11

Tottenham’s Harry Kane brushes off Neil Warnock accusations after Joe Ralls red card

Harry Kane has refuted Cardiff manager Neil Warnock’s suggestion that he put pressure on referee Mike Dean to send off Joe Ralls at Wembley on Saturday.

Kane rushed over to confront Ralls after the visiting midfielder’s cynical 58th-minute tackle on Lucas Moura, which was punished with a straight red card.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Warnock criticised Kane’s conduct after Spurs’ 1-0 victory, saying the striker was trying to “make an issue of it and get the referee to think it is worse than it is,” adding: “I don’t think you should try and get other pros sent off, just because he and Spurs are having a poor game.”

Kane, however, does not believe he had any influence on Dean’s decision.11

“He’s kicked one of our players knee-height and the ref said to me that the fourth official helped him out,” said the Tottenham forward.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“I guess managers are going to get angry, it’s part of the game. But at the end of the day their player has looked at our player and he’s kicked him higher than he ever should, so for me it was a red card and the right decision.”

Spurs have had a mixed campaign so far and lost three successive matches last month, while they are yet to pick up a point in their Champions League group.

Their fans would also have hoped for a more convincing home win over Cardiff, the Premier League’s bottom side, on Saturday — yet the north Londoners are only two points off the top of the table.

“We’re in a good spot,” said Kane. “We went through that spell where everyone thought it was the end of the world and we’ve come out the other side and we’ve done alright. We’re not far off the top.

“It’s like most seasons. We just stay calm and stay under the radar. Everyone talks about everyone else and we’ll just see if we can go on a good run between now and Christmas, and we’ll see where that puts us.

“Cardiff are a tough team, physical. It was a rainy day and the pitch wasn’t as good as it normally is so it was one of those games where we just had to get over the line and we did that. It was a great clean sheet.

11

Eagles facing early crossroad in title defense

Coach Doug Pederson warned as much, even pushing the mantra “Embrace the Target” beginning early this offseason to drill home that they are going to get their opponent’s best shot week after week.

That theory has largely held up through four games. The Eagles haven’t always been ready for it, or maybe equipped to handle it, and sit at 2-2 as a result. Next up is a desperate Minnesota Vikings team with revenge on their mind following the 38-7 pummeling in Philly in the NFC Championship Game.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“First of all, we have to understand that we are champions, and you have to play, you’re expected to play a certain way,” Pederson said. “When you don’t live up to that expectation, we need to just zero down on it and figure out why. The sense of urgency from players and coaches needs to heighten just a little bit. It’s not a panic mode, but it’s a heightened awareness of who we are as a football team, where we want to get to.”11

Right now, the Eagles are a .500 football team with an offense that ranks 26th in points per game (20.5) and third in penalty yards (343). The offensive line, touted as one of the best in the sport, has been leaky at times and was partly responsible for the 11 hits and four sacks Carson Wentz absorbed last week in an overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. The defense has been unreliable on the road and is coming off a performance in which it allowed three fourth-down conversions on a single drive in overtime.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Injuries are piling up. The loss of safety Rodney McLeod (knee surgery) arguably cost them the Titans game (his replacement, Corey Graham, was out of position on the defining fourth-and-15 conversion) and leaves them vulnerable on the back end. He is the fourth Eagles player to hit injured reserve this season, joining wide receivers Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins and tight end Richard Rodgers. Jay Ajayi has a fracture in his back, and his running mates, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement, haven’t been able to stay on the field consistently.

Add the fact that Wentz (ACL/LC), defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle) and receiver Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) are just getting back onto the field/rounding into form, and you can see where some of the issues are stemming from.

On the bright side, some of those key players such as Wentz and Jeffery are now back in the fold, and with the arrow pointing up. That’s the way right tackle Lane Johnson chose to look at it while discussing the state of the team on Tuesday.

“We’re starting to get everybody back,” he said. “It was only Carson’s second game. We’re getting Jordan Matthews back, getting Alshon Jeffery back, so it takes time for a cohesive group to get back into a rhythm. Sometimes it’s not pretty, and that’s the way it is.

