No. 1 Star: Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago winger notched his 1,000th point as part of a one goal, one assist night in Chicago’s 5-4 shootout win over Ottawa. Finished second amongst Hawks forwards with 20:37 of ice-time.
No. 2 Star: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stamkos fired two goals and added an assist in Tampa’s 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
No. 2 Star: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche sophomore notched his first two goals of the season in Colorado’s 5-0 victory over the Islanders.
Honorable mention: St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen made 24 saves in shutting out the Anaheim Ducks … Chicago captain Jonathan Toews recorded two goals … Hawks goaltender Scott Darling won his second career NHL game, pulling out his first career NHL shootout win … Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson played 30:56 in the shootout loss … Winnipeg defenseman Toby Enstrom picked up his eighth assist, which tied him for second amongst blueliners … Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his second shutout of the year with 36 saves against Los Angeles ... Boston’s Brad Marchand scored two goals, including the game winner over the Sabres … Buffalo’s Drew Stafford scored a goal and added an assist … Florida netminder Roberto Luongo stopped 32 of 33 Arizona Coyotes shots on goal in victory … Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves … Avalanche center Matt Duchene notched two assists ... Daniel Sedin from Henrik Sedin is a beautiful thing.
Did you know?: The New Jersey Devils won their first shootout since March 10, 2013. They had lost 18 straight before Thursday.
Dishonorable mention: Arizona's Mike Smith lost his fourth game in his last five contests, this one to the hapless Florida Panthers … The Islanders Chad Johnson made just 18 saves on 23 Colorado shots on goal … The Bruins were 6:30 away from losing to the Buffalo Sabres before Marchand's third period goal. Boston won the game in overtime … Meanwhile the Sabres fired just 15 shots on goal … According to eye-witness Twitter reports, Evgeni Malkin and Justin Williams fought, but both were assessed roughing minors.
The FA has made about £350,000 from fining players for social media related offenses since 2011, according to the Guardian. This has to be one of the easiest new revenue streams for the organization and one of the dumbest ways to lose money for the footballers paying the fines.
The most recent contributor was QPR defender Rio Ferdinand, who has fined £25,000 and banned for three matches for a tweet that included the word "sket," which is Caribbean slang for "whore." Ferdinand is the 12th player to be suspended for a social media offense. This is also his second Twitter fine. The first came in 2012 when he retweeted a message from another user that called Ashley Cole a "choc ice."
Speaking of Ashley Cole, he holds the record for the single largest Twitter fine of £90,000 for insulting the FA itself that same year. And to think this all started in 2011 when Ryan Babel, then with Liverpool, was fined £10,000 for tweeting a photoshopped picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt.
By the Guardian's count, the FA has investigated 121 social media cases in the last three years and 60 of those investigations have led to charges.
Though Rio Ferdinand is nearing the end of his career, with a bit of luck he might be able to pull off the Twitter fine hat trick before he retires to cement his place as football's king of social media idiocy. Which would be fitting for a man who titled his latest autobiography, which was printed on actual paper, "#2sides."
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Minnesota Wild sniper Thomas Vanek is off to a slow start. And there may be some off-ice reasons for this.
On Thursday night, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Mark Ruff, a bookmaker, pleaded guilty to laundering a gambling debt with a $230,000 New York Islanders check. The report says it was a salary check that was used to cover wages and was endorsed the same time Vanek played for the New York Islanders.
Vanek played minor league hockey with the Rochester Americans.
"(Local attorney James) Wolford declined to say whether the payment came from Vanek, who has been linked to the alleged Rochester-based gambling ring," the story says. "Vanek has acknowledged testifying before a grand jury and sources say his name turned up in records seized from the alleged bookmakers."
Also in the story ...
"In his plea, Mark Ruff admitted recruiting bettors, setting up gambling websites, and receiving payments from gamblers. While Vanek has been linked to the ring, allegedly as one who made bets with the ring, no more details have been provided about his possible role."
Take note of the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement, which states:
"Gambling on any NHL Game is prohibited."
This certainly would not be the NHL's first issues with gambling. Current Pittsburgh assistant Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty to running a sports gambling ring and took a yearlong leave of absence from the game in 2006.
The Wild won 4-3 on Thursday evening and Vanek had two assists, which gives him seven assists, and points, on the year.
It’s not so much that the Oklahoma City Thunder is already without Kevin Durant. It’s that Durant’s sweet-shooting reserve, Anthony Morrow, is also injured. It’s that his potential perimeter complement, hybrid guard Reggie Jackson, is nursing an ankle injury. It’s that James Harden’s hoped-for replacement, Jeremy Lamb, is out with a bad back.
Now, another dagger. All-Star point man Russell Westbrook had to leave Thursday night’s Thunder-Los Angeles Clipper game with a fractured second metacarpal in his right hand.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, according to reporters at the game, did not reveal how much time Westbrook could miss.
Here’s how it happened:
It’s unclear if Westbrook hurt the hand while bashing it into Kendrick Perkins’ thigh, or if the hand was caught in Perkins’ uniform. He may have injured himself while driving on Clippers reserve guard Jordan Farmar, as well. Whatever the spark, Westbrook had to leave the game after just 8:43 of frustrating play – he dished four assists, but turned the ball over three times, picked up two fouls, and missed two of three shots from the field.
Westbrook spent the rest of his team’s second game of the season with a massive wrap and ice pack surrounding his aching shooting hand, as the severely undermanned Thunder attempted to keep up with a buoyant Los Angeles Clippers squad. OKC cut the Clippers' lead to one in the final minutes, but lost 93-90. Perry Jones led the Thunder with 32 points.
Nearly as annoying was Westbrook’s exit – we’re not sure of the details, but he took offense to either a thrown object or an uncalled-for heckle while leaving the Staples Center court. TNT’s David Aldridge later reported that the fan, thankfully, was denied a chance to see the second half of the contest.
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Per the website hockeyfights.com, Evgeni Malkin doesn't have any regular season fights. And even after Malkin picked a scrap with Los Angeles' Justin Williams, in the Penguins 3-0 win over the Kings, this pristine record will likely stand.
Both were assessed roughing minors. Though as the below video shows, it indeed looks like a fight.
Why would Malkin decide to tussle with Williams? To prove his Conn Smythe Trophy was more worthy than Williams'?
It looks like Malkin was angry by an attempted hit by Dustin Brown ... so of course Malkin didn't look for Brown and found the closest player who looks nothing like Brown in Williams.
Said Malkin to Sporting News' Sean Gentille following the game...
"Malkin said that Williams asked him to go earlier, but he downplayed that, too: "It's all emotion. I don't like fight, but (there's) sometimes lots of emotion."
A star player who picks a fight tends to be interesting and noteworthy ... and always somewhat comical. This is indeed the case with Malkin on Thursday.
On second thought, maybe LeBron James should've just called it "a regular-sized sporting event."
With the eyes of the world on Quicken Loans Arena for the first regular-season game of James' second stint in Cleveland — not to mention the Cavs' debuts of All-Star power forward Kevin Love, new head coach David Blatt, respected veteran forward Shawn Marion and more — LeBron and his new 'mates sputtered out of the gate. After all the pregame festivities — the live-to-TNT concert, the 3D video projection, the faux-chalk-toss and all the rest of it — the Cavs came out sluggish, allowing a New York Knicks team playing on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back, after being destroyed on Wednesday by the Chicago Bulls, to not only hang around, but take a lead deep into the fourth quarter.
After a pair of dismal offensive possessions that resulted in 24-second violations and gave Cleveland new life, the Knicks found themselves holding the ball and a 90-87 lead with less than one minute remaining. An opportunity to ice the game in the balance, the Knicks abandoned the triangle offense — which, to be fair, they'd been doing liberally all night anyway — and just gave the ball to Carmelo Anthony, guarded by LeBron James. It's what the people paid to see — the best player on each team, one-on-one, just like they've been ever since high school.
This time around, 'Melo played Kingslayer.
Anthony moved as if he was going to set a screen for point guard Pablo Prigioni before flashing to the left wing, where the Argentine hit him with a behind-the-back pass. 'Melo collected the ball, faced up and went chest-to-chest with the four-time MVP; after a couple of short dribbles to the left and a bump to gain a bit of separation, Anthony faded, elevated and drained a 17-foot baseline jumper that gave the Knicks a five-point lead with 25.9 seconds remaining and forced Blatt to take a timeout to regroup.
A missed 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving and some free throws later, the Knicks escaped the Q with an impressive 95-90 win, leaving the Cavaliers — and the rabid fans who turned out for the King's coronation — stunned.
While it was Anthony's ability to create his own shot and make difficult contested jumpers over elite defenders that sealed the deal, it was his continued commitment to moving the ball and trying to work within the still-developing flow of new head coach Derek Fisher's triangle offense that stood out on Thursday. Anthony finished with a game-high 25 points on nine for 17 shooting, but he also chipped in six assists — a mark he matched just seven times last season — to go with a pair of rebounds in 34-plus minutes.
He wasn't the only typically sticky-fingered Knick to show a somewhat surprising knack for swinging the ball. Noted black hole J.R. Smith finished with a team-high seven assists (he did that only twice last season) against just two turnovers, adding 11 points — including a pivotal floater in the paint and two free throws in the final minute — and a pair of steals off the bench. The Knicks as a team handed out 30 assists on 37 made field goals on Thursday, one more helper than last season's single-game high.
With the exception of Love, who came out of the chute red-hot to the tune of 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists (including one noteworthy long outlet pass) in the first quarter, neither team looked especially sharp in the early going. James missed four of his first five shots and Anthony six of his first nine, as the Knicks' ongoing struggles implementing the triangle met with the derision of TNT announcers Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley, and the Cavaliers found it difficult to replicate the rhythm that led them to the league's top offensive efficiency mark during the preseason.
Fisher made some adjustments to his rotations in the second quarter, shelving starting center Samuel Dalembert in favor of reserve Cole Aldrich, who provided a more active and stable interior presence, and getting some surprising defensive contributions from end-of-the-bench undrafted rookie Travis Wear. Big man Jason Smith showed the midrange shooting touch that made him an intriguing fit in the triangle, while also flashing a bit of defensive physicality that seemed to bother the Cavs, especially James, who finished 4-for-5 at the rim and 1-for-10 from everywhere else, and committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers, including some ugly ones:
On a night when Cleveland looked to celebrate both James' return and the presence of a potentially championship-worthy supporting cast, it was the Knicks' role players who made the biggest impact. Shane Larkin looked much more comfortable in his second start in place of the injured Jose Calderon than he did against Chicago, scoring nine points to go with five assists and five steals in 28 minutes. Iman Shumpert hectored the Cavs' guards, actually made some shots (4-for-7 from the field) and attacked the basket to get himself to the line (4-for-5 from the stripe) en route to a dozen points.
Aldrich pulled down six boards and changed multiple shots in his 14 minutes of work. Hirsute banger Quincy Acy, who started in place of Amar'e Stoudemire, snared 10 caroms, including six on the offensive glass, with a pair coming on a single possession that ended with an emphatic tip dunk:
Acy's putback seemed emblematic of an approach that worked well for the Knicks — keep working and make them prove they're as good as we expect them to be — and neither James nor the Cavaliers could live up to the immense hype.
Cleveland's defense, expected to be its Achilles heel coming into the season, allowed the previously moribund Knicks to shoot 53.6 percent from the floor and score at the sort of elite clip (110.6 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool) that leads the league over the course of full seasons. A Cavs squad expected to slice opponents apart with its ball movement racked up 19 turnovers, leading to 26 Knicks points.
Blatt seemed to get caught flat-footed at times during the second half, passing up opportunities to take a timeout and stop the bleeding in favor of keeping the game flowing, which allowed the Knicks to build their lead. Irving often looked good on the attack, scoring a team-high 22 points on 15 shots to go with seven assists and five rebounds, but he missed five of his six triple tries and gave plenty back on the other end, to boot. Neither Dion Waiters nor Tristan Thompson looked especially ready for prime time; vaunted veteran additions Marion and Mike Miller barely saw playing time.
At the heart of it all, though, was James, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and those eight unsightly cough-ups in 43 minutes of disappointing homecoming, capped by getting dotted by Anthony on the dagger. These struggles won't continue, of course; as was the case when he got off to a rough start after joining the Miami Heat in 2010, rhythm, continuity and chemistry will come with time, and the world's best basketball player will be able to shake off the stink of a bad night out. After all, it was just one out of 82, right? On to the next biggest sporting event ever.
That comes Friday, when the Cavaliers head to the Windy City to take on Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and a division-rival Bulls squad that has been waiting for this game all summer long. We'll see if James and his pals are ready for that battle now that the pomp and circumstance are out of their system.
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Florida State seems to be at its best when its back is against the wall.
Trailing by as many as 21, the Seminoles put together a nearly flawless second half to escape Louisville with a 42-31 victory.
But the final score didn’t paint an accurate picture of how the game played out.
In the first half, the Seminoles were on upset alert.
Louisville jumped out a 21-0 lead and Florida State looked shell-shocked. Winston threw two interceptions in the first half — and would add a career-high third in the second half — and Louisville defense was playing about as well as it has all season.
But in the second half, that all changed.
Winston threw his third pick on his first pass of the second half but then managed to force a fumble and get the Seminoles the ball back.
That played seemed to spark something in Florida State as it proceeded to dominate Louisville in the second half. The Seminoles outgained Louisville 380-170 in the second half and was 5-of-8 on third down. Louisville never converted a third down.
Florida State wore down the Louisville defense and with the help of some strange and lucky bounces was able to take the lead and eventually pull away.
While Winston threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns, this was not his Heisman moment. He made several bad mistakes in the first half and early in the second and he also got away with a couple passes that also should have been intercepted. More importantly, he injured his ankle midway through the second half. While he played through the injury, it was clear he was hurting as he limped his way around the pocket.
Many picked this game to break the Seminoles winning streak, which is now extended to 24 games, but the ‘Noles pulled it out like they have in a few contests, including the national title game, during that streak.
There aren’t many more opponents that could give the Seminoles trouble as they come down the home stretch of the regular season. They host a decent Virginia defense next week and an improving Miami team the week after. After that, they host a Boston College team that beat USC, but hasn’t been that great since, and a Florida team that’s pretty miserable on offense.
Then, the ‘Noles might be looking at an ACC championship game rematch against Duke.
Following Thursday’s triumph against Louisville, Florida State’s path to the College Football Playoff just got a lot clearer.
