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Cubs show off playoff formula in beating Diamondbacks

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And it was a thing of beauty on Monday night, thanks mostly to starter Kyle Hendricks. He’s likely to get the ball in Game 3 of a postseason series, but as he has done many times in his career, he threw like an ace in shutting down the fading Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1, while just missing out on a complete game.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“You see bad swings by good hitters” is how manager Joe Maddon described it afterward.

Hendricks had it going, as he induced a swing rate of 58 percent, the highest in two seasons for him. Also, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, his 25 first-pitch strikes were the second most of his career. And his changeup was devastating, as he struck out seven Diamondbacks on that pitch alone. Imagine that Kyle Hendricks in a playoff series, following Jon Lester and Cole Hamels.9

Cubs fans can begin to dream that dream, as the team reduced its magic number to win the NL Central to 10.

“We’ve been waiting for a little roll to happen,” Hendricks said. “It’s nice for us to be coming all together.”

Though it was a magnificent performance, a well-pitched game by the Cubs isn’t exactly headline material these days. The real narrative on Monday — and what might have meaning next month — is that some of the Cubs’ bigger stars showed up in the box score, namely former MVP Kris Bryant. He was 2-for-3 with two opposite-field hits, including his first home run since July 20. The majority of his time between then and now was spent on the disabled list with a bum shoulder. Bryant could just now be starting to feel like his old self again.

“We all know what KB can do here,” teammate Javier Baez said. “It’s not the way he’s used to swinging. He’s still getting used to it. I know he’s going to hit. Having him in the lineup, it changes how the other team pitches to us. They have to pitch to him, [Anthony] Rizzo or me, or whoever is in between.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Bryant is adjusting, but as the at-bats have piled up in his return, he’s looking more and more like the dangerous hitter and on-base threat the league knows him to be. With an offense that has struggled throughout the second half, a productive Bryant can make the Cubs that much better.

Liverpool appear real deal as familiar failings torment Tottenham

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Liverpool extended their flawless start to the Premier League season by claiming a fifth successive league win to beat Tottenham at Wembley and record their best start to a campaign for 28 years.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Jurgen Klopp’s men have now emulated Kenny Dalglish’s 1990-91 team by winning their first five games, but as Arsenal ended that season as champions, history also serves to offer a reminder that Liverpool will still face challenges ahead.

But after losing 4-1 at Wembley last season, Liverpool avenged that defeat with goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino either side of half-time. Erik Lamela’s injury-time strike was scant consolation for a Tottenham side who slumped to back-to-back defeats.10

The victory underlines Liverpool’s billing as the most likely challengers to reigning champions Manchester City this term, but having started the season with three wins, Spurs are now a team searching for answers. They could and should have suffered a heavier defeat. In the end, they were perhaps unlucky not to have a chance to level in the dying seconds, following a possible foul on Son Heung-Min by Sadio Mane in the penalty area. Liverpool, the unluckiest team in the league last season in ESPN’s Luck Index , escaped, but a draw would have been harsh as they dominated and looked more dangerous from the outset. Spurs were unable to cope with the pace of the visitors’ counter-attacks.

Perhaps early-season fatigue is becoming a factor for Spurs, whose starting lineup included seven players who reached the semifinals of the World Cup this summer.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Liverpool, in contrast, had just one member of their starting lineup who endured a similarly draining World Cup, and that was Trent Alexander-Arnold.

But regardless of the mitigating factors, Spurs were second best from start to finish, with defensive mistakes costing Mauricio Pochettino’s team for both goals.

On this evidence, Spurs face another season of disappointment in the title race, but Liverpool are unquestionably the real deal.

Liverpool show how far they’ve come while Tottenham appear to be stuck

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Time and money are the two most crucial commodities when it comes to building a football team, and Jurgen Klopp has used both wisely since seeing his Liverpool side crushed 4-1 by Tottenham at Wembley last October.

