Yanks’ manager Aaron Boone has noticed Red Sox winning


As the Boston Red Sox keep piling up wins entering the All-Star Break, one of their rivals has been paying attention.

Although New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t been on the hunt for daily updates about the recently hot Red Sox, it still has been hard for him to escape news about how well they have been nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Asked before Sunday’s first-half finale against the Cleveland Indians if he did any scoreboard-watching as far as the American League East-leading Red Sox were concerned, Boone smiled and said: “I see that they win every day.”

The response elicited laughter from reporters in the Yankees’ dugout.9

Boone contends that despite being familiar with how successful the Red Sox have been lately, his focus remains on his squad.

“I don’t worry about it that much. At this point, I just kind of smile at it,” Boone said.

Since losing two of three to the Yankees in a series in the Bronx two weeks ago, the Red Sox have rattled off 11 wins in their past 12 games entering Sunday’s series finale with the Blue Jays. That stretch includes a 10-game winning streak that was snapped Friday.

New York has gone 8-5 since that Boston series, ahead of play Sunday. After being tied for the division lead with Boston following the rivals’ last meeting, the Yankees came into Sunday’s action trailing the Red Sox by 3½ nike jerseys cheap china

“The bottom line is we don’t control anything, and it’s July,” Boone said. “There’s a long way and a lot of baseball left to play, and there’s nothing you can do to worry about it. We’re so uber-focused on us, and in the end, if we take care of business and play to our capabilities, we’ll put ourselves in a great position.

“I’m worried about us going out and playing our best. If we do that, hopefully we’ll get to where we want to go.”

Futures Game a showcase of potential Manny Machado trade chips


Before Manny Machado arrived for the All-Star Game, the Futures Game on Sunday was a who’s who of prospects bandied about in trade talks for the Baltimore Orioles shortstop and others expected to be moved before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. New York Mets prospect Peter Alonso hit one of eight home runs in the game as the United States beat the World 10-6 in a three-hour respite from the nike nfl jerseys paypal

“There’s definitely a lot of talk going around with trades and all that,” said Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura, who has been mentioned as a possible trade chip for Machado. “There’s always questions of who’s getting moved and all that. … Whatever happens talking-wise or behind the scenes, that’s out of our control.”

A couple players in this game already know what these guys are going through. Luis Basabe went to the Chicago White Sox in the trade that netted the Red Sox lefty starter Chris Sale, and Dawel Lugo was part of the haul the Detroit Tigers got from the Arizona Diamondbacks for J.D. Martinez.

Alonso’s seventh-inning home run came off Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Adonis Medina, whose wild pitch on a strikeout allowed the go-ahead run to score. Medina has also been linked to Machado, with the Phillies showing serious interest.7

New York Yankees pitching prospect Justus Sheffield allowed a home run and had a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings of work. Sheffield is considered untouchable, even with the Yankees trying to catch the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of prospect ammunition to get in on the Machado sweepstakes, including catcher Keibert Ruiz and outfielder Yusniel Diaz. Ruiz and the Dodgers got a scare when he injured his right hand on a foul tip in the seventh inning, but he said X-rays showed that it was not nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“I was very worried,” said Diaz, who hit two home runs for the World. “He’s a good teammate, and at this point, we’re almost like brothers, so I was very concerned.”

Injuries are reason for concern, but Brewers pitching prospect Luis Ortiz doesn’t worry about being traded after going from Texas to Milwaukee at the deadline two years ago.

“Being traded the first time caught me really off-guard, especially when I was with Texas, 19, 20 years old in Double-A,” said Ortiz, who got the final out for the U.S. on Sunday. “But now that [there’s] another trade talk, and my name’s getting brought up more and more in trades and Keston, it’s more like you want to keep an eye on it, but then at the same time, you’ve got to let it go, do your thing.”

This was supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game


It was the Sunday before the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and the Washington Nationals were holding a news conference. On a podium deep within the bowels of Nationals Park, the three players who were voted into the Midsummer Classic sat behind a long table and fielded questions from reporters.

On the right was Max Scherzer, the two-time defending Cy Young winner whose dominant first half makes him a favorite to be the starting pitcher for the National League in front of his hometown fans. On the left was Sean Doolittle, the bearded southpaw who hasn’t walked anybody in three months and has been as good as any closer in the game. In between Scherzer and Doolittle, in the chair that was literally the center of attention, sat Bryce Harper.

