Monthly Archives: June 2018

T.J. Ward has all pending charges dropped

Safety T.J. Ward remains a free agent, and he’ll also remain free.

In case you’re worried about the Vikings getting cocky, I’m told the newcomers to the team have been pretty impressed with the way that Mike Zimmer’s team practices. And two tempo-setters, as I’ve heard it, are receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, who’ve taken quickly to new quarterback Kirk Cousins.

On the rules: I’d expect the new kickoff rule will lead to a ton of strategic experimentation in the preseason. Accordingly, one special teams coach said to me Sunday he thinks kickoffs in August will be a s—show.

We wound up updating the lead on the anthem discussion a few days later, after ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported that there wasn’t a formal vote, to reflect how the decision went down in the room.

There’s a lot of good energy. I like what we have.

Prescott likes everything about the Cowboys. While everyone outside the locker room is focused on what the Cowboys lost in Dez Bryant, Scandrick and Witten, Prescott instead focuses on what they have.

The organized team activities gave Prescott a chance to work with his new receivers and tight ends, including Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz.

We got a good feel for one another, Prescott said. We got a good feel for this offense. We got a good feel for this defense. A great feel for where this team is heading. I liked everything I saw out there.

So where does Beth Bowlen’s move last week for controlling ownership play into all of this? It’s unlikely to change anything in the short term. The trust isn’t squatting on the team, but it is charged by Pat Bowlen to determine when there is a son or daughter ready and capable to take over. (Some have worked for the team, but none have been involved in ownership circles at the league level.

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Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton went 0 for 4.

Cardinals: Left-handed reliever Tyler Lyons went on the 10-day DL with a sprained left elbow. Right-hander Mike Mayers was recalled from Triple-A Memphis. Lyons missed two weeks earlier in the season with a strained back. His elbow bothered him while he was throwing on Thursday, and he was sent for tests that found no significant damage.

ARLINGTON, Texas Charlie Morton couldn’t do much to correct an erratic outing that the Houston right-hander ripped as bordering on embarrassing.

Anyway, the record for fewest runs in a season by a qualified player is Leo Cardenas of the 1972 Angels with 25. Davis is on pace for 24 in 146 games. Cardenas’ achievement is pretty remarkable because he didn’t just limp past 500 plate appearances he batted 602 times. He hit .223/.272/.282 with six home runs. That was a legendarily bad offensive team as the Angels averaged just 2.93 runs per game. No wonder the AL instituted the DH in 1973.

The only other two qualifiers with fewer than 30 runs scored are Fred Raymer of the 1905 Boston Beaneaters with 26 runs (he hit .211/.232/.247) and Mario Guerrero of the 1978 A’s with 27 runs. Guerrero actually hit an almost respectable .275/.302/.345 in 546 PAs. Get this: He started 41 games in the third spot in the lineup and hit .333 … and still scored just nine runs in those games.

I would guess Davis has a shot, if only because of the most important criteria (besides sucking): playing time. Davis is signed for four more seasons after this one, at a hefty price of $23 million per season. With such a heavy investment in Davis, and this season already lost, the Orioles may have little choice but to plow forward and hope Davis can figure things out.

And if he doesn’t? As one reader responded to me, I can’t wait to tell my grandkids the Orioles couldn’t sign Manny Machado because they instead signed Chris Davis.

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Positive reviews continue for Case Keenum

At times last year, the Vikings seemed ambivalent about quarterback Case Keenum. The Broncos definitely don’t.

After two seasons (arguably three) of subpar quarterback play and quarterback competitions that kept the winner from thriving as much as he could, the Broncos are all in with Keenum. And the players are, too.

Since becoming the Indians’ primary closer in 2014, Allen has consistently performed at a high level. He and Kenley Jansen are the only pitchers to record at least 20 saves with an ERA under 3.00 in each of the previous four seasons, owning a strong 12.1 K/9 innings pitched in that span as well. — Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

One of the last men standing after the Marlins’ offseason rebuild, Realmuto finished fourth among catchers in WAR last season (3.6). He is second among backstops in hits during the past two seasons, and he has impressive athleticism for a catcher, stealing at least eight bases in each of the past three seasons (note — on the DL with a back injury). — Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

Dupree had a career-high six sacks last season with the Steelers. He has 14.5 sacks in 38 career games over his first three years in Pittsburgh.

While the Steelers have been able to produce talented linebackers for years, they haven’t had an outside linebacker get at least 10 sacks since James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley had 10.5 and 10 sacks, respectively, in 2010. As a former first-round pick, the Steelers will have a decision to make on Dupree’s fifth-year option after this season. A double-digit sack season from Dupree would certainly ensure the team will do so.

Denver’s ownership situation was in the news, so I figured it would be instructive to lay out how things have worked there over the last five years, since owner Pat Bowlen got sick. At the time, the decision was made that there wasn’t one specific candidate out of Bowlen’s seven children who was ready to run the franchise, so his ownership was turned over to a three-person trust made up of team president Joe Ellis, general counsel Rich Slivka and attorney Mary Kelly.

