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Why the Angels are poised for a playoff run in 2018

Almost a week into the exhibition games of spring training, some of the storylines of the upcoming season are gaining clarity, and among them is the case for which teams might surprise us by making the postseason after missing it in 2017.

In the National League, the Phillies have a strong case thanks to their youth, and in the American League, the addition of a few key veterans has the Angels poised to make their own surprise run at the postseason.

The Angels acquired Justin Upton at the waiver deadline last season, and he has been a steady power hitter for about a decade. Upton’s defense has always been a little wobbly, but with a career ISO of .210, he can more than make up for a weak glove with his bat. Upton was acquired to try to make a push for the wild card last season, but his greatest contribution to the Angels will come with what he can offer over a full season.

In Green Bay, Kizer will have time to develop and the Packers can attempt to mold him into the player the Browns thought they were getting when they took him at No. 52 overall.

Aaron Rodgers is still the starter, but the Packers saw very little to believe that Brett Hundley is a player worth developing much longer. Kizer can be that player and learn from one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks without the pressure that he had in Cleveland.

If pitchers and catchers could communicate with each other with actual words, with headsets or earpieces, the trips to the mound wouldn’t be necessary. Opposing teams can’t steal signs if there aren’t signs to steal, y’know? And if there are no signs to steal, there’s no need to be worried about stolen signs and far fewer reasons for time-consuming mound visits.
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In 1995, Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife and Goldman.

Two years later, Simpson was found liable?for their deaths in a civil trial and was ordered to pay over $33 million to the families of the victims.?

The special, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, features Simpson’s?sit-down interview with book?publisher Judith Regan, and will include a panel of analysts,?including Christopher Darden, one of Simpson’s prosecutors from his criminal trial.

Rodgers-Cromartie thanked the organization that?afternoon, saying “once a Giant, always a Giant.”

Rodgers-Cromartie?was entering the?final year of a five-year?contract worth?$35 million, though the team will save?$6.5 million in salary cap space by cutting?him.

On the mound, the Phillies are admittedly less intimidating. They were a middle-of-the-pack staff in 2017, and barring some additions to the group before the 2018 campaign begins this is not likely to change much. Rumors that the Phillies have been in talks with Jake Arrieta are intriguing, and adding him would bolster the rotation significantly. Even if they don’t reach an agreement with the 2015 Cy Young winner, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn remain available, so there are options aplenty.

Finally, the NL East is under the reign of the Nationals, and that is unlikely to change this year. However, the rest of the division is questionable at best, and the Marlins at worst. The Phillies will reap some benefit from their weak division while the Dodgers are engaged in the dogfight that will be the NL West and the Cubs are busy fending off the Brewers and Cardinals.

Colorado, of course, allows the recreational use of marijuana, and apparently that’s been a problem for Jeffcoat, a former pitcher who had a 10-year MLB career, six with the Rangers.

In an email to Gavin Bell, a baseball player at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colorado, Jeffcoat wrote from his university account, “Thanks for the interest in our program. Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on Student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of Luck wherever you decide to play.”seahawks_051_d37efff2d950c03f-180x180

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Celtics vs. Nuggets: Preview, time, TV channel, how to watch online

After coming up short against the Warriors, the Celtics look to close a four-game west coast trip with a victory when they visit the Nuggets on Monday night.

Despite holding the East’s No. 1 seed, the Celtics (35-15) have struggled throughout the month of January. Boston enters the Pepsi Center having lost five of its last six games. In the 109-105 loss to Golden State, All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford combined for 52 points, but the Celtics could not overcome 49 points from All-Star guard Stephen Curry.

“We just need to learn how to put two points together on the road,” Avalanche forward Tyson Jost said. “We have to regroup in Columbus.”

Semyon Varlamov started in goal in Chicago, but Jonathan Bernier could return Thursday night. He was responsible for the shutout against the Blue Jackets in January.

Colorado forward Sven Andrighetto is also close to returning after missing two months with a lower-body injury.

Nathan MacKinnon produced his 12th power-play goal of the season in the second period against the Blackhawks to extend his points streak to six games (seven goals, six assists). The Avalanche have scored a power-play goal in five consecutive games for the first time since 2015.

