Your move, Tom Brady.

The NFL didn't budge on Tuesday. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, five weeks after hearing Brady's appeal over the deflate-gate issue, kept his suspension at four games. That's the same suspension for Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy in his domestic violence case. The NFLPA, via reports, has been planning to take the NFL to federal court if Brady's suspension wasn't completely overturned.

Brady destroying his cell phone before he met with investigator Ted Wells was the crux of Goodell's ruling. Here's the NFL's statement in the ruling:

"In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.

On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

"Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support‎, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL's Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs."

The NFLPA presented its case during a lengthy appeal on June 23 at the NFL offices. According to reports more than 40 people were at the hearing. There was more than 10 hours of testimony.

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While few details of the appeal hearing were leaked, it was expected that the NFLPA's attorneys would attack holes in Wells' report, specifically the lack of evidence tying Brady to any specific wrongdoing, and the union's lawyers would also attack the scientific findings found in Wells' report.

The drama started shortly after the AFC championship game, when a report said the Colts claimed the Patriots were using footballs that were under the 12.5 pounds per square inch (psi) requirement set forth by NFL rules. Many of the Patriots' footballs were found to be under-inflated when the officials inspected them at halftime of that game. In a news conference before the Super Bowl, Brady said he didn't alter the ball in any way.

The NFL tabbed Wells to investigate, and his 243-page report famously and ambiguously said it was "more probable than not" that Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of" two Patriots employees, equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally. The report never said specifically what Brady knew or how it figured he was a part of any conspiracy. Brady was suspended four games by the NFL, the Patriots were fined $1 million and were stripped of two draft picks, including a 2016 first-round pick. Brady appealed the suspension, and although the NFLPA objected, Goodell decided he would oversee the appeal and rule on it. On May 19, Patriots owner Robert Kraft accepted the punishment by the NFL, saying it was best for the league as a whole if everyone moved on from deflate-gate.

The entire ordeal has spawned plenty of conversations about Brady's legacy. Brady strengthened his case as the greatest quarterback in NFL history when he won his fourth Super Bowl last season, winning Super Bowl MVP honors after a fantastic fourth-quarter comeback against the Seattle Seahawks' top-ranked defense. When Brady was asked, in his only public comments on the matter immediately after Wells' report was released, if the controversy tainted the Patriots' latest Super Bowl win, he replied, "No, absolutely not."

The Patriots start their Super Bowl defense on Thursday, Sept. 10 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL's regular-season opener.

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

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: July 28, 2015, 6:36 pm

Vin Baker is working toward a career with Starbucks. (AP)Like countless other players, coaches and basketball obsessives, Vin Baker headed to Las Vegas Summer League last month looking for a job. The four-time All-Star, whose career ended in 2006 after years of on-court decline brought on by off-court struggles with alcohol abuse and ballooning weight, trekked to the desert on the invitation of Jason Kidd.

The Milwaukee Bucks head coach thought the former Olympian — who has since auctioned off the gold medal he won in Sydney as part of Team USA in 2000 — might be able to help the younger Bucks learn the finer points of post play and boxing out as a Summer League assistant coach. Moreover, he could also offer these hoops hopefuls a first-hand perspective on the temptations and dangers of living the NBA fast life.

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As Baker told Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears during an interview about the ongoing alcohol issues surrounding former Denver Nuggets and now Houston Rockets point guard Ty Lawson, he "was in the process of buying a Starbucks franchise in either Connecticut or New York and was also coaching his son's basketball team" when he got Kidd's call. (Baker's been coaching kids for a few years now.)

While it's certainly possible for a Summer League coaching stint to lead to a regular-season gig — former pro James Posey moved from the bench of the D-League's Canton Charge two seasons ago to a Summer League gig with their parent club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, last summer, to a spot on David Blatt's staff last season — the 43-year-old big man evidently isn't putting all his eggs in the big-league basket.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Baker's going full steam ahead with the Starbucks plan ... which requires him to undergo the same sort of training as anyone else working their way up the ladder of the coffee conglomerate:

The world’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, barista is stationed behind a busy coffee counter. His smile and easy-going style welcome customers looking for their Starbucks fix as they fastbreak to work or South County’s beaches.
“I love North Kingstown. It reminds me of my hometown, so it’s comfortable,” says the man, who stretches to 6-feet-11. “I like this community. Starbucks draws a lot of repeat customers and so many know me now.” [...]
Now 43, newly married and with four children, Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise. He thanks CEO Howard Shultz, the former Seattle SuperSonics owner, with this opportunity. He’s also a trained minister who savors work at his father’s church in Connecticut. Most important, he has been sober for more than four years.
“In this company there are opportunities for everyone. I have an excellent situation here at Starbucks and the people are wonderful,” Baker says.

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(This might make Baker one of very few people once associated with the Sonics who still have pleasant things to say about Schultz.)

It might be tempting to some to view this as another lowlight in a long fall from grace for Baker, whom the Bucks selected out of the University of Hartford with the No. 8 pick in the 1993 NBA draft. That's not the way he sees it, though.

Baker signed a 10-year, $17.5-million contract with Milwaukee before playing a second of pro ball and missed just four games in four years, averaging 18.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 blocks per game and becoming a fixture on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. After being shipped to the Pacific Northwest in a three-team deal that landed Shawn Kemp and Sherman Douglas in Cleveland while bringing Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill to Milwaukee, Baker continued to shine for the Seattle SuperSonics, posting career-best per-minute scoring, field-goal percentage and Player Efficiency Rating marks en route to his fourth straight All-Star game and his first playoff berth ... which ended in a 4-1 pasting in the Western Conference semifinals at the hands of Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.

“That was my first experience of having a meltdown,” Baker told SLAM's Zach Burgess back in 2011. “We were the number one seed and we lost. I put everything on me. After the playoff series against the Lakers, I went into a tremendous tailspin. I just felt like I had let the city down and the team down. I really thought we had an opportunity to get to the Finals. Me and Gary [Payton], who was my best friend at the time, went to Cancun, and I didn’t even leave the room. I remember Gary coming to the room and saying, ‘What you going to do, sit in the room all day?’ I just didn’t feel like moving. It sent me to a place that I didn’t want to go. That’s where the spiral began to happen.”

Despite the postseason disappointment and the beginnings of that "meltdown," the Sonics gave Baker a new seven-year, $86 million contract to anchor them down low into the first decade of the new millennium. But the pressure of stardom, the shaken confidence that resulted from getting blown by by Shaq in that playoff series, and the absence of structure during the 1998-99 lockout combined to derail Baker, both in the immediate aftermath of the work stoppage — his numbers and effectiveness declined sharply in the lockout-shortened season — and thereafter. As Ray Allen, Baker's teammate in Milwaukee and a star for both the Bucks and Sonics, put it in the SLAM feature, "He went from being the best forward in the League at that time — even with Karl Malone in the NBA — to just being non-existent," thanks in large part to his drinking.

The Sonics sent the declining Baker to the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2002, hoping that the Connecticut prep and college star would rediscover his top form back in his native New England. He'd make just 89 appearances over the course of two seasons in Boston, starting strong with a string of double-doubles before reportedly devolving into binge-drinking in hotel rooms after poor performances. He clashed with head coach Jim O'Brien, who reportedly confronted Baker after smelling alcohol on him in practice; the Celtics suspended Baker three times, including an indefinite suspension in January of 2004, before waiving him the following month with $36 million still left on his contract.

"When I finally got suspended by the Celtics, that was my roughest day after I failed another test," Baker told Spears. "That was a dark day. There was nobody I could reach out to who could understand the place I was in. Now people are like, 'This idiot put his whole career, contract and family in [jeopardy] for a drink.' There was absolutely no one who had empathy, sympathy, not to that point."

Baker would hang around the NBA for a few more seasons, spending brief stints with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, but never returned to form. He was out of the league by 2006, at age 34, and continued to struggle in the years after his retirement.

He lost a home and a business to financial mismanagement. In filings in a court case against his former advisor, Baker claimed that "virtually all of my earnings" — including an estimated $105 million in salary over the course of his 13-year career — "were spent and/or my investments lost all or nearly all of their value, such that my home in Durham was foreclosed and I was forced to liquidate substantial assets for little or no value, leaving me without resources to meet my financial obligations and living expenses."

After hitting rock bottom "in every aspect of my life," Baker began climbing back toward the light. He began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings — he said in a 2013 New York Daily News story that he hadn't had a drink since April 2011 — and began serving as both a youth minister and a volunteer assistant basketball coach in Harlem while working to get a master's degree in divinity.

His lawsuit against his former financial advisor has "been resolved, somewhat favorably," according to McNamara, but Baker's still got to work to support his family. What makes the 43-year-old hopeful as he makes the transition from layups to lattes, though — what makes him feel like this is more blessing than lowlight — is that even after all he's squandered over the years, he's still able to do that work:

“For me this could have ended most likely in jail or death. That’s how these stories usually end,” he says. “For me to summon the strength to walk out here and get excited about retail management at Starbucks and try to provide for my family, I feel that’s more heroic than being 6-11 with a fade-away jump shot. I get energy from waking up in the morning and, first of all, not depending on alcohol, and not being embarrassed or ashamed to know I have a family to take care of. The show’s got to go on.”

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

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Author: Dan Devine
Posted: July 28, 2015, 6:35 pm

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

Courtesy of Only Oswego

• Where in the world is Jonathan Toews? Hiking in Machu Picchu, apparently. The Chicago Blackhawks captain was spotted by a couple hockey fans and posed for a pic with a beautiful backdrop. [Only Oswego]

• Congrats to Buffalo, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Tampa on your selection as finalists to host 2018 World Junior Championship. [USA Hockey]

• Let the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics debate begin! The IIHF, NHL, and NHLPA have started preliminary talks about the players possible involvement in the games. [Causeway Crowd]

• The NHL has a breaking news problem: "Wait for a team to publicly announce a signing, note its refusal to actually mention the dollar value of the deal, and then see how many minutes it takes for a media insider to get the goods." [Grantland]

• 'What Glendale did “is almost the exact opposite of what happens in these extortion situations,” said sports economist Victor Matheson of College of the Holy Cross. “Typically the team extorts more payments out of the taxpayers.”' [Forbes]

• Russ Brandon leads the charge to synthesize the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres franchises, both owned by Terry and Kim Pegula. [Buffalo News]

• Is Mike Hoffman worth the $3.4-million he's asking for from the Ottawa Senators? His arbitration hearing is looming. [Today's Slapshot]

• What's holding up the Blackhawks and Marcus Kruger from making a deal? [Chicago Tribune]

• Great article on what it's like to get a concussion, the after effects, and the damage it can cause. [PPP]

• The New York Rangers won't find much relief, cap wise, next off-season with more key players needing contracts. [North Jersey]

• Examining the successes and failures of Lou Lamoriello's draft record in New Jersey. [TSN]

• Jordan Leopold's second half of last season was one he'll treasure forever thanks to his daughter. As an unsigned UFA, he's come to grips that it might be time to hang 'em up. [Star Tribune]

• Remember Zenon Konopka? He was suspended for violating the league's PED policy. He'd like to come back to the NHL but realizes retirement could be looming. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• After a few major roster shakeups this off-season, the St. Louis Blues are expecting a new look and attitude up front. [St. Louis Today]

• Pros and cons of Las Vegas and Quebec City as NHL expansion destinations. [Bleacher Report]

• After spending nearly 1,000 games in an Oilers sweater, Ryan Smyth is ready to return to Edmonton in a new role. [Edmonton Journal]

• The Anaheim Ducks are on the NBC national schedule four times next season. With their regular season success, why aren't they on TV more? [Anaheim Calling]

• Taking a look at the passing statistics (with pictures!) for Blackhawks youngster Teuvo Teravainen. [Committed Indian]

• Here's an idea for NHL realignment: no divisions, no conferences. (Good luck getting in the playoffs, eastern teams.) [The Hockey Writers]

• Kiruna's Ice Hockey club of Sweden frequently campaigns for LBTQ rights. They're inviting other sports clubs to join them in the Stockholm Pride Parade this weekend. [The Local]

• David Backes continues his charitable contributions by donating $100K to his alma mater Minnesota State. [MSU Mavericks]

• Fantasy hockey spin on the top 10 remaining unrestricted free agents. [Dobber]

• The OHL's Owen Sound Attack hire Ryan McGill as their new head coach. McGill was last with the Kootenay Ice where his contract was not renewed. [Buzzing The Net]

• Congrats to the residents of Southamptonm New York, your newest resident is Sean Avery. [Curbed]

• Finally, time lapse video of the construction at Connor McDavid's future home rink, Rogers Place. (From far away, the construction workers look like the Doozers from Fraggle Rock.):

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 28, 2015, 6:29 pm
*

It's no mystery what potential title game Maui Invitational organizers wanted to create when they designed this year's bracket.

They were trying to set up a championship clash between Kansas and Indiana when they placed the two blue bloods on opposite sides of the draw.

The Maui Invitational bracket released Tuesday has the reigning Big 12 champion Jayhawks pitted against host Chaminade in the opening round of the tournament. Assuming Kansas avoids an upset of monumental proportions, it would meet the winner of UCLA-UNLV in the semifinals.

Indiana will open against Wake Forest on its side of the bracket. The winner of that game will likely meet a much-improved Vanderbilt team that finished last season on a hot streak unless the Commodores fail to get past rebuilding St. John's in the opening round.

A Kansas-Indiana matchup would be an appealing one given that both teams will likely begin next season ranked in the top 15 in the nation.

The Jayhawks have an excellent chance to win an 11th straight Big 12 title thanks to the return of steady point guard Frank Mason Jr.,  breakout candidate Wayne Selden and all-conference power forward Perry Ellis. Highly touted freshman big man Cheick Diallo should also make an instant impact because his ability to run the floor, alter shots in the paint and finish above the rim complements the more polished but less athletic Ellis perfectly.

Indiana slipped into the NCAA tournament last season despite a lack of any semblance of a true frontcourt presence, but the addition of five-star big man Thomas Bryant could go a long way toward shoring up those issues this year. Surrounding Bryant will be one of the nation's elite backcourts, a group highlighted by star point guard Yogi Ferrell, high-scoring wing James Blackmon and ultra-athletic combo forward Troy Williams.

The biggest threat to a potential Kansas-Indiana title game is probably Vanderbilt, which should contend in the SEC and return to the NCAA tournament next season if the duo of Damian Jones and Riley LaChance can build on their strong finish to last season. Neither UCLA nor UNLV can be counted out either, but the Bruins need other scorers to emerge around returning standout Bryce Alford and the Rebels must hope that their newcomers can offset the loss of Rashad Vaughn and Christian Wood.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Jeff Eisenberg
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:43 pm

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, FileIt looks like Florida State will be without running back Dalvin Cook when preseason camp begins on Aug. 5.

Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday morning on ESPN that Cook, who was charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly punching a woman, would not be allowed to practice or work out with the team until the legal process plays out.

According to ESPN’s Joe Schad, an arraignment date in Cook’s case is scheduled for Sept. 2.

Cook’s lawyer Ricky Patel said earlier this month that Cook is innocent and that they are “not interested” in pursuing a plea deal.

“It’s just not right here,” Patel said. “It must be dropped or he must be found not guilty. If necessary, we will file civil charges after these false allegations.”

Patel said witnesses of the alleged incident – in which Cook is accused of punching a 21-year-old woman outside of a bar in Tallahassee – offered different versions of what happened when speaking to police. He remains indefinitely suspended from the team.

Cook rushed for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman in 2014.

FSU opens its 2015 season at home against Texas State on Sept. 5 – three days after Cook’s arraignment.

For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.

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

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:41 pm

The 1994 NFL season, celebrated as the 75th season for the league, was awesome for a few reasons, and one of them was that every team wore a throwback uniform for selected games.

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One of the best throwback uniforms from that year belonged to the Green Bay Packers. They were the 1937-49 uniforms of the Don Hutson days, with yellow shoulders and the rest was blue. The Packers preferred the Acme Packers style throwback as their third uniform the past few years, with the yellow circle and blue numbers within it, but the Packers are changing it up. The 1940s look is back. They'll wear those uniforms Oct. 18 against San Diego.

What do you think of the #Packers' historic third jersey? Take a closer look: http://t.co/GfIL534UzC pic.twitter.com/tMBCTpx1Th

— Green Bay Packers (@packers) July 28, 2015

The last time the #Packers wore similar uniforms? 1994. See photos: http://t.co/mHttSQcXLo pic.twitter.com/33dMUeWtwk

— Green Bay Packers (@packers) July 28, 2015

Here they are! The #Packers will wear these historic third jerseys on Oct. 18 vs. the Chargers. https://t.co/MdxKsIgUFd

— Green Bay Packers (@packers) July 28, 2015

Sharp. Other teams have third uniforms, but not many are this good.

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

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:41 pm

While it’s a seismic move in the real baseball world, the Troy Tulowitzki-Jose Reyes deal isn’t nearly as important to fantasy owners. The two key players are universally owned and their values don’t change much. Nonetheless, we should offer up a few thoughts before we move onto subtler things. 

I’ve been out on Tulowitzki for a few years now, worrying about his injury risk and whatnot. You know what you’re signing up for with him. I give his fantasy value a minor boost in Toronto, now that he’s in the hitter’s league and with a better lineup around him (the best lineup in baseball, of course). 

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The risk of Toronto’s cruel turf is partially mitigated by the fact that Tulo can also DH now and again. I also think it’s possible Tulowitzki will be more encouraged to play through injuries down the stretch, now that he’s back on a contender. Sometimes there’s a bounce after being released from Purgatory. 

The Rockies probably screwed up waiting so long to make a Tulowitzki deal; consider what the haul might have been a year or two ago when Tulo had a better public rank and reputation. Here’s one way to frame that: a year ago, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs ranked Tulowitzki No. 6 on his trade value column - that includes the weight of Tulo’s contract. Cameron pondered if Colorado might get a “Herschel Walker trade” someday. 

This summer, Tulowitzki didn’t make it into Cameron’s Top 50. And no, Reyes and some prospects is not a Walker payday. 

The Rockies figure to shop Reyes aggressively this week, and into August if necessary. He’s carrying a meaty contract, too, which lowers what Colorado can ask for but also means Reyes is a good bet to clear August waivers if needed. While Tulo’s defense has slipped notably (both in the eyes of scouts and on the metric scoreboard), Reyes’s has fallen completely off the table. Surely the contending clubs have noticed. 

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If I were shuffling bats right now, I’d have Tulo in the $22-24 range, and Reyes around $19-21. If I knew Reyes were in Colorado for good, take the high side of that. 

With Reyes gone, the Jays have an opening in their leadoff spot. Fantasy owers would love to see 2B Devon Travis get another look there. If that move comes to fruition, Travis gets a $2-3 bump on my sheets. 

LaTroy Hawkins is also headed north, but he's none of your concern. Roberto Osuna has been fine in the closing chair. Hawkins is just a support guy. As you were. 

As for the pitching prospects Colorado gets, let’s pray for all of them. I wouldn’t wish Coors Field on my worst pitching nightmare (Mat Latos sighs relief). Jeff Hoffman was the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, but he’s also coming off Tommy John surgery. Maybe Miguel Castro will be something down the road; the Jays clearly rushed him as a 20-year-old earlier this spring. Jesus Tinoco is the third piece; he has a 4.25 ERA in the minors, nothing above Single-A.

The Eck (1993 DT)• From a fantasy perspective, Monday’s trade between the A’s and Mets has a little more relevance. Tyler Clippard heads to New York (where he’ll set up for Jeurys Familia), and that means the A’s have a ninth-inning opening.

Now we have to play the stats-versus-role game. From a numbers view, Fernando Rodriguez has been the best of Oakland’s bullpen (a 3.60 ERA belies a terrific strikeout and K/BB rate). Edward Mujica has a mediocre 4.13 ERA over two stops this year and doesn’t miss bats (6.4 K/9) like Rodriguez does, but he also has previous closing experience. Sometimes that matters to teams, sometimes that does not.

Of course, the 2015 A’s aren’t going anywhere, so the organization doesn’t have to stay up nights worrying about this.

Evan Scribner? He’s too homer prone for me to bet on him. Sean Doolittle? I hope he makes a strong 2016 comeback, but I’m writing him off for this year. Why would the A’s push him when the season is shot? 

In some leagues where I had all Oakland options available to me, I took a stab at Rodriguez. If nothing else, I'm most confident he'll give me innings of value. But obviously the handshake is the main thing we want, and maybe a lesser arm like Mujica could do just fine if handed the push-button role. Share your speculation thoughts in the comments. 

• Let’s give a Wiggy nod to the job Matt Duffy is doing in San Francisco. If the Giants had any idea Duffy was this good, they wouldn’t have bothered negotiating at all with Pablo Sandoval last winter. 

Duffy had a good-field reputation at Long Beach State, but he didn’t hit much: .253/.305/.289, zero homers in 501 at-bats. His bat perked up during three seasons of minor-league seasoning, but he still didn’t show much pop (.304/.387/.413, 13 homers in 248 games). Duffy opened 2015 as a super-utility player for the Giants, while journeyman Casey McGehee was the regular third baseman. 