For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.
For more Louisville news, visit CardinalSports.com.
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And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
Someone has to win the NFC South. It's in the rules.
One big road win from the New Orleans Saints, who were on a seven-game road regular season losing streak, might be enough to bend the balance of power in the NFC South their way.
New Orleans had a methodical 28-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. They frustrated a shorthanded and talent-poor Panthers offense, and an 80-yard fourth-quarter drive that chewed up 7:27 and finished with Mark Ingram's second rushing touchdown sealed the victory.
The win improves the Saints' record to 4-4, which isn't impressive anywhere but the NFC South. They're in first place, ahead of the 3-5-1 Panthers. The moribund Falcons and Buccaneers aren't even worth mentioning as contenders anymore. Considering how dominant the Saints are at home – they were 3-0 at home this season and 0-4 on the road before Thursday night – it'll be a tough battle for the Panthers to defend as NFC South champions. There has never been a repeat champion in the NFC South.
The Saints were very good on defense. The Panthers are really beat up on the offensive line and it showed. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wasn't at his best either. He was off on many passes, and has been erratic for three games in a row.
The Saints had a tough start to the season, but they're looking like they're figuring some things out. The defense played maybe its best game of the season. Ingram, who missed some time with an injury, is making a huge difference for the offense. The former Heisman Trophy winner and 2011 first-round pick has become a legitimate workhorse after three disappointing NFL seasons. He rushed 30 times for 100 yards against Carolina, and was the Saints' preferred option in the red zone. He'll be a free agent after this season.
The Saints cashed in on a Newton fumble deep in Panthers territory for their first touchdown, and took a 14-0 lead into halftime on Jimmy Graham's 1-yard touchdown with three seconds left in the first half. The Panthers tried to rally in the second half, but were held to a field goal on a promising drive early in the fourth quarter. With the lead cut to 21-10, the Saints' long drive and Ingram's second score iced the game.
The Saints haven't won the division just because they climbed back to .500. But nobody else in the division is playing well. If the Saints can play like this on the road a few more times, they'll guarantee themselves one home playoff game in January.
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Just 24 hours after the Kansas City Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants by one run with a man left stranded on third base in the final game of the World Series, it was the east coast's turn to make KC sports fans feel miserable. MLS Cup holders Sporting KC took a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute of their playoff match against the New York Red Bulls and then Bradley Wright-Phillips happened.
The man who matched MLS's single-season scoring record against them four days earlier scored an equalizer set up by Thierry Henry in the 77th minute. Then, in the 90th minute, he found himself all alone in the middle of the box to head a looping cross into the bottom corner for the winner.
Though these last two goals won't count towards Wright-Phillips' season total, he now has 29 goals in 33 appearances and might have just sealed his case for the league's MVP award.
The Red Bulls will next face DC United in the next round of the MLS Cup playoffs, while Kansas City will maybe go on a break from sports for a little while and take up painting or sit on an old swing or something.
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Guess that date...
The No. 1 song in the United States was "Harlem Shake" by Baauer. The No. 1 movie was "Oz, the Great and Powerful." Barack Obama was President. Give up?
These were all attributes of America the last time the New Jersey Devils won in a shootout -- March 10, 2013. Since then, the Devils have gone 0-for-18. New Jersey is winless no-more.
New Jersey defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the breakaway contest. Jacob Josefson, who did not play in that March 10, 2013 game against Winnipeg scored the shootout winner. Cory Schneider -- who was not on the Devils at that point -- stopped all three Jets shooters.
Even the Devils website made fun of it. The headline? "Finally!"
According to Yahoo Sports’ Nick Cotsonika, former New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens interviewed for a job with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
One assumes he would be hired under through the NHL’s “What Not To Do” program, which also resulted in the addition of Chris Pronger to the department …
Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports that Owen Nolan and George Parros have also interviewed, the latter obviously to bring up the collective GPA of this group.
All of these players obviously share the same hockey DNA: Stevens as one of the league’s most ferocious hitters, most of which would today be illegal; Nolan as a bruising power forward; Parros as a career fighter.
If all of this feels a little redundant, that’s because it is.
One of the great things about the NHL’s competition committee, by comparison, is that it’s a cross-section of players. Seriously, look at this group. Scorers, defensemen. Guys who hit, guys who get hit. A goalie!
In many ways, one of the guys Stevens basically ended, Paul Kariya, would be a better voice in the player safety room. We have hitters represented; what about the hittees?
The Norris Trophy is defined as being given to the defenseman who displays "greatest all-round ability in the position."
The 2012 winner, Erik Karlsson of Ottawa, is known mostly for his offense. His defense is improving, but not at the end of this play. After Karlsson zips back into his own zone to break up a Kris Versteeg breakaway, Versteeg, of the Chicago Blackhawks, then skates around Karlsson for a goal. Below ...
Instead of just ripping Karlsson, some credit probably needs to go to Versteeg on the play for the power move. Also, it was a tough play for Karlsson. Versteeg barrelled at him at high speed and Karlsson had to make a quick decision on how to play him.
Either way, it was quite a nice looking goal, but not for Karlsson.
Welcome to bye-week hell, where thoughts of starting an unknown rookie running back (Charles Sims) with zero experience against the Cleveland Browns is completely acceptable.
On this week's deep-digging show, Melanie Collins is our resident Sacagawea navigating our fantasy explorers (Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens and Shaun King) through a treacherous six-team bye. We'll keep everyone abreast of the latest windy weather expected in Foxboro for Denver/New England, discuss the virtues of rookie upstarts Donte Moncrief and Martavis Bryant, decide if Frank Gore is must-start material against the Rams and, naturally, answer your pressing questions. Here's how YOU can join the circus:
As always, our warmup act, the Big Noise and Boss Man, will get down to the brass tacks on every remaining Week 9 matchup, express their feelings about RGIII's return and tell you what players you should target via trade for the stretch run. Questions? Contact us one of two ways below:
The return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers is the biggest story in the NBA this fall. The four-time MVP didn't waste much time in showing basketball fans what they can expect from him during Thursday night's opener against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena.
With 6:30 remaining in the first quarter, James took a trademark outlet pass from fellow new Cav Kevin Love and powered through a foul from Carmelo Anthony to finish an and-one layup. Take a look below:
It was a classic play from James with a new wrinkle from Love, who joined the Cavs this summer via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The play shows why the Cavaliers could be one of the best fast-break teams in NBA history in 2014-15. Few teams have ever had the transition talent of LeBron, Love and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
LeBron's first basket followed a raucous pregame introduction. The crazy scene didn't come across fully on the TNT broadcast (which appeared to have some audio problems). James also brought back his pregame chalk toss routine, which was a mainstay of his first tenure in Cleveland but was used only intermittently during his four seasons with the Miami Heat. You can watch both the intro and the chalk toss here:
In a surpise loss to the undermanned and underdog New York Knicks, Cleveland eventually fell by a 95-90 score. James struggled in his re-introduction to northern Ohio, turning the ball over eight times and missing 10 of 15 shots on his way toward 17 points. The Cavs will likely run into challenges this season as they attempt to turn a roster full of talent into a championship-level squad, but for now there are plenty of causes for celebration in Cleveland. Thursday's scene is just the start.
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The 2014-15 season does not figure to be a particularly good one for the Minnesota Timberwolves. After trading away Kevin Love this summer, the Wolves are left with a team of promising youngsters who figure to take a while to jell and become a playoff team. (This makes them not unlike the Love-led Wolves of a few seasons ago.) The results of the games don't matter much this year — it's all about more qualitative signs of progress.
It appears that some fans won't have the patience to wait through the rebuilding process. In fact, one couldn't even make it to the home opener. As this photo posted to Reddit shows (via SB Nation), a fed-up fan taped a ticket for Thursday night's home opener against the Detroit Pistons to a telephone poll:
It's unclear if this is a legitimate offering or a joke by an enterprising internet-person attempting to find viral gold. Regardless, the sentiment is real. Area fans clearly desire a winner or at least a competitive team — the referenced Minnesota Wild of the NHL are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference a mere eight games.
Unfortunately, this approach misses that the Wolves have a lot to offer. I won't lie and say that this squad can make the playoffs, but they should be a lot of fun. Ricky Rubio remains one of the NBA's best sources of highlights, top pick Andrew Wiggins can challenge for Rookie of the Year honors, Thaddeus Young is an established good player, Nikola Pekovic eats rocks for breakfast, and rookie Zach LaVine should show us some highlight-reel dunks. Not focusing on wins doesn't have to be a disappointment. It can also free everyone up to enjoy themselves.
So I hope someone grabbed this ticket quickly. It could be a pretty fun night.
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The luster wore off Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara a bit in 2014, but the team still likes Uehara enough to extend him for two more seasons. The team announced Thursday a new two-year contract for Uehara, who will bypass free agency and make $18M over the next two seasons.
Uehara was lights-out in 2013, saving 21 games with a minuscule 1.09 ERA. He also saved seven games in the postseason and allowed just one run as the Red Sox won the World Series. This season wasn't as kind. Uehara had 26 saves and a 2.52 ERA — which isn't bad, just not as great as 2013.
Koji: "Good morning everybody! You might have heard through media, I signed with Red Sox for 2 years. I am looking forward to seeing you!" 🙌— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 30, 2014
Two years, $18M for Koji Uehara.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 30, 2014
Alex Speier of WEEI in Boston was first to report how much the Red Sox were paying Uehara. That leaves David Robertson, Casey Janssen and Francisco Rodriguez among the top closers on the free-agent market. Other top free-agent relievers include Pat Neshek, Andrew Miller and Luke Gregerson.
As for Uehara, he'll turn 40 on April 3, so the Red Sox are committing a considerable amount of money to a pitcher in the twilight of his career. But, it's not like Uehara is a mystery for Boston GM Ben Cherington. The Red Sox know exactly who they're getting.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: USA TODAY. Questioning R.C. Buford, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs has become borderline unthinkable at this stage, but Sam Amick isn't sure the title-winning braintrust is making the right choice by waiting to max out Kawhi Leonard.
PF: 48 Minutes of Hell. Then again, as Matthew Tynan details, waiting until next summer to match any restricted free agent offer sheet that Leonard might sign with a prospective suitor could give San Antonio more financial flexibility to be able to reload should Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili actually hang 'em up after their contracts expire this summer.
SG: Slate. Jack Hamilton on how the opening-night ecstasy of Anthony Davis and agony of Julius Randle offered "a microcosm of NBA life," and reminded us of the realities of the rigors of the sport: players might look superhuman, but they're still made of frail flesh, blood and bone.
PG: The Hook. Tom Ziller wonders whether Scott Brooks missed an opportunity by giving Russell Westbrook too long a breather in the severely short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder's season-opening loss to the hammer-wielding Portland Trail Blazers.
6th: Sports Illustrated. Along those lines, Ben Golliver writes that OKC's problem during its Durant-less stretch "is not life with Westbrook as leader, but life without either of its franchise players on the court."
7th: Nylon Calculus. A good read from Ian Levy on Byron Scott and Randy Wittman's predilection toward long 2-point shots rather than 3-pointers, the underpinnings of that particular "analytics wonks vs. old-time basketball coaches" argument, and the importance of knowing both context and personnel when discussing shot selection.
8th: Esquire. New NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts on, among other things, the prospect of a work stoppage come the summer of 2017: "[...] we’re going to have a deal. If we’re stupid enough to allow that deal to be done only after a lockout, well, shame on us.”
9th: Grantland Channel. Bradley Beal seems like a pretty fun dude who's willing to live in a Polish nightclub with Marcin Gortat.
10th: Sporcle. A fun quiz: Can you name the oldest player in the NBA in each season from 1980 through 2013?
More NBA coverage:
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The Detroit Red Wings have been on both ends of blown calls involving goals recently.
“Last year we scored a goal in here against L.A., it was wrong,” recalled Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
That’s of course a reference to the Red Wings’ goal scored off the netting and behind Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, which the referees missed. It tied the game at 19:33 of the third period; Detroit won in the shootout.
The skate was on the other foot against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. Drew Miller appeared to score for the Detroit Red Wings in the first period, but the goal was waved off due to goalie interference by Luke Glendening.
Only it wasn’t interference: Holtby fell backwards scrambling back to his crease. It was a blown call.
“In the end (the ref) got it wrong,” Babcock told the Wings’ website. “When you’re done complaining and whining about it, by the time that’s all done, they can have it right. It takes two seconds to get it right. The referee never wants to get it wrong. He doesn’t want to watch the replay for three weeks of him getting it wrong either. He’d rather have it right.”
The Wings ended up winning, 4-2, which dampened their ire about the call on Thursday. But they clearly believe it would have been called differently had there been a mechanism in place to review the penalty.
“I guess the biggest word is consistent, right? If you have the video of a challenge you can look at it in slo-motion and see did he actually impede the goalie or did the goalie flop,” said defenseman Brendan Smith.
In an age when the audience at home is able to identify the right call and the crew on the ice get it wrong, there is no excuse for not having some sort of review process in place.
The NFL decided last off-season that they would review every scoring play, while that might not be possible and would probably not be a good idea for the NHL, something needs to change.
It is time for the NHL and the Competition Committee to get a coach’s challenge implemented or make every goal that is waved off due to incidental contact or goaltender interference review-able by Toronto or the crew inside the arena.
Babcock has, of course, seen his share of goalie interference controversies over the years – remember all the reputation penalties on Tomas Holmstrom?
While he didn’t outright say he was in favor of a coach’s challenge, Babcock said he wanted some check and balance in place.
“[In] the time we got all this screwing around with we could have got it right,” said Babcock. “I think the league wants to get it right. I’m not in charge of this stuff and I don’t know how to do it, but I’m sure the league wants to get it right.”
Welcome to the Dr. Saturday Podcast! Throughout the season we'll be talking weekly about whatever is going on in the world of college football. This week, join Graham Watson and Nick Bromberg as we break down the College Football Playoff rankings that will be totally different by next week. It's a pointless exercise, but someone has to do it. We'll also discuss:
• Marcus Mariota and Oregon finally getting over the Stanford hump.
• The curious case of Notre Dame and the CFP committee.
• Pick the top matchups of the weekend, including Bad/Good Bo against Auburn, Utah and Sparky, and the potentially high-scoring affair between TCU and West Virginia.
• Also, we'll discuss whether any Florida State player will be suspended for the rest of the season. Hey, there's still time (save the nasty emails until after you listen).
