:58 pm

New Mexico State head coach Doug Martin. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)Unlike Idaho, New Mexico State plans to stay at the FBS level.

NMSU Board of Regents Chair Debra Hicks told the Las Cruces Sun-News Thursday that the Aggies “are staying the course with FBS for the foreseeable future.”

Like Idaho, NMSU’s football-only Sun Belt Conference membership ends after the 2017 season. Idaho made the decision last week to drop down to the FCS level. NMSU won’t be following in the Vandals’ footsteps and plans to compete as an FBS Independent once the 2018 season rolls around.

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“In May of 2013, the board of regents passed a resolution to stay the course with FBS,” Hicks said. “The committee will continue their work to come up with their proposal in what we should do in regards to conference alignment but we are staying the course with FBS for the foreseeable future.”

The school put together an 18-member “Athletic Review Committee” to weigh all possible options for football, including joining an FCS-level conference. Ultimately, the committee (Hicks was a member) opted to continue on while using the aforementioned May 2013 board resolution as a frame of reference.

From the Sun-News:

Hicks said the issue will not be an action item in front of the regents, but rather the board will reaffirm the 2013 resolution. Hicks said the 2013 resolution and financial considerations were the determining factors in the committee’s consensus to move forward as an independent football program.

Hicks said Idaho’s decision to join the Big Sky in 2018 prompted NMSU officials to act.

“Idaho just happened and that has created a firestorm,” Hicks said. “We have student athletes who are very interested in what they are playing in the next few years. That was a critical decision that needed to be made so that everyone has a confident feeling about that while we really look at conference alignment.”

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In three seasons at the FBS level – one as an independent and two in the Sun Belt – the Aggies are a combined 7-29. NMSU started last season 0-7 before winning three straight conference games over Idaho, Texas State and UL-Lafayette. The Aggies then dropped their final two games to finish the year 3-9.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:43 pm

Phil Jackson hears the cheers at the All-Star Game. (Getty Images)It probably isn’t the nicest thing to mock the NBA’s oldest team personnel chief behind his back while he ambles his way through nearly the whole of the continental U.S. while driving his brother back to his house in Idaho.

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Then again, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson isn’t exactly out of the loop, either. He’s out of more loops than Knick fans would probably find ideal, but the man is definitely plugged in. Why else would Jackson, who will turn 71 in September, be tweeting out snapshots of his trip from upstate New York to his brother’s place in Idaho?

There was this surprise of a gem, though we can’t tell if Phil (used to living on the coasts) was being a little elitist facetious …

Always amazed where one finds good thai.#Sioux City pic.twitter.com/yQQII06bTH

— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) May 4, 2016

And this shot of him outside of the mark that saw Crazy Horse fall in Nebraska:

"Curly"moment. pic.twitter.com/xKgKl5SYt4

— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) May 5, 2016

Jackson has apparently been working his way to Chuck Jackson’s house in Idaho after a somewhat contentious final meeting with New York press following New York’s disappointing 32-50 season. He worked his way past his home in upstate New York before the Sioux Falls visit, where his brother confirmed that the two were on their way toward Idaho.

All while, in the interim, no new Knick head coaches appear to be on their way into New York.

Jackson has famously taken sojourns like these in order to clear his head following a season’s end, though because of his past coaching success these trips usually occurred during the summer months. Phil’s summer months this year will be filled with free agent intrigue, something he didn’t have to deal with in Chicago and Los Angeles. For the third straight campaign (and second straight full turn under Phil) the Knicks missed the playoffs and had little to fret about following February, allowing for Jackson to hit the bricks in April – possibly his only chance to get away.

That would be understandable if all hell hand’t broken loose in the NBA coaching ranks. As if it were ever tied together to begin with.

On Thursday, the Indiana Pacers fired coach Frank Vogel, the third such firing of a postseason coach (Houston, Cleveland … Houston twice if you count J.B. Bickerstaff’s decision to walk away from the Rockets’ mess this week) during 2015-16. The Sacramento Kings have interviewed everyone short of Chuck Jackson for its job, the Timberwolves already hired Tom Thibodeau for theirs, and meanwhile intrigue abounds in Milwaukee and Memphis as those teams face make or break years in 2016-17.

Most telling, Luke Walton agreed to terms with the Lakers even before his Golden State Warriors got out of the second round, even with the knowledge that Los Angeles might not have its lottery pick this year, and with the (unfortunate) daily reminders that 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr is still far from 100 percent as he recovers from offseason back surgeries.

Meanwhile, Jackson is taking his time. To top it off, there’s this from ESPN New York’s Ian Begley:

“League sources say that some involved in the Knicks' coaching search have been informed that Phil is away right now. The implication is that the search is on hold.”

Or that there never was one to begin with, with family friend Kurt Rambis still technically the Knicks’ head coach, following his ascension to interim head coach status following the dismissal of Derek Fisher as Knicks coach a year and a half into his coaching career.

By the time Jackson returns to his job, viable candidates Brian Shaw may have joined Walton in Los Angeles, Nate McMillan or Bulls assistant Jim Boylen could be running the Pacers, any number of names could be the head of the Houston Rockets (Bickerstaff’s decision makes it easier for Jeff Van Gundy to get past his admirable and Phil Jackson-inspired “never interview for a team that already has a coach”-policy) and Vogel can be anywhere.

Rick Pitino, who brought Vogel into the NBA all the way back in 1997, thinks that he would work swimmingly in New York. Phil Jackson doesn’t like being told what to do, though, so any slight chance of Vogel taking over probably died with those comments. Suggestions that Phil Jackson, scrolling through his phone, no doubt saw.

Even longtime Knick sympathizers are a bit annoyed with the inactivity, especially as fans are due to turn in season ticket orders on Friday. From the New York Post’s Marc Berman:

“If Jackson sits out the Vogel Sweepstakes, it could demonstrate the Knicks’ coaching search is more farce than fervent.”

There is always former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, a former college teammate of technical Knicks general manager Steve Mills, and Blatt was interviewed by Mills last week. And we could even go as giving the Knicks a bit too much credit in wondering if they’re waiting out the 2015-16 run of San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

Messina’s season could end as late as June 19, though, less than two weeks before free agency begins. That’s hardly an ideal start to create the sort of “simpatico” relationship between front office and coach that Jackson said that he’d like to create.

He already has that sort of relationship with Kurt Rambis, an Elvis Costello-type to Jackson’s Robbie Robertson, and their respective spouses are also best of friends.

In an age where septuagenarians can send Twitpics out from the most remote of locations, face-to-face meetings in Manhattan offices aren’t exactly needed in order to suss out the best candidates. You can get a feel of someone’s connection (or lack thereof) with you over the phone, and Phil genuinely doesn’t have to be stalking the corridors of Madison Square Garden as he approaches Introduction Day. Don’t tell this to Carmelo Anthony (who has just about thrown up his hands), though we have nearly $130 million reasons not to feel sorry for the Knicks All-Star.

Even Jackson’s own boss, currently, is off on another pathetic attempt to pass himself off as the opening act that Jewel really, really wanted, he swears. Urgency, clearly (especially with no first round pick to use), is not the order of the day.

By pointing to this “I do this every year”-trip as the reason why he was left cold in the coaching turnover, prior to making it official with Rambis, Jackson has set himself up for all the explanations – and he doesn’t really care if you can see right through them. The difference here is that Jackson once took these road trips after having to travel to 41 road games a regular season on a bad back and hip, juggling the egos of superstars every day in games and practice, coaching around 100 games a year in championship totals. Acting as a team president is a little cushier.

We know where this is all headed, in New York this season and California the next. It’d be a little nicer if Phil Jackson wasn’t trying to pull the curls over Knick fans’ eyes, though.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

Author: Kelly Dwyer
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:17 pm
FILE - In this April 8, 2015 file photo, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau coaches his team during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, in Anaheim, Calif. The Anaheim Ducks have fired coach Bruce Boudreau after their first-round exit from the playoffs. Ducks general manager Bob Murray announced the decision Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

As of right now, four NHL teams are without their head coaches.

The first to jettison theirs, way back while the season was still going on, was the Minnesota Wild. John Torchetti was their interim coach down the stretch and right up until this second, but the Wild are actively looking at other options as well.

Then came the Ottawa Senators, which turfed Dave Cameron right around the time when the regular season came to an end. Last week it was the Anaheim Ducks giving Bruce Boudreau, who lost another Game 7 with Anaheim, the ol' heave-ho. And on Tuesday morning it was the Calgary Flames unceremoniously kicking Bob Hartley to the curb because he wasn't a good head coach.

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So that's four vacancies and, as we'll see in a minute, there remains no shortage of options. In doing the research here, you would have had to clock out pretty early to find fewer than a dozen names mentioned in connection with at least one of these jobs, so obviously this is going to get very heated very quickly.

The Rumor

Lots to process here, but let's be honest: Bruce Boudreau is the big prize and everyone else is fighting for scraps. Any team that hires a coach who is not Boudreau before Boudreau gets hired is making an enormous mistake, full-stop.

But again, only one team gets him, and a good coach is an enormous asset to a team. The Toronto Maple Leafs recently learned you can pay one literally anything you can afford because it doesn't hurt your cap situation, and statistically Boudreau might add more wins to your record at the end of the year than even Mike Babcock. There are, however, probably two open jobs here for which money considerations could be a major issue.

Those teams, obviously, are budget clubs Ottawa and Anaheim, and more obviously Anaheim just fired the guy so they were out anyway.

This very quickly becomes a two-horse race then, at least if Calgary and Minnesota are smart. Sure, the Senators will act like they're in the Boudreau-hiring business, but Cameron was reportedly the lowest-paid coach in the league when he was let go. Boudreau would likely have been near the top. Think Eugene Melnyk makes that jump?

Who's Going Where?

But before we get down to the picking and choosing here, let's first examine the criteria apparently being laid out by each of the teams involved, starting with the most recent dismissal.

The Flames are probably the best position to hire anyone they like because they spend to the cap and have by far the most attractive situation going forward (maybe not for next season, unless they get the goalie situation sorted out, but still).

But let's also keep in mind Brad Treliving said the decision to fire Hartley didn't have much to do with who was available. And if you believe that, I have a hockey team in Calgary to sell you. Hartley might have been fired anyway, but the timing screams, “Right this way, Mr. Boudreau.” He almost certainly is, and should be, top of their list.

However, Calgary has also made it known that they won't necessarily require their head coaching choice to have had NHL experience before. That opens the door for Travis Green, a long-time NHLer (970 games!) and very well-regarded coach for AHL Utica; their own AHL coach Ryan Huska; and maybe one or two others who have generally been mentioned as being on the market.

Meanwhile, Renaud Lavoie has the Flames kicking the tires on Randy Carlyle for reasons inexplicable. For a team that just made a very intelligent step forward in getting rid of Hartley, this would arguably be an even bigger leap backward.

They might also take a gander at Marc Crawford, Dallas Eakins, Sheldon Keefe, Mike Yeo, Kevin Dineen, and Dave Lowry.

The Flames have not talked with Boudreau about the job opening yet, but Minnesota has. (He has a meeting pending with Ottawa, as well.) Minnesota also quite likes the job Torchetti did, so maybe he gets a longer look than some might have otherwise expected. Another name apparently on the Wild's list... Randy Carlyle? What, them too? Okay.

Next up we have Ottawa, which again has that meeting scheduled with Boudreau on Friday. But the Sens are being a little choosier than Calgary in one regard: They'd like their coach to have NHL experience. The Ducks are in the same boat there.

To that end, the Senators will also look at:

• Mike Yeo (fired by Minnesota earlier this year for not being able to wring better results from that not-good team)

• Marc Crawford (most recently with Dallas in 2011, and coach of ZSC Lions in Switzerland the last four seasons)

• Guy Boucher (last seen with Tampa in 2013, coach of both SC Bern and Canada's Spengler Cup teams the last two years)

• Kevin Dineen (Florida's head coach from 2011-14, assistant with Chicago each of the last two seasons)

• Benoit Groulx (no NHL head coaching experience, but currently Gatineau's coach in the QMJHL and a former AHL head coach)

• Randy Carlyle (this guy again!)

There's also an idea that Ottawa might be interested in what Hartley's selling. Eric Francis goes so far as to say he will “no doubt” be hired there, and it makes sense: He's bilingual, he's from nearby Hawkesbury, and he might even be had on the cheap.

John Stevens, currently the associate head coach in LA, is another guy to monitor for all these job openings, but the Kings might not let him interview elsewhere.

The Implications

Again, this all basically boils down to where Boudreau lands.

If he lands in Minnesota, for instance, everyone else is instantly scrambling to find the best alternative. I think that's probably what everyone is talking about when they say they'd take coaches without NHL experience; might as well try to find the next Jon Cooper or Dave Hakstol, a great coach in the lower levels of the sport who could become both a bargain and a brilliant move. (I might even advance the idea of excellent Providence College coach Nate Leaman getting some consideration here, as his name has been mentioned in that vein for a while now.)

Anyway, the hockey world is almost certainly going to have to wait for the Boudreau domino to fall before anything else happens, and that simply makes sense for all involved.

This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?
On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:

Boudreau being the first coach hired:

Emoji

 

 

  

 

 

 

(No question this is what should happen.)

Calgary or Minnesota being Boudreau's most likely landing spots?

For Calgary:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Minnesota:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

(Flames have a better situation overall, but Minnesota might just throw cash at him.)

Another team going to someone with no NHL head coaching experience:

Emoji

 

 

 

  

(After Boudreau's gone, I don't see why not.)

The idea that Ottawa is basically a lock to hire Hartley:

Emoji

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This is exactly the kind of not-bright move I would expect from the Senators.)

Someone hiring Randy Carlyle: 

Emoji

 

 

 

 

(Anaheim might do it, but you'd really hope not.)

There are a lot of good coaching options out there these days. It should be pretty easy not to screw this up. Now we just wait to see how someone screws it up.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)

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Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:11 pm

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)It appears former Kansas State safety Kaleb Prewett is headed back to his home state.

Prewett’s high school coach confirmed to PowerMizzou.com that Prewett will transfer to Missouri, where he will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016 season. The Blue Springs, Mo., native plans to arrive at Missouri in the summer.

Prewett hinted at his transfer destination in a tweet earlier this week. He also changed his Twitter bio to “former Kansas State safety, current Mizzou safety.”

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Can't wait to get back on the field in my home state. pic.twitter.com/hA2fJDpeCj

— Kaleb Prewett (@Kaleb_Prewett) May 3, 2016

Prewett started eight games for Kansas State last season, finishing fourth on the team with 49 tackles. He also had a sack and a pass break-up. Prewett also played in six games as a true freshman in 2014, mainly on special teams. 

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Prewett was a three-star recruit in the 2014 class and held an offer from Missouri, but opted to attend Kansas State alongside two high school teammates. 

For more Missouri news, visit PowerMizzou.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:06 pm

Third basemen Kris Bryant and Mike Moustakas already were likable guys and extremely popular among the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals fan bases. A video of a competition they were a part of back in spring training shows them to be even more down-to-earth and fun than you might expect. 

Bryant and Moustakas teamed up to battle the guys from the popular YouTube show Dude Perfect in a series of games such as wiffle ball, dodgeball and egg toss with some hilarious moments.

[Elsewhere: How Colby Rasmus learned from the past and found peace in Houston]

The teams were pretty even in the home run derby, which allowed players on the opposing team to try to rob home runs with huge fishing nets. The big leaguers absolutely crushed Dude Perfect in dodgeball, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering the massive advantage they held in velocity and accuracy when it comes to throwing arms.

The guys from Dude Perfect became famous by filming their tricks shots in basketball. So it’s no surprise they handled the egg toss brilliantly after spinning around in circles with their foreheads on bats first, of course.

