May 2017

Daniel Murphy’s first-inning grand slam Sunday night fueled the Nationals’ 6-3 win over the Mets, which completed Washington’s three-game weekend sweep at Citi Field, and Murphy’s teammates and coaches have a theory explaining why he’s so dominant when he plays New York.

I was surprised and excited to hear that I’m being inducted, Guerrero said in a release by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I knew that I would need to wait at least one more year to join the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but I’m very pleased to join the Canadian hall of fame first, since I was given my first opportunity to play Major League Baseball in Canada.
Mens Kevin Greene Jersey
Guerrero has as strong chance of induction into Cooperstown next year, as he was just 3.3 percent below the 75 percent of votes required to earn a plaque.

Halladay won’t be on the American ballot until 2019, but the ace who pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays for 12 of his 16 MLB seasons, will have a solid chance to eventually earn a spot, sporting two Cy Young awards, a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter on his resume.

A Denver, Colorado native, Halladay grew a love for the country up north. His 16-year-old son was born in Toronto.

Toronto has been my home away from home throughout my career and even to this day, Halladay said. It was a privilege to live and play in Canada for as long as I did. The people here were kind, supportive, respectful and always seemed to welcome me home even when I came to visit and sat in the wrong dugout.

Milan Lucic Elite Jersey Halladay and Guerrero join other superstars such as Jackie Robinson, Larry Walker, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Gary Carter, Fergie Jenkins and Andre Dawson in the Canadian Hall of Fame.

Read more

Pitcher wins and losses are stupid stats. Let’s start right there. Cards on the table.

That’s not a new stance, of course, and I’m not alone with this opinion. Far from it. It’s just on my mind at the moment after watching a relatively low-scoring slate of games in the big leagues Thursday. And it’s time to make a pledge.

Because the organization built by Epstein and Hoyer is deep, there are options for replacing Fowler, both atop the lineup (maybe Schwarber or Zobrist?) and in center field (Almora or Heyward). The Cubs have backups, and backups to the backups. That will certainly prove important, because 2017 will almost certainly be more difficult, in terms of injury issues.

Last year’s club lost Schwarber early, of course, and Fowler missed that bit of time with the hamstring issue. But six regulars played at least 142 games, and the three-headed catching rotation of Miguel Montero, David Ross and Willson Contreras stayed healthy. In the rotation, all five of the starters made at least 29 starts, which meant that the bullpen wasn’t taxed with extra innings — five relievers made at least 50 appearances, but none of them threw more than 65.2 innings.

Game Mens Washington Wizards Jersey It was almost like the Cubs saved their adversity for the postseason. They handled that well, obviously, but don’t expect the 2017 regular season to be equally smooth sailing.

Game Mens Josh Robinson Jersey Everybody’s going to be gunning for you, everybody knows how good you are, Dempster says. Everything went right for you, so how do you go out there and repeat that? I think it’s playing with that same kind of passion, that same approach of ‘just win today.’ Last year’s done with.

Read more

The 2017 MLB offseason was fairly quiet, given the enormity of the 2016 season.

Not many big-name free agents hit the market this year — in fact, there were only a handful, if that.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few seasons, it’s that fringe moves usually help teams to make a run at a championship, or add much-needed depth and flexibility to build for the future.

Here’s a list of players who might have gotten lost in the shuffle after the 2016 season.

The analytics-driven Cubs were headed up by Joe Maddon, notorious for how much of a players’ manager he is and has been. The same can be said about Terry Francona, whose personality is beyond infectious.

Stats are great. Everyone knows that advanced stats are king in today’s game and the wave of the future. But we shouldn’t be so quick to say managers don’t do much. Managers get the feel of their club, and oftentimes are the heartbeat of their team.

Game Kids Antonio Gates Jersey The optimistic theory holds that McCown is just holding a place for the two youngsters, letting them grow, giving them a veteran to learn from, seeing once and for all if Petty, Hackenberg or both have it and being prepared to move on if they don’t.

Mens Hollis Thompson Jersey An even more optimistic theory is that it’s not Petty or Hackenberg (either, or both) for whom McCown is holding a place. It’s for whatever quarterback the Jets draft — sixth overall, or 39th or 70th, or whatever pick they make if they move up or down. Which means another youngster they’ll either develop, or not.

Read more

Haloti Ngata wanted to be sure he had a clean bill of health before returning for a 12th NFL season.

The 33-year-old defensive tackle went to a neurologist for a brain scan before joining his Lions teammates for the offseason training program. Ngata, who will be in his third season with the Lions after spending nine years in Baltimore, told reporters Thursday he went through a battery of brain testing at the CORE Institute in Brighton, Mich., over a two-week period.

“I went and talked to a neurologist, wanted to make sure my head was good, all that,” Ngata explained, via the Detroit News. “He said everything was pretty good, really good actually. I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to keep on playing.’ My wife was like, ‘I guess so.’