The Celtics (36-15) led by 11 after the first quarter, but Denver chipped away at the lead. Tied entering the final minute, the Celtics hit a couple clutch shots and stymied the Nuggets on defense.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The versatile center is averaging a double-double this season. Trey Lyles came off the bench to score 20 points, while Will Barton added 19 points.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points with 18 rebounds and six assists in a 107-95 win over the 76ers. He became just the fifth player with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in a game this season, joining DeMarcus Cousins (four times), Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook.lions_001

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Joe Johnson to sign with Rockets, report says

Veteran shooting guard Joe Johnson is nearing a deal with the Rockets after completing his contract buyout with the Kings on Saturday, according to ESPN.com .

Johnson, 36, started just three games for the rebuilding Kings this season, averaging 7.3 points per game. He averaged at least 14 points per game in every season from 2003-2015.

Tuesday’s loss, if only temporarily, knocked the Nuggets out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. Though the Clippers (32-27) and Nuggets (33-28) flipped spots, Denver is just two games back of fifth place in the tightly packed conference.

Ball hasn’t been allowed to speak to reporters since the Lakers announced they were treating the knee as a long-term one injury (he initially was listed as day to day and questionable the day after he suffered the sprain).

That was three weeks ago this past weekend, and a sprained MCL typically takes one to three weeks to heal.

Ball has missed 10 games with the injury, on the heels of a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six.

The Lakers (21-31) have five games before the All-Star Game, two at home this week before three on the road going into the break.

But Ross told the newspaper that he felt the message being sent by kneeling players was unpatriotic and anti-military, an interpretation that was taken by President Donald Trump.

Last season, Dolphins coach Adam Gase had established a team rule requiring players to either stand for the anthem or stay in the tunnel, but he later told players that if they wanted to kneel, they could do so and wouldn’t be punished.

Ross was in New York on Monday to be honored with the ROBIE Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation. On its website, the foundation recognized Ross’ work in the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality to improve race relations and drive social progress.

The deal was also completed without consulting James, one source with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. (Koby) Altman called James when it was essentially done and informed him of what was happening.lions_107

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Frazier went for an MRI on Friday.

We’ll see what the results are from that, Boone said, and just continue to gradually build his workload and see how he responds to different things.

Also on Friday, the Yankees signed veteran Adam Lind to a minor league contract, giving them a backup option to Greg Bird at first base.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that although Lind has outfield experience, he was added for his glove at first base and the possibility for his bat off the bench.

Zimmer said tight end Kyle Rudolph and Bradford went skiing last week. Rudolph told KFAN that he underwent surgery recently on his right ankle, which he injured during a game at Carolina.

Whether Bradford can stay healthy is Zimmer’s chief concern.

It’s his history of being hurt, Zimmer said. That’s the monkey wrench in the whole thing. Can you believe he’s going to play the 15 games he did two years ago or he’s going to play the one game where he hit the turf this year? That’s the big dilemma.

Russell Wilson is spending the week with the New York Yankees in Tampa, Florida, as part of the latest spring training tour for the onetime minor league baseball player-turned-four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

The way Carroll sees it, Wilson is going to use this time to train his body one way or another. What difference does it make if he’s taking batting practice and fielding grounders?

Obviously you’re very proud he’s going to represent our great country, said Bailiff, who might make a last-minute trip to see his former player. Anything can go wrong when you’re doing it — you know, you see track athletes getting disqualified coming out of the blocks — so you’re just proud for him that his hard work has paid off. We love it when he comes back to Houston, and we maintain a locker for him (in the) Rice football locker room that says Sam McGuffie that has Olympic rings on it. We’re quite proud of Sam.patriots_001

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Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson killed by suspected drunken driver

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver early Sunday morning, Indiana State Police told the Indianapolis Star. Jackson was 26.

“We were heartbroken to hear the news of Edwin Jackson’s passing,” the Colts said in a statement. “Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization. We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit, and hard-working mentality. He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization. We also understand that another person lost his life in the accident, only adding to our sorrow on this day. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of both men during this difficult time.”

On February 12, the Colts announced that the Irsay family would be establishing the Edwin Jackson Memorial Scholarship. According to the Colts, the scholarship “will be a separate fund within the Indianapolis Colts Foundation, will honor Jackson’s life and legacy and will be awarded annually to a qualified student applicant. “

Jackson entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 with the Arizona Cardinals and was scooped up by the Colts, where he remained on the practice squad his entire rookie season. He played in all 16 games for Indianapolis in 2016 — starting eight — but spent 2017 on injured reserve.

