MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Toronto 5 NY Yankees 4
LA Angels 12 Boston 4
Kansas City 7 Detroit 0
Houston 23 Baltimore 2
Chicago White Sox 3 Oakland 2
Minnesota 4 Cleveland 1
Tampa Bay 5 Seattle 4
San Francisco 3 Philadelphia 1
Miami 7 Atlanta 6 (10)
Cincinnati 10 Chicago Cubs 1
NY Mets 4 Washington 3
St. Louis 3 Pittsburgh 1
San Diego 8 Colorado 5
LA Dodgers 4 Arizona 0
SATURDAY’S BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/mlb/scoreboard.asp
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Indianapolis 3 Durham 1
Lansing 6 Dayton 0
South Bend 3 Fort Wayne 0
Kansas City 38 Cincinnati 17 BOX: http://hosted.stats.com/fb/boxscore.asp?gamecode=20190810012&home=12&vis=4&final=true
Oakland 14 LA Rams 3 BOX: http://hosted.stats.com/fb/boxscore.asp?gamecode=20190810013&home=13&vis=14&final=true
San Francisco 17 Dallas 9 BOX: http://hosted.stats.com/fb/boxscore.asp?gamecode=20190810025&home=25&vis=6&final=true
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Seattle 3 New England 3
Columbus 2 FC Cincinnati 2
Toronto FC 1 Orlando City SC 1
FC Dallas 5 Minnesota 3
Real Salt Lake 2 Sporting KC 1
Chicago 3 Montréal 2
Colorado 2 San Jose 1
Portland 3 Vancouver 1
SATURDAY’S BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/mls/scoreboard_daily.asp
Indiana 87 Atlanta 82
Dallas 80 Phoenix 77
SATURDAY’S BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/wnba/scoreboard.asp?day=20190810
|NORTHERN TRUST (PGA)|
|5t||H. Varner III||-11||18|
|Ladies Scottish (LPGA)|
|5t||A. van Dam||-10|
HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS GOLF
Hagerstown Lady Tigers played in the Greensburg Invitational at Greensburg Country Club
There were 17 teams and Hagerstown tied for 4th!
Shay Doersler -100
Grace Richards-WD due to injury
Whoa! Rookie Aquino homers 3 more times, Reds drub Cubs 10-1
Rookie Aristides Aquino isn’t keeping mementos from his prodigious power display, the one reminding everyone of another Reds outfielder who wore No. 44 and slashed homers with a whiplash swing.
After taking so long to get this far, the thrills are enough.
Aquino homered in his first three at-bats , tied a major league record for homers by a newcomer, and matched Eric Davis’ rookie mark Saturday night during a 10-1 victory over the mesmerized Chicago Cubs, who have watched him wallop everything thrown his way.
“Is it him or is it Eric Davis?” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know. Same number. He used to do that kind of stuff. Give him credit. He didn’t miss anything. He hasn’t missed anything this series.”
The 25-year-old outfielder got his chance when fan favorite Yasiel Puig was traded to the Indians on July 31. He’s become an overnight sensation in Cincinnati.
“I could go on and on about him,” manager David Bell said. “We knew he’d have success, but not like this.”
Aquino connected in the second and third innings off Kyle Hendricks (8-9) and again in the fourth off Dillon Maples, becoming the first major league rookie to homer in three consecutive innings in one game. His seven homers in his first major league 10 games ties Trevor Story’s record with the Rockies in 2016.
And that’s not all.
He joined Davis – the Reds’ center fielder on their 1990 World Series title team – as the only Cincinnati rookies to homer in four straight games. Davis did it in 1984.
“I’m enjoying the moment,” Aquino said.
So are Reds fans who have a new, unexpected rooting interest. Aquino spent six years at rookie or Single-A ball struggling to hit, but a change that opened his stance helped him become an International League All-Star in line for his promotion.
His third homer brought a curtain call and a standing ovation when he returned to the field. The 39,866 fans had one of the most revered records in mind in his last two plate appearances.
Eighteen players have hit four homers in a game, a feat that’s never been achieved by a rookie. J.D. Martinez was the last to homer four times, on Sept. 4, 2017, for Arizona. Scooter Gennett homered four times for the Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 6, 2017.
Alvarez hits three homers in Astros 23-2 rout of Orioles
Houston manager A. J. Hinch was awestruck by his team’s extraordinary display of power.
The Astros aren’t showing any type of weakness heading into the final stretch of the season.
Rookie Yordan Alvarez hit three of Houston’s six homers and drove in a career-high seven runs to help the Astros to the highest scoring game in franchise history with a 23-2 rout of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.
“It was obviously a pretty explosive night from the beginning,” Hinch said. “From top to bottom just incredible at-bats, productive at-bats, explosive at-bats and ultimately a comfortable win.”
The victory was the eighth straight for the Astros, who became the latest team to feast on the reeling Orioles. Baltimore has allowed a major league-leading 240 homers and lost five straight.
It was the second 20-run game in Astros history. Houston also beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 21-5 on Oct. 2, 2015. The 13 extra-base hits set a franchise record.
Alex Bregman, who went 3 for 3, and Alvarez set the tone with back-to-back homers in the first inning. Alvarez added the grand slam in the seventh and a two-run shot in the ninth.
Jose Altuve hit his fourth home run in his last seven games in the second. Carlos Correa hit another home run an inning later with a 474-foot shot that cleared the bullpens in straightaway center.
“It’s really hard to explain what happened today,” Altuve said. “A great game for us. A lot of good at-bats put together.”
Yuli Gurriel tied a career-high with four hits for Houston.
Aaron Sanchez (5-14) made his second start for the Astros after being acquired from Toronto on July 31. He allowed one run and three hits with six strikeouts and three walks over five innings.
Odorizzi, Twins end skid, top Indians for AL Central lead
Someone needed to toe the mound for the Minnesota Twins and take control.
“Might as well be me,” Jake Odorizzi said. “I kind of pride myself on that.”
Odorizzi earned his career-high 13th win and the Twins broke a tie with Cleveland atop the AL Central, beating the Indians 4-1 Saturday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Indians had won the first two in the four-game series at Target Field, tying for the division lead after trailing by 11 1/2 games in early June.
The game was delayed 1 hour, 50 minutes at the start by rain. Once it began, Odorizzi flirted with trouble frequently, leaving a runner in scoring position in every inning he worked.
Odorizzi (13-5) scattered five hits and four walks over 5 2/3 shutout innings.
“As long as they don’t score, that’s what my job is – to keep them out from touching home,” said the All-Star righty, who has a 1.04 ERA over his last three starts, all Twins victories.
Taylor Rogers worked the final two innings for his 18th save of the season.
Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez homered for the Twins.
Yasiel Puig homered, doubled and singled for the Indians, who stranded eight runners in the first four innings and were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“Tip of the cap – I thought Odorizzi actually pitched fantastic tonight,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “We had good at-bats. We had guys on . we just didn’t come through.”
Adam Plutko (4-3) gave up four runs on nine hits over six innings.
López pitches White Sox past Athletics 3-2
Reynaldo Lopez has three keys when he takes the mound: focus, execution and perform.
“For me those are the three keys that I trust and that I try to remember every time that I’m on the field,” he said.
It’s working quite well for him at the moment.
Lopez pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, Eloy Jimenez homered on his bobblehead night and the Chicago White Sox beat Tanner Roark and the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Saturday.
Lopez (7-9) allowed six hits, struck out three and walked three in his second straight win. The 25-year-old right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his last six starts, continuing one of the best stretches of his career.
“I think he’s pitching with a little more urgency, a little more confidence,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s trusting his stuff again.”
Oakland pulled within one when Chad Pinder and Marcus Semien scored on third baseman Ryan Goins’ two-out error in the ninth. But Alex Colome struck out Khris Davis with the bases loaded to earn his 23rd save in 24 chances.
“It was a frustrating night,” Oakland center fielder Mark Canha said. “But it shows the character of our team. We always seem to do that and fight back in the ninth.”
The Athletics got another solid performance from Roark, but dropped to 2-3 on their weeklong stay in Chicago. The A’s, who are in the mix for an AL wild card, lost two of three against the Cubs before winning 7-0 in the series opener against the White Sox on Friday.
Roark (7-8) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings in his second start since he was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati on July 31. The right-hander, a Wilmington, Illinois native who played college ball at the University of Illinois, won his Oakland debut last Sunday, working five effective innings in a 4-2 victory over St. Louis.
Samardzija throws 8 strong innings, Giants top Phillies 3-1
Jeff Samardzija spent extra time watching video, and it paid off.
He pitched eight stellar innings of two-hit ball, Evan Longoria and Kevin Pillar each homered, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 on Saturday.
Samardzija (9-9) gave up one run, struck out five and walked none. He retired 20 straight after giving up a solo homer to Corey Dickerson with two outs in the top of the first inning. Samardzija’s streak ended with Cesar Hernandez’s one-out single in the eighth.
Samardzija was facing the Phillies for the second time in less than two weeks. He pitched six shutout innings of three-hit ball in a 5-1 win at Citizens Bank Park on July 31.
“I went back and watched the film and just saw a couple of spots where we could improve on, and ultimately do a little bit different there so we’re not doing exactly the same stuff,” Samardzija said.
“A very dangerous lineup, so really you can’t really let off the gas and I didn’t do that today.”
The 34-year-old right-hander is 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA in eight starts since July 1. He’s 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 19 strikeouts over his last four starts.
“They just saw him and he threw another beauty,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
“He’s in a really good place as far as commanding the ball, all four pitches . That was just a great job of executing your pitches for eight innings.”
Vince Velasquez (4-7) gave up three runs in five innings of three-hit ball. He struck out three and walked one.
Pillar homered leading off the fifth off Velasquez to give San Francisco a 3-1 lead. Pillar golfed an 0-2 slider below his knees for his 15th homer and career-high 60th RBI.
Guerrero hits go-ahead triple in 7th, Jays beat Yankees 5-4
In a game between teams on extended home run binges, a well-placed chopper down the line proved pivotal.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat the Yankees 5-4 Saturday, handing New York its second straight loss following a season-high nine game winning streak.
“That was a big hit from Vlad today,” said manager Charlie Montoyo, whose Blue Jays have won nine of 13. “The last two days have been awesome for this team, for the young kids, playing the best team in baseball and fighting back.”
Guerrero Jr. leads all big league rookies with 26 RBIs since the All-Star break.
Gary Sanchez returned from injured list and hit a solo home run for the Yankees and Gio Urshela added a two-run drive.
The Blue Jays trailed 4-3 in the seventh when Bo Bichette drew a one-out walk from Adam Ottavino, Cavan Biggio singled and Guerrero Jr. hit an 0-2 grounder down the first base line and into foul territory. Right fielder Aaron Judge initially mishandled the ball against a side wall, and Guerrero slid in safely for the first triple of his career.
“I think it was a good pitch,” Sanchez said through a translator. “A defensive swing by him and he was able to put the ball in play. It stayed inside the line and went down the line. Part of the game. Sometimes those things are going to happen where the ball is not hit solid but still finds a hole.”
The Yankees had gone ahead on DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly in the top of the inning, but Ottavino (5-4) couldn’t make it stand up. The right-hander allowed a run for the first time in 16 appearances, a streak that dated to July 2 against the Mets.
Ottavino put both hands on his head as he watched Guerrero’s roll past first base.
Trout hits 1st homer at Fenway, Angels rout Red Sox 12-4
Mike Trout hit the first home run of his career at Fenway Park and the Los Angeles Angels snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 12-4 rout of the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.
Justin Upton added a three-run homer in the first inning.
With his 428-foot drive over the Green Monster in the sixth inning, Trout has now homered in every American League ballpark. He had played 21 games in Boston without connecting.
Trout was replaced in the seventh, having been hit in his shoulder by a pitcher earlier in the game.
The Angels added seven runs in a sloppy seventh inning by Boston in which it issued two walks, hit two batters and gave up four singles. The Red Sox also had an error and a passed ball.
The loss denied Boston its first three-game win streak since it won three straight games against the Yankees last month and was a setback to the Red Sox’s recent resurgence.
Taylor Cole (2-3) pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
Rick Porcello (10-9) took the loss, giving up both home runs. He lasted five innings, allowing five earned runs off five hits, walking one and striking out four.
Porcello retired 14 batters in a row after Upton’s homer, but for the first time in several starts didn’t get run support.
Porcello entered the night having won five of his previous six starts despite allowing 26 earned runs in 34 1/3 innings. But he had also benefited from a major-league-leading 7.3 runs per start by Boston’s offense.
The runs weren’t there for him on Saturday.
The Red Sox left 11 runners on base after outscoring the Angels 19-4 in the first two games of the series.
Maeda allows only 3 hits in 7 innings; Dodgers beat Arizona
Kenta Maeda’s confidence was waning after going more than two months without a win and he knew he had to make some changes. The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher made his adjustments between starts and, for at least one night, appeared dominant.
The Japanese right-hander allowed only three hits over seven innings and struck out six as the Dodgers defeated Arizona 4-0 Saturday.
“Tonight, to give us seven strong innings, was really, really good,” manager Dave Roberts said. “More importantly, it was good for our ballclub and our confidence.”
Maeda admitted his mechanics were off the last two months as he went 0-6 in his previous 11 starts. The last three were his worst of the season, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) in 11 innings.
Maeda (8-8) made two big adjustments going into Saturday’s start – he adjusted his arm slot so that it was higher and he was more aggressive with his fastball early.
He retired the side in order his first time through the lineup before Jarrod Dyson led off the fourth with a single. Ketel Marte was the only Arizona player to reach scoring position when he singled to left, stole second with two outs and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The shortstop failed to score as Maeda struck out David Peralta to end the frame.