[Elsewhere: Curtis Granderson fakes recording Lucas Duda with an MLB iPad]

Bryant and Moustakas had a quite a spring together. When they weren’t getting ready for the season with their respective teams, they spent plenty of time together working with Stouffer's Fit Kitchen even coaching against each other in softball game at Arizona State.

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Kyle Ringo is a contributing writer to Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KyleRingo

Author: Kyle Ringo
Posted: May 5, 2016, 9:05 pm

(Getty Images)Because Marshawn Lynch can be an unpredictable guy at times, the fact that he hadn't filed retirement papers this offseason and the Seattle Seahawks never put him on the reserve/retired list seemed to leave the door open just a little bit for a comeback.

Not so much anymore. On Thursday the Seahawks placed Lynch on the reserve/retired list, for all realistic purposes putting an official end to a fantastic career.

But was it a Hall of Fame career?

Because the Pro Football Hall of Fame puts a maximum number on each class and there are so many great players who will be eligible by the time Lynch can be considered, it will be tough. Lynch also has very good but not undeniable career numbers. His 9,112 career rushing yards places him 36th all time, between Ahman Green and Terry Allen on the all-time list.

However, Lynch's argument for the Hall of Fame is pretty strong, as any Seattle fan will gladly tell you.

While the Seahawks have had some big stars during this impressive recent run, Lynch probably is the biggest. He epitomized Seattle's rise to Super Bowl champion with his tough running style and big plays. Between 2011, his first full Seahawks season, and 2014 he had at least 1,200 rushing yards each season and averaged 12 touchdowns. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Lynch had 774 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in eight playoff games. That's remarkable. That also includes a Super Bowl championship (and many will say it should have been two Super Bowl championships had the Seahawks just given him the ball on the 1-yard line against the New England Patriots, but that's a different story).

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The Seahawks included this 2012 quote from coach Pete Carroll in its release that made Lynch's retirement official: "I don't know if anything is more symbolic than what we've done with Marshawn and him playing the way he's played and him being the guy he is. I think he really is the key element to putting this thing together from the attitude perspective at least."

The best Hall of Fame argument for Lynch might be the comparison to Earl Campbell, who is in the Hall: 

Campbell: Eight seasons, 115 games, 2,187 rushing attempts, 9,407 yards, 74 TDs. 
Lynch: Nine seasons, 127 games, 2,144 attempts, 9,112 yards, 74 TDs.

Also, Lynch had more than three times as many receiving yards (1,979 yards for Lynch, 806 for Campbell) and 9 receiving touchdowns to Campbell's zero. The numbers (and running styles) are remarkably similar, and Lynch has a Super Bowl ring. That's not entirely fair to Campbell, because football is a team sport, but it doesn't hurt Lynch's case. And good luck finding anyone who doesn't think Campbell should be in the Hall of Fame. So maybe Lynch should be too.

Even if Lynch doesn't get enshrined in Canton, he'll be one of the biggest figures in Seahawks history. It's sacrilegious to some to consider, but you can make a lucid argument that he the most important player in Seahawks history, even surpassing Steve Largent. That Super Bowl championship is a big plus in Lynch's favor when it comes to that. When we look back on this incredible Seahawks run, the first player we should remember is Lynch. He was the foundation.

No matter whether Lynch ends up in Canton or not, it was a unique, entertaining and fantastic career. Happy retirement, Beast Mode.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 5, 2016, 8:49 pm

There are many fascinating things in baseball's revived battle against performance-enhancing drugs, but like most things in life, it's the money that's most fascinating.

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Dee Gordon is the new poster boy of PEDs in baseball — for now at least, until the next star comes along. Gordon’s 80-game suspension shocked the game for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the $50 million contract he signed with the Miami Marlins just a few months ago. Now we're only a month into the season! He's like a dude who gets caught cheating on his honeymoon.

As more names hit the suspension list — we're up to six so far, the same number as ALL of last season in baseball, with more reportedly on the way — the concerns about PEDs in baseball will continue. This wave of offenders have already brought back some familiar (and tough) questions:

(Yahoo Sports)

• Are the penalties stiff enough?
• Are the testing and suspensions enough to keep people from doping?
• Is the money a baseball player can make just too tantalizing?

Let’s consider Gordon: He’s only being penalized $1.63 million. The rest of his money? Guaranteed. As long as he doesn’t get suspended again, it’s his.

[Elsewhere: More PED suspensions reportedly coming to MLB and this is why]

So in this week’s installment of my Open Mike video series (it’s that video at the top of the page, hi!), I discuss MLB players profiting off PEDs and my modest proposal to help that uneasy feeling that comes with it.

If you’ve got an idea of your own, or you just want to compliment this week’s T-shirt-and-cap combo, feel free to drop it in the comments or send it to me on Twitter or Facebook.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: May 5, 2016, 8:40 pm

You're not going to believe this, but it seems like the Atlanta Hawks did not particularly enjoy getting absolutely strafed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Sure, the Hawks' wonderful Twitter account was able to find the gallows humor in being on the receiving end of an NBA-record 25 3-pointers, but apparently, the players on the court and on the receiving end of the bombs-away beatdown didn't find Cleveland's pursuit of net-scorching history quite so amusing.

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In the locker room after the loss, Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap said he was "speechless" over the Cavaliers' unbelievable shooting effort. Apparently, that didn't extend to a conversation with Cavs beat writer Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:

"It's a certain way of being a professional," Paul Millsap said to Cleveland.com. "I'm not mad about it, but just being professionals, man. If that's how you want to approach it, that's how you approach it. I think our team and our organization has class and I don't think we would have continued to do that, but other organizations do other things, so what can you do about it?"
Al Horford echoed his frontcourt mate's sentiments.
"We probably wouldn't do anything like that [if we were in that position]," he told cleveland.com. "... It's hard to say, but I would say no."

Well, I guess it's not that hard to say, then.

The Hawks' displeasure seems to stem from Cleveland's insistence on chucking from deep even after tying the second-largest halftime lead in NBA playoff history, tying the previous postseason record for 3s in a playoff game (set less than two weeks ago) less than seven minutes into the third quarter, and breaking it just 31 seconds after that. The Cavs headed into the fourth up by 36 and no Cleveland starter played in the fourth quarter, but Tyronn Lue's reserves still let 'em fly, hoisting 11 more long balls in the final frame. That, the logic goes, is unprofessional.

The same word, though, could be used to describe the Hawks' defensive effort on Wednesday. It would be a harsh assessment, to be sure, but difficult to argue with, as an Atlanta squad that finished the season ranked second in the NBA in points allowed per possession was totally undressed and destroyed from just about the opening tip. Coach Mike Budenholzer succinctly summed up the damage during his postgame press conference, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“In transition we are not doing a good enough job,” Budenholzer said. “We need greater urgency and greater understanding in getting to all of their shooters. I think it starts there. Then in the half court, they are in the paint a lot. When you collapse and people help, they are making the extra pass and making shots. Then the third piece, several of them, obviously, J.R. Smith are hitting extremely difficult 3’s on top of those first two things.”

Yes, J.R. made some tough looks — as is his wont, of course — but with Atlanta failing to corral dribble penetration and staying at least one step behind the Cavaliers' ball movement, many of Cleveland's triple tries came without a hard closeout or a hand in the shooter's face. The Cavaliers attempted 45 3-pointers, and while the Hawks did contest 32 of them, according to NBA.com's SportVU player tracking data, that A) left 13 open and B) meant the Cavaliers were doing what they were supposed to do and beating the defensive effort on offer. What's wrong with that? With a full quarter left to play, should NBA players be expected not to take wide-open, in-rhythm 3s? More from Haynes:

"We ran our offense and got shots in our offense," [Cavs reserve Dahntay Jones] said to cleveland.com. "That's what we did. Mine were wide open. Both of mine were wide open, so I don't know what they wanted me to do. I didn't have to put the ball down or nothing. I was wide open for two of them.
"I guess it's a testament to, well, I don't know what it's a testament to. We were wide open. Really, I'm dead serious. I just sat in the corner. I sat there for two shots. We didn't even push the ball in transition. I really don't understand the logic but hey, it's just one game, buddy."

It's entirely reasonable that the Hawks wouldn't have enjoyed watching the Cavs both dominate them and dance while doing it:

... but, well, just because you don't like something, that doesn't mean somebody else is classless or unprofessional for doing it.

Making 3-pointers in the NBA is hard. Making 25 of them in a game is so hard that literally no other team in NBA history has ever done it. Doing it is awesome, and cool, and the kind of thing that should be celebrated, so the Cavs celebrated it. At the risk of oversimplifying things, it seems reasonable to subscribe to the Cam Newton Dancing line of thinking here: "I'm a firm believer, if you don't like me to do it, then don't let me in." Or, in this case, "then don't let a team just barely removed from making 20 triples in a game get 25 uncontested looks from beyond the arc." (Especially when, as Stephen Douglas of The Big Lead notes, you could argue that the Hawks aren't in a spot to cast stones here.)

For his part, Lue dismissed claims that the Cavs had done anything untoward in a Thursday press conference, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“That’s something the players felt like was in their grasp and they wanted to go for it,” Lue said Thursday about chasing the record in a blowout. “I don’t see anything wrong with it. We didn’t do anything malicious. I don’t think we did anything to rub it in their face. They felt good on the floor and wanted to go for the record.”

Clearly, the Hawks (or at least some of them) disagree. Whether or not you think they've got a leg to stand on, it ought to give Atlanta some extra motivation headed into Friday's Game 3. Then again, if you need a trumped-up chip on your shoulder to get properly amped up for a game you need to win to avoid falling down 0-3 and being put on the brink of not just elimination in your own gym, but of a second straight four-game sweep at the hands of the Eastern Conference's resident top dogs, well, you've got bigger problems than J.R. skipping or the Cavs' starters celebrating on the bench.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Dan Devine
Posted: May 5, 2016, 8:38 pm

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)Recently-fired ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling is currently in the middle of a job search. While it seems like he's found a temporary solution that keeps him in the sports realm, what if he wanted to get into politics? Given his propensity to share strong political memes on Facebook, maybe a White House run with Donald Trump is in the works?

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It seems insane, but it's actually a thing you can wager on. The oddsmakers over at sportsbettingdime.com have released their updated MLB props, and they at least think there's a chance Trump chooses Curt Schilling as his Vice President. It's not a good chance, 12,000/1 to be exact, but, hey, it's better than nothing. 

What's the likelihood it actually happens? Let's take a look:

In fairness, Schilling is getting much better odds than one in a million. Maybe he should be more excited than Lloyd Christmas is in the above clip.

Clearly, it's a long shot. And even if Trump actually picked Schilling, despite the fact that Schilling has no political experience, the former pitcher would still have to accept the nomination. While he's quick to share a meme or express his political opinion online, we have no idea if Schilling would ever seriously consider politics as a job. 

[Elsewhere: How Colby Rasmus put the past behind him and found peace in Houston]

We probably won't have to worry about it since it's not going to happen. But if you love long shots, and have some extra cash to spend, this could be the opportunity for you.

Trump getting the Republican nomination probably received terrible odds just a few years ago, and look how that turned out. Maybe Schilling will follow the same path.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: May 5, 2016, 8:04 pm
(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr will return to the Florida Panthers next season on a one-year contract.

The 44-year-old Jagr led the Panthers in scoring last season with 66 points in 79 games and combined with youngsters Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleskander Barkov to form one of the more dynamic top lines in the NHL.

According to War on Ice, Jagr posted a 50.27 CF% and a plus-1.97 CF%Rel for the Atlantic Division winning Panthers. 

Jagr just completed a one-year $3.5 million contract signed last offseason with the Panthers. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the deal is for one year at a $4 million base salary, with games played bonuses that could add $1.5 million to the contract. Johnston also reports the deal includes $15,000 in possible performance bonuses: $5,000 for the Hart Trophy, $5,000 for the Art Ross Trophy, $5,000 for the Stanley Cup.

At the team’s getaway day after their first-round loss to the New York Islanders, general manager Dale Tallon referred to an agreement between the two parties as a “win-win for all of us.”

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“Jaromir is a Hall of Fame player and had an excellent season playing alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau,” Tallon said in a statement released by the team Thursday. “His track record speaks for itself, ranking third all-time in points and goals. He has been a great fit with our organization and we are excited to have him back for next season.”

This year, Jagr moved ahead of Brett Hull for third all-time in NHL goals scored. He currently has 749 – a total of 52 behind Gordie Howe for No. 2 in the league’s record book. Jagr also  moved ahead of Howe for third-place on the league’s all-time points list this year. Jagr finished the season with 1,868, just 19 behind Mark Messier for second in NHL history.

As recently as this past March, Jagr has said he wants to continue playing hockey until he’s 60.

Overall, Jagr still has a lot to give in the game. Along with the point totals, he tried to show his legendary training habits to Florida’s younger players. These included late-night skating and workout sessions

“Jaromir has had a tremendous influence on our younger players and has been a key offensive contributor on our team,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said in a statement. “We are happy to have him back as we look to build off this year’s playoff appearance.”

This past season he seemed to show a more youthful side to his personality. Early in the year, Jagr embraced the idea to re-grow his signature mullet haircut, which became an obsession at points this season. He also seemed to enjoy his experience as the Atlantic Division’s All-Star Captain after showing some doubt initially on his desire to take part in the new 3-on-3 tournament.  

Jagr went without a goal in his team’s six-game first-round playoff exit to the New York Islanders, and vowed to be better next postseason. He has gone 37 straight playoff games without a goal.  

“I’m very upset about the playoffs,” he said. “I didn’t play in them for three years and sometimes with the confidence, you don’t score for a couple games and you put pressure on yourself. Even me, at my age, I learn a lot from that. I’m going to be more ready than I was this year.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 7:53 pm

(Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel via AP) Scott Frost is giving UCF a bit of Oregon flavor.

Oregon, with its connections to Nike, is known for its array of uniform combinations. Now that he is the head coach at UCF, Frost, a former Oregon offensive coordinator, made sure his new program got the same treatment from Nike.

UCF announced Thursday that it has four updated jerseys along with four different color pants and helmets.

"I called (Nike chairman) Phil Knight, he's been great to me my entire career at the University of Oregon,” Frost said. “When we got to Orlando, I can't tell you how many messages we got about changing the uniforms, putting names on the back of the jerseys, getting up to speed with current looks that football players want to wear and Phil was great. We're going to get a lot of things from Nike and he's going to do a lot of stuff for us."

Altogether, the Knights have a whopping 64 different uniform combinations to choose from. The team will also have player names on the back of the jerseys for the first time since 2004.

Can't wait to get our hands on these! Just the beginning...

https://t.co/RBy3siJU8m#UCFast #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/8MIgIlEDW1

— UCF_Equipment (@UCF_Equipment) May 5, 2016

Scrolling 6⃣4⃣ #UCFast uni combos like...

👉 https://t.co/TDak3mFkB7 pic.twitter.com/jIFoDoinVx

— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) May 5, 2016

What you've been waiting for: an unlimited possibility of uniform combinations.

👉 https://t.co/f6TV9Cq9b4 https://t.co/c7uqpIOJPr

— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) May 5, 2016

"I want our guys to feel good about what they're coming out of the tunnel wearing on Saturdays. I think it's important. It gives you some confidence. It makes you feel good, something you can be proud of when you're sporting the school's colors,” Frost said in a release. “As much as anything it's important for recruiting. Guys want to go to schools these days that are places where they can wear nice uniforms and look good on the field. We're going to try and provide that as much as we can for our guys."

Frost said this is just the start and that additional designs can be expected in the future.

"This is the first design, and I'm sure these uniforms we're wearing this year will make it to next year. I don't think they will make it much farther than that. I want to keep moving the ball down the field with our uniforms and I think we will come up with some new things down the road,” Frost said. “But with this first effort, I think we wanted something that was new and different but also played back to the tradition that UCF has had. So there's some obvious changes and some good ones, but we haven't really pushed the envelope yet."

Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 7:35 pm

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – NASCAR has had conversations about swapping the race dates at Talladega and Kansas in the fall for over a year.

The switch for 2017, made public Thursday, moves Talladega from the sixth race to the Chase to the fifth. It makes Kansas the sixth race and therefore the final race of the second round of the Chase. Talladega has been the final race of the second round in the first three years of the four-round Chase format.

"And so when we looked at it we looked at a lot of different things – had a lot of different input across the board and it's not a new conversation," NASCAR Senior Vice President Jim Cassidy said Thursday. "It's more than a year ongoing and the way we looked at it is we've got an incredible racing product at Talladega and in order to looking at maximizing the schedule, we know that Talladega no matter where we place it in the Chase is going to provide a very high level of racing action and it just really stands on its own."

"So we saw the opportunity to make a switch and then to put Kansas in the cutoff spot and we're excited about that because as you know we've worked on our rules package over the last couple years and so bringing what we know to be a very successful rules package and low downforce to Kansas is going to be great at that cutoff."

Last fall's Talladega race was chaotic, to say the least. It was marred by two crashes on restarts at the end of the race. The final crash, started when Kevin Harvick's suffering car made contact with Trevor Bayne, kept Harvick in the Chase and ultimately prevented Dale Earnhardt Jr. from advancing to the next round. Junior passed race-winner Joey Logano after the caution had been issued. The field is frozen at the moment of caution.

The move means Kansas Speedway's race date is October 22. The average high temperature for that day is 63 degrees, but as anyone who lives in the middle part of the country can attest, it could be 70 or 40 and neither temperature would be surprising.

But while weather could be a concern in the midwest, concerns about having a restrictor plate race determine the field of eight drivers to make the third round of the Chase likely won out. Yes, Talladega counts just as much as the second race in the second round as it does in the third.

But having it in a position where teams have one more opportunity to make the Chase may soften the track's tendency for randomness or areas where drivers can manipulate races. More than one driver felt after last fall's Talladega race that Harvick made contact with Bayne intentionally (and no, we're not ignoring the bumper Joey Logano put to Matt Kenseth last year at Kansas).

“[Harvick] pulled out of the way the first time because he knew he was blowing up and this time he said he was going to hold his lane, so we went up to go around him and then he clipped [Bayne]," Kenseth said after the race. "He knew if he put him in a slow spin the race was over and he’d make it, so, like I said, it feels we lost control here the last two weeks. I don’t think that’s what racing is about. The spot they put us in, it’s hard to blame people, but that’s not what racing’s all about.”

When asked about a road course race in the Chase, Cassidy said he wouldn't rule it out. NASCAR recently signed a five-year sanctioning agreement with its tracks meaning that the schedule (save for its order) is basically set for the near future. That means Watkins Glen and Sonoma are the only two near-term candidates to move to the Chase.

"I wouldn't rule anything out at this point if it means optimizing what we've got within our portfolio, then it's not something we'd ignore," Cassidy said.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 5, 2016, 6:53 pm

Miami Marlins pitcher Adam Conley gave up zero hits last time he took the mound. No, he didn't throw a no-hitter, he merely did not give up a hit before he was pulled from the game after 7 2/3 innings.

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That practice has become the new normal in Major League Baseball. No-hitters are tremendous accomplishments, but teams would rather use caution with young pitchers instead of allowing them to throw a million pitches, even when history is on the line. 

MLB-FGOD-52-b.jpgConley was the latest victim of that trend. While he didn't have a chance to complete his no-hitter the last time out, Conley can attempt to pick up where he left off during Yahoo Sports' MLB Free Game of the Day on Thursday. Conley and the Marlins will take on Paul Goldschmidt and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and you can stream the game on Yahoo Sports for free.

The contest, which starts at 7:10 p.m. ET, can be viewed on Yahoo's Sports HomeMLB index and video home

Conley isn't the first major-league pitcher to be pulled during a no-hitter. He's not even the first major-league pitcher to be pulled during a no-hitter this season. That distinction goes to Los Angeles Dodgers starter Ross Stripling, who was pulled after 7 1/3 no-hit innings in his major-league debut.

Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014, and was on a strict pitch count in the minors during his return, never throwing 100 pitches in a single start. He was pulled after reaching exactly 100 pitches during his no-hit bid. 

Conley doesn't have a history of serious arm injuries, but had already thrown 116 pitches and walked four during the outing. It was the first time in his young career that Conley had ever pitched into the eighth inning and manager Don Mattingly didn't want to take any chances with the 25-year-old starter.

As for an encore, well, Stripling gave up a hit to the first batter he faced the next time out. Coincidentally, that also came against the Diamondbacks. On Stripling's fifth pitch of the game, Jean Segura singled up the middle.

Stripling still turned in a fine start, giving up two runs over six innings. He struck out five and walked just one.

Segura is currently dealing with a hip injury and is considered questionable to return for Thursday's game against Conley. If he can, he'll have a shot to spoil another no-hit bid encore.

[Elsewhere: Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig caught a massive fish]

Conley will be hoping for better than that. While it's incredibly unlikely he'll take another no-hitter deep into Thursday's game, it should be fun to see how long he can go without giving up a hit. If Segura finds his way into the lineup, Conley's current streak may not last much longer.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: May 5, 2016, 6:07 pm

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Thursday he was caught off-guard by the comments made by former offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, who said during the opening night of the NFL draft that an Ole Miss coach had given him money.

“I know nothing,” Freeze said. “I’m not involved in the fact-finding process. I was shocked like everyone else (last Thursday night) living it out in real time but confident that our administration is going to find the facts and then give us a new report on it.”

[Check out Dr. Saturday on Tumblr for entertaining things you won’t see on the blog]

Tunsil had a memorable (or forgettable) draft night after a hacker posted text messages between Tunsil and John Miller, Ole Miss assistant athletic director for football operations, talking about the exchange of money to help pay bills on Tunsil's Instagram.

Tunsil was asked about it shortly after he was drafted and said: “I made a mistake. That happened.”

When asked for clarity on whether he was talking about taking money from a coach Tunsil said, “I’d have to say yeah.”

Freeze was in New York for the draft at the time of the admission.

Ole Miss said it would conduct an internal investigation into Tunsil’s claims, and Freeze confirmed the school was in the process of doing that. However, Freeze said he was on the outside looking in.

“I’ll be very quick to come out and defend us when it’s something that we know the facts on. I don’t at this present time,” Freeze said. “I know our administration is working, and I’m told they made a lot of progress, that they’re collecting everything so they know exactly what the facts are before we run out and make any type of response.”

Ole Miss was already issued a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding in part Tunsil, impermissible benefits and allegations of contact with agents. Tunsil missed seven games while the matter was investigated.

However, if this new information changes anything in that initial investigation, the NCAA could send an amended notice of allegations.

According to NCAA guidelines, when a school is currently involved with a Notice of Allegations and new information surfaces, the school and the NCAA work together to find out the details of the new allegations. If it’s determined the school committed a violation, it becomes an NCAA enforcement investigation and ultimately goes through the infractions process.

Steve Farese, Tunsil’s attorney in a lawsuit filed by Tunsil’s stepfather, told SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio on Sunday that he thought Tunsil had already made a similar admission to the NCAA. Freeze could not confirm that.

[Visit Dr. Saturday on Facebook for stories you might have missed and chat with the writers]

Freeze stressed that he’s trying to be patient with the process before speaking up about it and he’s urging everyone else to do the same.

“I’m trying to be patient, like I said in my opening statement,” Freeze said. “That’s difficult for me sometimes because you want to respond. But there’s great wisdom in being patient and making sure you get the facts, and we’re still in that process. Our administration will continue to work with all the parties to reach a conclusion as soon as possible, which we’re hopeful that’s coming quickly.”

For more Ole Miss news, visit RebelGrove.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @YahooDrSaturday

 

 

Author: Graham Watson
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:48 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Pirates on Twitter

• Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole had a great time at Game 4 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. [Big League Stew]

• San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer says his team is in a "good spot" against the Nashville Predators. The Sharks are up 2-1 heading into Thursday's Game 4. [San Jose Mercury News]

• Should the Predators play forward Mike Ribeiro in Game 4 against the Sharks? Coach Peter Laviolette scratched Ribeiro for Game 3. He has one point in nine games this postseason. [Tennessean]

• Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn needs to step up his game to match St. Louis Blues captain David Backes. The last two games, Backes has scored three goals, including the overtime winner in Game 2.  [Dallas Morning News]

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• What was the narrative of Game 4 between the Capitals and Penguins? The Penguins beat Washington 3-2 to take a 3-1 series lead. [Japers’ Rink]

• If the Capitals had Stanley Cup aspirations, they should have won Game 4. [Washington Post]

• The New York Islanders blew three, one-goal leads in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning before losing in overtime. New York will need to forget about this as they prepare for Friday’s Game 4. [Islanders Point Blank]

• Ryan Callahan’s heady all-around play in Game 3 tipped the series in favor of the Lightning. [Tampa Bay Times]

• Former Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley was surprised to hear there were philosophical differences between him and the organization. Hartley was fired Tuesday. [TSN]

• John Chayka is taking over as general manager of the Arizona Coyotes, meaning, “you don’t have a lot cigar-chomping titans running the show anymore” as GMs. [The Hockey News]

• The ‘Oliver Ekman-Larsson for Auston Matthews’ trade talk needs to stop. [Five For Howling]

• The Portland Pirates franchise will move to Springfield Massachusetts ahead of the 2016-17 season. The prior Springfield franchise (feeder team to the Arizona Coyotes) is moving to Tucson, Arizona. [Sin Bin]

• Vancouver Canucks prospect Brock Boeser will walk with senior Baylee Bjorge for Grand March during Grand Forks Central's prom on Saturday night. Bjorge, born with Down syndrome, is a fixture at sporting events and is popular among the student body. [Grand Forks Herald]

• Marc Crawford would like to return to the NHL in one of the four head coaching vacancies in the league. He’s coached the last four years in Zurich but hasn’t been in the NHL since the 2010-11 season with the Dallas Stars. [The Province]

• The London Knights will take on the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL final. [Buzzing the Net]

• One of the most important topics for fantasy hockey owners over the course of the summer will be Jonathan Drouin’s ranking. [Dobber Hockey]

• The NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts have signed veteran defenseman Lisa Chesson to a one-year, $15,000 contract. [Today’s Slapshot]

• The CWHL’s Calgary Inferno are looking for a new general manager. The team won the Clarkson Cup last season. [Along the Boards]

•  Why “losing” the draft lottery is a misnomer. There are many talented players between the top overall selection and the 14th spot. [Spector’s Hockey]

• Former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready for his next opportunity after enjoying some time off. Johnston was fired by Pittsburgh in mid-December. [Local Xpress]

• Star Wars themed opening to Penguins/Capitals from Hockey Night in Canada. Wednesday was May 4, aka Star Wars Day. 

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:42 pm

According to Jamie Benn, the Dallas Stars won’t forget about Ryan Reaves' kiss blown their way at the end of Game 3.

This time of year teams will take any bulletin board material they can get. Did the St. Louis Blues tough guy provide some for a Stars team that’s been outscored 10-4 in the last two games and is a loss away from a 3-1 series deficit? Maybe. But Reaves’ public display of affection for his opponents should be way at the bottom on the list of concerns for Lindy Ruff’s team.

Who gets the call in net?

Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice after Thursday’s skate making him the likely Game 4 starter following a relief appearance in Game 3. He has a .926 even strength save percentage in seven games this postseason. Neither Dallas netminder has played well-enough consistently to inspire much confidence in the position. Ruff, however, has rotated his goaltenders pretty equally during the season and isn’t worried that there is no clear-cut No. 1.

"I know that's hard for you guys to buy into, because this two goalie thing is new to you guys and you'd rather just ask me about one goalie,” Ruff said on Wednesday. “But we've had two goalies that have played really well that have got us to where we are. And last time I checked, it was in a pretty good place.

“Do they stumble every now and then? Yeah, they do. But the alternative is I have another guy to go to all of the time. They've bought into the way we're doing it, and it's led us to this point. What we do from this point on will be determined by (Thursday) night."

As Defending Big D shows, Lehtonen has shown glimpses of great goaltending this postseason, but the Stars need him to up his game now more than ever.

How does the defense stop leaking goals?

Dallas has allowed six or more goals nine times season. In the nine games following those poor defensive outings, the Stars have won six of them.

Ruff noted that he has options to turn to if he feels like changing up the defense, but he also pointed out how well the defense responded following tough games. The Blues have averaged 29.9 through three games of the series at even strength, scoring six times.

What adjustments need to be made on the power play?

The Stars have failed on all 11 opportunities with the extra man in the series, including a pair of 0-for-4s in their two losses. Playoff time is not the time for your special teams units to go into a slumber (The penalty kill, meanwhile, has allowed four goals on 14 Blues power plays.). Ruff said that with Seguin out they tried a different setup despite not having much time to practice with it. When will those adjustments start paying off?

Heading into Game 4, the Stars certainly aren’t tense if their post-morning skate sing-a-long is any indication. They have a lot to do to erase the mistakes from the last two games and head back to Dallas with an evened series, otherwise they could probably kiss their Stanley Cup dreams goodbye.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:37 pm

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)SEATTLE — Colby Rasmus has found a home with the Houston Astros. After eight seasons in the majors with three different teams, including a tumultuous tenure in a city where he was supposed to be a star, it feels like Rasmus has finally found a place where he can be at peace.

Perhaps it’s not the place he’ll grow old. After all, Rasmus hasn't even spent two full seasons in Houston. He signed a one-year deal with the club prior to 2015, and only returned after shocking the baseball world and becoming the first player to ever accept a qualifying offer. His contract is up at the end of 2016, and unless the team hands him another qualifying offer, there's a good chance he'll move on once again. 

But these days it certainly feels like Rasmus' experience in Houston has been different than his other stops. He’s happy, relaxed, comfortable with himself, and willing to talk about any subject with ease.

Most importantly, he’s erased the old image of being an underperforming malcontent and built Colby Rasmus 2.0, the productive, more mature clean-up hitter.

“It’s a good place to be right now for me,” he says.

That may come as a surprise to some. As a young prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals, Rasmus was billed as the next-coming. He ranked on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list three times, peaking as the third best prospect in the game in 2009. With an exceptional combination of power and patience, Rasmus was set to be a staple in the middle of the Cardinals lineup for at least a decade. 

[Elsewhere: Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig caught a massive fish]

For about a year and half, he was well on that path. Rasmus turned in a decent rookie season with the club, and then emerged as a major offensive threat during his sophomore season. As a 23-year-old, Rasmus hit .276/.361/.498, with 23 home runs and 12 steals.

The following year, everything started to fall apart. After a strong start, Rasmus saw his numbers take a huge tumble. During this time, rumors started to emerge that Rasmus didn’t get along with then Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. It was reported that, instead of working with then Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire, Rasmus opted to get his hitting advice from his father. Rasmus started getting the labels every ball player tries to avoid. He was a malcontent. He was un-coachable. He was a bad player to have in the clubhouse.

After hitting .169 in July, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the three-team deal. The Cardinals received pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Chicago White Sox in return for Rasmus. Since leaving St. Louis, Rasmus has been pretty open about the situation. He admits there were issues with La Russa, and that he had trouble fitting into the clubhouse, but he doesn’t place the blame on the organization, he places it on himself.

“I was just young on a super veteran team,” Rasmus says. “Just being in that spot was tough. Being the youngest guy on the club. The next youngest to me was like 28 or 29 and I was 22 years old. So I was at a different point in my time than some of those guys.”

It wasn’t just the clubhouse, though. Outside factors also got to Rasmus. Playing every single day under intense scrutiny wasn’t an easy thing to ignore at the time.

