Kawhi Leonard suddenly decided to smile this summer, which is delightful

Kawhi Leonard doesn’t smile; it’s not in his DNA. Not after the Spurs traded for him on draft night, not after he became the third-youngest Finals MVP ever, not after winning 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, and not after he emerged as the best two-way player in the NBA.

Authentic Youth Matt Darr Jersey But this summer, something’s been different. Just like Carmelo Anthony has Hoodie Melo, deadpan Kawhi has been smiling all offseason. He doesn’t have the disposition of a man whose team was swept out of the Western Conference Finals.

Authentic Youth Graham Glasgow Jersey Look, there’s nothing wrong with being happy, and Kawhi has a lot to smile about. He’s the third-youngest Finals MVP ever, he’s one of the top five basketball players on the planet, he’s in the third year of a five-year, $94 million contract, and odds are he’s probably going to win at least one NBA championship, Defensive Player of the Year, or league MVP in the next five years.

I wish McDonald’s still did promotional things like this. I don’t need an excuse to eat more cheeseburgers from that establishment but I’ll take one to make myself feel better about it.

I’m not sure anyone every really wanted Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to play on the same team in NBA, or college for that matter, but it was fun that these two storied rivals joined forces on the Dream Team. This shirt is extremely 1992.

Steelers vs. Giants 2017 live stream: Start time, TV channel, and how to watch online

The Pittsburgh Steelers will boast one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses in 2017. We just probably won’t get to see much of it on Friday.

Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell won’t be playing when the Steelers travel to New Jersey to open their preseason against the New York Giants. Roethlisberger and Brown get to rest, while Bell is continuing to hold out. Bell is not officially under contract until he signs his franchise contract tender.

The Seahawks went 10-5-1 and advanced to the Divisional round last season, but it felt like a disappointment after so many key injuries wiped out their depth. Most of the horses are back, though — Earl Thomas is healed from a broken leg, while Tyler Lockett (also a broken leg) is getting close, though he’s already been ruled out of this game. Doug Baldwin had a practice scare when he got his foot stepped on, but he’s fine.

The scariest injury situation didn’t even happen on the field. Second round defensive tackle Malik McDowell got in an ATV accident that resulted in severe head injuries. The team has been extremely vague on the details, perhaps out of respect to McDowell and his family, but the general feeling is that he won’t play this season. That’s a big loss for the Seahawks, who drafted McDowell to help shore up a suspect interior line.

In non-injury news, Seattle’s running back competition will be heavily scrutinized. Free agent Eddie Lacy is the presumptive favorite, but incumbent Thomas Rawls isn’t going away, and in fact worked exclusively with the first team in practice last week. There’s also pass-catching specialist C.J. Prosise to account for. The Seahawks’ backfield was ruined by injuries last season, but it’s a promising unit on paper if everybody stays healthy.redskins_083_c2b6005825f95d4a-180x180

After being cut by 49ers and Jets, Bruce Ellington made a huge impact for Texans

Bruce Ellington needed fewer than four minutes to make an impact with the Houston Texans. The fourth-year wideout, matched up against All-Pro Malcolm Butler, used his explosive lateral speed to create playmaking separation in his first drive with the team, gaining 60 yards on three targets — all completions — to emerge as the latest threat in the Texans’ offense.

Damaging Goff’s development was a lack of help. In just seven games he was sacked 26 times and had to rely on Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Tavon Austin to throw to. A poor season from Todd Gurley didn’t help much either.

Now it’s crucial that Goff rebounds from those rookie struggles, because it’s the Rams’ best shot at being good any time soon.

If Goff makes significant progress, a potentially upstart offense will be paired with defense that finished top 10 in yards allowed in 2016 and has pieces in place like Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn.
Game Youth Ryan Miller Jersey
There were other pieces in the deal, but at its core, the Rams traded away a second-round pick for Watkins. If he plays up to his ability, stays healthy, and remains with the team after 2017, that’s a steal.

The Broncos will have other new faces on their much-maligned offensive line. Free agent addition Menelik Watson is listed as a starter while recent acquisition Allen Barbre is currently Max Garcia’s backup at left guard, but he could easily move into a starting spot once he has more time with the team under his belt.

One player who won’t make his Broncos debut yet is Jamaal Charles, according to Joseph. The veteran running back is still being eased back from a knee injury that cost him most of his final season with the Chiefs.
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The Panthers went into their two-minute drill and Webb got them into field goal range. However, he committed an ugly turnover when he badly overthrew a ball in the end zone, leading to an easy interception by Texans safety Corey Moore.

This is clearly the correct option, though.

Game Barkevious Mingo Jersey
Authentic Adam Gotsis Jersey Gray’s appeal isn’t that he’s the greatest pitcher on the market or that he’s exceedingly dominant and will be for years. His appeal is that he’s under contract through 2019 and cheap. While the Dodgers are very much into the idea of that kind of pitcher — see, Alex Wood — it’s not really the upgrade they’re shooting for. They want a postseason rotation that breathes fire.