“By getting the win tonight I was able to bring myself up and feel more confident,” said Maeda, who pitched seven or more scoreless innings in a start for the fifth time in his career. “I was able to mix in everything tonight. The fastball conviction was there and I was able to execute my game plan.”
Maeda also helped his cause at the plate with a pair of sacrifice bunts, including one in the fourth inning in which Corey Seager beat pitcher Alex Young’s throw to home plate , extending Los Angeles’ lead to 4-0.
Report: Red Sox could listen to Mookie Betts trade offers after season?
Mookie Betts is not far removed from an MVP season and a World Series win with the Boston Red Sox, but his future there might not be long-term.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Betts is likely to become a free agent after the 2020 season after turning down an eight-year, $200 million extension offer. Subsequently, many in the industry believe the Red Sox will at least listen to offers for Betts this winter, with an eye on adding young pitching to augment their struggling staff.
While Betts has still been good in 2019, his numbers have taken a step back from their MVP levels, down to .279 with 19 home runs. He’s owned up to it, but Boston’s roster and financial situations may force them into making a move at the end of the season.
Mahomes sharp as Chiefs rout Bengals in preseason opener
Patrick Mahomes took his first snap of the preseason, dropped back and set his feet, then threw a perfect pass down the sideline to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for a big gain.
It’s was almost as if last season never ended.
The league MVP picked up where he left off from his record-breaking debut as the starter, leading Kansas City to a first-quarter touchdown in a 38-17 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.
Mahomes did a bit of everything on his only series with the first-team offense, too. The gunslinger was 4 for 4 for 66 yards, added a wild 10-yard scramble in which he wisely slid at the goal line to avoid a big hit, and even induced an offside penalty with his barking cadence.
“I felt great. To get out there, make some throws, get the guys kind of rolling,” he said. “Run game, pass game, I thought it was a good drive to start everything off.”
It came after an equally impressive drive by the Cincinnati starters.
Andy Dalton converted a series of third downs while leading the Bengals on a 14-play, 75-yard TD march to open the game . And he did it without the services of injured wide receiver A.J. Green or his top two running backs, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, who were given the night off.
“That’s how you want to start the game,” Dalton said. “We feel like we’ve got depth on this team. We’ve got talent. So for us to miss some of our guys that’ll be starting for us this year, not in there, I thought we did a great job.”
On that drive, perhaps. But first-year head coach Zac Taylor had a different assessment as a whole.
“You really look at a game like this, 38-17 final score, we had two turnovers on special teams, countless penalties on offense and a defensive pass interference that extended a drive that had a big stop,” he said. “That’s life in the NFL right now. We’ve got to correct those mistakes.”
49ers beat Cowboys 17-9 in exhibition opener
Dak Prescott got the Dallas Cowboys off to a good start in a brief cameo in the exhibition opener. San Francisco’s rookie receivers took over after that to lead the 49ers to the victory.
Prescott completed all four of his pass attempts, caught one and led Dallas to a field goal on his only drive before the 49ers rallied behind two touchdown catches from Jalen Hurd to beat the Cowboys 17-9 on Saturday night.
“It was a good first drive,” Prescott said. “We came out pretty clean, in and out of the huddle. We set the tempo we wanted to. Obviously, we wanted to get in the end zone.”
The drive stalled when his third-down pass in the red zone was batted at the line by Sheldon Day right back to Prescott, who lost a yard on the play, setting up Brett Maher’s first of three field goals.
“I just wanted to show I could catch too,” Prescott said. “At that point, I figured it was time to get down.”
Dallas didn’t have its entire first-team offense on the field as star running back Ezekiel Elliott remains a holdout in search of a new contract. Rookie Tony Pollard got the nod and ran four times for 16 yards on his only drive.
“He looks confident out there,” owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve seen him do it. We know he’s capable if he really needs to, to carry the whole load.”
The Cowboys also played most of their starters on defense for the first two drives, while the Niners kept about 30 players out either with injuries or out of caution. Only a handful of projected starters played for San Francisco, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo waiting until next week to make his return from knee surgery.
Nathan Peterman runs and throws, Raiders beat Rams 14-3
Nathan Peterman ran farther on one play in his first preseason game with the Oakland Raiders than he ever did with the Buffalo Bills.
If it helps Peterman gain an edge in the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup, he’s more than happy to keep doing it.
Peterman scrambled 50 yards to set up his only touchdown throw and the Raiders beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-3 in the preseason opener for both teams Saturday night.
“He can run,” Oakland coach Jon Gruden said. “As he continues to gain command of the offense he’s going to be an interesting guy to watch.”
Peterman entered in the third quarter and completed 9 of 12 passes for 66 yards. He also led both teams with 56 yards rushing.
A starter for Buffalo in Week 1 a year ago, Peterman is competing with Mike Glennon for the backup job behind Carr. Glennon, attempting to latch on with his fourth team in four years, started and went 17 of 25 for 200 yards, but threw two interceptions.
Peterman’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Doss on an inside slant came two plays after Peterman was forced out of the pocket on a third-and-4 play from the Oakland 42 and weaved his way through the defense to the 8. The throw to Doss was confirmed after a review.
“It was a super clean pocket and I was able to get out to my left.” Peterman said. “Took off and I was about to slide then noticed that there was nobody else there. I think it was because of guys blocking downfield, guys making big plays for me. Tried to get in there, didn’t quite make it.”
Both teams held out of a majority of their starters after holding two joint practices at the Raiders’ training camp facilities in Napa.
Blake Bortles started for the Rams and played one series in place of Jared Goff. Bortles completed 3 of 8 throws for 50 yards and had a 59.4 rating.
Report: Rival teams do not believe Andrew Luck will be ready for Week 1
The Colts may be doing everything they can to avoid sounding the alarm with Andrew Luck’s lingering calf issue, but at least some teams around the league believe it is more serious than people in Indianapolis are letting on.
Some teams around the NFL are “massively skeptical” that Luck will play when the regular season kicks off in a month, according to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report.
For what it’s worth, that report comes not long after a separate report claimed the Colts remain confident Luck will be ready for Week 1.
The calf injury has been described as minor, yet it has held Luck out of practice for weeks and he admits he is still experiencing pain with it. It’s hard not to compare the situation to two years ago, when the Colts downplayed the severity of Luck’s shoulder injury only to have him miss the entire 2017 season.
Even if Luck’s calf injury is not considered a long-term concern, the Colts will almost certainly play it safe. The comments he made recently seemed to indicate he is not all that close to 100 percent healthy, and he will have to be before he plays. If that means missing Week 1 and potentially beyond, the Colts aren’t going to take any chances.
Jaguars don’t expect Robinson, Lee to play in season opener
The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t expect left tackle Cam Robinson and receiver Marqise Lee to be ready for the season opener.
Coach Doug Marrone provided an update on the two starters Saturday, saying “we just can’t get them over the hump.”
“We’ve got to go and start preparing to play without them, unfortunately,” Marrone added. “It could change, obviously, but it’d be tough.”
Robinson, a second-round draft pick in 2017, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last September – during a Week 2 win against New England. Lee, who led the team in receptions in 2017, tore several ligaments in his left knee when Atlanta cornerback Damontae Kazee delivered a helmet-first hit to his knee in a preseason game last August.
Neither has practiced in training camp, and both remain on the physically unable to perform list.
Robinson’s absence is seemingly more problematic considering the Jaguars have few viable options behind him. Josh Wells is expected to move into the starting spot, but he’s missed more games (41) than he’s played in (39) during five seasons. Cedric Ogbuehi, a first-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2015, also could get a shot.
“We’ll find out,” Marrone said. “Someone will be out there, I can tell you that.”
Adding to Jacksonville’s injuries woes, the team had another dozen players sitting out practice Saturday because of various injuries. It’s not the result Marrone wanted when he lightened the workload in camp.
“Bad luck, I guess,” Marrone said. “You don’t always get utopia, the way you want to practice in a perfect world. You’ve got to make changes and do things. I made a ton of them. It seems like it’s not working so far.”
Players have been on the field nearly two hours earlier than they were in 2018, avoiding the hottest part of the day and afternoon thunderstorms. They get 90 minutes after practice for lunch and visits with family and friends. They have recovery time built into the schedule, too, allowing players to get cryotherapy, cupping, dry needling or other therapeutic care after lunch.
Lions put Kearse on injured reserve, sign QB Josh Johnson
Jermaine Kearse checked several boxes for the Detroit Lions when they brought in the wide receiver as a free agent during mini-camp in June.
Kearse was familiar with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme, had the flexibility to play outside or in the slot, and added a veteran presence to a locker room that formerly had strong wide receiver leadership from Golden Tate, Kearse’s former teammate in Seattle.
Now that Kearse is out indefinitely after suffering a gruesome injury on Thursday during the first possession of the preseason opener, the Lions must look elsewhere to fill those roles.
The 29-year-old Kearse and defensive tackle Darius Kilgo were placed on injured reserve Saturday, and coach Matt Patricia confirmed quarterback Tom Savage is in the concussion protocol after hitting his head on the turf on a sack during New England’s 31-3 thumping of Detroit.
The Lions reacted by signing quarterback Josh Johnson and running back Justin Stockton.
Detroit did receive some good injury news as defensive end Trey Flowers, who signed a five-year deal for $90 million in the offseason, was activated from the physically unable to perform list.
Kearse was blocking on a running play by Ty Johnson when a New England player landed on him from behind. It was the fifth play from scrimmage during the game, which starting receivers Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola sat out.
While the stretcher was called and an air cast was placed on Kearse’s left leg, Patricia’s own injury prevented him from being out there.
Patricia was immobile on the sideline because of an offseason lower-leg surgery, perched high on a platform of exercise boxes near midfield, back several feet from the sideline.
Report: Antonio Brown refusing to play again without old helmet
The Oakland Raiders’ acquisition of wide receiver Antonio Brown is quickly turning into a nightmare for the franchise.
Brown is so upset by the fact that the NFL will no longer approve the helmet he’s worn throughout his career that he has filed a grievance against the league. That’s not all, though; according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brown is outright refusing to play football unless he’s permitted to wear his old helmet, despite the Raiders’ best efforts to find him a new one that passes safety standards.
Empty threat or serious? It’s hard to tell, but given the fact that Brown’s conduct has been far from exemplary since joining the Raiders, there may be something to it. It’s also a problem that doesn’t really have an easy solution.
It remains to be seen how this plays out, but one thing is clear: it’s pretty obvious why the Pittsburgh Steelers were so happy to put this drama behind them.
Report: Raiders expect Antonio Brown helmet arbitration to be resolved next week
Antonio Brown has filed a grievance with the NFL over the league’s new helmet safety rule, and the Oakland Raiders are expecting to hear a decision on the case by the end of next week, according to a report.
Brown has been playing with what is believed to be a Schutt Air Advantage helmet that is no longer manufactured, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That helmet is no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment and does not pass the rule that helmets must be made within the last 10 years.
Brown reportedly spoke with an arbitrator on Friday about the matter. League officials joined in on the call, per Schefter.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Friday evening that the Raiders expect to receive a decision on the matter by the end of next week.
Brown reportedly has not been in contact with the Raiders as he deals with the helmet issue and widely reported foot problems. Schefter says that Brown’s primary issue is the helmet matter, not his feet.
If that truly is the issue and Brown is that passionate about wearing his old helmet, the NFL should consider creating a grandfather provision that would allow veterans like Brown to continue wearing their helmet if they choose, similar to what the NHL did when they mandated players wear helmets. If the league is concerned about a legal risk, they should make Brown sign a waiver. The rule should force all new players to wear the new helmets. Over time, every player will be compliant with the rule. For now, it appears the Raiders would be fined if Brown wears his non-compliant helmet.
Pat Shurmur says ‘nothing has changed’ on Giants’ QB front
Daniel Jones’ stock is suddenly on the rise after a sparkling preseason debut for the New York Giants, but coach Pat Shurmur is trying to quiet any talk of a quarterback controversy.
Jones went a perfect 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown in his lone drive of the Giants’ preseason opener against the New York Jets, looking confident and assured in the process. In contrast, Eli Manning’s lone drive ended in a three-and-out as he completed just one three-yard pass. Shurmur said Friday, however, that the two performances wouldn’t change anything.
“We’re not going to play the what ifs, and nothing has changed,” Shurmur said, via Logan Reardon of NFL.com. “…Our expectations for (Jones) have not changed. Our situation here has not changed.”
That means Manning is still the starter, even though the Giants definitely like what they’ve seen from Jones. They’re not going to rush their rookie, though it remains to be seen just how far he can push the situation.
AARON RODGERS CALLS RIFT WITH HC MATT LAFLEUR ‘FAKE NEWS’
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has never been one to quietly ignore media-driven narratives throughout his career.
Whether the former NFL MVP is right or wrong, he makes sure to speak his mind. That did not change following rumors that there’s somehow already a split between Rodgers and first-year Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
It’s been noted in the past that Rodgers is a hard personality to work with. Others have pushed back against that belief. For his part, the longtime Packers quarterback won’t necessarily touch on that.
Rather, he’s pushing back against the idea that some sort of rift already exists between him and Green Bay’s new coach.
7 QUARTERBACKS WHO COULD REACH 100,000 PASSING YARDS
If you look at how the NFL has developed in the modern era, it’s hard to ignore just how vastly different the quarterback position is.
The passing game is now front and center around the league, a clear indication that records we’ve seen in the NFL relating to this position will continue to be smashed.
Look at it this way: Quarterbacks within the top-eight of single-season passing yards all accomplished said feat in this decade. Of those within the top 20, only Dan Marino (1984) and Drew Brees (2008) did so before 2010.