“The brain is good,” he added. “That’s what they said. The brain is good to go, keep on hitting.”

The Ravens selected the 330-pound defensive lineman with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl every year from 2009-13 and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII.

Ngata missed three games last season because of a shoulder injury, but it was his long-term mental health that concerned him.

“With all the things that going on with brain stuff throughout the league, you definitely keep an eye on it,” Ngata said. “You hear that stuff and you don’t want to have problems when you’re older. I want to be able to raise my kids and be able to play with them when they’re older and still be able to beat them in wrestling matches and stuff when they’re teenagers.

“I used my head a lot more when I was younger, but I think I was just being young,” he added. “Then you learn how to use your hands better, position yourself better and just understanding pad level, stuff like that. For me, it was just a process, becoming better with my hands and a better technician.”
nike_chargers_1079

Read more

Elite Rafael Bush Jersey Cahill was used almost exclusively as a reliever with the Cubs, but he has extensive starting experience. The other pitchers did the majority of their work in 2016 as starters.

Elite Will Fuller V Jersey The concept of piggybacking isn’t new; the Reds, Astros and Yankees briefly tried it in their minor league systems three to four years ago. On the major league level, the Rockies, another pitching-poor franchise, tried it in 2012. Colorado also went to a four-man rotation and imposed a 75-pitch limit on starters. The whole thing lasted from June 19 through the end of the season.

If Green wants feedback about that Rockies experiment, he can ask Chacin and Friedrich about it. Both were in Colorado’s rotation that year.

Perhaps the worst moment in Hall of Fame history came in February 2006 when 94-year-old O’Neil had a chance to be among the 17 Negro League inductees that year but inexplicably wasn’t selected. O’Neil died within a year. But it’s not too late to correct an injustice and give him a plaque in Cooperstown. He’s the greatest ambassador in baseball history. He was also one of the finest first basemen the Negro Leagues ever knew.

The loudest noises on this issue are coming from the crowd that wants the National League to join the American League and adopt the DH.

But what if we went at the issue in a completely different direction and eliminated both the DH and the pitcher hitting? That would leave just the eight position players to hit. That’s not a new idea, but it is still an idea worth considering.

Read more

Cordarrelle Patterson Authentic Jersey
Former lefty reliever C.J. Nitkowski will be part of Texas Rangers broadcasts next season, serving as a color analyst.

Not exactly the biggest Hot Stove development this offseason, but Nitkowski isn’t your typical ex-player personality.

Nitkowski pitched for the Reds, Mets, Tigers, Astros, Rangers, Braves, Yankees, Nationals, Fukuoku Softbank Hawks, several Korean teams and two weeks of Twins camp.
Kirk Mclean Authentic Jersey
Now, lucky Rangers fans now get to experience Nitkowski’s talents next summer watching their favorite team.

Cameras are generally verboten in front-office meetings, but Turner had promised access 鈥?and he gave it, even when he planned to chew someone out.

Diamond would get warning of the meetings so he and the crew would be ready to capture everything. But other than Turner, those in the meetings 鈥?Torre, Gibson, general manager John Mullen and others 鈥?had no idea their chewing out would be preserved for public consumption.

You can tell in their demeanor and in their faces that that was not something that they were real excited about, Diamond said. I don’t think they were happy about the meeting anyway, and the fact that when they walked in to the room 鈥?they were walking into basically a conference room that was turned into a television studio.

Being at the ready to capture such moments was part of the job, and the crew never quite knew where the next bit of unexpected drama would emerge.

We were basically on 24/7 watch for seven months, Diamond said.

During a road trip in late August, word came that veteran reliever Al Hrabosky had been released. Diamond scrambled the crew to a hotel suite, where Hrabosky opened up about his career, his season, and his belief that he still had value as a pitcher.

Read more

The Chiefs and quarterback whisperer Andy Reid traded up 17 spots with the Bills on Thursday night to draft the QB they wanted, Patrick Mahomes II.

The Bills still got the better end of the deal. For now, at least. Assuming they can make something special out of the first-round pick next year they got from KC.
Mike Morgan Limited Jersey
They would have to mess it up pretty badly, though, to get burned on this. And they’d have to mess up pretty badly in 2017 overall for the much-maligned, seemingly power-deficient Doug Whaley to not be around to make the pick himself.
Dustin Brown Limited Jersey
As Bills general manager the last few years, Whaley has been blessed with a certain amount of luck, having been retained through two coaching changes in three seasons — and cursed by bad luck, which was on display late last season when it became clear he was left out of some major decisions by owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

The products of some of his most impactful draft deals have been hurt by bad luck, too: Sammy Watkins (in 2014) and Shaq Lawson (in 2016) have been hampered by injuries.