Eleven months have passed since an inspired Spurs, led by Harry Kane, tore apart Liverpool last season in a game that left Dejan Lovren’s reputation in tatters and left question marks over many of Klopp’s players. Yet on Saturday, Liverpool returned to the scene of their humiliation and avenged that defeat with a convincing 2-1 victory that extended their 100 percent winning start to the season and moved them to the top of the Premier League.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

So what has changed?9

A quick look at the teamsheets offers the first insight into the evolution of Klopp’s team, compared to the lack of change at Tottenham, since that day last season. Only four of Klopp’s team last October — Joe Gomez, James Milner, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — started Saturday’s fixture while six of Mauricio Pochettino’s players started both games.

Not much difference on the face of it, but look deeper and you see that only Gomez remains from last season’s Liverpool defence that was given such a torrid time by Kane. Gomez, who played at right-back that day, played alongside Virgil van Dijk in Saturday’s win, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson as full-backs. Simon Mignolet has been replaced in goal by the £66 million summer signing Alisson Becker, while Lovren, Joel Matip and Alberto Moreno have all been dislodged in the months since.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho have since left Liverpool, too — Coutinho’s sale raised in the region of £142m — while Jordan Henderson started this game on the bench, with Klopp selecting £52.75m summer purchase Naby Keita ahead of his captain.

Spurs, meanwhile, were missing the injured Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli on Saturday — both players would almost certainly have started if fit — with the other starters from last season’s game, Davinson Sanchez, Heung-min Son and Serge Aurier named on the bench.

But while Klopp has been able to bolster his team by the signings of Alisson, Van Dijk and Keita, Pochettino’s only possible change from last year was winger Lucas Moura, who started this game ahead of Son.

Drew Brees’ advice to Baker Mayfield: ‘You are just a sponge’

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Praise from Drew Brees for this year’s first overall draft pick has not shaken the team’s resolve. Nor has a 15-for-40 game from the starter. Or a winning effort from the third overall pick in his debut with the New York Jets.

The Browns maintain they are on the long and winding path with Baker Mayfield, and Tyrod Taylor is their starter — even after he put up some poor numbers in the season-opening tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I wouldn’t want to live with 15-for-40 for a long time, because I do not think that we will be that again,” coach Hue Jackson said Thursday. “I really don’t. I understand the question, [but] I think that’s a non-issue. Again, first [game], chalk it up to what it is.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley pointedly emphasized the entire offense contributed to Taylor’s day, saying the group had 28 mental errors and gave the Steelers 100 yards with mistakes. Ten mental errors is not a winning effort, Haley said, and the 100 yards add up to seven points.10

Taylor’s game was an aberration in one sense. He has started 44 games in his career. The tie with Pittsburgh was the first time in those 44 starts he’s been below 50 percent passing. Jackson is aware of the numbers, but they won’t prompt him to turn to the draft’s first overall pick when the Browns play the Saints in New Orleans.

“He’s our future, and if he is, you don’t have to rush this thing,” Jackson said of Mayfield. “When everybody saw the numbers last week, I think everybody wanted to go, ‘OK, Tyrod’s out — let’s go to the other way.’ Let’s slow down a little bit here.”

Jackson said the Browns need to “let it all play itself out at the right time,” which was a feeling general manager John Dorsey expressed a week ago: Let things happen naturally with Mayfield.

“It just doesn’t happen overnight,” Dorsey said the week before the opener. “And that’s why we as an organization keep saying, for the betterment of the kid and the betterment of the organization, have a little bit of patience with this kid. He’s going to have some talent, but there’s no need to rush.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“I’ve seen when you rush too many of these guys in there; it’s not good. But If you have a degree of patience, it’s usually better in the long run.”

On the opposite sideline Sunday will be Brees, a future Hall of Famer who was drafted in San Diego when the Chargers had Doug Flutie as the starter. As a rookie, Brees played in one game. His advice for Mayfield?

