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Derek Holland’s love of wrestling, levity keep White Sox from tapping out on season


Despite struggles on the mound and being a part of a team with one of the worst records in baseball, White Sox pitcher Derek Holland knows the importance of levity in a clubhouse.

Before a late June game against the Yankees, Holland pedaled into the Chicago clubhouse on a scooter wearing an Adam West-era Batman mask and a bright-red tanktop. With his arrival, the mood among his Chicago teammates lightened considerably.

Status heading into series: 45-46, 2.5 out of a wild-card spot
The bright side: The lineup remains powerful — eight players have at least 11 home runs— and they’re as healthy as they’ve been all season. A rotation topped by Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels absolutely could win a playoff series or two.

On the other hand: The division is out of reach (the Astros own a 16.5-game lead), which means they’re in a glut of teams competing for a wild-card spot. Trading Darvish, who’s a free agent after the season, could bring back a nice haul, and it’s possible he’d re-sign there after the season. The club gave Andrew Cashner a one-year deal and he’s been solid (3.54 ERA), so maybe he could bring a mid-level prospect in return. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is a free agent after the season, too, and though he hasn’t been great at the plate this year, he’d still be an upgrade for many contenders.

Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
Question: Do you have a theory on all the home runs?
Answer: “I think it’s probably because pitchers are throwing harder and the ball’s coming off the bat faster. I think that’s really the only explanation for it.” broncos_132

NBA trades: Raptors to trade DeMarre Carroll, 2018 draft picks to Nets for Justin Hamilton, per report


This isn’t a surprise, and it’s a simple deal. Livingston has been a terrific piece for the Warriors for the last three years, a bench player who can slide up and down their lineup anywhere from the 1 to the 3 position both offensively and defensively. He’s a perfect fit for their positionless scheme, and his ability to initiate offense also gives them some security on that end in case Andre Iguodala signs elsewhere. Value-wise, it’s a perfect deal on both sides.

The partial guarantee on the third year is also vital for the Warriors, who by that stage could be in major luxury tax hell. The ability to dump Livingston if necessary in order to keep their core of stars together is extremely important, and could save them from making a tough call. He’ll also be a tremendous trade asset in that second year due to the nature of the deal.

The Raptors will reportedly trade small forward DeMarre Carroll and both its 2018 NBA Draft picks to the Nets for center Justin Hamilton, per ESPN.

With the trade, the Raptors will be off the hook for $30 million owed to Carroll over the next two seasons. His contract expires in 2019.

Carroll played two seasons in Toronto, averaging 9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists in two seasons. In return, the Raptors get Hamilton, who played one season in Brooklyn and averaged 6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists. He is set to get $3 million in the final year of his contract.

In the meantime, Carroll will reunite with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who coached Carroll as an assistant for two seasons from 2013-15. Carroll’s two-year stint there was the most productive of his career: He averaged 11.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds in two seasons.

NBA playoffs 2017: Grizzlies players show David Fizdale’s fine worth more than $30K


Grizzlies coach David Fizdale proved he has his players’ backs with his postgame rant Monday night. His team wants him to know the feeling is mutual.

After the NBA announced Fizdale would be fined $30,000 for being highly critical of the officiating in the Grizzlies’ Game 2 loss against the Spurs, Memphis guard Mike Conley sent a message to Fizdale showing his appreciation. According to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, Conley texted Fizdale early Tuesday morning to say thank you and inform him players would collectively pay for his fine.

The Warriors were out of sync from the beginning, forcing bad passes and even bouncing passes off of their own players’ backs. The 102 points is a playoff low for the Warriors, and forced Golden State to find another way to beat the physical Jazz.

We had to win the game on the defensive end, Durant told ESPN following the game. Ninety-one points is pretty good, they only shot 39 percent from the field and that got it done.

The Jazz dirtied up the game like they wanted to, forcing Green into a technical foul in the first half. That actually ignited a 17-4 run for the Jazz. It allowed Utah to take a 50-59 lead into halftime and Utah built a nine-point lead in the third quarter.

There was nothing wrong with adding Korver or Deron Williams late in the season, but adding them both tacked more years onto a roster that already looked like it was assembled by James Naismith. If you want a clear picture of how creaky the Cleveland bench was as the reigning world champs were being buried deep in the first half, consider not one of Korver (36), Channing Frye (33), Richard Jefferson (36) or Shumpert reached 10 full minutes on the court — and every one of them was at least minus-10. Korver hit two 3-pointers and still was a minus-18 in 9:44 of PT.

Serge Ibaka reaches three-year, $65 million to stay with Toronto, per report


Serge Ibaka has reportedly reached a deal to stay in Toronto, according to reports from The Vertical.

The deal is reportedly worth $65 million over three years. Ibaka, traded to the Raptors from Orlando before the All-Star break, finished his fourth and final year of his contract in 2016-17, a year in which he made $12.3 million in base salary.

