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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.

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.

Inside the Cubs’ position-player pitching experience

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It’s not just a fad anymore, or something to laugh about later. Major league managers are using their position players on the mound as a strategy — instead of a novelty — to save their bullpen. And as you might imagine, Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is at the forefront of the trend. He’s more unorthodox than most.

This year alone, the Cubs have used a position player in six different instances — the most times in baseball — including in two games in four days recently. In one, against the St. Louis Cardinals, Maddon used three different position players to get through innings seven through nine. Three days later, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he used two more to finish the game, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has been begging his various managers over the years to get his chance. It finally came with two outs in the ninth inning.

“Was good theatre,” Maddon said. “I’ve heard from more fans walking around how much they enjoyed that moment.“nfl cheap jerseys nike

Rizzo threw two pitches, getting A.J. Pollock to fly out to center field. Those in attendance went crazy, giving him a standing ovation, despite the 7-1 loss.

“It was crazy,” Pollock said. “Fans going nuts. I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Then you’re trying to figure out how hard he’s going to throw. You know he can probably throw in the 80s or is he going to just go with 40 mph?”7

Rizzo made sure to throw on the softer side, as an injury would have been a monumental public relations disaster for the Cubs, let alone one that could have dashed their World Series hopes.

“I take my side sessions during my pregame routine a little more serious, actually,” Rizzo said. “But I’m not going to the mound and blow out my arm.”

No matter what the final score is, position players pitching almost always elicit entertaining moments, such as when Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini took the mound to face Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt last Monday. Caratini already had an inning under his belt, logged a few days prior against the Cardinals, but that didn’t settle his nerves.

“Honestly, I was a little bit scared,” Caratini recalled through an interpreter. “He’s a great hitter. I was just waiting for a line drive right back at me. I didn’t know how I would be able to react to it.”

Before Goldschmidt stepped in, Caratini got some sage advice from his backstop mate, Willson Contreras.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Caratini told me he might quick-pitch Paul Goldschmidt because he didn’t want to get hit by a line drive,” Contreras said. “I told him to throw really soft and start running back. Then you’ll have time to react.”

Even in crazy 55-hour period, Cowboys can block out the noise

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There was Randy Gregory’s first appearance in any Cowboys apparel since the 2016 season finale, after his reinstatement from a substance-abuse suspension. There was David Irving’s absence from training camp to deal with personal issues.

Those issues, however, can happen to any team across the NFL. What separates the Cowboys is a roughly 55-hour span that included everything from a thank you from President Trump to a Twitter tirade from the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches.

All of that happened before the Cowboys held their first padded practice of the summer.

At the opening news conference of training camp, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will stand for the anthem “toe on the line,” even as the NFL and NFL Players Association worked on a solution for the anthem.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

While Jones called President Trump’s frequent criticisms of the NFL and the players regarding the national anthem “problematic,” the President took to Twitter to credit Jones for saying that the Cowboys will stand.

Speaking on Thursday with 1310 AM The Ticket in Dallas, executive vice president Stephen Jones implied that a player would be cut if he protested during the anthem.8

The comments put the players in difficult positions, with living up to the front office’s wishes while understanding the need to raise awareness of social injustice. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins called Jerry Jones a “bully.”

Dak Prescott drew criticism for saying he would continue to stand and did not think the game was the proper venue to protest. Last season, the Cowboys stood for the anthem, and none has expressed a desire to alter that in 2018.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“We’re the Dallas Football Cowboys, we’re America’s Team, and we stand for the national anthem,” Ezekiel Elliott said.

Only a few hours later Friday came an inaccurately portrayed quote made by Stephen Jones on Sirius XM, saying Prescott would be better in 2018 because he would not have Dez Bryant in his ear. The tweet included Bryant’s Twitter handle and sent the receiver on a rant, even though Jones had also mentioned Jason Witten.

“You got great players like Dez and Witten. They want the ball. Everybody sees it,” Stephen Jones said after practice, clarifying his remark. “It’s on every team. The great players, the great receivers, the guys who catch the ball — they want the ball. They let the quarterback know that sometimes. I was a quarterback, so I understand that. It certainly in no way was it intended to be negative.”

The clarification by Sirius did not quiet Bryant on social media. He replied to fans who praised or criticized him in a back-and-forth that seemed ironic, considering it came on the day of Witten’s debut column on ESPN.com that said social media can be “poison” for players.

Byant also called Jerry Jones “clueless” and put blame for his release on center Travis Frederick and linebacker Sean Lee, whom he called a “snake.”

While Frederick was somewhat diplomatic in his reply, Lee was forceful.