San Francisco gave up on Hits McGehee (.213/.275/.299) a while back, finally releasing him in July. Duffy, meanwhile, has grabbed the third-base job with two hands and turned into a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s on a .330-22-3-13-2 run since stepping into the No. 3 spot in the order, having a blast with the National League’s second-best offense. 

If I were ranking infielders right now, I’d have Duffy around $15. He qualifies at three infield positions (2B, SS, 3B), does a little bit of everything, and is an easy story to root for. Strangely, he's still unowned in about 40 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

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Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:29 pm
Ohio State football is honored by being cast in butter at the state fair (971thefan.com).

Six months after winning the national championship, Urban Meyer was given another great honor — having his likeness cast in butter.

Butter displays of Meyer, Brutus Buckeye, two Ohio State helmets and the national championship trophy were unveiled Tuesday for the upcoming Ohio State Fair.

The Ohio State statues will sit beside a traditional butter cow and calf in a glass refrigerated display throughout the 12-day fair, which begins Wednesday.

“It humbles you, and it’s a great honor,” Meyer told the American Dairy Association Mideast, which sponsors the display.

The display features 2,000 pounds of butter that is layered onto frames of metal and steel. It took sculptors more than 500 hours to complete the display, which was kept secret until Tuesday’s unveiling.

This is the second time Ohio State has made the display. In 1997, coach John Cooper stood alongside a player, a cheerleader and a band member.

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

-----

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

And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook

Author: Graham Watson
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:21 pm

(AP)The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be approaching their trade-deadline sale of ace Cole Hamels much like a realtor would sell an in-demand house.

The Phillies have reportedly told teams around MLB that they want their best offers by Wednesday, essentially laying down a "best-and-final" scenario, so the Phils can pick their preferred deal.

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ESPN's Jayson Stark has the news, but it comes with the footnote that the Phillies would then decide where or whether they want to trade Hamels. Yep, after all this, the Phillies are still trying to play it coy about their desire to trade Hamels. In the past, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has expressed that he'd have to be "wowed" to trade Hamels and he's seemingly doing his best to stay in a position of power in the negotiations. Even though everybody in baseball knows trading Hamels is in the best interest of the last-place, eager-to-rebuild Phillies.

The market for Hamels is deep and includes the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees and even non-contenders like the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, who see netting Hamels as an opportunity for long-term improvement.

[Yasiel Puig on possibility of getting traded by Dodgers: "I'll play anywhere."]

Here's how Stark sizes up a couple notable teams in the discussions the past two days: 

Sources have confirmed that the Astros have made a late push to acquire Hamels since the Phillies ace pitched a no-hitter last Saturday. However, Hamels can block a trade to Houston and the Astros have been given no assurance in recent days that that stance has changed.

The Giants, who scouted Hamels' no-hitter, also continue to talk to the Phillies, but still appear to be having a hard time matching up with the Phillies' asking price. One source's description of those talks Tuesday morning consisted of two words: "Nothing happening."

In other Phillies trade news, Jim Salisbury at CSN Philly reports that the Phillies will trade closer Jonathan Papelbon. Where and when, we don't know yet. This isn't terribly surprising, considering Papbelbon's outspoken requests to get out of Philly and the team's need to shred big contracts.

It's another where-will-he-land scenario to watch as we get closer to Friday's trade deadline.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:07 pm

What do the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team, J.K. Rowling, and any character played by Michael Cera have in common? They’re all underdogs. And I’m a sucker for ‘em. That’s probably something you should know about me as I join the gents at Roto Arcade this football season.

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I love going deep on sleepers, finding untapped potential, and exploiting value. That doesn’t mean that I’m forecasting a breakout for Cardinals quarterback Chandler Harnish, but it does mean that I’m willing to take some less than obvious flyers on guys in the double-digit rounds of my fantasy drafts.

Hitting on this year’s Justin Forsett or DeAndre Hopkins is never guaranteed, but I think the following four guys have a shot at taking your team from “Okay” to “Oh Yeah.”

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
In the interest of full disclosure ... I’m a Bears fan. I am not, however, a Cutler fan. But, if I’m being honest, the reasons that I don’t like him have much more to do with his sour mug than his questionable mechanics. He’s just not fun to root for which is a large part of the reason he’s being drafted behind the ultra-vanilla Andy Dalton and the Humpty Dumpty-esque Robert Griffin III.

Stepping back a moment from the brand that is Smokin’ Jay and examining the player and situation, Cutler presents borderline QB1/QB2 value. Marc Trestman’s frenetically paced offense may have been replaced by John Fox’s ultra-conservative approach, but that could actually help Cutler to slow down, take a breath, and reduce his mistakes. The interceptions won’t disappear -- he’ll still throw at least one a week -- but his completion percentage should continue to hover around a respectable 65 percent. Of course, the Pro Bowl level talent surrounding him in Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett will certainly help.

The other side of the ball will also do its part to keep the Chicago passing. Let’s not forget that the defense is in full-on rebuilding mode as they transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme.

Assuming the newly assembled offensive line stays healthy, there’s no reason to believe that Cutler can’t put up 4,000 passing yards and 24 TDs.


Roy Helu carries the ball last season with the Redskins. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)Roy Helu, RB, Oakland Raiders
Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga wasn’t the only person left breathless after RB Latavius Murray broke off a 90-yard touchdown run in Week 12 last season. Embraced by the fantasy community in that single play, Murray’s stock has soared in 2015. While I’m also high on the power back, there’s no denying his bust potential. Given his history of ankle issues and noting his upright running style, Murray may be a player worth handcuffing. Enter Roy Helu.

After four seasons with Washington, he’ll serve as the Raiders primary pass-catching back. Last year he put up career numbers, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and totaling 42 receptions for 477 yards. He’s a versatile back who will fit nicely into offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s system, working as an efficient chain mover on third downs. If Murray were to go down and Trent Richardson continues his downward trajectory, Helu is capable of commandeering the workhorse role. Currently going off the board in the 13th round of PPR drafts, Helu’s varied skill set and favorable situation make him an ideal late-round stash.


Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Perhaps best known for his four-touchdown game against the Jets in Week 8 of 2013, Jones is a balletic receiver with big mitts. Unfortunately, he missed all of 2014 due to foot and ankle injuries. In his stead, the catch-averse Mohamed Sanu lined up opposite A.J. Green. Targeted by Andy Dalton a whopping 98 times, Sanu was only able to haul in 56 balls, leading the league in drops with a grand total of 14.

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Much to the relief of Greater Cincinnati, Jones was a full participant in Bengals mini-camp, appearing healthy and ready to resume his No. 2 receiver duties. A victim of what have you done for me lately, the elusive receiver is being drafted behind Sanu, after the 13th round. A legitimate red zone threat with playmaking ability, Jones could easily put up a 60 receptions for 850 yards and10 touchdowns and become the steal of 2015’s draft season.


Rob Housler, TE, Cleveland Browns
According to Yahoo ADP, Jordan Cameron is currently the seventh tight end being drafted in fantasy leagues. Rob Housler, on the other hand, isn’t being drafted at all. “So what,” you say? The two have more in common than you might think. They were both drafted in 2011 (Housler going in Round 3, while Cameron wasn’t selected until Round 4). Their NFL combine stats were comparable (Housler actually ran a faster 40-yard dash). Plus, they’re both the same age, same height, and are separated by only nine pounds on the scale. So why the discrepancy between the two? I’d argue opportunity.

Four seasons into his professional career, Housler still hasn't broken out. Bruce Arians didn't help Housler’s progression in 2014 as he refused to feature receiving tight ends, believing that those who play the position should block first and catch second. This year, however, Housler will be taking over for Cameron, who left in free agency. Admittedly, the Browns’ options under center are grim, but with lackluster targets like Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe sitting atop the depth chart, Housler should see an elephantine uptick in targets. Under a one-year deal, it's make-or-break time for the 27-year-old.

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Author: Liz Loza
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:01 pm

The PGA Tour rolls into the national capital area this week for the Quicken Loan National. Tiger Woods' event has a new date and, this year, a new course in Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, former host of four of the first six Presidents Cup matches.

Defending champion Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler are two of just a handful of top 50 players in the field this week, so our weekly power rankings are pretty top heavy.

1. Rickie Fowler -- Fowler's the class of the field and a two-time worldwide winner this year. He's not the most consistent guy in the field, but he has the highest ceiling on an unknown course that commands an aggressive approach game.

2. Justin Rose -- It wouldn't be hard to make a case for Rose as the No. 1 guy in our ranking this week. He makes plenty of birdies per round, and he has to feel good coming off a T-6 effort at the Open heading into a title defense -- albeit at a new track.

3. Tony Finau -- This is just the kind of course where Finau could bust loose. He can use his massive length as an edge and parlay his aggressive style into a slew of birdies.

4. Will Wilcox -- Wilcox bailed on the Canadian Open last week to rest a nagging wrist problem, and it was a well-deserved vacation after securing his 2015-16 PGA Tour card at the Barbasol Championship. Playing free and loose should suit Wilcox well.

5. Pat Perez -- Perez has become a reliable player this year, snagging a T-18 finish at the Canadian Open. He hasn't been a threat to win but twice this year, but he's been a practical lock for four rounds and a good check.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:38 pm

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed savior/No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft Mitch Marner to a three-year entry-level contract. Wait, that doesn’t have the same ring to it as the dude in Edmonton. 

Whatever, Marner is the last of the top-five picks in the 2015 NHL Draft to sign his entry-level deal. He’s not exactly a huge-named guy like say Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. But the winger did have 44 goals and 126 points last year for the London Knights.

While he has prodigious offensive skill, by all accounts, he’s going to have to grow into his 5-foot-11, 160-pound body. Look at that above silly puck-holding photo from the draft. It looks very ... kid-like. 

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Still, with him it’s all about skill, and in today’s speed-oriented game, that’s mucho important. 

Via Hockey’s Future:

One of the more pure offensive talents in the 2015 NHL Draft is London Knights forward Mitch Marner. The slightly-built winger was a scoring dynamo for the Knights in 2014-15, but ultimately lost out on the OHL scoring title on the last day of the season after Dylan Strome‘s offensive outburst in his season finale. With a fluid game based in part on creative distribution of the puck, Marner is one of the most offensively gifted players in the draft class and a solid pick at this spot.

Via the National Post, while at the draft, Maples Leafs director of player personnel Mark Hunter didn’t say Marner wouldn’t play with Toronto next season. But considering Marner’s slightish frame. That seems unlikely at this time.

(Sort of) welcome to the NHL Mitch. We’ll see you in Toronto … in one or two years.

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

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:25 pm

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ bottom six has been an issue and general manager Jim Rutherford spent Tuesday addressing that need.

Rutherford solidified his roster down the middle by acquiring Nick Bonino from the Vancouver Canucks and signing Eric Fehr, who spent nine of the past 10 seasons with the Washington Capitals.

The full deal goes: Pittsburgh sends Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick for Bonino, defenseman Adam Clendening and a 2016 second-round pick. There is no salary retention involved.

(What is Sutter feeling today knowing he’s now been dealt twice by Rutherford in the span of three years?)

Meanwhile, Fehr signs for three seasons at $2 million per. The only monkey wrench in that deal is that the 29-year old forward underwent elbow surgery last month and is expected to miss 4-6 months. He also can give Mike Johnston some flexibility and move to the wing, if needed.

Fehr and Bonino combine for a $3.9 million cap hit and will fill the center spots on the Penguins’ third and fourth lines. Sutter carries a $3.3 million cap hit, so that’s some good management there by Rutherford. Bonino won’t become a UFA until 2017, while Sutter can hit the open market next summer.

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Pittsburgh also helped their possession numbers out with Fehr and Bonino. Sutter struggled at driving possession, while Fehr and Bonino did both that and aided their linemates, as Own the Puck's HERO charts show

For the Canucks, well, what are they doing? Are they looking for future flexibility with a number of expiring contracts next summer? Or maybe they’re just #AllInForAuston? How are the 34-year old Sedins feeling today looking at that roster?

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:17 pm

 

Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2015 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 8, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton.

NO. 12: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

I think most people are aware of how great Jamaal Charles is, but it's still fun to examine how incredible he has been.

Charles, who ranked 12th on the NFL Network's top 100 list for this year, is the main reason the Kansas City Chiefs have been a playoff contender and are this high on the countdown. He doesn't get the buzz of Adrian Peterson or Marshawn Lynch, or maybe even Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy or DeMarco Murray, but he's absolutely dominant.

Charles hasn't exactly been running through wide-open lanes created because opponents respect the Chiefs' great passing game. Here's Kansas City's passing ranks each of Charles' seven seasons, counting back from 2014: 29th, 24th, 32nd, 25th, 30th, 25th, 20th. Woof. Charles' 2,266 career receiving yards have boosted those ranks, as well. Yet here's Charles' yards per carry each season, counting backwards: 5.0, 5.0, 5.3, 6.9, 6.4, 5.9, 5.3. Only eight running backs in the history of the NFL have posted a career average of 5 yards or better. Charles has never averaged fewer than five yards per carry over a season, even though he has had practically no help from Kansas City's passing game to loosen things up for him.

(Graphic by Amber Matsumoto)Charles averages 5.5 yards per carry through his career. Only Marion Motley, whose career ended 60 years ago, has a better average among all running backs in NFL history. The player trailing Charles in the rankings is far behind him, at 5.2. That would be Jim Brown.

We're seeing a Canton-level career from Charles. But here's something Charles has never accomplished: win a playoff game. He's 0-2. And he needs help to change that.

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The Chiefs famously were so meager in the passing game last season that, somehow, they didn't get one touchdown from a wide receiver all year. The last team that could say that was the 1964 Giants. In today's passing league, that's an unbelievable stat.

There's plenty of blame to go around. The receivers? Yep, they weren't very good. Alex Smith? Probably too conservative at times. Andy Reid? Probably too conservative, too.

The Chiefs weren't changing their quarterback or coach, so they signed a legitimate receiver. Jeremy Maclin came over from the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. Maclin has 36 touchdowns in five years. The last time a Chiefs receiver scored a regular-season touchdown was a 2-yard bubble screen to Dexter McCluster on Dec. 29, 2013 at San Diego. Maclin will end the streak shortly after the season starts.

So the Chiefs are a little better in the passing game, and outside linebacker Justin Houston is a happy man with his $101 million deal. Are the Chiefs good enough to take the next step? The Chiefs are 20-12 under Reid, though that was bolstered by a 9-0 start in 2013 that was fueled by one of the weakest schedules you'll ever see. They seem like the "good enough" team, good enough to win games and be competitive but not good enough to really be a contender in the AFC.

Maybe a better passing game helps them get over that hump. It would be a shame if Charles starts to fade before he gets a chance to experience postseason glory.

2014 review in less than 25 words: The Chiefs were 7-3 and then stumbled down the stretch, including a really bad loss to an 0-10 Raiders team.

Is the roster better, worse or about the same? Maclin raises the grade. Safety Tyvon Branch was always a productive player with the Raiders when healthy, as well. They did lose receiver Dwayne Bowe, though he hadn't made much noise for three straight seasons, and the big loss was center Rodney Hudson. Since the Chiefs receivers were so underwhelming last year, the upgrade from Bowe to Maclin alone makes the roster better.

Jeremy Maclin (Getty Images)Best offseason acquisition: It's funny, had Maclin gone to a team like the Broncos or Colts, it would be a really nice addition but it wouldn't seem like an enormous deal. But because he signed with a team that was so historically inept at the wideout position, he's viewed as a savior.

Achilles' heel: I'm not sure how many different ways I can explain how the passing game is holding the Chiefs back. Other teams have won big without airing it out the past few years, like the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. But of the bottom 11 teams in passing yards last season, 10 didn't make the playoffs.

Position in flux: We can be positive when it comes to the Maclin addition. Then you look at the rest of the receiving depth chart and you really wonder how the Chiefs passed on all those talented receivers in the 2014 draft for outside linebacker Dee Ford. Or how they didn't draft a receiver with either of their first two picks this year. They did get Chris Conley in the third round, and he's an interesting case. He had a combine for the ages, but he had just one 100-yard game as a senior at Georgia and wasn't even an all-SEC honorable mention pick. If athleticism is what matters most in the NFL, it'll be a good pick. He could be the Chiefs' No. 2 receiver with a good camp, simply because there's not much competition. De'Anthony Thomas, Jason Avant and Albert Wilson are battling to be the second receiver. Yeah.

Ready to break out: if there's a name on that list of competitors for the No. 2 receiver job that could have a nice season, it's probably Wilson. As a rookie last year, the 5-9 Wilson had 12 catches for 209 yards from Week 14-16. The opportunity is there for Wilson to build on that.

Stat fact: The Chiefs were really good against the pass last season. They ranked second in passing yards allowed, tied for third in yards allowed per pass and second in completion percentage allowed. Losing top cornerback Sean Smith to a three-game suspension doesn't help but they do have depth at the position, including first-round pick Marcus Peters.

Schedule degree of difficulty: The Chiefs start at Houston, which isn't easy, then face the Broncos, play at Green Bay and at Cincinnati. Based on 2014 records the Chiefs are tied for the seventh toughest schedule in the NFL. It's really challenging early on.

This team’s best-case scenario for the 2015 season: There's enough skepticism about the Broncos that the AFC West doesn't seem like a foregone conclusion, and the Chiefs are probably first in line if the Broncos fall. If Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce lift the passing game a bit, Charles and Knile Davis give the Chiefs a great 1-2 running punch and the defense led by Houston is good again, the Chiefs can win the division.

And here’s the nightmare scenario: If Charles slips a bit, the offense might go with him. Alex Smith is fine but he's not going to carry a team by himself. The Chiefs are well coached and the defense is solid so it would take a lot of bad luck for them to tumble too far down the standings. But a playoff berth is a reasonable expectation, and another year without a playoff berth might cause Chiefs fans to wonder where the team is really headed with this core.

The crystal ball says: I don't think the Chiefs will knock off the Broncos this year, and the AFC is fairly deep when it comes to the wild-card contenders. I think Kansas City will repeat last season: a winning season and no playoff berth.

Previous previews
32. Tennessee Titans
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Washington Redskins
29. Oakland Raiders
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. New York Jets
26. Chicago Bears
25. Cleveland Browns
24. Atlanta Falcons
23. San Francisco 49ers
22. New York Giants
21. New Orleans Saints
20. Houston Texans
19. Carolina Panthers
18. St. Louis Rams
17. Minnesota Vikings
16. San Diego Chargers
15. Buffalo Bills
14. Detroit Lions
13. Philadelphia Eagles

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

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:04 pm

This is a highly subjective list. Using my sophisticated OPI (Own Personal Intrigue) method, I carefully have ranked the teams in order of interest and intrigue prior to the 2015 NFL season.

Please note: These are not power rankings. This is not how I think the 2016 NFL draft order will look. Nothing like that.

Intrigue can be both bad and good. My top-ranked team here missed the postseason a year ago; my 32nd-ranked team made it. Hopefully, you get the idea. I’m just speculating which teams will be the most buzzworthy and boast the most fascinating storylines heading into the season. The Washington Redskins, for instance, have mastered the art of bad-team intrigue.

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And some might argue that for years, the New England Patriots — even as remarkable as their run has been — are the most boring good team out there. Of course, not this year. Not with deflate-gate and Tom Brady's suspension threatening to rule the first month of the season.

So here they are, my indisputable OPI rankings heading into training camp. 

The most intriguing team of 2015 is ... 

1. Philadelphia Eagles — Chip Kelly: secret genius or mad scientist? This could be the year we find out. He enters Year Three having shuttled off nearly the entire roster he inherited — including many of the Eagles’ highest-regarded players. How are we not intrigued? One of his biggest imports, DeMarco Murray, he shockingly poached from the rival Dallas Cowboys. We will find out this season if Chip’s system — which is more about team building than some gimmicky offensive philosophy — is built to last. If Kelly reincarnates Sam Bradford and fixes that defense, it might be time to give it up, haters. But if Bradford struggles (or struggles to stay healthy), and the ball is put in the hands of Mark Sanchez or — gasp — Tim Tebow, it might be worrisome. You have to wonder, after Kelly missed out on landing Marcus Mariota, if finding a perfect-fit quarterback will forever be Kelly’s Camelot.

2. San Francisco 49ers — The attrition that has ravaged this team might have reached historical levels. After a strange, strained battle with ownership, Jim Harbaugh walked at what looks like precisely the right time. In his wake, the foundation of his steely squad either retired, was shipped out or left via free agency. Thrifty owner Jed York opted to go cheap — under the auspice of trust, dependability and locker-room harmony — in hiring the less-than-lucid Jim Tomsula (one game of head-coaching experience). There are scores of veterans trying to revive their careers — Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, NaVorro Bowman, Vernon Davis, and more. There’s talent, but is there turmoil? The first half of the schedule, by the way, is brutal.

