Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: ‘I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset’

Kevin Kiermaier on Monday sounded off on the Tampa Bay Rays’ recent roster moves, saying he is 100 percent frustrated and very upset by the team’s decisions to part ways with All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson and veteran pitcher Jake Odorizzi.

It’s hard to worry too much, though. Obvious QB questions aside, the Mountaineers return a ton elsewhere on the depth chart. Star running back Jalin Moore is back, and a receiving corps that had to lean heavily on freshmen last year (and survived doing so) now gets to lean on sophomores. All-conference left tackle Victor Johnson is back, and while there are a few pieces to replace in the defensive front seven, the secondary is loaded.

There’s more turnover here than what fellow SBC heavyweights Troy and Arkansas State are dealing with, so maybe the Mountaineers merely go 6-2 or so in conference this year. But that’s still a long leap from 5-14.

With Lamb behind center, Appalachian State formed a reliable identity. The Mountaineers were going to run first and run second, and in the few instances per game in which Lamb was asked to make a play, he’d do so. He was a terrific scrambler, and he completed between 60 and 61 percent of his passes each year as a starter.

The formula obviously worked. But in 2017, we saw both a better and more volatile version of the App State attack. Volatility tends to be a product of massive turnover in the receiving corps.

This year I did three things differently, Cespedes said through a translator Monday following the team’s first full workout. I ran. Then I did weightlifting, but not so much heavy weights. And then I did yoga trying to get ready for this.

A two-time All-Star, Cespedes signed a $110 million, four-year contract before the 2017 season and bulked up in the weight room. He wound up on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain from April 28 until June 10 and then with a right hamstring strain from Aug. 26 through the end of the season. Cespedes hit .292 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs in 81 games.

With yoga, my muscles are more flexible right now, he said. I used to work out with heavy weightlifting. I had strength, but I wasn’t flexible. Now I’m flexible because of the yoga. … The yoga has been working for me. When I showed up in the last couple of seasons down here, the lower back of my body was very tight. I haven’t felt that yet.bears_019

MLB’s threat of pitch clocks fizzles … for now

Now that Major League Baseball has settled on some pace-of-play changes for 2018, the focus can shift to a bigger and more pressing concern: rampant unemployment.

It has been evident for a while that players don’t care for the pitch clock, and any hopes of a negotiated settlement to introduce the clock in 2018 were destined to go down to the wire. When dozens of free agents are still looking for work, it’s not the best time for conciliation and dealmaking.

Defending Daytona 500 winner, Kurt Busch, starts 11th, alongside younger brother Kyle Busch, the 2015 Cup Series champion who is still seeking his first Daytona 500 win. If Kurt Busch wins Sunday, he will become just the fourth driver to win consecutive Daytona 500s, joining Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84), and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).

Danica Patrick will make her final career NASCAR start from the 28th position, having announced last November she would retire from NASCAR after this weekend. Patrick is the only female driver to win the Daytona 500 pole (2013) — or in any Cup Series race — and she is also the only woman to lead a lap in the Daytona 500.

Contreras understands the consequences and is willing to accept them if need be.

What about a tight game or an extra-inning game and you have to go out there? he asked rhetorically. They cannot say anything about that. That’s my team. If they are going to fine me for mound visit No. 7, I’ll pay the price.

Canada’s Patrick Chan was one of the heavy medal favorites heading, and he had a great start to his program with Dust in the Wind blaring. However, he committed a critical fall in the middle, which dropped his score to 90.01. It was still good for second place at the time, though.

Rippon’s lead did not last long, however. Russian athlete Dmitri Aliev blew past the field with a 98.98 score, pulling off a near-perfect run while dressed up in a fancy coat and skating to Masquerade Waltz.royals_014

The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles are set to face off in Super Bowl 52.

Plenty of Eagles and Patriots fans will be scouring the Internet for Super Bowl tickets to the see their squad, hopefully, pull out a victory and hoist the Lombardi trophy.

With it being the most widely viewed sporting event in most years, Super Bowl tickets don’t come cheap. Currently, the cheapest you can find is roughly $3,400 on SeatGeek with the next-cheapest within $200; NFL Ticket Exchange’s lowest ticket price was $4,290 on Jan. 23.

Brady’s healthy eating habits are well-documented. His tactics for sustained athletic optimism are no secret. The only significant injury that has disrupted his career was the ACL tear that scratched his 2008 season. But torn ligaments and the occasional Oreo won’t affect Brady later in life like a knockout, helmet-to-helmet cheap shot could.

The more science teaches us about traumatic brain injury, it seems, the less former football players can guarantee a fully-functional mind in their elder years. Simply put: The longer Brady plays, the more he risks his future well-being.

The Eagles saw 6-3, 224-pound Terrell Owens make a remarkable return from a broken leg and torn ankle ligament to play well in Super Bowl 39, catching 9 passes for 122 yards against the Patriots. The Eagles are hoping to see 6-3, 218-pound Alshon Jeffery also finish his first season in Philly with a bang after catching 9 passes for 146 yards and two TDs so far in the playoffs.