• Nick laments about his Royals and Graham seeks out tips for her new homebrewing hobby.
Yes, there's a lot of random conversation going on this week, but that's exactly how we like it.
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And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
A lot has been made of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones coming down from his luxury suite to the sideline during Monday night's game against the Washington Redskins.
The proper answer is, he's the owner and he can do almost whatever he wants, including coming down to the sideline in the billion-dollar stadium he owns. But, the question still was asked why he came down to the sideline after quarterback Tony Romo went out with a back injury, and he had the perfect Jerry Jones answer.
“No. 1, I wanted to go down there and do what I could, look our guys in the eye, look at them, inspire them to overcome Romo not being out there and overcome what I thought was a critical time,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News.
Admit it, you love when Jones says things like this.
So Jones was down on the sideline to inspire the troops to overcome the quarterback's injury. Jones rightfully pointed out to 105.3 The Fan that other owners watch from the sideline, so it shouldn't be a big deal that he did. The other owners just don't get the publicity Jones does (they don't seek out the publicity like Jones either, but that's another topic).
There has been a lot of speculation on if Jones made the call to put Romo in after doctors said it was OK, and he said that's not what his sideline visit was about. He said he did want to pass along word that Romo's injury wasn't of the season-ending variety, and that Garrett should "get his thinking cap on" because Romo could come back. Romo did come back, was ineffective against Washington's blitz, and the Cowboys lost in overtime.
Jones being on the sideline is all much ado about nothing, but nothing is ever inconsequential when it comes to the Cowboys' owner. That's why he's a brilliant businessman and ultimately great for the NFL, mostly because you love to hate him and even go crazy about him showing up on Dallas' sideline.
“It’s just not an issue," Jones said. "I’ve always felt that seeing the attitude, seeing what’s going on, getting the pulse, looking at who’s in to it, looking at how they’re into it, looking at how they’re reacting on the sideline, all of that is just part of understanding the team, getting to be a better decision-maker.”
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver is tinkering, at least so far.
The NBA in five or ten years might look almost entering identical to the NBA we’re watching right now, save for possibly the addition of a few more holograms. The league might still feature 30 teams, all in the current NBA cities. The games could last as long as they do now, the season could start and finish at around the same time, and the road toward the NBA lottery drawing might possibly still be forged by the same rules in hand now.
Or, Silver could attempt to blow things up.
For now, though, he’s still working around the fringes. A recent interview with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck revealed as much. The commish didn’t outline any impending plans to make significant changes to how the league operates, and most importantly unlike his predecessor Silver didn’t deem imminent change necessary for the future well-being of the league via the media.
If you have time, take a look:
If you’re looking for blowhard content, a conversation between big brains like Adam Silver and Howard Beck is not the place to seek it out.
Silver doesn’t sign off on guarantees that there will be a franchise out of North America by 2024, he doesn’t currently want to expand the NBA’s number of teams, he would still like to explore lottery reform but isn’t peeling paint off the walls while banging on about it. He’s also listened to the players that told him that 44-minute games aren’t the answer to wearying play, but less compressed travel and scheduling is. He also, shock horror, credited writers for doing the research for the league (I’m paraphrasing, but “research” was his word) when it came to reacting to various ruminations on change.
One thing – Pro Basketball Talk noticed this and we’re happy for their transcription – that did bug a little was Silver’s interest in a midseason tournament of sorts. Whether it offers an approximation of the Lawrence O’Brien trophy-earnin’ Finals or includes pro teams from overseas or makes a whole lot of sense in the slightest is all up for conjecture. Everything’s up for conjecture in this interview.
“I and others at the league office have spent a lot of time studying the Champions League for European soccer and other types of cups and mid-season tournaments,” Silver said in the interview. “Now there there’s a long tradition, but maybe there’s the opportunity to create a new tradition. And to create more competitions. Right now everything is about the Larry O’Brien trophy but soccer operates a little differently, they have different cups, which may not be as important as the championship but in their own right are highly significant.
“Conceivably what a mid-season tournament could look like is you have some number of teams — it could begin with all the teams and have a single-elimination type tournament — and this is a case where by floating the idea I got some good suggestions back over the transom, so to speak. It may be a chance to bring in some international clubs,” Silver said.
This … sigh.
Is there something wrong with the NBA that I’m unaware of that would be fixed with a midseason tournament? As I’ve endlessly bleated on about before, the insane late-October-to-mid-April 82-game schedule that the NBA cooks up every year really is the problem, players travel too much and aren’t always at their best, and now we need another tournament pitched to drive up novelty basic cable ratings and sell more shoes?
Beck did ask Silver if he had any interest in starting the season earlier and ending it later – something we’ve been pushing in these figurative pages for months – and the NBA commissioner gave the idea a light brush off, which is fine. Giving more airtime to a musings about an expanded season, though, is a bit much.
Even if a tournament were used, as some have suggested, as a way to determine the final few seeds in the NBA’s playoff bracket … why? NBA fans forget about the races for those final seeds, presuming there are races for the final seeds, as soon as the playoffs start a few days later. Even if the seeds are set in stone a couple of weeks before the season ends, just about rendering the last few regular season weeks pointless, it hardly matters. That’s fodder for a column in the first week of April that will be forgotten soon enough once the postseason tips off.
Voices from all manner of media outlets and endless exposure can be a good thing, but we’ve spent the last couple of years fixating on some things that truly aren’t problematic, just because some people seem bored with the actual games. There are endless scads of great writers that are still watching the contests and reviewing clips the day after from now until April, but Silver can’t be swayed by those for whom ennui has taken over.
In cheerier news, former commissioner David Stern spoke with CBS Sports’ Ken Berger on Wednesday to discuss the potential for yet another NBA lockout in 2017, when both sides could agree that they’re not keen on the current collective bargaining agreement:
"I think that our players are very smart and successful and they have hired what seems to be a smart and successful litigator," Stern told CBSSports.com. "Our owners are smart and successful and have got Adam Silver, an accomplished litigator, too. And I have no doubt that they're going to work it out."
Asked if they'll be able to do that without a work stoppage, Stern said, "I hope so. There's too much at stake now."
Now, some of this is self-serving, because this is David Stern we’re talking about. He went on to remind that, to his calculations, the league and too many of its teams were losing money in 2011 when Stern and the owners locked the players out, and because of the CBA that Stern pushed through, the NBA will now be in a more viable financial state as it enters 2017. As if dumb pre-lockout moves such as signing Drew Gooden or Josh Childress would have had any viable effect on ESPN and Turner eventually forking over huge gobs of cash.
He’s not wrong in pointing out that the league does have too much to lose in lockout its players, though the league lost plenty in doing the same in 1998-99 and 2011 – to say nothing about those whose income derives from working NBA games. Also, David had the added bonus of getting to both toss a nice dig at former NBPA boss Billy Hunter, while being completely correct in referring to new NBPA chief Michele Roberts as a “successful litigator.”
Stern also pointed out that, in his estimation, Adam Silver isn’t a “neophyte,” but the real word he should have been searching for there is “acolyte.” Adam Silver isn’t an approximation of David Stern, he’s not his hoped-for doppelganger, and he’s not carrying on in legacy like some watered down former Vice President that is only in office because of the term limits of his predecessor.
Adam Silver is trying new things, and while we’re disagreeing with just about all of his attempts on the surface, these musings are to be embraced. David Stern wasn’t exactly staid in his final decade, changes and mistakes were made, but he was too often influenced by whims and short-sightedness, and he was frequently out of touch. Silver may end up the same way, but for now the poking and prodding is well-received.
Now, Adam, do something about those infuriatingly-long referee replay reviews.
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One good thing about babies, I am learning, is that sometimes things that you think would make them upset actually just sort of roll off their backs. Like, for example, dressing them up like teddy bears, handing them to a giant furry mascot, and having them carried to center court, lifted in the air and celebrated by an arena full of people during an NBA team's home opener:
This cub goes by the name of Journey. Her dad, Joey Thorsen, is the Grizzlies' master of ceremonies at the FedExForum. Beloved mascot Grizz scooped her up during a break in the action as the Grindhouse's forever fantastic game operations crew queued up "The Circle of Life" and allowed Journey to star in her own little "Lion King" adaptation.
This is going to be a very, very cool thing to be able to show Journey when she gets a little bit older. Way to raise the bar for the rest of us dads, Joey.
The Grizzlies, no doubt inspired by the anointing of their new infant ursine overlord, went on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 105-101, behind a career-high 32 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks from noted large gentleman Marc Gasol and a similarly massive game (25 points, 13 rebounds) from his bruising buddy Zach Randolph. I eagerly await the steady stream of small babies in costumes being hoisted to the heavens at halfcourt to come, under the time-honored adage, "Don't mess with a babies-in-Halloween-costumes-related winning streak."
Hat-tip to Grantland's Jason Concepcion.
More NBA coverage:
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Kansas students who ate lunch on campus at The Underground received a pleasant surprise on Thursday afternoon.
They didn't have to pay for their meal.
Kansas coach Bill Self and a handful of other Jayhawks coaches showed up at the popular campus food court around 12 p.m. CST and started buying everyone's food. Self also shook hands and posed for pictures with dozens of students before returning to his preparation for Monday's season-opening exhibition game.
Word of Self's presence spread quickly among Kansas students. By the time Self left, he and the other Kansas coaches spent about $1,500, according to The University Daily Kansan.
Econ test are a hell of a lot better if Bill Self buys you lunch after. #DayMade— Megan (@megantiger16) October 30, 2014
Thanks for lunch Bill Self, it's much appreciated!— Shyann Stepp (@shy_2012) October 30, 2014
As the students said, that's a great gesture by Self and the other Kansas coaches. A man who has won 10 straight Big 12 titles doesn't need to resort to buying lunches to ingraciate himself to the student body, but Self is generous enough to do it anyway.
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Patrik Nemeth has had a rough go of it during the three years since he’s come to North America. A broken hand, broken foot and concussion have all sidelined the 22-year old Swede, according to Mark Stepneski of the Stars, and now he's added a freak skate cut injury to the laundry list of reasons taking away from the ice.
“I knew something hit my arm,” Nemeth said on Thursday talking about his collision with R.J. Umberger of the Philadelphia Flyers last week. “I took a peek at it, and it was bleeding. I just wanted to stop the bleeding. It was a little bit worse than I thought it would be. It wasn’t good news.”
Umberger’s skate cut muscles and tendons deep in Nemeth’s right arm. Fortunately, no arteries or nerves were affected. He had surgery the next day and was ruled out for at least the remainder of the regular season and possibly playoffs.
“It’s very frustrating. There’s nothing I can do about it," Nemeth said. "I just have to wear more protection, I guess."
Nemeth’s plan to protect himself in the future will include wearing Kevlar sleeves on both his arms and legs. “I’m going to be a knight out there,” he joked.
Despite another tough injury, Nemeth isn't letting frustration get in his way of a speedy recovery.
“The only thing I can do from here is not look back, just look ahead," he said. "As soon as I’m cleared to work out, just work hard and try to be in really good shape when I get back.
"Hopefully speed up the recovery a little bit. That’s all I can do right now.”
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Emmitt Smith has, by cold and hard facts, an nearly airtight argument as the greatest running back of all time.
First in rushing yards. First in rushing touchdowns. First in attempts. He wasn't just a compiler either. Smith won four rushing titles, an NFL MVP award, a Super Bowl MVP, three championships, four first-team All-Pro nods. He was the best in the NFL in his prime by a few measures, and he had unbelievable longevity. That's a perfect combination for his legacy.
It will be debated until the end of time, though. Some like Smith. Some prefer Jim Brown. Or Walter Payton, or Barry Sanders, or Red Grange or whoever else comes up. Smith doesn't like to get caught up in that debate of where he ranks.
"People have their own opinion," Smith said, in a promotional interview for Keurig 2.0 coffee brewers. "They’re entitled to their opinion. Based off of history, and what people talk about – Who had most home runs in Major League Baseball? Who was fastest man on the planet? When they talk about the guy who has most receiving yardage, it’s Jerry Rice. The most points NBA history, who has the most championships in golf – they talk about Jack Nicklaus being best. If that’s what the criteria is, my history speaks for itself. I shouldn’t talk about what I was able to do."
Smith is working with Keurig on a campaign called “What Do You Do While You Brew?” with a video series. Fans can register through Keurig for a chance to tailgate with Smith at the College Football Playoff title game in January at Cowboys Stadium.
If we're dealing with quantifiable measures for Smith’s legacy, the trump card Smith has is the all-time rushing record. He finished with 18,355 yards. He passed Walter Payton by nearly 2,000 yards, and is more than 3,000 yards ahead of Barry Sanders, who is in third place. Steven Jackson is the leading active rusher, and the 31-year-old Atlanta Falcons back has 11,026 yards, which is about five great seasons away. Seattle Seahawks back Marshawn Lynch is the top rusher under 29 years old, and he has 7,871 yards, not even 43 percent of the way to Smith. Lynch is 28.
Smith’s record gets more impressive as time passes. If someone rushed for exactly 2,000 yards each year for nine seasons, he’d still be short. But Smith thinks his mark could be broken.
“I was always raised this way – records are made to be broken. I’m not concerned about that,” Smith said. “I know how difficult and hard it is for that to take place. I just enjoy watching the players and hope they stay healthy and fight hard and give themselves a chance to do something they haven’t experienced.
“I think it could be broken. You never know what run a player might get on. I think it’ll take 13 years. And this sport is very, very physical. If a person doesn’t take care of their body, doesn’t do a lot of the small things, it’ll be very tough.”
Thirteen years? Running backs are lucky to get five years, and that’s with limited workloads and tailback committees.
Limited workloads? Committees? The concepts were foreign to the Cowboys when Smith was their workhorse back. Smith was either a freak of nature, an example of how the game has changed in less than two decades since his prime, or both. People have spent weeks worrying about current Cowboys star DeMarco Murray’s workload, but here’s a list of Smith’s annual touches from 1991, his second year, to his final year with the Cowboys when he was 33: 414, 432, 340, 418, 439, 374, 301, 346, 356, 305, 287, 270. Murray is having one of those high-volume seasons and people are freaking out. Smith had 12, and those numbers don't count 395 postseason touches. Smith missed seven of 208 possible games in 13 Cowboys seasons. That's unbelievable.