“I didn’t handle that pressure to be able to focus my energy on what really needed to be focused on," he says. "There’s so much going on and so many things coming at you and there’s the social medias and all these different avenues for information to get into our minds to clog it full of garbage, which is what the media does.”

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)After a three and a half year stint in Toronto that was mostly uneventful, Rasmus took a one-year, $8 million deal with the Astros prior to the 2015 season.

[Elsewhere: How can the Yankees improve despite losing Alex Rodriguez?]

That turned out to be the perfect decision. After a poor experience in St. Louis, Rasmus now feels like he can be himself in Houston.

"With my mindset," he says, "I went through those things and I would come to the field and sit in my chair and look at the clothes in my locker with my headphones on. Didn’t say nothing to nobody. It was a weird feeling and not what I expected it to be.

"I told myself I wasn’t going to be that way and try to be a part of an alignment that’s a good environment to be in."

What exactly does that entail? 

"I just try to be good people to everybody," he says. "Everybody’s here for a reason and we’ve all worked hard to get into this room. You don’t get here by just sitting on the couch. I just try to help them enjoy it. Give them the positive energy to enjoy being in this environment and not feeling uncomfortable."

That sounds like something a leader on the club might say. And with the Astros, Rasmus could easily fill that role. While he's just 29, he plays on a team with a number of young stars. His experience and service time make him a logical choice for that responsibility.

Rasmus, however, doesn't see it that way. 

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)"On the field, I’m going to play hard and be loud and I’m going to be yelling hard and I’m going to be pumping folks up trying to play. That’s how I go about it," he says. "But I don’t look at myself like ‘I’m the leader.’ Everyone in here is equal to me, no matter how much time you got. Just be yourself."

That last part seems to be part of a much larger philosophy in Houston. Players are allowed to be themselves and show emotion on the field. That much is evident with every Carlos Gomez bat flip, and punctuated every time he dabs after a big play. Even Correa has expressed a desire to make baseball fun again.

Being in a place where that's possible, and remaining in that atmosphere, was a huge reason Rasmus decided to take the qualifying offer. 

"They offered it to me and I told my agent I wanted to take it because I enjoyed being here last year and I thought that I could continue to play well in this environment."

It also helps that he's performed on the field. Many will remember Rasmus' performance during the team's 2015 playoff run, in which he clubbed four home runs in six games. Rasmus carried some of that over into this year, taking home a player of the week award in late April.

And, yes, the $15.8 million salary also played a role. While that's an exceptional amount of money, Rasmus doesn't take what he has for granted.

"I grew up in a single-wide trailer, with four brothers living in one room," he says. "Just playing in pastures and mud puddles and hitting each other with cow patties. So, to be able to play on a major-league baseball team making a good chunk of change ... I’m beyond blessed to be in that position.

"I worked hard to get there, so I try not to take that for granted and I try not to think that I’m not worthy. I just try to enjoy that moment, relish in it and know that I worked hard to get to that point."

[Elsewhere: Have the Braves already found a replacement for Fredi Gonzalez?]

The expectations, and then the disappointment and rumors following his trade from St. Louis would be enough to derail the careers of even the most promising players. Rasmus found a way to overcome the situation, learn from it and grow as a player.

It wasn't easy, but Rasmus seems to be in a much better place, not just in Houston, but in understanding where he's at in his baseball career. He is relaxed and comfortable. For the first time in his career, he can be himself. 

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:34 pm

As we said in the opening round, the annual ritual for Washington Capitals fans in the last several postseasons has been figuring out the worst case scenarios for their team’s seemingly inevitable departure from the playoffs. 

Previously, the worst case scenario in the Capitals' series against the Pittsburgh Penguins might have been a Game 7 loss on home ice, with Alex Ovechkin getting stopped on a breakaway and Justin Williams going scoreless and a minus-2.

However, that was before Game 4 on Wednesday night. That was before the Capitals faced a Penguins team that was missing Kris Letang, arguably their most irreplaceable player, as well as defenseman Olli Maatta and Eric Fehr, whose made his presence known in this series.

The weight of importance on this game was doubled – alright, tripled – by the weight of playoff disappoints of yore. Outside of the Capitals’ various Game 7s, it was the most must-win playoff games of the Ovechkin Era.

And they lost. In overtime.

“We’ll have to deal with it. This group has dealt with a lot of things,” said coach Barry Trotz.

The coach warned the Capitals that the Penguins would rally around the Letang suspension, so the Capitals were well aware that would be the case. But still: This team was 2-8-1 in the regular season without Letang. He was skating 29 minutes a game for them. The Penguins can replace an injured Marc-Andre Fleury. Evgeni Malkin can pick up the slack from Sidney Crosby. There’s literally no one on the roster that does what Letang does.

How could they not take advantage of this?

“That’s not in my control at all. My job is to stop the puck and I have to do a better job of that,” said goalie Braden Holtby, who has now given up 11 goals in this series and three each in the road games.

(Perhaps that was a sneaky point of concern: Holtby had his lowest save percentage against the Penguins this season, at .913, for teams against whom he played three or more games.)

Not only did they fail to take advantage of that absence, they failed to take advantage of an absence handed to them on a silver platter by the NHL.

But then again, the Capitals have shown they don’t exactly know how to get their hands around the silver in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We didn’t take advantage of it. One thing I said to the guys when we went into this was that when Kris got the suspension, they were going to rally. Their forwards were going to come back. They didn’t play their best game, and with Letang out, they were going to step up, and they did,” said Trotz.

Now it’s a 3-1 series deficit for the Capitals. If their postseason was a control console, there would be red flashing warning lights all over it.

- Brooks Orpik gets three games; Dmitry Orlov replaces him; Orlov would have replaced Nate Schmidt last night for a lineup change, but he was already in for Orpik, so Mike Weber replaced Schmidt and set up the Penguins’ winning goal. Wicked chain, that one.

- The Capitals’ power play sits at 1-for-12 in the series.

- Alex Ovechkin has a goal and two assists this series. He can be better. But stop me if you’ve heard this one before: He’s getting no secondary scoring support. Nicklas Backstrom, whose annual escape from criticism for his postseason performances must perplex Ovechkin, has one assist. Marcus Johansson has one goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov, the phenom who led the Capitals in points in the regular season, has one assist in his last seven playoff games.

- As Dan Steinberg noted, the Capitals were 27-6-8 in one-goal games in the regular season to lead the NHL, and they’re 2-4 in the playoffs and 1-3 in this series.

- As Ben Raby notes, the last three-game losing streak for Holtby was Games 5-7 in their loss to the Rangers last season.  

Regular season tendencies reverse course. Scoring inexplicably dries up. Opportunities are squandered. An opposing goalie is made to look like Ken Dryden.

Same [expletive], different season.

“I have a lot of trust in this group. They’ve shown a lot of resiliency,” said Trotz.

The Capitals have two days to regroup and attempt to push this series back to Pittsburgh. Letang will be back. Orpik will not. The Penguins will enter the game smelling blood. The Capitals will enter the game fearing for their postseason lives.

“We have the experience and the composure. It’s just a matter of putting it to use now,” said Holtby.

Experience, they have. Jury’s out on the latter. 

-- 

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:10 pm

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Andy Behrens and Dalton Del Don open by discussing Chris Sale's new pitching to contact style and what that means to his fantasy value. The duo also talk about the surprising Phillies and which young pitching prospect is best to stash. We later end the show by going over all the recent most popular waiver wire adds in an all things baseball podcast.

Give it a listen, make it a habit

And dig our iTunes and RSS feeds

Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: May 5, 2016, 4:43 pm

Fantasy football drafting in May? Heck ya! Are you itching to mock? Deep down you are. And we are too. With the NFL Draft in the books, we recently participated in a 12-team, .5 PPR, with a FLEX, exercise to whet your whistle. Wake up from your pigskin coma, fantasy freaks. The 2016 fantasy football season is officially underway. Let the "expert" derision begin.

SEE ROUNDS 1-2 HERE; ROUNDS 3-4 HERE; ROUNDS 5-6 HERE

[Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now]

ROUND 7

Pick 73: Kevin White, Chi, WR33 – A first-round talent with oodles of upside as my flex/on my bench? Bring it on. (Liz Loza 1)

Pick 74: Frank Gore, Ind, RB29 – He may be 32 and slowing down (averaged 3.7 YPC in 2015), but he's still got volume on his side. A low-end RB1 last year, the Inconvenient Truth is a convenient value given his current ADP. (Loza 2)

Pick 75: Buck Allen, Bal, RB30 – Expect him to lead the team in carries with Justin Forsett soon to turn 31, but Kenneth Dixon admittedly also looms. (Dalton Del Don 1)

Pick 76: Marvin Jones, Det, WR34 – Is looking at the biggest opportunity of his career now in Detroit and with Calvin Johnson retired. (DDD 2)

Pick 77: Josh Doctson, Was, WR35 – Doctson is the rookie receiver who found the best landing spot on draft day by far; I expect him to make a run at 1000 yards and 8-10 TDs. He has both size and downfield ability. (Andy Behrens 1)

Pick 78: Giovani Bernard, Cin, RB31 – Gio has a well-established role in Cincinnati, and it works for this mock's settings (partial PPR). He'll get his usual ~1100 scrimmage yards with 40-plus catches. (Behrens 2)

Pick 79: DeSean Jackson, Was, WR36 – He’s a trick-or-treat type of player, but he still gets behind defenses, and I have mad respect for Jay Gruden, play designer. I’m also not worried about Kirk Cousins turning into a pumpkin. (Scott Pianowski 1)

Pick 80: Ladarius Green, Pit, TE7 – Free at last, ready to spread his wings on what could easily be the NFL’s best offense. Ben Roethlisberger always had a rapport with Heath Miller, a solid player — now he gets to tool around with someone much younger and more athletic. Get your popcorn ready. (Pianow 2)

Pick 81: Dorial Green-Beckham, Ten, WR37 – In an otherwise anemic environment, he flourished down the stretch posting two 100-yard games in his last four. Adding Rishard Matthews and DeMarco Murray along with Marcus Mariota's likely advancements could unlock DGB's top-20 potential. (Brad Evans 1)

Pick 82: Markus Wheaton, Pit, WR38 – Future dispensary pitchman Martavis Bryant is suspended for the season, paving the way for Wheaton to carve out a major role. His 28-476-4 output from Weeks 11-17 was the 11th-best. Consider him a bankable WR3. (Evans 2)

Pick 83: Tyler Lockett, Sea, WR39 – More than just a dynamic return guy, he flashed his electric receiving skills down the stretch in '15, finishing as a top 30 fantasy WR from Week 7-17 - in his second year, his role is only going to expand. (Brandon Funston 1)

Pick 84: Donte Moncrief, Ind, WR40 – The Indy offense is looking for a do-over after the debacle that was '15 - but one of the positives to emerge from the ashes was that Moncrief developed into a legit weapon for Andrew Luck, and should be a major part of what should be an improved offense in '16. (Funston 2)

ROUND 8

Pick 85: Ameer Abdullah, Det, RB32 – He was one of the bigger disappointments from the '15 rookie class, but the Lions remain committed to him and Joique Bell is out of the picture - with a year of experience and more playing time coming his way, easily worth doubling down for the RB30 price tag. (Funston 2)

Pick 86: Kenneth Dixon, Bal, RB33 – I love the squat bowling bowl types at RB, especially ones that can run strong between the tackles and adeptly handle passes out of the backfield - I think Ravens OC Marc Trestman is going to love him, too. (Funston 1)

Pick 87: Jordan Howard, Chi, RB34 – Jeremy Langford ranked No. 77 in yards after contact and No. 80 in tackles avoided per attempt per Pro Football Focus last year. Howard is a between-the-tackles grinder who should eventually overtake the incumbent on early-down/goal-line work. (Evans 2)

Pick 88: Paul Perkins, NYG, RB35 – No FBS-level back forced more missed tackles than Perkins did with the Bruins last year. He's an explosive, tough runner who offers tremendous upside in an otherwise lackluster backfield. Rashad Jennings is the Giants frontrunner, for now, but Perkins' fresher legs will inevitably take over. (Evans 1)

Pick 89: Duke Johnson, Cle, RB36 – With a PPR component in this mock, I love landing someone who could easily catch 80 passes. (Pianow 2)

Pick 90: Karlos Williams, Buf, RB37 – I hate handcuffing, I hate handcuffing, I hate handcuffing. But Williams has enough upside that I’ll make an exception here. And the only time I will consider a handcuff is when there doesn’t appear to be a threat in the No. 3 spot. Buffalo’s backfield applies. (Pianow 1)

Pick 91: Willie Snead, NO, WR41 – All he did last season was catch 69 balls for 984 yards. He's a circle-of-trust receiver for Drew Brees. (Behrens 2)

Pick 92: Coby Fleener, NO, TE8– No, he doesn't exactly have the best hands in the business. But the Saints didn't pay $36 million ($18 million guaranteed) for a decoy. Fleener has a shot at 70 receptions. (Behrens 1)

Pick 93: Gary Barnidge, Cle, TE9 – Coming off a season in which he went for 1,043 yards with nine TDs with shaky QB play. (DDD 2)

Pick 94: Carson Palmer, Ari, QB7 – This is the earliest I'd ever draft a QB, and Palmer is a risk at age 36, but he got 8.7 YPA last year and was an MVP candidate. (DDD 1)

Pick 95: Derrick Henry, Ten, RB38 – Not convinced Murray has enough juice to last through midseason. Henry is everything Mularkey loves: exotic and smashmouth. Floor = 600 rushing yards and 4 TDs. (Loza 2)

Pick 96: Tom Brady, NE, QB8 – I'll draft him for Week 5 @ CLE alone. In "Angry Tom" I trust. (Loza 1)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: May 5, 2016, 4:20 pm

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig doesn't just catch baseballs anymore. He also catches fish! Puig tweeted a photo of himself holding a large fish Thursday morning, which was apparently his first catch.

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There are so many things to love about that tweet and photo. Has anyone ever been as excited to be holding a dead fish as Puig is at that moment?

First catch for Puig, Wow #PuigHungry #Sushi #FishDay 🎣🎣🐟🍣🍣 pic.twitter.com/mrDrRW9rDI

— Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig) May 5, 2016

 With his face and the #PuigHungry hashtag, it looks like Puig is just seconds away from taking a huge bite out of that fish. And considering that he used #Sushi and several sushi emojis, that fish is probably destined for Puig's stomach, though probably in the form of actual sushi and not a whole fish.

#PuigHungry is the latest Puig centered hashtag the player has introduced recently. When Jared Goff was signed by the Los Angeles Rams, Puig used #PuigYourFriend to welcome him to the city, and to show there were no hard feelings after a years old angry tweet from Goff. 

If Puig wants to continue fishing, he'd be in good company. Ted Williams was an incredibly skilled fisherman, and caught a number of fish that were larger than some human beings. Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter love to fish, which they did together on a trip to Brazil in 2012 where they not only fished, but also saved a man from a snake bite. Jake Peavy also fishes, though he injured himself with a fishing knife 2014.

As long as Puig stays away from fishing-related accidents, he's chosen a fine ballplayer pasttime. And hopefully he keeps the awesome fish pics and hashtags coming. 

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

Author: Liz Roscher
Posted: May 5, 2016, 4:08 pm

What came out of nowhere earlier in the week, by Thursday morning, had become expected by the time Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird approached the podium in Indianapolis.

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Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the team’s head coach since the 2010-11 season, is out. The move technically is not a firing, as Bird was quick to let the assembled media know:

Larry Bird: "Frank’s not getting fired, his contract is up and I just made the decision not to renew it."

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 5, 2016

Vogel led the Pacers to a 45-37 record in 2016, a playoff berth after a (mostly Paul George-less) season spent missing the postseason the year before, and he assembled a 250-181 record in his time with the Pacers. The Indiana gig was his first shot as an NBA head coach after eight years spent as an assistant. Vogel’s first NBA job saw him act as video coordinator for the Boston Celtics under former fellow Kentucky Wildcat Rick Pitino.