Given the year that Harper is having so far, he had no earthly business being the man in the middle. Relative to Scherzer and Doolittle, he is Washington’s least deserving All-Star, and it’s not particularly close. nfl nike jerseys for cheap Yet there he sat, the clear focal point in a roomful of lenses and microphones and eyeballs. This was, after all, supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game.

He’s also making himself a lot of outs. Even though averages across the league are down thanks to a variety of reasons (homer-happy hitters, shift-happy defenses, velo-happy hurlers), Harper’s average has plummeted to unforeseeable depths. At the time the All-Star results were announced Sunday, his .218 average ranked 78th out of 81 qualified National Leaguers. He led the National League in walks and was third in homers, but he was on pace for 164 strikeouts, a number that would shatter his previous career high. It was a startling downturn for a superstar who hit .319 last year, before an August knee injury derailed an outstanding season that had thrust him firmly into the MVP conversation again. Unlike in 2016, when reports of a lingering shoulder issue surfaced and perhaps helped explain why he struggled to repeat his historic 2015 performance, Harper seems physically whole this season. As for the psychological piece, that’s not so clear.
On the surface, Harper appears to be holding it together. Despite suffering through a massive slump that started in mid-April and only recently showed signs of letting up, he has been cordial when talking to members of the media. He has been atypically restrained toward umpires and has yet to be tossed from a game, a sign of maturity that, if it holds, would result in his first ejection-free season since 2014. Said hitting coach Kevin Long: “He’s really in a good frame of mind.” That isn’t to say the slump hasn’t taken its toll.

“Is he frustrated? Sure,” Long said. “Does he want to do better? Sure. Is this pissing him off a little bit? Yeah. What human being wouldn’t it? This is what you do for a living, and you’re arguably the best hitter on the planet.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Over the past few months, however, it seems as though what Harper cares most about is being the best home run hitter on the planet.

Before a May contest against the Pirates, the Nats slugger took early batting practice, then proceeded to go deep for the first time in more than two weeks. Afterward, when asked what the purpose of his early BP session was, Harper said: “Just hit some homers … I was trying to hit the ball as far as I could.” A few days later, following a two-jack game against the Phillies that included a 473-foot bomb to dead center, he weighed in with, “It’s not how far. It’s how many.” Over Memorial Day weekend, when he went yard against Miami but finished the series with a then season-low .230 average, he rationalized it like this: “If I hit .230, and I hit 40, I’ll take it any day of the week.”

Dodgers’ Chase Utley, citing family, says he’ll retire at end of 2018


Chase Utley will retire from baseball at the end of this season, capping a 16-year career that included a World Series championship with Philadelphia Phillies and an elder-statesman role with the Dodgers.

The six-time All-Star said he’s leaving to spend more time with his wife and two young nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Utley announced his decision at a jammed news conference in the basement of Dodger Stadium on Friday, with several of his teammates surprising him by crowding into the small, steamy room.

“I just want you guys to know that I’ve signed a five-year extension,” Utley deadpanned, drawing laughter from manager Dave Roberts, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Alex Wood, Andrew Toles, Joc Pederson, Logan Forsythe and Ross Stripling.8

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw sat on the floor in a corner, with Matt Kemp, Rich Hill, Corey Seager, Austin Barnes and Kenta Maeda joining him.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt looked on, while hitting coach Turner Ward used his phone to capture video. Yasiel Puig hung in the back, and 92-year-old Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe listened in.

Utley has tried to avoid the kind of attention he received Friday for most of his career. He always has preferred to let his play on the field speak for him, although among his teammates he is generous with his knowledge of the game. They in turn marvel at his physical condition.

Utility player Enrique Hernandez calls him “Grandpa.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“He’s changed the way I see the game, he’s changed the way I eat, he’s changed the way I prepare in the offseason from now on and the way I prepare during the season every day,” Hernandez said. “From now on if I end up having a pretty successful career, whether he likes it or not, he’s going to have had something to do with it.”