10

MLBPA: Blue Jays not calling up touted prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is ‘bad for the industry’

The Major League Baseball Players Association faulted the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday for not calling up touted prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., saying the decision was bad for all involved.

“The union’s position on service-time manipulation is clear, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and other great young talents around baseball have earned the right to play on the field for a major league team,” a union spokesman told Sportsnet on Thursday. “The decision to not to bring him up is a business decision, not a baseball decision. It’s bad for the Blue Jays, it’s bad for fans, it’s bad for players and it’s bad for the industry.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Guerrero was not among the September call-ups for the Blue Jays, despite being one of baseball’s top prospects while tearing up the minor leagues this season.10

Asked about the decision Wednesday, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said it was not a financial one.

“It has nothing to do with business,” Shapiro told SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. “It has nothing to do with anything other than we think the best thing for him developmentally is to go play in Arizona (in the fall league there) and continue to develop.

“We think that when he gets here — which would obviously not preclude him from making the team out of spring training next year, which would be evidence of that fact — we think he’s got a chance to be an impact player.”

When the Blue Jays do call up the 19-year-old Guerrero, his major league service time begins. Thus, the quicker he’s called up, the sooner he’s eligible for free agency and a potentially big payday.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Guerrero was No. 2 on ESPN Insider Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list. He hit .402 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in Double-A, then was promoted to Triple-A and hit .336 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 30 games.

8

Erick Gutierrez’s PSV move shows how Pachuca is a model of youth development

Erick Gutierrez’s move to PSV Eindhoven last week was widely lauded as being the right step in the 23-year-old’s career, but for Pachuca it represented a bittersweet moment.

On one hand, the transfer of Gutierrez to Europe is vindication of a player development process that is proving to be the most successful in Mexico. On the other, the club hasn’t reached the playoffs in Liga MX in the last three seasons and has just lost its captain and arguably its best player.

For the 23-year-old Mexico international known as “Guti,” it was a no-brainer: moving to a league that has been kind to Mexicans should be a perfect launchpad from which to continue to develop, under the radar of bigger European clubs and alongside his long-time friend Hirving Lozano. Playing in the Champions League group stage against the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur propels him into the spotlight almost instantly.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

But it was no guarantee that Gutierrez would be sold this summer and after PSV’s first bid it looked very much like the left-footed player would be staying put.8

“The initial formal offer was made like two months ago, but it was very low and it was a loan option, so we didn’t want to take it, we didn’t even consider it, we didn’t even start negotiating. It was so far from what we were expecting that we didn’t try to,” recounted Pachuca sporting director Marco Garces in English in an interview with ESPN FC.

A loan option was never going to tempt Pachuca to relinquish a player who has been one of its model youth academy graduates.

But when PSV Eindhoven edged closer to the Champions League group stage, with all the income that that entails, a deal was thrashed out relatively quickly.

“Actually the time we closed it up was during the BATE Borisov [Champions League qualifying second leg] game,” explained Garces. “They were in the stadium and they were negotiating and then when they scored the second it all went through. Much easier!”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

It’s the second major move in Gutierrez’s fledgling career. The 2018 World Cup squad member arrived in Pachuca from the coastal state of Sinaloa at age 11, stayed in the club’s youth academy, was starting in a Liga MX final before he’d turned 19 and was captaining Pachuca and Mexico’s Under-23s at age 20.

“He was the captain not because we appointed him, but because all the youngsters around him really respected him and wanted to be near him,” said Garces.

7

David Price likely won’t make next start; Chris Sale’s return not set

Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price likely won’t make his next scheduled start, and the team remains unsure when ace lefty Chris Sale will return to the rotation.

Manager Alex Cora said Price “most likely” will not take his turn in the rotation next week at Atlanta. He said Price still is sore and hasn’t thrown since he was struck on his pitching wrist by a line drive against Miami on Wednesday. He was examined by a hand specialist on Thursday.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“I haven’t [sat] down with him yet, but (trainer) Brad (Pearson) told me he was still sore,” Cora said. “[He’s] feeling better, but I don’t think he’s gonna be ready for that one. So if he’s not ready for that one, we’ll push it back.”