Gray would make them markedly better, but his 2017 season has been a story of consistency, not dominance. His high in innings pitched this month is 6 1/3 innings, and his low is 6 IP. All four starts have been quality.

This is clearly the correct option, though. If they’re going to ditch prospects, ditch them for a fire-breather. Technically, Darvish has been something of a disappointment, with a 4.01 ERA (3.99 FIP) and a 6-9 record that isn’t as nice as the Rangers would have hoped. He’s striking out nearly two batters fewer per nine innings this year, and he allowed 10 earned runs in his last start. Kershaw has allowed 12 earned runs in 10 starts since the end of May.

Plus, Darvish could very well leave at the end of the season, and with the new collective bargaining agreement complicating the rules for compensation, there was a chance the Rangers would lose twice: first, lose out on a playoff spot, and then, see Darvish leave for another team as a free agent, with only a pick in the 75-80 range coming back to them as compensation.

You know the World Series you want. Your job is usually to set those expectations on fire.

Think about 2013. It could have been A’s/Pirates! That would have been a small-market delight, but it also could have been Dodgers/Tigers, a classic matchup of two original teams without a lot of championship success in the last 30 years. Heck, even Rays/Braves would have been interesting, just because of the freshness.

Mets trade Lucas Duda to the Rays for RHP Drew Smith

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is heading to Tampa Bay, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports. There have been rumors that the Rays were interested in both Duda and Addison Reed in recent days, and the trade came together quickly after initial reports of the swap this afternoon. Joel Sherman was the first to report the connection.
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Duda is currently hitting .246/.347/.532, a respectable bounce back from a season plagued by injuries last year. He has 17 home runs in 219 plate appearances to go with that line. He’s been with the Mets since 2010, and has 125 career home runs in 760 games.

Tampa Bay already has a first baseman in 29-year-old Logan Morrison, but as Ken Rosenthal notes, the Rays have increased roster flexibility to slot Duda’s left-handed offense into their lineup in the designated hitter slot now that former DH Corey Dickerson is proving himself more than capable in the outfield.

Sale started the All-Star Game last year as a member of the White Sox, so this start makes him the first to ever do it in consecutive years for different teams. This isn’t Scherzer’s first All-Star start, either, as he began the game for the AL back in 2013 while with the Tigers.

Womens La’el Collins Jersey As for the lineups, the National League is taking advantage of having a designated hitter at their disposal to make their lineup even more frightening and full of muscle:

Don’t sleep on the AL’s lineup, even if it lacks the same kind of established names of the NL’s starting nine: all of these dudes are having a wonderful 2017, and it’s still a situation where last year’s MVP runner-up is batting ninth. Sure, we’d all love to see Mike Trout share a field with Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton and Betts and Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but this is still some fine baseballing to look forward to. And we’ll get subs often for the same reason the pitchers won’t be leaned on too heavily.

Jaguars activate CB Jalen Ramsey from PUP list

Second-year Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was activated Saturday off the physically unable to perform list, the team announced.

Ramsey, a 2016 first-round pick, had two interceptions (one returned for a TD), 55 solo tackles, 14 pass breakups and one forced fumble. He was named to NFL.com’s 2016 All-Rookie team.

New England’s bye week comes at a convenient time, in the middle of the season and before a tough road game in Denver. Then comes a long road trip to Mexico City and a game against the Raiders, a fellow contender in the AFC. That game against Oakland, given the location and the strength of opponent, might be the toughest game on New England’s schedule. It comes right before the first of two Dolphins games in three weeks.

The final month of the 2017 regular season for the Patriots is a Steelers sandwich with AFC East bread. New England’s final road game of the year, in Pittsburgh and with a late kickoff, could come with massive playoff implications. We certainly are not going to suggest the last two home games of the season, against the Bills and Jets, will carry such weight.

Patriots schedule 2017, record prediction: 12-4
If we’re being honest, every single game on the Patriots’ 2017 schedule is winnable for the best team in the NFL. Considering the impressive offseason moves they made — not including the soon-to-be-completed NFL Draft — another undefeated slate similar to New England’s 2007 season is not a crazy suggestion.

But too many talented, playoff-caliber teams — the Chiefs, Texans, Falcons, Broncos, Raiders and Steelers among them — present traps for the Patriots, whose occasional lapses into complacency would be totally understood. That said, expect the Super Bowl 51 champions to be right back in contention for the Super Bowl 52 crown.


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Preseason NFL schedule 2017: Team-by-team, week-by-week game matchups

Bernie Williams Jersey
No, NFL preseason games do not matter. And yes, many have issues with the league’s preseason format (and ticket pricing). But the NFL preseason schedule does at least present fans chances to see teams that otherwise would not come to their cities given the 2017 divisional matchups for the regular season.

Ryan O’Reilly Jersey The 2017 NFL preseason schedule includes eight nationally televised games, including the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game, which this year features the Cowboys and Cardinals.

Meanwhile, receiver Sammy Watkins, who the Rams acquired from the Bills in a three-way trade Friday, did not dress for the game.