Projecting who will win the 2018 Home Run Derby


Continuing my pattern of enjoying the festivities around the All-Star Game the most, I’ve always loved the Home Run Derby. As a kid, when I’d come home from school, the old reruns of Home Run Derby from the 1960s were on. Because I was born in 1978, I got to see a lot of players whose careers I had missed out on, like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. This was before ESPN Classic was launched and the internet was really a cheap nike jerseys

Recently, in a discussion, I was asked “Dan, can you predict a Home Run Derby?” My first answer was an extremely helpful “Dunno,” but it got me thinking if we could predict a Home Run Derby, using both the matchups and results. We don’t have a lot of data, but modeling these things always gives an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of things.
So, I found variables for the three most recent Home Run Derbys — I’d love more years, but the formats shift a lot and I wanted to see first if Statcast data would be helpful — and started from there. A few variables, some surprising, some not, came up as useful predictors of Derby performance. Sixteen of the 21 matchups from 2015-2017 were won by the player with the higher average exit velocity and the margin tended to be correlated with their difference in the rankings. Also helpful were things like home runs-per-ball hit, and even recent performance seemed to have more predictive value in a Derby than in real nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

I’ll spare the nitty-gritty ins-and-outs of dimensionality reduction and go right to the results, plugged in for this year’s Home Run Derby, matchup by matchup.

Second half shaping up as wild ride to baseball’s postseason


It’s July 3, and some of the season’s major storylines — as seems to be required protocol for baseball on an annual basis — focus on what I would term negative news:

? Year-over-year attendance is down more than 2 million, with only nine teams showing per-game increases.

? The Orioles and Royals are historically awful, on pace for fewer than 50 wins. In the divisional era (since 1969), only the 2003 Tigers have done that. The White Sox haven’t been much better.

? As strikeouts continue to soar, we’ve seen more strikeouts than hits. The overall MLB batting average of .246 is nine points lower than it was in 2017 and would be the lowest average since the .244 mark in 1972.

? As averages sink, debates about changing the rules regarding infield shifts have grown more intense.

? The nfl nike jerseys china

These are important issues and in some sense are all interrelated. Less action on the field plus tanking teams equals a decline in attendance (yes, bad weather early in the season plus Netflix and big-screen TVs have contributed to the attendance issues, as well).23

Anyway, I’m here with some good news: The pennant races look to be much more exciting than in 2017. Last season, if you recall, only the American League East race ended up closer than six games, as the Red Sox edged the Yankees by two wins. But even that one lacked the nervous energy of a great race, as the Red Sox led every day from Aug. 1 and the Yankees got to only two games back on the final weekend of the season.

This season, however, gives us the potential of five great division races, including an epic AL East battle in which both the Red Sox and Yankees could win 105 games. For all the negative publicity, there are still 18 teams with legitimate playoff hopes if you stretch hope down to the Rockies (six games back in the National League West) and the wild-card race in which the A’s, Angels and Rays aren’t dead should the Mariners fall back to the pack (certainly a possibility given Seattle’s house-of-cards style of one-run wins).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The close races should make for a fascinating second half. Teams won’t be able to coast into the playoffs. Last year, the Cubs used a six-man rotation down the stretch to rest their starters. The Dodgers incredibly lost 16 of 17 games in late August and September and still won their division by 11 games. The Nationals were able to start Max Scherzer on five days of rest throughout September.

Hot-hitting Tim Tebow named an Eastern League All-Star


Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow was named to the Eastern League All-Star roster Friday.

Tebow is an outfielder for the New York Mets’ Double-A affiliate Binghamton Rumble nfl jerseys cheap china

“He’s made some big strides, and once again, you have to heap praise on his work ethic,” Binghamton manager Luis Rojas told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. “He’s put some work in to get [to] the point where he is.”

In 67 games, the 30-year-old former Florida and NFL quarterback is batting .261 with 12 doubles, 5 home runs and 30 RBIs. His .733 OPS is 35th-best in the Eastern League, and he is hitting .318 in June.21

So how do his marks stack up against the rest of the Eastern League All-Stars? On average, they’re hitting .288 with nine home runs, according to ESPN Stats & nfl nike jerseys from china

Tebow, who works for ESPN’s SEC Network, was an all-state baseball player at Nease High School in Florida.

In 2016, he decided he would pursue a career in professional baseball four years after he last played in the NFL.

The Eastern League All-Star game is July 11 in Trenton, New Jersey.

Resilient Mariners show why their bid to contend is legit


Nobody was worried in the Mariners clubhouse before Saturday’s game. Dee Gordon sat on the black leather couch watching the Johnsonville Cornhole Championships on ESPN. Nick Vincent and Mike Leake played cards. Edwin Diaz chatted on his phone. Jean Segura addressed the media about the infection in his forearm, wrapped in a bandage, and admitted it had been “pretty gross” before the antibiotics kicked wholesale nike nfl jerseys

The Mariners had lost five games in a row, including the first four games on this East Coast trip through New York, Boston and Baltimore. They had blown two five-run leads in three days, even though teams have won nearly 96 percent of the games they led by five runs during this season. The Mariners’ start was maybe a mirage, some suggested, built on a mountain of one-run wins that wasn’t sustainable, and this little skid was evidence the Mariners weren’t ready to battle the big boys.