Price has bounced back after being limited to 11 starts last season because of an elbow injury. He is 14-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 26 outings.7

The Red Sox own the best record in the majors even though Sale hasn’t pitched since Aug. 12 because of mild inflammation in his pitching shoulder. But Cora thinks he will make a few starts before the playoffs.

Sale — 12-4 with a 1.97 ERA — threw long toss on flat ground Friday after playing catch the previous four days.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

“The way it’s going right now, whenever he gets on the mound, he’s gonna move fairly quick,” Cora said. “Obviously we have to build him up, but … there’s not too [many] innings in the minor leagues. We’re gonna have to do it at the big-league level. We talk about it a little bit. I don’t want to get into details yet, obviously, because we are on a day-by-day basis with him. If everything goes right, he’ll be able to build up, and we’re gonna be very comfortable with him.”

6

How Josef Martinez’s record-breaking season compares to MLS’ past goal-scoring kings

Last weekend, Josef Martinez joined Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter as Major League Soccer’s single-season scoring king by netting his 27th goal of 2018.

After his game-winning goal in Atlanta United’s 2-1 victory over Orlando City, he now stands alone top the MLS record books with 28 goals in a single season.

As if becoming the league’s record single-season goal scorer wasn’t impressive enough, Martinez has done it in 26 matches. His Atlanta United still have eight games remaining for the 25-year-old to extend his record.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

To help illustrate just how dominant Martinez has been in 2018, ESPN FC enlisted the help of ESPN Stats & Information to compare the Venezuelan’s campaign with the then-record-setting seasons from Wright-Phillips, Wondolowski and Lassiter.

The most effective way of doing so is via goals per 90, which is 1.15 for Martinez following his goal on Friday. Lassiter comes closest with his 1.05 in 1996; Wright-Phillips tallied 0.90 in 2014; and Wondolowski managed 0.81 in 2012.6

And while the numbers bear out Martinez’s efficiency, it’s not as if he’s padding his stats with meaningless goals either. His nine game-winning goals are second to Wondolowski’s 11. He already has bested Wright-Phillips’ six and Lassiter’s four.

Martinez has changed games when required in 2018; his goals have put Atlanta in position to win with regularity this season. He has scored in 19 of 26 matches; only Lassiter scored in more games across his record-setting season. But Martinez’s strike rate of netting in 73 percent of matches is noticeably higher than Lassiter’s 65 percent of matches — 21 of 32.

But perhaps the most striking statistic to illustrate the importance of Martinez’s goals this season is Atlanta’s record when he scores. Its 14-1-4 mark when he has found the back of the net equates to a 2.42 points-per-game pace. The Five Stripes are 2-3-2 when Martinez doesn’t strike, earning 1.14 points per game.
No one else comes close to having such an influence.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

The New York Red Bulls went 9-4-4 when Wright-Phillips scored in 2014, for 1.82 points per game. They were 4-6-4 when he didn’t, picking up 1.14 points per game. The San Jose Earthquakes were 13-2-4 when Wondolowski scored in 2012, earning 2.26 points per game. They went 5-3-5, a points-per-game pace of 1.54, when he didn’t score. Lassiter’s Tampa Bay Mutiny were 13-4-4 when he scored, averaging 1.85 points per game. They were 4-4-1 when he didn’t, scoring 1.44 points per game.

Only Wright-Phillips’ Red Bulls were as reliant on his goals as Atlanta is on Martinez’s, but none of the league’s previous single-season scoring kings can claim a higher points-per-game mark when scoring, and no team’s swing is as drastic when their talisman was held scoreless as the 1.25 points-per-game swing that the Five Stripes experience when Martinez is kept off the score sheet.

8

How the Killer B’s have tamed the Monster and Fenway’s wild outfield

has stories to tell, and every once in a while Andrew Benintendi will pause and let his imagination roam. He’ll look up and see a small ding here, a deeper indentation there and even the embedded imprint of a seam from a particularly well-struck ball in years past. Whether the perpetrator was Jimmie Foxx or Harmon Killebrew or a more recent slugger — say, Aaron Judge — is impossible to tell.