Luck helped. Smith never suffered a major injury. He had a great offensive line in front of him, which he pointed out. But he also took great care of his body. Smith had an in-season routine during his career. He said he spent two hours getting massages on Monday, and met with the trainers. He saw his chiropractor “as many times as I needed to see him.” On Fridays he’d be back for two hours with the message therapist, an hour or so with the chiropractor again, and he said he got a lot of rest and drank a lot of water. Voila. That’s how he lasted for 4,409 regular-season carries and 515 receptions.
“Doing all the little things to make the big things happen,” Smith said.
The phenomenon about worrying over touches is not new (“I heard the same thing when I was playing,” Smith said with a chuckle), but Smith said Murray and the Cowboys shouldn’t worry about it.
“The bottom line is [Murray’s] moment and the Cowboys’ moment is now,” Smith said. “The cupboard has been bare for a long time for the Dallas Cowboys. We’re 6-2, good chance of making the playoffs, with a team that is built in a way to go deeper into the playoffs and we have to take full advantage. Don’t worry, just allow him to do what’s natural. Let’s figure out where everything is at the end of the season.”
It worked for Smith. He has the numbers and records to prove it. It seems like he’ll have those records for a long time, as well.
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MGM Resorts is building a $350 million sports arena and event center behind New York New York. That building is going to need things that will fill its 20,000 seats. They believe the National Hockey League could be that thing.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the company and an ownership group seeking to bring a team to Vegas have had preliminary talks:
In an interview following MGM Resorts third-quarter earnings conference call, company CFO Dan D’Arrigo said preliminary discussions had taken place with a group interested in housing an NHL team at the MGM-AEG arena, which will have 20,000 seats, along with luxury boxes and other amenities.
D’Arrigo didn’t go into details on the talks and whether the group was looking to move an existing NHL team to Las Vegas or seeking an expansion franchise.
“We would be supportive of an NHL team coming to our arena,” D’Arrigo said. “We’re highly interested and we have been in discussions with a group.”
So “discussions with a group” doesn’t mean “discussions with the NHL”; and if that group has had discussions with the NHL, the NHL would simply say “well, we talk to everyone! Nothing to see here!”
But the wheels are in motion to potentially bring a team to Vegas; whether one works there is the gamble.
Notre Dame and Navy have played annually since 1927, and most of the time (74 times to be exact), the Fighting Irish come out on top.
Despite the Irish’s current three-game winning streak in the series, some students from the Naval Academy dished out some serious trash talk via a rap video before Saturday’s matchup at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Though I don’t think there’s much of a chance for the 4-4 Midshipmen to knock off the tenth-ranked Irish (6-1), I am impressed with this video in all aspects – from production quality to this girl’s immaculate Nicki Minaj impression.
Even though the original song (“Anaconda”) is impossibly bad, this parody is pretty entertaining. Well done.
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Yes, hi, I see you. Now please stop touching my face while I'm in the middle of a hardcore gaming session. That's not cool, OK?
Yeah, you're Cristiano Ronaldo. You work with my dad and you just won a bunch of awards. Good for you. Oh, and you're with your girlfriend, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Irina Shayk? First, it's weird that you introduce her that way. And second, I'm a little kid. I don't care. But enjoy your case of the cooties. There's no cure for that. So too bad for you.
Now unless you know how I can level up in Candy Crush without spending all of my dad's money, kindly get away from me. I've got a Lego play appointment with Leo Messi that was supposed to start five minutes ago. OK, bro? Thanks. Bye.
Video via 101GG
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The next time you see Georgia running back Todd Gurley, assuming the school’s appeal is not granted, will be when the Bulldogs take on Auburn in a great test in two weeks.
Gurley has been suspended and will have missed four games, as things stand now, for receiving more than $3,000 in exchange for signed memorabilia the past two years. Georgia suspended Gurley for the previous two games after allegations of accepting illegal benefits came to light.
In the NFL’s eyes, these transgressions are but a blip on the radar. From a character question, nothing Gurley did in relation to this case should hurt his future draft stock.
“Not in the least,” said one NFL personnel director. “Are there rules and did he break them? Yes. But we’re not talking about anything too serious here. Heck, in five years, would it surprise you if kids can get paid [as student-athletes]? We’re headed that direction.”
But let’s take it a step further. Could Gurley’s absence help or hurt him?
Sitting out four games against SEC opponents might not be the worst thing in the world for Gurley, the eventual NFL prospect — either this year or next — with more tread on his tires. Oh sure, NFL teams want to see production against the highest levels of competition, but they also look down on heavy workloads for college backs.
“I don’t think it’s a negative at all,” the director said. “Let him rest up, heal up. This is a tough part of the season, and who knows? Maybe he did some speed work on the side while he was [suspended]. Maybe not being out there did his body some good.”
But what about the fact that in Gurley’s place, freshman Nick Chubb has come in and been terrific? Gurley averaged 154.6 yards per game (and that included a six-carry, 73-yard cameo against Troy) in his five games before the suspension, along with an 8.2-yard average per carry.
Chubb has run the ball an impressive 68 times over the past two games with Gurley out and averaged 172.5 yards against Missouri and Arkansas. Over his past three games, which included a strong outing against Vanderbilt, Chubb has averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
Does the fact that the Georgia run game hasn’t taken much of a hit in Gurley’s absence hurt his stock? Is he a product of the system?
“Absolutely not,” the scouting director said. “First of all, Chubb is a talented young kid — big, strong, has some twitch. But he’s not Gurley. Not at all.
“Gurley is special. It’s a solid [offensive line] group there, but Gurley can make yards where there aren’t any. He’s not just running to space. He has great vision and speed and instincts. He’s very naturally gifted.”
Those gifts are expected to be on display for the Bulldogs’ final few games — Auburn, Charleston Southern (which could be another Troy-like game for Gurley and the Dawgs), the rivalry game against Georgia Tech, plus the postseason. Georgia is squarely in the mix to represent the East division in the SEC title game and mathematically remains in the college football playoff mix ranked at No. 11.
Even though NFL teams have seen plenty of Gurley, they’ll get more. We’re just not sure how much that will be yet.
With some strong early returns from 2014 rookie linebackers Khalil Mack and C.J. Mosley so far this season, it begs the question: Are there any 2015 prospect who grade out as potential first-year
impact players? Answer: It depends.
Washington’s Shaq Thompson grades out as a fantastic athlete — he plays running back, too — with rare playmaking skills who projects to play an outside linebacker spot in a 4-3 defense (or perhaps inside in a 3-4, although many scouts wouldn’t be wild about that). A slew of pass-rushing defensive ends who could be 3-4 linebackers are expected to go high, too, with Missouri’s Shane Ray, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree and Clemson’s Vic Beasley leading the list. Other off-the-ball linebackers — a la Thompson — who could be in the first-round discussion include Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney and Georgia’s Leonard Floyd.
Top 5 senior running backs (so, not Gurley et al)
Every week we’ll run a top-five list related to the 2015 NFL draft.
1. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska — "I like him, that burst and effort are there, but he might not be a three-down back in our offense," one personnel man said.
2. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State — Tough but perhaps not special player with any remarkable traits. Solid in passing game as blocker and receiver.
3. David Cobb, Minnesota — Compact plugger who packs a punch but lacks a burst or a second gear.
4. Karlos Williams, Florida State — Instincts still raw, but he has the raw physical skills to be good in time. Not a microwave-ready talent.
5. Marcus Murphy, Missouri — Dynamic, record-setting return man with receiving ability and shiftiness to be multi-toll weapon in right scheme.
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"About an hour and a half before the opening tip Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden," wrote Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher proclaimed point guard Jose Calderon "'good to go' after missing the team’s final two preseason games with a strained calf." Just a few minutes later, though, the coach reversed course, scratching Calderon from the Knicks' season opener after the Spaniard had felt "some discomfort during his pregame workout." Without their expected starting point guard, the Knicks got destroyed by the visiting Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden.
It wasn't quite as dispiriting an opening to a fresh-start campaign as you could have — you'd have to go to the other coast for that — but it wasn't far off. Well, things got even worse on Thursday afternoon:
An MRI to Jose Calderon's right calf today confirmed a strain. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) October 30, 2014
That timetable puts Calderon out through mid-to-late November — a span of about eight to 12 games that includes matchups with at least a half-dozen Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls, kicked off by Thursday's highly anticipated, nationally televised matchup with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Things could get awful ugly — uglier, even, than Wednesday's 24-point home-court blowout — awful quickly here. (And not that Calderon's anything other than a sieve defensively, but Irving — who's had some monster games against the Knicks in the past — must be licking his lips right about now.)
The absence of Calderon won't help accelerate the Knicks' learning curve as the team transitions to the triangle offense. As I wrote in our Knicks season preview, New York figured to rely heavily in the early going on the 10th-year veteran's ability to run the show, initiate the triangle, make smart passes and knock down the sort of perimeter shots that the Knicks guards largely tanked against Chicago. Calderon replacement Shane Larkin, fellow starter Iman Shumpert, and reserves J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Pablo Prigioni shot a combined 2 for 14 from 3-point land on Wednesday.
Knicks fans hope that group won't be quite as inaccurate and stagnant on a nightly basis, but with Calderon, canned jumpers and steady ball movement were things to be expected rather than hoped for. With 5-foot-11 second-year man Larkin, 37-year-old veteran Prigioni and perhaps even former college point guard Shumpert likely to see more time on the ball in an offense still very much in the beta-testing stage, what to expect seems like anybody's guess.
“We’re going somewhere,” Fisher said Wednesday. “But at the beginning of where we’re going, it’s going to be difficult to get wins.”
And now, for the next two to three weeks, it's going to be even harder.
More NBA coverage:
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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.
- Daniel Briere is a healthy scratch for the Colorado Avalanche “to take some pressure off the first two lines” says coach Patrick Roy. [Denver Post]
- The Blackhawks have their own comic strip writer. [DNA Info]
- An update on “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe in his recovery from a serious stroke. [Yahoo]
- KHL “rookie” Ryan Whitney scores his first goal overseas. [YouTube]
- Nikolaj Ehlers gets blasted … then pops right back up. [Yahoo]
- The Blackhawks should change the way we look at forward line construction. [The Committed Indian]
- Has Ken Hitchcock reached his expiration date with the St. Louis Blues? [Talking Puck]
- Stephen Weiss is being reevaluated after suffering a lower body injury in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint. [MLive]
- The Edmonton Oilers still can’t beat anyone in the Western Conference. [Cult of Hockey]
- A look into the life of Ohio State’s men’s hockey equipment manager. [The Lantern]
- Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena is the best for hockey foodies. [Yahoo Food]
- Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney calls out his team and says unless they improve “things are going to change around here.” [Arizona Republic]
- The Los Angeles Kings will have their full group of 20 players when they face Pittsburgh on Thursday. [LA Kings Insider]
- The Bruins are ‘deeply saddened’ by the passing of former Boston mayor Tom Menino. [CSN New England]
- Five questions with former “Hercules” star Kevin Sorbo [The Hockey News]
- What are the NHL’s best Halloween costumes leading up to Friday’s holiday? [National Post]
-Finally, watch 5-foot-10 Ryan Ellis take out 6-foot-1 former junior teammate Taylor Hall.
With the lifeless carcass of Chivas USA still warm, the massive, 22-person ownership group of the new MLS club in Los Angeles that will take their place in 2017 was unveiled at a press conference on Thursday. Perhaps fitting for a club based in Hollywood, the list of names reads like the cast list of a bizarre new reality show.
Basketball legend and LA Dodgers investor Magic Johnson, two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and recently appointed AS Roma board member Mia Hamm, her husband and former Boston Red Sox player Nomar Garciaparra, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and Cardiff City/ex-Premier League super villain owner Vincent Tan are some of the more notable members of the group.
Vietnamese entrepreneur Henry Nguyen will serve as executive chairman, ESPN NBA analyst Tom Penn will be president and Hollywood producer/Golden State Warriors owner Peter Guber will be managing partner. But that's just scratching the surface. Look at all of these people (note: the shadow person isn't the faceless presence of evil, but a placeholder for yet to be determined partners)...
The LAFC name is just a placeholder, though. That, the crest, and the kits will be decided by fans, according to the club's new Twitter account. Meanwhile, ESPN's Taylor Twellman says the team could play at the LA Coliseum until a new stadium is built. Unlike Chivas USA, it seems they will not share a stadium with MLS's more established local presence, the LA Galaxy.
As much potential for having too many cooks in the kitchen as this group presents, the one name that raises the most red flags is that of Vincent Tan. Though he says he is still negotiating his position in the club, he tells the BBC, "I believe the MLS will be a good investment."
"I enjoy investing in a football club and I believe that you can make money in a football club," Tan said.
"I didn't really start off well investing in football, I wasn't that lucky.
"But there are a lot of clever owners who make money every year so I now understand the business so much better.
"I joked that I invested so much money in Cardiff and it is my tuition fees to learn the football business."
Luckily, Tan and the rest of the group have a few more years to study up.
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Well, distraught Los Angeles Dodgers fans, here's something that might cheer you up a tad bit after watching your bitter rivals win the World Series — the Dodgers are the early favorites to win the 2015 World Series, according to online sportsbook Bovada.
The Washington Nationals share that honor with the Dodgers. Both teams, which were knocked out in the NLDS this season, are listed at 15/2 odds. The San Francisco Giants, whose World Series win hasn't even dried yet, ranked fifth at 12/1. The Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels are just ahead of the Giants, both carrying 10/1 odds.
Here's Bovada's complete rundown:
Los Angeles Dodgers 15/2
Washington Nationals 15/2
Detroit Tigers 10/1
Los Angeles Angels 10/1
San Francisco Giants 12/1
St. Louis Cardinals 12/1
Kansas City Royals 16/1
Seattle Mariners 18/1
Baltimore Orioles 20/1
Oakland Athletics 20/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 20/1
Atlanta Braves 22/1
Boston Red Sox 22/1
New York Yankees 22/1
Cleveland Indians 25/1
Cincinnati Reds 33/1
Tampa Bay Rays 33/1
Texas Rangers 33/1
Toronto Blue Jays 33/1
Chicago White Sox 40/1
Milwaukee Brewers 40/1
New York Mets 40/1
Chicago Cubs 50/1
Miami Marlins 50/1
San Diego Padres 66/1
Philadelphia Phillies 75/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 100/1
Colorado Rockies 100/1
Houston Astros 100/1
Minnesota Twins 100/1
For context's sake, we'll point out that the Dodgers topped the list when Bovada released its day-after-the-World Series odds last year too. There were listed at 7/1. The Giants were 18/1. We all know how both of those worked out.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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Though Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has had a lot of success during his time in Stillwater, to some, he’s still best known for a post-game press conference rant from 2007.
