MLB trade rumors roundup: Sonny Gray could fetch a big return

With nine days remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline in baseball, Oakland Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray looks like the big-name pitcher most likely to be dealt in the coming days.

The 27-year-old Gray has gotten hot at the right time, posting a 1.62 ERA in his last five starts.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves remain well-positioned to acquire Gray, given the strength of their farm systems.
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The Houston Astros have long been rumored as a potential landing spot for the A’s right-hander, but Rosenthal suggested they might go after an elite reliever instead and stick with their current rotation.

2021, the final year outlined in the current CBA, is expected to also include a series in Mexico during the spring months. In addition, each year of the deal will include spring training trips to Mexico (2018 and 2020) and Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic (2019).

On top of all those plans the league is also planning post-World Series tours in Japan (2018 and 2020) plus either either Asia or Mexico in 2019.

Players will be receiving compensation for the extra travel and special events, starting at $5,000 for international spring training appearances, $60,000 for in-season trips to Asia or England, and $15,000 for in-season trips to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
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On top of the regular-season money, any post-season trips will pay out $100,000 for a stint in Japan, $50,000 for anywhere else in Asia, and $25,000 for a tour of Mexico.

The league making such a strong push into international markets (mimicking NBA and NFL strategies in the last decade) is smart if they hope to grow the game further, and paying the players handsomely for the extra travel responsibilities is also smart.

Giants schedule 2017: Primetime games highlight New York’s calendar

You’ll be seeing the Giants under the lights quite a bit this season.

The Giants will open the season in Dallas on Sunday Night Football, which will be the first of four primetime games on the schedule.

A second nationally televised game will follow in Week 2 with a Monday Night Football contest against the Lions at MetLife Stadium. The Giants will return to Sunday night in Week 6 with a visit to Denver. The final primetime game of the season will be at Washington to close out a trio of Thanksgiving Day games.

It is a manageable schedule for the Giants, who went 11-5 last season and lost to the Packers in the first round of the playoffs. There will be no Packers rematch during the regular season, nor will the Giants play either Super Bowl team this season. But Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., and Company, will play five playoff teams from a season ago.

Ball had threatened to pull his team off the court if his demand to remove the female referee was not met. He was later ejected after getting T-d up again.

Ball’s AAU team, which was eliminated from the tournament on Saturday, has been a huge draw with attendance for the tournament at an all-time high. Court Club Elite had reportedly been pressured by Adidas to put three Ball-approved officials on the court to prevent him from withdrawing his team.

Ball also gave the female referee a backhanded compliment while doubling down on his initial remarks.

“She’s probably a great ref with the women. But this men’s stuff? It’s a difference between women’s basketball and men’s basketball,” he said Saturday. “Just because we go like that and don’t hit the ball don’t mean it’s a foul. But don’t get your feelings personal.”
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Bills schedule 2017: Buffalo faces uphill climb to end playoff drought

A new coach and fresh outlook following the Rex Ryan era might not be enough for the Bills to snap a 17-year postseason drought.
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Buffalo faces the fifth-most difficult schedule in 2017, based on combined opponent winning percentage from 2016 (.561).

Taylor Lewan Kids Jersey The slate includes each of the last four Super Bowl finalists and one primetime matchup: an early-November Thursday Night Football game against the Jets in the Meadowlands. Only the balance of the AFC West — Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders — have it worse, at least on paper.

We hope you like the Steelers in prime time or in national games, because that’s where they’ll be for most of the last month. The placement of the Patriots matchup is bizarre and won’t be easy for Pittsburgh as it comes off rivalry games against the Bengals and Ravens, and the Monday Night Football game at Houston on Christmas night should have divisional implications both ways. If Pittsburgh comes out of this month with a record better than 3-2, then it might be the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Pittsburgh can’t afford another four-game losing streak, and chances are that won’t happen in the season’s first two months. The Steelers should be 6-2 (or perhaps better) when they hit the November bye week, but they have to build a cushion given the set of prime-time games in the final two months. That four-week stretch against the Packers, Bengals, Ravens and Patriots will go a long toward determining whether Pittsburgh claims the divisional title, and what its seed in the AFC playoffs might be. If another playoff matchup with the Patriots happens, then it won’t hurt to have it at Heinz Field.

Mariners place Felix Hernandez back on DL

After two straight rocky starts, the Mariners have placed starting pitcher Felix Hernandez on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday.

Hernandez, who previously spent nearly two months on the DL earlier this season, is currently dealing with right biceps tendinitis.

Hernandez, 31, allowed four runs, while failing to reach six innings, in each of his last two starts. The former ace is 5-4 with a 4.28 ERA this season.

Entering Saturday’s MLB action, the Mariners (56-55) were just 1 1/2 games behind the Royals for the final wild card spot.