3. Buffalo Bills — Are you excited yet? Maybe you’re not the biggest Rex Ryan fan (you communist!), and maybe you’re laughing at their quarterback options. Fair enough. But maybe Tyrod Taylor — who beat out Russell Wilson for ACC Player of the Year in 2010 — is a secret killer, or at least not a total disaster. And everywhere else there is exciting talent, playing in a city dying to win for a coach who will do anything and everything he can to (a) stick it to the Jets, (b) beat Tom Brady and (c) deliver a winner to some long-suffering fans. The defense could be the league’s best, and there are playmakers littered throughout the offense. There’s something happening here — and some excitable personalities coming to town with Ryan, LeSean McCoy, Richie Incognito and Percy Harvin — and what it is ain't exactly clear.

4. New England Patriots — It has been a wild six months since they beat the Indianapolis Colts, setting the Bad Ship Deflate-gate into motion, stealing a Super Bowl win in mind-blowing fashion and watching Brady get dragged through the mud in the league’s phony and laughable attempt to uphold the integrity of the game. And while everyone knows that what doesn’t kill the Patriots tends to make them stronger, navigating their way back to another Super Bowl appears far tougher, with a stronger division, Brady turning 38 and the Patriots’ huge losses in the secondary. If they do win it all this year, it will be their fifth title. The significance of this: The Patriots would own 10 percent of all the Super Bowl championships. The title also would be Bill Belichick’s seventh, which would tie him all time with former Broncos and 49ers scout/administrator Neal Dahlen for the most in league history.

5. Dallas Cowboys — The Dez Bryant signing removes a smidge of the drama, but it’s still a team we’ll be thinking about almost daily. Last season shocked me — I pegged their defense to be historically bad. And that’s why this season is so intriguing. For the first time, legitimately, the Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender for the first time in forever, and yet they’re missing a huge piece with Murray gone (to the hated Eagles, no less). The guys vying to replace him are a possibly washed-up back in Darren McFadden and a player guilty of shoplifting underwear and cologne last year in Joseph Randle. Randy Gregory and La’el Collins also will be fun to chart as high-profile rookies looking to make a lot of teams wish they hadn't passed them over in the draft.

6. Seattle Seahawks — Russell Wilson’s contract looms as one of the more fascinating negotiations in recent NFL history, textured by the fact that he’s coming off the haunting Super Bowl interception. His gift: a Marshawn Lynch contract extension and trades for receiving help in Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. But Michael Bennett could hold out? And Earl Thomas will miss all of camp? Intrigue! In a certain way, these are the same Seahawks we’ve come to know, so there’s a ceiling to it, and there’s no reason to think they can’t get back to a third straight Super Bowl. But we’ll always be paying attention to what this outlaw bunch is doing and saying.

Adrian Peterson (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)7. Minnesota Vikings — Everything points toward a bigger season, maybe even a special one. Adrian Peterson, awkwardly or not, is back. Teddy Bridgewater showed he can be the guy down the stretch. Is this Teddy’s team now? That’s fascinating. Mike Zimmer has to love what he has here, including the makings of a top 10 (maybe even a top five) defense. The division is tough, and the Green Bay Packers remain the better team until further notice. But the Vikings could announce their presence this season. 

8. Green Bay Packers — If you’re the Super Bowl favorites, as some Vegas houses have them, you likely have an automatic landing spot in the top 10. If you bow out of the playoffs in a spectacular collapse, you get bumped up a notch as we try to figure out how they’ll respond to that loss in Seattle. Beyond that, it’s not the wildest bunch of webelos we’ve ever seen, but they put up points in spectacular and prolific fashion and have the best quarterback in the game. The OPI is not off the charts, but it’s buzzing. Mike McCarthy giving up play calling is something we’re watching closely.

9. New York Giants — No team has had a weirder offseason, or a tougher one injury-wise. The odd mystery of Jason Pierre-Paul blowing a finger off in a fireworks mishap has been the NFL’s strangest offseason story. Left tackle William Beatty tore his pec lifting. Odell Beckham Jr.’s hammy has been barking for months. Victor Cruz is still sidelined. And there’s a lot at stake. Eli Manning’s contract runs out after this season. Tom Coughlin has parried off retirement talk, but for how long? This could be one of those flashpoint seasons for the franchise.

10. Denver Broncos — Peyton Manning might be finished, in that he’s washed up as a player, or he might be finished in that he’s still pretty darned good but that this could be his swan song season. That alone will keep us tuned in, especially with all his weapons, and realistically the defense could be spectacular under the watch of Wade Phillips. What else do we have? Gary Kubiak’s return to Denver, Von Miller heading into free agency, a potentially crummy offensive line and C.J. Anderson looking to build off last season’s breakout. It’s interesting, but perhaps not thrilling.

11. New Orleans Saints — Something tells me this team is going to get its mojo back. Even if Rob Ryan pledges to have his defense speak more softly and yet carry bigger sticks than it did during a miserable 2014 effort, something says that dam will break some time before the opener against the Arizona Cardinals — even with the release of the caustic Junior Galette. Drew Brees’ decline has been greatly exaggerated, and yet the story of how that offense — no Graham, no Kenny Stills — will evolve is pretty darned interesting. The Saints will look different in 2015, and they could be more fun again.

tie-12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Tennessee Titans — It’s a copout, yes, to pair up these rookie-quarterback-driven rebuilding projects. But as intrigued as we might be to follow the different styles and skills of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the first and second picks of the draft, respectively, the truth of the matter is that both of their teams largely stink until proven otherwise. Still, we’ve seen the power of a young QB injecting life into listless teams in recent years, so there’s always the hope of that happening in Tampa and Nashville. They’re a lot more intriguing than they were four months ago. Oh, and they face off in Tampa in Week 1. How convenient.

Jamaal Charles (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)14. Kansas City Chiefs — I realize they don’t move the needle for many who brand them the BORING MIDWEST TEAM or for those choose to invoke the ALEX SMITH STINKS privilege, but I see something here. I see Justin Houston chasing a sack record. I see Jamaal Charles, fourth all-time in yards per rush (ahead of Jim Brown). I see Andy Reid averaging 10 wins the past two seasons after taking over a garbage roster. I see a defense that allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL and a team that beat both Super Bowl teams last year. I see 20-plus free agents next year. I see a team that will exceed expectations and possibly make a deep playoff run if the offensive line can jell. I’m sorry not everyone can see it.

15. Houston Texans — Are they fool’s gold on the OPI scale? Hard Knocks could give us an indication, but their milquetoast quarterback group is a good reason to keep them right in this range. Even if Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett are not terrible, they’re just not that exciting. Bill O’Brien is a pretty interesting coach, and we know J.J. Watt is a mover and shaker. Can Watt and Vince Wilfork push Jadeveon Clowney if he’s healthy? That will be fascinating to watch. Arian Foster is interesting, for better or worse. That’s about it. They look like a pretty good team without a ton to lose our minds about.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Tomlin hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2010 season, but he will be paid upwards of $7 million per year in his new contract to end that streak this season. After two 8-8 seasons and a first-round postseason loss to the hated Ravens, the Steelers are seeking bigger and better. The season opener against the Patriots will be a heater, even with Le’Veon Bell missing it and the next two. The offense looks like a revved-up sports car while the defense is more jalopy than gem at this point, but there’s room for growth. New coordinator Keith Butler is in the spotlight after replacing institution Dick LeBeau, his longtime boss.

17. Miami Dolphins — This is a team whose coach needs to win badly. Despite a one-year extension this offseason, it’s win-or-bust for Joe Philbin with the team having added Ndamukong Suh, a whole new group of pass catchers (DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron) and possessing enough young talent to make a run at the Patriots. Most of the key position battles are inside on the offensive line — not sexy but important nonetheless — and the infrastructure is strong. Can Philbin and Ryan Tannehill take the next step? That’s the prevailing theme, and it’s a pretty big one.

18. Arizona Cardinals — Bruce Arians is the best. Carson Palmer is coming back; the Cardinals were great last season with him, and pretty bad without him. They’ve beefed up their offensive line. The defense looks pretty good, even without Todd Bowles, as Sean Weatherspoon adds some howl. Anything I’m missing here? Larry Fitzgerald is being phased out, but it’s happening in an amicable, respectful way. He still has something in the tank. Rookie runner David Johnson is one to watch. There’s just not a ton of buzz for this team, but we suspect Arians is fine with that.

19. Washington Redskins — The Robert Griffin III mystery looms, and he’ll get every chance to summon his 2012 self again as the starting quarterback whose 2016 option has been picked up. Last season’s drama centered around Griffin and head coach Jay Gruden and the apparent disconnect between Gruden and the front office over Griffin. That rolls over into this season with answers needed. The defense, including the coaching, received a semi-overhaul, and there are a few other developments worth charting. But the excitement and intrigue level has a real limit here.

20. Atlanta Falcons — A year from now, I predict they’ll be higher. Dan Quinn has the earmarks of a fearless leader, and he’ll continue to forge his brand on this team over time. Julio Jones is in a contract year and could go nuclear if he plays a full season, but Matt Ryan is the most vanilla 4,700-yard passer money can buy. Roddy White might be heading into his final season in Atlanta. The defense will be tightened, and rookie Vic Beasley adds excitement, but it’s far from a great unit yet. The O-line still looks like garbage. This is a slow boil, and I’m not quite ready to throw my pasta in this unsalted water, if that makes sense.

Terrell Suggs (AP Photo/Don Wright)
21. Baltimore Ravens — This is where it gets tricky. I believe the Ravens are one of the favorites to make a deep run in what appears to be an open AFC field. They have that same Ravens swagger, and time has yet to mellow the always watchable Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith. Any Joe Flacco-quarterbacked team has a cap on its sex appeal, even if the man has one of the best postseason track records going. The Ravens are well-coached, they always seem to bounce back from personnel losses and you have to assume they’ll be strong contenders again. It just might be one of the less intriguing Ravens teams in a few years on some level. Who starts opposite Smith at receiver? That’s worth debating and tracking. The changes on offense (including coordinator Marc Trestman) are intriguing.

22. Indianapolis Colts — Frank Gore might be one of those tremendous short-term investments that changes the profile of a team, aiding a lagging run game and adding some much-needed grit. Andrew Luck has been great, but is he in that elite group? Overrated debate, in my opinion, but Luck has an incredible array of weapons entering his fourth season. Is it a Super Bowl-or-bust season? I don’t think so. But we’re getting close. The offensive line and defense, problems at times last season, remain questions. Also of note: Chuck Pagano is in the final year of his deal, but not too many people outside Indy are talking about it.

23. New York Jets — Look, we’re excited about Darrelle Revis’ return and the revamping of a talented defense. We’re also still hopeful about Geno Smith breaking out, and new head coach Todd Bowles has a very interesting albeit incomplete team to help rebuild with. The four-game suspension for Sheldon Richardson stings. There are holes on the roster, and the Jets have the ability to beat the Patriots once head to head this season. But let’s cap our enthusiasm just a bit with a few too many unknowns. Next year could be very interesting, however.

24. San Diego Chargers — What is wrong with me exactly? This is a team whose franchise quarterback and defensive linchpin are heading into the final years of their respective deals … its future Hall of Fame tight end has had his spotless image tarnished with a four-game suspension … whose first-round running back averaged nearly eight yards per carry last season in college and who could be the missing ingredient … and, oh yeah, whose team could relocate to Los Angeles after this season. I know I should be more fascinated by this team. I just … am not. I’ll take the blame on this one.

25. St. Louis Rams — Same kind of deal. No team that traded for a new quarterback, drafted Todd Gurley and has five (!) rookie offensive linemen should be this low, much less one with arguably the best front four in football. Throw in the fact that there's a new starting quarterback and that the Rams could be skating for L.A. in six months, and you'd think there's a lot to talk about. There is. But I'm not getting swept up yet in Rams Mania. Maybe I will when I visit training camp next week. They probably deserve to be a bit higher. But like the state's motto — Show Me — I need to see it to believe it.

26. Cleveland Browns — A year ago, they might have been in the top four or five. This season? I’m kind of over the hype a bit. Johnny Manziel has gone from whiskey rock-a-roller to milquetoast backup for Josh McCown, the former high-school teacher and coach. The Terrelle Pryor stuff is a bit overblown until proven otherwise. The defense has some former first-rounders (Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo) who must step up. Mike Pettine appears to be a good coach, and the Browns might pull and upset or three this season. But I’m hedging my bets on the thrill factor here.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars — I was one of those silly saps who double-fisted on the Jaguars Juice a year ago, and I ended up swallowing pretty hard on what clearly was yet another rebuild season. More of the same, even though the excitement level at least has reached a bit of a simmer. This team might sneak up on a few folks, Blake Bortles has a lot more to work with and Allen Robinson might be a breakout star. But the Dante Fowler Jr. injury was a crushing early blow, and there still are a bunch of shortcomings here. Gus Bradley isn’t on the hot seat — not yet.

Amari Cooper (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)28. Oakland Raiders — I’ll go on record to say I think Amari Cooper could be a 90-catch rookie. The early returns have been thrilling, and he’s clearly Derek Carr’s best hope. Young QB-WR combos are exciting to watch, and Khalil Mack is embarking on what could be a special career. New head coach Jack Del Rio is better than most people realize, and I have hope for the future amid the cloudiness of the franchise’s eventual location. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, folks.

29. Carolina Panthers — I seriously don’t know what to do with this team. On the one hand, they have a uniquely skilled quarterback and a defense that is championship-grade. On the other, they just don’t thrill me — especially now that Cam Newton’s deal is done. At this point, we simply ask: can he live up to it? The team’s strange draft haul and flat-line free-agent additions don’t move us much. We think Ron Rivera is churning out more of what he has had the past few seasons: a competitive, gritty team that won’t thrill the TV networks. Just sayin’ …

30. Detroit Lions — Losing Suh and Nick Fairley hurts, and adding Haloti Ngata (for what could be a one-season rental) doesn’t tickle our toes much. Matthew Stafford endures the long-running can-he-do-more questions, and even with excitement (Calvin Johnson returning to health), hope (Eric Ebron emerging) and options at running back (another three-headed attack), we’re underwhelmed by the offensive line. Jim Caldwell is a natural sedative for a team, and even coming off a strong first season at the helm, we expect a small step back and limited intrigue in a tough division.

31. Chicago Bears — It’s not as if there are not things to talk about here. New head coach and GM. A defense in need of life support. Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte possibly heading to free agency next year. The scourge of Jay Cutler. But knowing there’s a darned good chance they could get in an early hole with a tough schedule and finish fourth doesn’t exactly leave us breathless here. The most telling part of the season could be in the latter half when we see what John Fox’s longer-term intentions are.

32. Cincinnati Bengals — The song remains the same … can Andy Dalton win a playoff game? Some might be intrigued by this hamster wheel, or by the ooh, snap Dalton was booed at a celebrity softball game element of it all. But really, he’s not a lot different (and in some ways better) from Carson Palmer in his first four seasons starting:  

QB Comp. Att. Comp. % Yards Yards/att. TD INT Team record Playoff appearances Money earned through first 4 seasons starting
Carson Palmer 1,305 2,036 64.1% 14,899 7.32 104 63 32-29 (61 starts) 1 (0-1 record) $49.63 million
Andy Dalton 1,311 2,111 62.1% 14,758 6.99 99 66 40-23-1 (64 starts) 4 (0-4 record) $22.2 million

Throw in “Melba” Marvin Lewis, and even with his ability to walk between the raindrops, it’s a pass for me. The Bengals look like a really strong team — outside of QB — to me. Almost no holes. And almost no excitement or intrigue, either.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:00 pm
Photo via Icethetics

Behold the glory of a possible new Colorado Avalanche jersey. Is it a third jersey? Is it a jersey for the team’s Stadium Series game?

The above picture was tweeted out by Icethetics. Per the tweet it is likely the Stadium Series outfit. Or it may be a third jersey. Either way it looks pretty cool.

The Avs are slated to play the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 27 at Coors Field.

First off – again if this the Stadium Series jersey – love the logo homage to the old Colorado Rockies franchise, which moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. It's not totally the same logo, but it's pretty close. Add in the Avalanche, burgundy and blue colors and it has a classic/modern look. Colorado's logo (which isn't really all that iconic) hasn't changed and this is a nice, different pace. 

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Sadly, this graphic does not seem to show us numbers or patches which are key components to any Stadium Series (or third) jersey. For example, the Kings Stadium Series jerseys from this past year had MASSIVE numbers on the shoulder/arm area. This dominated the quasi toilet paper look.

I’m sure all will be revealed at some point.

As for the Red Wings … this is a prime moment to replace the winged wheel with a Little Caesar’s logo for at least one game. Talk about free advertising. (Not real) pizza, (not real) pizza. 

 

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

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 28, 2015, 3:48 pm

You’re in your second semester of AP Basketball History, you love really good teams, and you love lists. With precious little drama left in the NBA’s 2015 offseason, why don’t we hit the barroom and/or barbershop, pour ourselves a frosty mug of Barbicide, and get to arguin’ over each franchise’s most formidable starting five-man lineup.

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

Because we don’t like making tough decisions, the lineups will reflect the All-NBA line of thinking. There will be no differentiation between separate forward and guard positions, and the squads will be chosen after careful consideration of individual merits only – we don’t really care if your team’s top shooting guard and point guard don’t get along.

These rankings will roll out based on when each franchise began its NBA life. We continue with the Boston Celtics, who have been so good over the last 60 seasons that they have no numbers left to give you.

C: Bill Russell. Completely changed the way basketball was played. Was the devastating go-to defensive force on 11 Celtic championship teams, an outfit that helped shape the way modern basketball is run. Won five NBA MVP awards. I once saw him eat an ice cream sandwich in two bites.

F: John Havlicek. A durable two-way forward that probably could have played at a high level several years following his 1978 retirement. Was the NBA’s third-leading all-time scorer upon that retirement day. An eight-time champion and 13-time All-Star. Once stole the ball.

F: Larry Bird. Overcame a debilitating lack of athleticism that sportswriters of the era chose to talk up despite his ability to out-run, out-quick, out-shoot, out-pass, and out-rebound just about every player of his position in his or several players’ other eras. Won three championships and guested in two other Finals’ stages. Quite possibly the finest all-around player of all time. Would go to great lengths in order to secure a hamburger sandwich.

G: Sam Jones. Quite possibly the greatest bank-shot artist in NBA history. Won ten NBA championships, because that’s what Celtics did back then.

G: Bob Cousy. Made the game interesting at a time when, let’s be honest, the game wasn’t all that interesting. Easily the greatest NBA player in history to only make 37 percent of his shots from the field on average, which is something to bring up to your dad when he whines about Stephen Curry pulling up for a 25-footer with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Sensibly navigated several deep Celtic rosters, full of eager hands, while still maintaining an aesthetic flair that made the C’s palatable national television draws during the NBA’s lean years.

Kevin McHale didn’t make this team. Paul Pierce didn’t make this team. Robert Parish and Jo Jo White didn’t make this team. Dave Cowens. This is how strong the Celtics tradition is.

Frank Ramsey basically invented the idea that the first guy off the bench could be the most important player on the court, and he missed out. McHale followed up on that ideal. Dennis Johnson was the steady hand behind two different Celtic championships at lead guard, and he fell short. Tom Heinsohn might be a bit of a punch line to League Pass obsessives, but he was an absolute killer in the frontcourt for several Celtic championship clubs. Ed Macauley was the Jahlil Okafor of his time.

The Celtics are so deep and have been so loaded that it almost confounds as to why they’ve only won 17 championships. The team was way ahead of its time in its ability to scout NBA-level talent that would transcend generations, and though there were some rough stretches, the C’s have spent the great majority of its existence playing chess while their opponents were playing, well, losing basketball.

This is the five we’re going with. Who would you take?

Previous entries: Golden State.

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

Author: Kelly Dwyer
Posted: July 28, 2015, 3:48 pm

Danny Briere will be 38 in October. He’s currently an unrestricted free agent and coming off the worst offensive season of his nearly 20-year career (8 goals, 12 points, 57 games). Those facts have all the making of us having seen the last of him in the NHL; but a decision is still to be made by the veteran forward.

Speaking with ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside, Briere said he has yet to decide if he’s going to retire and plans to make a decision within the next few weeks. 

"That’s kind of the big question: Can I imagine committing to it?" he said. "If I decide to play, I have to commit to full out training. I’m working out and I’m staying in good shape as of right now. But if I decide to play, I’ve got about two months left to really take it to the next level to be ready for next season.”

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Weighing on Briere as he decides his hockey future is being away from his three teenage sons, who have seen many days already without their dad. "I think they’re kind of torn on it, too," he said.

According to Burnside, if Briere chooses to play, he’d like to stay in the northeast, close to his boys. This past season in Colorado was pretty tough for he and his sons. 

Briere has played 973 NHL games in his career and has made a name for himself in the postseason where he’s recorded 116 points in 124 games, good enough for eighth among active players in points per game (0.935). Considering his decline over the past three seasons, you could say he’s done as a player, but it’s almost August and the decision to keep playing is still weighing on him.