How concerned were the Mariners about all this? Ace lefty James Paxton thought the team had lost only four games in a row.

So maybe it wasn’t quite a rescue, but enter Leake, at least throwing a life vest to help save the week. He gave up only three hits over eight scoreless innings in a 7-2 victory over the Red Sox, exiting after 98 pitches only because closer Edwin Diaz needed some work after not pitching in six days.78

“When you have a five-game losing streak, yeah, I think you need to end it,” Leake said after the game. “It’s nice tonight, and my round was the one that ended it, so hopefully we can carry tomorrow and have a nice flight.”

Manager Scott Servais praised the veteran nike jerseys nfl

“Really, really big for our ballclub for him to step up like that,” Servais said. “That’s exactly what we needed, for somebody to go out there and just shut it down and steady things here and let our offense keep going. The key to the game was Mike Leake.”

Olney: The Nationals are built to last beyond 2018


Juan Soto finished a round of batting practice here Saturday and when he stepped out of the cage, he deliberately pantomimed the finish to his swing, the sort of thing you see from veterans but rarely from teenagers. Soto is a 19-year-old with unusual maturity, someone who already has an understanding of the strike zone and how his own mind works best — that for him, obsessive video study can clutter the nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Soto looks like he’s going to be around a long time with the Nationals. Max Scherzer is right in the middle of what might turn out to be the best long-term contract for a pitcher, because he appears to be the reigning Best Pitcher On The Planet with no end to his reign in sight; he threw his bullpen session Saturday in full game uniform, in keeping with Scherzer’s belief that you should practice the way you play.77

Shortstop Trea Turner is 24, talented starting pitcher Erick Fedde is 25, third baseman Anthony Rendon is 28, outfielder Michael Taylor 27. Washington holds club options on 31-year-old closer Sean Doolittle for 2019 and 2020.

The national narrative on the Nationals has been that 2018 is the last year of their window of championship opportunity, particularly with Bryce Harper headed into free agency in the fall and the Braves and the Phillies on the ascent in the NL East. But with Soto, Scherzer and the others tied to Washington beyond this season, it seems inevitable that the Nationals will continue to contend regardless of whether Harper stays.

Harper’s tortured performance seems to have eased just a bit in recent days, with the quality of his plate appearances improving and the promise of a second-half surge hovering. It’s unclear whether he’ll bounce back, and how his first-half slump will impact his free agency and the chances of his return to the Nationals.

Harper is hitting .212 with 19 homers and a .353 on-base percentage, and executives with other teams offered some early speculation this week that a down year for Harper could increase the chances he returns to the Nationals — because they understand Harper more than other teams, and understand that in those periods when he eases the paralytic pressure he places on himself, he is a dynamic force. Since Harper began his career, there has been an expectation that he would approach a record-setting contract in free wholesale nike nfl jerseys

But some executives wonder if Harper’s 2018 struggles continue, a better option could be to take a shorter-team deal with an opt-out, to give Harper a mulligan and another launch year; after all, Harper is only 25 years old. “That could work for him, and for the Nationals,” one evaluator said.

Blue Jays’ Troy Tulowitzki says he likes his chances to return


It’s likely to be more than a year between Troy Tulowitzki’s appearances in a major league game, but the injured shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays says he’s getting there.

“I can honestly say for the first time in a while I feel like I’m headed in the right direction,” Tulowitzki said Tuesday before the Blue Jays’ game at Tampa nfl jerseys from china nike

The 33-year-old Tulowitzki, a five-time All-Star, had surgery April 2 to remove bone spurs from both heels. He’s just getting back to the point of taking ground balls, hitting and starting to run in the outfield. He last appeared in a game on July 28, 2017, but did not elect to have the surgery until this year.48

“This spring training, it just got to be a little bit too much,” he said, “and at this point in my career I wanted to give myself a fair chance to come back and be the player I know I can be, and also end my career when I want to end it, not because it’s being forced.”

His recovery process is “all on feel, there’s really no schedule,” Tulowitzki said. But at this point there is no pain, and he said he will fight the temptation to hurry back onto the nfl jerseys nike china

“I don’t want to sit here and say for sure I will be back, but I like my chances,” he said. “I’m in a good spot. I feel like this needed to be done. I feel like I’m getting better.”