Non-exclusive tags are most commonly used. It means a team will pay the tagged player no less than the average of the five highest salaries at the player’s position, or 120 percent of the player’s cap number from the previous season, whichever is greater. The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but his current team can match any offer sheet. If a player’s current team declines to match another team’s offer, it will be awarded two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Exclusive tags are more rare. Only Broncos linebacker Von Miller (2016) and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (2012) have received the exclusive tag since 2012. The salary is calculated the same for players issued non-exclusive tags. The only difference is that the tagged player cannot negotiate with other teams.jays_264_2169e1045b17bca9-180x180

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It’s been a historic season for head coach Chris Mack’s 2017-18 Xavier team.

Unfortunately, the Musketeers solving the riddle of how to topple Big East king Villanova won’t be a part of that history.

The third-ranked Wildcats defeated No. 4 Xavier decisively, 95-79, Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati. The win was Villanova’s 10th in 11 tries against the Musketeers since the teams became conference brethren in 2013-14. Of those 10 wins, nine have been by double digits.

Fox, meanwhile, wants Manning to be its first interview for the analyst role on the Thursday Night Football package it just acquired. Fox execs may have a chance to start a dialogue with Manning this weekend, as he’s slated to drive the pace car at the Daytona 500, which Fox is broadcasting.

One advantage Fox has in the competition for his services is that Manning would get weekends off with a TNF role. Preparation for MNF games begins on the weekend, per the report. On the other hand, Monday nights have traditionally featured higher-quality games than Thursdays.

In Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft, he has Baker Mayfield going No. 1, and Darnold going No. 2 to the Giants.

Darnold didn’t impress to finish his college career after a bad Cotton Bowl performance against Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat USC 24-7, where Darnold completed 26 of his 45 passes for 356 yards and an interception in the game. While he does have a great arm, he made some questionable throws and looked shaken from the Buckeyes’ vicious pass rush.

Nevertheless, with a base salary of just $705,000 for 2018, Bryant is bound to attract some suitors on the trade market.

After having three receivers taken in the top 10 last year, we’ve got just one this year, and two in the entire first round in McShay’s mock.

McShay has the Bears drafting Calvin Ridley to fill a desperate need at receiver. Kendall Wright was the team’s leading receiver last year with 614 yards, with Josh Bellamy coming in second with 376 yards.bears_117-223x223

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Arkansas State followed through with a threat to sue Miami over the canceled 2017 game that was originally scheduled for Sept. 9 at Arkansas State.

The game was canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, which changed games for numerous teams in and around Florida.

The lawsuit was filed in Arkansas’ Craighead County court late on a Friday afternoon, and you can read it in its entirety here. The gist of the whole deal is that Arkansas State claims Miami must pay $650,000 to the Red Wolves, as part of the contract the teams signed in 2013. The crux of the Red Wolves’ complaint centers on three pegs:

In Arkansas State’s letter, the school mentions other schools rescheduling games, including Florida State’s rescheduling of the ULM game from September to Dec. 2. (That wouldn’t exactly have been possible for Miami, which played Clemson in the ACC Championship that day.)

Here’s where college football game contracts come into play. Most of them have language that addresses cancellations. Here’s what this game’s said:

This contract shall be void with respect to any of the games in the event that it becomes impossible to play such game(s) by reason of unforeseen catastrophe or disaster such as fire, flood, earthquake, war, [epidemic] confiscation, by order of government, military, or public authority of prohibitory or injunctive orders of any competent judicial or other government authority. Notice of such catastrophe or disaster shall be given as soon as possible. No such cancellation shall affect the parties/ obligations as to subsequent games covered by this contract. Any games not played as scheduled shall be rescheduled as such exigencies may dictate or permit.

ASU argues that doesn’t apply here, since the disaster was in Florida, not Jonesboro, while Miami argues its travel back home would’ve been difficult.

This Miami-Arkansas State thing obviously has some moving pieces, and there will likely be a lot of back-and-forth between the two sides’ lawyers. We’ll see if Miami simply ends up paying the school, the two work out a date to reschedule, or whatever else.