Ibaka averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 30.7 minutes per game in 2016-17. He played his final 23 games of the season for the Raptors, averaging 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 31.0 minutes played.

The move comes after losing P.J. Tucker to free agency on Sunday. Tucker reportedly signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets.

The Sixers weren’t content with trading up to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, Markelle Fultz. On draft night, they obtained the Magic’s No. 25 pick (Anzejs Pasecniks) for their 2020 first-round pick (via Oklahoma City) and 2020 second-round pick.

Denver selected Louisville shooting guard Donovan Mitchell with the No. 13 pick, but he didn’t have a chance to get too comfy in that Nuggets hat. Denver traded Mitchell to the Jazz in exchange for Trey Lyles and the No. 24 pick (Tyler Lydon).

With three first-round picks, the Blazers packaged two of them in a deal to move up in the draft. Portland sent the 15th and 20th picks (Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, respectively) to Sacramento for the rights to the No. 10 overall pick (Zach Collins). lightning_138

Former NBA player Sebastian Telfair arrested on gun possession charges in Brooklyn


Former NBA player Sebastian Telfair was arrested early Sunday in Brooklyn on gun possession-related charges, as originally reported by NBC New York.

New York Police arrested Telfair and 18-year-old Jami Thomas when officers found four loaded weapons — one of them a semiautomatic rifle — ammunition and a bullet-resistant vest. Police allegedly also found two bags of marijuana in their 2017 Ford F-150 pickup.

Not according to multiple reports.

“It’s not even close right now,” the source said, per Schultz’s Twitter feed. “Ball won’t be a Laker unless they really start 2 buy into him as a star.”

While ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported Ball will work out for the Lakers on Wednesday, Schultz tweeted, “Needless to say, both workout and interview process must be (great).”

Schultz’s reporting seems to confirm what Basketball Insiders reported last week: “Unless Lonzo absolutely blows the doors off (during the workout and interview), he may not be the Lakers’ guy.”

Should they pass on Ball, the Lakers figure to take Kansas forward Josh Jackson or Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, if the Celtics pick Washington’s Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall as expected.

Now Draymond Green gets his second personal and a technical foul after taking an inadvertent shot to Iman Shumpert’s head. Foul trouble could be a very big problem down the stretch.

who nobody has been able to stop lately.


Holloman made Bill Veeck’s sad-sack St. Louis Browns as a 30-year-old rookie in 1953. In his fifth big league game, the right-hander no-hit the A’s 6-0 on May 6. He made just nine starts after that and was back in the minors by late July. He was out of baseball the next year. So was Veeck, at least temporarily; he was forced to sell the Browns to a group that moved the franchise to Baltimore and renamed it the Orioles.

Ward, the son of former major leaguer Gary Ward, was a slugging first baseman/outfielder for six major league clubs over 11 seasons. He was also a lumbering first baseman/outfielder; he had one career stolen base and five career triples. One of those triples helped him complete a cycle for the Pirates against the Cardinals in St. Louis on May 26, 2004. Ward lasted four more seasons in the majors, capped by a brief run with the Cubs in 2008. He was playing independent ball as recently as 2015.

The Steelers took a 36-0 lead early in the second half, cruised to a 43-14 win, took the national anger about lopsided prime-time games to another level, and considering they had fallen on their faces at home against the Eagles the week earlier scared the wit’s out of AFC followers who feared what the Steelers might be once they got all their key pieces together.

Now they have them all. Presumably a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, who did leave the stadium Sunday in a walking boot, but who also hit his stride again in December after October knee surgery. Antonio Brown, the most unstoppable wide receiver in the NFL.

And Bell, who nobody has been able to stop lately.

He pretty much humiliated the Dolphins with a franchise playoff record 167 yards rushing, putting on a clinic of waiting for his blocks and then exploding through them. It was his sixth game of 100-plus yards in the last seven hes played; he gained 93 in the other, sat the season finale out to rest and threw in the Steelersregular-season single-game rushing mark with 236 against the Bills during that run.

Tension between Bills, Tyrod Taylor reaches point of awkward passive-aggressiveness


Tyrod Taylor took a Snapchat on Thursday morning of himself apparently preparing for surgery.

Shortly after people noticed, the Bills’ public relations department released a passive-aggressive statement confirming the procedure.

[Taylor] had a consultation visit yesterday with Dr. William Meyers and elected to have surgery this morning. The Bills were informed late yesterday of this morning’s procedure.

McVay, 30, became the youngest head coach in league history earlier Thursday when the Rams hired him away from the Redskins, where he was offensive coordinator the past three seasons. Lane Kiffin, the previous youngest coach, was four months shy of his 32nd birthday when the Raiders hired him in 2007.

Phillips has been a head coach for six different teams, most recently on an interim basis with the Texans in 2013, and became one of the most sought-after defensive coordinators on the market when Broncos coach Gary Kubiak retired and Phillips wasn’t retained with the hire of defensive mind Vance Joseph on Wednesday.