Lions’ Eli Harold has endured far more than backlash

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What used to be enjoyable wasn’t anymore. His personality — once gregarious and fun — disappeared into a solitary sadness. He would go out occasionally. It masked his feelings — what he didn’t want to talk about with anyone, what he still hasn’t shared all that often, even now as a linebacker in the NFL, first with the San Francisco 49ers and now with the Detroit Lions.

He has been open about his past. When Harold was a junior in high school, his nephew Forrest Harold died of an enlarged heart while playing rec basketball at Old Dominion. Then less than two months later, his mother, Sheila Korvette Harold, died of pancreatic cancer. What he hasn’t been as open about is that he didn’t have the capability to cope. Throughout the rest of high school, he didn’t understand what he was going through. Then he got to college. And he sank.

“My freshman year in college, I had hit a point so low, it was like every day was just dark,” Harold says now. “I hated football. I hated friends. I hated everything. It was just — I was being a follower. I was drinking, and I never really liked drinking. I was a follower, doing things that I know weren’t me and — I don’t know, man.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I really had to find myself.”9

When, years later, Harold became one of the 49ers who knelt along with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid to raise awareness about social injustice and protest for change, he received hate mail in which hundreds of people called him racial slurs. He handled all of it — because after what he had been through, that was nothing. Words slid off of him. He built his shell. He knew real loss, real pain.nfl cheap jerseys nike

While not clinically diagnosed, Harold said he dealt with depression throughout his freshman year and part of his sophomore year due to the two deaths that he never really understood how to mourn. By sharing the story of his battle with mental health for the first time, he is hoping it might help others open up with what they might be going through.

“Of course, and just like men, we’re taught to be alpha males, you know what I’m saying. I feel like it helps,” Harold said. “When [the NBA’s] DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love had spoken out about it, I felt like a lot of guys, a lot of professional athletes, took a deep breath and a sigh of relief, because they didn’t want to be that first guy to open up about it.

“And no one really ever wants to be the first to do something. Not saying that you are a follower but that it opened up a gate for other grown men to express their feelings about the situation.”

Jon Lester’s departure leads to Brewers closing gap on Cubs

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it was Jon Lester’s back, then it was Josh Hader’s arm. Both contributed to the Milwaukee Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday, drawing them to within one game of the two-time defending National League Central Division champions.

Lester had to leave after 5⅔ innings due to back spasms, handing the ball to much maligned reliever CJ Edwards, who promptly threw a wild one on his first pitch, allowing the winning run to score. Lester thought he might have hurt his back on a swing earlier in the game.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I think it will be fine,” he said afterward. “It’s not anything painful, just kind of uncomfortable.”

Painful was watching Edwards enter a tie game with men on second and third and two outs. It’s a decision by Cubs manager Joe Maddon worthy of second guessing: Over his past 15 appearances, Edwards had walked 10 and given up eight hits. With a rested bullpen — the Cubs were rained out Sunday — Maddon could have chosen any number of arms, but instead, called upon the least reliable of his top relievers.10

“I just wanted to reduce his outing tonight to one out,” Maddon explained. “Once Jon was in the situation he was in, I thought, ‘Get Carl out there, get one out, let him walk off the field, feel good about himself, and then you have the other guys for the rest of the game.’

“We need to get Carl straightened out. The symmetry of the bullpen is different without him out there. His skill set is really important to us. We have to get him right.“china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Cubs do, indeed, need a good Edwards for October, but they might not get there by pitching him in a high-leverage situation right now. To add insult to injury, Edwards didn’t exactly hustle to cover home on the wild pitch. And so after taking the lead, Brewers manager Craig Counsell called on Hader, the dynamic lefty, for the next two innings. He struck out all six batters he faced, the first time that has happened (facing at least six and striking them all out) for a pitcher since 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“What are you going to do with that?” Lester said rhetorically. “The guy is throwing 97 mph. He’s basically Chris Sale from a relief standpoint, with his angle and everything.”