Gundy sounded off on a local reporter who criticized quarterback Bobby Reid, who had recently been demoted to second string. Since then, the recognizable line of “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40!” has been replayed countless times, and in an interview with Campus Insiders, Gundy admitted that he actually tried to trademark that phrase, but someone else did it before he could.
Additionally, Gundy said people don’t say the phrase to him as much as they once did, but he has signed autographs for a fans' 40th birthdays and even caught his 12-year-old son imitating it.
On top of that, Gundy said the rant has helped the Cowboys’ program with recruiting. He even went so far as to call it a “turning point” in his career and for the OSU program.
“There’s a statistic out there that from that point on, our percentages of wins, losses, bowls, and being ranked in the top 20 of recruiting classes went through the roof,” Gundy said. “I think it was one of the turning points in Oklahoma State football and my career as a head coach.”
For more Oklahoma State news, visit OStateIllustrated.com.
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Robert Griffin III will be the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback this week if nothing goes wrong before Sunday's game, coach Jay Gruden said.
It'll probably take until Griffin's first incompletion for someone to mention that Colt McCoy led the team to two wins in a row, including a victory on Monday night at Dallas, but there's really no decision here. McCoy, even with a nice game at Dallas, isn't the long-term answer at quarterback. Griffin should be that answer, although the second half of the season will go a long way in determining that.
A very important evaluation period begins on Sunday against Minnesota.
"He's played five quarters of football as a starting quarterback for me, since I've been here, and he's got a lot to prove, as we do," said Gruden, who is in his first season as Washington's coach. "But he's our starter and we feel like he gives us the best chance to win. That's the bottom line. Which quarterback, when all three are healthy, gives us the best chance to win? We made the decision back in training camp it was Robert. He deserves the chance to prove us right."
Gruden made it clear that Griffin, who has been out since Week 2 with a dislocated ankle, is healthy. He practiced with the starters on Wednesday.
"We wouldn't put him with the ones if we didn't feel like he was 100 percent physically," Gruden said in his press conference. "Every intent right now, moving forward, is to prepare him to be the starting quarterback."
Gruden was hopeful Griffin would be able to make all the throws and reads, especially on new plays that have been put in while he was out, but that will be the overarching question for the rest of the season anyway. How does Griffin adapt to Gruden's offense? Can he function in the pocket on a consistent basis? Kirk Cousins is effectively out of the picture as Washington's future quarterback, after a terrible stint replacing Griffin. McCoy isn't that guy either.
Can Griffin be Washington's franchise quarterback? He obviously has the talent for it. The Redskins want to find out for sure to feel comfortable going into 2015 and beyond with him. Washington better hope Griffin passes that test, because it gave up a ton of draft picks to land him in 2012. We'll start to find out on Sunday.
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The Shuffle Up series is all about value to come. What's happened to this point is merely an audition. How would you rank the players if you were starting from fresh today? (These are not Week 9 ranks; if you need those, please click here.)
The dollar values are merely comparison tools; they're not assembled in any scientific way. Players at the same position are considered even. We're aiming to illustrate tiers, show where the pockets of value are.
You'll disagree with some things (perhaps many things) because that's why we have a game in the first place. Share your respectful disagreement in the comments. (Running backs and tight ends are shuffled in the even weeks.)
The prices stand on their own for now; commentary will be added later.
$31 Peyton Manning
$30 Andrew Luck
$29 Aaron Rodgers
$27 Drew Brees
$24 Tom Brady
$23 Cam Newton
$23 Russell Wilson
$23 Colin Kaepernick
$22 Philip Rivers
$21 Matthew Stafford
$21 Jay Cutler
$20 Nick Foles
$18 Carson Palmer
$18 Matt Ryan
$17 Ben Roethlisberger
$14 Ryan Tannehill
$14 Tony Romo
$13 Andy Dalton
$12 Joe Flacco
$12 Robert Griffin III
$12 Eli Manning
$10 Alex Smith
$9 Kyle Orton
$7 Blake Bortles
$7 Mike Glennon
$6 Ryan Fitzpatrick
$6 Austin Davis
$6 Teddy Bridgewater
$5 Derek Carr
$4 Michael Vick
$4 Zach Mettenberger
$3 Brian Hoyer
$2 Johnny Manziel
$1 Jake Locker
$1 Josh McCown
$1 Geno Smith
$1 Jimmy Clausen
$1 Mark Sanchez
And here are your wideouts:
$32 Demaryius Thomas
$32 Antonio Brown
$30 Jordy Nelson
$28 Randall Cobb
$28 Dez Bryant
$27 Calvin Johnson
$27 T.Y. Hilton
$25 Emmanuel Sanders
$25 Julio Jones
$24 Jeremy Maclin
$23 Kelvin Benjamin
$23 DeSean Jackson
$22 Golden Tate
$22 Sammy Watkins
$22 A.J. Green
$22 Alshon Jeffery
$22 Brandon Marshall
$18 Steve Smith
$18 Mike Wallace
$16 Brandon LaFell
$16 Keenan Allen
$15 Michael Floyd
$14 Larry Fitzgerald
$14 DeAndre Hopkins
$14 Roddy White
$14 Pierre Garcon
$13 Terrance Williams
$13 Andre Johnson
$12 Mike Evans
$12 Vincent Jackson
$12 Doug Baldwin
$11 Andre Holmes
$11 Odell Beckham Jr.
$11 Eric Decker
$10 Rueben Randle
$10 Mohamed Sanu
$10 Josh Gordon
$10 Michael Crabtree
$10 Cordarrelle Patterson
$9 Brandin Cooks
$9 Allen Robinson
$9 Julian Edelman
$8 James Jones
$8 Percy Harvin
$7 Anquan Boldin
$7 John Brown
$7 Davante Adams
$7 Marques Colston
$6 Malcom Floyd
$6 Andrew Hawkins
$6 Torrey Smith
$6 Dwayne Bowe
$6 Justin Hunter
$5 Martavis Bryant
$5 Jordan Matthews
$5 Jermaine Kearse
$4 Reggie Wayne
$4 Robert Woods
$4 Wes Welker
$4 Kendall Wright
$4 Cecil Shorts
$4 Kenny Britt
$4 Donte Moncrief
$3 Kenny Stills
$3 Jerricho Cotchery
$3 Greg Jennings
$3 Jarius Wright
$3 Brandon Lloyd
$3 Stedman Bailey
$2 Eddie Royal
$2 Jarvis Landry
$2 Riley Cooper
$2 Tavon Austin
$2 Stevie Johnson
$2 Miles Austin
$2 Louis Murphy
$1 Brian Hartline
$1 Harry Douglas
$1 Chris Hogan
$1 Preston Parker
$1 Allen Hurns
$1 Paul Richardson
$1 Nate Washington
$0 Andre Roberts
$0 Donnie Avery
It's a Thursday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Matthew Barnaby on the Sabres; Nick Cotsonika on Gordie.
* Stanley Cup
* John Moore.
* NHL news
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All eyes will be on Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday evening when the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the New York Knicks in a nationally televised season-opening contest that marks the regular-season return of LeBron James to Cleveland after his decision to head back to Ohio in free agency this summer. That he's joined by a re-upped Kyrie Irving and trade acquisition Kevin Love on a team expected to contend for a title doesn't hurt, either.
But despite the championship chatter, unfair or otherwise, and the emotional nature of the once and future King retaking the throne he abdicated four summers ago, the man himself — a four-time MVP, a two-time champion, a player who's seen and done just about everything there is to see and do in the NBA — is treating it as just another step on the journey, right? Just one of 82, nothing to see here, everybody keep it moving?
LeBron, moments ago, on Cavaliers opener tonight, "This is probably one of the biggest sporting events that's up there ever."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 30, 2014
There was more to it, of course — you can only say so much in 140 characters, after all — and the video of LeBron's post-shootaround scrum offers a bit more context:
"Obviously, it's an exciting time for our city. It's an exciting time for the people here. They should look forward to it."
On what his message to his teammates will be before the game: "Our message is that this is part of the process. You know, it's still October. We can't shortcut anything. We have to work our habits, good habits, in order to continue to improve, and this is the first step."
On how big a day this is for Cleveland: "By hearing all the noise, it's a pretty huge day."
On whether it's any different for him than past season openers: "I mean, just the fact that it's my second stint here, and I understand how much I mean to this team, to this franchise, to this city, to this state. It's a different feeling, but I'm still as calm and excited at the same time, because it's the first game of the season."
On his level of anticipation heading into today: "For me, I'm not going to — none of us should take this moment for granted. This is probably one of the biggest sporting events, you know, it's up there, ever. I don't feel it, but I know it is. 'SportsCenter' is here, a lot of people are here. 'SportsCenter' would never come to Cleveland other than this, so I understand."
"It's a great day for our fans. It's a great day for our community. And hopefully I can continue to inspire the youth here, because that's what it's about."
So, yes, LeBron's well aware of just how big a deal his first home game — well, his first for the Cavs, anyway — is in the NBA world, the larger sporting superstructure and in the annals of Cleveland sports. The magnitude of the moment is underscored (or, maybe, overscored) by the 10-story, 25,000 square-foot, 1.3-ton banner bearing his likeness unveiled Thursday afternoon:
... and the Nike-produced commercial, "Together," highlighting James' return as a rallying point for an entire region:
I don't know that I love the idea of turning the Cavs' past troubles with court-stormers into a heartwarming point of narrative. Everything else, though — all those people, all those abscesses of anger and sadness drained away, all that history-induced dread replaced with hope for a better tomorrow starting today — yeah, that's pretty goosebump-inducing.
You'll probably note the presence of LeBron's signature chalk toss in the image on that mammoth banner, indicating that, Twitter polling notwithstanding, that particular pre-game staple will be coming back on Thursday night. The fact that the ticket-holder giveaways at the Q include a bag of chalk sure seems to confirm that:
The celebrations will extend far beyond the arena walls, with jubilant fans all over the area commemorating something for which many had hoped, but few dared believe could happen.
"This is going to be one of the biggest nights ever," said Jasmine Latorres, a bartender at the Clevelander Bar and Grill, told Tom Withers of The Associated Press. "LeBron's back. It's going to be nuts."
"Nuts" about covers it — the banners, the atmosphere, the ads, the video packages, the celebrities, the concert. And, of course, the squad that led the NBA in offensive efficiency in the preseason has an excellent chance of doing the same during the regular season, and figures to incinerate a Knicks team that looked awful against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
It's going to be huge, both in terms of spectacle and actual basketball import. Yeah, it's just one of 82, but it's still a really, really big one, and there's no sense in LeBron or anyone else pretending otherwise.
"OK, I’m as excited as hell," new Cavs head coach David Blatt said Thursday morning. "Who wouldn’t be?"
Nobody with their eyes trained on Cleveland tonight, that's for sure.
More NBA coverage:
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Forget the big contracts, free pick-up trucks, prime-time TV ratings and the rest. Baseball, at its essence, will always be a game of fathers and sons. It's why the Ripkens are royalty, why we rooted for the Griffeys and why "Dad, do you wanna have a catch?" tugs at our hearts all these years later.
It's also why you should read Michael Powell's piece from Thursday's New York Times. Powell journeyed to Hudson, N.C., to visit Madison Bumgarner's father, Kevin, and watch Game 6 of the World Series with him. Powell returned Wednesday night after the Giants won Game 7 to talk to Kevin some more about his son's gutsy relief performance that helped earn him the series MVP.
It's a great piece, with wonderful quotes from Kevin Bumgarner, including this one that we all know to be true now:
“I didn’t know if he had enough left tonight,” Kevin said of Madison. “But I did know that boy would try to steal a steak off the devil’s plate.”
The absolute best part of the story, though, is down at the end. The elder Bumgarner shares the text he sent his son after the eighth inning:
“OMG. You’re so much more than awesome. To see you work on the mound reminds me of watching you in high school. You are willing yourself to perfection and dragging the team along with you. I couldn’t be more proud of your baseball accomplishments.”
Free trucks are nice and World Series rings are nicer, but making your daddy proud is a whole different kind of nice.
“I knew he wouldn’t read that text before the game was over,” Kevin Bumgarner told the Times, “but I wanted him to know this was what his daddy thought of him.”
Awww, man. Right in the feels.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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So things are really going well for the St. Louis Blues.
Now, more super terrific news: David Backes and T.J. Oshie are both out of the lineup. With concussions.
"Backes is concussed, out ... Oshie is concussed, out," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, via STLToday.com. "Oshie has something else going, plus the concussion. We're not sure whether it's the bacterial (infection)."
Backes hit his head on the ice after taking a hit from Trevor Daley of the Dallas Stars in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win.
Oshie, on a play that Hitchcock admitted “scared him,” slid into the goal post head-first in the second period against Dallas.
It’s not the first brain injury for either player. Oshie was concussed last April on a head-shot from Mike Rupp, for which the Minnesota Wild forward was suspended.
Backes … well, he’s had a few. He had concussion-related symptoms after a hit against the Ottawa Senators last December. Then there was the Brent Seabrook hit against Backes in last year’s playoffs, which led to the infamous “wakey wakey” taunt from Duncan Keith.
And that was just this season.
Meanwhile, Paul Stastny is out of the lineup recovering from his injury. With Backes and Oshie out indefinitely, Magnus Paajarvi and Chris Porter will hit the ice against the Ducks on Thursday.
Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon reached a plea agreement Thursday and will avoid trial for a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a July 25 incident.
According to SoonerScoop.com, Mixon, a five-star freshman, entered an “Alford Plea,” where he will receive “a one-year deferred sentence” and complete “100 hours of community service” while undergoing “cognitive behavior counseling.”
In an Alford Plea, the defendant maintains innocence, but “concedes the prosecution has enough evidence” to reach a guilty verdict.
Kevin Finlay, Mixon’s attorney, said in a statement that entering the Alford Plea was “the best course of action.”
"Today, Joe has made the decision that entering an Alford Plea to the misdemeanor and accepting the short period of probation was the best course of action at this point in his life. Joe does not want to be a further distraction to his family, friends, teammates, and the University of Oklahoma. Joe would like to apologize to everyone affected by this unfortunate chain of events. Joe looks forward to continuing towards his goal of becoming a successful student and athlete at the University of Oklahoma."
