Early start to season leaves MLB with options to deal with rash of postponements

As Major League Baseball endures one of its worst runs of weather in more than three decades, the historically early start to the 2018 season might turn out to be a blessing.
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Scheduled matchups between the Red Sox and Orioles in Boston and the Cubs and Cardinals in Chicago on Monday became the 22nd and 23rd games to be postponed Robert Ayers Jersey because of inclement weather this season. Monday night’s game between the Blue Jays and Royals in Toronto also was postponed because falling ice from the CN Tower damaged the retractable roof at Rogers Centre, bringing the total of postponements to 24.

As bad as it’s been to have the number of games we’ve lost so far, I can’t think of a game we’ve lost where I’m really concerned about the makeup date burdening a club or causing an issue. That’s sort of the silver lining in what we’ve had so far.

Along with rain, sleet and snow, teams have had to play their way through a brutal stretch of cold weather. According to ESPN Stats & Information, a total of 22 games in the first three weeks have begun with a temperature below 40 degrees. That’s already the most for an entire season since 2001.

Fantasy baseball success often hinges on your ability to be a bit of a fortune-teller.

It’s easy to look at the track record of a player like Max Scherzer or Mike Trout and be fairly confident that their hot starts to the 2018 season are legitimate.
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Somewhat similarly, when it comes to the very young and the very old, it makes sense to pair your level of trust inversely to the number of candles on their birthday cakes. By this I mean, with Ozzie Albies and Joey Lucchesi, I’m willing to buy in to their strong starts to the season a heck of a lot more than I am with Bartolo Colon, the No. 20 starting pitcher in fantasy scoring.

Now let’s look at Adam Duvall, dropped in 12.2 percent of leagues over the past week. Again, it’s easy to understand why he was sent packing. From April 5 to April 10, he went 2-for-23 with 1 HR,.087/.160/.217 and minus-2 fantasy points. Surprise! No, he didn’t suddenly become an MVP candidate, but since then, he’s been more than respectable: 4-for-14, 1 HR,.286/.375/.571, 12 fantasy points during April 11-15.

Sources: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer meets with Suns GM, owner

Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer met with Phoenix Suns management and ownership on Monday and Tuesday, exploring the possibility of him becoming the Suns’ next head coach, league sources told ESPN.

Budenholzer met with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over the two days, league sources said, after Atlanta granted him permission to meet with Phoenix late last week.

Budenholzer was the NBA’s 2015-16 Coach of the Year after a 60-victory regular season and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. Atlanta dropped to 24-58 this season, with the organization’s mandate to shed salary, gather draft picks and future assets changing under Schlenk.

Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before his hiring in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of the Spurs’ staff.

The change worked like a charm, as the Cavs jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the game’s first four minutes, all via LeBron James, who started 6-for-7 from the field, including a 3-pointer. After the Pacers ended the Cavs’ run on Bojan Bogdanovic’s free throw, James then added another 3-pointer — to account for Cleveland’s first 16 points.

In a lighthearted moment before the game, Lue said he would be ignoring the training staff’s directives on Korver, who also has been dealing with a sore right foot and has been on a minutes restriction.

“I’m not going by it,” Lue said, tongue firmly in cheek. “He might, but I’m not listening.”

Kyle Korver said he feels he’s “in a good spot” after dealing with his brother’s death and his own injury over the past month.

Smith was a rare bright spot for Cleveland in the series opener, scoring 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes. Lue said that the playoff experience of Smith and Tristan Thompson with the Cavs was something he was weighing going into Game 2.jets_037

The 2018 NFL draft begins in 10 days and there sure are plenty of mock drafts to see who will get whom.

But consensus has UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen still available when the Giants pick second and possibly when the Jets pick third on April 26.
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News from the Left Coast may be giving the local teams pause, however.

Rosen is quoted as saying, OK, my family isn’t, like, stupid wealthy. But I’m coming from a place where if football doesn’t work out, I don’t have to work at McDonald’s.

The quote has some scouts wondering if the three-year starter has the heart to play, according to a report by MarketWatch.

Paul Coffey Game Jersey I’ve got to clean it up, Skaggs told reporters after his latest start.
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Skaggs will make his second career start against the Red Sox.

He faced them on July 31, 2016, his second game back after recovering from Tommy John surgery, and threw 5 1/3 shutout innings with eight strikeouts, but did not receive the decision in the 5-3 loss at Angel Stadium.