Shaq was looking for an extension from the Lakers before he was traded to the Heat, but the beef between he and Bryant had gotten so big that, had the Lakers extended their big man, Bryant would’ve demanded a trade to the Bulls.

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Calf and wrist injuries limited Braun to 105 games last season and his numbers dipped, too.

He batted .268 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs, down significantly from the .305/30/91 he produced a year earlier.

They had a great routine, with a technical score of 31.39, and took over first place with a score of 59.99, taking over first. The score seemed somewhat low given the high technical score. Israel’s Ronald Zilberberg and Adel Tankova were next, scoring a 46.66, which put them in fourth, but was also their season’s best in their first ever Olympics.

And Mayfield knows where his career is taking him next.

You get a bunch of grown men that work really hard, so it’ll be different going from 18- [to] 22-year-olds to people that are feeding their families, their children, Mayfield said. A lot of these guys make their money just based off work ethic and never quitting.

Mayfield thinks that’s what he is bringing to the NFL, not Manziel-like baggage.

Also, I wish she would have done a little more fact-checking because I finished high school and didn’t leave early. I graduated high school.

To be an African-American kid and grow up in the inner-city with a single parent mother and not being financially stable and to be where I am today, I think I’ve defeated the odds. I want every kid to know that, and I want everybody to know that the youth can do it as well. That’s why I won’t shut up and dribble. I mean too much to my two boys here, their best friend here, my daughter at home, my wife, my family, and all these other kid who look up to me for inspiration who are trying to find a way out, and find some leeway on how they can become as great as they can be and how their dreams can become a reality.

With the Brewers trying to build off their surprising 2017 season that finished a victory short of the postseason, Braun embraced the opportunity.
Braun hasn’t played the infield since 2007, his first season in the majors. He was the NL Rookie of the Year after batting a team-best .324 with a league-leading .619 slugging percentage, but he committed 26 errors at third base and moved to left field the following season.

Save for a two-year stint in right field, Braun has been in left ever since.

I don’t expect it to be easy by any means, he said. I expect it to be challenging.

The table above accounts for nine of those 17 places, with the Mountain West-leading Nevada Wolf Pack the exception. However, Eric Musselman’s squad (22-5, 14-2) gained both separation in the league race and a crucial Group 1 road win by defeating nearest rival Boise State (19-6, 10-4) on the Broncos’ home floor on Wednesday night. At this point, the only way Boise, or any other non-Nevada Mountain West squad for that matter, will reach the field is by winning three or four games in the league tournament in Las Vegas.
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Smoot likes Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

The biggest uncertainty entering Sunday was the availability of the New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is nursing an ankle injury. The Giants ruled him inactive an hour and a half before their matchup against the Cowboys in Dallas, the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the season. Last week, Beckham said, “I’m itching. I’m itching, but [it’s about] just patience and trusting.”

“They’re completely different backs,” Gruden said. “I think it depends on what your vision is offensively, what you want to do. I know Jonathan Stewart is 30 years old now. Fozzy Whittaker is there. They’ve got some pretty good backup young backs. But if you want a feature back, if you want an I-formation tailback, Fournette is your guy. I just think he’s built for the long haul. He’s a punishing runner. I do like him a lot.

“McCaffrey, he’s a jack of all trades. I think you’ve got to be able to use him creatively in your passing game. That’s where, to me, he is the best. If that’s your offense, I think McCaffrey is for you. If you’re looking to be a little bit more conventional, take the burden off your quarterback and pound the ball, Fournette is your guy.”

So, certainly with Eric Rowe involved, having a full offseason, OTAs, training camp and doing a good job for us from that standpoint. I think all those guys that go out there and play have earned some time on the field and whatever that is, depending on how the game is going, kind of just plays itself out when we’re in the particular situation we’re in as far as the game is concerned.”

If Cousins departs, the Redskins will be forced to do two things: Draft a young prospect, ideally with their first-round pick; and sign a veteran free agent to challenge for the starting job while the rookie learns Gruden’s system.

In his first mock draft of the offseason, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. on Thursday predicted the Redskins will take Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield 13th overall.

But Mayfield would suit owner Daniel Snyder’s style, bringing Heisman Trophy buzz and credentials (for the second time in six years) to energize a dispirited fan base.
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