227

Rangers’ Cole Hamels scratched with stiff neck, not likely for Friday

The Texas Rangers scratched left-hander Cole Hamels from Thursday’s start against the Chicago White Sox due to neck stiffness.

Hamels said he woke up Wednesday with a stiff neck and it kept getting worse. nfl jerseys cheap nike He could barely sit on the Rangers’ plane ride from Seattle to Chicago.

“Sometimes in hotels it happens, I guess,” he said. “Everything comes down to timing. If this happened the day after we could get through it and get to the next game. Something that happens right before your start, there’s not enough time to be able to get right and go out there and give your team six, seven innings and a hundred pitches without something really disastrous happening.”

Veteran right-hander Doug Fister moved up one day to pitch the series opener against the White Sox on regular rest. He tossed seven scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 4-2 loss.227

Now Matt Moore will move up one day to pitch on regular rest Friday. The Rangers were off on Monday.

Hamels, 34, is 2-4 with a 3.48 ERA in nine starts this season. cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale He pitched six sparkling innings in a 1-0 victory against the Astros last Friday.

“At times we do pitch through some bumps and bruises, and I did think about how far I could push it,” he said. “But when you notice you cannot look at a target when you throw a baseball, it’s not good.”

224

Robinson Cano can go to Hall, Mark Cuban’s pitch and MLB’s next big thing

Breathless reactions aside, we can at least agree that Robinson Cano has done a very stupid thing, even if he’s genuine in his explanation. A professional ballplayer in his 14th major league season has to know what is being put into his body. If he wanted, someone like Cano could afford to pay a nutritionist, a personal trainer and a medical doctor just to follow him around. Now, because he failed a drug test, he is going to miss half of the 2018 season, less whatever time he would have missed because of his hand injury. And he’s losing $11 million in the process.

Cano is one of the foundation players for Seattle.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale The Mariners are in their 42nd season and as yet have never won so much as an American League pennant. They aren’t favored to do so this season, either, but with a 24-18 start, it’s within the realm of possibility for the M’s to make a run. That is made more difficult by Cano’s absence. And even if Seattle gets into the postseason, Cano won’t be eligible to aid the quest.

That is the tangible fallout from Cano’s suspension, and it can be evaluated and weighed someday when we look at Cano’s career for its Hall of Fame merit. When we do, we must also consider that he’s likely to finish with more than 3,000 hits and already has surpassed 300 homers, 293 of which have been hit as a second baseman. That’s an American League record. We must also consider that he’s won two Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger awards, played in eight All-Star Games and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting six times. We must consider that, according to JAWS, he ranks seventh all time among second basemen and could finish in the top five.224

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This is the résumé of a clear Hall of Fame player. These are all facts embedded in baseball’s permanent record. To my knowledge, they have not been stricken or asterisked in any way. Evaluating these facts in the context in which they were established is the primary task of the Hall voter. Many might say it should be the only task.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick laid out the reasons Cano’s Hall chances are now greatly diminished with this week’s news. That’s almost certainly true. My stance is that it shouldn’t be.

The problem there is that nebulous clause in the criteria laid out in every Hall ballot: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”

If you ask 100 different people how they delineate and define the concepts of integrity, sportsmanship and character, you are sure to get 100 different answers. Those who won’t vote for, or support, proven or suspected PED users wave these words around like a matador’s muleta. To me, they shouldn’t be in there, but they are. Fine.

Are we going to say that because Cano failed that drug test he now lacks integrity,cheap nfl jerseys china nike sportsmanship and character? Look him up on your favorite search engine. His foundation has helped numerous underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic, New York City and Seattle. There is a school in the Dominican bearing his initials and number, built with funds raised by the foundation he established with his parents. Cano has twice been a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award. Regardless of how worked up you get about performance-enhancing drugs, if we are going to evaluate the character of a person, shouldn’t these things be considered as well?

212

Rockets defy critics and stick to the plan in Game 2 win

The call came in a little after 1 a.m. early Tuesday morning. PJ Tucker saw the caller ID and shook his head. James Harden was calling to talk about the Houston Rockets’ demoralizing loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Monday. Tucker wasn’t sure if the MVP front-runner was calling to vent or cheer him up. Either way, he was in no mood.

“I was so mad I didn’t answer the phone,” Tucker told ESPN on Wednesday night after the Rockets righted the ship to win Game 2 127-105 and salvage a split on their home court. “James was mad I didn’t answer. But it wasn’t one of those where we had to talk it out. We all knew what happened.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“We played like the Rockets tonight. The first game, I don’t know who that was.”212

To a man, the Rockets insisted they didn’t change their approach in Game 2 after being criticized for playing such an isolation-heavy game Monday night. If anything, they seemed to double down on that approach and way of being Wednesday night. They just did it a whole lot better.