Faria has gone 0-4 with a 5.80 ERA in his last 10 appearances, this after opening his rookie year with a sterling 5-1 record and 2.67 ERA. As hard as wins have been to come by, he has given up more than three runs only three times in his 17 career starts.

This will be his first career start against the Rangers, and he’ll face a Texas team that has won three of four games, including a 7-2 victory against the Rays on Tuesday night. Texas (7-12) counters with a third straight left-hander in Cole Hamels, who is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA this season.

No pitcher in baseball has allowed more home runs than the seven Hamels has allowed in his 22 innings, including three to lead off games. It’ll help him if he can get the run support that Matt Moore got Tuesday — Shin-Soo Choo and Authentic Alex Ovechkin Jersey Isiah Kiner-Falefa were table setters, with Choo scoring four runs and Kiner-Falefa getting four hits to spark the Rangers lineup.

Any time your 1-2 can do that, you’re going to score some runs, manager Jeff Banister said. It was one of our better offensive nights. The table got set very well tonight with Choo and Kiner.

Kiner-Falefa, a rookie shortstop, had two hits in his first 17 major league at-bats prior to Tuesday.

Hamels has a history with the Rays — he won at Tropicana Field in the 2008 World Series, when the Phillies beat Tampa Bay. In the regular season, he’s just 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Rays (4-13), allowing one run in 14 innings in his last two starts.

Saints pick up Andrus Peat’s 5th-year option on rookie contract

It took a couple years to find where Andrus Peat best fit on the offensive line, but he’s become a reliable — and at times menacing — blocker for the New Orleans Saints.
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Although the Saints drafted Peat with the vision of having him be Zach Strief’s long-term replacement at right tackle, his permanent spot appears to be at left guard, though he has played a lot of left Delino DeShields Authentic Jersey tackle the past two years with Terron Armstead dealing with injuries.

Peat had his best performance in 2017 as he was a key part of the offensive line improvement that helped the Saints finish second in yards per rush and sacks allowed. However, the season ended on a sour note as Peat suffered a broken fibula in the wild card-round playoff win over the Carolina Panthers, but the Saints must be confident in his recovery to pick up the option for 2019.

Youth Mike Tolbert Jersey As Muhammad Wilkerson sat a few miles from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, cracking open crab legs and sipping on water during an early dinner this week, it was clear at times his mind was already somewhere far from the ocean. Soon the former New York Jets star would be driving back to New Jersey from Maryland 鈥?where he spent much of the offseason engrossed in an arduous workout program — for his son’s first birthday party, then it was time to pack his bags for Green Bay, and the next phase of his career.

On Sunday Wilkerson, entering his eighth season but still just age 28, will officially trade in one shade of green — the Jets colors he wore for seven seasons since being selected 30th overall out of Temple in 2011 — for another, the darker, and dare I say more distinguished, shade of green adorned by the Green Bay Packers.

Dan Quinn wants the NFL to expand game day active rosters beyond 46 players

Every NFL team has 53 players on the active roster. But only 46 of them are declared active for each game. Falcons coach Dan Quinn thinks that’s a waste.
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Quinn wants the NFL to change its eligibility rules to make more players available to play each game.

The Texans are banking on the idea that the Watson they saw in 2017 before his rookie season-ending knee injury is the Watson they will get in 2018 and beyond. That’s why Houston signed the 34-year-old James Develin Womens Jersey Weeden, aka Watson’s boy, to back up the youngster and help him develop in the offense.
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Dallas seems happy with Rush as its backup quarterback, so there’s no immediate need to stuff the depth chart with another option behind Prescott. Another factor here is money. With Prescott as a 2016 fourth-round pick and Rush having signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, the Cowboys are getting maximum returns on virtually minimum investment at the position. They could get away with a cheap QB signing for depth if necessary.

Consider this example. Two players are moving in opposite directions. As they approach each other, they instinctively dip their heads. Then, one stops and the other keeps going. At contact, one player is moving and the other is stationary. The player who was moving initiated the contact, and thus draws the flag.

And so, similar to the manner in which basketball presents the charge-versus-blocking decision for its referees, NFL officials will have to decide whether, when helmets collide, one or both players in a football game will be facing a penalty. If it’s both, the penalties will offset. If it’s one, the other team will gain 15 yards of field position.