Mixon pleaded not guilty in August and was suspended by the program for the entire 2014-15 season. The police affidavit stated that the victim in the incident, 20-year-old Amelia Rae Molitor, was knocked unconscious and suffered a “fractured jaw, fractured cheek bone, fractured sinus, and fractured orbit which caused a hematoma on the left eye.”
Surveillance cameras in the restaurant where the incident took place captured the scene and Norman, Okla., police arranged a viewing of the tape for the media in September.
Following the slap (from Molitor) across the left side of his neck, Mixon unloads a violent right handed hook. There's really not a nice or clean way of saying it. Molitor immediately falls to the floor from the strike, hitting her face on the edge of the table in the process. Mixon immediately bolts out of frame.
With the plea agreement now in place, video of the incident video will likely be released soon via an open records request.
Mixon, the No. 8 overall prospect in the country in the 2014 recruiting class, has not practiced with the team since arriving on campus over the summer.
For more Oklahoma news, visit SoonerScoop.com.
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I lived in Boston for just under five years. While I miss a great many things about it — the friends I made and left behind there, the heartwarming squalor of the Allston neighborhood where we lived, a stroll through the Common on a sunny spring day, the unexpected pleasure cruise that is riding the B Line after all the college kids have moved home for the summer, Kelly's Roast Beef, etc. — I do not miss driving in Boston. It is a city full of blind alleys, shifting-sands street signage, seemingly perpetual construction work and Big Dig-legacy detours, an ancient place built for walking that takes on the character of a border-to-border high-alert anxiety attack during rush hour, especially when you're trying to move around thickly populated areas like the one surrounding TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics play basketball.
There is, happily, an alternative solution to the problem of driving to Celtics games — taking the MBTA to North Station, easily accessible by the city's Orange and Green Lines and several Commuter Rail lines from the suburbs, and located directly beneath the Garden. While the standard subway-related caveats apply — delays, overcrowding, etc. — it does provide a traffic-free path to the TD Garden. It's how I got to the Garden when I'd go to games, and apparently, it's how Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo got there on Wednesday:
Before the game, a reporter inquired to Rondo about his travel habits to the Celtics opener. At first, the point guard wasn't exactly forthcoming, but Rondo changed his tune when presented with the evidence. Here's the full back and forth between the two.
Reporter: Did you ride the T to the game?
Reporter: There was a picture of you on the T.
Rondo: Oh, is that right? Then why did you ask me that question? You are giving away my transportation to the game, man!
Rondo joins such public-transit advocates as Metta World Peace and Dwane Casey — and, considering how nasty that midday drive can be, it's kind of stunning that more big-city athletes don't do this more often. (Not necessarily those as high-profile as Rondo, though. You can understand him not wanting to get mobbed by fans on the platform, after all.)
Not quite so stunning, but still a bit surprising: Rondo's appearance in the Celtics' opening-night starting lineup against the Brooklyn Nets, just over a month after suffering a broken bone in his right hand that was initially expected to keep him out for six weeks. Not only did Rondo suit up, he shined, scoring 13 points on 6 for 9 shooting, dishing 12 assists, snagging seven rebounds and adding a steal and a block in 30 minutes of work to lead the sharp-looking Celtics to a 121-105 win over the visiting Nets.
As strong as the stat line was, it didn't quite do justice to how summarily Rondo commanded the game, writes longtime Rondo scribe Paul Flannery of SB Nation:
"Rondo was classic," said his old teammate, Kevin Garnett. "I don't know what he said, he was at 83 percent? That was a hell of an 83 percent."
Everything about Rondo's game was vintage. [...] if the game wasn't such a rout he undoubtedly would have found a way to get those three extra rebounds and a triple double. That's not a knock, by the way. It's a reflection of how Rondo controlled every aspect of the game when he was on the floor, just like the old days.
"He kind of looks like what I'd seen on film before I got here," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I don't think he ever looked like that at any time last year, because he was coming back. And that's just the way it goes with that injury, but he is back to full speed."
It's easier to get back to full speed when you're not stuck in traffic, after all.
Hat-tip to Dan Feldman at ProBasketballTalk.
More NBA coverage:
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UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (10-0) has just signed an endrosement deal with clothing brand Buffalo David Bitton, and discussed the development and related issues in a recent interview with Rosemary Feitelberg and Women's Wear Daily. According to the interview, the "Rowdy" one is not worried about being viewed as any less lethal because of her movie roles or jeans photo shoots.
The reason is simple. "It’s impossible for people to not take me seriously as an athlete because I’m the best in the world," she said.
"That gives me a lot of leeway to do whatever I want outside of it. That’s the great thing about fighting in sports: It is so definite. You are the undisputed champion of the world. No one can take that away from you, regardless of how many movies or model shoots you do."
No argument from us on that, Ronda. We also enjoyed what Rousey had to say about how she prepares for photo shoots.
The fighter said that, perhaps unlike many other cover boys and girls, she doesn't starve herself or even worry too much about her weight, heading into photo shoots. "Every single time I do a shoot, I try to do it at a weight I can maintain," the former Judo Olympian said.
"With the ESPN Body issue, I got a little bit lighter because ESPN tries to capture the human body at its highest potential. With anything else - like Maxim or the car magazine shoot I did in Brazil that is about femininity and not athleticism‚ I purposefully try to go in a little bit heavier, at a weight I can chill at and not have to cut down to. I want to be looking how I would on any given Wednesday."
Rousey says she doesn't want to be a part of young women having poor body images because of what they see in magazines. "It’s important to have proper role models and to have proper sexual role models," she explained.
"Growing up, I would see all these chicks in magazines who looked nothing like me at all, and I thought there was something wrong with me. In middle school and high school, the boys I had crushes on were pawing at girls in magazines or just talking about girls who looked nothing like me. I love all the Dove commercials that are about the empowerment of women."
Like just about everything else, Ronda Rousey seems to be doing acting and modeling her way. Hit 'em up, champ.
Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy's resident fantasy hockey 'expert' since 2009.
At this point, 40 players are on pace for 80 points. Let's assume that it's not 1984 and this won't happen. In some cases, this won't even be close. Here are some current point-per-game players as October comes to an end, who will be lucky to get 55 points this campaign:
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets - Foligno's upside is very similar to his dad's. And although Mike had an 80-point season, that happened in the 80s - an era in which 70-point players were considered fourth-line checkers. Adjust for the era and Nick is probably going to be a 55-point player. When he returns from his "stinger," his numbers will start to slow when Boone Jenner and the rest of the walking wounded get back.
Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings - Nobody's doubting that Pearson is going to have an amazing year. Just not 80-point amazing. Without the chemistry with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, he was probably destined for 40 points. With those guys, Pearson should clear 50 and possibly 55.
Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs - A favorite whipping boy for Toronto fans, Bozak has long been labeled the misfit of the top line. Meanwhile, he has 69 points in his last 82 games and boasts a 54.8% win percentage at the dot. So I'm a Bozak backer. But that doesn't mean I think he'll get 80 points, or even 70.
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues - I say that Shattenkirk will be lucky to reach 55 because he does this every year. He's one of the top scoring defensemen in the league at the 15 or 20 game mark and then ends up with around 45.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings (6-3-8-11, plus-6, 4 PIM, 20 SOG) - After missing Ken Holland's logic in signing Dan Cleary a big chunk of last season, Zetterberg has come back with a vengeance. At 34, bad back and all, Big Z still has plenty of gas in the tank.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets (9-5-7-12, minus-1, 4 PIM, 20 SOG, 5 PPPts) - Johansen and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin are the only two players who have points in every NHL game so far. That theory where missing camp causes either slow starts or injuries, well it's been debunked. We'll leave out the part about my being the one to float that theory…
Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars (6-2-7-9, even, 2 PIM, 12 SOG, 5 PPPts) - So which does Spezza enjoy more - no longer being with the Senators, or playing on a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin? As fantasy owners, we don't really care. As long as he's no longer stuck with Ales Hemsky.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes (6-0-0-0, minus-5, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 PPPts) - We can ride another Semin slump, as long he keeps shooting the p-. Oh.
P.A. Parenteau, Montreal Canadiens (5-0-0-0, minus-3, 11 SOG, 2 PIM, 0 PPPts) - After five points in five games to start the campaign, Parenteau has hit a wall. In his last game (against Calgary), he saw a season high 19:46 of ice time and failed to record a shot. Given his linemates, be it on the first or second line, he should (theoretically) turn things back around. But this whole "not playing with John Tavares or Matt Duchene" thing worries me.
Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders (0-2-0, 5.45, 0.830) - This opens the door for Chad Johnson (waiver wire alert!), as Johnson is still undefeated (3-0-0). Halak is paid big bucks to be the starter though, so he'll keep getting thrown out there every two or three games until he strings together some wins. When that happens, you won't see much of Johnson until the next Halak slump.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Seth Griffith, Boston Bruins (4-3-2-5, plus-2, 4 PIM, 10 SOG, 1 PPPts) - Despite the cool hockey handle, Griffith was passed over in the 2011 draft, plus over four rounds of the 2012 draft before the Bruins snapped him up. And now he's already passed Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser on the depth chart and has fit in nicely on the first line.
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (3-4-3-7, plus-3, 0 PIM, 11 SOG, 1 PPPts) - The youngster tallied 63 points in 33 Quebec League games in 2012-13. Then he dominates the AHL with 17 points in 24 games last year before getting called up to Tampa for good. Now he's on a dynamic second line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, who were last year's super rookies.
Blake Comeau, Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1-4-5, plus-3, 2 PIM, 7 SOG, 1 PPPts) - With Beau Bennett possibly back as early as next week, this may be a really short pickup. But for now, Comeau is playing with Malkin and that should be the only incentive you need.
Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues (4-2-4-6, plus-2, 2 PIM, 7 SOG) - Not only is Lehtera lining up with his former KHL linemate Vladimir Tarasenko, but he's doing it at a time when Tarasenko is primed for a breakout. In terms of pure upside, Tarasenko is the best forward on St. Louis. So if the stars are aligned here, Lehtera could be in for a monster debut this year. What I also like about this guy is the fact that Ken Hitchcock has been giving him close to 19 minutes of ice time the last couple of games.
Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks (4-1-4-5, plus-5, 2 PIM, 10 SOG) - With Nick Bonino totally justifying the Ryan Kesler trade early on, Higgins is picking up the cheap assists as his linemate. Higgins is a steady 40-point player over the long haul, but for now hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.
Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers (7-0-5-5, plus-2, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) - Del Zotto is in a great situation right now, as the team has no choice but to give him 20 minutes of ice time. Kimmo Timonen, Andrew MacDonald and Braydon Coburn are each on the shelf right now. The Flyers have to either give MDZ a ton of ice time, or ask the 50-50 draw guy to strap on some skates.
Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers (4-1-0, 2.20 GAA, 0.928 SV%) - After three very rocky games early on - for both Scrivens and the Oilers, both have settled down. Scrivens is still just 45% owned (but rising quickly), but he makes an excellent No.3 goalie in most fantasy formats and he could surprise this year become one of your top two.
The first game of the post-LeBron James era featured a standing room only-level crowd in Miami and a convincing 107-95 win over the Washington Wizards. Chris Bosh dominated as he warmed to his role as a go-to guy, finishing with 26 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. Miami crushed the Wizards on the glass, taking advantage of the suspension Wizards big man Nene received during the exhibition season, and all in all it should have been a very satisfying night for Heat fans.
The Heat still, um … they kind of still pump in crowd noise. I’m watching the archived game right now, and there’s that underlying hum that isn’t commensurate with what is going on between the lines.
In the middle of his team’s loss, Washington Wizards broadcaster Steve Buckhantz noticed as much, and called the American Airlines Arena crew for adding a little extra on top:
"They've gone to the canned crowd noise here in Miami. Which is, I guess, something you have to do when LeBron James leaves."
Steve can be an irascible sort, you would be too if you had to deal with various Wizards lineups through the years, and while he may come off as a bit of a sourpuss, he isn’t wrong.
(Hat tip: Bullets Forever.)
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It seemed like the Joseph Randle story, in which the Dallas Cowboys running back was arrested for stealing underwear and cologne from a department store earlier this month, had passed. Then the booking video from the Frisco (Texas) Police Department provided even further embarrassment.
Randle is shown in the video, which was first shown by CBS 11 News in Dallas, joking around during his booking. He asks a female employee at the police office, "If I give you $100, can you give me a massage?" He is told no. Of course, he wouldn't have been in this situation had he used $100 to pay for the merchandise.
Randle doesn't seem to take anything very seriously, although he does ask if his arrest will make the news (it did, Joseph). He makes a call to his agent to help him make bond so he can make practice.
In another clip, he brings up teammate Josh Brent, a defensive tackle who was convicted of intoxication manslaughter for the death of Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown in a 2012 car crash. He also cracks jokes about his mug shot photo, and an employee snaps back that it's not a "trading card."
The video is weird, adding on to what was already a pretty strange story.
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Mark Stoops doesn’t want to make Saturday’s game bigger than it is, but trust that it’s a very big game for the Kentucky football program.
When the Wildcats roll into Columbia, Mo., to face the Tigers it won’t just be another SEC win on the line — the third in Stoops tenure — it will be the all important sixth win, the one that earns bowl eligibility.
“I look at it because we're sitting on five. So six is big because it's the next one,” Stoops said. “That's always my message, let's get this next victory, it just happens to be six. Yeah, sure, it would be nice, I'm not going to deny that, but it's important, it's our next game — what's important is our next game and that's how we think about it.”
Kentucky hasn’t been to a bowl game since losing to Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl in 2010. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 5-7, 2-10, and 2-10. This year has already been a year of firsts for the Wildcats, including the first SEC win in Stoops’ tenure, a bowl game would just continue to solidify that the program is moving in the right direction.
“It's very anxious," senior defensive end Bud Dupree said. "Once we get this win it just lifts a lot off your shoulders. Right now we're just trying to get to it, just trying to get to the sixth win, just trying to get to a bowl game. We haven't done it in a while, as a program, so the whole team is anxious.
"The coaching staff is anxious, since they're new and they haven't been to one since they've been here. I know the fans of Kentucky are anxious. So we just gotta make it happen. We gotta find a (way) to win."
Missouri is the reigning SEC East champion and has just one loss in conference play this season. However, the offense has sputtered in recent weeks, which could create an advantage for a Kentucky team that’s inspired after playing close with No. 1 Mississippi State.
Quarterback Patrick Towles had the best game of his career last week by passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 76 yards and two scores.
While the Missouri offense has struggled, its defense has thrived. It’s allowing just 350.9 yards per game and 20.5 points per game.