The Rams already possess a stable of defensive talent, having ranked ninth in total defense in 2016, and it’s safe to bet they’ll be there again under Phillips next season. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in nine of the last 10 seasons, including first overall in 2015 when the Broncos’ vaunted unit led the team to a Super Bowl 50 victory.

The Rams are expected to announce Phillips’ hire Friday morning.rams_085

MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger talks draft, Mike Trout memories and Bernie Bickerstaff


The MLB Draft presents a unique challenge — and big opportunity — for the folks at MLB Network. This draft is every bit as important as the drafts in the NBA or NFL, of course, but the difference is the general public knows next to nothing about any of the baseball players who are going to be drafted in the first few rounds (and especially nothing about the players selected in Days 2 and 3 of the draf).

And, remember, the 2016 season was pretty disappointing, too. The club didn’t make the playoffs for first time since 2010 despite leading the NL in home runs; the sloppy way in which that team squandered games rubbed fans (and players and coaches and the front office) the wrong way, and it soured the fan base on Matheny. Also, remember that Mozeliak has made a couple of relatively bold moves lately, cutting veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton and trading first baseman Matt Adams, two guys who have worn Cardinals uniforms for quite a while.

Mozeliak was pretty candid in his assessment of this year’s team. He said he’ll take the next four to six weeks to evaluate the team, which enters play Friday with a 26-32 record, 4.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. If the Cardinals played in the NL East, they’d be 11.5 games behind the first-place Nationals (38-21). But they’re in the Central, which is led by Milwaukee (32-29).

“Clearly we want to put a product out there that we’re excited about,” Mozaliek said to close his press conference. “A product that people are excited about. A product that, after a game, you’ve got some fist bumps and smiles going.”

As far as Cardinals fans are concerned, everybody’s ready for that.nike_cardinals_310

Berry sure doesn’t like it.


“The tag is always an option, and it’s something we’ll use if necessary,” Colbert said. “We have until March to make the decision … this thing is very fluid. It changes daily, once you start into talks with players and start to see how it’s all going to fit. We know that’s an option.

“Even if we were to use the tag on Le’Veon, we would certainly want to do something long-term and have him be a member of the Steelers for life.”

Colbert had the same sentiment on Brown, who was a sixth-round pick of the Steelers in 2010 and is entering the final year of his contract. Brown has had four straight seasons of at least 100 receptions and led the league in catches in 2014 and 2015. His 136 receptions for 1,834 yards in 2015 broke his own franchise records set a year earlier, when he established a team record with 13 touchdowns.

“I can say that Antonio is the only one we’re in specific negotiations with now,” Colbert said. “I can say unequivocally that we want Antonio Brown to retire as a member of the Steelers just as we want Le’Veon Bell to retire as a member of the Steelers.”

This labor agreement still has three years to run (it’s a 10-year deal, signed in 2011 and due to expire in 2020), but it’s never too early for players and the union to lock these feelings away, don’t let them trickle away in the flood of other day-to-day football issues — and push to ditch a system that, by and large, they can’t stand.

Berry sure doesn’t like it. If the football gods allow it, he could still be around three years from now, and he’ll be able to relay his tale of hating the tag. Here in 2017, he’s in line to get tagged for the second straight offseason, meaning the Chiefs are far less likely to sign him to a long-term deal.

They both want one, of course. The Chiefs are still fine with him not having one, though — and with the fact that they don’t really have to negotiate one until they’re good and ready, thanks to the tag.

Super Bowl 51 hype video will pump you up for Patriots vs. Falcons


Peterman doesn’t have any wowing arm talent, ball placement or mobility to merit a high draft pick. But after a strong Senior Bowl in which he highlighted his pro readiness in his footwork, timing and pocket awareness, Peterman may be the most pro-ready quarterback mentally and fundamentally in the draft.

He’ll draw comparisons to Kirk Cousins for his relative blandness as a prospect yet perceived safeness as a quarterback, and his floor is likely the third round. Like Cousins, in the right system and in time, he might emerge as a viable starter. Though I wouldn’t invest a top-two round pick in Peterman with the hopes that he’d eventually become Cousins.

The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl annually provide endless previews for the big game. Microanalysis takes over. Ridiculous prop bets are placed. Parties are planned. The hype is real. Super Bowl 51 between the Patriots and Falcons is no different.

So of course a movie preview-like Super Bowl hype video has been produced.

As Vikings GM, the only time I signed an often-injured quarterback to be our starter was during the 1993 season. We brought in Jim McMahon at age 34, and it was a relatively successful move. The former Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback led our Vikings to the playoffs as a 9-7 wild card.

But we had to hold our breath and hope McMahon would hold up physically. He did miss four games that season with various injuries. So we did not re-sign McMahon the following year and instead decided to trade for Warren Moon, also an older but more durable vet.

Most important: I did not take on the risk of a huge contract with the McMahon signing — $1.6 million on a one-year deal plus incentives.chargers_215-168x168