“It’s really a tough thing,” Bird lamented, but he insisted that the team was ready for “a new voice,” before re-stating his long-held opinion that head coaches should really only stay on the job for three seasons.

Paul George. (Getty Images)The Pacers president says he started considering a coaching move around the All-Star break. Indiana entered that time off with a 28-25 record, but rallied for a 17-8 finish and postseason security. The team even took Game 1 of its first round series with the No. 2 ranked Toronto Raptors, stealing the home court advantage along the way. Though Indiana’s offense actually improved in its playoff run, the team still fell in seven games.

It was that stagnant offense that did Vogel and his team in.

The Pacers entered the playoff bracket with the worst offense by far amongst the 16 postseason teams, ranked No. 25 in points per possession. Bird had hoped to see a faster, smaller Pacer team take shape in 2015-16 following the return of a healthy George and the deal that sent center Roy Hibbert to the Lakers, but George chafed at playing power forward, rookie Myles Turner needed until the season’s mid-point to recover from a hand injury, and the team’s offensive efficiency actually dropped this season. The pace did increase, but the production did not in spite of George’s All-Star return.

Though Bird hired Vogel as full time coach following his impressive work in saving Indiana’s 2010-11 season, Vogel’s initial introduction to the team came in the former of ex-Pacer head coach Jim O’Brien. Vogel worked under O’Brien as an assistant coach in Boston and Philadelphia, and though Bird hired Obie back in 2007, Vogel’s inclusion was part of the package, and not something the Pacer front office sought out.

On Thursday, Bird ruled out hiring former Rockets and Timberwolves head coach Kevin McHale, saying he had “too much respect” for his former Celtic teammate to ask him to work under the Indiana president. Pacer assistant and former Seattle and Portland head coach Nate McMillan would seem a candidate, as he presided over some stellar (if slowed-down) offensive teams during his time in Seattle.

Bird, clearly, isn’t blinking in moving on:

Larry Bird says he and Frank Vogel spoke for about a half hour on the phone this morning, and that Vogel kept asking him to reconsider.

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 5, 2016

How the Pacers can adapt can only be changed by so much coaching. You’re either a three-point shooter or you’re not, and the Pacers ranked around the middle of the pack in three-point percentage this season. That could change as Paul George grows stronger in the wake of his devastating 2014 leg injury and Myles Turner grows more and more confident from behind the line, but internal development only takes a team so far.

There will be room to tinker with the rotation, even if this summer’s free agent pickings will be slim.

Even with George and guard Monta Ellis making $29 million this season, the Pacers will be amongst the many NBA teams with significant cap room. Free agent to-be Chase Budinger is off the team and fellow likely escapee Jordan Hill was out of the rotation, and while C.J. Miles, Lavoy Allen and Rodney Stuckey turned in typically-inconsistent years, they’re hardly a cap millstone in making a combined $15.5 million next season.

The trick here is figuring out where the fault lies.

Larry Bird will have this job for however long he wants it for, and Vogel was paid a relative NBA head coaching pittance last year at $2.5 million, but players tuning a coach out after three years probably wasn’t to blame for long shots not hitting their mark, an inability to circle the wagons while Paul George sat, and Indiana’s seasons-long inability to play from ahead.

That final one might, in the end, be the fault of Frank Vogel. The Pacers never seemed to execute once the expectations hit, and it’s three-month collapse to finish 2013-14 (a 10-13 end to the regular season after a 46-13 start followed by uninspiring playoff showings against Atlanta, Washington and Miami) was one of the swifter falls from grace that the NBA has seen of late.

These are Bird’s players now, though. Never more so than now, in fact, as he gets to pick his own guy to run things while working out of a front office that has far fewer cooks than the one that was in place when Jim O’Brien (and Vogel) came on board in 2007.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

Author: Kelly Dwyer
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:49 pm

As always when playing Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball, be sure to check the final lineups and the weather.

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My full (stars-n-scrubs) lineup:

SP: Jacob deGrom ($56) - Most expensive player on Thursday's board, and for good reason. deGrom has allowed just two earned runs in 17.2 IP this season, and he faces a San Diego offense that has the second-lowest OPS (.631) against right-handed pitching this season, ahead of only the Atlanta Braves.

SP: J.A. Happ ($40) - Happ is tied for the MLB lead in Quality Starts, producing one in each of his five outings this season. In fact, you have to go back to August 4 of '15 (16 regular-season starts ago) to find the last time he's allowed more than three earned runs. He's 11-4 since that outing.

C: Jonathan Lucroy ($18) - Reds starter Alfredo Simon has had little luck fooling Lucroy, as the Brewers' backstop has collected a hit against Simon in six of his 10 career ABs, including two home runs. Lucroy enters the contest on a nice little roll, with six hits in his past 15 ABs.

1B: Matt Adams ($9) - Adams is 7-for-17 (.412) in his past six games, including two home runs. And he owns a .893 OPS vs. righties this season - he's facing Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff, who has allowed a .840 OPS (63 ABs) to lefty hitters this season.

2B: Jose Altuve ($26) - Altuve has long abused the Mariners, and he's also had his way with Seattle starter Wade Miley (7-for-12 lifetime). He's a costly bat, for sure, but it is not unusual for him to top 20 points in this format, and this matchup has a nice high-ceiling set-up.

3B: Lonnie Chisenhall ($10) - This is mostly a warm-body play, but at least Chisenhall has the lefty vs. righty advantage facing Detroit rookie Michael Fulmer.

SS: Jose Iglesias ($9) - Reasonable low-price dice roll as he faces always-an-adventure Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, who Iglesias has delivered a hit against in each of his only two career ABs facing Bauer.

OF: J.D. Martinez ($17) - Leaning heavily on the history card here, as Martinez has six hits (including a HR) in 14 career ABs vs. Trevor Bauer.

OF: Tyler Naquin ($8) - Like teammate Chisenhall, expect Naquin to be in the starting lineup given he'll have the platoon advantage as a lefty facing Tigers rookie RHP Michael Fulmer.

OF: Adam Duvall ($7) - Home run trifecta? Duvall has homered in each of his past two games and faces a Milwaukee pitcher in Chase Anderson that has allowed six home runs in his past three outings.

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Author: Brandon Funston
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:26 pm

The flames have consumed houses, businesses and everything else standing in the path of the raging wildfire. Over 88,000 people have fled Fort McMurray, the quiet oil town in Alberta that’s become international news as the ash of 18,500 scorched acres continues to blanket it. 

The videos emerging from the fire look like they could have been scenes from a disaster movie.

“A movie that I don’t really want to watch,” said Scottie Upshall of the St. Louis Blues. “I saw the freeway I usually used to drive in from the airport. Both sides of the road had 100-foot flames. I saw a couple of restaurants I used to go to, and they’re just … gone.”

Upshall grew up in Fort McMurray, playing with the city’s AJHL team the Oil Barons as a 16-year-old and leading them to a Royal Bank Cup championship.

He’s attempting to win a different kind of Cup with the Blues in the 2016 NHL playoffs. But his mind is back home.

“We’re in a real great spot here in the playoffs. But when lives are at stake, when a community has its backs against a wall, fighting for survival, it’s tough,” he said on Wednesday.

“Most of my family is trying not to overplay it at all, but there was really nothing to overplay when something like that happens. I’m just worried about the safety of friends and family.”

Upshall said his family is safe, and hoped the same was true for everyone else in Fort McMurray. But he knows for everyone, the city will never be the same.

“For me, growing up there doesn’t seem to long ago. The places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be tough to take in,” he said. “It’s hard to explain. Unique situation. And very devastating.”

The Blues have been supportive of Upshall, as “everyone last night sent their thoughts and their prayers” to him when the news broke, he said.

Furthering that support: The Blues announced that proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction at Game 4 against the Dallas Stars will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Fans can also bid on Blues autographed memorabilia at the game or at home to benefit the Fort McMurray community. Items include game-used merchandise, playoff goal pucks and 3D art painted by Steven Walden. To bid, visit blues.myab.co on your computer or tablet, or text “blues” to 52182.

The Edmonton Oilers also donated $100,000 to Red Cross Canada.

All in the spirit of helping those in need.

“I know there’s a lot of help they’re getting. There’s a lot of sacrifices being made for the people of Fort McMurray,” said Upshall.

“The good thing is that the city will get through it.”

--

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:00 pm

For most of Wednesday night, it was a get-well party for the Houston Astros. A 16-4 laugher is like that. Their two biggest stars (Altuve and Correa) hit home runs, the offense collected 14 hits and seven walks, the fans could relax for three hours.

But things haven’t come around yet for Carlos Gomez. Maybe they’re not going to.

Gomez went 1-for-5 on the evening, tacking on a two-run double off Casey Fien in the fifth inning. Basically, garbage time — Houston already had a big lead, and Fien sports a 7.90 ERA. Gomez also struck out three times, and he ended the night with a .227/.253/.318 slash.

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When does a bad start become a bad season? When do we have to significantly take down our Gomez expectations?

Gomez has never been a patient hitter, but things have cratered through five weeks. He’s walking just 2.2 percent of the time (that’s one-third of last year’s rate) and he’s striking out 30.8 percent of the time, easily his career high. He’s yet to hit a home run. He’s 2-for-4 on the bases. 

Things aren’t exciting when Gomez makes contact, either. He’s producing soft contact 28.3 percent of the time, the worst clip of his career. His hard-rate number is at a six-year low. He’s also at the highest ground-ball rate of his career. 

Gomez is also coming of a lousy season. Although injuries played into the slump — and cost him 47 games — we have to acknowledge his mediocre 2015 return (.255-61-12-56-17). His batting average fell 29 points from the previous season; his homers dropped by 11; his stolen bases were cut in half.  

For most of Gomez’s 20s, he was an athletic player and a defensive marvel who struggled with the bat. He found his stride from 2012-2014, despite a free-swinging mentality. But this might not be the type of player who’s going to age well, and I’m not interested in chasing his glory days. Perhaps 2015 is the new normal for Gomez. That’s where I’m setting my baseline, as we settle into his age-30 campaign. 

If you’re a Gomez owner and want to cash out, don’t tell me I’m ruining your market. There are plenty of fantasy analysts who disagree with me (mildly or strongly) on Gomez, and I’m sure at least some people in your league don’t follow my advice, either. Fantasy sports are games about differing opinions, and you’ll find plenty of them out there. As soon as Gomez has a couple of strong games — sooner or later he has to, like anyone else — it’s time to see what’s out there. 

Chatty (Denis Poroy/Getty)• Life on the road continues to be a daisy for Tyler Chatwood. He threw eight bagels at the Padres on Wednesday, his third consecutive road turn with zero runs allowed. The other two came with more degree of difficulty — at Arizona, at Chicago. For the year he has a tidy 2.15 ERA, with 27 strikeouts against just eight walks. A ground-ball rate of 51.8 percent is divine, too. 

Unfortunately, Chatwood will have to deal with Coors Field for half the time, and we can’t overlook the teeth of that park. Chatwood has a career ERA of 4.20 in the elements — not bad, given the backdrop, but not roto-playable — and a WHIP of 1.50. Sometimes Occam’s Razor is the way to go — the simplest, most obvious explanation is the truest one. 

Chatwood’s next two turns are at home, against Arizona and the Mets. I’m out for those. And a road trip to Pittsburgh isn’t a picnic, with the Pirates fifth in the majors in runs scored. I’ll give Chatwood preferred streamer and DFS status when he’s on the road and the opponent is ordinary, but that’s as far as I go. Don't talk yourself into this story. 

• The Phillies have been much better than expected through the first five weeks, off to a 16-12 start. New closer Jeanmar Gomez is doing his part, with a hand in 11 of those victories (two wins, nine saves). A 2.70 ERA is fine.

Alas, Gomez doesn’t look as snappy when you open the hood. He’s only struck out 12 batters in 16.2 innings, and he’s issued five walks. His career ratios (4.11 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) don’t inspire confidence. His FIP sits at 3.31, his xFIP at 3.82 — those are ways of saying he’s been fortunate to this point. And he’s coming off a messy blown save Wednesday at St. Louis. 

One blown game isn’t going to cost Gomez his job, but we have to acknowledge some of the other arms in the Philly bullpen. Hector Neris is almost too good to be true through 17.1 innings, with two runs allowed and 27 strikeouts against four walks. David Hernandez doesn’t have pinpoint control, but he’s collected 22 punchouts in 13.1 innings. Andrew Bailey is also back in the mix, with six scoreless innings. 

If you’re in a league where you have to find closers before they’re anointed, you have plenty to choose from in Philadelphia. Neris also makes perfect sense simply from a quality-inning standpoint, a way to smooth over your ratios. 

Realest of Realmutos (AP/Lynne Sladky)• It’s been fun watching J.T. Realmuto slot leadoff for the Marlins the last two games. He’s collected four hits and a couple of runs in that role, so you imagine it will continue. He even tried to swipe a base, though he was cut down. He's hiked his OPS up to .823. 

Realmuto is long, long gone in the two-catcher world and the medium and deep mixed leagues, but he’s oddly available in 39 percent of the overall Yahoo pools. Given the brutality of 2016’s catcher board, he has a shot to be a Top 5 option — and should easily finish in the Top 10. He’s also affordable in DFS, and highly recommended most nights. Realmuto, real deal. 

• Aaron Hicks was one of my deeper sleepers entering the year. Thus far, he’s merely been asleep: 2-for-30, no homers or steals. Maybe part of that is inconsistent playing time. Maybe he’s just not that good — you’re entitled to say that, if you like. 

Nonetheless, Hicks did post 11 homers and 13 steals in 97 games with the Twins last year, and he’s going to get a temporary trial with the Yankees now that Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list. Wednesday’s wheel play pushed Hicks into the outfield, with Carlos Beltran at DH. Hicks went 0-for-4, but I’m still giving him an audit in deeper leagues. Let’s see if anything sparks here. He's still just 26, and has a first-round pedigree. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:55 pm

On Wednesday night, New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda hit a home run in the fifth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves, his second of the night. To capture the moment for posterity, Curtis Granderson whipped out an iPad (branded with the MLB logo) to apparently capture the moment for posterity. 

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If that's what Granderson was doing, he'd be violating the restriction on electronic equipment in the dugout. That's not an official MLB rule, but the restriction was created in a 2000 memo from Sandy Alderson, then-VP of Baseball Operations, to combat sign stealing. 

Please be reminded that the use of electronic equipment during a game is restricted. No club shall use electronic equipment, including walkie-talkies and cellular telephones, to communicate to or with any on-field personnel, including those, in the dugout, bullpen, field and–during the game–the clubhouse. Such equipment may not be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.

But Granderson wasn't actually recording anything. According to the New York Post, it was all for show. 

“It doesn’t have video or photo features. … We’re just doing it more for prop purposes. They don’t want us to have any recording device, which is a little … interesting … considering all the cameras that are in the ballpark. So we can’t do that,” Granderson said.

The iPad Granderson was using was most likely issued by MLB, as part of a partnership with Apple that was announced in March. iPad Pros were issued to all teams, along with an app called MLB Dugout, which allows teams to preload video and scouting data for use during games (without an internet connection, of course). And he's using it just to simulate recording Lucas Duda, which he does often as one of the founders of We Follow Lucas Duda, an Instagram account dedicated to, well, following the life of Lucas Duda. 

Granderson also knows the rules on phones in the dugout, since last month he used one to record — who else? — Duda celebrating a home run. From the Post:

“MLB said we can’t use the phone. That’s an MLB rule,” Granderson said.

Granderson can't possibly be the only player who wants to record home run celebrations among teammates, or even just regular dugout happenings. He's making a show of recording it by not actually recording it, which ends up making MLB and their rules look like they're stuck somewhere in the black and white pre-cell phone days.