This could end up with Briere getting a training camp invite with a team in the northeast, which would allow him to test that decision to commit for another grind of a hockey season.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 28, 2015, 3:04 pm

Syracuse's Ashton Broyld, right, runs past Boston College's Steele Divitto, left, in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)Ashton Broyld has been dismissed from the Syracuse football program for “a violation of team policy,” Orange head coach Scott Shafer announced Tuesday morning.

Broyld, a senior who has seen time at running back and wide receiver, was the team’s leading receiver in 2013 with 52 catches for 452 yards. He played in just four games for the Orange last year, totaling 15 catches for 174 yards. He missed eight games with a leg injury.

The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Broyld also saw action in eight games as a true freshman in 2012 at running back. He rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries. He also registered seven receptions that season for 53 yards.

Broyld was expected to be used in a hybrid role in 2015, but fell to third string on the Orange’s depth chart coming out of spring practice. Shafer hinted to off-field issues when he told reporters that Broyld needed “to do a good job with everything, and not just football.”

In Broyld’s absence, sophomore Ervin Phillips (194 rushing yards; 15 catches for 57 yards) and junior Ben Lewis (24 catches, 275 yards, TD) should see increased snaps at the hybrid position. 

For more Syracuse news, visit CuseConfidential.com.

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

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 28, 2015, 2:55 pm

After more than 20 years as also-rans in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are trying to position themselves as contenders in 2015, and beyond.

News broke early Tuesday morning that the Toronto Blue Jays acquired All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in a shocking trade with the Colorado Rockies. In return the Rockies get shortstop Jose Reyes, and three pitching prospects – Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco. The Blue Jays also get veteran relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.

The trade was surprising given the Blue Jays already have the top offense in all of baseball but were in desperate need of an upgrade to their starting rotation. With the Blue Jays appearing to go all in, another trade for pitching help could be in the works before Friday’s deadline. Or they’ll decide to just outslug their opponents.

It’s also a major splash for the Blue Jays considering rumors of how tight fisted their owners, Rogers Communications, were being with the team’s payroll. Tulowitzki is still owed a lot of money over the course of his contract – over $100-million, in fact. But no doubt what made that amount of money palatable to the Rogers suits is that he will be in a Blue Jays uniform until at least 2020. He is no rental player.

[Follow our trade deadline tracker for the latest MLB news and rumors.]

Combined with last winter’s acquisition of third baseman Josh Donaldson, the left side of Toronto’s infield is set for years. And scary good. Donaldson is an All-Star and MVP candidate this season, and is eligible for arbitration in 2016 but can’t become a free agent until 2019. That gives the Blue Jays probably another four-year window to win.

Tulowitzki is also added insurance for the eventual departure, or regression, of sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Both players are in the last year of their deals, but Bautista has a team option for 2016 at $14-million, when he will be 35 years old. Encarnacion has a team option for 2016 at $10 million, he will be 33. But at a combined $24 million it’s a safe bet the Blue Jays will pick up both options and keep their juggernaut offense together for at least another year. Beyond that, Tulowitzki and Donaldson, along with Russell Martin, slot in nicely as the heart of the Blue Jays' lineup.

The Blue Jays, barring any more big trades before Friday, are also still stacked with young pitchers. Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, and Aaron Sanchez are all top prospects who have already reached the majors. But they are not enough to help the Blue Jays get over the hump this year.

[Yasiel Puig on possibility of getting traded by Dodgers: "I'll play anywhere."]

As well positioned as they Blue Jays are for the future, they still need another arm right now. And it should be noted that they traded three of their highly-regarded pitching prospects but didn’t get pitching help in return. It just adds to how the bizarre the deal is.

Even with Johnny Cueto, who will make his Royals debut against the Blue Jays on Friday, off the market there are big names to be sought. Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, and David Price all could be had for the right price. What will be interesting for the Blue Jays and general manager Alex Anthopoulos is whether the addition of Tulowitzki means they can afford a big name, or if they feel they can get by with a second-tier guy like Mike Fiers or Mike Leake. Will the Blue Jays be willing to part with what’s left of their top pitching prospects? That remains to be seen, but it feels like Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays might not be done just yet.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Ian Denomme is an editor and writer for Yahoo Sports. Email him at denomme@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter.

Author: Ian Denomme
Posted: July 28, 2015, 2:45 pm

There would be no concerns for Kyle Busch's Chase eligibility if NASCAR used Formula 1's points system.

After winning his fourth race of the last five races in Sunday's Brickyard 400, Busch is tied for the Sprint Cup lead in wins with Jimmie Johnson. But he's in 32nd place in the points standings because of his absence in the first 11 races of the year after he broke his leg and foot at Daytona in February.

In the F1 format, Busch would rank ninth and ahead of such drivers as Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray.

A driver must be in the top 30 in points to be eligible for the Chase. Busch is on the fast track to the top 30 with the way he's blistering the field. But he's also potentially out of the Chase if he has a bad finish or two over the next five races and can't recover.

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NASCAR's points system awards one point to the driver that finishes last and increases by a point for each position. Drivers who lead a lap are granted a point, the driver who leads the most laps is given a point and winners are given three points extra, meaning race winners have, at most, a six point gap on the second-place finisher. Here's how F1's works.

1st: 25 points
2nd: 18 points
3rd: 15 points
4th: 12 points
5th: 10 points
6th: 8 points
7th: 6 points
8th: 4 points
9th: 2 points
10th: 1 point

Formula 1's points system is everything NASCAR brags about when it comes to its Chase format. The system appropriately rewards winning vs. other finishes and doesn't award points to drivers finishing 11th or worse. Points racing, something that NASCAR CEO Brian France has expressed his disdain for in the past, is severely lessened.

And unsurprisingly, Kevin Harvick is still dominating NASCAR with the F1 format. Here's how the standings would stack up via F1's system.

1. Kevin Harvick: 262 (1st in NASCAR's standings)
2. Jimmie Johnson: 206 (4th)
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 179 (3rd)
4. Joey Logano: 175 (2nd)
5. Martin Truex Jr.: 133 (5th)
6. Kurt Busch 124 (8th)
7. Matt Kenseth: 119 (7th)
8. Brad Keselowski: 116 (6th)
9. Kyle Busch 102 (32nd)
10. Denny Hamlin: 94 (10th)
11. Ryan Newman: 72 (12th)
12. Jeff Gordon: 59 (11th)
13. Jamie McMurray: 57 (9th)
14. Carl Edwards: 44 (16th)
15. Kasey Kahne: 42 (14th)
16. Paul Menard: 35 (13th)
17. Clint Bowyer: 35 (15th)
18. Kyle Larson: 32 (20th)
19. Greg Biffle: 19 (18th)
20. AJ Allmendinger: 14 (23rd)
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 12 (27th)
22. Austin Dillon: 11 (19th)
23. Aric Almirola: 10 (17th)
24. David Ragan: 10 (24th)
25. Sam Hornish Jr.: 9 (25th)
26. Casey Mears: 8 (21st)
27. Danica Patrick: 8 (22nd)
28. Tony Stewart: 8 (26th)
29. Trevor Bayne: 4 (28th)
30. Justin Allgaier: 4 (30th)
31. Brett Moffitt: 4 (33rd)
32. Josh Wise: 1 (37th)

As you can see, Kyle Busch clearly has the biggest difference between systems. Everyone else is pretty much in the same spot. Aric Almirola has the second-biggest discrepancy and his is only six points positions.

Would NASCAR consider going to a format like this? We're guessing the chances are very slim and this post is simply designed as a fun exercise. The series keeps emphasizing the need for close competition – hence the Chase's elimination format – and its one-point-per position format keeps the field relatively closer together in the standings. In F1's, Hamlin has approximately 35 percent of the points that Harvick does. In NASCAR's system, he has 76 percent of Harvick's points.

But it's clear that Formula 1's format rewards successful drivers and doesn't change NASCAR's hierarchy too much. Plus, it really, really, emphasizes what the sanctioning body says it wants to spotlight: winning.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: July 28, 2015, 2:23 pm

You’re in your second semester of AP Basketball History, you love really good teams, and you love lists. With precious little drama left in the NBA’s 2015 offseason, why don’t we hit the barroom and/or barbershop, pour ourselves a frosty mug of Barbicide, and get to arguin’ over each franchise’s most formidable starting five-man lineup?

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

Because we don’t like making tough decisions, the lineups will reflect the All-NBA line of thinking. There will be no differentiation between separate forward and guard positions, and the squads will be chosen after careful consideration of individual merits only – we don’t really care if your team’s top shooting guard and point guard don’t get along.

These rankings will roll out based on when each franchise began its NBA life. As such, we start with the defending champion Golden State Warriors, established in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors.

C: Wilt Chamberlain. Retired as the NBA’s all-time leader in points and rebounds. Scored 100 points in one ballgame in 1962. A member of the NBA’s Top 50 club. Claims to have bedded over 20,000 women and, just as dubiously, never eaten a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. He seriously said both of those things.

F: Chris Mullin. Spent 13 of his 16 seasons as a Warrior. A five-time All-Star, averaged over 25 points per game five different times with several promising Golden State clubs. A member of the 1992 Team USA Dream Team. As a team executive, once drafted Patrick O’Bryant ninth overall.

F: Rick Barry. Led the Warriors to the 1975 NBA championship. Averaged over 35 points per game, leading the league, in just his second NBA season. Made 90 percent of his free throws as an NBA pro. Once yelled at fans, turned out to be correct. Whupped Dwayne Wayne’s ass in a charity game.

G: Latrell Sprewell. Spent five seasons with the Warriors, with his sixth and final season in 1997-98 ending after just 14 games due to, um, suspension. Made three All-Star teams with Golden State, averaging over 24 points per game and 6.3 assists per contest in 1996-97. Was once accused of not putting enough mustard on his passes in practice. A row ensued.

G: Stephen Curry. Winner of the 2014-15 NBA MVP, as he led the Warriors to the NBA’s championship. Likely on his way to retire as the NBA’s greatest shooter in league history, continually breaks his own records for marksmanship. Father of noted daughter.

Jumpin’ Joe Fulks, the man who basically popularized something we know as “the jump shot” (it was originally referred to as “The Devil’s Tallywacker” in sportswriting circles), would have an argument to possibly supplant Sprewell at one of the guard positions. Mitch Richmond (who only played three seasons for the franchise) and Tim Hardaway (who battled injury and conditioning concerns) merited consideration. Baron Davis will always be beloved in the Bay Area due to his role on the 2007 “We Believe” Warriors, but he underperformed throughout most of his 227-game tenure with Golden State.

Tom Meschery was a consistent gamer at forward for the Warriors, but not to the point that he would outpace either Barry or Mullin. Nate Thurmond would act as the starting pivotman for most franchise’s all-time team, but not with the shadow of Wilt Chamberlain looming over these W's. Paul Arizin remains critically overlooked, Jason Richardson was a rock of sorts, and Neil Johnston was one of the top stars of his day. Monta Ellis? Monta Ellis shot a lot, but prior to his moped injury he was a captivating player.

For years – for decades, even – the Warriors were mainly known for the things the franchise got wrong. The culture in Golden State, however, has taken a significant shift under current management. This game builds from the players on up, but that shouldn’t take away from the massive strides team ownership and the group’s front office have made over the last few years. We would write this even if the team failed to land a championship in 2015.

This is the five we’re going with. Who would you take?

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

Author: Kelly Dwyer
Posted: July 28, 2015, 2:11 pm

Adam Larsson got paid decent, but not great, money over the weekend, and plenty of term. The reasoning behind it, though, is a little hazy.

Obviously, you don't want to part ways with a former No. 4 pick who is now just 22 years old, but if you had a redraft of the 2011 Entry Draft, Larsson might not be in your top 10. He's certainly not fourth overall. And this extension kicks in at a time when his career seems to be at its lowest point in a lot of ways.

He got what he got — $4.167 million AAV over six years — because that's what most young defensemen in the league get these days. Sure, the Devils were a shambling disaster last season, but Larsson wasn't really a bright spot, which seems like a problem for a guy you just extended for $25 million. He didn't really get it because he earned it. 

Starting around the end of the 2011-12 season, most promising young defensemen in the league who had contracts coming up started signing long-term for relatively short money in about the range where Larsson now lands. This makes a lot of sense for both parties because players felt like they were getting good paydays and solid job security, while teams were banking on getting long-term value from those contracts. This, in short, started to replace bridge contracts for this specific type of player.

It started with Marc-Edouard Vlasic re-upping in San Jose, then continuing through the 2013 offseason with Ryan McDonagh, then Justin Faulk toward the end of 2013-14, then a bunch more that summer and into this past season. Here's a list of the more notable contracts of this type signed in the past few summers:

Yahoo Sports

Now, it must be said that the value of Vlasic's $4.25 million, which started in 2013-14, is more like $4.72 million in today's money, but teams and players alike seem not to really think of it that way (even though they should). As a result, that was the baseline for just about all these contracts going forward. For the most part, teams have been willing to give up the extra year for a little more cost certainty.

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And you also have to keep in mind that RFA years, of which Vlasic had none remaining, are generally cheaper than UFA years. This means that those giving up fewer UFA years will necessarily see their dollar values depressed. Larsson gives up three years of unrestricted free agency eligibility, meaning half his contract is still RFA, which is why his dollar value is so low. 

But what you'll also notice about that list of defensemen who are now paid in roughly the same category as Larsson is, “Hey, they're all a lot better than him.”

Part of that, I think, is that most of them have some help. Faulk played with Andrej Sekera until the latter was traded. Brodie plays with Mark Giordano until Giordano injured himself. Stralman plays with Victor Hedman. Vlasic plays with the underrated Justin Braun. Brodin plays with Ryan Suter. Jake Muzzin obviously plays with Drew Doughty. That all helps a guy look better than he is, even if he's really good himself, and all these guys appear to be just that. 

(Yes, yes, Ryan McDonagh, well, lugs Dan Girardi up and down the ice. Exceptions to every rule, etc.)

Larsson doesn't really have that luxury. In 2013-14, he played a lot with Eric Gelinas, who, while goodish, was also just 22 and not really a sort of stable option. This year, with Mark Fayne headed off to Edmonton, he was paired with Andy Greene. That pairing failed to recapture the possession-driving magic of Fayne/Greene the season before. Larsson, by some measures, had the worst year of his career as a consequence.

That's mainly because his assignments got pretty difficult. His zone starts were much, much harder than anything he'd faced in his career to that point, even as quality of competition diminished somewhat. Which is fair enough given that he's now 22 and coaches should want to protect younger guys from the most difficult assignments their competition has to offer, but this is a pretty big swing.

War on Ice

Some of his numbers suffered as a result. His relative possession was only marginally better than the rest of the team's (second-worst of his career) with by far the lowest overall shot-attempt share at 46.93 percent. Which is lousy. I have a lot of time for the argument that whatever Peter DeBoer was doing to be so successful early on simply stopped working last year; the entire team went from a possession juggernaut — No. 4 in the league in both 2012-13 and '13-14 — to a punching bag. They were fifth from the bottom in overall corsi share last season, despite the fact that they trailed for an awful lot of the time. Larsson was certainly part of that downturn.

But at the same time, he matched the number of goals he posted in his entire career previous (128 games) in just 64 last season. And yeah, that number was “three” so big deal, but you can't fault the guy for posting 24 points when his previous career high was 33 percent lower than that (16 in 65 as a rookie).

Smart fans know, though, that a sudden huge surge in production while possession stats decline is often a cause for concern, not a sign that a player of any age suddenly “figured it out.” Trusting that big jumps in production will continue is usually not very good business (though you have to say that it is something new Devs GM Ray Shero has proven is something of a modus operandi for him, personally). Not to say Larsson couldn't keep up those numbers long-term — he is, after all, a high-ceiling player who should continue to improve for a few years to come — but to bet on that improvement at this term and dollar figure strikes one as concerning, given the trends in his underlying numbers.

It's easy to understand why this happened, but the fact that it happened at all should be worrisome. Especially because, even as his zone starts were the toughest, his quality of competition was effectively No. 4 on the team. Not that he has any control over that sort of thing, but you'd really like to see him do a little better.

War on Ice

This does not strike one as a guy you reward with a six-year deal and a 400-plus percent raise, even if the counting numbers say he improved. Especially because, once again, he didn't come close to playing the full 82. Out of a possible 294 games over the four seasons of his NHL career, Larsson has played just 65 percent. Who's to say that he can stay healthy at any point long-term in his career? I'm not usually one to say, “He's injury prone!” but when you miss more than 100 of your first 300 or so career games, that seems like a cause for concern as well.

The good news is the cap hit isn't egregious and should provide some value if Larsson continues to grow as a player. And, again, he should, given that he won't be 23 until November. If he follows the trends most guys take in their career, he'll probably have between two and four more years of improvement before he starts to decline in his late 20s. This contract eats up that entire “prime” plus a few years more.

But comparing him with other defensemen who have signed similar contracts when they were a few years older indicates New Jersey actually thinks better of him than they do of them. I see no reason he should be viewed favorably in comparison with a Faulk, Muzzin, Brodie, etc. Especially given how badly he struggled against top-end talent, and especially given the injury concern. He has a career 0.04 career WAR for a reason, and while the last two were positive, even $4.167 million is a lot to give to a guy who's barely above water. For the bulk of his career, he appears to be a roughly second-pairing defenseman who can put up first-pairing assist numbers.

Frankly, Larsson should have had another prove-it year or two before the team really committed to him longer-term. This isn't a “bridge contracts are bad” situation where a guy was obviously worth a ton of money and the team tried to bully him into a cheaper deal to help them do... something short-term. This is a situation where a guy put up a bunch of points for a lousy team even as his underlying numbers got worse. The NHL is supposed to be smarter than that these days.

There was no need to pay him now unless the Devils were terrified he'd become elite and they'd have to cough up more money later. We have very little evidence, though, that this is likely to happen. Not to say that this is a bad contract, necessarily, but it is a puzzling one.

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

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: July 28, 2015, 1:28 pm

Well, we've found something J.J. Watt isn't good at.

The Offseason of Watt continued this week with a visit to a Houston YMCA, where he ran kids through drills and the kids in turn tried to teach him how to dance. One went well, the other ... not so much.

"I've got the greatest job in the world, man," Watt said at the event. "I get to come out here and play a game every day and I get to do stuff like this. I mean, I realize how fortunate I am to be in the situation I'm in and I realize that someday, it's all going to end. I don't know why, but this year, I realized it more than ever, the fact that someday, this is all going to be over and someday, I'm not going to have all these great opportunities that I have, so I'm just trying to take advantage of everything I can and enjoy every moment I can."

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Whether he's (sort of) living in a log cabin to train for this season or meeting Jennifer Aniston or "tackling" a stage-jumper at a Zac Brown Band concert or pulling off yet another ridiculously high box jump or shooting and scoring on an NHL goaltender, it's been quite the offseason for the Texans icon.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: July 28, 2015, 1:19 pm

Dabo Swinney has an idea if Notre Dame doesn't join a conference. The Irish should play an extra game for College Football Playoff eligibility.

The Clemson coach suggested that Notre Dame add a 13th game to its schedule if it continues to be an independent. His comments come shortly after Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Notre Dame should join a conference to be eligible for the College Football Playoff.

Dabo Swinney agrees w/Gary Pinkel: “Absolutely Notre Dame needs to be in conference or play 13 games to be in @CFBPlayoff"

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 27, 2015

The Irish currently have an affiliation agreement with the ACC. Notre Dame plays five ACC opponents on a rotating basis and also plays Texas, USC and Stanford this year. They play nine power conference opponents in total, the same number of power five opponents the SEC requires after its one-out-of-conference power five opponent rule goes into effect.

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A 13th game isn't abnormal in college football. Teams that travel to play Hawaii are given dispensation by the NCAA to play a 13th game before conference championships and bowl games are taken into account. But we're not sure what a 13th game would do for Notre Dame other than giving the school more potential revenue with another home game.

The Irish could easily schedule a weak opponent for the 13th game and almost guarantee a win if it wanted to. And NBC wouldn't have a problem with televising another Notre Dame home game.

Or maybe the solution is for Notre Dame to travel to Hawaii every year and simply use the NCAA exemption? We're sure Irish players would enjoy the trip, especially if it came as winter began to descend upon South Bend.

For more Clemson news, visit TigerIllustrated.com.

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

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: July 28, 2015, 1:16 pm

MLB trade deadline week keep rolling on. Clubs can complete non-waiver trades until 4 p.m. ET Friday, and as the seconds tick toward that deadline, there will be no shortage of news and rumors.

If you missed any of Monday's action, we collected the best stuff in our daily digest, including the surprising Troy Tulowitzki trade and the Mets adding to their bullpen. Now onward to Tuesday.

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Follow the Twitter tracker below for every bit of news and gossip from the Yahoo Sports crew and the industry's top reporters. Heck, you might as well keep this open post open in a tab until the trade deadline passes.

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 9:06 am

(AP)

The Stew's Trade Deadline Digest recaps the day in news and rumors as MLB gets closer to the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. If you missed any of Monday's action, we're here to help you catch up with all the important links and tidbits.