Here’s a look at seven options to do just that.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
At 42 years old, there’s no telling how much longer this six-time Super Bowl champ will play. What we do know is that he doesn’t intend to give up the gridiron any time soon. Given that Brady is playing at a Hall of Fame level, there seems to be no end in sight to his career. Entering his 20th NFL season, Brady has surpassed 70,000 passing yards. He’ll need to average 4,200 passing yards and play seven more seasons to reach the plateau. Likely? No. Possible? Yes.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
NFL quarterbacks have thrown for 5,000-plus yards a total of 11 times. Brees himself has done it five times. This tells us a story of a future Hall of Fame quarterback that has the record books all to himself. After all, Brees’ 74,437 passing yards represents an NFL record. At 40 years old, he’s still playing like he’s in his prime. A mere 25,563 yards separate Brees from that 100,000-yard plateau. We wouldn’t put it past him to reach that mark.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes, 23, put up nearly 5,100 passing yards in his first season as a starter last year. If we were to calculate, he’d have to reach this plateau for each of the next 20 seasons to reach 100,000 for his career. Given the advancements we’ve seen from athletes recently, including longer careers, this is no longer science-fiction. Barring injury, there’s no reason to believe Mahomes won’t play into his mid 40s. If that’s the case, he might be the likeliest candidate to reach this monumental milestone.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Still only 24 years old and coming off a record-breaking rookie campaign, the sky seems to be the limit for Mr. Mayfield. He has a new weapon in that of All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr., which is only going to help the young quarterback moving forward. Sure his 3,725 passing yards as a rookie doesn’t equate to even coming close to 100,000 passing yards. Even then, we have to realize that Mayfield’s best days are ahead of him. This could lead to him flirting with that number.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama Crimson Tide
Injuries. This is pretty much the only thing that could derail Tua’s NFL career. Entering his junior season at Alabama, the reigning Heisman runner-up is already slated to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Boasting a rare combination of athleticism and arm strength, he’s the first in line of a new generation of quarterbacks that will define the league moving forward. Given the propensity for pass-happy offenses we covered before, Tua has to be included in this list. It’s that simple.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Again, injuries could be a concern here. Houston’s offensive line allowed Watson to be hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL as a sophomore last season. This is a problem the Texans must rectify sooner rather than later. Even then, Watson’s first two NFL seasons tell us a story of a quarterback that will dominate in this league for years to come. He put up 4,165 passing yards last season. Bill O’Brien is all about his quarterbacks. As long as the head coach is in Houston long term, last year’s passing yards will be the floor for Watson moving forward.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Goff has tallied nearly 8,500 passing yards over the past two seasons. That trajectory puts him on pace to reach the 100,000-yard plateau some time during his age-48 season. Not happening. But we have to remember that he did just put up 4,700 passing yards in 2018 and is working under one of the most-creative head coaches in modern NFL history, Sean McVay. Sure the Rams might not be sold on Goff long term. That’s fine. But as long as he’s on this team, we’re looking at someone who could very well challenge the mark.
Should NFL Teams Continue Holding Joint Practicers With Other Teams
The new head coach of the Green Bay Packers loved the two days his team spent with practicing against the Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers, the veteran Packers’ quarterback hated them, and said as much to the media. With the two teams playing a preseason game on Thursday, the question is an interesting one to ask: Should NFL teams hold joint practices in the preseason? If so, why; what are the benefits of doing so; and what risks to NFL teams take by having them?
Rodgers’ head coach Matt LaFleur is installing a new offensive for this season, and Rodgers explained why he didn’t think having a joint practice was a good idea: “I think before the Texans came, we had some really good practices. I think we were very efficient, we ran the ball well, we were getting into more of our miscellaneous plays and schemes … and felt good about the work that we did. But again, this (the pair of joint practices) was, as the preseason is, it’s kind of limited scheme and limited pressures.”
Rodgers also mentioned that two Green Bay players were injured during live-action special teams plays, including tight end Jace Sternberger who was being evaluated for a concussion after taking a hit from Houston rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson; who was sent home by the team after the hit. “I think the PA (players association) is going to look at that, for sure. Kickoff, especially, is one of the most dangerous plays in football and that’s why they’ve tweaked different things over the years. To do close to a live kickoff drill, I don’t think is the best use of inter-squad practices.” Rodgers told the media.
Bill O’Brien will be taking his Houston Texans to have a joint practice with the Detroit Lions next week and is a proponent of two-team scrimmages. Speaking Monday to the media, O’Brien explained why: “Yeah, one of the reasons why you do it is you get some really good reps for really all of your players, but you do get some good reps for your first-team players, second-team players against different competition and different schemes and things like that. So, I think that’s one of the main reasons why you do it.”
There likely becomes a point of diminishing returns when the same players practice against their own teammates day after day for a month, so seeing them against a different team would help coaches better evaluation their roster. Aaron Rodgers, however, does have a point when it comes to teams with new coaches and a new playbook to learn; making this year not the best year for the Green Bay Packers to have a joint practice with anyone. To my way of thinking, the best time for joint practices would be after a team’s third game and before their final game, this is when teams are looking to make final decisions on roster cuts, and seeing those players on the cut line against another team would make the most sense. Seeing another team in the middle of camp just to run a vanilla offensive or defense is just a way to chance the daily routine without adding anything important to the practice day, and becomes a waste of time. If there is ever an 18-game schedule or a shorter preseason, having joint practices would make more sense; however, in this day and age, there is very little purpose to them.
Saban: Alabama freshman RB Trey Sanders “out indefinitely”
Alabama coach Nick Saban says freshman running back Trey Sanders is “out indefinitely” with a foot injury.
Saban said Saturday the injury will require surgery. He did not provide further details.
Saban says defensive tackle DJ Dale will likely miss about a week with a sprained knee. Linebacker Joshua McMillon also sustained “a potential knee injury.”
Sanders was rated the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect and top running back in the 247Sports composite rankings.
He was likely to contend for playing time behind Najee Harris, with Brian Robinson also returning to the backfield.
Depth could become an issue for the Crimson Tide, which had to replace leading rusher Damien Harris and first-round NFL draft pick Josh Jacobs.
Alabama also has freshman running back Keilan Robinson and redshirt freshman Jerome Ford.
Florida dismisses troubled defensive back John Huggins
Florida defensive back John Huggins has been dismissed from the football program.
A team spokesman declined to say what prompted the sophomore’s dismissal. Huggins had missed all of preseason camp while dealing with what the Gators called a “family issue.”
According to a police report released earlier this week, a 19-year-old University of Florida student accused Huggins of choking her during a tutoring session last October. Huggins was upset because the tutor took his phone in hopes of ensuring he would stay for the entire session, the report said.
The woman had previously been uncomfortable because Huggins pulled her hair in another session, the report said. She did not pursue a criminal case, and no charges were filed from the battery complaint.
Coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday that Huggins was punished; he missed five games following the alleged incident and is currently enrolled at the school. Mullen added that Huggins’ most recent absence had nothing to do with the alleged incident in October.
Nonetheless, the latest police report meant three of Mullen’s players and one of his assistants have been named in incidents involving violence against women in a span of seven months.
No charges were filed in any of those cases. Three of the four men have since left the program, and Huggins likely will follow them out the door.
“Obviously, I’m a big anti-violence against women person,” Mullen said. “I’m also a person that I really want to have all of the information as I make decisions and what happens in different situations and that’s one of the toughest deals.”
Quarterback Jalon Jones, defensive back Brian Edwards and assistant director of player personnel Otis Yelverton have left the program following incidents involving accusations of violence or threats of violence against women.
25 X-factors heading into the college football season
Every college football season is a different beast. No team remains the same, and each season brings a different flavor. Stars leave, freshmen come in, players blossom and others regress.
Whether the focus is on other players or athletes stepping into important roles, there are some who will be the difference makers on a team — a player on whose impact a team may live or die.
Here are 25 of the most important X-factors in college football.
1 of 25 Asim Rose, Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats surprised many by finishing No. 12 in the AP Poll last season, and a lot of that can be credited to the downhill running of Benjamin Snell Jr. With Snell departing to the NFL, there is a 1,500-yard hole in production to fill. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops will most likely look to Asim Rose to pick up the slack and get the team consistent yards in the ground game. He gained 442 rushing yards on 71 carries last season and if the Wildcats want to build on their 10-3 record in 2017, they’re going to need him.
2 of 25 Kelly Bryant, Missouri Tigers
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is going to be sorely missed, but getting a College Football Playoff-caliber quarterback might soften the blow. After being replaced by Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, Kelly Bryant transferred to Mizzou, hoping to turn the Tigers around. The team finished with a 4-4 record in the SEC with Lock throwing for nearly 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns. Bryant might not be the gunslinger Lock is, but he is poised and talented enough get keep Missouri on the path toward SEC relevance.
3 of 25 Kadarius Toney, Florida Gators
Toney might be one of the most electrifying athletes in the country, but he needs the ball to really show off that ability. For the past two seasons, Toney has yet to clear 270 yards in a season for either rushing or receiving despite being one of the quickest players on any field he steps on. The Gators finished in the top 10 of the AP Poll in Dan Mullen’s first year, and Toney could be a big player in the SEC this year. But if the Gators want to make the leap to the next level, the speedy athlete is going to need to be a big part of the offense.
4 of 25 Najee Harris, Alabama Crimson Tide
With Alabama, it’s usually the quarterback who is the determining factor in how far the team goes. But when the quarterback is Tua Tagovailoa, there isn’t much concern there. What will really take the Crimson Tide further will be the running game. Teams are going to be keying in on Tagovailoa, so the running game needs to keep defenses honest. With Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris departing for the NFL, that responsibility falls to Najee Harris, who had a 783-yard season being part of a three-headed rushing attack. The former five-star recruit is now the leader in the backfield, and the Tide is going to need him to produce so the offense can continue to be one of the most dynamic in the country.
5 of 25 Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma Sooners
No one is going to replace Kyler Murray, but Jalen Hurts isn’t a bad place to start. The Sooners made it to the College Football Playoffs last season, and they could get there again if the transfer from Alabama pans out. Hurts doesn’t have the proven production of Murray, but he definitely has the legs. In his first two seasons at Alabama, he never had fewer than 855 rushing yards as a full-time starter, and he can thrive in this offense that spreads the field effectively. The Sooners nearly made it to the national championship game last year and if Hurts can put that chip on his shoulder to good use, they could be in the same position again.
6 of 25 Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern Wildcats
When Jeremy Larkin went down for the season, it was Bowser who stepped up and helped the Wildcats finish 8-1 in conference play. With Larkin forced to retire, the kid from Sydney, Ohio, will be called on once again to be the bell cow running back for Northwestern. In 197 attempts, Bowser gained 866 yards on the ground and added six touchdowns. The Wildcats are also losing 3,000-yard quarterback Clayton Thorson, so they will be leaning on Bowser to grind out yards to set up the offense.
7 of 25 Whoever is quarterback, Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers have one more year of Jonathan Taylor before he will most likely leave for the NFL, so they don’t have to be too concerned about the running game this year. What they do have to worry about (like they have been for two seasons) is the passing game to open up space for him. Solid quarterback play got Badgers a Big 10 Championship and Rose Bowl win in 2017, but with Alex Hornibrook’s transfer to Florida State, there is an unknown element that could sink the season. Jack Coan performed solidly in relief last season, but four-star freshman Graham Mertz is right there ready to compete. Whoever comes out on top won’t need to be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he will need to make pressure throws in key situations where Taylor is being stacked in the box. The Badgers won’t go far unless their quarterback is solid.
8 of 25 Justin Fields, Ohio State Buckeyes
After a frustrating year of playing behind Jake Fromm in Georgia, Justin Fields can show off his full skill set in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes have one of the most coveted young quarterbacks in the country, but will he stand up to the pressure? He’s got big shoes to fill, replacing Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins, who led the country in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Ohio State nearly made it to the College Football Playoff last season and has to tools to contend again. All that is left to be seen is whether Fields is the real deal.
9 of 25 Sean Clifford, Penn State Nittany Lions
Saquon Barkley’s supernatural abilities were sorely missed last year, but Trace McSorley’s departure after the 2018 season might hurt more. McSorley was the leader of this team, and Sean Clifford will likely be the man tasked to replace his production. The former four-star prospect hasn’t officially won the job, but he has the ability to get the ball in the hands of the Nittany Lions’ capable playmakers. Whether he will actually do it is questionable, and Penn State won’t go far unless Clifford is able to effectively manage the offense from the backfield.
10 of 25 Adrian Martinez, Nebraska Cornhuskers
When Scott Frost was coaching at UCF, quarterback Milton McKenzie took a huge leap his second year. Nebraska is hoping Adrian Martinez can do the same. The Cornhuskers finished 4-8 in Frost’s first year, and the team needs a spark to get his tenure back on track. Martinez completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,617 yards and had a better than 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Throw in 629 yards on the ground, and you have a dual-threat quarterback who might be able to carry an offense. Wherever Nebraska goes, it will all hinge on Martinez’s progression.
11 of 25 Quarterback play, UCF Knights
After Milton McKenzie’s gruesome injury last season, the Knights are searching for answers in four quarterbacks. Darriel Mack Jr. stepped in last season and won games against East Carolina and Memphis but struggled against LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. Competing against him are Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush along with Quadry Jones and Dillon Gabriel. No matter who steps in, he will have an important role in the UCF offense. McKenzie was the man, and the quarterback will have to be above average if the team has any hope of sustaining the momentum the program has built in recent years. The Knights can step up production on defense or focus on the run game more, but it is the quarterback who will determine the quality of this team.
12 of 25 Clay Helton, USC Trojans
Helton took over at USC after Steve Sarkisian was fired in 2015, and in his first full season he guided the Trojans to a thrilling 2016 Rose Bowl win. Unfortunately not much has gone right since then. They were blown out in the 2017 Cotton Bowl and notched a 5-7 record last season, which was the school’s first losing season since 2000. The Trojans always bring in a talented roster and how Helton utilizes it will be the key to their success this year. Will J.T. Daniels actually be protected? Will the defense actually stop anyone? Those are questions Helton has to answer.