The Eagles saw Brian Westbrook become a matchup nightmare for the Patriots in Super Bowl 39, turning 22 touches into 104 scrimmage yards and a TD. The Eagles are hoping to see Jay Ajayi keep living up to Westbrook’s old number after racking up 39 touches for 197 scrimmage yardage so far in the playoffs.

The Patriots have a habit of taking one key opposing offensive player out of the game. Just like with Owens and Westbrook, it will be difficult for New England to keep both Jeffery and Ajayi from having a major impact in Super Bowl 52.
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The Broncos, in the throes of a three-game losing streak, are in the midst of a quarterback crisis.

If there was one team in town that was granted unconditional love, the kind passed to three, four generations, it was the Giants, once known as the New York Football Giants for both emphasis and to avoid confusion with the baseball team that shared the Polo Grounds.

There was no number of losing teams, strange selections of head coaches, stranger play-calling and geographical inconveniences that could diminish Giants’ fans’ devotion.

And so sports continues to teach — force — its best customers to live without, many never to return.

Other moves… Some quick thoughts on other prominent moves made in the final flurry of activity as teams reduced their rosters to 53 players apiece by the deadline:

The Broncos might regret releasing safety T.J. Ward. The acrimony increased Monday, when Ward told reporters that the Broncos handled the situation in an “unprofessional” manner. Several of Denver’s defensive players expressed support for Ward before the move was made. John Elway has been very good as a front office executive and he gets the benefit of just about every doubt at this point.

Veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins called the Eagles “hungry,” adding, “Every game we feel is an opportunity to establish ourselves, prove a point and to have fun. We don’t look past anybody. We’re going to enjoy every moment, stay in the moment and keep doing what got us here.”

Starter Trevor Siemian was benched this week in favor of Osweiler, who will be seeking the form he had two years ago in his first stint in Denver.

As turnovers continue to pile up and add to Denver losses, they’re trying to save their season, with a defense that’s ranked No. 1 in the NFL, from being wasted.

Siemian is ranked 29th in the league in passer rating (76.8) and has been sacked 25 times, tied for second-highest among the NFL starters. Siemian threw three interceptions in Monday night’s 29-19 loss to the Chiefs and has 10 for the season.

Anyway, this past Sunday, with the game about over and the winning Jaguars taking a clock-killing knee, Bennett ignited a now NFL-requisite brawl. After the snap, he threw himself at the back of center Brandon Linder’s knees. Then he jumped on Linder, who did not try to retaliate, a second time.bills_031

It took one more spark from Amendola, this time on a punt return, to get Brady into position for the go-ahead score.

There was Brady, desperately trying to find a matchup he liked with Gronk out of the game, and Amendola suddenly becoming his main man against the Jaguars’ Cover 3 zone, much like James White against the Falcons. Two passes later, Amendola was in the end zone.

Normally, it would have been clear sailing for Brady to finish the comeback from there, but then came three straight incompletions and a punt on the next possession. Once again, the adversity increased. Brady didn’t have the runaway momentum he had against the Falcons.

Brady somehow managed to exhaust and wear down a Jaguars defense that was on the field 10 minutes less than his own defense.

The NFL protests? Anyone engaging in them was a “son of bitch” who should be fired, he said at a rally in Alabama. On Sunday, he retweeted a call for a boycott of the NFL, along with a number of other complaints. That the participants in the NFL protests happened to be black and that Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (whom Trump disinvited from the White House on Saturday) is, too, was cited as evidence that Trump was more aggravated at black protesters than white ones.

Whether that’s the case doesn’t really matter. What matters is the reason for those protests. They are one of the endpoints of a years-long racial divide that Trump leveraged explicitly as part of his 2016 campaign.

“When you come into a season, every fan thinks that their football team has a chance to win the Super Bowl, and that’s what I believe the 32 clubs are working toward,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained on a phone call with Kansas City Chiefs ticket holders in 2011.

Since 2011, the Browns have won a league-low 24 games, with just four of those wins coming in the past three years. If you look at the three-year average for each team since 2011, the Browns have both the fewest and fourth-fewest wins for those time frames.

As Michael Bennett sits before a September game, Seattle teammates Thomas Rawls and Justin Britt stand by him during the national anthem.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is given annually to a player for “outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field,” and it is considered among the league’s most prestigious individual honors. As it happens, three of this year’s nominees — the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and the Dolphins’ Kenny Stills — are among the NFL players most prominently involved in the ongoing protests during the national anthem.
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DeFilippo took a step backward to being a quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia after serving as an offensive coordinator in 2015 in Cleveland.

The Bears might be looking for the next McVay to work with prized young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall selection in last year’s draft who had his ups and downs as a rookie. The Colts need someone to help put the career of their franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, back on course after he missed all of this season following shoulder surgery.