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The Mets have scored seven runs in their past six games, all losses, and on Wednesday they even made the Orioles look good.

Real or Not? MadBum’s return makes NL West a four-team race

The Giants got ace Madison Bumgarner back in action, which could be the nudge they need to keep another title bid alive.

OK, I said this was going to be a rabbit hole, so those lists beg the question: Who was Jim Levey? And how did he manage to have two of the worst seasons ever?

Reds: Homer Bailey will make a rehab start either Monday or Tuesday. He’s on the DL with a sore left knee. Bailey is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA in 12 starts.

Cardinals: Michael Wacha (7-1) is 10-1 career against the Reds, including 9-0 in his last 12 starts St. Louis has won every game. Wacha hasn’t lost to Cincinnati since Sept. 9, 2014. In his start against the Pirates on Sunday, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning and pinch-hitter Colin Moran singled leading off.

Reds: Luis Castillo (4-6) has lost his last two starts, giving up eight earned runs in 9 2/3 innings. He’s lost both of his career starts against St. Louis.Albert Pujols passes Stan Musial on RBI list with 623rd career homer

Twins: RHP Fernando Romero (2-2, 3.96) will take the mound looking to follow up his two-run, six-inning start last week against Chicago. The rookie has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his seven career starts.Springer, Astros overcome wild Morton start, top Rangers 4-3

Despite missing its best player in star forward Kawhi Leonard for all but nine games, San Antonio found lineups and rotations that consistently competed with the best teams in the West. Meanwhile, LaMarcus Aldridge became the player the Spurs expected in the summer of 2015 when they signed him as that year’s most significant free-agent acquisition. He has been deserving of being included in the MVP conversation this season.

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Jadeveon Clowney not expected on the field until training camp

Texans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t been practicing during Organized Team Activities, and it may be a couple months until he’s ready to take the field.‏

Houston coach Bill O’Brien told James Palmer of NFL Network he doesn’t expect Clowney to participate in any OTAs, and said Clowney most likely wont practice at all until training camp.

Right now we’re still in preseason so we’ll get a little bit more tailor-made for the team and defense and what they do and scheme against them. I think that’ll help us moving forward.

Manziel, playing for the first time since being released by the Browns in March 2016, faced a Toronto defense that was missing most of its starters and Hamilton coach June Jones was very conservative in his play-calling. The six-foot, 210-pound Manziel, who signed with the Tiger-Cats two weeks ago, directed five drives (22 plays) and was especially effective throwing on the run.

But Manziel’s biggest complaint was receiving a 22-yard intentional ground penalty in the second half.

The team wore #NOBStrong t-shirts during Wednesday’s OTA practice that feature Seaman’s No. 91 from his playing days. They are on sale for $15 and all proceeds go to Seaman and Whistler.

We’re really thinking about the community up in Noblesville, Colts coach Frank Reich said, via the Indianapolis Star. We know it here: It’s all about team in Indiana. When one town and city and school is grieving, we all are. We want them to know they have our support.

Seaman, who was released from the hospital over the weekend, responded by saying that the school’s colors of black and gold look good on the Colts.

Pat Bowlen’s wish and his legacy was to have one of his children run this team, Kerry and John Bowlen said in a joint statement. That is what he always wanted. Beth is the best positioned of all the children to take over now. Her plan is just right — to take over as managing owner now and in the future allow the other children to mature, learn and grow into the position, keeping this team in her family and in Denver, where the Broncos belong.

The Trust said Pat Bowlen made it clear that his children were not automatically entitled to a role with the team and that they would have to earn that opportunity through their accomplishments, qualifications and character.

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Tevin Coleman: Falcons will use me more this year

Running back Tevin Coleman has seen a steady rise in snaps over his three seasons with the Falcons and he expects that to continue during the 2018 season.

Coleman was in on over 41 percent of the snaps in 2017 and touched the ball 183 times while producing 927 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. He said this week that he’s planning for an even bigger role that includes more than just lining up in the backfield.

They are just going to use me more … lining up out wide and stuff, Coleman said, via the team’s website. It’s going to be pretty fun.

2. Nikolai Khabibulin on Jordan Leopold, 2004. Lightning led Calgary 2-1 with 5:00 remaining when Khabibulin made a point-blank rebound stop on Leopold from the left porch. Tampa Bay won it by that score to take the Cup. The Conn Smythe went to Brad Richards, with the voting completed with approximately 10 minutes to go. Had it taken place at the buzzer, that save likely would have clinched it for the goaltender.

Last year, Rudolph dipped from a career high 83 catches and 840 yards with 57 catches and 532 yards. Look for those numbers to go up in 2018, as Rudolph the mattress absorbs any and all pillows Cousins throws his way.