[Elsewhere: Fan takes opportunistic selfie with player who fell into stands]

It’s time for MLB to reexamine their rules — official or unoffical — about devices in the dugout. Alderson’s memo from 2000 was well-intentioned, and it was in direct response to a pressing issue of the time. But in the 16 years since, technology has gone through an astronomical evolution. The traditional cell phone that Alderson referred to barely exists anymore. Those phones could only really be used as phones. Now, they’re called smartphones and they do incredible things.

They could, of course, be used to steal signs, but they’re also used to document people’s lives, and they don’t have to be connected to the internet to do that. Baseball players have some incredible things to document, and allowing them to do so would only make the players — and, by extension, the game itself — more attractive to fans and potential fans.

With baseball continuing to struggle to appeal to a younger audience, making this change (along with some common sense rules about what can be recorded and when it can be posted) seems like a no-brainer. If only that meant they'd actually do it.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

Author: Liz Roscher
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:51 pm

(Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports)Texas Tech dismissed three players from the program, including its leading returning tackler.

The Red Raiders announced Thursday morning that linebacker Dakota Allen and offensive lineman Robert Castaneda and Trace Ellison have all been removed from the football roster “due to a failure to uphold student-athlete expectations.”

Allen was a bright spot on one of the worst defenses in the country. As a redshirt freshman, the 6-foot-2, 224-pound Allen was second on the Red Raiders with 87 tackles. He also had six tackles for loss and two interceptions.

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Allen, a native of Humble, Texas, was a three-star recruit in TTU’s 2014 class.

Castaneda, a redshirt sophomore, saw action in 13 games in 2015 as a reserve. He was receiving action on the first-team offense during spring practice.

Ellison redshirted in his lone season on campus in 2015. Like Allen, both Castaneda and Ellison were both three-star recruits.

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For more Texas Tech news, visit RedRaiderSports.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:49 pm

(AP)Antonio Longino was supposed to participate in a minicamp tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he found himself in serious legal trouble in connection with a homicide investigation before he ever hit the field.

Longino, who played linebacker at Arizona State, was arrested on Wednesday in Cleveland Heights and charged with tampering with evidence in a homicide investigation according to WEWS, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland.

According to the WEWS story, a vehicle with two bullet holes was towed from Longino's aunt's house. Also, a search warrant was served and "several bags of evidence" were taken from the home.

There was a homicide at the Sunny Spot Lounge in Cleveland Heights on Tuesday morning, WEWS said, and Longino's tampering arrest is in connection with that case.

Longino posted a $100,000 bond and was released Thursday morning, WEWS reported.

Undrafted players are often brought into rookie minicamps on a tryout basis. On May 1, on a Twitter account that appears to belong to Longino, he expressed his gratitude over getting a chance from the Bengals.

Its crazy bc this was never given 2 me Cincinnati thnk you 4 givn me ths opportunity and when I say itspersonal thts a under statement

— Antonio Longino (@Tony_3x) May 2, 2016

WEWS said 28-year-old Stephen Johnson turned himself into Cleveland Heights Police on Wednesday and was charged with aggravated murder.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:43 pm

Johnny Manziel has appeared in court for the first time on a domestic violence charge stemming from a January incident involving his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley. Manziel was booked and released on $1,500 bond on Wednesday, and on Thursday appeared in Dallas County Criminal Court.

The hearing was a brief one, with Judge Roberto Cañas ordering Manziel to have no contact with Crowley, and barring him from the possession of firearms.

Manziel's arrival in court was the definition of a circus:

Johnny #manziel arrives at court. @JManziel2 no comment from him. #abc13 #nfl #football pic.twitter.com/yTofJd3nWS

— Kevin Quinn (@imkevinquinn) May 5, 2016

Shortly after Wednesday's mug shot, Manziel tweeted then deleted a reference: "Just thankful I had a shirt this time." He had been arrested as a 19-year-old freshman at Texas A&M on charges of disorderly conduct and possession of a fake ID; the shirtless mug shot he took at that time went viral.

Manziel faces up to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine for the current misdemeanor family violence incident, in which he is accused of hitting and dragging Crowley into a car against her will. Manziel has agreed to a two-year protection order barring him from being within 500 feet of Crowley.

Manziel has been released by the Cleveland Browns and dropped by his agents and sponsors. He appears to have no current NFL prospects for the 2016 season.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:31 pm

Gummy beards are a thing. (h/t @collectingcandy) #jameshardenedition pic.twitter.com/xikNNOklTq

— Nick Begley (@nickbegley) May 4, 2016

 If you've ever looked at Houston Rockets star James Harden's prolific beard and wondered to yourself, "Gee, I wish I could eat that," you're in luck! You can now eat Harden's beard in all its glory as a gummy.

And if you figured Harden's beard would taste extremely sour, you'd be right, too.

Trolli Candy, whose website is simply weirdlyawesome.com and which Harden endorsed in February, recently released "Sour Brite Weird Beards: James Harden Edition." They are weirdly awesome together.

The early reviews for Trolli Candy are a mixed big of "smack," which I think is good, and "sour AF," which I'm pretty sure is bad. Either way, Harden's beard is oddly alluring to eat, which is Trolli's goal all along.

These James Harden sour beards smack. Hahaha

— Jill (@illesssst) May 5, 2016

Bruh so apparently those James Harden sweets are sour AF.

Hell to the naaaw naaaw to the naaaw naaaw naaaw.

— Yeezy #Game 2 ♛ (@YeezyTheWolf) May 4, 2016

"We want people to say WTF with our campaigns," Jill Manchester, the head of brand strategy for Trolli's parent company Ferrara Candy, told Forbes in February. "We are about celebrating the uniqueness in all of us. We are a little offbeat. We are fun. James embodies the energy and essence of Trolli."

Of course, with one coach fired and another withdrawing his name from consideration, the door is open for jokes about how Harden and the Houston Rockets have left a sour taste in everyone's mouth. 

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:24 pm

Washington and tight end Jordan Reed finalized a multi-year contract extension for the 2013 third-round pick, the team announced on Thursday morning.

Via ProFootballTalk, it's a five-year deal worth just under $50 million, with $22 million guaranteed.

Reed had a breakout season in 2015, with a team-high 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, and was a huge part of the game plan when Washington played Green Bay in the postseason, with a game-high nine catches and 120 yards, with another score.

If those are the type of numbers Washington will get from Reed for the duration of his new contract, then it's certainly a great decision. But given his injury history, it's definitely a risk/reward proposition for the defending NFC East champions.

While at the University of Florida, Reed dealt with injuries to his right knee, hamstring and ankle, and was diagnosed with at least one concussion. In three seasons with Washington, Reed has played nine, 11 and 14 games, and in one game last year, when Washington faced the Eagles in Week 4, he suffered an MCL sprain, ankle injury and concussion.

Reed has been diagnosed with at least four concussions since college.

While Reed's past is shaky from a health standpoint, so was Rob Gronkowski's when the New England Patriots signed him to a six-year extension in 2012: there was the back issue that caused him to fall in the draft, and then a severly sprained ankle in the 2011 postseason. While endured a terrible stretch from 2011-2013, Gronkowski has been at full strength each of the last two seasons and a first-team All-Pro, and the Patriots' deal with him ($9 million per year) now looks like a bargain.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:14 pm

Ohio State backup quarterback Stephen Collier underwent knee surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, according to several reports.

Eleven Warriors first reported the news.

Collier, a sophomore who was in line to backup starter J.T. Barrett, suffered the injury during the Buckeyes spring game and will miss the 2016 season.

Collier completed 4 of 11 passes for 154 yards in the spring game on April 16. He was competing with Joe Burrow for the backup role. Burrow completed 14 of 23 passes for 196 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

With Collier out, Barrett and Burrow are the only scholarship quarterbacks on the Buckeyes' roster, a far cry from the situation they found themselves in last year with three potential starting quarterbacks in the two-deep.

The Buckeyes will add four-star pro-style quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., this fall.

Collier, who redshirted in 2014, received praise in 2015 for his spot-on portrayal of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota during Ohio State’s preparations for the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Ducks, a game the Buckeyes won handily.

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @YahooDrSaturday

 

 

 

Author: Graham Watson
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:10 pm

It’s our semi-weekly Puck Daddy NHL mailbag, the Two-Minute Minor!

Among this week’s questions from the readers: 

- The Force is with which teams?

- Should Islanders fans be sad about Jack Capuano?

- Better Drew Carey or Bob Barker as PRICE IS RIGHT host?

- When will we see Marc-Andre Fleury again?

- What kind of contract is David Backes earning this playoffs? Can Blues afford not signing him?

These are the questions that Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski faced in this week’s Two Minute Minor, courtesy of you, the dedicated puckheads. 

The Two Minute Minor is our biweekly look at the NHL. If you have questions for Wysh, email to puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #AskWysh.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:02 pm

No disrespect to Rory McIlroy or the many other world-famous golfers on the course at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, but the big draw of Wednesday's pro-am in advance of the Wells Fargo Championship was a pairing of Panthers.

Tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Luke Kuechly formed the most Carolina-friendly grouping in the bunch, pairing with local product and PGA Tour pro Johnson Wagner. Kuechly, still recovering from a shoulder injury, caddied while Olsen reportedly managed to break 100.

Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly were as big a draw -- if not bigger -- than Rory McElroy on the range. #WellsFargoChamp pic.twitter.com/XlHO3evdg2

— Joe Person (@josephperson) May 4, 2016

Local reports indicated that teammates Ryan Kalil and Mike Remmers and head coach Ron Rivera were in the gallery to watch the duo bang their way around the course. Not bad for an off-day's work.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:00 pm

Talladega will no longer be the final race of the second round of the Chase starting in 2017.

NASCAR has swapped the dates of Talladega and Kansas, meaning Kansas Speedway will be where the Chase field is cut from 12 drivers to eight.

You'll remember that there was a lot of chaos at Talladega last year. Had Dale Earnhardt Jr. beat Joey Logano he would have moved on in the Chase. Junior finished second. And there was that whole thing with the multiple wrecks on restarts (well, OK, one restart didn't count) that marred the finish of the race.

The Talladega/Kansas swap is the biggest note from the 2017 schedule. NASCAR has signed a sanctioning agreement with all its tracks for the next five years, so there weren't going to be any significant new additions to the schedule.

The spring Texas race is not a Saturday night race in 2017. It's on Sunday afternoon. And the Dover race that's May 15 (because of the five Sundays in May) in 2016 is back in June.

Here's how the schedule lays out. We'll get more information from NASCAR regarding the Talladega move this afternoon at a media availability.

Feb. 18: Daytona exhibition race
Feb. 26: Daytona 500
March 3: Atlanta
March 12: Las Vegas
March 19: Phoenix
March 26: Auto Club
April 2: Martinsville
April 9: Texas
April 23: Bristol
April 30: Richmond
May 7: Talladega
May 13: Kansas
May 20: All-Star Race
May 28: Charlotte
June 4: Dover
June 11: Pocono
June 18: Michigan
June 25: Sonoma
July 1: Daytona
July 8: Kentucky
July 16: New Hampshire
July 23: Indianapolis
July 30: Pocono
Aug. 6: Watkins Glen
Aug. 13: Michigan
Aug. 19: Bristol
Sep. 3: Darlington
Sep. 9: Richmond
Sep. 17: Chicago
Sep. 24: New Hampshire
Oct. 1: Dover
Oct. 7: Charlotte
Oct. 15: Talladega
Oct. 22: Kansas
Oct. 29: Martinsville
Nov. 5: Texas
Nov. 12: Phoenix
Nov. 19: Homestead

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @NickBromberg

Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: May 5, 2016, 1:50 pm

Tom Brady was about 13 when Vanilla Ice hit No. 1 with "Ice Ice Baby," so it makes sense that the New England Patriots quarterback would be hanging out on stage with the rapper and reality television star.

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At an Under Armour event, Vanilla Ice took this selfie and posted it to Twitter. What do they say about a picture saying a thousand words?

What a great day at #ArmorDay chilling with Tom Brady pic.twitter.com/JVS79VBTNE

— Vanilla Ice (@vanillaice) May 5, 2016

Vanilla Ice also was feeling the love from Lindsay Vonn and Jordan Spieth.

Ultimate photo bomb by @JordanSpieth! @lindseyvonn pic.twitter.com/G5VpDvPMLD

— Vanilla Ice (@vanillaice) May 4, 2016

Hey, everyone seemed to have a fun time. And if Brady, who has sponsored Under Armour for years, is feeling sad about his four-game suspension being reinstated, he didn't show it in that photo.

No word on whether Drew Brees will be taking any selfies with MC Hammer or Aaron Rodgers will be hanging out with De La Soul anytime soon.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: May 5, 2016, 1:48 pm

Tate Martell (Rivals)Recruiting can make people a little crazy. That includes coaches, apparently.

After longtime Texas A&M commit Tate Martell announced that he was opening up his recruitment Wednesday night, Aggies wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead did not react well.

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Martell, the top dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class according to Rivals.com, had indicated in recent months that he planned to take other visits, so the news wasn’t a huge surprise. Nonetheless, Moorehead proceeded to tweet several times about “loyalty,” among other things.

I feel sorry for ppl who never understand loyalty. I can't really even vibe with u. At the end of the day trust is 💯 & everything else is BS

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

I wasn't even talking about who everyone thinks I'm talking about. I didn't even know #badtiming #relevanttho #stillnoloyalty

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

Lots of tough typers tonight 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 #soundsgood

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

People act like the truth is all the sudden a bad thing. Society is too sensitive. Y'all boys soft. #texastough

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

I love Texas A&M football. I guard it and respect it with my life. I don't take that lightly day to day

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

He fired off a few other tweets, too, but those were deleted, of course.

“There is no accountability and no sense of positivity when it comes to adversity. #selfish #allaboutme,” one read.

This is coming from a guy who left Virginia Tech for the same coaching position on A&M’s staff before the 2015 season. Yet if a teenage college prospect wants to consider all of his options, he’s “soft?”

[Visit Dr. Saturday on Facebook for stories you might have missed and chat with the writers]

Predictably, that sentiment did not sit too well with other recruits. It didn’t take long for four-star wide receiver Mannie Netherly to decommit from the Aggies. In his announcement, Netherly referenced Moorehead’s tweets.

‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/2g0ee2pRkA

— Mannie Netherly (@yovng_netherly) May 5, 2016

It didn’t stop there. A&M wide receiver target Tyjon Lindsey, a friend of Martell and one of the top-rated recruits in the country, tweeted that he will no longer consider the Aggies.

I would like to say thank you to TAMU & fans but due to some tweets subtweeted towards my brother, I will no longer be looking at A&M.

— Tyjon A. Lindsey ® (@tyjonlindsey) May 5, 2016

Moorehead later apologized for his tweets.

pic.twitter.com/kNjQHHkWOF

— Aaron Moorehead (@Amo8685) May 5, 2016

Moorehead's boss, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, said Moorehead has "taken responsibility for his actions." He did not expound further.

"We'll move on from there," Sumlin said.

So what is a lesson we can all learn from this fiasco? Never tweet.

For more Texas A&M news, visit AggieYell.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 1:22 pm

(AP)It's difficult to put a positive spin on anything that's going on with the New York Yankees right now. Wednesday's 7-0 win in Baltimore aside, they have looked like a complete disaster through the first 25 games of the season, and they have few reasons for optimism on the horizon. 

The Yankees have looked old. They've looked slow. And now comes word they will be without Alex Rodriguez for at least the next two weeks as he deals with a hamstring injury. 

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As a result, the Yankees will be without one of their more productive bats. Before we get too crazy thinking about that though, let us clarify that A-Rod's production is relative to other Yankees. In his age-40 season, he's only batting .194/.275/.444, so he's not even remotely tearing it up or making a case for an All-Star appearance. He is hitting the occasional home run (five) though, and he is tied for the team lead in RBIs (12).