Kentucky has not won a road game since beating Louisville in the 2010 season opener, and technically, since that game was in Kentucky, it wasn’t a true road game. So Stoops understands that getting that sixth win will be an accomplishment on many levels.
“A lot of things comes down to what I talked about with the toughness and the mentality and the discipline that we have because there is no excuses, there is no reason not to play our very best and have that attitude about us,” Stoops said. “Nobody is going to hand you over any victories. You gotta go earn them and you gotta win them and you got to get on the road and get on the plane with a tough mentality about you, and our players have to play at the highest level they can.”
For more Kentucky news, CatsIllustrated.com.
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And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
The Nashville Predators have a player out of the lineup. He's not going on long-term injured reserve; then again, he doesn't count against their salary cap anyway.
“We’re not sending him down to Milwaukee for conditioning,” said vice president of marketing Danny Shaklan.
The ‘him’ they refer to is the Predators Day One mascot Gnash. The furry creature – or the guy in the suit – suffered a broken leg during offseason training and has been on the shelf from doing normal mascot duties for 6-8 weeks.
“Believe it or not I pack on a few pounds in the offseason and I try to get down to my playing weight by opening night,” Gnash said through his official spokeswoman, Alexis Witman. “I honestly love my job and watching someone else do it is extremely difficult.”
While the Predators could have easily put another guy in the suit and most casual fans probably wouldn’t have known the difference, the person who plays "Gnash," who refuses to identify himself publicly, nixed the idea, and said he wanted to stick around and help game presentation as much as he could.
So at Predators games, the same guy is still in a suit – albeit now in a wheelchair – rolling to sections, mugging for photo shots with fans and still trying to pump up the crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
The only difference is that he now has help. Other mascots, such as Aubie the tiger from Auburn and Big Red from Western Kentucky, have come in for games.
The person who plays Gnash, who has been in the suit for over 10 years, takes his job very seriously and hosts mascot camps during the summer. Many of the mascots who have flocked to ‘Smashville’ to help are his former pupils.
Added Shaklan, “I mean, Gnash is a part of Smashville. When you take him out, you take a little piece of Smashville out.”
As corny as this may sound, it’s actually true.
The person who plays Gnash, essentially has ‘mascoting’ down to a science. It’s his career. Whether it’s flying onto the ice on a four-wheeler or repelling from the ceiling, the guy in the suit shows no fear – and the fans in Nashville love it.
"Gnash is adored by the fan base because he's the identity, the constant of the franchise. Players become heroes and then villains, faces around the arena change, but Gnash is always there. Without Gnash's energy, the game experience off the ice changes dramatically,” former Cell Block 303 member Codey Holland said. "Kids may or may not point out players other than (Shea) Weber or (Pekka) Rinne, but they immediately know who Gnash is."
With the injury, Gnash has been confined to a wheelchair for Predators home games this year. While this could be construed as being done for effect, it’s actually necessary. The human in the suit cannot put weight on his leg while in the costume, so he has to be rolled around. Still, the team has had some fun with it.
“You just make modifications,” Shaklan said. “In musical chairs, it was the first time Gnash has ever won at Bridgestone Arena. He didn’t get up the entire time.”
Fans have also used it as a way to connect with the mascot. Injured ones come up to Gnash and ask him to sign their cast, or people in wheelchairs take photos with him.
“They understand mascots get hurt too,” Shaklan said.
The players on the team have bought in as well. The Predators filmed a hospital visit for Gnash with Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne, and there’s a ‘Rocky’ style training video with forward Mike Fisher, who is out until late November with a ruptured Achilles.
“Well, I am prehistoric and I know the day will come when I might have to retire,” Gnash said through his spokeswoman. “I have always said when the team hoists its 10th Stanley Cup I will start to think about retiring.”
As for a timetable, Gnash seems to hope to get clearance soon from doctors at Vanderbilt University hospital. The belief is he will be back in time for Nashville’s return from its six-game roadtrip on Nov. 11.
Said Gnash, “If he gives me the go ahead you will see everything you expect from me at the games. My ropes are checked and my ATV is gassed up, all I need is (the doctor’s) permission.”
It used to be that you would have to ask Mike Ditka his opinion on something, and he'd say something pretty fierce.
Now he just writes it.
"I think everybody deserves a little bit of the blame," Ditka wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times. "But I think it starts with the fact that they are not a very good team on defense, and that creates a lot of problems for the offense.
"They consistently put the offense in a position where they have to score to win. Their defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody, that’s for sure. You can point the finger at anyone you want, but the players on the field play.
"Coaches coach — they don’t play. Owners own — they don’t coach or play. It’s foolish to blame one person."
That's inflammatory. But then Ditka brings out the big guns to flamethrow the Bears' defense, with some pretty damning historical perspective.
"It’s the worst defense I’ve seen in a long time. No question about it," Ditka wrote. "I can understand why [Bears greats] Dick [Butkus], Dan [Hamption], Doug [Buffone] or any of these guys would be vocal about it. The one constant throughout Bears history has been their defense. You know, in ’63, our defense carried us. We did some good things on offense, but our defense carried us. In ’85 we won a championship — our defense carried us."
Comparing this group to the 1963 or 1985 title-winning teams is a bit unfair. But compared to where the Bears were a year ago, struggling horribly against the run, and seemingly getting better personnel-wise, there's no doubt the results are disappointing. They rank 18th in yards allowed but a lowly 29th in points allowed (27.8 points per game), with only the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers below them.
It's going to be a long bye week for the Bears.
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Michael Jordan doesn't think too highly of President Barack Obama's golf game. In fact, he thinks it's downright "s---ty."
In an interview with Ahmad Rashad, Jordan was asked to name his dream foursome. President Obama first made the cut, then didn't.
"I've never played with Obama but I would," said Jordan. "But no, that's okay, I'd take him out. He's a hack, it would be all day playing with him."
Rashad suggests that might cross a line, dissing the Commander-in-Chief's golf game. Jordan isn't deterred.
"I never said he wasn't a great politician, I'm just saying he's a sh---- golfer."
Jordan, who can play scratch golf, probably wouldn't have much fun competitively with Obama, who plays in the 90-100-stroke range for 18 holes.
Mack Brown isn’t sure if he will return to coaching.
The former Texas head coach has been linked to the opening at SMU, but on Wednesday Brown maintained that he is quite content with his current profession – working as an analyst with ESPN and ABC.
“I’ve made it very clear that I’m happy with ESPN/ABC, and I’m really enjoying my job,” Brown said when asked about the SMU job, per the Dallas Morning-News. “And I haven’t talked to anybody about coaching football at this point.”
The 63-year-old Brown resigned from his position at Texas in December after coaching the Longhorns for 16 years. A previous report from the Morning-News said that he and SMU engaged in “preliminary discussions” that included a salary of “$4 million annually over eight years.” Additionally, Joe Jamail, Brown’s agent, told the Austin American-Statesman that several schools have contacted Brown, including SMU.
Brown, who said it’s all about the right fit, will make a decision on returning to coaching in November or December.
“If nobody calls, it wont be a hard decision. It’ll be easy,” Brown said. “And if somebody calls, I’ll talk to them.”
A day after the report claiming discussions occurred between Brown’s representatives and SMU was published, Mustangs athletic director Rick Hart said that “no one associated with (SMU’s) search has contacted” Brown or his representatives.
At this point, it seems safe to say that this probably won’t be the last time we hear of Brown being connected to job openings.
For more SMU news, visit PonyPride.com.
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As Gary Player sees it, Tiger Woods could have obliterated Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships -- had Tiger done one big thing differently.
In an interview on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger," the golf legend says Woods never should have deviated from the swing that won him the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links by 15 shots.
"Tiger Woods, if he'd never had another lesson, just left what he had. He would have won 20, 22, 24 majors," Player said. "But he's also been unlucky: three knee operations, back operation and a few other problems."
Player thinks he can get Woods back on track in an hour. While that's more time than the 10 minutes 2008 Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger says he would need to fix Woods, Player has a lifetime more experience.
"But would I love to sit down with him for one hour and give him a piece of my knowledge," Player said. "I can't tell you what I'd say. But then I think he could win majors."
The South African hopes Woods will come back and win majors. He sees it as important for golf at large.
"So, will he come back as a champion? I really hope so because the game needs Tiger Woods," he said.
For a little while, things seemed so perfect. Madison Square Garden was celebrity-rich in the front and loud as hell in the back. Woody Allen’s newfound ingratiation with the team’s ownership allowed for an even better seat for the famed director of ‘Whatever Works.’ New York Knicks big man Amar’e Stoudemire got the start and was alternately hitting cutters with passes, destroying Chicago on the glass, and finishing in and out of the paint. Samuel Dalembert looked like the sort of post passer New York needed. Unheralded guard Shane Larkin was making life hell for Chicago’s Derrick Rose. New York was leading Chicago by five midway through the first quarter, and Carmelo Anthony hadn’t even gotten started yet!
As you well know, you national television viewer you, things eventually fell apart for the Knicks. Just a quarter later, Chicago would be up 15 points. During one stretch of the fourth quarter, the Bulls boasted a 33-point lead. The New York defense faltered, the triangle offense deflated, and the crowd left early. A late New York surge in garbage time allowed for a palatable 24-point loss, but even that didn’t seem like an accurate enough description.
Still, whaddya want?
Chicago is supposed to contend for a title this season. They’re not just supposed to be something that annoys, or a boot-strapper’s chic pick to somehow make it out of the East. They’re built to win it all.
New York, meanwhile, is built to act as a proving ground. Something to help Derek Fisher to get his feet wet with. Something to help Carmelo Anthony acclimate into the sideline triangle offense, and a team bent on luring free agents once 2014-15 ends. An 82-game attempt to introduce Phil Jackson’s particular lingua franca to what has been a hellhole of a franchise for too long, working in front of a fan base that deserves far better.
President Phil, the Big Bemusement, spoke briefly with reporters that chased him down before disappearing into a waiting ride following the loss. From Ian Begley at ESPN New York:
"Not ready for showtime, were we guys?" the Knicks president said to reporters before getting into the passenger seat of his SUV.
"I can't say how long it's going to take," he said.
Jackson, a 13-time NBA champion, added that he largely expected the Knicks to struggle as badly as they did on Wednesday.
"Sure did," he said.
Jackson, watching the game alongside right-hand man and former Chicago Bulls deputy architect Clarence Gaines Jr., showed no outward embarrassment or anger as their former team took it to their new employer. It was one game out of 82 in a season that absolutely no one has a handle on, and on top of that extended view the Knicks were playing without lead guard Jose Calderon, while featuring a starting frontcourt (with Stoudemire and Dalembert up front) that had yet to start together in the exhibition season.
The man who hired both Jackson and Gaines in Chicago, former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, was finally caught on record discussing his expectations for Phil Jackson, the Executive, as he works under James Dolan, the Boorish Owner.
"Phil definitely has the intellect to be a very good general manager, but it's going to depend on what Dolan lets him do," Krause said. "Phil has to scout, too, and I don't know if he can physically do that at his age . When I was the Bulls GM I did more scouting than the scouts did. I didn't have any scouts when I was hired. Phil's also going to have to work it in the draft, and he's going to need some luck there."
"Phil is one of the best brain-pickers I've ever been around. He picked Tex Winter's brain until Tex was blue in the face; they used to sit around for hours and hours talking about the triangle. Michael wasn't really for the triangle, but Phil convinced him. Michael finally got the idea, 'Holy crap, I can score easier in the triangle than out of it.' Without the triangle, Michael might've been a worn-out 30-year-old who took a ton of shots every game."
Jerry joined the rest of the chorus in pointing out that “nobody knows” if Phil can turn this team into champions. Even the best general managers can become stuck in the way of bad timing and bad luck – Krause (who decimated his Bulls to clear cap space in the hopes of sending massive contracts at free agents, only to be cut off by the NBA’s new salary limits and “maximum contracts”) knows this above all.
It’s precisely those salary limitations that could help Jackson in his efforts. It’s true that he was able to outbid other teams for Carmelo Anthony’s services last season, the benefit of being able to bid on your own free agents, but because competing teams can offer only a set amount in bidding for another team’s free agent, the lure of New York would seem to be a tipping point with all financial things being equal.
That’s the hope, at least. The continuing hope for scads of New York Knick general managers, dating back lo these many years.
Still, Chicago forward Pau Gasol took less money to become a Bull last summer, and he thinks it is “possible” his brother Marc could do the same this summer in glomming onto all of New York’s available cap space. From Zach Braziller at the New York Post:
“We’ll see what happens next year, what he decides. Hopefully he’ll have a strong year and all the options in the world, because he’s one of the top centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him,” the 34-year-old Spaniard said of his younger brother, before the Bulls demolished the Knicks, 104-80, Wednesday night at the Garden. “It’s a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table.
“I don’t know how much he’s involved in the team, really. He’s in an upstairs position, management position. He’s not on the court every day, so it’s something that [his brother will] consider when he gets to that point.”
The player option for J.R. Smith (he may opt-out in order to take on a much larger contract, and Jackson may let him) and impending restricted free agency for Iman Shumpert (who struggled on both ends on Wednesday) will have to be dealt with, but the Knicks will have Gasol-sized cap space this summer. And Marc Gasol is Jackson’s picture perfect center for the triangle offense, to say nothing of his defensive gifts.
That triangle did not look all that great in Game 1, but that’s usually how these things work. The spacing was good, but the ball stuck to players’ hands as they seemed uneasy about initiating movement and letting loose of their instincts. It’s a work in progress, no matter the talent involved.
“Not ready for showtime” is the perfect malapropism for a man in Phil Jackson that spent the 1970s in New York City, and the last 15 years near the waves of Malibu. On Wednesday, these Knicks weren’t even ready for basic cable, but that’s just how it’s going to have to be for a little while.
They’ll play LeBron on Thursday.
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When a player is seriously injured during a hockey game, it’s tradition for both teammates and opponents to tap their sticks on the ice in a salute to the fallen comrade.
Jack Jablonski was that player in Dec. 2011, when an accidental check from behind left him paralyzed. Since then, he’s inspired awareness for spinal cord injury research, ranging from fundraising to a celebrity prom date.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, Jablonski and his organization, the “Bel13ve In Miracles Foundation,” are holding “A Night To Bel13ve” at the Minnesota Wild’s game vs. the Dallas Stars (nee North Stars). There’s going to be an in-game presentation featuring Miracle On Ice players, as well as something that will reach beyond the walls of the arena:
A global stick-tap.