Cubs have nothing to regret as Quintana delivers on crosstown swap

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It’s one of those conversations that Chicago baseball fans will be having for years to come: Did the White Sox rip off the Cubs in stealing prospect phenom Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease or did the Cubs come out on the better end in grabbing steady lefty Jose Quintana?

Common thinking on sports talk radio and bars around Chicago is that the Sox will reap the benefits for years to come, as Jimenez looks like a once-in-a-generation player. But here’s the thing: The Cubs are receiving the benefits right now, and their window for winning is in the present.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Quintana came up with the biggest win to date this season for the team he has played on since July 2017, following years of pitching for the non-contending White Sox. Quintana threw 6⅔ innings, giving up just three hits and no runs on Tuesday. It lowered his ERA to less than 4.00 for the first time since July 22 and his pitching line as a Cub to 20-12 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.24 WHIP8

He’s pitching his best baseball exactly when his team needs it most. The win kept the Brewers from tying the Cubs for first place in the National League Central. It was that big.

“There is a very confident look about him,” Maddon said. “He’s a very humble man, so you have to really look in there.”

Maddon is right. There isn’t a lot of flair to Quintana’s game — which could be the opposite to that of Jimenez, who hit .355 with a .597 slugging percentage at Triple-A this season. Jimenez already has penned a Player’s Tribune article, and he might very well be destined for greatness at the major league level.

But when the Cubs traded for Quintana, they had a big need in their rotation. No matter what Jimenez or Cease accomplish, no one can take away what Quintana already has meant to the Cubs. He might very well contribute to two postseason appearances with his new team before those two prospects even sniff the majors. That’s no small thing. In fact, that’s everything.

“I don’t worry about the trade,” Quintana said as he put on his shoes after Tuesday’s game. “If I do good or bad, I try to be focused on my job.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

That doesn’t mean he’s not aware of the enormity of it. After all, the Cubs and White Sox pulling off a midseason blockbuster isn’t exactly an annual occurrence.

Tina Thompson’s storybook career takes her all the way to Naismith HOF

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When Tina Thompson was a youngster, she envisioned her grown-up self a lawyer, sitting inside her Los Angeles office, framed Harvard degree on the wall.

She didn’t dream USC would offer her a basketball scholarship. Nor could she have predicted that she would be the first pick in the inaugural WNBA draft, or that she would be integral to the Houston Comets winning the first four league championships.

Thompson didn’t picture herself in a USA basketball uniform. Even as recently as a few years ago, she had no plan to coach, either, but after working as an assistant and later associate head coach at Texas, she’s in the early months of her first head-coaching job at Virginia.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

As for being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a nine-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist — that’s storybook stuff.10

“I never ever thought at one point in my life that this would be my reality,” said Thompson, 43, who will be inducted this weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts, as part of the 13-member 2018 class that includes seven-time WNBA All-Star Katie Smith and NBA legends Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

“It’s overwhelming, all aspects of it. The building is overwhelming. Being nominated is overwhelming. The idea of being housed in a place with so much greatness, players and people I’ve looked up to or admired my entire life. … It’s not something you think of.”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Admittedly, Thompson hasn’t had time to dwell on the honor given several months of change in her own life. After three seasons assisting Texas coach Karen Aston, Thompson was hired by the Cavaliers in April. She is settling into a four-story colonial house near the Blue Ridge Mountains and getting Dyllan ready for seventh grade. She added WNBA coaching veteran Karleen Thompson to the staff as associate head coach and is in the midst of her first preseason with the Cavaliers.

Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac ruled out at least two months with knee injury

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Arsenal left-back Sead Kolasinac has been ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a knee injury, but the club is hoping Aaron Ramsey will be back in training as soon as next week.

Kolasinac went off injured during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea in Dublin on Wednesday, which the Gunners ultimately won on penalties, and the club said on Friday he will miss the opening two months of the season.