Houston’s passing in Game 2 led to much better shots than it did in Game 1. On Wednesday, for example, the Rockets created 12 uncontested 3-point shots off assists and made six of them. In Monday’s loss they created only five uncontested 3-pointers off assists and made two of them.

“I had better opportunities. We moved the ball better. Everybody was knocking down shots. Once we do that, how can you stop us?” said Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who scored 27 points including six 3-pointers Wednesday.

“I think this game was a matter of the Rockets bringing the force that’s necessary to win a game and we didn’t,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We had seven turnovers in the first quarter. We set the tone early with our own play, and allowed them to get some confidence and some easy buckets in transition. We let guys get going.

“We got what we deserved. They kicked our butts. No other way to say it.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The only Warrior who seemed to be sharp Wednesday was Kevin Durant, who basically carried his team when nobody else could hit a shot or find a rhythm. Durant had a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting, but noticeably no assists as the Rockets forced him into isolation situations and decided to live with the results so long as he didn’t get anyone else involved.

211

Stephen Curry: Warriors need more aggressiveness, discipline on D

The Rockets targeted Curry on 23 possessions in Game 2, the most he has been targeted in a game this postseason, as they routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece. He was the primary defender on 20 plays in Game 1.

According to Second Spectrum, Curry defended 15 isolation plays in Game 1 and 13 in Game 2. nfl replica jerseys cheap Both were more than he had defended in the past four seasons, regular season and playoffs.

“They made shots,” Curry said about the Rockets’ high point total. “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. … We’ve got to respond with some more aggressiveness and more discipline on the defensive end.”

Asked about how relentlessly the Rockets are zeroing in on Curry, coach Mike D’Antoni said, “It’s obviously one of our things we like to do.”

In the series, James Harden and Chris Paul are consistently calling for screens from the teammate Curry is guarding to get the two-time MVP to switch onto them. Once Curry switches to the primary ball handler, the Rockets attempt to penetrate to the basket.211

Houston shot 7-of-15 from the field on those 23 possessions Curry was the primary defender. Curry was beat off the dribble frequently and too often allowed Harden to drive to his stronger left side.

“We were trying to be too cute with our [defensive] exchanges and our switches and all that stuff instead of just manning up and playing one-on-one defense,” Curry said. “Whether they score or not, as hard as we’re working on the defensive end, they’re working as hard on the offensive end to get shots up. That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2. They made a concerted effort to turn those one-on-one situations into a little bit more ball movement, and we were just a step slow, myself included.”

Many are questioning whether Curry is fully healed from his left knee injury that forced him to miss five weeks.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“I physically feel fine,” he told ESPN. “I’m playing without really any limitations so I can just go play basketball.”

204

Jon Gruden’s plan: 35-year-old Derrick Johnson in the middle of the Raiders’ D

There is no doubt Derrick Johnson has much to prove in what will be his 14th NFL season this fall, his first with the Oakland Raiders.

After all, the Kansas City Chiefs essentially told the longtime fan favorite his services were no longer needed when they exercised the option to void the final year of his contract this spring.

The question, though, is this: where can i buy nfl jerseys cheap How much does Johnson, who turns 36 in November and has torn both Achilles tendons since 2014, have left in the tank?

“The main reason I’m still playing ball and chasing a championship ring [is] just because I believe I have a lot left in the tank; I have a lot left in the tank,” Johnson, who signed with Oakland on May 7, emphasized on a recent conference call with Bay Area reporters. “That’s the only reason I’m back. When I get to a point where I’m like, ‘Man, I’m hanging on,’ I’ll get out. I’ll get out of the NFL.”204

Indeed, Raiders coach Jon Gruden believes there is enough playmaking ability remaining in Johnson to have him serve as Oakland’s middle linebacker in a rebuilt 4-3 base defense. Yes, that means purportedly taking the place of NaVorro Bowman, who is more than five years younger but also has had major injuries to his left knee and left Achilles (Johnson was Pro Football Focus’ 33rd-ranked linebacker last season with an overall 77.3 grade, while Bowman was 11th with an 84.8 grade).

Coming from the Chiefs also should help stoke this ancient AFC West rivalry, what with Johnson’s standing as Kansas City’s all-time leading tackler with 1,262 stops and a four-time Pro Bowler with 27.5 career sacks, 23 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions.

“He brings us status at a critical position,” Gruden said. “He’s got a great history in this league. He’s been productive under a lot of different coaches, different schemes. He understands the AFC West. He certainly understands this rivalry. I’m really excited to add him to our team with Tahir Whitehead and some of our young linebackers. I think his presence will be very valuable.