13 of 25 Jacob Eason, Washington Huskies
Eason went from No. 1 pro-style quarterback prospect to riding the bench at Georgia, but he’s found new life in Seattle. The Huskies lost star quarterback Jake Browning and need Eason’s rocket arm and mobile legs to carry them in the Pac-12. Before he was injured, Eason displayed everything needed to be an elite quarterback in college football. With Browning and Myles Gaskin gone, Washington needs a playmaker to keep the ship moving. The former five-star recruit could be that guy.
14 of 25 Austin Kendall, West Virginia Mountaineers
Yes, Jarret Doege may be eligible to play immediately, but as of now, Oklahoma graduate transfer Austin Kendall is the man slated to succeed quarterback Will Grier. Dana Holgorsen may be gone, but a fearless quarterback like Kendall could be what the doctor ordered to ease the transition. West Virginia averaged 351.3 yards per game through the air accounting for about 68.5 percent of the Mountaineers total offense. If the team wants to be as efficient as they were with Grier in the driver’s seat, Kendall is going to need to flex that accuracy he was able to show in spots with the Sooners.
15 of 25 B.J. Foster, Texas Longhorns
Texas lost a lot of production on the defensive side of the ball, and the Longhorns are going to need returning players like B.J. Foster to fill the big void. He was a menace his freshman year, notching nine tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles from the cornerback position. His freaky athleticism allows him to be one of the most versatile pieces for a defense with a lot of new faces. If Texas has any hope of winning games, he needs to be a star for this team.
16 of 25 Jordan Williams, Clemson Tigers
For the first time in a while, the Clemson Tigers defensive line isn’t unquestionably dominant. The offense will be fine with Trevor Lawrence and some returning playmakers, but to maintain their national championship status, the Tigers are going to need Jordan Williams to play like an All-American. Clemson’s defense starts and ends with the line. The team had Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, two of the greatest Clemson players ever, and they made things easy for the rest of the defense. Williams, who was rated the No. 8 prospect in the state of Virginia by ESPN in 2017, notched three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 2018. The Tigers are going to need more if they want to continue competing for titles.
17 of 25 Dontae Lucas, Florida State Seminoles
Florida State struggled to do anything last season, including failing to protect Deondre Francois and James Blackman, and was unable to produce a 1,000-yard rusher. If the Seminoles are going to get back to winning football, it all starts in the trenches on the offensive side. Lucas comes in as a highly touted, four-star guard and will be tasked with springing running backs and taking care of interior defensive linemen in his zone. With a questionable offensive line, his performance may determine how the unit as a whole performs. If he can be a star on the line, the Seminoles might have a decent season.
18 of 25 Matt Wells, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech has been known for high-flying offenses in recent years, but all that action hasn’t resulted in much winning. In the six years Kliff Kingsbury was head coach, the Red Raiders had only had two winning seasons. Matt Wells is hoping to change that. The former Utah State head coach brings a more balanced approach to the offense, which may not work with essentially Kingsbury’s recruits. How Wells handles personnel while implementing his own system could result in a winning season immediately or continue Texas Tech’s losing ways.
19 of 25 Brock Purdy, Iowa State Cyclones
Four games into the season, Brock Purdy took over at quarterback and went 7-2 to end the regular season. Iowa State may have found its star quarterback, but can he take the team over the top? He certainly showed flashes last season, being a key player in defeating ranked Oklahoma State and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks. In those two games, he averaged 286 passing yards, threw seven touchdowns and rushed for another. Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell is building a winner in Ames, but he will only go as far as Purdy can take him.
20 of 25 Ambry Thomas, Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines have plenty of talent on the receiving group, but it may be an under-the-radar talent who could be the difference maker. Thomas might not have the name recognition of Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black or Nico Collins, but he may be just as dangerous. He is arguably the fastest player on Michigan and if people are keying in on his teammates, he will have a lot of room to show off that speed. That kind of one-punch power can be the difference maker for the Wolverines this season.
21 of 25 Julian Okwara, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish made it to the College Football Playoff, but after losing a couple of significant pieces on defense, they need someone to step up to continue the momentum. NFL-prospect Julian Okwara can be that anchor. The senior defensive end is known for his elite pass rushing, but where he needs to make a mark is in the rushing defense. The linebacking corps is young and inexperienced, and he will need to help out on the inside and outside for Notre Dame to move up the rankings.
22 of 25 Demetris Robertson, Georgia Bulldogs
Jeremiah Holloman and Riley Ridley are gone, and the Bulldogs sorely need playmakers at the receiver position. Who better to step in and make an impact than a former No. 1 wide receiver prospect? Robertson has the explosiveness that Georgia needs to stretch the field vertically. With D’Andre Swift being the focus of every defensive coordinator, the Georgia native will have plenty of opportunities to go over the top for huge plays. If the Bulldogs are able to become a dynamic offense, they may find themselves in the College Football Playoff again.
23 of 25 Mycah Pittman, Oregon Ducks
Justin Herbert returned to Oregon for one last dance, but his playmaking wide receiver sure didn’t. Dillon Mitchell is gone, and someone needs to catch balls on the outside. Pittman comes in as a four-star freshman and has elusiveness that will make him a crowd favorite when he gets into the open field. If Herbert wants to head to the pros with no regrets, the younger son of former NFL player Michael Pittman will have to show why he was one of the best high school wide receivers in the country.
24 of 25 Joe Burrow, LSU Tigers
The Tigers have always had a great rushing attack, but what might make them national title contenders is quarterback play. Joe Burrow showed he was up to the task last year. In 13 games, Burrow threw for nearly 2,900 yards and had a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio. LSU’s defense and running game will put the Tigers in the mix in every game, but it will be Burrows who will determine how high they go in the season.
25 of 25 Gage Gubrud, Washington State
Cougars head coach Mike Leach struck graduate transfer gold with Gardner Minshew. He’s hoping Gage Gubrud is going to be the same. The former Eastern Washington quarterback was a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award given to the top FCS player in the country and had 3,342 passing yards in 10 games his last season with the Eagles. Washington State leaned heavily on Minshew’s arm last year and will need Gubrud to be as dependable if the Cougars want to dominate the Pac-12.
Why Scott Frost’s Nebraska rebuild might take longer than expected
It almost feels too perfect to be true: 22 years after Scott Frost quarterbacked Nebraska to its last national championship — half of Frost’s lifetime ago — the Cornhuskers, long buried amid the chaff in the Big Ten West, are poised for a renaissance. But I’m guessing you may have heard this already, because this is the consensus of everyone whose job it is to opine on college football.
College football preview completist Phil Steele has Nebraska winning the Big Ten West over Iowa and Wisconsin. Nebraska’s electric sophomore quarterback, Adrian Martinez, is one of the favorites in preseason Heisman Trophy wagering, even if, as FiveThirtyEight recently noted, preseason Heisman odds are pretty much a hype-based crapshoot.
After starting last season 0-6, the Huskers won four of their last six games, upping their points per game from 23.3 to 36.6 in the process. This has led some to note that Frost went 6-7 in his first season as head coach at Central Florida before going 13-0 in his second season, which was a completely different situation in a completely different conference, but whatever, man.
Frost’s even drawing attention for his still-chiseled physique , which was not something that was ever said about Frost’s successor, Mike Riley. The moribund decade of Nebraska football, marked by Bo Pelini’s contentious relationship with his own fan base and Riley’s genial ineptitude, has been subsumed by a feeling of freshness.
Frost is a prodigal son, a direct link to the glory years of the 1990s under Tom Osborne. Frost must make this work.
But here’s a question for you before you lay down your lunch money on the Huskers: What if the problems in Nebraska aren’t as easily solvable as many seem to think? Here’s one of the most remarkable stats I’ve read recently, courtesy of Dirk Chatelain’s excellent 2018 deep-dive on Nebraska’s recruiting woes: In 1997, the year Frost led the Huskers to the national title as a dual-threat quarterback, there were 110 players from Nebraska on the Huskers’ roster. (Tennessee had 97 from in-state that year.)
This was how Osborne built his dynasty. Find a few dynamic talents from out of state and supplement them with players from virtually every small town in a sparsely populated state. Every so often, a homegrown talent like Frost would bust out and become a star; the rest of those players provided the backbone and physicality that toughened up the Huskers on both sides of the line. The formula worked for decades, but then small-town football — in Nebraska and other states like it — became an increasingly endangered species.
By 2017, according to Chatelain’s analysis, the Huskers were down to 47 in-state players, only five of whom were regular starters. The number of scholarship players from in-state has declined from 29 percent in the 1980s and 1990s to 11 percent today. That decline has occurred in small pockets of the state where eight-man football has long been prevalent, and in cities like Omaha, where the Huskers used to be able to stockpile talent.
None of this means that Frost can’t build Nebraska into a national power again. It just means he’ll like have to do it a bit differently, to find a way to thread the needle by bringing in national recruits and by pleasing the in-state coaches and boosters that the program depends on for support.
Frost’s 2019 recruiting class was considered a top-20 haul by most experts. It included five in-state players — not exactly Osborne-esque numbers, but he’s also loaded his roster with in-state walk-ons. Still, in the glory days of Osborne, Nebraska used that in-state talent to overwhelm opponents with depth.
Even with those walk-ons, Frost can’t be sure if he’ll have the luxury of depth yet, and he may not have that luxury for several more seasons. And so perhaps the sleeper hype is premature. It feels kind of unfathomable that Frost won’t get there eventually, but he must build Nebraska in a way that both pays homage to the past and acknowledges the new demographic realities. And that may take a little longer than the hive mind seems to think.
10 college football coaches under the most pressure heading into 2019
What offseason? At least, that’s got to be the mentality of our list of coaches facing the most pressure this year. Some are recent, high-profile hires for whom anything less than instant success will be considered a failure. Some have had time to develop their programs but have fallen short of expectations. Across the board, a lot of eyeballs — and not all friendly — will be on this group when it’s time to take the gridiron this fall.
Clay Helton, USC
This December, after a 5-7 finish to the season, Trojan fans and college football pundits alike were mystified when USC athletic director Lynn Swann hitched his wagon to Helton for another season. It was the worst finish for the Trojans since 2000 (the year before Pete Carroll went to Los Angeles) and one of only four seasons with fewer than six wins since 1961. In three full seasons as USC’s head coach, Helton has taken the Trojans to a Rose Bowl and a Cotton Bowl. For almost any other program, that would be considered coaching success, but USC is a program accustomed to being in the national title conversation every year. Anything short of a playoff berth in 2019 will be viewed as an abject failure (especially in light of the Kliff Kingsbury debacle that kicked off the Trojans offseason).
Chris Ash, Rutgers
The prospects for Rutgers couldn’t be more different than those at USC, and yet Ash hasn’t lived up to the comparatively meager expectations. The Big Ten is a tough conference — one which the Scarlet Knights joined fewer than five years ago — and to be sure, it can take a while for football programs with lesser pedigrees to catch up. But under Ash, Rutgers has looked like it barely belongs in the FBS, let alone the Power Five. Coming off a 1-11 season in 2018 and with just five FBS wins in his three years as head coach, Ash is in dire need of an uptick. This is a case where a multimillion-dollar buyout is likely keeping the coach in place for the time being, but if Ash doesn’t make great strides in turning the program around in Year 4, Rutgers will surely cut its losses.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
After a season in which his team only narrowly missed a playoff berth, Harbaugh may not quite be on the proverbial hot seat…but the noise from the rafters is getting harder and harder to tune out. In 2019, Harbaugh will have to prove he can “win the big game,” a task that has often eluded the head coach since he led the Stanford Cardinal to an Orange Bowl win to end the 2010 season. Specifically, the Wolverines need to beat rival Ohio State for the first time in Harbaugh’s tenure. A 41-15 shellacking in the Peach Bowl, courtesy of Florida, left a stench that will carry over into next season unless Harbaugh can finally prove that he’s more than just a fixer — that he has what it takes to guide a team to a championship finish. Nothing less than a playoff spot will do in Ann Arbor.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
The stink of the Greg Schiano debacle, in which Tennessee fans railed so hard against his hire that Vols administration was forced to renege on the deal, still lingers in Knoxville. When Jeremy Pruitt got the gig a few weeks later, the same fans were supportive and seem to remain so despite a disappointing 5-7 finish in Pruitt’s first year. That will all evaporate quickly if the ex-Alabama defensive coordinator doesn’t produce a winning season in 2019, especially because the pieces are in the place. The Volunteers lost only a couple of seniors, return key performers at a multitude of positions and had an impressive signing day — so expectations will be high. Fair or not, SEC fan bases can turn on a dime, with the Volunteers’ among the most passionate.
Scott Frost, Nebraska
Frost is another second-year coach with something to prove. The Cornhuskers’ 0-6 start in 2018, which was the worst in program history, had some fans calling for Frost’s head despite the fact the ink on his contract had hardly dried. Considering the dismal inauguration to the Frost era, the fact that Nebraska finished 4-8 left a sense of optimism for the year ahead. The 2019 schedule is much more favorable — the Huskers will get their two toughest opponents, Ohio State and Wisconsin, at home. But this is a program with a proud tradition, big expectations and a definite sense of impatience in the wake of Mike Riley’s tenure. Should Nebraska suffer another slow start, or fail to show up for the midlevel Big Ten opponents, Frost’s favor will dry up in a hurry.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
When Malzahn guided the Tigers to a BCS Championship berth in his first season, hype for the coach reached a fever pitch. Unfortunately it appears Auburn’s skipper may have peaked early. Subsequently, the Tigers have been, well, just OK. Sure, they’ve played in two New Year’s Six bowl games and won the SEC West in 2017. They’re also 2-6 in the postseason under Malzahn and followed up that stellar 2017 campaign with a dud this past year. After 2017, Auburn signed Malzahn to a reported seven-year, $49 million contract extension — a number that all but precludes a buyout. But this is the SEC. Stranger things have happened than an expensive coach getting the boot following a winning season. Malzahn should be ready for a 2019 in which his every move, every play call and every final score will be scrutinized.