HOUSTON STILL WANTS HIM: If you thought the Astros were out on Cole Hamels now that they have Scott Kazmir, you're wrong. Houston is making "a big push." [Jerry Crasnick]

MEANWHILE: The Phillies were out scouting the Rangers' minor leaguers because Texas is still considered a legit contender for Hamels too. [Ken Rosenthal]

ALSO: The Diamondbacks are also interested in Hamels, but aren't a favorite. [Crasnick]

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IN OTHER PITCHER NEWS: The White Sox still aren't sure if they're trading Jeff Samardzija, though the Blue Jays are supposedly very interested. [Bob Nightengale + Chris Cotillo]

DONE DEAL: Blue Jays pulled off a late-night shocker and got Troy Tulowitzki from Rockies in exchange for Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and one more prospect. [The Stew]

TO FLIP OR NOT TO FLIP? While it makes sense for the Rockies to flip Reyes to another team, there's no deal immediately in place. [Joel Sherman]

DANGLING: The Cubs are said to be dangling Starlin Castro in front of the Padres, hoping to get one of their pitchers. Preferably Tyson Ross. [Jon Morosi + Rosenthal]

(Getty Images)

UP IN BALTIMORE? The Padres and Orioles have talked about a deal that would send free-agent-to-be Justin Upton to Baltimore. [Jayson Stark]

BUYING OR SELLING? The Tigers say they're still trying to make the playoffs and aren't selling. Not yet at least. [CBS Sports]

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THE NEW HOTNESS: The Nats are "hottest" after Pads closer Craig Kimbrel. [Rosenthal]

NOT SO FAST: The Yankees are said to be interested in Kimbrel too. [CBS Sports]

DONE DEAL: Mets solidify bullpen by adding A's closer Tyler Clippard. [The Stew]

LOL: The Braves now need to be "blown away" to trade Cameron Maybin. Did Ruben Amaro get a job over there and we just missed it? [MLB.com]

DONE DEAL: Shane Victorino sent to Angels, where outfield needs help [The Stew]

STILL SHOPPING: The Angels are still in the market for outfield help. [Jon Heyman]

Follow all of Tuesday's up-to-the-minute action in our Trade Deadline Tracker

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 8:46 am

Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

Kris Bryant, the much-heralded Chicago Cubs rookie, has experienced a number of firsts this season. But Monday night might have been most thrilling of them. Bryant crushed a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, erasing a one-run deficit and giving the Cubs a 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

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Yep, the ol' walk-off homer. It was the first of Bryant's young career, and as you can see, he and his teammates made the moment memorable. The Wrigley Field crowd, of course, loved every second too.

"The last three or four games, I've hit five or six to the warning track and that's obviously frustrating," Bryant told reporters after the game. "I believe in baseball gods and I believe they pay you back, and I guess I got one today. It worked out for us. It was a really good win, that's for sure."

(Getty Images)

Bryant actually knocked in the first run for the Cubs too. He singled in the fourth, as part of a six-run inning. The Cubs blew a 7-4 lead in the ninth, which would have been the story here. But Bryant rewrote that himself and created a moment he'll never forget.

• • •

O'S WALK OFF ON MATT WIETERS' HOMER
Kris Bryant wasn't the only walk-off homer hero of Monday night, as Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters broke a 1-1 tie against the Atlanta Braves with a solo homer. This came in the 11th inning, so give Wieters extra drama points. 

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The O's tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a J.J. Hardy sac fly. It's the third win in a row for the Orioles, who are trying to keep up with the first-place Yankees in the AL East. Baltimore is 49-49 and seven games back.

• • •

WHITE SOX WIN FIFTH STRAIGHT
It might be too late for the Chicago White Sox to play themselves back to relevancy in the AL Central, but Robin Ventura's bunch did win its fifth straight game Monday night, topping the Boston Red Sox 10-8. Adam Eaton had three hits to lead the Chicago charge and the club did its best to make John Danks' icky start (4.1 innings, nine hits, six earned runs) a non-issue.

• • •

ROYALS ARE FIRST TO 60 WINS IN AL
The riding-high Kansas City Royals notched another achievement Monday. They're the first AL team to 60 wins after beating the Cleveland Indians 9-4. Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer and drove in another run, as the Kansas City got another good outing from Edinson Volquez. The only team in baseball with more wins than the Royals are the St. Louis Cardinals, who are 64-35. On the other side, the Indians lost their fifth straight game.

Want to see more from Sunday's slate of games? Check out our scoreboard.

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 7:47 am

(Getty Images)For as bad a rep as he's gotten over the past few years, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig seems to be responding in the best possible fashion to rumors that he might be shipped to another team before Friday's non-waiver trade deadline.

[Follow our trade deadline tracker for the latest MLB news and rumors.]

No petulance, no whining, no fits. Puig doesn't want to leave the Dodgers if he had the the choice, but told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

"I'll play anywhere," Puig said. "I came to the United States [from Cuba] to play baseball. Baseball is the same anywhere. If they want to trade me, that's their decision. I can't do anything about that."

The latest chatter in the trade world is that the Dodgers have let other teams know that Puig "is available in the right deal," according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Of course, anybody's available in the right deal, if you really think about.

The Dodgers do have an outfield surplus and a pitching need. If they can deal Puig to the Philadelphia Phillies and get Cole Hamels in return or to the Detroit Tigers and get a package that includes David Price, that's at least something the front office has to consider.

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Pulling the trigger on a Puig deal might be tough for L.A., though, considering his contract is very team-friendly and he's still just 24. Puig is making $4.5 million this season and a total of $19.5 million in the three following years. Plus, we've seen what kind of spark plug he can be. We've seen also seen how polarizing he can be in the clubhouseAny trade at this point would be a sell-low deal, considering Puig has been injured and not as productive as usual.

Puig, again to his credit, is saying the right things. He also told the L.A. Times:

"Players never want to be traded from their first team," he said. "But that's not our decision."

Puig raised the example of Dee Gordon, the All-Star second baseman who was traded to the Miami Marlins over the winter.

"Dee Gordon didn't want to be traded from here and they traded him," he said.

Puig said that if he is traded, he would like to respond the way Gordon did. Gordon, who was sidelined by a thumb injury earlier this month, is second in the National League with a .338 batting average.

The Dodgers sending Puig away? It seems a far-fetched in theory, but hey, this is MLB trade deadline week, we're used to being shocked.

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 6:50 am

Troy Tulowitzki is getting his wish. He's been traded from the struggling Colorado Rockies, but the destination is a shocker — the Toronto Blue Jays. The trade hasn't been confirmed by either team, but mutiple reporters, including Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown, say it's happening. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal was first to report the deal.

Based on what's been reported thus far, the return for the Rockies is veteran shortstop Jose Reyes, young fireballer Miguel Castro, top pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman and one more unnamed prospects. Relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins is also heading to the Blue Jays, filling another of their needs as they make a push toward the postseason. 

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There's a belief that Reyes, 32, could be flipped by the Rockies in another deal. He's owed $22 million in each of the next two seasons and has a rough injury history. Not exactly a player to rebuild around. 

Tulowitzki has voiced his desire for a trade in the past, saying numerous times that he's tired of losing in Colorado. The New York Mets and New York Yankees had both been considered possible destinations for Tulo. The San Francisco Giants were one of his preferred teams, since he's from the Bay Area. As for the Blue Jays, well, they weren't on anybody's radar.

(Getty Images)By joining the Jays, Tulowitzki adds yet another big bat to a daunting lineup that includes Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays already lead the league in runs, and Tulo is only going to help. Despite the offensive prowess, the Blue Jays are 50-50 and trail the New York Yankees in the AL East by seven games. They rank 23rd in team ERA.

[Follow our trade deadline tracker for the latest MLB news and rumors.]

Tulowitzki, 30, is a career .299/.372/.514 hitter, who averages 29 homers and 102 RBIs over 162 games. He's a five-time All-Star and he's under contract until 2021, meaning the Blue Jays didn't just get another player to help their playoff push, but a franchise cornerstone for years to come.

He doesn't come cheap, though, as he'll make $20 million annually until 2019, $14 million in 2020 and potentially $15 million in 2021 through a team option. On the downside: Tulowitzki has a substantial injury history, which could lead to some fear in Toronto, where the turf has caused trouble for players. He's also leaving baseball's No. 1 hitters' friendly park in Coors Field, but Toronto's Rogers Centre isn't a bad home for hitters either.

The deal leaves us with a few questions, some that will answered this week and some that will play out over the rest of the season: Are the Blue Jays still going to make a move to improve their pitching? Or do they  just plan to outscore everybody?

The latter doesn't seem entirely out of the question.

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 5:51 am

Amir Johnson nuzzles future teammate Kelly Olynyk. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)The Boston Celtics have retired 21 jersey numbers, a record for a North American sports franchise and a mark of the team's tremendous success in obtaining 17 NBA championships and 21 conference titles. It's something to be proud of for the franchise, its fans, and anyone who has ever been involved with the Celtics.

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But there's a dark side to that rich history — new Celtics can have a really, really difficult time finding a suitable jersey number. With most of the standard basketball numbers taken by existing players or retired for all-time greats (in some cases because legends like Bill Russell popularized those digits in the first place), offseason additions such as veteran big man Amir Johnson must dig deep to find numbers that hold special meaning in their lives.

Johnson's journey ended with No. 90. How did he settle on such an odd choice? Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe has more (via Reddit):

“Every number 1-34 is basically retired. My first initial number, I picked No. 5, but I know there was going to kind of be some controversy with that because Kevin Garnett won a championship. So I knew that was pretty much out the water. My number [15], of course, was retired. And I recently posted a picture on my social network, I don’t know if you guys checked it out, it was a team back in the ’90s, like ’97, ’96, I played for my first organized basketball team, which was the Burbank Celtics. It was a Celtics team. So I just kind of just put that together. The ’90s were good. I was born in ’87 but the ’90s were good.”

And here's that photo of Johnson as a young Celtic:

Johnson is close — 17 numbers from Robert Parish's 00 to Reggie Lewis's 35 have been retired, so he had few choices not already taken by his teammates. He could have gone with No. 30, the closest multiple of his favored No. 15, but I suppose that's just a pale imitation of the real thing.

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The result is that Johnson has picked a jersey number that stands in for an entire decade, which are probably just as good reasons as any others. At the very least, we cannot accuse the 10-season veteran of unoriginality. No Celtic has ever worn No. 90, and only P.J. Brown and Roy Rogers Jr. have ventured into the 90s.

Perhaps Johnson can make No. 90 his own and lend an unlikely jersey some cultural cachet. If that doesn't work out, though, then he'll have a chance to impress the man in control of No. 15. Celtics legend and longtime announcer Tommy Heinsohn does usually take to gritty, hustle-minded players like Johnson.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Eric Freeman
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:55 am

Hate him all you want — and, boy, some of you do — but Alex Rodriguez continues to make history in his surprising comeback season with the New York Yankees. As you know, he passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, joined the 3,000 hit club and took another step up the all-time RBI last. 

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The bit of history he grabbed Monday night is different, though. It's a factoid you probably never thought about and a group of players you probably wouldn't expect. But you can definitely use it to impress your friends.

A-Rod turned 40 on Monday and he homered in the sixth inning of the New York Yankees' 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers. With that, he became just the fourth player in the long history of Major League Baseball to homer before he was 20 and after he turned 40. ESPN Stats & Info has the list:

HR as teenager, HR as 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez Gary Sheffield Rusty Staub Ty Cobb (via @EliasSports)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 28, 2015

The over-the-fence birthday present to himself was A-Rod's 24th homer of the year. Only eight players in MLB have more this season, and they're a lot younger than 40. The Yankees, meanwhile, are in first place in the AL East by an increasingly comfortable margin. It's now seven games. 

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Sounds like one lucky birthday boy is seeing all his wishes come true. 

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

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: July 28, 2015, 4:13 am

Robert Allenby's former caddie, Mick Middlemo, is speaking like a man liberated.

Middlemo, who split with Allenby halfway through the first round of last week's RBC Canadian Open, said in an Australian radio interview that he doesn't believe Allenby's story of being kidnapped and robbed on the night after missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.

“Do I think he got mugged and bashed and absolutely robbed? No, I don’t," Middlemo said to News Corp Australia. "That’s the story I told because that’s the story he told me to tell because I wasn’t there.

“Do I think he just fell over and cracked his head? Honestly I do … I think he fell over and someone picked up his wallet and had a great time with his credit card."

Middlemo accompanied Allenby for at least part of the night in question. Both player and caddie were at a Waikiki wine bar, where Allenby claims he was kidnapped after leaving, beaten, robbed and dropped off in a nearby park. Allenby said he only recalls waking up to being harassed by homeless people in the park and that he was without his credit cards.

A man, Owen Harbison, pleaded guilty in June to using Allenby's stolen credit cards. However, police did not further investigate how Allenby sustained his injuries.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: July 28, 2015, 2:45 am

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 27, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Once the province of ex-players and few others, the ranks of NBA head coaches have recently opened up to include a large number of coaching lifers, young upstarts who work their way from the video room to the top, and even one guy who went through that same process overseas. While many of the league's best coaches wore NBA uniforms for at least a few seasons each, it's far from a requisite. In some cases, that experience may even be a hindrance to getting a job.

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If front offices have no qualms about hiring coaches without playing careers to their names, then it's less clear what active players think about the situation. But at least one specifically asked his agents to seek out a team with a player-turned-coach.

Roy Hibbert, who was traded this month from the Indiana Pacers to the Los Angeles Lakers in a pure salary dump, says he was attracted to his new squad in part due to the presence of head coach Byron Scott, a 14-season NBA veteran who won three titles with the franchise. From an interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com (via PBT):

[Hibbert:] And I wanted to play for a coach who actually played in the league if I had my own choice. Not to say that Frank (Vogel) wasn't great. I had some real good times with Frank and we played well. But I told my agent that I possibly wanted to play for a coach that played in the league.
[Aldridge]: Why is that important to you?
RH: Just playing for BShaw (Brian Shaw, the Pacers' former associate head coach under Vogel), he went through the things that a player has gone through. He had a lot of real good insight to help myself, my game, with other guys on the court. Because he went through those things. And when you had two sets of four games in five nights, he was real with us. He would say, if I'm tired, you're tired. It's not a huge thing, but I'm really lucky to be in this position.

It's difficult to read these comments without assessing the coaching style of Scott, a notorious old-school thinker whose methods border on the cruel and absolutely venture into the unusual. The fact that Hibbert's agents could only find him a spot with Scott and the Lakers says more about the reputations of each party (a fallen All-Star and a downtrodden marquee franchise) than the merits of playing under a coach with a long and successful career as a player.

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So, instead of mocking Scott and questioning the resume of respected Pacers coach Frank Vogel, let's take a look at what could possibly attract a player to a coach with the experience of the Lakers coach. Hibbert calls attention to the idea that Scott can empathize with his experiences during long road trips or after particularly taxing nights, both things that Vogel could understand intellectually but maybe not identify with on a personal level. The presence of Shaw on the Pacers staff for two seasons apparently gave Hibbert (and presumably others) an authority figure with some experience of their situations, even if he didn't serve as an outright confidant. Vogel, for all his talents (and Hibbert acknowledges them), could not partake in that conversation at quite the same level.

That's not to say that coaches with the experiences of Scott and Shaw are more qualified than non-athletes like Vogel, who has done much better than either member of that duo as a head coach. Rather, it seems that it is important to have someone on the staff who can identify with professional athletes, because they often need an outlet or someone who can understand them via an athlete's shorthand. At the same time, people like Vogel may bring an overarching tactical or strategic view of the game that players cannot always match.

To Hibbert's credit, he doesn't act as if one approach is necessarily better than the other. But his comments do express the need for some degree of balance.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Eric Freeman
Posted: July 28, 2015, 1:29 am

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The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter, who is believed to be the first woman to hold an NFL coaching position of any kind, as a training camp/preseason intern working with the team's inside linebackers. 

Head coach Bruce Arians was asked at the owners meetings in March about the possibility of female coaches in the NFL, and his response foretold this move:

“The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,” Arians said.

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Soon after that, he heard from a coach with the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League who told him about Welter, the former collegiate rugby player who played 14 seasons of pro football, mostly in the Women’s Football Alliance, and who was with the Revolution.

Arians was more than happy to give her a chance.

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians said, per the team's official website. “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”

Here's Welter's response on Twitter:

I am honored to be a part of this amazing team. Special thanks to @BruceArians & the @AZCardinals https://t.co/FcDG1b7P4E

— Dr. Jen Welter (@jwelter47) July 28, 2015

Notice the "Dr." part? Yes, Welter is a heavyweight, it turns out. She has a master’s degree in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology. Welter also was the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s pro football league, spending time at running back and on special teams, for the Revolution in 2014.

This is a meritorius move, Arians said, not a publicity grab.

Arians said: “She came for an OTA and I met her, and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door,” adding that Cardinals veterans said “they were all very cool with it.”

“It’s not going to be a distraction in any way,” Arians said.

To anyone saying, "Well, she's only an intern ..." Please note: These are tough jobs to land. Not every team brings in training camp coaches/interns, and there are no more than 500 full-time coaching jobs in the entire NFL. It's exclusive company, and Welter has put herself there with her work and talent. Arians is one of the most bottom-line coaches in the NFL, but he's also a progressive thinker. Those two qualities married in this historic move.

It has been a banner year for women in men's professional sports. Not only is the NFL bringing on its first full-time female official in Sarah Thomas this season, but an NBA team — the San Antonio Spurs — won a summer league championship with Becky Hammon, whom they hired last year, running the squad.

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: July 28, 2015, 1:11 am

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is not allowing the family of deceased linebacker Junior Seau speak on his behalf at the induction ceremony on August 8 in Canton, Ohio, and — despite an earlier report to the contrary — the family is not happy about it.

Seau's wish was that his daughter, Sydney, would speak for him upon his induction. But the Hall is falling back on a process they instituted back in 2010, shortening the ceremony by not allowing a formal speaker for deceased inductees.

Steve Strauss, legal counsel to the Seau family and partner at Cooley LLP, issued a statement on the family's behalf — and it's clear they are not thrilled with how things stand:

"The Seau family appreciates the overwhelming support for Sydney Seau to be able to accept Junior’s induction into the Hall of Fame live and in her own words. Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame is unwilling to reverse its decision despite communicating to the family earlier this year that Sydney would be able to speak at the ceremony. Contrary to the most recent statement by the Hall of Fame, the family does not support the current policy that prevents family members from delivering live remarks on behalf of deceased inductees. However, the Seau family does not want this issue to become a distraction to Junior’s accomplishments and legacy or those of the other inductees. The Seau family never intended to use the Hall of Fame as a platform to discuss the serious mental health issues facing the NFL today which are most appropriately addressed in a legal forum. The Seau family looks forward to celebrating Junior’s extraordinary accomplishments at the Hall of Fame."

Although there might be future legal ramifications for issuing such a statement, the immediate point is clear: The Seau family is not happy after — Strauss alleges — the Hall said Sydney could speak on her father's behalf and then reneging.

The NFL has botched this thing completely. All the league has done has drawn attention to the fact that Seau, who shot and killed himself, had CTE — likely the result of a concussion-addled NFL career. Had they allowed Sydney to speak, thus eliminating a dumb rule in the first place, none of this would have been taken this far.

Once more: Good job, good effort, NFL.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: July 28, 2015, 12:31 am

It's been a couple seasons, but the New York Mets are buyers again at the trade deadline. The team proved as much Monday, trading for Oakland Athletics reliever Tyler Clippard.

The Mets have acquired RHP Tyler Clippard and cash considerations from Oakland in exchange for minor league RHP Casey Meisner.

— New York Mets (@Mets) July 27, 2015

On the surface, the Mets' bullpen was actually performing pretty well. The team's relievers combined to post a 2.89 ERA, which ranks sixth in the league. The club's 3.40 FIP was also solid.

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But given Clippard's track record, picking him up is, at the very least, a modest upgrade. Clippard's peripherals have declined a bit this season, but he's still been effective. His strikeout rate has dropped to 22.8 percent, while his walk rate has jumped to 12.6 percent. Those figures are alarming considered where Clippard has been in previous seasons, but he's still managed a 2.79 ERA and 3.89 FIP. 

Clippard also takes innings away from lesser players currently on the Mets. Bobby Parnell's 2.70 ERA doesn't look bad on the surface, but he's nearly walking as many batters as he's striking out this year. That's never a good sign for any pitcher. 

(Getty Images)Alex Torres has also been erratic on the mound. He's struck out more than a batter per inning, but his control is awful and he's given up a ton of home runs. 

On top of that, Jenrry Mejia will not be eligible for postseason games as part of his suspension, so Clippard helps absorb that blow if the team plays in October.

The Clippard deal should move both of those players into lower-leverage roles, and that's a good thing for the Mets. The club is just 2.0 games out of the division lead, so making small moves like this can go a long way over the next few months.

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In return, the Mets parted with a promising, young pitcher in Casey Meisner. Meisner has a 2.35 ERA over two levels, but has peaked in High A this season. He's just 20, and remains at least a couple seasons away from making an impact at the majors. 