“Getting a guy like Derrick Johnson, I think, could be huge for us.”

Again, so long as the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder is healthy, right?nfl jerseys discount

Johnson blew out his right Achilles tendon in the 2014 season opener and was back for a full 16-game season and Pro Bowl nod in 2015. He tore the left Achilles in Week 14 of the 2016 season, against the Raiders. He played in 15 games last year.

203

New leader of Patriots’ defense, Brian Flores, ‘tough on players’

The New England Patriots’ defense will have a new leader in 2018. Coordinator Matt Patricia has moved on to become head coach of the Detroit Lions, and linebackers coach Brian Flores will elevate his responsibilities without the specific coordinator title.buy cheap nfl jerseys

Don’t expect anything major, according to Flores, who made it clear that coach Bill Belichick’s preferred philosophy will continue to be on display.

“There is a long history of this defense. Bill’s been here for a number of years, so I would say we’re going to continue to play defense like we’ve played the past 18 seasons he’s been here,” the 37-year-old Flores said.203

As for what that means, Flores elaborated on the characteristics he’d like a “Brian Flores-coached defense” to have, and the first thing he said was that it was “going to sound like a Bill Belichick-coached team.”

“Tough, smart, dependable, can play under pressure,” Flores noted. “That’s been a good formula. I’ll go with that one.”

Schematically, that means a multiple unit that will do a number of different things on a weekly basis (and sometimes a play-to-play basis), with defensive linemen often asked to carry out two-gap responsibilities (being responsible for gaps on both sides, which is more of a read-and-react style of play compared to an up-the-field penetrating line).

Listening to Flores speak for a little more than 15 minutes late last week, it was clear why he’s already on the radar for head-coaching openings, as he had interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals this past offseason.where can i buy nfl jerseys cheap

190

Young Finland defenseman Heiskanen eyes NHL

The talented defenseman opened it at the junior world championship in Buffalo before becoming a mainstay on the Finnish men’s national team at the next two top tournaments: the Pyeongchang Olympics and the ongoing world championship.

In that time the 18-year-old has established himself as a reliable defenseman who has passed the test against top NHL talents at the tournament in Denmark. He plays in the top unit, meaning he has to stop the offensive aces of the opposition and that’s exactly what he has done.

NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid could attest to that.nike football nfl jerseys

On Saturday, Finland upset star-studded Canada captained by McDavid 5-1 and Heiskanen contributed a great deal.

He played 18:25 but his best moment came in the middle period when Canada was trailing 3-1 and desperately pressing to score. At one point, McDavid had just an empty net in front of him. Goaltender Harri Sateri was still at the far post and McDavid’s shot from the left circle was heading for goal.

But then Heiskanen came seemingly out of no where to Finland’s rescue, tipping the puck to safety.190

”It was almost in the net but I hit the puck,” Heiskanen said. ”It was a good save.”

When the two met in the third period, the result was a two plus two-minute penalty for high sticking for a frustrated McDavid, effectively ending Canada’s chances of a comeback.

Finland captain Mikael Granlund praised Heiskanen.

”I have seen him at the games here and nothing really surprises me about him,” Granlund said. ”The way he skates, the way he handles the puck and sees the ice. He can play these games. He’s been really, really good this tournament. He’s got a great career ahead of him.”

The obvious next step is the NHL.

The Dallas Stars picked him with the third overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft and signed him to a three-year entry level contract. He spent last season on loan with IFK Helsinki where he played since he was 17.cheap nfl throwback jerseys

He finished with 23 points including 11 goals in the regular season and added three goals and nine points in the playoffs.

189

US routs Norway 9-3 at hockey worlds, Germany upsets Finland

Captain Patrick Kane scored two goals for the second straight game and added an assist to lead the United States to a 9-3 victory over Norway for its sixth straight win at the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

Defending champion Sweden also recorded its sixth win, 5-3 at the expense of Switzerland, while Finland was upset by Germany 3-2 in overtime – a day after the Finnish team outplayed Canada.

The Czech Republic beat France 6-0 for its second consecutive shutout.authentic nfl football jerseys

Kane scored with a slap shot from the right circle on a power play to open the scoring and added another power play goal almost from the same spot for a 2-0 lead.

The forward leads the tournament with 15 points for five goals and 10 assists.189

”A good performance by the team tonight,” Kane said. ”We had a lot of different guys to contribute and chip in, which is good to see, and give us a lot of confidence going into the next game against Finland.”

Forward Patric Hornqvist, who joined the Swedish team after Pittsburgh Penguins’ elimination from the NHL playoffs, scored in his first game of the championship against Switzerland.