Mack Brown, North Carolina
But, you say, Brown is a living legend who’s already proved he can win in Chapel Hill! That, of course, is exactly why Brown is under a fair amount of pressure before he’s even donned the Tar Heel colors for his second stint. Since Brown departed for Texas in 1998, after leading one of the most successful eras in North Carolina football history, the Tar Heels have struggled to stay relevant in the increasingly competitive ACC. Brown’s hiring isn’t just about the X’s and O’s — it’s a sentimental one as well. North Carolina’s fans and administrators alike are hungry to recapture the magic of Mack Brown, Part 1. There are plenty of hurdles to overcome. Brown hasn’t coached since 2013, and his final years at Texas weren’t successful ones. Additionally, this a full-blown rebuild: The Tar Heels have won a total of five games over the last two seasons. No one is predicting an overnight turnaround, but this was easily one of the most high-profile hires of the offseason, so a lot of eyeballs will be on Brown.
Willie Taggart, Florida State
When the Seminoles hired Taggart away from Oregon after one middling season, it was rather mystifying. Yes, Taggart is a Florida native with a presumably corresponding recruiting footprint, and yes, he’d engineered an impressive turnaround as the head coach at South Florida the previous year. Nonetheless, it was a risky hire for a program that had become accustomed to perennially contending under Bobby Bowden and then Jimbo Fisher. Let’s just say Year 1 didn’t go as planned. At 5-7, the Taggart-led Seminoles suffered their first losing season in 41 years. That won’t do in Year 2. This is one of those jobs where the grace period is short. It’s turnaround in 2019 or bust for Willie Taggart.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Gundy is the best head coach in Oklahoma State history, and it’s not close. The list of accomplishments and accolades accumulated in his 14 years with the Cowboys is a long one, and rightfully, one down season (which still included a winning record and a bowl-game victory) does not a hot seat create. But the very success that Gundy has created is, ironically, what begets the pressure he now faces. Oklahoma notwithstanding, there is a lot of parity in the Big 12, as evidenced by how narrowly the Cowboys lost so many of their conference games in 2018. Thus, Gundy’s group has the expectation of performing better than last year’s 6-6 regular-season showing. In the “what have you done for me lately” camp that is Power Five college football, Gundy and Oklahoma State can’t afford another subpar season.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
In three seasons with the Illini, Smith has managed to eke out just nine wins, only four of which came in Big Ten play. That alone is enough to call a head coaching tenure into question. Then there’s Smith’s steadfast belief in himself as the team’s defensive coordinator. Despite a league-worst defensive output in 2018, Smith opted not to hire a defensive coordinator for the second season in a row, and he will continue to fill that role on his own. Perhaps there’s something to be said for turning into the skid. If not, Smith can take comfort in the two-year contract extension he was issued at the end of the 2018. But if things continue down this road in Champaign, despite the large buyout that is presumably keeping his job intact for now, even a potential budget deficit won’t be enough to save Smith.
Biggest boom or bust player for each top 25 team
College football programs will begin 2019 with much hope to accomplish big things. Whether the teams are legitimate national championship contenders or just trying to make it to any bowl game, they all need a few breaks to go their way and lead them to successful seasons.
Every one of those schools has a key player who could make or break the season. Sure, the stars need to show up, but there’s at least one guy whose development will be a huge boost to his team. Those players also have bust potential, and not filling their roles properly could significantly derail a season. It doesn’t all rest on their shoulders, but there’s a lot of people counting on them.
So here is the biggest boom or bust player for every top 25 team in 2019.
1 of 25 Clemson: Derion Kendrick
Kendrick thought he was going to get more reps as a slot receiver for Clemson in 2019. Due to depth issues at cornerback, the coaching staff tried him out at that position and he wowed everyone. Now he could be the starting cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell and receive a lot of attention from opposing quarterbacks. How he handles the transition to defense (and what could be an extended role on both sides of the ball) could determine if Clemson can repeat as national champions.
2 of 25 Alabama: Joseph Bulovas
Yes, I’m putting a kicker in this spot. Alabama is stacked, and there are guys all over the roster who will be key to the Tide’s success in 2019. Yet the kicking game could be a big factor in Nick Saban bringing home his sixth national championship at Alabama and seventh overall. Bulovas did well last year, hitting 14-of-18 field goals, but he missed six extra points. Will Reichard, the top high school kicker, is the backup and could get the starting job if Bulovas struggles this year.
3 of 25 Georgia: Demetris Robertson
The Bulldogs have the look of a team that can finally break through to a national title, but they are a little thin at wide receiver. After Kirby Smart kicked Jeremiah Holloman off the team due to off-field problems, Robertson ascended into a key figure in the Georgia offense. After transferring from California last season, he caught exactly zero passes and of his four touches (all carries), only one came against a Power 5 team. Now he could possibly be Fromm’s main target.
4 of 25 Oklahoma: Jalen Hurts
Hurts hasn’t had the best of luck. As a freshman, he made an amazing run for a possible title-winning touchdown before Deshaun Watson drove Clemson down the field and won the game in the final second. The next year, he was pulled at halftime of the national championship game and watched his backup make an amazing comeback to win the title. Last year he sat back as Tua Tagovailoa received Heisman praise all year only to pull off his own comeback in the SEC title game in relief…and then watch his Tide get blown out by Clemson for the title. He won 26 of his 28 games as a starter at Alabama. Now he’s at Oklahoma where all he has to do is follow Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s consecutive Heisman seasons. No one is expecting Hurts to win a third award in as many years for the Sooners, but many are looking for him to reach a fourth consecutive national championship game and get Oklahoma over the hump.
5 of 25 Ohio State: Justin Fields
Fields came into his freshman season as a much-hyped recruit who was to take over the starting job at Georgia and lead the Bulldogs back to the national championship game. That didn’t exactly happen, as he couldn’t overtake Jake Fromm and would eventually transfer to Ohio State. He is eligible to play immediately and should win the starting job, but is he ready for this? Again, he was expected to take the Georgia starting gig and couldn’t do it and now, while the competition isn’t as stiff at Ohio State, he is being counted on to pick up where Dwayne Haskins left off. A lot is riding on this season in which Ryan Day is making his head coaching debut.
6 of 25 LSU: Joe Burrow
The story is similar to Justin Fields in that Burrow transferred to LSU after he failed to beat out Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State. He did OK as the Tigers starter last year, throwing 16 TDs and only five interceptions, but he completed less than 58 percent of his passes. The Tigers have a new passing game coordinator in Joe Brady, so there will be another learning curve for Burrow. He also loses leading rusher Nick Brossette, so more of the offense will lean on him. If LSU looks to contend in a highly competitive SEC, Burrow must take the next step.
7 of 25 Michigan: Christian Turner
Turner redshirted last year after playing in three games, which included his 10 carries and 55 yards in the Wolverines’ 41-15 loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl. With Karan Higdon and Chris Evans moving on, Turner will be relied on to shoulder the running load for an offense that should be a lot more in tune this year. Shea Patterson will need someone to step up at the running back slot, and Turner will get the first shot at being that guy.
8 of 25 Florida: Feleipe Franks
Franks is the quintessential “boom or bust” player. After an uninspiring 2017 season (nine TDs, eight INTs), Franks had a breakout season of sorts last year when he threw 24 touchdowns and just six picks. Dan Mullen is a wiz with quarterbacks, and it seems as if he’s got Franks on the right path. There have been some rough patches along the route though. He nearly lost his starting job to Kyle Trask after a horrible showing against Missouri, but Trask broke his foot in practice the following week. After that, Franks looked great again and led the Gators on a four-game winning streak. Which player shows up this season?
9 of 25 Notre Dame: Asmar Bilal
Bilal is the lone returning Irish linebacker with significant experience, recording 50 tackles and three tackles for loss in 2018. Bilal was a big-time recruit coming out of high school but in three years hasn’t produced as most had hoped. He will take over the role of the “Rover” position — a linebacker/safety hybrid, and will be relied on to stuff the run as well as come up big in coverage.
10 of 25 Texas: Keaontay Ingram
The Longhorns need to have some balance to their offense. Sam Ehlinger is a dual threat at quarterback, but he took too many big hits last year and it would be in the ‘Horns best interest to limit his rushing attempts. Enter Keaontay Ingram, a power runner who not only can move the chains but also can break off a big run. He’s motivated to land a bigger role in the offense, and Texas hopes he can deliver and break Oklahoma’s four-year stranglehold on the Big 12.
11 of 25 Texas A&M: Justin Madubuike
Texas A&M had one of the nation’s top front sevens last season, but many of those players have gone on to the NFL or graduated. Madubuike will now step into a leadership role as the lone starter remaining from a stout defensive line. He was disruptive last season, with 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. There is no doubt he is talented, but now he steps into being “the man.” If he is up to the task, the Aggies defense will continue to frustrate the talented offenses A&M will face this season.
12 of 25 Washington: Jacob Eason
Eason is mostly known for losing his job to Jake Fromm at Georgia due to an early-season injury. He has found his way to Washington where he walks into the void left by Jake Browning and inherits an outstanding group of receivers. The Pac-12 North division will be highly competitive (Oregon, Washington State and Stanford will battle the Huskies for the crown), and Eason must acclimate himself in a hurry if Washington wants to repeat as conference champs.
13 of 25 Oregon: Juwan Johnson
Johnson played three years at Penn State before transferring to Oregon, and while he looks the part of a big-time receiver he hasn’t exactly had the results. He caught just 25 passes for the Nittany Lions last year and has caught only two touchdowns in his college career. But he’s a guy who can stretch defenses with his ability to go up for jump balls. He won’t catch a high volume of passes, but he can make the big plays that the Ducks need to have a big season.
14 of 25 Penn State: Sean Clifford
Trace McSorley did everything at Penn State, and his name is peppered all over the program’s record books. He is now trying to begin an NFL career, and the Nittany Lions are trying to find his replacement. Clifford is seemingly the leader in the clubhouse, though Will Levis is nipping at his heels. Clifford ended last season as McSorley’s backup and looked good when he did get game action, but that’s much different than replacing him completely. The conference…heck, the division…is so competitive that having a reliable quarterback is paramount for Penn State in 2019.
15 of 25 Utah: Tyler Huntley
Huntley was having a nice 2018 season before a broken collarbone ended it. He has everything a quarterback could want: a talented running back in Zack Moss, a deep stable of receivers and a big offensive line. The key is limiting turnovers, something that killed the Utes last season, which is rather odd for a program that prides itself on fundamentals. Huntley’s backup, Jason Shelley, led Utah to the Pac-12 title game, so there is a Plan B if Huntley struggles with his consistency once again.
16 of 25 Auburn: Bo Nix
Jarrett Stidham left a big hole at quarterback for Auburn, and there is no obvious successor to the starting job. Nix, a freshman from Pinson, Alabama, could be the guy. Nix fits Gus Malzahn’s system of having a dual-threat quarterback…but so does sophomore Joey Gatewood, who has a bit more size. Nix is the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix.
17 of 25 UCF: Brandon Wimbush
McKenzie Milton has been fantastic over the past two seasons but suffered that gruesome knee injury that will likely keep him out the entire 2019 season. Darriel Mack took over for Milton in the AAC championship game and the Fiesta Bowl and seemed to be the starter until he broke his ankle in July. So now it’s on to Notre Dame transfer Wimbush, a dual-threat quarterback who struggles with his completion percentage and isn’t known to be the kind of passer that Milton and Mack are. Wimbush will likely begin the season as the starting quarterback for key early-season games against Florida Atlantic, Stanford and Pitt.
18 of 25 Wisconsin: Graham Mertz
Alex Hornibrook is now at Florida State, so Wisconsin has to bring in some new blood to lead the Badgers. Mertz was one of top passing prospects in the country, and it’s a bit of a coup that Wisconsin nabbed him. He may not start out the season as the starter (Jack Coan could be), but it will be hard to keep him from eventually taking over the reins. With the last two national championships won on the arm of a freshman quarterback, the stigma of needing an experienced signal-caller to win at a high level is gone. The Big Ten West division is up for grabs, and Mertz could be what makes the difference between a conference title or another 8-5 season.
19 of 25 Iowa: Mekhi Sargent
Sargent enters the season at the top of the depth chart at running back. As a sophomore last year, he led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 745 yards. That’s not a number that screams out at you, but he didn’t make a start until the 10th game of the year. When he got the nod, he was choppy. He wowed in wins over Nebraska and Illinois (294 rushing yards, four total TDs) but gained minus-3 yards on seven carries in the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State.
20 of 25 Michigan State: Connor Heyward
Michigan State’s offense was simply ineffective last season and really let down a program that boasted one of the nation’s top defenses. There are a lot of players on that side of the field who need to step up, but the biggest hole that needs filling is in the Spartans backfield. Heyward, it is projected, will be the starter in 2019 but he doesn’t exactly own the confidence of the fan base. Michigan State relies on the run to have success, and Sparty needs to find someone who can be a workhorse back.
21 of 25 Washington State: Max Borghi
The Cougars lost James Williams to the NFL, so Borghi is expected to step in and be the featured back. He is a tough back who rushed for eight touchdowns last season despite only 72 carries all season. He’s also a fine receiver, which is a must in a Mike Leach offense, as he caught 53 passes and four TDs. Can he be the workhorse back without having much experience behind him? If Borghi continues his production then the Cougars (who will again be breaking in a new starting quarterback) could contend in the Pac-12.