Thoughts: Bierbrodt was a former first-round pick who had made his MLB debut in 2001 with Arizona, but he struggled during his time in the majors (6.66 ERA in 38 career appearances for four teams). Conti hit .240 in 119 games over the next three seasons in the majors, for three teams. Ryan and Nelson made only brief big-league appearances after the trades.
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Authentic Mens Mario Edwards Jr Jersey Lopez was solid in the regular season, with a 4.00 ERA in 13 starts, but he was lit up in the playoffs (9.95 ERA in 6 1/3 innings). Neither Christenson, Difelice nor Peterson made an impact on the field for Arizona.

The mold of the leadoff hitter is surely different from even five years ago, let alone the 1980 version. What about Rickey Henderson, you might ask?

Well, MLB’s all-time stolen base leader was an outlier during the days of speed. Henderson certainly had a penchant for the dramatic as a table-setter, drilling 81 of his 297 career home runs when leading off a game. However, there was only one Rickey Henderson.

The question is, what has caused the shift across the game? Is it a new perception of need from the players hitting at the top of the order, or are leadoff hitters simply acclimating to the game around them?

How does the NFL franchise tag work and how much do players get paid?

With the NFL offseason wrapping up, one of the bigger storylines left is which players on the franchise tag will be left playing under the one-year tender. Seven teams used the franchise tag, and while most of the players involved signed long-term deals, there’s a hard deadline of July 17 to get that extension done, and a handful of players are still on the clock.

The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract that guarantees a predetermined salary for players. The salary amount is set by the averaging the top five salaries by position, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of a player’s salary the previous season. So players like quarterbacks and defensive ends will have a much higher tag salary than positions like kicker or punter.

Kids Andrus Peat Jersey Just what the name implies. The player is locked into his team and cannot negotiate with any other team during the free agency period.

There’s really no clear-cut choice for the first pick. While Luck hasn’t been as convincing as a franchise quarterback in the last two seasons, he’s still one of the NFL’s best and has had to deal with a poor cast around him in Indianapolis. He’ll turn 28 early in the 2017 season, giving the Browns plenty of time to give him a winning unit to work with.

Cliff Avril Youth Jersey In his second NFL season, at only 23 years old, Mariota posted a 95.6 passer rating. He’s efficient, dynamic, and intelligent, and probably would’ve been the Browns’ pick if it wasn’t for injuries that ended his first two years prematurely.

Like the Browns and the 49ers, the Jets need to build for the future and don’t make much sense as a landing spot for one of the more seasoned veterans. With Carr they get a 26-year-old ascending talent who has improved in each of his first three seasons.

Harris has lived the impact of ownership in quarterback decisions in general and in black quarterback decisions in particular.

In Harris’ 1974 Rams season, he became the first black quarterback to start and win a playoff game. But prior to the 1977 Rams season, Harris was traded to the Chargers. Rams head coach Chuck Knox pleaded to retain him, but Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom insisted on the trade.

Harris has lived the impact of ownership in quarterback decisions in general and in black quarterback decisions in particular.

Harris was a personnel executive from 1997 through 2015 for three NFL teams: the Ravens, Jaguars, and Lions.

“I think any major decision like this usually starts with the owner’s approval,” Harris said. “Each organization has a decision process that is different. Usually you discuss character alerts, injury concerns, financial costs. But the Kaepernick discussions are taking on another realm. Sometimes the discussion about a quarterback can stop on the personnel level. Sometimes with the coach. It can end at a lot of different places. But owner approval is always going to be a part of the scenario.”

“There is no question in my mind that he is a better choice than what some teams are currently playing with.”

Fans can watch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. They can also live stream it on NBC Sports.

The Cowboys, led by second-year quarterback Dak Prescott and second-year running back Ezekiel Elliott, are looking to build off their stellar 2016 season. Dallas went 13-3, won the NFC East, and was the No. 1 seed in the conference. Prescott, the 2016 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, won the starting gig last season after Tony Romo went down with an injury in the preseason.patriots_118-180x180

Senators trump Penguins in OT

The Ottawa Senators drew first blood against Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins in their Eastern Conference final opener.

Overtime was needed in Pittsburgh as the Senators prevailed 2-1 away from home on Saturday.

The Rangers, Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs all are included on Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL wish list, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported, noting there’s still nothing close on the Russian scorer’s return to North America. The Devils are said to be eyeing a sign-and-trade deal should Kovalchuk leave the KHL, but that’s not a certainty yet.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was up and at ’em bright and early this morning, unleashing an epic tweet thread with a number of expected signings. These all come with the caveat that each deal is a verbal agreement and nothing is finalized until noon ET, but here’s what we know so far:

Bobby Ryan was the game-one hero at PPG Paints Arena, settling the contest five minutes into OT.