It will take time to see whether the move works out for Oakland, but they identified a young pitcher they liked, and acquired him by trading away an impending free-agent reliever. Even if Meisner washes out, it's a gamble worth taking. 

Clippard will make an immediate impact, making the Mets side of the deal more interesting for now. The club has made modest upgrades recently, grabbing Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson in the last couple days. While none of those acquisitions are huge, they will help a team that's only a few games out of the race.

A big splash would help, though. It's still unclear whether the Mets have the financial flexibility to take on a player like Justin Upton, Jay Bruce or Yoenis Cespedes, but those are the types of players that would excite the fan base.

For now, the small moves will have to do. If Monday's acquisition was any indication, the club is ready to make a push over the second half. For Mets' fans, that has to be a welcome change. 

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

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: July 27, 2015, 11:47 pm

(AP Photo/Al Goldis)Delton Williams will officially return to the Michigan State football team in mid-August, head coach Mark Dantonio announced Monday.

Williams, a rising junior running back, had been indefinitely suspended from the team since a March traffic incident in which he allegedly pulled out (but did not point) a gun after a man honked at him. Williams had a concealed carry permit, but was charged with brandishing a firearm. He pled guilty to a reduced weapons charge in late April and also violated a school ordinance in the process.

After going through Michigan State’s student conduct system, Williams, who hasn’t been enrolled this summer, is now eligible to rejoin the team.

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“Delton Williams has satisfied the University’s (student conduct system), court’s and football program’s expectations,” Dantonio said in a statement. “Delton comprehends the severity of the situation and understands that decisions have consequences. He also appreciates the fact that wearing the Michigan State uniform is a privilege and not his right.

“Provided with various options, he chose to return to Michigan State under specific guidelines in order to complete his education and playing career. Delton looks forward to turning the page to the next chapter in his life by rejoining his teammates and classmates.”

Williams, who will return to the team on Aug. 14, issued an apology in a lengthy statement released through the program. Here’s his statement in full:

“First, I want to apologize to the entire Spartan family. Obviously, I didn’t want this to happen and cast a negative light on the University and our football program like it has for the last four months.

I appreciate the University and Coach Dantonio for providing me with the opportunity to return and finish what I started. Being a student-athlete at Michigan State is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. It was a judgment call, but they all decided to provide me with a second chance. I’m truly blessed and grateful for this opportunity.

I wasn’t looking for a fresh start or the easy way out by transferring to another school. It has been and continues to be a blessing to be a student-athlete here. God has a plan for us all, and I put myself in a tough situation. I dug myself a hole, took the punishment and now it’s time to get back on track.

My return isn’t just about playing football because I know it isn’t forever. God willing, I might get the opportunity to play in the NFL, but I already have 64 credits and I’m on pace to graduate. As some say, NFL means ‘not for long.’ My degree is my primary plan, not my back-up plan.

I never intended to put anyone in harm’s way, and I never believed the situation would get out of hand. I’ve learned from my mistake, and I won’t put myself in that type of situation again. I see things much differently now and know that I must think before I act. As a result of my decision, manhood has been thrust upon me. I’ve grown up a lot over the last four months. That decision could have ruined all of my dreams. This situation has certainly brought me closer to God.

I look forward to rejoining my teammates and working toward a common goal. I can’t wait to get into the locker room and on to the practice field with my teammates and coaches. I’m truly blessed to be a Michigan State Spartan. At the end of the day, I care about my immediate family and my MSU family – that’s what matters most.”

Williams is the Spartans’ leading returning running back coming off a season with 326 yards and five touchdowns on 54 carries. Before his suspension, he was supposed to compete for the team’s starting job.

The Spartans are scheduled to begin preseason camp on Aug. 8.

For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.

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

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 27, 2015, 11:44 pm

It's fair to say things haven't gone as planned for the Red Sox this season. After bringing in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval through free agency, and picking up Rick Porcello in a trade, Boston was expected to make some noise in the American League East.

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That hasn't happened. Ramirez hit well early, but his numbers have fallen off recently, while Porcello and Sandoval haven't lived up to expectations. With the club sitting at 44-55, the offseason plan is starting to look like a huge failure.

The team pretty much acknowledged that fact Monday, sending outfielder Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Angels.

#RedSox today traded OF Shane Victorino and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for INF Josh Rutledge.

— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 27, 2015

Technically, the move doesn't do much for Boston. Victorino was in the final year of his contract, and was hitting just .245/.324/.298 over 106 plate appearances. He wasn't really helping the club, so it's tough to really look at this deal as the Red Sox waving the white flag.(Getty Images)

At the same time, the move opens up a spot for Rusney Castillo. That may be the biggest sign that Boston is looking toward the future. Castillo presumably will be used as the starter for the rest of the season, so the Red Sox should get a good look at whether he's a useful part of their future. By trading Victorino, they get a chance to finally see what Castillo can do.

They also get Josh Rutledge. Rutledge is cheap, and under team control through 2018, but he's not very good. He's spent nearly all season in Triple-A, and has a career .259/.308/.403 slash line. Perhaps the Red Sox see something in Rutledge that they like, but he seems more like a throw in at this point.

For the Angels, the club gets a veteran outfielder who can hit lefties a bit. Victorino doesn't have much left in the tank, but he's still been useful against southpaws this season, albeit in just 44 plate appearances. 

Still, if he's healthy, there's a chance he can be a useful platoon player. Considering the Angels didn't give up a ton to get him, that's a fine gamble.

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On the surface, the deal seems minor. Victorino is no longer the player he used to be, and the Red Sox didn't get much in return. 

It does signal that Boston has basically admitted this season is done. Victorino wasn't going to suddenly put everything together and lead this team to the top of the division, but he would have taken playing time away from Castillo. Since Castillo will actually be a member of the Red Sox next winning club, it makes sense for Boston to see what he can do now. 

Boston doesn't really have a ton of useful pieces to sell off this season. Mike Napoli is also in the final year of his deal, but his numbers are awful. The club was able to find a taker for Victorino, though, so it's possible they'll deal Napoli if it frees up a spot for someone more promising. Koji Uehara could also be an interesting piece, but his age makes him risky.

Basically, Boston isn't going to make any big splashes, but it looks like they are willing to get anything they can for expiring contracts. That might not be sexy or exciting for fans, but it's the right move for a franchise that's probably going to try and compete again next season.

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

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: July 27, 2015, 10:32 pm

It took a lot of hard work for Ohio State to win the national title last season, but the Buckeyes still like to have fun. Take this prank the football program posted on Monday for example.

A staff member dressed up like one of the mannequins (modeling a team's uniform) you’d see around a football facility and scared the crap out of players as they passed by in the hallway.

Of all the players to pass by, quarterback Cardale Jones had the best reaction at the 2:12 mark.

We’ve seen this prank before when Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt pulled it off last August. Clemson’s execution was a bit better with Stoudt more out in the open (one teammate even punched him). Even though Ohio State’s guy was tucked away in the corner, it was still pretty funny. 

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 27, 2015, 10:32 pm

There haven't been very many fun reasons to bring up the name "Gilbert Arenas" in recent years, so it's nice to get an opportunity to recall the sunnier, lighter side of the open-book personality that made the former Washington Wizards All-Star one of the most popular players of the mid-2000s, courtesy of Gil's Instagram account:

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Well, that certainly is a boatload of stuffed animals, Mr. Arenas. Care to explain?

"We just got banned from all the basketball hoops at #orangecountyfair," wrote the donut-hat-bedecked Arenas in the caption of his post. "Every one screamed #theRimsarebent I screamed #hibachi...#ArenasFamily #CountyFairRockstars"

I bet Kevin Durant feels like a real dope right now. Sure, Pop-a-Shot at Dave & Buster's is great, but you could've shut down the county fair instead and walked away with an amount of stuffed animals capable of overrunning an entire family.

As amazing as it would be for the three-time All-Star — who last appeared in the NBA during a late-season stint with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012 — to have literally gotten the heave-ho from the Orange County Fair as a result of too brilliantly procuring buckets, the veracity of Agent Zero's claim has come into question, according to Jordan Graham of the Orange County Register:

It’s unclear whether Arenas was actually banned or was simply making a joke. OC Fair spokesperson Robin Wachner said she had not heard of anyone being barred from playing a carnival game. [...]
In past years, the fair has allowed attendees to win significant hauls.
In 2013, Costa Mesa resident "Machine-gun Sonny" Mergenthaler won two mountain bikes a night at the BB gun shooting game, often giving his prizes away. The fair allowed him to keep coming back, but the game limited contestants to two bikes per night.

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OK, so maybe Gil didn't exactly run afoul of the fuzz who promote law and order on the fairgrounds. So much the better for the kids, though — one can never have too many massive Minions, after all. And, provided this run of form really did result in Arenas dusting off "Hibachi!" — his catchphrase of choice when his jumper was heating up back in his heyday with the Wiz (at least until he started yelling "Quality shots!" as a dig at Kobe Bryant) — and introducing a new generation to that particular exclamation, then so much the better for the rest of us, too. There's nothing wrong with loving that particular part of our shared hoops-Internet past.

Hat-tip to the Washington Post's venerable D.C. Sports Bog.

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

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Author: Dan Devine
Posted: July 27, 2015, 8:36 pm

With the 2015 season right around the corner, college football programs will begin to unveil new uniforms for the year in bunches.

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And on Monday, it was Air Force, South Florida and Bowling Green that revealed new looks to the world on social media.

We saw sharp new Air Force alternates last year, and now the Falcons have new home and away Nike combinations. 

Can't get enough of our new uniforms? Check out the gallery of all the photos.http://t.co/thirjobIrc pic.twitter.com/prxtoHgCER

— Air Force Football (@AFFootball) July 27, 2015

Elsewhere, USF spent the morning tweeting out its wide variety of uniform and helmet combinations. Amid the flurry of tweets was the team’s updated Under Armour green and white uniforms, plus a wild green jersey with yellow numbers.

#BullsUnite #TeamUA 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/K4kbixWUS1

— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 27, 2015

#BullsUnite #TeamUA pic.twitter.com/cYm2jhksRl

— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 27, 2015

#BullsUnite #TeamUA pic.twitter.com/OmBZCrS0jM

— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 27, 2015

#BullsUnite #TeamUA pic.twitter.com/TgLDRvQWSs

— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 27, 2015

#BullsUnite #TeamUA #SoFlo pic.twitter.com/hg02T5J6R1

— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 27, 2015

Finally, Bowling Green will bring new orange and brown Nike uniforms to the MAC this season.

FIRST LOOK! The Falcons can also sport these home jerseys this upcoming season pic.twitter.com/Xj9vr6AUzj

— BGSU Athletics (@BGathletics) July 27, 2015

Here is a look at the full brown @Nike uniform that @BG_Football will don this season! pic.twitter.com/pG6t49NDw2

— BGSU Athletics (@BGathletics) July 27, 2015

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 27, 2015, 8:36 pm

FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2012, file photo, TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, left, pressures Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt, right, during an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla. Field as selected as the AP's Big 12 defensive player of the year, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt, File)Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said defensive end Devonte Fields will enroll at Louisville on Aug. 4, just ahead of camp starting on Aug. 6, but he will do so under strict conditions.

"We've established that he's going to have to do everything right when he's on campus with us," Petrino said while doing interviews Monday at ESPN. "We have some standards that are set for him, and he's going to have to abide by those standards."

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In 2014, Fields was charged in a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend. She stated Fields punched her in the face, pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her. He was charged with misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury and dismissed from TCU. The case was dismissed last month after Fields completed an anger management course.

"We're privy to all the information," Petrino said. "We understand all the information that was out there. Knowing that, we believe we did the right thing in giving him a second chance."

Fields was the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman with 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He only played in three games in 2013 because of a suspension and a foot injury, but he was named the 2014 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year before the Horned Frogs dismissed him.

He spent last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

Petrino said he hopes Fields can fill the void left by former pass rusher Lorenzo Mauldin, who left for the NFL.

"Fields has experience," Petrino said. "He's an edge rusher, which is something we lost last year. He's going to have to show that he's a quick learner and understands the defense in a quick time."

For more Louisville news, visit CardinalSports.com.

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

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Author: Graham Watson
Posted: July 27, 2015, 8:26 pm

It's almost impossible to quantify what Russell Wilson's monetary worth is, vis a vis the Seattle Seahawks' salary cap. And that has stopped absolutely nobody from debating it.

With every figure that is tossed out there's a debate. People enjoy discussing it nearly as much as they like arguing about deflated footballs. The latest number is about $21 million per year, which Pro Football Talk said Wilson was offered and didn't accept. That leads to more parsing of the figures with arbitrary numbers: I think he's just worth $18 million, $19 million is a little high and I'd never go to $21 million! It turns into a game show.

There's a soft deadline of July 30, NFL Network said, after which negotiations will stop and Wilson will go on his way and play for about $1.5 million this year. That's a meaningless deadline, because if the Seahawks offered Wilson $25 million a year on July 31 I'm sure he wouldn't point to the deadline and turn it down. But it gives some made-up urgency to the matter.

So let's play along. How much is Wilson worth? It's complicated because you can make the argument he's not the foundation of the Seahawks' success (that's the defense) and he's not the MVP of the offense (Marshawn Lynch). He's a very good player but the Seahawks don't live and die with him. He was terrible for most of the NFC championship game, and the Seahawks won that game. His first completion in the Super Bowl against the Patriots came with about 5:30 left in the second quarter, and the Seahawks were 1 yard from winning that game. If Aaron Rodgers plays that poorly, the Green Bay Packers don't stand a chance (insert a few other quarterback/team combinations in that sentence, if you wish).

But Wilson shouldn't be downgraded simply because he attempts just 26 passes per game in his career or that he was drafted to a great team. Wilson's career passer rating of 98.6 would be second in NFL history to Rodgers if he had the 1,500 career attempts to qualify. That doesn't include 1,877 rushing yards. He has been a very good player.

So where do you slot him in? Here are the top 10 quarterbacks, via Spotrac, in terms of average annual salary:

1. Aaron Rodgers, $22 million
2. Ben Roethlisberger, $21.85 million
3. Cam Newton, $20.76 million
4. Matt Ryan, $20.75 million
5. Joe Flacco, $20.1 million
6. Drew Brees, $20 million
7. Ryan Tannehill, $19.25 million
8. Colin Kaepernick, $19 million
9. Jay Cutler, $18.1 million
10. Tony Romo, $18 million

Of course it's not perfect to judge off those numbers, because all NFL contracts are different, especially with how much unrealistic non-guaranteed money is tacked on the end. But based on the list, you can argue Wilson deserves more than Newton, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give him more than Brees. I'd definitely put him above Tannehill and Kaepernick, however. So let's say $20 million.

And you know what? That exercise doesn't matter in the slightest.

(Getty Images)If Wilson is willing to wait it out, it doesn't matter if the Seahawks think he's worth $20 million but he's asking for $22 million. The debate about how much Wilson is worth is rather pointless because he's worth what some team is willing to pay, and I'd bet that if the Rams, Texans, Bills or whoever can clear the decks, Wilson would get that $22 million or more on the open market. So that's his worth. It's almost unprecedented for a quarterback like Wilson to hit the market and there would be a tremendous battle for him.

So the Seahawks can be proud and say they stood firm and didn't give Wilson a dime more than he's worth ... and if they stuck to that they'd lose their quarterback. Right.

Of course, the Seahawks could play the franchise tag game with Wilson, though that is still a massive salary-cap hit. The Seahawks would almost be forced to give him the exclusive tender, or risk a team willing to give up two first-round picks if Seattle doesn't match the offer sheet (and some team would, and should, do that). The franchise tag escalators will make it practically impossible for the Seahawks to tag Wilson more than twice, so they'd still be losing him in his prime. Then we'd just go back to having this same debate of Wilson's value in two or three years. And no matter how long the Seahawks drag it out there's always going to be some team that would fall over itself to get a top-10 quarterback and Super Bowl champion who is still in his peak years.

So will it matter if Wilson is worth $19 million or $21 million or $23 million? Only if the Seahawks have the conviction to tell Wilson to walk rather than pay him what he wants. That has never happened with a good quarterback in his prime unless that team has a backup plan in place, which Seattle does not. The debate is also rendered meaningless if Wilson gives in. And he might rather have the long-term security of a big deal right now, once he considers his $1.5 million salary vs. the $50 million or $60 million guaranteed he could get for signing today.

If Wilson doesn't blink, I wonder if the Seahawks will. Most organizations just give in and hand over an immediately regrettable quarterback contract even if it's to a proven mediocre option at the position, like the Chicago Bears did with Jay Cutler. The Seahawks seem to be a little more forward thinking than that, though it's a different situation because Wilson is far from mediocre. But Seattle's brass has more than enough clout and security if it wanted to make a bold move like not paying Wilson more than they believe he's worth.

But again, that might mean losing their quarterback. Wilson's specific worth might not matter so much then.

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

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: July 27, 2015, 8:26 pm

Here are some thoughts as you get ready for Monday’s DFS slate. As always, be sure to check the weather and the final lineups before you lock things in.  

Chris Heston, SP, vs. MIL (Lohse), $45: The Regression Police had their fun after Heston’s surprise no-hitter in early June, but guess what? The music keeps playing. Heston has a tidy 2.20 ERA in his last seven starts since the gem at Citi Field, and if you look at all of his non-Colorado starts (thin air ruins everything), we’re looking at a 2.50 ERA. The Giants have been sizzling since the break, and I certainly expect them to have some fun against Kyle Lohse on the other side.  

Kyle Hendricks, SP, vs. COL (De La Rosa), $44: The Rockies certainly got their Ya-Yas out in their weeklong Coors homestand, but the breaking pitches have more bite on the road. Is the Coors Hangover a real thing? I’ve always believed in it; intuitively, it makes sense. Even if you don’t buy into that, perhaps this will work for you: Hendricks generally likes the home cooking at Wrigley. He owns a 2.81 ERA at home.

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Kevin Gausman, SP, vs. ATL (Wood), $35: He’s been all over the map in his four starts - two good, one mediocre, one a mess. But now he’s a big favorite at home (-213 or so) against an Atlanta lineup that’s crashed hard (and now is without Juan Uribe and Kelly Kelly Kelly Johnson, though Fab Five Freddie Freeman returned on the weekend). Chase the win? Sure, I’ll do it. 

Angel Pagan, OF, vs. MIL (Lohse), $14: This is really a “stack the Giants” angle, but I don’t think you need a push to Buster Posey or some of the fun infielders. Pagan doesn’t offer a lot of category juice, but he’s at .315 with 10 runs over his last 12 games, and the club is 11-1 over that period. And Kyle Lohse, in 2015, is one of the most obvious stack opponents you can find. 

Mike Napoli, 1B, vs. CHW (Danks), $15: His seasonal stats are ugly, but he’s also on a 9-for-23 binge with five extra-base hits over his last six games. John Danks likes to make every righty hitter feel good - they’re slashing .315/.359/.520 against him this year, with 12 homers. Should be a fun night for Wally the Green Monster. 

Xander Bogaerts, SS, vs. CHW (Danks), $16: It would be nice to have multiple bats against Danks in this spot, and the X-Man likes the tilt of a southpaw (.925 OPS). The Boston lineup has been mostly a train reck in the second half of July, but maybe Sunday night’s block party will get this group going. 

Nick Castellanos, 3B, at TB (Karns), $14: We’ve talked about the Post Hype case for Castellanos this spring, and the story keeps rolling along. He’s homered four times in his last six games, and if you consider a 26-game sample, you see a .312/.363/.581 slash with 19 RBIs. Nate Karns is a reasonable pitcher, but he’s no one to fear. 

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Nelson Cruz, OF, vs. ARI (Ray), $18: We know the streakiest hitters tend to be batters who strike out a lot and hit a lot of fly balls. And when those guys get locked in, you certainly want to surf along the streak. Cruz hit four homers last week (along with 12 hits) and he’ll enjoy the platoon advantage against Robbie Ray. 

Alexei Ramirez, SS, at BOS (Kelly), $13: He’s been the AL’s version of Ian Desmond this year, a name-brand shortstop who’s been determined to crush your hitting numbers. But if you stayed the course with Ramirez, you’ve been rewarded with a .304 July (two homers, five steals). Joe Kelly is here to help, too. 

Adam Jones, OF, vs. ATL (Wood), $17: A messy May pushed some people off the scent, but Jones is a .529 slugger since. He does his best work against lefties (.989 OPS) and in front of the Crabcake folks (61-point OPS boost for his career). Natty Boh, that Mr. Jones. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: July 27, 2015, 8:07 pm

The apparent sticking point in all these Cody Franson negotiations, which have stretched on impossibly long to this point, is that Franson would like a team to sign him for more than one year. Not that he's hard-lining that, but it's definitely a preference.

And the thing is, teams should be falling all over themselves to give him that kind of term.