“It’s funny,” Benintendi said. “I was looking at it one homestand and there were a bunch of dents, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ Every inch of that wall has been hit. There’s a lot of history there.”

But there’s not much time for reverie in the middle of the action. Benintendi never knows when an opposing hitter’s swing might result in a big hop high off the wall, and he’ll have to spin and fire a no-look throw into second base and hope it’s accurate enough to erase the baserunner or make him retreat to first. Those are the daily challenges of playing in a historic landmark with the quirkiest outfield configuration in the majors.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Inspiration comes with a glance to his left — and another beyond that. Benintendi’s outfield cohabitants at Fenway Park set the bar awfully high.8

As the Boston Red Sox move on from three straight losses at Tampa Bay in pursuit of a franchise record for wins, it’s easy to cite the addition of J.D. Martinez to the lineup, David Price’s resurgence in the rotation or any number of factors in the team’s success. But the subtleties also matter. Among the most prominent: The daily brilliance of the outfield contingent of Mookie Betts in right field, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Benintendi in left.

During a TV broadcast last month, Red Sox color man Jerry Remy opined that Boston’s “Killer B’s” play better defense than Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn and Jim Rice did during their peak in the 1970s. Rice, who was never known for his glove even though he became adept at playing the wall, shook his head in mock disdain in his role as a NESN studio analyst before conceding that, yes, the 2018 contingent is pretty good.cheap nike jerseys nfl

Statistically, the best outfields in the majors this year play in Milwaukee, where Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich et al., have a defensive runs saved of plus-44, and Arizona, where A.J. Pollock, David Peralta & Co. have logged an aggregate plus-34. Boston’s group, in comparison, has a modest DRS of plus-15.

But these guys sure pass the eye test. Boston TV color man Dennis Eckersley, who played with Evans, Lynn, Rice and Carl Yastrzemski in the 1970s and ’80s, marvels at the way Bradley, Betts and Benintendi use their speed, arms, athleticism and communications skills to steal hits and change the course of games.

“In the future, we’ll see how great they really become,” Eckersley said. “But right now, defensively, it’s the best I’ve ever seen. I think everybody knows it around the league. It’s just another thing that makes this a great team.”

6

Did the Home Run Derby ‘fix’ Bryce Harper?

Rhys Hoskins is convinced that the Home Run Derby helped him. Bryce Harper, not so much.

It’s been exactly one month since Harper staged an epic comeback on his home turf to defeat Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber in the final round of the Derby in D.C. Schwarber’s opponent in the semis was Hoskins, who’s already gone on record as saying the Derby jump-started his second half.
“Hundred percent,” the Phillies slugger said late last month. “I think it kind of forced me to be aggressive to the pull side. I haven’t done that very well this year. For whatever reason, I’ve been a little more passive on the inner half of the plate. In the Derby, I was able to pull balls more true and keep the ball a lot straighter instead of hooking the ball. It seems to be carrying over.”

Hoskins has an OPS of 1.001 since the All-Star break, nearly 200 points higher than in the first half. After hitting 14 home runs in 86 games prior to the break, he already has nine homers in just 24 games since.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

As for Harper, heading into the All-Star break there were whispers that maybe the Derby was just what the doctor ordered — that contrary to the recent trend of superstars skipping the contest for fear of ruining their swings and/or injuring themselves, the most well-known National might actually benefit from it. After all, he had nowhere to go but up. Following a first half in which he hit an anemic .214 and struck out more than 100 times, the Derby might actually snap him out of his funk. Or so went the thinking.6

The way the Home Run Derby played out, with Harper captivating the capital en route to hoisting the hardware, only added fuel to the fire. The way Harper came out of the break hasn’t done anything to douse those flames.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Since the Midsummer Classic, the former MVP is hitting .337. His slugging percentage is more than 200 points higher than it was before the break. His 1.115 OPS is up nearly 300 points. His swing-and-miss rate is down (from 33 percent to 30 percent), as is his chase rate (28 to 22). Perhaps most important, he’s using the whole field.

“Better approach,” says one National League scout who’s watched Harper recently. “He’s staying on the ball, using the opposite field, not pulling everything.”