If others were producing at their expected levels, you could certainly live with A-Rod's current numbers while hoping for more down the road. But others aren't producing, and now that he's out manager Joe Girardi has to figure out where his last-place Yankees will get some production. 

At first thought, it almost seems like a lost cause. There's no single answer that stands out as a reasonable fix. Upon further thought though, perhaps there are some positive seeds that can at least be planted during A-Rod's absence. With that in mind, consider these three things.

Can Aaron Hicks emerge as a fixture for the Yankees? (AP)The outfield defense will improve: In Wednesday's win, Girardi moved Carlos Beltran to designated hitter, which allowed Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks to line up in the outfield. That's a group that can cover some serious ground, as all three are capable of playing center field. Perhaps it's not a reasonable long term solution given that Hicks is hitting a miserable .067, but maybe it can become more of a consideration if they can prove valuable in preventing runs.  

When you're the second worst team in baseball in terms of runs scored — which the Yankees are even after Wednesday's outburst — saving runs can become as important as scoring them. For the short term anyway, this group should have a chance to show how valuable it can be playing together. 

A hot bat emerges: A-Rod's absence will force Girardi to spread the at-bats around a little more. Though there are no real exciting options on the current roster, perhaps those extra at-bats can get someone hot. Maybe it's Aaron Hicks, which allows him to settle in as a more regular outfielder. Maybe it's Chase Headley or Dustin Ackley, both of whom are mired in season-long slumps. Maybe it's even someone currently in the minor leagues, just waiting for a call.

With at-bats come opportunities, and with opportunities come possibilities. Right now, the Yankees desperately need to give more opportunities with the idea of creating more possibilities. 

[Elsewhere: Gerrit Cole may have had too much fun at the Penguins game]

A-Rod gets a breather: Perhaps the most important thing to come from Alex Rodriguez's absence is that he'll have a chance to come back refreshed. He's looked anything but since spring training, which could be attributed to his age and a worn down body. It's also possible he's been pushing too hard both physically and mentally, and now he'll finally have a chance to breathe a bit. 

We won't know the answer until he's back, but there's no denying his gas tank hasn't looked even half full as compared to last season. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 6:10 am

(Pirates on Twitter)Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole hasn't had the best week at work. After taking the loss in Monday's series opener against the Chicago Cubs, he watched his squad get swept in dominant fashion.  

That's not good. However, like all people who find happiness in life, Cole was able to leave his work troubles behind and enjoyed a fun night of hockey with his fellow Pittsburgh Penguins fans. 

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As you can see, Cole was front and center at the Consol Energy Center sporting his Sidney Crosby jersey for Game 4 of the Penguins' series against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Based on all of the photos and videos that were taken, it seems he had a really good time.

Gerrit Cole, a Californian who loves his hockey, fitting right in at Pens-Caps Game 4. Here’s @AmandaJupena’s video: pic.twitter.com/403bXxfaLe

— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) May 5, 2016

What? You thought #BurghProud was just a Twitter thing?

We ALL live it! #LetsGoPenshttps://t.co/WYKWrBKwsU

— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) May 5, 2016

In fact, he may have had too much fun getting in on booing and heckling Washington's players, because at one point an usher had to calm him down. 

A Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher gets yelled at by an usher pic.twitter.com/rvl6QXMkju

— CAPITALS HILL (@CapitalsHill) May 5, 2016

According to some witnesses, Cole's heckling is what got him reprimanded. Others have suggested he was pounding on the glass too aggressively, presumably with his pitching hand. 

This above video suggests it's the ladder, while the video below would suggest it's both. You can see Cole in the black jersey right next to Washington's bench pointing and perhaps not saying the kindest things, but at least he's not pounding the glass with his pitching hand.  

We don't know what was said, but we can assume it was colorful.

Either way, no one was harmed in Gerrit Cole's night at the hockey rink. Well, unless you count the Washington Capitals pride. The Caps took Cole's insults, then they took a heart-wrenching 3-2 loss in overtime, and now they're trailing the series three games to one. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:25 am

Well, Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks wasn't exactly competitive, but NBA fans eager for something a bit spicier than 3-point dominance and social media self-deprecation got some bonus beef broiling on Wednesday evening — and this particular cut was aged to perfection.

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It begins with Charles Barkley's assertion on TNT's "Inside the NBA" broadcast that the Hawks, at some point during their absolute pasting in a record-setting long-distance performance by the Cavs, should have gotten much more physical and nastier:

"I've got to vent," Barkley said to host Ernie Johnson. "The Atlanta Hawks got to take somebody out, Ernie."

"Touch 'em up or take 'em out?" Johnson asked.

"Take 'em out," Barkley answered.

"Come on, man, you can't say that on national TV," Shaquille O'Neal added. "You can't hurt nobody, Chuck."

"Ernie, when a team is just embarrassing you, shooting 3s when the game is way over, just trying to set a record, you have to knock the hell out of them, Ernie," Barkley replied. "Not for this game, but to set the tone for the next game. [...] I'm just saying, if you keep shooting 3s, I've got to take you down one time really hard."

After attempting to thread a pretty difficult needle by insisting that he never wants to see anyone get hurt but also that the Hawks absolutely needed to waylay a Cavalier to send a message, Barkley emphasized the importance of Atlanta making sure Cleveland understood that "disrespectful" behavior like gunning for the all-time 3-point record simply wouldn't be tolerated. Evidently, Barkley was not the only one interested in message-sending on Wednesday evening.

Charles Barkley ,you better stop talking s*** about Cleveland you was never tough you hide behind TNT

— Charles Oakley (@CharlesOakley34) May 5, 2016

Well, hello there, Charles Oakley! I didn't notice you there, lurking in the back of every NBA-related person's mind, in amongst the nightmares and things with which you do not mess, even one tiny little bit, even for one second. Nice to see you again!

Soon after Oak's tweet calling the Chuckster out began to blaze a white-hot trail through these Internet streets, it made its way to Studio J in Atlanta and onto "Inside," prompting a response from Barkley on the broadcast:

"Charles Oakley doesn't like me, which is no big deal," Barkley said. "I don't like him or dislike him; I don't think about him. He's not important enough for me to think about. [...] He don't like me. I have no idea why."

I mean, I think we have some idea why, Chuck. This thing of yours goes back some 30 years:

... and continued nearly a decade later:

(From the New York Times: "Of Barkley, [Oakley] added: 'He's been doing lots wrong his whole career and it doesn't seem to matter. He has spit on people. They don't care.'")

... and, infamously, allegedly continued in January of 1999:

The unofficial start to the NBA season came sometime Wednesday afternoon when Charles Oakley said he belted his longtime nemesis Charles Barkley in the face during the players union meeting. "I heard what he was saying about me in Atlantic City and I didn't like it," Oakley said last night. "I'm fed up with him. "I told him you need to change your name. I'm the only Charles." [...]
Oakley claims Barkley plays the punk when he tries to be friendly off the court. "He did that the other day," Oakley said. "He thought everything was cool, but I'm not his friend. Then everybody grabbed us."
Oakley allegedly slapped Barkley across the face and the two were quickly separated by the Knicks' Chris Mills and Indiana's Antonio Davis. Just last month, Barkley said he'd be interested in joining the Knicks.

If you're still not sure, Charles, Oak clarified his position back in 2010:

My thing is, when Barkley played basketball, he didn't practice, he wasn't a leader, he wasn't this or that, he just had natural talent so he got chosen to the Dream Team, All Star team because he had the talent and he was the franchise player on the team. Him criticizing all those other guys, he did the same thing when he was young. As soon as they do something wrong, he criticizes them, that's wrong. He wasn't real to the game. Let the guys speak out who are real to the game. He talks like a player and I will give him that, but for him to comment about this and being a professional, he wasn't all that.

... and in 2012:

"Barkley for his size was a good player but he's a coward, though. ... He wasn't a leader and wasn't a role model. Now he talks so bad about younger guys, I don't respect that from him. … He wants to be funny, that whole TNT thing and all that, they're like some clowns on that show."

... and, again, later in 2012:

"I don't go around talking to him. He has opinions. He talks every Tuesday and Thursday about things I did. I just don't like the way he tried to act like he was a good citizen when he played or that he was this and that. He was one of the hardest people to get along with, to play with, everything -- but people don't write about it. People give him a free pass because he's on TV, but I don't believe in that. When he spit on the guy in Cleveland, he got a break. I just don't like when you preach one thing and do something else. That's what the world is coming to. It's just phony. Nobody stands up for what they say anymore."

Barkley, for his part, urged a farewell to the beef four years ago: "Dude, we got into an altercation in [1996]. It’s over with. We don’t even play anymore. I have been retired for 12 years. I mean, we’ve never had an issue off the court, but we did have a little altercation back in the mid 1990′s, but dude, I have been retired for 12 years. It’s over with. Let it go."

Oakley, however, clearly isn't about to let it go ... which, now that you mention it, is why Barkley might want to resume thinking about Charles Oakley this evening:

Barkley gonna ask security to walk him to his car just in case.

— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) May 5, 2016

@mdotbrown the location on Oak's tweet was...... ATLANTA

— Jim Ice (@Jim_ICE) May 5, 2016

pic.twitter.com/lMJiIPEq8D

— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) May 5, 2016

It wasn't quite the type of excitement we'd bargained for, but with the drama drained out of the evening's modern-day matchup very early on, we were glad for a bit of throwback turmoil. Thanks, Chucks.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Dan Devine
Posted: May 5, 2016, 5:11 am

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we'll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about. 

Everyone knew the Chicago Cubs were going to be very good this season. That's why way more pundits than usual were in agreement when predicting a World Series champion, with 44-percent actually picking the Cubs to win it all. That's also why Las Vegas continues making the Cubs the odds on favorite to end their historic championship drought.

As we've learned over the years, sometimes expectations don't match results. But in the case of the Cubs, the results are somehow surpassing the expectations. On Wednesday, they became the first team in MLB to reach 20 wins when they defeated the Pirates 6-2. The victory also completed a three-game sweep at PNC Park and ran their division lead to a league-best six games

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now]

The Cubs are not fooling around. Even with slugger Kyle Schwarber lost for the season. Even with Jason Heyward banged up and off to a slow start. Even with 16 of their first 26 games away from Wrigley Field, they are dominating everybody.

The Cubs have already recorded 13 wins by five or more runs after recording 16 such wins all of last season.

— Cubs Gameday (@CHCGameday) May 4, 2016

On Wednesday, they only won by four runs. But it was never in doubt with Jon Lester refusing to fold and Chicago's offense making Pittsburgh pay for every mistake. Three of the Cubs' six runs were unearned, but they all counted. That's just what the Cubs do. They wear teams out and they make teams play near perfect baseball just to have a chance. That puts a lot of pressure on the opposition, and more times than not their opponents have crumbled.  

It's scary to think how good the Cubs are right now, and it's scarier to think how good they'll be if all of their players start clicking at once. 

TOP PERFORMERS 

Corey Kluber: Cleveland's ace was rock solid on Wednesday, going the distance in the Indians 4-0 victory against the Tigers. Kluber battled some traffic, allowing five hits and walking two. But he made good pitches when he needed to. That includes the seven strikeouts he racked up. The complete game was Kluber's eighth, all coming since 2014. The shutout was his second. 

Steven Matz: Sometimes Matz can be the forgotten man in discussions about New York's dominant rotation. He made himself the center of the conversation on Wednesday, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Mets 8-0 win over the Braves. Matz allowed just two hits while striking out eight and lowering his ERA to 2.83. Lucas Duda also homered twice as the Mets won for the 10th time in 12 games.

[Elsewhere: Fan takes opportunistic selfie with player who fell into stands]

Daniel Murphy: After a forgettable World Series against Kansas City last fall, Daniel Murphy did his best to put it behind him in this series against the Royals. After homering in Tuesday's loss, Murphy paced a Nationals 13-2 victory on Wednesday with four hits, four runs scored and three RBIs. Murphy's big hits included his fourth home run of the season and his 10th double, which knocked in two. 

The Astros: It was a team effort in their 16-4 dismantling of the Twins. Six different players drove in at least two runs. Among them were Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Jason Castro, all of whom homered as well. In total, Houston collected 14 hits and seven walks en route to a much-needed and much-enjoyed victory. 

MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT 

The Mariners hit three home runs in Wednesday's 9-8 win against the A's. The most impressive, by far, was this moonshot of a two-run blast from Nelson Cruz. That ball landed in the rarely reached center field seats in Oakland. More importantly, the runs were needed on an afternoon where Felix Hernandez struggled, allowing eight runs (four earned) in four innings.  

THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD

Reds 7, Giants 4: The rough start for San Francisco's Jake Peavy continued here. The 34-year-old right-hander allowed seven earned runs in six innings, raising his ERA to 9.00 through six starts.

Angels 7, Brewers 3: Mike Trout homered, tripled and knocked in two as the Angels avoided a sweep in Milwaukee. 

Rockies 2, Padres 0: With Jorge De La Rosa on the DL, Tyler Chatwood is emerging as Colorado's ace. He tossed eight scorless innings to earn his fourth win and lower his ERA to 2.15. 

Yankees 7, Orioles 0: The Yankees snapped a six-game losing streak thanks to a strong effort from CC Sabathia. The veteran left-hander tossed seven scoreless innings.

Blue Jays 4, Rangers 3: Make that two straight walkoff wins for the Jays. This time Russell Martin came through with a bases-loaded single in the ninth. 

Marlins 4, Diamondbacks 3: In a game highlighted by a selfie, Miami gets a big win. Giancarlo Stanton clubbed a two-run homer.

Rays 8, Dodgers 5: After being buried by Dodgers homers on Tuesday, the Rays battled back with four of their own in Wednesday's win. 

Red Sox 5, White Sox 2: 'Big Papi' David Ortiz homered and drove in three as Boston evened the three-game series. 

Cardinals 5, Phillies 4: St. Louis overcame a four-fun deficit with a three-run fifth inning and a two-run ninth inning. Matt Holliday played hero, lacing a walk-off single. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 4:31 am

No. 1 Star: Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins

Hornqvist scored his fifth of the postseason 2:34 into overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals and a 3-1 series lead.

No. 2 Star: Matt Cullen, Pittsburgh Penguins

Cullen tallied his third goal of the playoffs and gave the Penguins their first lead of Game 4 in the second period.

No. 3 Star: John Carlson, Washington Capitals

That Penguins’ lead lasted 13 minutes when the Capitals took advantage of a Derrick Pouliot defensive zone turnover and Carlson beat Matt Murray to even the score.

Honorable Mention: Murray stopped 34 shots, while Braden Holtby made 30 saves … Pittsburgh snapped an eight-game playoff overtime losing streak with the win … Trevor Daley scored his first playoff goal since 2014.

Did You Know? 

5 of the last 9 playoff games between @washcaps and @penguins have required OT dating to Game 3 of 2009 CSF (both teams are 2-2). #WSHvsPIT

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 5, 2016

Dishonorable Mention: Pittsburgh’s power play went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-14 in the series … Washington has now lost three straight, something they did only once all season.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: May 5, 2016, 4:24 am

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Patric Hornqvist pounced on a loose puck and beat Braden Holtby five-hole 2:34 into overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 4. The Penguins now head to D.C. on Saturday holding a 3-1 series lead.

In the overtime, Conor Sheary’s floater from the point was knocked down by Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who was making his first appearance in the series. As Weber swiped at the puck trying to clear it to the corner he didn’t get all of it, and it went straight to Hornqvist who sent the CONSOL Energy Center crowd home happy. 

Prior to Game 4, the Penguins had lost eight straight playoff overtime games.

"We have the game of our lives coming up,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said afterward.

It started bright for Washington as they got on the board early when Beagle roofed a backhand past Matt Murray 2:38 into the game. But seven minutes later Trevor Daley would answer for Pittsburgh. 

