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?

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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.”

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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.

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.

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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.

165

Brandon Drury reinstated from DL, assigned to Yankees’ Triple-A team

The Yankees reinstated Brandon Drury from the 10-day disabled list Monday and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, meaning rookie Miguel Andujar likely will remain New York’s starting third baseman.

The 25-year-old Drury, who started seven games at third base for the Yankees to begin the season, nfl authentic jerseys cheap went on the DL on April 7 because of migraine headaches and blurred vision.

Andujar, 23, has started the bulk of games at third base in Drury’s absence, batting .282 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

In his 20-day rehab assignment that ended Monday, Drury batted .315 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 67 plate appearances.165

The Yankees acquired Drury in February from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that also involved the Tampa Bay Rays.

Andujar is among a wave of players who have sparked the Yankees to a 28-12 record, tied with AL East rival Boston for the best in the major leagues.

New York has 13 pitchers on its roster, leaving room for just three bench players. The current backups are catcher Austin Romine, infielder Ronald Torreyes and infielder-outfielder Tyler Austin. The Yankees start a trip Tuesday at Washington.

With Scranton off Monday, the Yankees transferred the rehab assignments of first baseman Greg Bird (right ankle surgery on March 27) and outfielder Billy McKinney (left shoulder sprain on March 31) to Double-A Trenton.customized nfl jerseys cheap

Neil Walker, originally envisioned as mostly a second baseman when the Yankees signed him in March, has played mostly at first in the absence of Bird. Gleyber Torres, a touted 21-year-old prospect, made his major league debut April 22 and has become the starting second baseman. He is hitting .319 with three doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs.

155

Tony Parker wants to play 20 NBA seasons, even if not with Spurs

Tony Parker remains committed to completing 20 NBA seasons, even if it means playing for a team other than the San Antonio Spurs.

Parker, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, has long maintained that his preference is to remain in San Antonio, but the 17-year veteran made it clear Thursday in an interview with RMC Sports that he understands his tenuous standing on a San Antonio roster in transition.

“It is not yet sure that I’ll stay with the Spurs,” Parker said. “I am open to all proposals. I would like to make my entire career in San Antonio. The sport remains a business, and we will have to make choices. I have been 17 years with the Spurs.nike nfl cheap jerseys I would always be nostalgic, but it’s not the end of the world if I change my club. I say two or three years more [I can play if] I can go somewhere else, I’m 50-50. I do not see myself outside of basketball yet. I want to stay three more years to do the 20 seasons.”

Parker played in a total of 55 games last season and averaged 19.5 minutes, 7.7 points, 3.6 assists and 1.7 rebounds after losing his starting job in January to Dejounte Murray. Parker has said he would be fine with returning next season to play a backup role.155

Spurs general manager R.C. Buford told ESPN that the club would make a decision on Parker at the appropriate time. It’s expected Parker will have to accept a contract worth significantly less than the $15.4 million he earned during the 2017-18 season.

San Antonio’s longest-tenured player, Parker, 35, suffered a torn quadriceps tendon during the 2016-17 Western Conference semifinals and believes the recovery process from such an injury requires two years before he’s fully healed.

“I’m almost back to 100 percent,” Parker said. “There are ups and downs, times when we’re not feeling well. It takes time, and this summer it’s going to be important to do some rehabilitation. We’re always better the second season.”

As for Parker’s potential return to San Antonio for an 18th season,cheap nike nfl jerseys from china the veteran has answered such questions since April with similar responses.

“We’ll see,” Parker said in April. “I said already I want to keep playing. I’m happy I don’t have those retirement parties. I want to keep playing, and we’ll see if it’s in San Antonio. Everybody knows I would love to stay here. But free agency is always crazy, so we’ll see.”

143

Arden Key epitomizes the Raiders’ boom-or-bust draft class

Looking for the epitome of the Oakland Raiders’ boom-or-bust draft class, coach Jon Gruden’s first in Oakland since 2001?

Look no further than the Raiders’ fourth of nine picks, a self-styled top-five talent who fell to the back of the third round, where Oakland snatched him up at No. 87.

Yes, there were character concerns when it came to Arden Key.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“I went through some situations that caused me to be a third-round pick,” said the former LSU defensive end. “I’ve learned from those things, and this is the consequence of me going through what I went through. I’m a better person now than I was prior to it.”143

Boom? Key set a school single-season record with 12 sacks as a sophomore in 2016 and had 21 sacks in 31 career games for the Tigers. The Raiders, even with the presence of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, need help getting to the quarterback. If a healthy and motivated Key can address that need, he’s a draft steal.

Bust? Key, after being suspended for the 2016 season finale, took a leave of absence in the spring of 2017 — reportedly to go to rehab for marijuana use — and had a subpar season last fall with four sacks and five missed games due to injury as his weight got as high as 280 pounds. He was coming back from shoulder surgery in May and endured a knee injury as well as a broken right pinkie finger that required surgery. Can the Raiders truly trust him?

“He had a big season two years ago with 12 sacks, but even then, was too one-dimensional,” Kiper said. “The majority of his impact plays were versus the pass. He has to get stronger and has to become more polished in terms of pass-rush moves. [He] beat collegiate OTs with speed and has shown the ability to bend the edge. But he’ll need to convert speed to power in the NFL and also maintain the proper weight where he can maximize his talent.cheap youth nfl jerseys

“In the later portion of Round 3, he’s worth a roll of the dice. Jon Gruden always talks about closing out and finishing games. You do that by having multiple pass-rushers. That’s how the Eagles finished things off against Tom Brady and the Pats with Brandon Graham’s strip sack. Key brings that element if you can keep him focused on the job at hand and maximize all of his talent and athleticism.”