Jablonski will lead fans during intermission in “hockey’s largest stick tap,” and has asked fans around the world to share photos or videos of their own stick tap using the #StickTap2Hope hashtag on social media.
Visit here to learn more about the event and Jablonski’s organization.
Before we dive into Thursday's desperation plays, let's have a quick word about the quarterback who is, at the moment, the best buy-low in fantasy. Cam Newton owners are an angry, unsatisfied bunch right now — or at least they seem to be, based on various complaint-tweets.
They don't seem to care that Cam is running again — 12 rush attempts last week, 36 over his past three games — and they certainly don't care that Newton has never ranked outside the top-5 at his position in any season.
Nope, Cam's owners are seeing those nine combined TDs in seven games, and they're displeased. Understandably so. But let's take a quick look at the series of favorable matchups in Carolina's second-half schedule, because it's kind of ridiculous:
Week 9 – vs. New Orleans
Week 10 – at Philadelphia
Week 11 – vs. Atlanta
Week 12 – bye
Week 13 – at Minnesota
Week 14 – at New Orleans
Week 15 – vs. Tampa Bay
Week 16 – vs. Cleveland
Week 17 – at Atlanta
New Orleans has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, Philly the third-most and Tampa Bay the fifth. Cam will see those defenses four times in his next six games. Seven of the eight matchups remaining on his schedule are against teams that currently rank 26th or worse in total yards-allowed.
So, again, if your league's Cam owner is motivated to sell, then you should get a price-check. Newton has a clear path to another stellar end-of-season fantasy rank.
And now for your fliers...
RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina (22 percent owned, 8 percent started)
Williams has been sidelined for four games with an ankle malfunction (high ankle sprain), but he'll return for the home matchup with the Saints. His head coach seems bullish...
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) looked good in practice -- and he will start Thursday against the Saints.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 28, 2014
...so I'm buying. It seems clear enough that DeAngelo will split the backfield touches with Jonathan Stewart, who was quietly effective in Week 8 vs.Seattle. The Saints defense has allowed seven rushing touchdowns on the season and 4.0 YPC, so we're not talking about an impenetrable front. In a week where six teams are on bye and plenty of other backs have injury concerns, Williams is clearly in play for the deep league crowd.
WR Kenny Stills, New Orleans (12 percent owned, 4 percent started)
OK, this is a flier. But in a brutal bye-week at the receiver position, I'm gonna guess that many of you are eying some sketchy replacement wideouts — dudes who don't offer a fraction of Stills' upside. There's no question he's a feast-or-famine receiver, but the feasts can be rich. Stills has hauled in all nine of his targets over the past two weeks, accounting for 160 yards and one touchdown (pictured above). He's had receptions of 40-plus yards in three of his last four games. Here's a 45-yarder against Green Bay, and here's the 46-yard TD against Detroit. Stills has 4.38-speed, he's tied to an all-time quarterback, and Carolina's secondary isn't a unit you need to fear. If you're looking for a Week 9 lottery ticket, this is your guy.
J.T. Barrett isn't anticipating missing Saturday's game against Illinois despite a sprained MCL in his left knee. While the knee is swollen, Barrett said Wednesday that he'll need a major setback before the game to not take the field.
"It would have to be something drastic to happen between now and Saturday," Barrett said after practice via BuckeyeGrove.com. "I plan on playing on Saturday."
Barrett said his knee was sore and there was some swelling, but wore a brace on it at practice. The injury happened before halftime of the Buckeyes' double-overtime win at Penn State.
Barrett tore the ACL in his right knee in high school, so this injury doesn't have any relation to the previous one. And while Ohio State fans may be wondering why Braxton Miller missed two games last year with a sprained MCL, it's worth remembering that sprains have differing severeties and that people respond different to injuries.
"I have talked to him about it and he was just saying that everybody is different and that is what the trainer is saying, Braxton said that (his) was much more stiff and sore and things like that and that is why he needed to miss two games and mine just wasn't the case," Barrett said.
Miller is out this year after an injury to his throwing shoulder. Following a slow start in his first serious action as Miller's replacement, Barrett has played well. The Penn State game was the first time in four games that he'd thrown an interception. He's thrown 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2014.
For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.
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It's the question on absolutely every sports fan's mind this morning: How amped up was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to kick off the 2014-15 NBA season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night? Would you believe, "Throw down a dunk, rip your mouthpiece out to roar with excitement, and whip said mouthpiece at a bystanding referee" amped?
You wouldn't? Seriously? I mean, it's pretty believable. It's not like I said, "He ripped off his skin mask and incinerated John Henson with his fire breath." And besides, I thought we'd built up a certain level of trust over the years. This is ... kind of hurtful, actually.
The replays of MKG's second-quarter runout dunk kind of cut off the grand aftermath a bit, but luckily the fine folks at SB Nation captured it in all its gobby glory:
Only two nights into the season and we've already got a slow-motion GIF of an official reacting in disgust to a mouthpiece hitting him in the run of play. So glad to have you back, NBA season.
Kidd-Gilchrist isn't the first NBA player to hit a referee with a mouthpiece. Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson earned a one-game suspension for doing so back in December 2012, but his protective projectile was flung in frustration rather than celebration; hitting the zebra there seemed more intentional than incidental. Udonis Haslem didn't hit Joey Crawford with his mouthpiece, but merely throwing it "in the direction of" the famously cantankerous ref was enough to earn the Miami Heat big man an ejection and suspension during the 2006 playoffs.
Other players whose mouthpieces landed in the stands rather than in the ref's hip pocket have received fines for their heaves in the past because, as it turns out, the league office doesn't much like the idea of the ticket-buying public getting splattered with players' saliva after a disagreement over a foul call. We suspect MKG won't see any such discipline, though; he was just havin' a little fun, is all.
While the Hornets were still trailing in the second quarter of the grand re-opening at the Hive after a rough start that had some boos cascading down from the rafters at Time Warner Cable Arena, Kidd-Gilchrist did have plenty to be excited about on Wednesday.
The early returns on his reworked shooting stroke looked promising, as the former Kentucky standout paired his customarily stout perimeter defense with 17 points on 6 for 8 shooting, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the Hornets' 108-106 overtime win over the visiting Bucks. The No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft provided the first inklings of proof that all his hard work with shooting coach Mark Price has finally paid off, and point guard Kemba Walker provided the late-game heroics, completing a 24-point comeback that ranks as the largest in Charlotte's NBA history and sending Buzz City home happy after an emotionally charged season opener.
“We were all too amped up,” veteran reserve point guard Jannero Pargo told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer after the game.
See? Told you so.
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Straight cash homie! In his never-ending quest to pay off his kids' college education early, Brad Evans unveils his FanDuel picks for the upcoming week and explains his reasoning behind them. Make that money, #TeamHuevos.
CONTEST RULES AND SCORING
FAKE BUDGET: $60,000
Tom Brady, NE, QB (FanDuel Price: $9,000) – Tom Tepid's early season cameo seems like a millennium ago. Tripping out of the gate to start the season, the QB has rediscovered his "Terrific" side. Since Week 5, no passer has delivered more treats than Brady. During that stretch, he's completed nearly 70 percent of his attempts, compiled 317 yards per game and posted an impeccable 14:0 TD:INT split. Denver's secondary has executed a high level this year, but in a game Vegas believes will be chock full of fantasy goodness (55 over/under), Mr. Bundchen exceeds the 300-yard mark with three-plus scores yet again.
Ronnie Hillman, Den, RB ($7,200) – Filling the void left by groin-pulled Montee Ball, the new Knowshon has played brilliantly. Over his past three contests, he's tallied 4.89 yards per carry, 119 total yards per game and scored a pair of touchdowns, an output good enough for the fifth-best line among RBs. Due to a sore shoulder, he was limited in practice Wednesday, but he is expected to log another 18-22 touches. Against a New England D that's surrendered four 100-total yard rushers in their past five, he should extend his century mark streak to four.
Bobby Rainey, TB, RB ($6,200) – If you pay attention to the chirping on Twitter, Charles Sims is overhyped. Numerous fantasy pundits are convinced the rookie will seize control of the Tampa backfield in short order. However, Rainey may not allow it. With Doug Martin a likely Week 9 casualty and with Sims fresh off the IR, the veteran should net the start in Cleveland. The Browns, one of the league's worst run defenses, have conceded 4.71 yards per carry to RBs. On approximately 14-18 touches, Rainey racks 75-85 total yards and a score.
Antonio Brown, Pit, WR ($9,000) – From drop-kicking innocent kickers to making acrobatic catches, Brown has gotten DOWN this season. His 20.4 points per game ranks No. 1 among all wideouts in FanDuel. Matched against a Ravens secondary sans its best cover corner in Jimmy Smith, the king won't relinquish his throne. Even with Smith on the field, Baltimore had allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs this year. Brown logged a modest 7-90-0 line in the first matchup. In the encore, he tops that output with ease.
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG, WR ($6,600) – A TD magnet in his first three games, the rookie splashed six three times. His resulting yardage total didn't move the meter (35.3 ypg), but because of his knack for finding the end zone he ranked No. 22 among WRs in per game output from Weeks 5-7. He should improve that standing this week against Indy. Potentially without elite corner Vontae Davis (knee), the Colts, off allowing 522 yards and six TDs to Big Ben last week, are highly susceptible. Roughly 60-70 yards with another score are in my fearless forecast.
Andrew Hawkins, Cle, WR ($6,400) – Very dependable in a PPR format, the Baby Hawk, for the most part, has delivered consistent results. He's reached double-digit FanDuel points in five of seven games this year. Make it six of eight. The always generous Buccaneers visit Cleveland this week. Tampa corners Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks have given up a mouthwatering 72.2 catch percentage. It's hard to bank on a TD, but at his discounted price and given his 11-13 fantasy point appeal, Hawkins is a useful option for the budget conscious.
Travis Kelce, KC, TE ($5,400) – A seesaw the past several weeks, Kelce continues to be underutilized. After a fiery stretch from Weeks 3-5, he's managed just eight passes for 78 yards and no touchdowns since. But there's no better remedy for one's fantasy ills than the Jets. Over the past six weeks, no defense has surrendered more touchdowns to tight ends (9). On four catches, Kelce tallies 57 yards and a touchdown.
Randy Bullock, Hou, K ($4,800) – Believe it or not, Bullock is the sixth-best kicker currently in Fantasyland. In a game with significant red-zone potential for the Texans, he boots his buyers to the bucks.
Kansas City D/ST ($5,300) – Michael Vick, who committed three turnovers in roughly three quarters of action last week in Buffalo, is back under center? Well, strap a bib around the necks of Chief defenders. They're about to feast.
Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Tuesday-Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here). Additionally, tune into 'FFL' radio on Yahoo! Sports Radio Sundays at 9 AM ET.
Sometimes even good intentions turn south in a hurry. The New York Jets' Eric Decker decided to reach out to his beleaguered, tormented fan base on Twitter and offer a bit of love ... and swag:
Unfortunately, with their team sitting at 1-7, Jets fans were in no mood for love. Some wounds are just too raw. You don't ever go to Twitter seeking honest opinion, because you just might get it:
Now, to be fair, some fans were taking this quite seriously:
Whew. That last one turned a little dark. Decker has not yet announced who'll win the prize, but you can follow yourself at #jetsdiehardfan. Might want to keep a raincoat on for the splatter.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Why five games? It’s sorta the going rate for illegal hits to the head that result in injuries. Ryan White on Kent Huskins in April 2013. Deryk Engelland, also a repeat offender, got five for a hit on Justin Abdelkader in Dec. 2013. Zac Rinaldo and Mike Rupp both got four-gamers for hits last April.
But Larry Brooks of the NY Post has another theory: The NHL went five because six would have earned an appeal from the NHLPA. From the Post:
Given Moore’s history, the five-game sentence is probably light by a few games. But a sentence of six games or more would qualify for an appeal to an independent arbiter. And a reduction of the suspension — which would surely be possible, if not likely, given precedent — would not exactly prove a ringing endorsement of Quintal in his first ruling after being named this summer as Brendan Shanahan’s successor as VP of the Department of Player Safety.
Here’s the thing: Brooks isn’t right, but he’s not necessarily wrong, given the optics of the NHL’s supplemental discipline decisions.
The only suspensions reduced by Gary Bettman have been ones that mandated a minimum ban due to the circumstances of the incident (players leaving the bench for a fight; Dan Carcillo’s contact with an official) or because the initial ban was completely draconian (the open-ended Raffi Torres suspension).
Otherwise, we’ve seen Pat Kaleta drop his appeal and Bettman uphold the 15-game ban for Shawn Thornton. In Thornton’s case, he probably had a legitimate chance to get the suspension reduced from an independent arbitrator, but instead chose not to pursue it.
Was a Moore appeal “likely” to overturn a lengthier suspension had it gone to the arbitrator? There’s zero reason to believe that’s the case. First, because a suspension between 6-10 games has precedents for repeat offenders (like Kaleta and Torres, and as Brooks notes, Moore has played himself into that pantheon).
But more importantly because the NHLPA and its suspended defendants have shown a lack of desire to push things that far. Why? Who knows, but the fact remains that the NHLPA is essentially defending one member who injured another, and that probably leads to some uncomfortable conversations between the players on the edge and the players who are usually targeted. Which could be why we haven’t seen these cases go above Bettman yet.
But in Brooks’ defense, the NHL hasn’t exactly convinced anyone that the potential for appeal over a six-or-more game suspension hasn't placed a cap on punishments.
Since the new CBA was signed and the appeal process was implemented, we’ve seen just six suspensions for illegal hits that were over six games:
Raffi Torres (six games, May 2013); Pat Kaleta (10 games, Oct. 10); Shawn Thornton 15 games, Dec. 2013); Zack Kassian (eight games, Sept. 2013); John Scott (seven games, Oct. 2013); Matt Cooke (7 games, April 2014).
That’s a whole lotta slam-dunk cases there with repeat offenders. But notice the dates on two of them: In the playoffs, where the weeks-long appeals process probably doesn’t get that player back on the ice before his team’s season is over.
Meanwhile, how many suspensions came in at four or five games in the last two seasons? Fourteen.
So I don’t think the threat of appeal capped the Moore penalty at five games, because I believe the Department of Player Safety would welcome that appeal.
But I also find it curious that so many, many of their suspensions seem to fall just short of that mechanism, you know?