He helped Wentz develop into a league MVP front-runner as a second-year pro before the quarterback suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Injuries are only part of the collapse. The defense is now allowing 2.1 points per drive while forcing a three-and-out 25.6 percent of the time after posting rates of 1.4 and 34 percent, respectively, in 2016. According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, the Giants have the 26th best defense in 2017 compared to the No. 7 defense just a year earlier.

Yet even as Seattle Coach Pete Carroll praised Kaepernick as “a fantastic football player” and called him “a starter in this league,” the Seahawks passed on the quarterback in favor of Austin Davis, a 28-year-old with a much less impressive résumé. That continued a pattern this offseason, in which NFL teams have signed the likes of Gabbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Ryan Mallett and Case Keenum, arguably none of whom can match Kaepernick’s effectiveness.

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players’ union, said in a written statement Monday morning that he and players were assured last week by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants co-owner John Mara “that they would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution.”

That meeting took place last Tuesday.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins was put under pressure on 15 of his 38 dropbacks (40 percent) on Sunday against the Seahawks, who rank 15th for their pass-rushing ability per the game-charters at Pro Football Focus. The Vikings rank sixth and feature defensive end Everson Griffen, the eighth-highest rated edge rusher in 2017, per Pro Football Focus.
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The Falcons and Patriots remain in the playoffs and they cannot be hired while their teams continue to play.

He, like Joseph, had the advantage of being available right now. Teams with coaching vacancies like that, especially given the intense competition to fill out coaching staffs with top assistants.

That formula works against Shanahan and McDaniels. Will someone be willing to wait?

Bottom line: Sim’s week 3 matchup vs the Rams isn’t ideal but if Martin is out, the workload will be there and he is a locked-and-loaded flex play with extreme upside.

NEWS: Arian Foster left Sunday’s contest versus the Patriots with a groin injury. The Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley believes it could be more than just a one-week issue.

Fantasy spin: Foster missed the second half of last year with a torn Achilles and has a pretty long injury history. At 30 years old, don’t be surprised if the former All-Pro misses a good chunk of time.

Three weeks ago Jay Ajayi was the presumptive backup and would be flying off the waiver wires. Yet, today it’s unclear. Ajayi was in the dog house a week ago and fumbled in relief duty on Sunday. Kenyan Drake looked pretty explosive and scored his first career touchdown in Week 2.

It’s utterly unclear who to add but whoever emerges could be a fantasy game-changer in an Adam Gase offense.

As for the president’s comment about attendance, through Week 12 it was listed at nearly 12 million fans for the league’s 32 teams by Pro Football Reference, with Week 12 drawing just over 1 million.

Business Insider reported last week that average attendance at NFL games was actually up slightly, from 68,914 per game in 2016 to 69,264 per game, through the first 10 weeks of the season. (Sunday marked Week 12.) It’s important to note, though, that NFL ticket sales are driven by season-ticket purchases and individual games purchased before the season starts and the league wants teams to report “tickets distributed” rather than the number of fans who actually attend. In the San Francisco 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium, attendance can be listed as topping 70,000 on Sunday while the stadium (especially the sunny side on hot days) looks empty.

To that end, Goodell spent part of Tuesday in a ride-along with Miami law-enforcement members and three members of the Dolphins who have regularly taken a knee during the anthem to raise awareness of social injustice and racial inequality. It’s part of an awareness by the NFL that it can’t just force something onto the players. It has to find a way, as SI’s Peter King put it, for players to win, too. cowboys_053

Indeed they are. But Smith also was a voice of experience and reason.

Robbie Anderson, WR, Jets: New York’s offense over the years has often been a cesspool when it comes to fantasy football and that’s largely been the case this year aside from Josh McCown, who is ranked 10th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. But Anderson is slowly making the case that he can be fantasy relevant. Anderson has had at least five targets in every game except Week 2, and over the past four games, he’s accumulated 28 targets. In those four games, Anderson has 17 receptions for 263 yards and three touchdowns. With Tampa Bay on tap for New York this weekend, Anderson has a great chance at continuing his success vs. the Buccaneers. If you need a WR2 or flex play, Anderson seems like a quality pick.

Whether Bryant plays may not matter as Williams has a chance to do well in Sunday’s matchup. He was also banged up in the team’s victory, but is fine for Week 10. With Ezekiel Elliott starting his suspension this weekend, the offensive burden will be on quarterback Dak Prescott. Williams is owned in just over 13 percent of ESPN leagues.

We haven’t arrived, he said. I’ve been around this league long enough to know that things change quick. It’s possible we could lose seven games in a row and you miss the playoffs. So for us, we’ll take it one game at a time. We know how hard we work and we know what we’re capable of talent-wise.

The running game produced 197 rushing yards. The defense harassed Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler into three sacks and two interceptions.

I don’t think any of us anticipated coming in and the score to be what it was, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. We knew that we could have some success and that offensively, we weren’t going to shy away from their [defensive] front. We were going to try to attack them. .?.?. That complementary football really makes it hard on teams that don’t have the same balance that we do.cowboys_033