22 of 25 Syracuse: Tommy DeVito
DeVito, a redshirt sophomore, was a big-time recruit for Syracuse who has waited his turn behind Eric Dungey…one of the best quarterbacks in program history. He is more of a pocket passer than Dungey was and showed his wares in games against Florida State and North Carolina. He isn’t polished and has some developing left to do, but the coaching staff is all in. If he could break out this season, the Orange could be a thorn in Clemson’s side in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
23 of 25 Stanford: Cameron Scarlett
Bryce Love is now a Washington Redskin. While Love was a Heisman candidate and a key cog for the Stanford Cardinal over the last three years, he didn’t exactly leave with a bang. Stanford needs to have its running back perform at a high level for its pro-style offense to be at its best. Enter leading returning rusher Scarlett, a senior, who has rushed for 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons and shined in Stanford’s Sun Bowl win over Pitt (94 rushing yards, two TDs).
24 of 25 Iowa State: Breece Hall
Two-time all-Big 12 selection David Montgomery is gone, and it will be up to two freshmen to vie for the starting running back gig at Iowa State. Jirehl Brock has a good shot at taking the job, but signs point to Breece Hall as the more likely choice. He ran for 2,127 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior in high school (he also caught eight TD passes) and enrolled at Iowa State early enough to participate in spring practice. The Cyclones have a lot of lofty goals, and if Hall can become the factor most think he can be then Iowa State can reach a lot of those expectations.
25 of 25 Northwestern: Hunter Johnson
Northwestern managed to win the Big Ten West despite having one of the worst offenses in the nation. Hunter Johnson, who sat out last season after transferring from Clemson, was one of the top QBs in the 2017 class but knew when the Tigers signed Trevor Lawrence that only one of them would spend his time on the bench. So he transferred to Northwestern where he has a great opportunity to walk in and resurrect a Wildcat offense that needs any kind of spark. Many people felt that Northwestern was a one-hit wonder that got lucky that the Big Ten West was mediocre. If Johnson can get off on the right foot, the Wildcats could find themselves back in the Big Ten championship game.
Grading the offseason for every NBA team
After a wild summer of transactions and free-agent signings, NBA news has slowed. The league seems as wide open as ever, with a dozen teams appearing to have a shot at the title. Let’s grade the offseasons of the 30 teams.
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The Hawks are sticking to a plan and building for beyond the 2019-20 campaign. As The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks wrote, forward De’Andre Hunter, a big investment made by the Hawks during the draft, should fit in nicely alongside last season’s Rookie of the Year nominee Trae Young and underrated 21-year-old John Collins. Atlanta loaded up on expiring contracts to prepare for the 2020 trade deadline and free agency next summer.
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Even before the Celtics were bounced from the postseason, observers knew the relationship between Kyrie Irving and the franchise was strained. He signed with the Nets as a free agent. Instead of pairing the one-time champion guard with Anthony Davis, who New Orleans traded to the Lakers, the Celtics settled on Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter and Kanter’s troll-worthy defense . Boston also lost Al Horford and Marcus Morris. The lineup’s chemistry on and off the court may improve with Irving elsewhere. As it pertains to talent, though, Boston failed to improve.
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If we were being fair to the rest of the NBA, we wouldn’t grade the Nets offseason until the spring or summer of 2021. We in the sports world are prisoners of the moment, though, so we must give the Big Apple’s top basketball franchise a high mark. Will Kevin Durant fully recover from the torn Achilles he suffered in the Finals? Will Kyrie Irving mesh with backcourt mate Caris LeVert and the rest of the locker room as Durant works to ready himself for the 2020-21 campaign? The current Nets aren’t constructed to win more than a single postseason series, but that doesn’t impact their grade here.
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No franchise had a worse offseason than the Hornets. Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb found life rafts off the sinking ship. Granted, criticisms of the three-year contractCharlotte gave Terry Rozier have been a little over the top since the club won’t be ready to compete before he enters the final season of that deal. Not trading Walker before last winter’s deadline will burn the Hornets through the opening half of the 2020s.
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Nothing the Bulls achieved this offseason generates headlines or causes local fans to run to the box office. Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. should continue to develop, and the 22-win Bulls added Tomas Satoransky, who enjoyed a career season with the Washington Wizards. Chicago also drafted Coby White, which signals the end of the team’s Kris Dunn experiment. With a little luck, these Bulls might be watchable in February.
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The Cavaliers are paying the price of (allegedly) letting LeBron James run the franchise for four years. Cleveland drafted Darius Garland, a move that makes one wonder if Collin Sexton is long for the organization, and also added Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. in the draft. Getting JR Smith off the books was necessary. So is trading Kevin Love. This team is going to lose ugly and often.
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In NBA power rankings, there are good teams, bad teams and then franchises stuck in basketball purgatory such as the Pistons, who seem destined to be a lower-level playoff team. Signing guard Derrick Rose on a team-friendly, two-year contract after he enjoyed a career resurrection with the Timberwolves was a risk worth taking. Forward Sekou Doumbouya, drafted 15th overall, is a project. Trading Blake Griffin would improve the Pistons down the road. However, it seems the team’s front office doesn’t want to endure the immediate pains that would follow that transaction.
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Bojan Bogdanovic‘s signing with the Utah Jazz prevented the Pacers from hitting a grand slam this offseason, but a two-run dinger isn’t anything to sneeze at. The Pacers snatched Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks, added Jeremy Lamb and took cheap fliers on T.J. Warren and T.J. McConnell. Obviously, the club’s offseason will only be successful if Victor Oladipo is able to reclaim his All-Star form following the ruptured quad that ended his campaign in January. The Pacers will be a tough out in April if Oladipo is the player of old by then.
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The Heat responded to the retirement of Dwyane Wade by trading for Jimmy Butler, a two-way star who can pilot the franchise to a deep playoff run … if Miami makes more moves. Meyers Leonard isn’t a replacement for Hassan Whiteside, but the Heat trading Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers was in the best interests of both parties. Can the Heat trade for Chris Paul or Kevin Love? Would signing Carmelo Anthony turn Miami into a legitimate contender? How will those within the organization react the first time Butler challenges a coach or teammates during a game or a practice?
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Knicks fans may try to convince themselves the franchise’s failure to sign Kevin Durant was a good move. They may be right in a few years, but the Knicks undeniably struck out in free agency after trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The drafting of RJ Barrett doesn’t eliminate the reality that the iconic franchise couldn’t lure a single big name to the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”
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No, the Magic retaining Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic while adding Al-Farouq Aminu won’t put the club atop the conference standings. Orlando has interesting options ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, specifically as it pertains to the future of center Mo Bamba. Maybe Markelle Fultz, who still hasn’t played a second in an Orlando jersey, will be a steal for the Magic whenever he takes the court.
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The Wizards are stuck in limbo with John Wall sidelined for the foreseeable future because of the torn Achilles that downed him in February. Truth be told, Bradley Beal may be doing himself and the Wizards a favor by not signing an extension with the franchise this summer. Washington re-signed Thomas Bryant and acquired Ish Smithand Isaiah Thomas, among other players, ahead of what will be another dreadful season. As Matt Bonesteel of The Washington Post wrote, the Wizards drafting Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura ninth overall earned the club criticism.
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The Raptors did everything possible to convince Kawhi Leonard to stay. But The Board Man probably made his mind up before he hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Additions of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson don’t make up for the two-time Finals MVP’s departure. The next big moves made by the Raptors will be finding buyers for veterans such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
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In July, Keith P Smith of RealGM wrote about a conversation he had with a league executive regarding Jimmy Butler, who left the Philadelphia 76ers for the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade this offseason: “You add Jimmy, you better be sure. I bet Spo ( Erik Spoelstra) and Pat (Riley) are sure. And they are probably right. But that dude can ruin your whole deal if he’s not happy. And when has he ever been happy?” Along with banking on the notion of addition by subtraction, the 76ers signed Tobias Harris to an extension and added defensive force Al Horford to a roster that has Defensive Player of the Year candidate Joel Embiid in the starting lineup. JJ Redick signing with the New Orleans Pelicans brings this grade down.
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The Bucks couldn’t afford to sign Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic AND re-sign Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez as well. And soon they have reigning NBA MVPGiannis Antetokounmpo‘s contract to deal with. Lopez is a solid signing, and guardGeorge Hill stayed put at an inexpensive price. The Bucks will be favorites to win the Eastern Conference again.
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The Mavericks unofficially made their first splash of the offseason last January when they traded for Kristaps Porzingis. Even though the unicorn hasn’t played since suffering a torn ACL in February 2018, the Mavs nevertheless put pen to paper on a max deal with the big man. Smart move, as the duo of Porzingis and Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic is the team’s future. As The Dallas Morning News’ Tim Cowlishawexplained, Porzingis and Doncic have up to two full seasons to impress stars scheduled to enter free agency in the summer of 2021. Adding Seth Curry, who shot 45 percent from distance last season, improved Dallas’ perimeter offense.
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As expected, the Nuggets enjoyed a quiet offseason. They exercised the last year of Paul Millsap’s contract and signed 22-year-old Jamal Murray to a five-year extension. Isaiah Thomas is off the books. Michael Porter Jr. will hopefully evolve and make positive strides after a redshirt season. Drafting Bol Bol 44th overall could be a low-risk, high-reward move.
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The Rockets removed Chris Paul‘s contract from the books, landed Russell Westbrookand held onto James Harden, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. What’s not to like? Westbrook and Harden are both proven MVPs used to having the ball in their hands. “I don’t have to touch the ball to impact the game,” Westbrook said during his official Rockets intro, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. We’ll see if that changes this season.
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By trading Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz, the Grizzlies completed the most vital part of their latest rebuild. The job still isn’t finished, though, as dealing both Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala as quickly as possible should be high on the club’s list of goals. Rookie Ja Morant, second to only Zion Williamson in many predraft rankings, and Jaren Jackson Jr. may be stars in the making. Memphis is another team slated to have a ton of available cap space next summer.
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The Timberwolves came up empty in their pursuit of D’Angelo Russell and then completed a draft-day trade that included sending Dario Saric to the Phoenix Suns to obtain Jarrett Culver’s rights. Even if Jace Frederick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press is correct in predicting Culver could eventually outshine Andrew Wiggins, Wiggins’contract is still a problem to deal with. Recently, Berry Tramel of the Oklahomansuggested that OKC trade Chris Paul for Wiggins.
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New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin couldn’t convince Anthony Davis to stay. Instead, the Pelicans dealt him to the Lakers for a package that included Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, youngsters with high upsides. And, of course, the team drafted Zion Williamson first overall. New Orleans also traded for veteran Derrick Favors, who has one season left on his contract, and signed JJ Redick to a deal that expires in two years. According to Jake Fisher of Sports Illustrated, Griffin intends to buy before next year’s trade deadline.
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Fifteen. That, per Rodger Sherman of The Ringer, is the number of first-round picks the Oklahoma City Thunder could control between the 2020 and 2026 drafts. General manager Sam Presti netted quite a haul by trading Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant. He also added Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari. OKC must dump Chris Paul and his contract, but the Thunder can wait to make a deal until a team blows them away with an offer.
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Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton deserve better from the Suns. Nobody should be upset the Suns moved on from Josh Jackson, but why trade T.J. Warren after he posts career bests in three-point shooting and then overpay for Ricky Rubio? Phoenix also selected North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson 11th overall, a decision called a ” reach” bymultiple outlets. The Suns seem to be throwing ideas toward walls to see what sticks.
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Portland Trail Blazers
As Forbes’ Morten Jensen explained, the Trail Blazers signing both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to extensions keeps the band together and gives the club the ability to chase a star during a 2021 free agency period set to be loaded with talent. But what about 2019-20? Trading for Hassan Whiteside will be worth the gamble if he flourishes under the mentorship of Lillard and Pau Gasol while Jusuf Nurkic recovers from the devastating leg injury he suffered in March. Keeping Rodney Hood over Seth Curry and Enes Kanter makes sense. Even if Zach Collins becomes a starter for a playoff-caliber lineup, the Trail Blazers aren’t as good, on paper, as the conference’s best teams. They also may not be done wheeling and dealing.
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The Kings probably won’t rise into the top eight of the standings in the better conference, but the team’s offseason was more about surrounding Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III with depth and players who actually want to play for the club. Center Willie Cauley-Stein is gone, replaced by Dewayne Dedmon. Three-and-D forward Trevor Ariza adds experience to the rotation. Harrison Barnes received a deserved four-year contract following an impressive, brief stint with the organization.
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The Spurs completed a sign-and-trade that involved Davis Bertans joining the Washington Wizards in return for DeMarre Carroll, with the plan being that forward Marcus Morris would join San Antonio on a two-year agreement. Morris spurned San Antonio for the New York Knicks, making Rudy Gay’s two-year contract the club’s best transaction of the offseason. We’ll never count Gregg Popovich out, and he’s getting Dejounte Murray back after the 22-year-old missed the entire 2018-19 campaign because of a torn ACL.
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Mike Conley, acquired from Memphis, cost the Utah little. Bojan Bogdanovic, who shot a career-high 42.5 percent from beyond the arc in 81 starts last season, signed a four-year contract with the Jazz. With Donovan Mitchell and two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert still in the lineup, the Jazz can hang with any opponent in a seven-game series.
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We’re working under the assumption the Warriors knew Kevin Durant intended to sign elsewhere even before the 2019 Finals. Golden State got D’Angelo Russell coming off his first All-Star season in the Durant trade, and he’ll be worth plenty on the market if he and Stephen Curry don’t click. The Warriors had to re-sign Klay Thompson even though he suffered a torn ACL in the Finals, and getting Willie Cauley-Stein on a “prove it” contract while holding onto Kevon Looney without breaking the bank will keep the Warriors in the playoff hunt.