Franson is 27 years old and to all appearances greatly helps his team. In a lot of respects, he could be considered a high-end No. 3 defenseman or a low-end No. 2. This despite being on rotten Toronto teams for the last three seasons and generally having a lot asked of him. He pushes positive possession, suppresses opponents' shot attempts, generally outscores the other team, and so on. He also makes the teammates with whom he shares the ice post better numbers than they do without him. In short, Franson looks like a defenseman who should be pulling what you'd consider to be, say, Brooks Orpik money. Maybe that's not a good example, so here's a better one: Young(er) Andrei Markov.

Chart via Emmanuel Perry/War On Ice

Markov was 30 years old for most of the 2008-09 season, and continued to get huge-money deals that took up a significant portion of the cap even after the contract under which he played that year ($5.75 million AAV, 11.4 percent of the cap when it began in 2007-08; equivalent to an $8.16 million hit now). That paid him until he was 32. And obviously, Markov's 20s were better than Franson's. No one's saying they weren't. Thus, he “earned” that huge deal — and even one of the two subsequent ones — based on the reputation he rightly garnered as a very good defenseman over several years prior to signing it.

But if you're matching and in some cases bettering a Markov in the beginning of his decline, you're still pretty damn good.

Now, obviously, there are some caveats here. Teams haven't really spent their money all that wisely in the past, and that leads to cap crunches. For instance, the Bruins are a team that is constantly talked about as being a potential landing spot (mainly because they need more than one top-four defenseman on their roster), but we all know how the Bruins' cap situation is. Fair enough. Teams can't spend money they don't have. But as for the ones that are worried about term, well, it seems a little crazy. If you can sign a 28-year-old guy until he's, say, 31 or 32, that's not likely to end up looking too bad even if his decline starts right at his age-30 season. At that point, you may not be too excited to be paying such a player $4-5 million (5.6-7 percent of the cap) but it's not an unbearable load for a guy who starts out at this talent threshold.

Teams were more than happy to splash the cash on Zybnek Michalek ($3.2 million AAV for two years), Francois Beauchemin ($4.5 million for three), and Paul Martin ($4.85 million for four), Franson should be in that conversation as well. It was a soft D market this summer, no question about that, but it didn't stop some guys from getting paid. So it leads one to wonder what all the tire-kicking on Franson is about.

Some of it, I think, is that the Predators didn't seem to like him very much once they paid through the nose for him ahead of the trade deadline, and consequently let him walk without making much of an attempt to bring him back.

Again, Franson has strong career stats: positive numbers for relative possession and goalscoring against middle-pairing competition while starting the majority of shifts in his career buried in his own zone (he did, after all, play 236 games for Toronto). He was a sought-after guy and Nashville acquired him after trading him years ago (for Brett Lebda haha). 

So one has to wonder what poisoned the well so much that in the 28 games he played for the Predators that Franson is now a curiosity of sorts. All the numbers indicate that Franson, as his usage got easier under Peter Laviolette, did a more convincing job of pushing his opponents around. That's, basically, what you want a guy to do. Except in one respect, which is, for many people, the only important respect: 

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Why did Franson go from greatly outperforming his teammates in terms of goalscoring to doing so only marginally — which, again, is still better than his teammates — despite an uptick in scoring chances? The answer, you won't be shocked to find, is “bad luck.”

Despite the fact that Franson dramatically increased his 5-on-5 SOG/60 numbers from Toronto to Nashville (4.01 to 5.46; but again, easier competition will do that), the number of goals he scored for the Predators in the regular season was just one, that on the power play. Personal shooting percentage of 2.9 overall and, obviously, 0.0 at evens. The fact that he scored no goals on 28 shots at even strength is obviously a worry, but that SOG/60 number is high enough that it shouldn't be a major concern. Teams, though, are going to have those concerns because that “one goal in 28 games” thing stands out.

This is, also, likely a consequence of Nashville's apparent disinterest. They got the close-up look, and didn't like what they saw enough to even offer the guy a token deal. This after they raised him from his junior days, sent him off to Toronto for a few years, then paid quite a ransom to get him back. He was very much “their guy,” and they appear to have wanted no part. That, too, is going to scare off suitors.

But again, there are teams trying to figure out how they can make it work, even at this late date. Someone is going to sign him; he probably won't end up as a training-camp invitee unlike some other veterans who are still kicking around the free agent market. This isn't a situation where he's going to become Anton Stralman, who went from “He's a fancy-stats darling who can't get a multi-year deal” to “We in the Hockey World collectively and universally agree that this guy is very impressive,” in short order. But he's certainly a slight step below that, and there's still a lot of value there as a consequence.

Whoever does end up signing him might want to consider the benefits of locking him up for three or four years at whatever reasonable dollar figure they can make work. If he's willing to give up AAV for term, they'd be locking in a mega-bargain middle-pairing defenseman. Anything in the neighborhood of $3.5 million would be a steal.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: If you want to live at Ryan Getzlaf's house, all you need is $4.9 million

Arizona Coyotes: It would be expensive for the Coyotes to move to a new city and stay there. But then again they might actually make money for once if they go somewhere else, so...

Boston Bruins: When prospects are like, “Kinda wish I got to fight at this development camp,” maybe that's a problem with their quality.

Buffalo Sabres: Zenon Konopka last played with the Sabres in 2013-14, and is now eyeing a return following a 20-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs that effectively shut him out of the league. And really, who wouldn't want a 34-year-old fighter on the roster?

Calgary Flames: What could possibly go wrong with giving Lance Bouma too much money and too many years? Good lord, he shot 15.4 percent last season and still only scored 16 goals.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes didn't sign Noah Hanifin after just a year of college to send him to the AHL. I'd bet a decent amount of money he sticks with the big club for the full 82. 

Chicago Blackhawks: This seems like the kind of talk from a man who is trying to convince himself that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are “worth every penny.”

Colorado Avalanche: You'd be excited about a new opportunity, too, if your new coach told you your linemates (for training camp, at least) were Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. That's a big step up from Chris Kelly last year.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets sure are spending a lot of money, but one has to wonder to what end. Is this team actually Cup-competitive? With that blueline, it's real tough to say. 

Dallas Stars: Top-six forward to benefit from addition of good top-six forward. You don't say…

Detroit Red Wings: This is good value for Tomas Jurco. Especially if they get the “8-7-15 in 36 games” guy from a year ago, and not the “3-15-19 in 63” one from 2015.

Edmonton Oilers: It turns out that when you build a big new expensive arena with taxpayer money, owners want to use it to get richer rather than make it easier for fans to afford seats. Huh, no way to see this coming, I guess.

Florida Panthers: The Panthers might still be a sleeper pick to move instead of (or in addition to) the Coyotes, right? Like, would that really surprise anybody three or four years from now?

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings back in the playoffs? A truly bold prediction.

Minnesota Wild: Ryan Carter — who's from Minnesota, guys. Minnesota. Where the Wild play — will have a banner hung in his honor at his old high school's rink. That's cool.

Montreal Canadiens: Things are going pretty well for Carey Price lately. So well, in fact, that he apparently won another Sochi gold medal in February.

Nashville Predators: Lots of players seem to not want to play for Wisconsin any more. New Preds signee Jack Dougherty is one of 'em

New Jersey Devils: The Adam Larsson contract is one of those rare instances where, yup, everyone does a-okay for themselves. Larsson gets decent money and assurance of a lengthy payout, and the Devils got a good, young, improving player locked up long-term for relatively short money. 

New York Islanders: This week's Best Sentence In Hockey: “Utilizing the Islanders and this relationship to really launch their brands in and around the New York market is something that we’re very excited about.” Gotta launch those brands!!!

New York Rangers: The Rangers locking up Derek Stepan for less than $7 million per is a steal.

Ottawa Senators: Well, first of all, it's rare to see guys actually get their new deals from arbitration (Alex Chiasson's is only the third since 2011), but second it's rare to see the arbitrator go this hard in one direction. Chiasson will make $1.2 million next season, after the team asked for an award of $1 million, and Chiasson sought $2.475 million.

Philadelphia Flyers: Is “better than they were last year” equal to “good enough to make a difference?” Probably not.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Departing assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald, who took a job with New Jersey, is often talked about as a player-development wizard. And I mean, look how many prospects the Penguins have developed in the last five years or so. 

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks will definitely have a captain next year. Oooo, it should be Joe Thornton!

St. Louis Blues: What will Troy Brouwer's role be next season? Probably not as big as everyone hopes. 

Toronto Maple Leafs: The words “full autonomy” and “Lou Lamoriello” seem worrisome to me, as well. Hope he trades for Travis Zajac.

Vancouver Canucks: Marcus Naslund was recently inducted into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame. He sent them a nice email about it, which seems like the appropriate level of caring. 

Washington Capitals: Mega-bargain for Braden Holtby. He's worth so much more than a $6.1 million cap hit.

Winnipeg Jets: The fact that you'd have to argue for “sign the really good young defenseman instead of the really good one who's a decade older” is strange. But then again this is the first “The Jets don't need Byfuglien” article that doesn't come off as lazy dog-whistle.

Gold Star Award

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 21: Jared Cowen #2 of the Ottawa Senators fight with Shawn Thornton #22 of the Florida Panthers during second period action at Canadian Tire Centre on February 21, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Say what you want, but getting just about anyone — let alone a player of Alex Semin's skill level — for $1.1 million is a pretty good deal. Shawn Thornton makes more than that.

Minus of the Weekend

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 11: Members of 'Nordiques Nation' get fired up prior to the NHL game between the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers on December 11, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. 1,100 fans from Quebec attended the game to show their support for an NHL team. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Gary Bettman says here that the league isn't focusing on another wave of expansion right now. Thank god. Can you imagine the quality of player that will be at the bottom of league rosters if we get four expansion teams? Two is too many. 

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “Corporal Komarov” is rarin' to go.

Canes get:

Draisaitl

Yakupov

Oilers get:

Justin Faulk.

Signoff

Well, the obvious one. The birthplace of spaghetti and pasta, all the oily stuff: Italy. 

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

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Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: July 27, 2015, 7:58 pm

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones seems to be a man of many interests – including professional wrestling.

On Sunday, Jones was at a local Columbus pool with teammate Tyvis Powell and he got to show off his knowledge of WWE finishing moves on a few kids.

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Here’s Jones doing Brock Lesnar’s F5 finisher:

DOOOOOOOO HEEEEMMMMMM!!! @CJ12_ pic.twitter.com/fOH7qbSX6X

— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) July 26, 2015

And then the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jones capped it off with a John Cena-style “Attitude Adjustment.”

"Hold up wait a minute! Yall thought he was FINISHED!" @CJ12_ pic.twitter.com/hatxoECAV6

— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) July 27, 2015

Jones has a few more weeks to relax before the Buckeyes begin fall camp. At that point, Jones will duke it out with J.T. Barrett for Ohio State’s starting quarterback role.

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

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

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Author: Sam Cooper
Posted: July 27, 2015, 7:19 pm

Nick Young celebrates, as is his wont. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)Nick Young's been lighting it up at the Drew League for years. The Reseda native and USC product's been a fixture at Los Angeles' premier pro-am hoops run — a Hollywood staple that's grown over the last four decades from a six-squad league to a 28-team Nike-sponsored machine that features frequent drop-ins from NBA players, college and high school stars, and playground legends — since back when he was with the Washington Wizards, well before "Swaggy," Iggy and Kobe were ever aspects of his day-to-day life.

It's hard to envision a more comfortable scenario for Young than a summertime So-Cal run where buckets build buzz, and everyone's favorite (or least favorite, depending on where you stand) gunner had everybody buzzing on Sunday after he put one heck of a bow on the matchup between M.H.P. ("Most Hated Players," natch, the side for which Young plays) and Problems:

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After a game-tying triple by "Money" Mike Efevberha in front of a step-late-to-contest Young (summer is serious!) knotted the game at 104 in the closing seconds, Young took an inbounds pass, raced up the court in traffic, dribbled behind his back to elude a defender just past halfcourt and pulled up for an answer, drilling a long-distance bomb that gave M.H.P. a 107-104 win in double-overtime.

This will shock you, no doubt, but Young apparently felt quite confident that his 3-pointer was pure as it left his hand, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

“I turned around before it went in. I missed the last one I turned around,” Young said, referring to when he celebrated a shot two years ago that rimmed out.

How could we ever forget?

Swagchievement unlocked. (Image via @Steve_OS)

A reverse-angle look at the finish on Young's own Instagram account confirms his tale:

"My turn around is crazy @drewleague game was crazy... Game winner... Gilbert," wrote Young in the video's caption. The reference, of course, is to friend and former teammate Gilbert Arenas' early-yet-right-on-time celebration of a game-winner back in 2007; these days, however, Gil's celebrating a different sort of shooting display.

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Young's game-ender was a nice highlight in a summer that's been somewhat choppy, especially coming off a disappointing and injury-plagued first season of his new contract. Young averaged 13.4 points in 23.8 minutes per game on career-worst 36.6 percent shooting, while struggling defensively and clashing with head coach Byron Scott for an abysmal Lakers club that once again finished near the bottom of the Western Conference.

After the Lakers struck out on top-flight free-agent targets, they rebounded with several lower-level deals, including a three-year, $21 million contract for high-scoring guard Lou Williams, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. With Williams in place, No. 2 overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell and rising sophomore Jordan Clarkson also in line to soak up shooting guard minutes, and the legendary Kobe Bryant also returning on the wing, speculation quickly turned to whether Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was working to offload Young.

Young has heard all the chatter, and cracked a joke about it with reporters on Sunday, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

"It's been tough at times," Young said Sunday [...] "I still stayed in the gym, still did what I was supposed to do, trying to block out everything and just still have fun. You never know what's going to happen — especially in free agency when you hear your name in ever rumor and in every trade talk. It feels like Pau Gasol."
Young laughed.
He remembered how Gasol's last season with the Lakers in 2013-14 was full of trade rumors.
Young smiled and said that he "can already see that" same scenario happening with him this season.

If Young can shake off a down 2014-15 season, nudge his shooting numbers back up to his (admittedly modest) career level and at long last develop the non-scoring aspects of his game, the 30-year-old swingman could help his cause by re-establishing either his on-court value for a Lakers club looking to improve on consecutive franchise-worst seasons, or his off-court value as a trade chip who could entice suitors who might be looking for a source of instant offense off the bench. It won't be easy, especially with just one ball and a lot of mouths to feed in L.A., but in the heat of summer, with hope springing eternal, Young has his sights set on the kind of season that gets people talking about more than his personality and significant other.

“We’re going to get a lot of wins. I’m tired of watching the playoffs in May and June,” Young said, according to Medina of the Daily News. “We have a lot of talent. We shouldn’t be shot-hungry out there. We should just have fun.”

Well, that's certainly something Swaggy certainly knows a thing or two about. Now it's a matter of translating Sunday's shotmaking back to Staples Center come the fall.

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

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Author: Dan Devine
Posted: July 27, 2015, 7:18 pm

Social media has allowed fans and analysts to basically stalk athletes 24/7. It's so easy to interact with players, find out where they are eating or know when they are going out to see a movie. 

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The constant monitoring means that any move a player makes while on social media will be tracked meticulously. Detroit Tigers outfielder Rajai Davis is the latest example of that phenomenon. 

Rajai Davis just followed a ton of Cardinals-related accounts on Twitter. https://t.co/iIAAZqdBnR

— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) July 27, 2015

What does it all mean? 

Given that we're so close to the trade deadline, it's widely assumed that there are two possibilities here: Either Davis is being traded to the Cardinals, or he's become a master troll.

As of this moment, there's been no news, or even rumors, about Davis going to St. Louis. Trades take time to develop, and it's possible that something will be announced shortly, but we're really hoping Davis is messing with everyone right now.

UPDATE: Davis has been spotted in the Tigers' clubhouse, and he certainly isn't acting like a man who has just been traded.

Rajai Davis is in the clubhouse, dressed in uniform, and laughing. I wouldn't read anything into it, folks.

— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) July 27, 2015

If this does turn out to be a prank, we have to give a ton of credit to Davis. If he had the foresight to know someone would pick up on his Twitter follows immediately and assume he had been traded, that's just excellent.

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The fact that we're even debating what's going on right now proves that social media has changed the way news is covered. Rajai Davis followed a bunch of Cardinals accounts on Twitter, and now everyone is freaking out.

Will a trade be announced soon, or did Davis just pull off one of the best pranks we've ever seen?

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

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: July 27, 2015, 7:17 pm

The alleged victim in the bizarre Miami Dolphins hazing scandal from a few years ago has decided to retire. But it has nothing to do with that.

Jonathan Martin, who was claimed by the Carolina Panthers this offseason after a one-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers, is walking away from football according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

Former #Dolphins & #49ers OL Jonathan Martin is retiring, source said. A back injury means surgery, and he’s choosing to walk away.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 27, 2015

Back injuries are no laughing matter, so Martin's decision is understandable. He never found his form in the league as the 42nd overall pick (second round) by the Dolphins in 2012. Martin, 25, started 16 games as a rookie and seven more in 2013 for the Dolphins before finding himself embroiled in a scandal that centered around former teammate Richie Incognito.

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An NFL investigation was launched into what became a national story that far surpassed football and the subject of bullying when it was found that Incognito and other teammates (perhaps egged on by then-OL coach Jim Turner) harassed Martin and ostracized him from the locker room.

Independent investigator Ted Wells (he of the Tom Brady/deflate-gate fame now) wrote a 144-page report that, in hindsight, may have unintentionally hurt Martin's reputation in league circles — fairly or not — as it did that of Incognito, who is projected to be a starting guard for the Buffalo Bills this season after sitting out the past season after being suspended by the Dolphins.

Martin was traded to the 49ers prior to last season, where he played for his former coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, as a low-risk investment. But Martin struggled last season as a replacement starter (nine games) and was waived this offseason.

Although he was expected to compete for a job with the depth-riddled Panthers, Martin opted to step aside amid serious injury concerns. But even with the injury, scouts who spoke to Martin before the 2012 draft did openly wonder how much he truly loved the game. The answer to that question might be: not enough to risk potentially serious long-term effects.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: July 27, 2015, 7:07 pm
Boston Skyline (USA Today Sports)

The city of Boston is no longer a candidate to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

Boston had been the United States' selection in the ongoing bidding process for the 2024 Summer Olympics, but on Monday, Boston's mayor threw the brakes on the city's bid plans. Soon afterward, the United States Olympic Committee announced it is ending its bid to bring the Games to the city.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh had said he cannot automatically commit to signing the host city bid should Boston win the right to host the Games. Walsh expressed concern about a provision which requires the host city to cover any cost overruns, a requirement which could prove financially burdensome to Boston.

"I cannot commit to putting the taxpayers at risk," Walsh said in a Monday morning press conference. While Boston's Olympic organizing group had pledged an insurance policy would cover cost overruns, Walsh said his office has been unable to conclude whether such a policy would be feasible and would sufficiently protect the city.

Walsh's concern was not unfounded. Costs for Olympics have spiraled in recent years, with both Beijing ($43 billion, 2008) and Sochi ($51 billion, 2014) compiling astronomical preparatory costs. While Boston might not incur such significant costs because of existing facilities (London's 2012 Games cost "only" $14 billion), the International Olympic Committee's expectation that a host city shoulders all the costs is not an acceptable one to most 21st-century cities. Four of the six cities have dropped out of the bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, with only Kazakhstan and China still making bids.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:55 pm

Jake Gyllenhaal is an accomplished, good-looking actor with many big films to his credit. But even for a heartthrob like Gyllenhaal, there’s the one that got away. 

The “Southpaw” actor reportedly bawled his eyes out when his parents forced him to pass (and not shoot, ha get it) on the lead kid role in the 1993 movie “Mighty Ducks” which eventually was scooped up by Joshua Jackson.

“I definitely remember crying on the kitchen counter,” he said on The Howard Stern Show. “But my parents were like, ‘Look, you’re about to enter junior high school, you gotta get your education, that’s the most important thing. I promise you, you hate us now, but you’ll thank us later.’ And I do.”

Check out the clip (warning, there's some foul language in here):

Nice fake out by Gyllenhaal on whether he has seen the film or not. 

Imagining Jake Gyllenhaal as Charlie Conway just seems … wrong. Kind of like Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly – which actually did happen for a period of time before filmmakers came to their senses and Michael J. Fox punted Stoltz from the iconic role.

First off, take a look at this young picture of Gyllenhaal. Whoever was in charge of casting – maybe Averman? I mean, that doesn’t exactly scream young pre-teen heartthrob.

Photo via http://i.huffpost.com/gen/190018/JAKE-GYLLENHAAL-YEARBOOK-PHOTO.jpg

Also, we have no knowledge of Gyllenhaal’s triple-deking ability.

Jackson nailed it and won the championship!

Overall it all worked out for everyone

Even though he didn’t do any films from 1993-98 per IMDB, Gyllenhaal, 34, turned into a pretty good actor and has lived a pretty good life in his own right. He went to Columbia. He dated Kirsten Dunst at one point. He's reportedly worth $65 million. And Jackson used his role as Charlie Conway to springboard into our late-90s consciousness in his role as Pacey Witter on the hit TV show "Dawson's Creek." Seriously, when you hear “I don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole, tell me an image of Jackson doesn’t immediately pop into your head? Or James Van Der Beek. Or … Katie Holmes pre-Tom Cruise.