Whether it comes to that depends on how the rule is specifically designed and implemented. For now, though, the broad language proposed secretly and adopted quickly by the league sets the stage for this new protection for all players to be used strategically by some coaches who are willing to trade a hit to a player’s head for 15 yards of field position.
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Jim Kelly “continues to recover well”

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly underwent a 12-hour surgery on Wednesday to remove cancer from and to reconstruct portions of his jaw. On Friday, Kelly’s surgeon provided an update on the former Bills quarterback’s progress.

Eduardo Rodriguez (L), 19 percent, Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Rodriguez is set to make his 2018 debut after recovering from knee surgery last August. The setup couldn’t be any better, facing the offensively challenged Rays on one of Tampa Bay’s bullpen games … following a game in which Tampa’s bullpen was taxed. Boston’s relievers, on the other hand, are well rested.

Reynaldo Lopez (R), 16 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito get more attention, but Lopez is just as much a part of Chicago’s future. Last season, Lopez struck out only 30 in 47.2 frames with the White Sox, though he’s off to a good start in that department, whiffing six Blue Jays in six innings in his 2018 debut. The largely right-handed Tigers give Lopez another chance to rack up some punchouts.

While nearly half of all teams are on track to come in within three games of their RPM projection using actual minutes, there are an unusually large number of significant outliers this season. And, unsurprisingly, the list of Coach of the Year candidates mirrors the top of these rankings.

Because of Gordon Hayward’s absence and other injuries, the Boston Celtics’ projection — already too low entering the season — dropped all the way to 38 wins using actual minutes, so the Celtics will have the largest difference in absolute terms. But the Toronto Raptors have overperformed their projection more in terms of point differential, with the Indiana Pacers not far behind Boston.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers are 18 games over .500 yet have a scoring margin of less than plus-1.0. I have to imagine that such a imbalanced record vs. scoring margin is a fairly uncommon occurrence in NBA history. Is that true?”
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Sean Newcomb dazzles, Braves beat Rockies 4-0

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The surprising Atlanta Braves surged behind their bats through the first week of the season. Now, they’re getting some nice starting pitching, too.
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Sean Newcomb pitched into the seventh inning, Nick Markakis and Dansby Swanson hit back-to-back homers and the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 4-0 on Sunday.

Every day it’s someone new that’s contributing, Newcomb said.

Colorado fill-in Authentic Kavon Frazier Jersey centerfielder Mike Tauchman did his best to help out Freeland in the sixth, jumping into the wall as he tried to pull back Markakis’ shot. The crash, however, knocked Tauchman on his back and catapulted his glove over the wall.

There was some momentary confusion afterward.

Braves: 3B Johan Camargo (oblique) is expected to continue his rehab assignment through Wednesday and could be back by next weekend’s series with the Chicago Cubs.

Sean Harlow Jersey Some of the biggest names still available, like Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and Mike Mitchell, remain unsigned because of dissatisfaction with the money being tendered. Another one is Tre Boston, who understandably finds himself dumbfounded at what has unfolded.

Boston thought he would be able to cash in after the best season of his NFL career; he posted career highs in tackles (79), pass break-ups (eight) and interceptions (five) last season with the Chargers. And with Boston not turning 26 until July, the best should still be yet to come.

Yet more than two weeks into the signing period, Boston still hasn’t gotten the offer he wants after initially receiving interest from Arizona, Oakland, Cleveland and the New York Giants.

Just like a few of the other guys, we’re just not hearing anything near what we want to hear or even close, Boston told co-host Ed McCaffrey and me Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. We’re closer to veteran minimum than we are to the $7-, $8-, $9-million players we wanted to be two months ago or even eight months ago.

Boston has a valid reason for being perplexed.

Three and out: Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits

In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team’s situation and needs.聽
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1. They were a different team after defensive anchor Ryan Shazier went down with a spinal injury late last season. The Steelers have drafted a linebacker with their first-round selection in three of the past four years. They may very well make it four of five.
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Advice:聽This draft is deep at running back and might even offer players with three-down skill sets close to Bell’s. USC’s Ronald Jones, Georgia’s Sony Michel, LSU’s Derrius Guice and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny could Womens William Gay Jersey be available on Day 2, though it’s not likely any will last until the Steelers are on the clock at No. 60. Colbert would probably have to make some kind of move to get one of them.