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The Lakers mortgaging the future to give LeBron James what he wanted was always inevitable. Anthony Davis is worth the high price Los Angeles paid, and DeMarcus Cousins could be an All-Star reborn back with his former frontcourt teammate. Keeping Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee was important for the team’s depth, but the Lakers couldn’t sell Kawhi Leonard on joining the fun. Will James’ health affect his playing time a second straight year?
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The Clippers didn’t just get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They also re-signed Patrick Beverley, held onto JaMychal Green, traded for two-way contributor Maurice Harkless and still have Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the team’s biggest loss of the offseason. We think the club with the Association’s best perimeter defense will survive just fine.
Oh, Canada! Teenager Bianca Andreescu makes Rogers Cup final
Teenager Bianca Andreescu advanced to the Rogers Cup title match with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Sofia Kenin on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian in 50 years to make the women’s final.
The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, will face Serena Williams on Sunday.
Canadians Faye Urban and Vicki Berner played in the 1969 final, with Urban winning the tournament that was played on clay and called the Canadian Open.
“For sure there’s some pressure, but I have nothing to lose, really,” Andreescu said. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m just going to try and stay in the present moment.”
Williams beat Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second semifinal.
The 37-year-old Williams is ranked 10th and seeded eighth in her first event since losing the Wimbledon final. She won in 2001, 2011 and 2013 – all in Toronto – and has a tournament-record 34 victories in 38 matches. The American won the last of her 72 singles titles in the 2017 Australian Open.
Andreescu is returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined her since the French Open in May. She won in Indian Wells in March for her first WTA Tour title.
“Just with all that I’ve been through. The past couple of months have been so, so, so, so tough,” Andreescu said. “Just being able to be here right now is truly incredible.”
Backed by a vocal sellout crowd, Andreescu beat Kenin on her fifth match point, avoiding a third set for the first time in the tournament. Andreescu had three chances to finish the semifinal before the second set went to a tiebreaker, but the American fought back each time.
Andreescu finally sealed the match on a backhand winner. She dropped to her knees and covered her face before kissing the Aviva Centre’s hardcourt. After speaking with an on-court reporter she found her parents in the crowd for a long embrace.
“All the emotions I had during that tiebreaker, I think my body just wanted to let it all out,” Andreescu said. “It’s just so incredible that I’m in the final of the Rogers Cup. I had zero expectations coming into this tournament.”
That partisan crowd did affect Kenin’s concentration.
Reed takes 1-shot lead at FedEx Cup opener
Patrick Reed is finally being rewarded with good scores, and he hopes it can be enough to turn around his season.
He is winless in the last 16 months dating to the 2018 Masters.
He hasn’t missed the Tour Championship in five years, and started the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 50, leaving him little room for a bad week. He is in danger of being left off a U.S. team for the first time since his rookie season in 2013.
Reed put himself in position to change his outlook Saturday with a 4-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead over Abraham Ancer of Mexico going into the final round of The Northern Trust.
“It’s close and it feels good,” Reed said. “Feels like this has been coming for some time, and now it’s just go out and stick to the game plan tomorrow and hopefully Sunday we have a chance to win the golf tournament.”
Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, playing in the final group, lost ground on a blustery day at Liberty National.
Johnson, twice a winner of this FedEx Cup playoffs opener, didn’t make a birdie until the 10th hole, and then saw his round fall apart with four bogeys over the last six holes for a 74 that dropped him five shots behind.
Spieth began his round by hitting his tee shot into the water, lost ground and momentum with a sloppy double bogey – his first of the week – from the fairway on No. 7 and recorded only two birdies in his round of 74. It was his second straight Saturday swoon, and this one could be costly. He is No. 69 in the FedEx Cup, and a strong finish this week could help salvage his season with a trip to East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale.
Moriya Jutanugarn leads Ladies Scottish Open
Trying to follow her sister with a Ladies Scottish Open victory, Moriya Jutanugarn shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round at The Renaissance Club.
“Well, it would be, of course, like any win, you always feel great with it and especially like Scotland is Home of Golf, of course,” Jutanugarn said about adding her name a notch below younger sister Ariya’s on the trophy. “I think because she felt like she never played good on a links course, so that’s why she kind of pretty surprised what she had done.”
Ariya Jutanugarn won last year at Gullane.
Moriya Jutanugarn had six birdies and two bogeys on a partly sunny day with the breeze at 5-10 mph and temperatures in the 60s. The Thai player had a 16-under 197 total. She won the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open last year for her first LPGA Tour title.
“Just another pretty solid day,” she said. “Trying to get up-and-down and lots of good chance for birdie, as well.”
South Korean players Jeongeun Lee6 (66) and Mi Jung Hur (70) were tied for second.
Moriya Jutanugarn opened with rounds of 64 and 66 has hit 48 of 54 greens in regulation.
“I’m just trying to play my game and have fun out there,” she said. “Don’t really focus on anything.”
Lee6 won the U.S. Women’s Open in June in South Carolina. She’s a newcomer to links golf.
“This is my first time, and I thought it would be really hard, but actually my shots and my putting strokes were pretty good,” Lee6 said. “So that’s why I’ve been starting playing a lot better than before. But the most part I’m worried about is tomorrow’s weather, because it seems like the forecast, it’s going to rain all day. So we’ll see how that goes.”
Hur shot a 62 in the second round, taking just 24 putts.
Cindric wins at Mid-Ohio for second straight Xfinity victory
Austin Cindric raced to his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday, holding off Christopher Bell at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 20-year-old Cindric won for the first time in the series last week on the road course at Watkins Glen.
“To get my first two wins within a week is incredible,” he said. “To win on a road course like this obviously gives you a lot of confidence.”
Driving the Team Penske No. 22 Ford, Cindric finished 3.780 seconds ahead of Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
A.J. Allmendinger, driving a Chevy for the northeast-Ohio based Kaulig Racing was third, 10.290 seconds behind.
Points leader Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing was fourth. His lead is 28 points over Bell.
Bell was happy to have back-to-back road courses behind him while still being able to stay close to Reddick.
“Road-course racing is obviously not my strong suit,” Bell said. “To get out of here and maintain points is good for us.”
Cindric, the pole-sitter for a second straight year, took the lead from Chase Briscoe on Lap 63 in the second turn, or keyhole, with an outside move. Cindric led 47 of the 75 laps on the 13-turn, 2.258 mile course.
He is the son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric and the grandson of the former track owner, the late Jim Trueman, who was the car owner when Bobby Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500.
Cindric said his family would vacation at Mid-Ohio and he’s dreamt of winning there.
“I’ve had four or five poles here over my career here and never won on anything I’ve driven so it feels awesome,” he said. “It’s cool because there’s probably kid out there watching the corners wanting to be a race car driver some day and that was me 10, 12 years ago watching the corners, running around, playing in the grass, doing whatever you want, getting a hot dog.”
A native of Columbus, about 60 miles to the south, Cindric led 59 laps last year but was passed by Justin Allgaier with three laps to go and finished second.
Briscoe in the Biagi-DenBeste Racing Ford won the first 20-mile stage when Cindric made his first stop on Lap 18. Cindric stalled coming out of the pit and was 14th through the stage but after everyone pitted, he was second to Bell by Lap 22.
James Hawksworth won the second 20-mile stage.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1907 Cardinal Ed Karger pitches a seven-inning perfect game in game two of a doubleheader, beating the Boston Braves, 4-0. The contest was shortened by a prior agreement between the clubs.
1912 Shoeless Joe Jackson completes the stolen base cycle when he swipes home in the seventh inning of the Indians’ 8-3 victory over New York at Cleveland’s League Park. The 25 year-old outfielder had made his way around the bases by stealing second and third base before his thievery of the plate to complete the deed.
1926 In a 7-2 loss to Chicago, Indian outfielder Tris Speaker hits his 700th career double. ‘Grey Eagle’ will establish a major league mark for two-baggers, collecting 792 during his 22-year career.
1929 At League Park in Cleveland, Babe Ruth hits Willis Hudlin’s first delivery in the second inning over the right field fence to record his 500th career home run. The Bambino has more than twice the number of round-trippers than the Phillies’ Cy Williams, who is #2 on the all-time list with 237.
1942 A quirk in the major league rules results in the first game of a doubleheader at Cleveland Stadium being suspended due to darkness, but allows the Tigers to beat the Indians in the nightcap, 3-2. The scoreless opener was stopped in the 14th inning because the ML edict states games started in daylight could not be completed under artificial lights, but the rule did not apply to the second game of the twin bill because it would be started after the sun went down.
1946 Sweeping a doubleheader, the Phillies end the Dodgers’ 18-game winning streak, a major league record, in Philadelphia. The Dodgers hadn’t lost in the City of Brotherly Love since May 5, 1945.
1950 Vern Bickford, throwing just 97 pitches, no-hits the Dodgers at Braves’ Field, 7-0. The 29 year-old right-hander hurls the first hitless game for Boston since Jim Tobin accomplished the feat, also against Brooklyn, on April 27, 1944.
1951 WCBS-TV televises the first baseball game broadcast in color, a Dodgers’ 8-1 victory over the visiting Braves in the first game of a twin bill. Brooklyn’s announcers Red Barber and Connie Desmond provide the play-by-play commentary for the Ebbets Field contest, detailing Ralph Branca’s victory over eventual 20-game winner Warren Spahn.
1951 At Texas League Park in Tulsa, OK, Bob Turley of the San Antonio Missions strikes out 22 Oilers in a 16-inning game that is called due to darkness with the score tied 3-3. When the Class-AA minor league season ends, the 20 year-old right-hander will join the Browns, making his major league debut for the last-place team on September 29.
1955 Ted Williams collects his 2000th career hit with a first-inning bloop single off Bob Turley in the team’s 5-3 loss at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox outfielder will finish his 19-year Hall of Fame career with 2654 hits.
1959 Gil Carter, a pitcher for the Carlsbad, New Mexico entry in the Sophomore Baseball League, reportedly hits a ball that travels 730 feet from home plate. The left field blast may be the longest home run ever hit.
1961 In front of packed County Stadium in Milwaukee, Braves lefty Warren Spahn scatters six hits to beat the Cubs, 2-1, for his 300th victory. The 40 year-old southpaw, who will finish his career with 363 wins, the most of any left-hander in the history of the game, is the thirteenth major league hurler to reach the milestone.
1963 In the second game of doubleheader, Auburn’s Paul Alspach strikes out 24 New York-Penn League Pirate batters en route to a 1-0 victory at Batavia’s MacArthur Stadium. The 21 year-old Mets farmhand’s performance breaks the NYPL’s strikeout record of 20, previously shared by Jerry Kleinsmith (Jamestown, 1948) and Ron Owen (Hornell, 1955).
1967 Al Downing, en route to a 5-3 complete game victory at Cleveland Stadium, strikes out the side in the second frame on nine consecutive pitches. The victims of the Yankee southpaw’s immaculate inning are clean-up batter Tony Horton, Don Demeter, and Duke Sims.
1968 As a pinch hitter, Gates Brown has two walk-off hits in Detroit’s twin bill sweep of the Red Sox at Tiger Stadium. His pinch home run off Lee Stange in the 14th inning ends the opener, 5-4, and the nightcap is decided when he comes off the bench in the ninth and singles to right off Sparky Lyle, scoring Mickey Stanley, giving the team from the Motor City a 6-5 victory.
1970 With a 6-5 victory over the Astros, Phillies’ right-hander Jim Bunning becomes the first pitcher since Cy Young to win 100 games in both leagues. During his nine years with the Tigers, the future U.S. Senator compiled a 118-87 record in the American League.
1970 With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Carl Taylor’s walk-off grand slam caps a five-run rally, giving the Cardinals a dramatic comeback victory over San Diego, 11-10. The pinch-hitter delivers his ‘sayonora slam’ on the first pitch he sees from Ron Herbel.
1973 During the Old Timers’ Game played at Yankee Stadium, Mickey Mantle homers off his old teammate and best buddy, Whitey Ford. After launching a shot that lands foul in the upper deck, the slugger sends the southpaw’s next pitch over the fence, much to the delight of the large crowd gathered for the festivities.
1979 Joining Ted Williams (four seasons) and Jimmie Foxx (five seasons), Red Sox slugger Jim Rice becomes the third player in franchise history to hit 30 home runs in three consecutive seasons. The Red Sox outfielder’s first inning homer isn’t enough when Milwaukee beats Boston at Fenway Park, 9-6.
1980 In the third inning of a 3-1 Yankee victory over the White Sox, Reggie Jackson connects off of Britt Burns for his 400th career home run. Mr. October will finish his 21-year career with 563 dingers, placing him sixth on the all-time list when he retired in 1987.
1981 Ray Searage pitches two-plus innings of hitless relief to be credited with the win in New York’s 4-2 victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field. The southpaw, with his eighth-inning single, gains the distinction of being the only Met player to have compiled a 1.000 batting average (1-for-1) and a 1.000 winning percentage (1-0) while playing with the team.
1982 Tagged with the loss in the Twins’ 6-3 defeat to California, Terry Felton’s career record drops to 0-14. The 24 year-old right hander, who will not win a game in 55 major league appearances, establishes a new mark for the worst individual start in baseball history, surpassing Guy Morton’s 1914 record of 13 consecutive losses from the beginning of a career.
1986 Breaking Max Carey’s mark, Cincinnati Reds’ Pete Rose sets a National League record with his tenth five-hit game of his career. ‘Charlie Hustle’ singles four times and doubles in the 13-4 loss to San Francisco.
1987 Oakland A’s first baseman Mark McGwire breaks Al Rosen’s American League rookie record, established in 1950, and ties the major league mark shared by Frank Robinson (1956) and Wally Berger (1930) when he hits his 38th homer of the season. The unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year will finish the season with 49 homers, smashing the existing major league record.