Riegels was a two-way center for Cal Berkeley, one of the best football players in the country, when his Golden Bears faced Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1929. In the second quarter of a scoreless game, Riegels jumped on a fumble by Tech’s Jack Stumpy Thomason at the Yellow Jackets’ 30-yard line. Riegels grabbed the ball, started to make a glorious dash for the end zone …

And somehow, someway, unforgettably, got shoved by a tackler and instead of falling down found himself headed in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until he was caught by his teammate, Benny Lon, at the Cal 3-yard-line … and then joined by a gang of Tech players who tried to shove him into the end zone but instead brought him down at the 1. Cal tried to neutralize Riegels’ mistake by immediately punting … but of course the punt was blocked for a safety. It was 2-0, Tech.

It ended 8-7, Tech.

And for the rest of his life, Riegels had a new middle name. To his dying day of March 26, 1993, he was known eternally as Wrong Way Riegels, the man who’d made the dumbest mistake anyone ever saw on the biggest stage of all. Funny thing, though: Riegels not only owned his goof, he decided he would make the most of it. He never declined an interview about it. He always poked fun at himself.

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Reuben Foster rejoins 49ers on Thursday

Reuben Foster has rejoined the 49ers, reporting to the team’s training complex Thursday.

The linebacker had stayed away from the 49ers’ offseason work since domestic violence charges were filed in April, with the team waiting for the case to play out in court.

The Rays (five of the top 71) and Royals (five of the top 58) have the most picks Monday on Day 1 of this draft. They are among the teams that have gotten the least production to date from those 2008-13 drafts. Tampa Bay took Tim Beckham with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2008 process rather than Florida State’s Buster Posey. The Rays’ best player from this span is Kevin Kiermaier (31st round, 2010) and the rising Blake Snell (52nd-overall pick in 2011).

The Royals took Eric Hosmer with the third-overall pick in 2008, which concluded an era of high first-round picks with Alex Gordon (second pick in 2005) and Mike Moustakas (second pick in 2007) that helped form the cornerstone for a title. But since then the best they have drafted is Whit Merrifield or Wil Myers, who they did turn into championship closer Wade Davis.

It may not matter. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (pictured) calls the request for an integrity fee an effort at extortion.

The leagues fought with all of their resources to stop states from allowing their citizens to legally wager on sports, Sweeney recently wrote in a letter to governors and key lawmakers in all states, urging them to refuse to pay the fee. Now that their efforts have been ultimately unsuccessful, they wish themselves to make ‘the fast buck’ and to ‘get something for nothing.’

Essentially, the Leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly. And their demand begs the question of what they would now start doing to preserve the integrity of their games that they have not been doing for years.

Amen to that. And amen to this concern from Sweeney about how an integrity fee could actually harm the integrity of the sports that receive it.

Taking the leagues at their word, giving them a ‘piece of the action,’ would make suspicions grow whenever turning-point calls in close games go in favor of the more popular team — whose presence in the ‘big game’ would drive ratings and betting, Sweeney wrote.

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49ers bringing Reuben Foster along slowly

49ers linebacker Reuben Foster returned to the team a week ago, after learning that he wouldn’t stand trial on two counts of felony domestic violence. But the team has not yet allowed him to practice, for reasons unrelated to the off-field entanglements.

He’s in great shape, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh told reporters after Wednesday’s OTA session. He could have [practiced] today. He could have went the first day he was allowed back. But, just like all the other guys, they’ve had a due process of Phase One, Phase Two, going through the different phases of the offseason. So, we’re just giving him a chance to get back into it. Don’t rush him. There’s no need. Hopefully we can get him back to practicing soon.

Some would possibly hesitate to paint Foster with such a broad brush of positivity, at least for now. Off-field concerns helped fuel his draft-day slide in April 2017, and even though he ultimately was exonerated, the 49ers are still keeping a closer eye on Foster than they would on a player without his specific history.

But he’s back and participating and it’s a lot more than most would have expected based on the allegations he was facing. The 49ers stood by him (primarily because of his perceived value as a player; if he was a scrub he surely would have been cut), and soon the 49ers will reap the benefits of his ongoing presence.

Yeah, we’re focused on what we’re doing, trying to get better and taking each day we can to try to improve our football team, Belichick said. Not really focused on what everybody else is doing.

Regardless, the noise of the Patriots being a No Fun Team seems to be growing. With guys like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski opting to have actual fun in lieu of showing up for the daily effort to improve, it’s hard not to think there’s something to it this time.

The Times also reported that the Patriots hold auditions for cheerleader promotional models, but after the cheerleading squad is already set.

The Ravens have a team of women called Playmakers, who don’t serve as cheerleaders or dancers in any form. The Times reported that this year’s application to become a Playmaker asked for bust size.

NFL teams’ cheerleading squads have come under fire since a former Saints cheerleader, Bailey Davis, and former Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ware accused cheerleading officials of inappropriate actions. Their lawyer, Sara Blackwell, offered to settle the dispute with the league for $1.

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