John Klingberg, Mikael Backlund, Adam Larsson and Magnus Paajarvi also netted for Sweden.

Markus Eisenschmid scored the winner for Germany against Finland two minutes into overtime.

”For us to get a win against a nation that plays such good hockey is pretty big,” Germany captain Dennis Seidenberg said.

A day after a 5-1 victory over Canada, Eeli Tolvanen put Finland 1-0 up in the first period when the Germans were held to just two shots on goal.

But they came back in the second period. Frederik Tiffels tied it at 1 and Bjorn Krupp scored for a 2-1 lead. Sebastian Aho scored the equalizer for Finland with 2:06 left in regulation, forcing overtime.

”We were little bit down in the second period,” Finland captain Mikael Granlund said. ”Their goalie played a great game. Let’s move from there and let’s get ready for the next one.”

Germany goaltender Mathias Niederberger made 36 saves.nike football nfl jerseys

David Pastrnak and Roman Horak had two goals each and Dmitrij Jaskin and Martin Necas contributed one each for the Czechs against France.

178

Euro 2024 bid chief: ‘High time’ for Turkey to host major tournament

The head of the Turkish bid for the 2024 European Championships has said it is “high time” his country was given the chance to host a major event.

Having failed with three previous bids for the Euros and a campaign to host the 2020 Olympics, Turkey is up against a strong bid for the European tournament from Germany.

Speaking to reporters in London,nfl cheap nike jerseys Turkish Football Federation vice-president Servet Yardimci admitted losing to France by one vote in 2010 for the 2016 Euros was “upsetting” but it made Turkey more determined to try again.

In fact, Yardimci revealed that European football’s governing body UEFA offered Turkey the chance to host the last three games of Euro 2020, which is being shared by 12 different countries as a one-off to mark the 60th anniversary of the competition — but said no.178

“We were given the semi-finals and final in 2020 to host but we said we’d like to do the whole tournament, so we politely declined,” said Yardimci.

That decision opened the door for Wembley, which is now hosting seven of the 51 games in two summers’ time. Turkey, on the other hand, wants all 51 in 2024.

Yardimci listed the major finals Turkey has hosted, including Liverpool’s memorable 2005 Champions League win over AC Milan, and said its clubs, fans, league and stadiums proved the country “is ready now” for a large summer tournament.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

He also pointed to Turkey’s improving infrastructure and historic position as a bridge between Europe and Asia as evidence of the commercial opportunities a Turkish Euro 2024 would present.

“Turkey will take great pride in being able to deliver the best ever Euros — that’s what we’re saying to UEFA and we mean it,” said Yardimci, a member of UEFA’s executive committee.

The ongoing fallout has forced former Turkish striker Hakan Sukur to live in California in exile after he moved into politics and criticised Erdogan. There is also the long-running tension with Turkey’s Kurdish minority and the small matter of Syria on its southern border.

177

Fulham end long wait for playoff win to reach Wembley

Fulham ended their play-off hoodoo in style by coming from behind to beat Derby 2-0 and put themselves one win away from the Premier League.

The Cottagers had not won any of their previous seven play-off ties, including Friday’s Championship semi-final first leg, but second-half goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi overturned a one-goal deficit at Craven Cottage and sent them to Wembley.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Sessegnon, tipped for a potential summer move to a big club, will take the headlines but it was an all-out attacking display from Slavisa Jokanovic’s men, who were worthy winners.

Fulham, who have only lost twice since December 16, will now meet either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough at the national stadium on May 26 and are 90 minutes away from a first return to the Premier League since 2014.177

The Rams would have wanted to put up more of a fight and they are condemned to an 11th successive season in the second tier.

After a disappointing night at Pride Park on Friday, Fulham were desperate to wipe out their deficit as quickly as possible and they could not have wished for a better chance in only the eighth minute.

The Cottagers showcased their attacking speed as they broke from a Derby corner with Aboubakar Kamara squaring for Sessegnon but the 17-year-old first touch was not great and his shot was too close to Scott Carson, who palmed behind for a corner.

Aleksandar Mitrovic took a while to get into the game, but he soon became a threat and was within inches of an opener 10 minutes before half-time when he superbly turned Curtis Davies on the edge of the area and curled just wide.nfl cheap nike jerseys

The only reason Fulham did not go into half-time at least a goal to the good is due to the heroics of Carson, who pulled off three top drawer saves in the space of five minutes.

First he blocked Kamara’s swerving shot, then tipped over Ryan Fredericks’ dipping effort before saving the best until last when he miraculously kept out Mitrovic’s powerful header.

Carson, though, was finally breached just two minutes after the restart as Sessegnon struck.