The numbers back up the scout’s take. During the first half of the season, 24 percent of Harper’s batted balls went to the opposite field. Since the break, that number has spiked to 35 percent, a telltale sign he’s feeling more comfortable at the plate.

8

Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone out to emulate father’s success

Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone said he has had to work hard to emerge from the “burdensome” shadows of his father, but believes his determination to have a similarly successful career.

Simeone is heading into his second season with La Viola having scored 14 goals in 38 appearances last term, following a move from Genoa — his first club in Italian football.

His father, Diego, had three spells in Italy — with Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio — and Giovanni admits his father’s success means he could just sit at home with his feet up, without worrying about earning a living.

However, he says he is out to prove that he can have a successful career of his own accord, and not be known merely as Diego’s son.8

“It’s not true that footballers who come from poor families have more hunger compared to those with rich parents,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have the right ‘garra’ [drive], even if my parents are well off.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“Hunger is something which should come from your heart, and you need it to excel in any walk of life. Lots of people have asked me: ‘why don’t you just relax on a beach in the Caribbean for the rest of your life instead of working so hard? It’s not like you have a money problem.’ But I’ve set myself objectives and I’m ready to work hard for them.

“My father has also been a burdensome figure. I got into River’s youth system because I was called Simeone and at the start, everybody was giving me suspicious glances. It was like I was walking in the shadows of my father. It was tough, believe me.

“The starting point is in your mind. In my case, also my feet. I was not born a champion, but thanks to my mentality, I’ve succeeded where players who were potentially better than me have failed. The finest example of my philosophy has now arrived in Italy — Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He wasn’t born a phenomenal player, but he became it with his work and his desire. CR7 is a model to follow. Humility is my best ally. I’ve not done anything yet in my career.”

He hopes that will change on an individual and club level in the near future, predicting an improvement for his club Fiorentina on last season, when they finished eighth.

“On paper, we are better than we were a year ago, but let’s not get carried away,” he said. “Lazio, AC Milan, Atalanta and Torino have improved. We’ve got to set European football as an objective, but not as an obsession.cheap youth nfl jerseys

“With Federico [Chiesa], we’ve taken big steps forward in getting to know each other, also off the field. We’re a great three-pronged attack [with Marko Pjaca] and I am aiming to score 15 goals.”

7

Lionel Messi’s Argentina retirement ‘would be understandable’ – Carlos Tevez

Former Argentina international Carlos Tevez would not be surprised if Lionel Messi decides to permanently retire from the national team.

Messi, Argentina’s captain, is expected to take a break from international competition for the rest of the year and will miss the friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia next month.

“It would be understandable if Messi doesn’t return to the national team,” Tevez told TyC Sports. “When you give and then you are criticised, it becomes very difficult. I’ve been through that and at times you don’t want to go [to the national team].”cheap new nike nfl jerseys

Argentina football federation (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said last month that it is important for his organisation to have Messi play for the national team for financial reasons, but that he would give Messi time to decide if he will return.

Pressure led Messi to quit the national team, albeit briefly, in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final.7

Messi’s mother, Celia Cutticini, said during the World Cup that Messi has been deeply affected by criticism of his performances with Argentina, and former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov also believes Messi has been unfairly treated by some fans and media.

Messi has been accused of selecting coaches and influencing which players do and do not make the squad, and Stoichkov, who is close friends with Messi, denied he makes those decisions for the national team.

“That’s a lie that someone invented a while back,” Stoichkov told TyC Sports. “If that were the case, I would be the coach of Argentina because I’m Lionel’s friend. It’s a complete lie.

“A lot of people don’t know Messi. I know him very well and I can say that he never got involved in the construction of the national team. It’s all lies.”

It will not be Ricardo Gareca, who was considered the top candidate after leading Peru to their first World Cup appearance in 36 years. After signing a new contract with Peru last week, he said he was never contacted by the AFA.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“I never got a call, not even an informal one, to guide Argentina,” Gareca told TyC Sports. “I took time because I wanted to listen and see what was there [before signing a new contract with Peru]. If Argentina called me up, things would have changed.”

The AFA has turned to Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar to guide Argentina for the friendlies, which will be played in the United States.