Mighty Ducks coach Gordon Bombay couldn't be reached for comment.

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

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:37 pm

The story of UAB disbanding and ultimately reinstating its football program was one that captured the attention of the college football world during the past six months.

But one of the stories many outside of Birmingham might not have known was that of Timothy Alexander, a member of the UAB football team who is bound to a wheelchair.

Raycom Sports did a profile on Alexander, the accident that led to him being paralyzed and how he rediscovered his love of football. Alexander was one of the most outspoken members of the UAB football program when it was disbanded and one of the figures that helped bring it back.

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This video is a poignant look at one of the men who worked hard to save the program that saved him.

For more UAB news, visit BlazerSportsReport.com.

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

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Author: Graham Watson
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:17 pm

The Buffalo Sabres shook up their executive offices a bit on Monday with the news that they would be replacing Ted Black as President and alternate governor with Russ Brandon, who is currently the Managing Partner and President of the Buffalo Bills, a franchise also owned by Terry Pegula.

From the Sabres:

"Since we purchased the Buffalo Bills last October, we have been highly impressed with the business acumen that Russ has shown with the Bills," said Terry & Kim Pegula.
"Now is an appropriate time to give him additional responsibilities with the Sabres. Russ will work with Pegula Sports & Entertainment to create strong synergies between the Sabres and Bills. With Russ' strong ties to the area business community and sponsorship partners, he will effectively position both organizations for future growth. We are grateful to Ted Black for all he has done for the Sabres organization and wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

The decision, according to the team, as mutual. But that’s not what Buffalo insiders are saying.

Source: Pegulas found how operations worked smoothly with Bills, then wondered why Sabres had so many problems. They looked at presidents.

— Bucky Gleason (@TBNbucky) July 27, 2015

Source tells me Black wasnt frozen out on Vegas trip but refused to engage with co-workers. He was viewed as a weak leader, administrator.

— Bucky Gleason (@TBNbucky) July 27, 2015

Via Vic Carducci of the Buffalo News: “Another source close to the situation said Brandon's ability to ‘combine assets more effectively, leverage combined assets and create a consistent message’ made him a natural to become president of both teams.”

Black, you might remember, is the man who threw his full support behind those Sabres’ third jerseys that were finally put out to pasture this past season. The reveal back in 2013 was met with much criticism, but Black stood by it on the Howard Simon radio show.

"If it doesn't sell, it won't really mean anything to our bottom line,” he said. “It’s a third jersey. If it's a turd burger I'll have to put it on a bun and eat it. It's the way it is.”

Now that’s some doubling down.

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:11 pm

Matthew Dellavedova indicates the length of his new deal.The Cleveland Cavaliers continued to go about the business of bringing back their Eastern Conference championship-winning roster on Monday, agreeing to terms with restricted free agent Matthew Dellavedova on a new deal that will keep the Australian point guard — who briefly became a folk hero when pressed into duty in place of the injured Kyrie Irving during the Cavs' run to the NBA Finals — in Ohio for the 2015-16 season, and perhaps beyond.

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While reports early in free agency indicated that the two sides were moving toward a multiyear deal, Dellavedova wound up simply accepting the qualifying offer that the Cavs extended to him on June 30, agreeing to a new one-year contract worth approximately $1.2 million, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The Cavaliers will also retain the option of extending a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent again next summer — meaning owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin would retain a "right of first refusal" allowing them to match any offer sheet extended to Dellavedova by a prospective suitor — because the point guard, who went undrafted out of St. Mary's in 2013, will still only have three years of NBA service time after this season. (For more on how restricted free agency works, check out Larry Coon's indispensable NBA Salary Cap FAQ.)

Dellavedova entered the national consciousness this spring when knee injuries to All-Star Irving left head coach David Blatt with no recourse but to give him a crack at running point in the midst of the second round of the playoffs. He responded with a somewhat stunning 19-point performance (7-for-11 from the field, 3-for-6 from 3-point land) to knock off the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of Round 2, scored in double figures three times in the Cavs' four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference finals, and took the reins from Irving for good in Game 2 of the 2015 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

With Irving sidelined by a broken kneecap suffered late in Game 1, Dellavedova provided "that little edge," chipping in nine points, five rebounds, three steals and an assist in 42 1/2 minutes to help Cleveland wrest home-court advantage away from the favored Dubs. He was even better two nights later, scoring a season-high 20 points with five rebounds and four assists as the Cavs won Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. His performance spawned all manner of celebrations both in Ohio and in his native Australia, including the naming of an arena after him in his hometown of Maryborough.

Things fell apart from there, though. After heading to the hospital with severe cramping and dehydration issues following Game 3 — a fairly reasonable outcome, given the drastic uptick in minutes and exertion for a player much more familiar with several-minute stints of floor-time than scant seconds of rest — the energetic Dellavedova decaffeinated himself, and his game seemed to switch to decaf, too. He made just five of his next 26 shots over the next three games and struggled to keep staying with Stephen Curry, seeming to run out of gas as the Warriors hit the afterburners and came away with a six-game NBA Finals victory.

On one hand, Dellavedova taking a deal far below what he reportedly sought in free agency makes sense. Just about every team has spent its cap space this summer, but boatloads of teams will be flush with spending cash next summer; the soon-to-be-25-year-old guard could be poised to cash in, thanks to the explosion of the salary cap to a projected $89 million as a result of the league's new nine-year, $24 billion broadcast rights deal.

On the other, though, with veteran Mo Williams back in the fold and likely to slot in behind Irving as the Cavs' primary backup point guard next season, Dellavedova could find it difficult to earn the type of playing time he'll need to be productive enough to entice another team to make a rich offer for his services. And he probably needs to prove it, even after his profile-raising 2015 playoffs; through two pro seasons, Dellavedova has averaged just 4.7 points, 2.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game, shooting a dismal 38.4 percent on 2-point tries while rarely getting to the free-throw line.

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Dellavedova does have value, though. He's a solid 3-point shooter, knocking down a tick under 41 percent of his long balls last season as he feasted on the drive-and-kicks created by the likes of Irving and LeBron James. He's not much of a table-setter, but he's a smart ball-mover, typically ready and willing to make the extra pass that can lead to a great shot rather than a good one or an attractive opportunity for a teammate to attack the basket against an unbalanced closeout.

He's also a determined defender — too determined for the tastes of Bulls and Hawks fans — who worked his tail off to fight through screens, contest shots and get physical with the likes of Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague and Curry in the postseason, meeting with quite a bit of success ... until he didn't. That type of defensive pace-changer, who can pick up opposing ball-handlers full-court for stretches and force them to exert more energy than they'd like to, can be a nice weapon at a reasonable price, and a shade over $1 million seems very reasonable, indeed.

Dellavedova is the latest in a long line of 2014-15 Cavs to get new deals this summer. Power forward Kevin Love and shooting guard Iman Shumpert received lucrative long-term deals early in free agency. James re-upped on a two-year maximum pact that will allow him to re-enter unrestricted free agency again next summer, and brought back LeBron pal/veteran shooter James Jones on a one-year minimum-salaried deal.

It remains to be seen how the free-spending Cavs — who cut down their impending luxury tax bill a bit with Sunday's trade of veterans Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to the Portland Trail Blazers for, essentially, nothing — handle their last two major negotiations of the summer: deals for restricted free agent power forward Tristan Thompson, who was reportedly close to a five-year, $80 million deal at the start of free agency before talks stalled, and shooting guard J.R. Smith, who's still on the market after declining his $6.4 million player option for next season. Talks with Thompson and Smith "remain ongoing," according to McMenamin.

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

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Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Author: Dan Devine
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:04 pm

At 5-foot-4, Nana Fujimoto is considered small by most goaltending standards. But as Mark Twain once said, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

On Monday, the goaltender for the Japanese national team signed a contract to become the netminder for the New York Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL).

From the press release:

By age eleven, Fujimoto took on the position of goaltender and was named to Japan’s national women’s team at the age of 16. Fujimoto currently serves as the starting goaltender for Japan’s national women’s hockey team and she played in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia for Team Japan where she recorded a .885 save percentage.

During the 2015 IIHF World Championship Qualification Series, Fujimoto recorded 13 saves to help Japan secure a spot at the 2015 World Championship in Malmo, Sweden. The Japanese goaltender had an outstanding World Championship tournament as she was selected as the Best Goaltender of the tournament by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Fujimoto concluded the tournament with 128 saves and a .937 save percentage.

Riveters general manager and league commissioner, Dani Rylan, added, "It's impossible not to fall in love with Nana Fujimoto. She is one of the best goaltenders in the world and her sheer joy while playing is contagious to teammates and fans alike. She literally traveled across the globe to earn a spot in the NWHL and we are both honored and ecstatic to welcome a member of Smile Japan to the League."

I chatted prior to the announcement of her contract. Enjoy!

PUCK DADDY: How were you introduced to the sport of hockey?

NANA FUJIMOTO: My father brought me to the skate-rinks one day and that’s how I got into hockey.

What age was that at?

That was age six.

Why did you decide to play goal?

[Laughs] I started out as a player playing forward and defense and I wasn’t really good at it at first. One time my team needed a goalie and at my parents recommendation I started playing in goal. That was around when I was age 11.

And you just stayed on it from there and liked it?

Yes. From age 11 I’ve been a goalie the whole time.

What do you consider your best skill as a goaltender?

I think it’s my ability to focus on the puck, on each shot, and also, to be consistent each game. Not be too flashy, but be consistent.

Who are the biggest influences in your life?

Two people had the most influence on me on the ice. My coach from the Sochi Olympics, the women’s national team coach. I was out of the [national team] roster for a couple years. [Head Coach Yuji Iizuka] brought me back to the Olympic level playing for the national team. He’s one of them. Also, the Canadian goaltender I saw at the Sochi Olympics, Shannon Szabados. I saw her play, and performance wise, she was the other person that had the biggest influence on me.

Did you have a chance to talk to her while in Sochi?

I wasn’t able to speak with her, but I was able to see the finals between the US and Canada in Sochi. That was a very positive impact for me.

You talked about your dad taking you to the rink as a kid. Is he a big influence off the ice?

He definitely had a very big impact on my life. In regards to hockey, he’s very passionate about the sport. He not only did transportation for me to the rinks every day, but also built a small practice facility at my home where I could practice. He’s the one that taught me the fundamentals of the goaltender [position] when I started to become a goalie.

Wow! That’s so cool. Where did you grow up in Japan?

In Sapporo. That’s the northern part of Japan in Hokkaido.

There have been some Japan-born players in the NHL like goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji. Did you follow his career at all?

I know about Fukufuji. I’ve been on the ice with him a couple of times. He has a very good personality, but his goaltender skills are phenomenal. All those factors bring a positive influence to the Japanese ice hockey community.

What was your experience like this past weekend at the NWHL International Camp?

It was an honor to play in such a high level competition. On each team, there was a player equivalent to the level of, or better, of players in Japan. I was very surprised about how competitive the level was and the overall performance by each player.

Why did you pick to sign with the New York Riveters?

That was the first team to make me an offer. Dani, the commissioner of the NWHL, she is also the GM of the New York Riveters, was very passionate about getting me on to her team. Also, the team itself is going to be international. [Lyudmila Belyakova of Russia] signed with the team. I'm really looking forward to the international style of things as well.

Are you excited to move to New York City?

[Laughs] I’ve never been to New York, so I’m very excited to see what it’s like.

OH WOW. That’ll be really fun! A couple more questions. How do you think your signing with the NWHL will help hockey in Japan?

Ice hockey is still a minor sport in Japan. To sign with a professional league in North America will have a huge impact. It will bring a bright future to the Japanese children playing hockey back there and [help] them to know more about the sport of hockey.

How does it feel to be a role model for young girls?

It’s an honor to become a role model, but I understand I need to work hard and keep on winning, keep on improving as a player to become an actual role model for the children.

(s/t Tak Mihara of LeadOff Sports Marketing for translating during interview.)

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: July 27, 2015, 6:03 pm

Hitting a home run is no easy task. It takes incredible hand-eye coordination to even put a bat on a ball, so making contact on the sweet spot and driving a ball out of the park is incredibly impressive. What comes next is supposed to be easy.

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Well, that wasn't the case Sunday for the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. With the team trailing by one run in the ninth inning, Elier Leyva stepped to the plate looking to play the hero. For a brief moment, he did just that. 

Leyva blasted what appeared to be the go-ahead home run. The two-run shot would have given his club a one run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. We say would have because Leyva made a terribly embarrassing mistake after hitting the blast.

Delmarva's Elier Leyva won the game w a 9th inn HR, but didn't touch home. Jackets won in extras. Highlights tonight. pic.twitter.com/Q9l5xAme7h

— Andrew Schnitker (@ASchnit_WRDW) July 27, 2015

Watch Leyva's feet in that video. He never touches home plate.

The Augusta GreenJackets appealed the play, and Leyva was ruled out. He was credited with an RBI triple after his gaffe.

Instead of giving his team the lead, Leyva merely tied the game. It came back to haunt him in the end. The GreenJackets were able to pick up a walk-off win on a Dylan Davis single in the bottom of the 10th inning. 

Honestly, we feel pretty bad for the Leyva. It was an awful mistake, and certainly something that will stay with a player for possibly the rest of his career. 

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If there's a positive in all of this, it's probably that Leyva will never make this mistake again. We suspect he'll pay extra attention to his footwork the next time he's trotting around the bases after hitting a home run.

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

Author: Chris Cwik
Posted: July 27, 2015, 5:53 pm

NBC Sports Group announced its 2015-16 NHL schedule on Monday, with 105 NHL regular-season games spread between the networks. 

The NBC schedule can be found here, and the NBCSN schedule is here.

Some teams made out great. Some teams … not so much. Here’s a look at the winners and losers in NBC’s 2015-16 TV schedule.

LOSER: Connor McDavid

He’s the most hyped NHL prospect since Sidney Crosby. Teams literally tanked last season for a chance to draft him. And what does that translate into for the Edmonton Oilers on American TV, after zero appearances in 2014-15?

ONE GAME!

McDavid will be on NBCSN on March 1, against the Buffalo Sabres. Yes, Jack Eichel was the only way for Connor McDavid to get on NBC.

Clearly, someone at the network read too much into the dismal ratings for the NHL Draft. Connor McDavid getting one game on NBC doesn't help the game in the U.S. Unless this the NHL's sneaky way to sell more Center Ice subscriptions. 

WINNER: Outdoor Games

Along with Montreal and Boston in the 2016 Winter Classic from Foxboro, NBC will air both of the NHL’s Stadium Series games: Chicago at Minnesota on Feb. 21 and Detroit at Colorado on Feb. 27 in primetime. That’s pretty awesome, if completely understandable given the ratings Chicago and Detroit are going to generate for these games. 

LOSER: Mike Babcock

His former team was on 15 times last season and 16 this season; his new team is on just once … against his former team, on March 13. We can’t get one Kessel vs. the Leafs game on NBCSN?

WINNER: Colorado Avalanche

The Avs missed the playoffs last season but see their NBC Sports time increased by five games.

LOSER: Dallas Stars

Add Patrick Sharp to a mix that includes Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza. Subtract a game: Dallas has only three appearances on NBCSN and none on NBC, after four total last season. Doesn't this team have star power? Do these people even read the ESPN Body Issue? (Well, does anyone really read it?)

WINNER: Ed Snider

Despite missing the playoffs last season, the Philadelphia Flyers jumped from 16 to 18 games on NBC and NBCSN this season, matching the total for the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of these teams added a 40-goal scorer to play with arguably the best player in the world. The other is the Flyers. 

LOSER: New Jersey Devils

As late as 2013-14, the Devils had seven games on NBC or NBCSN. Last season they were down to two. This season, they’re down to a single game against the Minnesota Wild on January 10. Not even against the Rangers or Flyers! NBC can smell the rebuild. 

WINNER: Wednesday Night Cap

NBCSN is airing six games after its RIVALRY NIGHT matchups featuring home dates for the Kings (twice), Sharks, Avs (twice) and Ducks. Hooray for Left Coast (and Colorado) hockey!

LOSER: RIVALRY NIGHT

Look, we’ve all had a chuckle at the extraordinarily loose definition of RIVALRY NIGHT. And while this season’s installment brings us some legit blood feuds (Rangers in Brooklyn vs. the Islanders) and logical heat (Detroit vs. Tampa Bay, for playoffs and Yzerman). But then we get a parade of “hey, they played for the Cup in the last 20 years, they must BE RIVALS!” games like Blackhawks vs. Flyers and the Red Wings against the Capitals and Flyers; and that Canadiens vs. Penguins games, because … uh … Kessel was a Leaf? Michel Therrien coaches the Penguins two coaches ago? Sergei Gonchar?

WINNER: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Stanley Cup runner up jumps from five games to eight games, including appearances on Rivalry Night and Sunday Night Hockey.

LOSER: Anaheim Ducks

The Sharks and Kings are on a combined 21 times. The Ducks, Western Conference runner up? Four times, down from seven last season. The hell?

***

Here’s the full breakdown of appearances. The number in parentheses is last season’s total.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Anaheim Ducks: 4 (7)

Arizona Coyotes: 1 (1)

Calgary Flames: 0 (0)

Edmonton Oilers: 1 (0)

Los Angeles Kings: 10 (13)

San Jose Sharks: 11 (13)

Vancouver Canucks: (0) 0

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Blackhawks: (21) 20

Colorado Avalanche: 12 (7)

Dallas Stars: (3) 4

Minnesota Wild: 12 (11)

Nashville Predators: 4 (1)

St. Louis Blues: 11 (11)

Winnipeg Jets: 0 (0)

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Boston Bruins: 12 (17)

Buffalo Sabres: 5 (11)

Detroit Red Wings: 16 (15)

Florida Panthers: 1 (0)

Montreal Canadiens: 6 (2)

Ottawa Senators: 0 (0)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 8 (5)

Toronto Maple Leafs: 1 (2)

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Carolina Hurricanes: 1 (3)

Columbus Blue Jackets: 1 (1)

New Jersey Devils: 1 (2)

New York Islanders: 5 (0)

New York Rangers: 13 (14)

Philadelphia Flyers: 18 (16)

Pittsburgh Penguins: 18 (19)

Washington Capitals: 11 (13)

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: July 27, 2015, 5:41 pm

Six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left tibia, Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody's offseason got even worse this past weekend.

The SEC's leading returning scorer was arrested early Saturday morning near campus for DUI. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger first reported the news on Monday. 

The news is far from ideal for an Ole Miss program that is counting on Moody to be its leader next season.

The 5-foot-10 senior guard started 33 of 34 games last season and averaged 16.6 points and 2.4 assists while leading the Rebels to a surprise NCAA tournament bid. He also led the SEC in free throw percentage and 3-point field goals made and finished third in steals. 

Moody is expected to recover from his injury in time for the start of the season. Ole Miss has yet to make an announcement regarding whether he'll face punishment for his DUI arrest.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Jeff Eisenberg
Posted: July 27, 2015, 5:34 pm

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

• Back home in Russia, Pavel Datysuk met up with Zenit and Brazilian footballer Hulk and swapped jerseys. [Nash Football Instagram]

• Marcus Johansson asks for $4.75 million in arbitraton while the Washington Capitals are seeking an award of $3 million. [RMNB]

• Craig Morgan lays out the picture for the Arizona Coyotes over the next two years in regards to their future. [Fox Sports Arizona

• “The Bank of Montreal expects the Canadian dollar to continue its slide to about 75 cents (U.S.) as fall approaches, and it warns the drop is bad news for consumer spending.” [Vancouver Sun]

• Carl Soderberg talks about why he chose to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. [Denver Post]

• Scott Burnside on the NHL’s tough summer off the ice. [ESPN]

• Love NHL ’94? There’s a pretty big tournament happening next month in Toronto. [King of '94]

• Ray Shero is already bringing his Pittsburgh buddies to New Jersey as Tom Fitzgerald jumps ship to join the Devils as assistant GM. [Devils]

• On expansion’s impact on the NHL … should it happen, of course. [Spector’s Hockey]

• Over the weekend, Tomas Jurco re-signed with the Detroit Red Wings on a two-year, $1.8 million deal. [MLive]

• Which Winnipeg Jets rookies will be vying for role with the big club next season? [Jets Nation]

• Peter DeBoer says he’s very confident the San Jose Sharks will have a captain for the 2014-15 season. [Blades of Teal]

• No traditional demo this year for NHL 15, according to the producers. [Operation Sports]

• Why the Tampa Bay Lightning should look to move Valtteri Filppula after next season. [Today’s Slapshot]

• Chicago Blackhawks painted on pairs of Converse All Stars? Here’s one of Corey Crawford. [DNA Info]

• What’s the fantasy hockey angle of Alex Semin heading to the Montreal Canadiens? [Dobber Hockey]

• Finally, cheers to these Predators employees who headed to Haiti to pass out more than 750 pairs of shoes to those in need:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: July 27, 2015, 5:31 pm

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