Arsenal said the defender “sustained an injury to his left knee. Will be out for 8-10 weeks.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

The prognosis on Ramsey was more positive after he sat out the Chelsea game with a calf problem. The club said the Welshman “developed tightness in his right calf” and is continuing to be assessed, but he is “aiming to train next week.”7

Kolasinac’s absence means Nacho Monreal is likely to be thrown straight into the starting lineup when the Gunners take on Manchester City next weekend in the opening round of the Premier League.

Monreal only joined up with the squad this week following the World Cup but could play his first preseason game against Lazio in Stockholm on Monday.

In transfer news, Arsenal have sold academy goalkeeper Joao Virginia to Everton for an undisclosed fee.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Virginia, 18, joined the Gunners from Benfica in 2015 but never featured for the first team. However, he is considered a promising talent who played for the club’s under-23s and was also in Portugal’s squad for the 2016 Olympics and this summer’s U19 European championship.

“We would like to thank Joao for his contribution to the club and wish him well for the future,” Arsenal said in a statement.

Happy camper: An 87-year-old Cardinals fan helped remind Hall of Famers ‘why we love this game’

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The sign above the portal to the stadium says “Doubleday Field,” but on this gray, pre-church bell Sunday morning in Cooperstown, New York, in late June, it might as well say, “Once upon a time …”

For one thing, the old ballpark looks pretty much the same as it did when the field was first used following the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in June 1939. For another, the two teams playing for the championship of the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals Cooperstown Fantasy Camp are being managed by Dave LaPoint and John Stuper, who were rookie pitchers and roommates on the 1982 world champion Cardinals. As for the gnomish man sitting in the home dugout? That’s Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who literally saved that series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In fact, that game is the reason why Anagnost, now 87, has been wearing the birds on the bat for the past three days. As he tells it, “My dad owned a candy store in Sherburne, The Sweet Shoppe. He was from the old country, but he knew enough to expose his kids to American sports. nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap Early in the game — first inning, as I recall — one of the Cardinal players hit the ball to the wall and started running around the bases trying for an inside-the-park home run. Well, he skidded coming around third base, then dove back into third. This was an exhibition game, mind you. Some guy in the stands asked, ‘Who was that guy?’ and somebody else answered, ‘That was Enos Slaughter.’ Well, that was enough for me. From then on, I was a Cardinals fan.

“That was the Alpha. I guess you could say this is the Omega. Except I’m not quite done yet,” he says.8

Down the block from Doubleday Field, in one of the folders in the Hall of Fame Library, there’s an old account in The Sporting News that confirms Anagnost’s recollection: “In the first inning, Country Slaughter pummeled a fastball to the center field fence for a triple. Slaughter would have tallied ahead of the relay, but fell rounding third. [Dick] Fowler then made Musial bound out, Pete Suder to Dick Siebert.” That’s right, Stan Musial, then barely a man at 21 and not yet The Man, ended the inning. Later in the game, Musial hit an inside-the-park homer to help the Cardinals win 5-2.

Other details further dated Anagnost’s first game: 79-year-old A’s manager Connie Mack gave a speech beforehand; ticket prices ranged from 50 cents (bleachers) to $1.50 (along the baselines); and the crowd of 6,720 might have been even larger had the wartime gas and tire rationing not been in effect.

“Sherburne was only about an hour away from Cooperstown,” Anagnost says. “But that day opened up a whole new world to me. I was hooked for life.”

And a remarkable life it has been. Anagnost returned to Doubleday Field four years later, for the state high school championships.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I was a sophomore, played right field and catcher,” he says. “Sherburne lost the championship game to Binghamton Central 5-4 in the ninth inning. I remember that one of our guys, Bill Quinn, looked at the second-place certificate they gave us, then ripped it up right there.”

After high school, Anagnost went to Cornell, graduating in 1952 with a degree in economics. During the Korean War, he became a first lieutenant in the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, specializing in automatic weapons.