Phil Niekro Elite Jersey Ryan moved past Olli Maatta before firing a shot beyond Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Penguins had restored parity with less than six minutes remaining in the third period, when Evgeni Malkin – who leads the NHL with 19 playoff points – tipped the puck through Craig Anderson’s legs.
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Earlier, Jean-Gabriel Pageau gave the Senators a 1-0 lead 14:32 into the opening period.

Game two of the best-of-seven series is on Monday.

Conference finals schedules, TV times

The 2017 NHL playoff matchups for the conference finals are set. In the East, the Penguins will face the Senators; in the West, the Ducks will face the Predators.
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The Penguins advanced to the Eastern Conference finals by beating the top-seeded Capitals in Game 7 on Wednesday in Washington. The Ducks advanced to the West finals with a Game 7 victory over the Oilers later that night.

Limited Kurt Warner Jersey Citi Field will become the sixth ballpark to host a Winter Classic, which has rotated between a number of venues over the years.

Buffalo hosted the original Winter Classic in 2008, but the Sabres hadn’t been selected for an NHL outdoor game since. The NHL’s inclusion of the Sabres is seen as a nod for setting the stage for the success of the outdoor concept, which has expanded to more than a dozen NHL cities in the U.S. and Canada.

The Winter Classic made its debut under snowy Buffalo skies in 2008, and we look forward to celebrating the 10th anniversary of that landmark event by matching the Sabres with their intrastate rivals, the New York Rangers, in the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field, Bettman said in a statement. With New York City as its host, the renewal of our New Year’s tradition will continue to inspire hockey memories for our clubs, our players and our fans.

The most recent Winter Classic was played at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium between the Blues and Blackhawks on Jan. 2.

This matchup pits U.S.-born Sabres star Jack Eichel against the NHL’s most profitable American franchise in the Rangers.

Russell Westbrook on All-Star starter snub: ‘I don’t play for All-Star bids’

When the NBA All-Star starters were announced Thursday, many felt they were left out of a joke.
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Thunder star guard Russell Westbrook, who is currently averaging a triple-double, was nowhere to be seen. Westbrook has put up numbers few have seen in NBA history, and he’s helping Oklahoma City to a winning record despite losing most of his supporting cast throughout the years.

Chris Long Game Jersey Westbrook is averaging 30.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.6 rebounds per game. He has recorded a triple-double in four of his last five games, but he isn’t upset over his All-Star snub.

I think I can sing. I should release this album, he said. You know what, I got a deal for everyone: If you guys make me a starter in this year’s All Star Game, I will release my R&B album. And it won’t be an April Fools joke this time.

Cousins pranked the basketball world back in March 2014 when he said he was releasing an R&B album entitled Misunderstood. He had cover art for the album, which was to be released under the name Boogie Smooth and even have appearances from Rick Ross and Chance the Rapper. It turned out to be an early April Fool’s prank.

Maybe a real album will help him make up the 200,000 votes he needs to overtake Pachulia, who is averaging just 5.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Warriors compared to Cousins’ 28.1 points and 10.0 rebounds.

Big Zaza, man 鈥?I gotta work on my game, Cousins said sarcastically. I gotta get better. It’s like that sometimes. He’s a better player than me right now. I gotta accept it 鈥?he’s just giving me something to work towards.

Rajon Rondo blasts Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler for griping to media

And the drama keeps going with the Bulls.

Point guard Rajon Rondo apparently is not pleased with recent comments by teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade criticizing the Bulls’ effort. The tension was especially palpable Wednesday, when Wade questioned the Bulls’ drive after a 119-114 loss to the Hawks.

Rondo took to Instagram Thursday with a photo of himself, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and drew comparisons to when the threesome played together on the Celtics.

But that will not stop former Rams great Eric Dickerson from saying he would start Mannion over Goff from game one.

“For me, my guy that I would start the season with would be Sean Mannion,” he said on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” Friday afternoon. “I’ve been saying that since last year, give him a shot, you drafted him, he was great at бн Oregon State, playing in a pro-style offense. He’s a big guy, he’s got a great arm.

“I was at practice early last year before I got kicked off the sideline, and I was standing next to some of the guys, I said, ‘He can throw it, he really can throw it,’ and I said, ‘Why they don’t play him?’ They said, ‘The money.'”

Mannion stands 6-6 and weighs 227 pounds. He completed nearly 65 percent of his passes in college while throwing for more than 13,000 yards and 83 touchdowns. Since getting drafted by the Rams, he has played in two games, but has completed 9 of 13 passes.

In the meantime, Goff went 0-7 as a starter in 2016 and completed less than 55 percent of his passes while throwing seven interceptions to five touchdowns as a rookie.
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