1991 In only his second big league start, 21 year-old White Sox southpaw Wilson Alvarez becomes the 16th rookie to throw a no-hitter, beating the Orioles, 7-0. Only Browns’ hurler Bobo Holloman, who threw a no-no in his first major league start in 1953, accomplished the feat in fewer starts.
1994 Randy Johnson’s pitch to strike out A’s Ernie Young will become the last ball thrown in the major leagues for seven and half months. The longest work stoppage in baseball history will cancel the remaining games on the schedule, including the postseason, and will impact the start of 1995 campaign.
1998 When 26,472 fans attend the Devil Rays’ 2-1 walk-off win over Baltimore at Tropicana Field, the team surpasses the two-million mark in home attendance in their inaugural season. Tampa Bay joins the Rockies, Marlins, and Diamondbacks as the only expansion teams to reach this mark.
1998 At Fenway Park, a moment of silence is observed in memory of Detective John Gibson, one of the police officers killed at the U.S. Capitol last month. The Waltham, Massachusetts resident was a lifelong Red Sox fan.
2001 For the third and final time, Jason and Jeremy Giambi homer in the same game when both brothers go deep off Sterling Hitchcock in Oakland’s 8-6 victory over New York at Network Associates Coliseum. The A’s teammates first accomplished the feat last season and again in June.
2001 Using the fewest number of games anyone has ever needed to hit 50 homers in a season, Giant outfielder Barry Bonds reaches the milestone in 117 contests. In 1999, Sammy Sosa reached the mark in 121 contests.
2001 En route to his 11th victory when the Giants beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 9-4, Livan Hernandez goes 4-for-4, including a home run. The Cuban right-hander has collected eight consecutive hits, enjoying a 3-for-3 performance against the Phillies on August 5 and going 2-for-3 against the Pirates on the last day in July.
2001 For the first time in his 16-year career, Barry Bonds hits his 50th homer of the season. The 36 year-old Giants outfielder will go yard 23 more times to establish a new big league single-season record with 73 home runs.
2002 Keeping with the tradition of commemorating former players who are in the Hall of Fame, the Cardinals unveiled the 11th statue outside Busch stadium – an airborne Ozzie Smith. The bronze likeness, created by sculptor Harry Weber, captures the former shortstop stretched horizontally to the ground, trying to field a grounder in the hole.
2002 Sammy Sosa’s grand slam and run-scoring double against the Rockies give the Cubs’ slugger 14 RBIs over two games, establishing a new National League record. The previous mark was 13, shared by Nate Colbert (Padres-1972) and Mark Whiten (Cardinals-1993).
2003 By fanning Jeff Kent in the seventh inning at Wrigley Field, Kerry Wood became the fastest major leaguer to record his 1,000th career strikeout, needing only 134 games to reach the milestone. It took 143 games for Roger Clemens to accomplish the feat.
2003 Pawtucket’s Red Sox right-hander Bronson Arroyo throws the second perfect game in three years for the team and fourth in the 120-year history of the International League when he beats Buffalo at McCoy Stadium, 7-0. In 2001, Tomo Ohka, who will be a member the Expos two seasons later, also set down 27 consecutive batters for the PawSox in a 2-0 victory over the Charlotte Knights in the same Rhode Island ballpark.
2004 During the memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in front of pews packed with Mets fans, team owner Fred Wilpon and former broadcast partner Gary Thorne deliver eulogies remembering the late Hall of Famer Bob Murphy. At the age of 79, ‘Murph’ who supplied 42 years of Happy Recaps for the Mets and spent a half of a century broadcasting big league games, lost his battle with lung cancer.
2005 Mets outfielders Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron, running at full speed in an attempt to catch Padres David Ross’ seventh-inning short fly to short right-center, dive head-first into each other in one of the most horrific collisions in baseball history. Right fielder Cameron, who suffers a broken nose and multiple fractures of both cheekbones, will undergo facial surgery in San Diego, and his teammate, center fielder Carlos Beltran, fares a bit better, suffering a concussion and a small fracture in his cheekbone.
2008 A very pleasantly surprised Adam Dunn is traded by the Reds to the Diamondbacks for minor league right-hander Dallas Buck and two players to be named. In the midst of a losing season, Cincinnati continues unloading its marquee players with Dunn, the major league leader in home runs (tie), and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. being exchanged for prospects as the team begins a rebuilding phase.
2010 In an 8-2 victory over Milwaukee at Miller Park, the Diamondbacks become the only the seventh team to hit four consecutive home runs in an inning. In the top of the fourth inning, Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds, and Stephen Drew all connect off Dave Bush, making the right-hander only the third hurler in major league history to yield four straight round-trippers.
2014 The Royals, who haven’t made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985, beat Oakland, 3-2, to take a half-game lead in the AL Central. Much to the delight of the 21,479 fans at Kauffman Stadium, Sung Woo, the South Korean first-time visitor and the team’s recent good luck charm, who is well known to Royals fans for his long-time enthusiastic support for the Kansas City club thanks to his active participation on Twitter under the handle @Koreanfan_Kansas City, hangs the “W” on the outer wall of the Royals Hall of Fame
2015 The Blue Jays, Rays, Marlins, Mets, Indians, Cubs, Royals, White Sox, Twins, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Padres, Dodgers, and Giants all win, making it the first time in the live ball era that every contest is won by the home team in a full slate of games. The unique occurrence became a reality when the last two completed games end in extra innings, with the host clubs enjoying a walk-off victory.
2016 Rockies rookie outfielder David Dahl singles to right field off Rangers starter Lucas Harrell, giving him a hit in 17 straight games to start his big league career. The 22 year-old freshman’s streak, in which he is batting .365 (23-of-63), equals the mark established by Reds third baseman Chuck Aleno, who also hit in his first major league 17 games in May of 1941.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS-1984
The Carl Lewis Show ended tonight in triumph and a world record. The 23-year-old Lewis, from Willingboro, N.J., won his fourth gold medal in track and field in the Games of the XXIII Olympiad. In the men’s 400-meter relay, the United States team of Sam Graddy of Atlanta, Ron Brown of Phoenix, Calvin Smith of Bolton, Miss., and Lewis won by 7 meters in 37.83 seconds for the only track and field world record of these Olympics. A United States team that included Smith and Lewis set the previous record of 37.86 in last year’s world championships.
Lewis’s previous gold medals came in the 100-meter dash last Saturday night, the long jump Monday night and the 200- meter dash Wednesday night. His four gold medals came in the same events in which the late Jesse Owens won his four in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. “Jesse Owens is still the same man to me he was before,” said Lewis. “He is a legend. I’m just a person. I still feel like the same Carl Lewis I was six years ago, except I’m a little older and a lot more people come to my press conferences.”
At the medal ceremony, Lewis wore brand new jogging shoes. The shoes were white and trimmed in, yes, gold. After the ceremonies, Lewis’s relay teammates carried him off the field. That surprised many people because teammates have often criticized Lewis for demanding privileges not available to others.
“I think Carl has handled himself very well,” said Smith. “He’s a great person to have as a teammate.”
“Carl is a good friend,” said Brown. “He set some goals and he achieved them. People should respect that. A lot of people think he is a showboat, but I don’t think so.”
Lewis has heard the criticism. He said he was misunderstood. “Too many people built me up before the Games,” he said. “All I am is Carl Lewis. I came to these- Games with the intention of winning four gold medals. I did it. I’ve enjoyed the Olympic Games. This has been the time of my life.” Lewis said he would give the gold medal he won in the long jump to Ruth Owens, Jesse’s widow. That was Owens’s favorite event, and he said he picked that one for Mrs. Owens “because it means the most to me.”
After the four gold medals comes rest. “I have no plans after today,” said Lewis. “I’m very, very exhausted. I have to go to Europe next week, but as of right now I have no other plans.” Well, he said, he had one plan. “Tonight,” he said, “I plan to go jump in my pool fully dressed.”
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STANDINGS
|NY Yankees||76||41||.650||–||43 – 18||33 – 23||43 – 16||14 – 12||9 – 6||8 – 2||L 2|
|Tampa Bay||68||50||.576||8.5||31 – 28||37 – 22||30 – 26||15 – 12||12 – 8||8 – 2||W 2|
|Boston||62||57||.521||15||30 – 31||32 – 26||28 – 31||17 – 8||14 – 13||3 – 7||L 1|
|Toronto||49||71||.408||28.5||22 – 35||27 – 36||21 – 32||17 – 18||9 – 10||6 – 4||W 2|
|Baltimore||38||78||.328||37.5||17 – 43||21 – 35||18 – 35||7 – 15||8 – 18||3 – 7||L 5|
|Minnesota||71||46||.607||–||36 – 25||35 – 21||18 – 11||28 – 15||19 – 11||5 – 5||W 1|
|Cleveland||70||47||.598||1||38 – 24||32 – 23||15 – 9||33 – 20||16 – 13||7 – 3||L 1|
|Chi White Sox||52||63||.452||18||28 – 29||24 – 34||15 – 18||26 – 24||5 – 10||6 – 4||W 1|
|Kansas City||42||76||.356||29.5||23 – 35||19 – 41||7 – 19||23 – 36||7 – 16||2 – 8||W 1|
|Detroit||35||79||.307||34.5||16 – 40||19 – 39||10 – 13||17 – 32||3 – 19||3 – 7||L 1|
|Houston||77||40||.658||–||43 – 15||34 – 25||15 – 10||14 – 10||38 – 12||9 – 1||W 8|
|Oakland||66||51||.564||11||37 – 23||29 – 28||13 – 14||16 – 5||27 – 26||6 – 4||L 1|
|Texas||58||58||.500||18.5||35 – 22||23 – 36||7 – 6||17 – 9||26 – 32||5 – 5||L 4|
|LA Angels||57||61||.483||20.5||29 – 28||28 – 33||13 – 12||8 – 13||25 – 30||2 – 8||W 1|
|Seattle||48||70||.407||29.5||27 – 35||21 – 35||7 – 10||14 – 13||23 – 39||3 – 7||L 2|
|Atlanta||69||50||.580||–||32 – 25||37 – 25||29 – 20||20 – 13||14 – 12||5 – 5||L 1|
|Washington||61||55||.526||6.5||31 – 25||30 – 30||30 – 24||5 – 11||18 – 16||4 – 6||L 2|
|NY Mets||61||56||.521||7||34 – 20||27 – 36||29 – 24||12 – 15||10 – 13||9 – 1||W 8|
|Philadelphia||60||57||.513||8||34 – 26||26 – 31||26 – 26||13 – 10||13 – 16||4 – 6||L 1|
|Miami||44||72||.379||23.5||24 – 36||20 – 36||18 – 38||7 – 16||11 – 9||3 – 7||W 1|
|Chi Cubs||63||54||.538||–||41 – 19||22 – 35||14 – 11||26 – 23||13 – 12||6 – 4||L 2|
|Milwaukee||62||56||.525||1.5||35 – 24||27 – 32||16 – 9||30 – 24||10 – 14||6 – 4||W 5|
|St. Louis||60||55||.522||2||33 – 23||27 – 32||16 – 14||28 – 20||9 – 10||4 – 6||W 2|
|Cincinnati||56||59||.487||6||33 – 27||23 – 32||11 – 9||26 – 29||11 – 12||7 – 3||W 2|
|Pittsburgh||48||68||.414||14.5||24 – 32||24 – 36||8 – 14||20 – 34||10 – 16||2 – 8||L 7|
|LA Dodgers||78||41||.655||–||47 – 16||31 – 25||18 – 6||22 – 11||35 – 18||8 – 2||W 1|
|Arizona||59||58||.504||18||27 – 28||32 – 30||15 – 12||10 – 10||20 – 30||6 – 4||L 1|
|San Francisco||58||60||.492||19.5||27 – 32||31 – 28||10 – 16||12 – 10||30 – 27||3 – 7||W 1|
|San Diego||55||61||.474||21.5||28 – 30||27 – 31||12 – 17||10 – 13||24 – 26||5 – 5||W 3|
|Colorado||52||65||.444||25||29 – 27||23 – 38||11 – 15||10 – 9||23 – 31||2 – 8||L 5|
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER STANDINGS
|New York City FC||22||10||8||4||40||29||11||6-4-1||4-4-3||38|
|Orlando City SC||25||8||6||11||33||34||-1||5-1-6||3-5-5||30|
|Los Angeles FC||23||16||4||3||61||23||38||9-1-0||7-3-3||52|
|Real Salt Lake||24||11||4||9||35||32||3||8-1-2||3-3-7||37|
|Connecticut Sun||16||7||.696||—||11-1||5-6||10-3||7-3||1 L|
|Washington Mystics||16||7||.696||—||7-3||9-4||9-2||6-4||1 W|
|Chicago Sky||14||9||.609||2.0||9-3||5-6||8-4||8-2||3 W|
|New York Liberty||8||14||.364||7.5||4-6||4-8||1-8||3-7||4 L|
|Indiana Fever||9||16||.360||8.0||5-8||4-8||5-7||3-7||1 W|
|Atlanta Dream||5||19||.208||11.5||4-9||1-10||2-11||1-9||9 L|
|Los Angeles Sparks||14||8||.636||—||8-2||6-6||7-4||8-2||4 W|
|Las Vegas Aces||15||9||.625||—||9-4||6-5||8-4||7-3||1 L|
|Seattle Storm||13||11||.542||2.0||9-4||4-7||7-5||5-5||1 W|
|Minnesota Lynx||12||11||.522||2.5||7-5||5-6||4-6||5-5||2 W|
|Phoenix Mercury||11||12||.478||3.5||7-3||4-9||5-7||4-6||2 L|
|Dallas Wings||7||17||.292||8.0||6-6||1-11||4-9||2-8||1 W|