Neither Cowboys second-year QB Dak Prescott nor sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott played, either. While Elliott was handed a six-game suspension Friday for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Darren McFadden provided optimism for the Dallas ground game. McFadden carried the ball six times for 28 yards, once leveling a defender with a stiff arm, and hauled in a catch for eight more yards. As noted by Pro Football Focus, he took all 19 snaps with the first team offense.

Cowboys rookie defensive end Taco Charlton, the No. 28 overall pick out of Michigan, made his presence felt in L.A. Saturday night, tallying three solo tackles and this first-quarter sack of Rams QB Sean Mannion.

Pittsburgh endured a four-game losing streak through mid-October and early November in 2016, and this portion of the schedule won’t be easy. Rivalry games against Baltimore are always physical, and two weeks later comes a rematch of the Steelers’ AFC divisional playoff game vs. the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see where the Bengals fit in the AFC North race when the teams meet in Week 7. From there, Pittsburgh’s first Sunday Night Football game of the season is a trap game at Detroit.

Baseball Hall of Fame 2017: Induction ceremony time, inductees list at Cooperstown

This Sunday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will induct three more MLB greats into Cooperstown.

The former MLB players being inducted this year are outfielder Tim Raines Sr., first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig and front office executive John Schuerholz are also being inducted.

Josh Smith Limited Jersey The 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is being broadcast on MLB Network at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 30. There will also be a live stream of the ceremony on baseballhall.org. Here’s everything you need to know about the Hall of Fame Inductees and ceremony.

For some reason, Beltre hasn’t gotten the respect that he’s due as a major leaguer. Not only has he reached the highly regarded plateau of 3,000 hits, but he’s aged like a fine wine.

Though Beltre’s career average wRC+ sits at 119, since he’s been with Texas, that number has increased dramatically. Since 2011, he’s posted wRC+ seasons of: 135, 142, 135, 142, 109, 130 and 134. Those are his age-32 through 38 seasons.

Rhett Ellison Limited Jersey Here are some other crazy numbers regarding Beltre, via Sporting News contributor Ryan Spaeder.

The Cubs aren’t looking for back-end-of-the-rotation help. They have those options. If they’re going to trade for another starter, it’s going to be for a guy who takes the mound in the postseason.

First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military, Bennett said. My father’s in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots or oppression.

Mets promote No. 2 prospect Dominic Smith to majors

Dominic Smith was blocked by Lucas Duda in his path to get to the Mets. Now that Duda has been traded to the Rays, the Mets are promoting their No. 2 overall prospect.

Game Fabian Johnson Jersey The team announced Thursday that Smith will be promoted Friday and will be with the team when they travel to Philadelphia.

OK, not good, but there was time to recover. Pat Valaika laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Lucroy to second. Robles intentionally walked Charlie Blackmon and accidentally walked DJ LeMahieu. So, bases loaded thanks to a hit by pitch and two walks. How does Robles get out of this jam?

By getting to a 3-2 count and proceeding to throw the baseball to the moon, ending the game in a walkoff walk.

So to wrap up the bottom of the ninth for Robles: Hit a batter, walked three straight and ended the game on an airmailed pitch to the backstop.

Afterward, it was revealed Robles had numbness in his fingers, and, well, some other problems.

While Sherman will serve as the Marlins’ control person, or primary owner, Jeter will oversee both the business and baseball sides of the operation, the Herald reported. Fox Sports said Jeter will become the franchise’s chief executive officer.

A purchase agreement is expected to be finalized and sent to Major League Baseball’s offices Friday, according to the Herald. MLB owners must still vote to approve the sale.

Game Justin Britt Jersey The Jeter-Sherman group and another led by Miami businessman Jorge Mas were the two finalists after a group that included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the running.

The Marlins haven’t made the postseason since winning the World Series in 2003, the year after Loria bought the team in an MLB-orchestrated deal that saw him unload the Montreal Expos.

Bruce Arians won’t play starters in Hall of Fame game because it’s just not worth it

Bruce Arians isn’t willing to risk anything for the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, and will rest his starters, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cardinals — who didn’t know this offseason whether or not they’d get another season out of Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald — don’t want to risk injury in the first preseason game of the year.

Gilmore signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Patriots in March after five seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

Is it a big deal that he’s just a few days into his first training camp in New England and already getting into fights with teammates? Not at all. Camp fights happen all the time and Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan brushed it off as no big deal.

The Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday and Tuesday next week for joint practices before the team’s preseason opener on Thursday, Aug. 10. They’ll also have joint practices with the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions in August. There’s a good chance that more training camp fights will be on the way for the Patriots.

Rarely does a player step into the NFL and instantly become one of, if not the best player at his position. Martin has possibly been the league’s best right guard since day one of his rookie year. He hasn’t missed a game, made the Pro Bowl all three seasons, and is a key component of the Cowboys elite offensive line. Dallas already picked up his fifth-year option, and a big-time extension should be in the works over the next year or so. patriots_304-180x180

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