Much like the first period, the two sides matched one another in the middle frame. Matt Cullen gave the Penguins their first lead at 3:07 of the second, but it was John Carlson who evened the score with his fourth of the postseason 13 minutes later. 

After Cullen hit the post midway through the third period, the Penguins had another opportunity to snap the tie when Karl Alzner was called for a high-stick on Sidney Crosby with 3:38 to go in regulation. But like they’ve done all series, the Penguins power play squandered the opportunity and failed on their 14th straight man advantage.

The Presidents' Trophy winning Capitals now have two full days off to focus on winning three straight, which would be a big feat considering the Penguins haven't lost consecutive games since January 12-15.

And again, Washington won the scoring chance battle, but once again fell short on the scoreboard.

“We didn’t have our best game,” said Hornqvist to NBCSN. “I think they were a little better than us tonight. But we [stuck] with it, didn’t turn the puck over and we got the result in the end.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:54 am

J.R. Smith made seven of Cleveland's record-setting 25 three-pointers. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)The Cleveland Cavaliers have been the Eastern Conference's clear favorite throughout the 2015-16 season (and the preceding offseason), but several minor controversies and rough stretches appeared to put that status into doubt, if only for short periods of time. After six wins in their first six playoff games, though, whatever doubt remained must have disappeared by now. The Cavs are clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference, and it's not very close at all.

[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

Wednesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks confirmed Cleveland's supremacy in one of the most devastating offensive displays in NBA history. The Cavs shattered the record for most three-pointers in a playoff half, set a new record for most three-pointers in a playoff game a little more than halfway into the third quarter, and set a new NBA record for three-pointer in any kind of game during fourth-quarter garbage time. They led 74-38 at the half for the second-largest halftime advantage in the shot-clock era and cruised to a 123-98 win that opens up a 2-0 lead in the series ahead of Game 3 in Atlanta on Friday. The Hawks look like they would be fortunate to compete in another game this series, let alone win one.

Cleveland's historic shooting from deep was unquestionably the story of the night, although it took the team a bit to get going. After making just one three-pointer in the opening five minutes (and falling several points behind), the Cavs closed the period on a 19-4 run to finish the first quarter 8-of-12 from beyond the arc. Several of those looks were tough, but the Cavaliers were able to shoot so well in part because the Hawks collapsed on dribble penetration to allow open shots from the perimeter. Whether due to missed assignments or intentional tactics, those decisions backfired completely and allowed the Cavs to lead 35-20 at the buzzer.

It only got worse for the Hawks. The Cavs' continued to make two-thirds of their three-pointers, knocking down 10-of-15 in the second quarter to shatter the previous record of 12 three-pointers in one half of a playoff game, a mark set just 10 days prior by the Golden State Warriors. The record-setting three came at the 7:37 mark of the period, which gave them plenty of time to add to it. In fact, Cleveland's 18 first-half three-pointers put them ninth on the single-game playoff list with 24 minutes still to play.

The operative question at halftime wasn't if the Cavs would top the Warriors' playoff record of 21 three-pointers, but when they would do it. The answer came after fewer than seven minutes of game-time when Kyrie Irving made the record-tying and record-breaking shots on consecutive possessions:

The Cavs didn't make another three-pointer in the period, but the damage had been done. A 106-70 score after three turned the fourth quarter into full-on garbage time, with the Cavs holding most of the interest for their quest to break the NBA record of 23 three-pointers in a single game (regular or postseason). The moment came in the final minutes when little-used reserve Dahntay Jones made this shot:

Mo Williams added another shortly thereafter to bring the total to an absurd 25. Take a look at all of them here:

The Cavaliers have now made more three-pointers (40) than two-pointers (38) in the first two games of this series, which is probably something for the Hawks to work on before they go on vacation.

The individual totals are staggering for Cleveland — streaky shooter J.R. Smith went 7-of-13 from beyond the arc for 23 points, LeBron James shot 4-of-6 on the way to his team-high 27, Kyrie Irving made 4-of-5, and Kevin Love balanced an 0-of-8 showing on twos by making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Ten Cavaliers made three-pointers, with only James Jones failing to knock down any of his attempts. The shot chart is as impressive as it gets:

Ten players hit a 3 tonight for the @Cavs as they set the #NBA record for most 3-pt FG in a gm pic.twitter.com/1cVRXCJqzj

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 5, 2016

There is no silver lining for the Hawks. They allowed open shots, failed to improve their defense at any point, and didn't do much offensively to keep the Cavs from getting out in transition. Paul Millsap summed up the tenor of the night when he repeatedly said "I'm speechless" to reporters after the game.

Really, the only positive for the Hawks in Game 2 was the performance of their official Twitter account:

pic.twitter.com/aSITofOcgR

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

At least someone on Atlanta's side managed to make something of the night. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the public will get to enjoy that creativity for much longer. Even counting a tight Game 1 as a positive for the Hawks, the Cavs have taken complete control of this series. It looks increasingly likely that they won't meet a tough test until the NBA Finals.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Follow @FreemanEric

Author: Eric Freeman
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:47 am

Despite losing in record-setting fashion to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks had one thing to be amused by on Wednesday: their Twitter account. The more 3s Cleveland sank, the sadder (and funnier) the tweets got.

Starting things off, the Hawks' social media manager had a feeling they'd be in for some sort of adventure...

TIP OFF pic.twitter.com/awibcJ3iYO

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

But then, Cleveland got annoying.

Enough with the corner three's @cavs pic.twitter.com/icZDUYAKvR

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

Very annoying.

🗡🚫3️⃣🙏

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

This is fine pic.twitter.com/Iw8Kc7Sdds

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

Here's an optimistc spin that's since been deleted:

Deleted after the Cavs beat the Hawks in Game 2

By the time halftime finally arrived, the white flag (or Crying Jordan) went up.

Halftime pic.twitter.com/WxQhCekA5L

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

And things didn't get any better in the second half.

pic.twitter.com/aSITofOcgR

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

12 more minutes pic.twitter.com/yZf1RvXAx1

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016

We are finished and we are done with this game. pic.twitter.com/C7JqK7GHko

— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 5, 2016
Author: Melissa Caskey
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:29 am

A selfie craze has taken over Major League Baseball.

On Tuesday night, a Cleveland Indians fan took perhaps the coolest selfie you'll ever see thanks to the Progressive Field videoboard. Now, just one day later, a fan at Marlins Park in Miami has taken perhaps the most opportunistic selfie you'll see after capturing a quick photo with Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Brandon Drury. 

[Related: Indians fan takes the coolest ballpark selfie you've ever seen]

The unexpected photo op took place in the fifth inning when Miami's Martin Prado hit a pop up into shallow right field that drifted toward the stands. Drury, who was positioned near the line, had plenty of time to race over and make the play. However, he also ended up tumbling over the railing into the stands.

It was a very nice play, but it was quickly overshadowed by a quick-thinking fan named Blake, who took out his camera and made the scene into a selfie.

A Suh Dude @Dbacks @Marlins pic.twitter.com/Mz5kYnagBg

— Blake (@BiZMASTY) May 5, 2016

We know he's named Blake, because he already had those selfies posted to his Twitter feed before the Marlins wrapped up their 4-3 victory.  

The photos confirm that Drury had no idea what was going on, which is too bad. Because the only thing that could have made this better was some type of reaction on his part to show he couldn't be one-upped.  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 3:10 am

(AP)As we noted last week, Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sits high on the list of skippers who are at risk of being fired during or immediately following the 2016 season.

With the Braves rebuilding ahead of their move to SunTrust Park, there's really no question they'll be going a different direction at Gonzalez's position. And with the team predictably struggling out of the gate (7-20), it's a matter of when, not if, that decision is made.

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It's an awkward position for Gonzalez to be in. He's essentially a lame-duck manager overseeing an operation that isn't focused on the job he's doing. Along those same lines, it can't be easy to show up day after day not knowing whether it will be the last.

Now, it's likely to get even more uncomfortable based on this tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Wednesday.

While the debate rages in Atlanta whether #Braves should fire Fredi Gonzalez, Buddy Black is the heavy favorite to be their manager in 2017.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) May 4, 2016

It's one thing to know the end is near. It's quite another to learn your current employer may have already identified your replacement while you continue showing up to work and giving your best effort.

Even if there's no basis to the rumor, it's a pretty stiff reminder of Gonzalez's reality. For a guy who was already once fired mid-season, as Gonzalez was with the Miami Marlins in 2010, it could even serve as a punch in the gut. At that time, Gonzalez's Marlins were coming off two winning seasons and were 34-36, meaning they were far from dead. However, owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly had his sights on Bobby Valentine for a partnership that would never become a reality.  

Still though, Gonzalez doesn't seem fazed by history repeating itself. Or at least he's not letting the Braves see it. 

“I come in every day with the mindset that I am not letting any of that stuff bother me,” Gonzalez told the media before Wednesday's game at Citi Field.

[Elsewhere: Andrew McCutchen calls for official scorer to be fired after error]

Maybe it doesn't bother him. Maybe Gonzalez finds a way to block it all out and concentrate on a task that still matters to him. But it's still pretty painful to watch from the outside looking in.

We can debate the job he's done in Atlanta. We can debate whether or not Bud Black or someone else is a better fit for the Braves. What we can't debate is that Gonzalez has been once again put in a position that no one envies. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 2:11 am

(AP)Have you ever wanted to watch a baseball game with Curt Schilling? 

If the answer is yes, it sounds like your opportunity is coming very soon. Just be warned that it may cost you some of your hard-earned money. 

With Schilling drawing little interest from other television networks following his firing from ESPN, it appears he's looking to go into business for himself. What that entailed exactly was a little fuzzy at first, but Schilling started spilling some of the details on social media on Wednesday.

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now]

What's clear is Schilling is hoping to watch games along with fans through the Periscope streaming video service. Essentially, Schilling would watch the game on his television and provide alternate commentary and analysis while his viewers watch both the game and his Periscope feed.

It actually sounds kind of interesting, perhaps even harmless. Some fans seemed pretty excited about the possibility. 

@tutvid no sign up initially. Just going to offer it to BB fans to see if you're interested in 'watching' a game with me and 'talking' live

— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) May 4, 2016

Initially being the key word in that response, because there is one catch looming assuming Schilling's plans work out.

(Curt Schilling on Facebook)
As Schilling has said, he didn't need the ESPN job, otherwise he wouldn't have continued stirring the pot with his comments. That would also indicate he didn't need the money. But he'll be happy to take money from fans if they're willing to give it. 

Honestly, the entire idea feels like a disaster waiting to happen. We can't imagine MLB will be too thrilled, though they'd probably have little recourse to stop it unless Schilling decides to show the game on his feed.

[Elsewhere: Indians fan takes the coolest ballpark selfie you've ever seen]

Beyond that though, Schilling's past social media interactions (and even his venture into video games) have all ended quite poorly. Maybe this project can change the tide in his favor, but until that happens, it's hard to imagine Schilling breaking new ground or making a new career.  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: May 5, 2016, 12:39 am

The NHL announced Wednesday that Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, New York Islanders forward John Tavares and Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber were finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season,” 

Messier chooses potential candidates after taking suggestions from team and league personnel, along with NHL fans. He then chooses the winner.

[Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today]

So which one of these guys will win The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award?

Why Alex Ovechkin Deserves The Messier Award

From the NHL:  

Ovechkin, Washington’s captain since January 2010, reached the 50-goal milestone for the seventh time this season to power the team to the Presidents’ Trophy as well as a franchise-record 56 wins. Off the ice, he expanded his relationship with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA), hosting nearly 60 children and adolescents during a unique skating session in October. An official spokesman for ASHA, Ovechkin received Washingtonian Magazine’s “Washingtonian of the Year” award for his work with special needs children. He also continued his Ovi’s Crazy 8s program, which was created in 2006 to provide Capitals season tickets for Most Valuable Kids and ASHA. 

Ovechkin’s maturity has been a big storyline this year. He has taken on a bigger role in the community, with the team and enjoyed the extra responsibilities. Ovechkin was also the undisputed leader on the team that has the best NHL regular season record. 

The Capitals have always been Ovechkin’s team, but he seems more focused to prove that he’s the right type of voice that can bring the group a championship.

Why John Tavares Deserves The Messier Award

From the NHL:

The Islanders’ captain since 2013-14, Tavares led the club to its second consecutive 100-point season in 2015-16. He also continued his Teammates Program, which has provided tickets and VIP game experiences for sick and underprivileged children – from Special Olympics and Ronald McDonald House, among others – for the past five campaigns. To date, Tavares personally has spent more than $32,000 to create these special game experiences. He also spearheaded the Islanders’ fundraising for their Military Appreciation Night in November, offering a $5,000 donation to help the team host more than 300 active and retired service members at a game. 

Tavares has arguably taken over from New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as the top player in the New York area.

He went on a surge down the stretch of the NHL’s regular season to help his team make the playoffs with 12 points in his last seven games. His nine points in six games helped beat the Florida Panthers in the first-round of the playoffs.

Tavares' skill has also been an important in helping the Islanders lay the foundation for their new Brooklyn home.

Why Shea Weber Deserves The Messier Award

The NHL says:

Weber, Nashville’s captain since 2010-11, reached the 20-goal and 50-point milestones for the third time to guide the Predators to their second straight playoff berth. He also is a leader with several charitable organizations both in Nashville and his hometown. Weber – along with teammate Pekka Rinne – started the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which raises money and donates tickets to patients at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. That initiative has contributed more than $700,000 since its inception in 2013-14. In his hometown of Sicamous, B.C., Weber partners with the Sicamous Shootout to host a golf tournament in support of the BC Cancer Society.

Weber’s steady demeanor helped the Predators to another playoff berth, and was a major factor in Nashville’s ability to beat the Anaheim Ducks in the postseason’s first-round.

Weber was drafted by the Predators in 2003, and has been one of the constants that kept the team stable through ownership uncertainty and a coaching change in 2014.

It hasn’t been total smooth sailing for Weber in Nashville. He signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2012 and that stigma seemed to follow him for a few years after. But it no longer seems to be an issue.

His 443 career points rank first amongst team defensemen and third overall in Nashville's record book. Weber’s 166 career goals rank second in Predators history.

Who Wins The Messier Award?

Ovechkin. The narrative of his maturity after years of struggles is the perfect storyline for this award.

Who Should Win The Messier Award?

Tavares. He sets the tone for the Islanders, and has taken over the hockey landscape in New York. Also, wouldn’t it be something if Messier, a Rangers legend, chose an Islanders captain for his award?

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: May 5, 2016, 12:04 am

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Defending U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth got a look at 2016 host Oakmont Country Club in an 18-hole Wednesday practice round, and the experience affirmed something most everyone in the golf world already knows: Oakmont is really hard.

"There's just so many other tough holes that par is going to be a fantastic score," Spieth said after his round. "I'd sign for even par right now for 72 holes in June. Obviously given the history, but also having played it."

Spieth said the obvious, that Oakmont will be a radically different test than last year's host Chambers Bay, which sought to give players options with wide-open driving areas.

"Chambers Bay was a bit different because it's a lot of drivers, and it's wider fairways," Spieth said. "And sure, you can get into a lot of trouble there, but out here, you're going to have to curve the ball into these fairways to hold it in the right places, and you've got to take your medicine a lot more."

Missing fairways at Oakmont means nasty rough or, worse, landing in many of the deep, challenging bunkers at the course. There's good to be a lot of hitting out sideways from nasty off-fairway lies.

The Pittsburgh area club is hosting the U.S. Open for the ninth time next month, and it's doing so for the first time since 2007, when Angel Cabrera beat Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk by a shot at 5-over 285.

However, the winning score has been under par at Oakmont in three of the four Opens there prior to '07, including in 1994, when Ernie Els prevailed in a playoff over Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie after all three posted 5-under 279, when the course played as a par-71 test.

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: May 4, 2016, 11:52 pm

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