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming:聽Yup, the latest buzz links Allen and his ballistic arm to Cleveland. But before you dismiss the notion,聽consider that new Browns GM John Dorsey traded up last year, when he was running the board in Kansas City, to select Patrick Mahomes, who, like Allen, probably had the biggest fastball and most upside 鈥?and risk 鈥?of any incoming passer. And even though arm strength remains a dubious trait when forecasting NFL success, it’s definitely a nice attribute for quarterbacks who play in the AFC North’s cold and windy climes.聽Like Mahomes, Allen would also reap the benefits of joining an up-and-coming roster while sitting behind a veteran, Tyrod Taylor in this case.

Sam Darnold, QB, USC:聽OK, let’s have some fun. Buffalo didn’t believe in Taylor and certainly didn’t invest in AJ McCarron at a level that would suggest team brass believes he’ll replicate his championship feats at Alabama. But with Darnold, widely regarded as the best overall quarterback in the draft, on the board in our scenario, GM Brandon Beane has to complete his systematic trek to the top of the board to get the long-awaited successor to Jim Kelly.

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The Rutgers spring game has not been heavy on action the last two years.

It’s not going to be a legitimate football game. It’s going to be kind of a scripted scrimmage, Ash said Thursday after the Scarlet Knights’ 10th spring practice. But it’s going to be a scrimmage. We’re going to live tackle.
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Cordy Glenn Elite Jersey He did all that after playing safety in 2015 and linebacker in 2016. As a linebacker, Neal piled up 80 tackles, with 11.5 going for a loss. That shows his physical nature at 6’0 and 206 pounds.
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The challenge lying ahead for him is a standard one for a small-school prospect. Neal is facing a steep jump in the level of competition after playing for an FCS school. Combine that with a search to find his role and best use in the NFL after playing multiple positions at Jacksonville State, and Neal may not make a notable impact until at least 2019.

According to a statistical breakdown of Hall’s season byfivethirtyeight.com, his 42-point lead is the biggest since the 2007-08 season, when Alex Ovechkin Howie Morenz Womens Jersey of the Washington Capitals finished43 points ahead of teammateNicklas Backstrom.

Hall’s 42-point lead would rank 30th going back to the 1951. Of those 29pairs that finished with ahigher point differential than Hall and Hischier, only four did so in the post-lockout era following 2004-05. Those leading playerswere Ovechkin in 2006 and 2008, Sidney Crosby in 2006 and Jaromir Jagr in 2006.

The Bob Quinn- and Matt Patricia-run team will bring in a veteran to work behind Matthew Stafford. Both were with the Patriots when Cassel worked behind Tom Brady during the 2000s. Released by the Titans last month, Cassel is entering his age-36 season. He has not been a regular starter since his days with the Chiefs, but he did make several starts with the Vikings and Cowboys before becoming Marcus Mariota’s backup and serving in that role the past two years. The Lions have 2016 sixth-round pick Jake Rudock on their roster.

NFL Passes Simplified Catch Rule with Unanimous 32-0 Vote

Much to the delight of football fans everywhere, the NFL has unanimously approved changes that will simplify the definition of a catch.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the new catch rule passed by a 32-0 vote. Here are the new guidelines, per NFL.com:

His younger brother Matthew is in a master’s program for piano at Florida State.

He was always more devoted to music than I was, DeJong said. I played the piano, as well. Also the trumpet. But I stopped sophomore year in high school for the trumpet and a little earlier than that for the piano.

DeJong sent a fastball from Steven Matz off the facing of the left-field second deck in the second inning and drove Jacob Rhame’s slider off an orange M&M advertisement just over the left-field wall in the eighth for his second solo homer.

The allegations underscore Mueller’s interest in Manafort and Gates, who continued to interact with business associates in Ukraine even as they helped lead Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Manafort, 68, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and tax and bank fraud charges related to his lobbying work for a Russian-friendly political party in Ukraine and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Gates, 45, who was deputy campaign manager for Trump and had earlier worked with Manafort in Ukraine, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and lying to the FBI in a cooperation deal with Mueller’s probe.

With one of the thinnest rosters in the league, it has to hurt to trade away four high-draft picks as part of this deal. It will be disastrous if the Jets make this deal and don’t come away with a franchise-altering player.

In 1963, Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers and Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions were suspended for betting on NFL games. Commissioner Pete Rozelle insisted there were no bribes, no game-fixing or point-shaving, and that all of the bets were on their own team or on other NFL games. patriots_017

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