But on Thursday, the Bills, with the 10th pick, made the move with the Chiefs, who were at No. 27 — moving down and picking up not only a first-rounder in 2018 but also a second third-rounder this year. On Friday they’ll have three picks in the second and third rounds, then three fifth-rounders Saturday.

Read more

We once thought of great defensive players in one of two categories: shutdown wings and rim-protecting behemoths. This Defensive Player of the Year race features one of each of those: Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio and Rudy Gobert in Utah. Both guys are great at what they do and I take nothing away from them.

Green, however, is something else entirely. You can scheme Leonard and Gobert out of a play, either by using Leonard’s man as a decoy (as CBS Sports’ Matt Moore observed earlier this year) or by forcing Gobert to defend in space. Neither is foolproof or easy, but there’s a roadmap.

By draft day in late June, Doc Rivers will be the President of Basketball Operations for the Orlando Magic. After Rob Hennigan’s experiment crashed and burned in Orlando, there’s an opening for Rivers to return. I believe that Doc’s wife has stayed in Florida for the last several years, even with Doc living in Los Angeles to coach the Clippers, and it makes a lot of sense for him to take a step back from coaching and focus on running a team so he doesn’t have to deal with the day-to-day burdens and the long road trips.

Still, why would he leave the Clippers? Well, after four years of failure to build a contending supporting cast around the Clippers’ core, it’s time for Steve Ballmer to pull Doc’s basketball operations duties. If Rivers stays in L.A., I believe it will be strictly as the head coach, and rather than deal with a new boss, Doc will choose to go home and be the boss in Orlando.

cubs_966

Read more

Way back in the preseason, I wrote an article examining the impact of a new head coach to a hockey team. The bottom line was that teams improved by nearly 6 standings points on average, but Boudreau’s first two clubs improved by an outlandish 23.5 points on average. The Wild, of course, saw a massive jump in their own standings numbers compared to the previous season, jumping from 87 to 106 points. If it hadn’t been for the disastrous slump in March, the Wild likely would have reached, if not surpassed, the 20 point improvement mark. As it is, an increase of 19 points was a welcome sign that Chuck Fletcher found the best man available when he hired Boudreau.

A basketball purist may complain how Westbrook marred the fourth quarter, but those two teams dueling was peak entertainment. When you’re dealing with the two players who have ostensibly had the two best seasons (since they’re presumably going 1-2 for MVP), that’s what you’re looking for. The NBA is entertainment, and we all want high stakes, something Rockets-Thunder Game 2 provided for us.
Elite Mens Andrew Hawkins Jersey
It’s the same with Celtics-Bulls. The series itself hasn’t been great, but a No. 1 seed falling to a No. 8 seed is wonderful drama. It does feel like Boston is the victim of their own fantastic regular season, but this is still an upset, no matter how you look at it. The pressure — and the intrigue — now falls on Chicago, to see if they can complete the upset.

Elite Mens John Simon Jersey As for Jazz-Clippers, the series has been dampened by Rudy Gobert’s absence. He’ll miss Game 3 again, but Utah did prove they can win without him thanks to Joe Johnson’s game-winning floater in Game 1. Now back at home, the question is whether they can steal another one and buy time for their potential Defensive Player of the Year to get back on his feet and into this series.

Here’s how you watch a fantastic three-game slate of games.

Read more

The Boston Celtics are back in their first-round series vs. the Chicago Bulls after a decisive 104-87 win on Friday night at the United Center. The secret to the Celtics’ success in Game 3? According to Avery Bradley, it was an inspirational speech from Kevin Garnett.

Kids Chandler Catanzaro Jersey Kevin Garnett recorded an inspirational message to Celtics and relayed it through trainer Ed Lacerte. Got team pumped for Game 3.

Kids Rodney Stuckey Jersey Garnett was famous for his intensity and knows a thing or two about what it takes to win in Boston. With the victory, the Celtics now only trail Chicago 2-1 in the best of seven series. Game 4 is on Sunday.

There is the issue of Miller, who has clearly struggled throughout the playoffs. In eight games he has only accumulated a single assist. In Game 2, he was 1-5 on faceoffs (16.67 percent), which is probably why Vigneault is considering shifting him to the wing for Game 3.

Although Miller has not been on a line with Kreider nor Zibanejad in the playoffs thus far, he played with Zibanejad during the regular season. And throughout their Rangers£ª careers, Miller and Kreider have been featured on a line together. As Kreider and Zibanejad have created chances together, Vignuealt could hope that their play could re-spark Miller£ªs offense.

In the absence of offense from those who it was expected, Grabner and Fast have been two of the Rangers most consistent forwards on both sides of the ice. They have not only limited chances against, but have provided much-needed offense throughout the playoffs. Since the combination of Grabner and Fast has been key for the Rangers, Vigneault should consider keeping them together.

Read more