Trade talk we’re hearing: Who wants Hamels, what’s next for Orioles

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Under typical circumstances, Texas Rangers starter Cole Hamels might be the prize of the trade deadline. He’s a tested veteran with four All-Star appearances and a 2008 World Series MVP Award on his resume.

Hamels has a 4.72 ERA this season and he’s allowed 23 home runs — tied for second most in the majors behind Kansas City’s Jakob Junis. After getting shelled by Oakland in a 15-3 loss Monday, Hamels is 1-3 with an ERA of 11.12 in June. Those numbers are reminiscent of Yu Darvish’s implosion during his 2017 pre-deadline showcase before Texas traded him to the Dodgers.

As a result, things are strangely quiet on the Hamels front. An executive for one team in the starting-pitching market said the Rangers have “nothing” going on with Hamels at the moment. Another club recently discussed Hamels on a conference call and came away with reservations that he can be an impact addition down the stretch.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

So what’s the problem? Hamels’ velocity is down a tick from two years ago, and some scouts think that’s enough to reduce the effectiveness of his changeup. But Hamels averaged 92.7 mph against Oakland and touched 94 on the gun, and he still got lit up by the A’s. The bigger concern: He consistently fell behind in the count and threw only 55 strikes among his 92 pitches.

“It’s all delivery and command,” said an evaluator. “He’s just making mistakes.”7

Some Rangers officials think Hamels has been stressed out by all the trade speculation, and that it’s weighing on him personally. Hamels and his wife, Heidi, have four children, and it was a major adjustment for them to leave Philadelphia for Texas at the 2015 trade deadline. It doesn’t help that the Rangers are 23½ games out in the AL West and playing out the string.

If the July 31 deadline passes with no trade, that doesn’t necessarily spell the end of Hamels-related speculation. If the fog clears, the pressure lifts and Hamels starts pitching to his historical levels, he’s a prime candidate to be traded in August.

Hamels’ contract allows him to veto trades to 20 clubs, and he would almost certainly want his $20 million option for 2019 exercised before he signs off on any deal. But the Rangers have made it clear they’re willing to eat some of Hamels’ money, and he shouldn’t have any trouble clearing waivers.

Now that the Phillies-related buzz has dissipated, Hamels’ best bet might be a relocation to the National League Central. The Brewers’ starting pitching was middling even before Brent Suter blew out his elbow, and the Cubs are looking for a rotation upgrade. Seattle, the Yankees and several other clubs might be only one injury away from jumping in the mix.

In the interim, Texas isn’t having much luck with its other trade chips. Shin-Soo Choo has been terrific, but he’s elicited nothing more than a couple of nibbles. Beyond that, Jake Diekman, Keone Kela and Matt Moore are available amid a glut of relief options.cheap nike jerseys nfl

The Rangers are one of several teams sitting on a starting pitcher that they value more than other clubs do. Toronto’s J.A. Happ, like Hamels, was mentioned prominently in trade speculation a few weeks ago. But the Happ rumors have cooled considerably of late.

“Everybody is looking for bullpen help, because the relievers out there are better,” said a general manager. “What starter out there is really a must-have for a contender?”

Yankees GM: Catcher Gary Sanchez out until at least late August

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The New York Yankees are expecting injured catcher Gary Sanchez to be shelved until late August or early September, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

“Thankfully what Gary has is a solvable health issue; it’s a timing one,” Cashman said Wednesday. “We’ll just have to wait on it and hopefully be in a better position when he returns from the DL.”

Sanchez was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after an MRI that morning revealed he had aggravated a groin injury that he had just returned from last week. The right groin strain was initially suffered in a late June game at Tropicana Field, where he was trying to beat out a ground ball in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Sanchez said he began feeling tightness in the same spot when he got out of his crouch to chase after a passed ball that got away in Monday night’s 7-6 loss to the Rays. As he seemingly took his time getting to the baseball, a Rays baserunner scored all the way from second base.5

Later in that game, Sanchez came out of the batter’s box slowly on a ninth-inning ground ball before trying to speed up far too late to beat a putout throw. Had he reached base, he would have driven in a crucial game-tying run. Instead, he was thrown out, ending the game.

After being criticized for the lackadaisical effort, Sanchez later expressed remorse for having let his teammates and fans down.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“When the other team scores runs and you have the game on the line and you end up basically losing the game because it’s your fault, you feel really bad about that,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “You feel bad for your teammates, you feel bad for the fans, because you want to give them the maximum effort.

“You have a responsibility as a player, and when you don’t give them the best you can, of course you’re going to feel that you let them down.”

It was during a conference call with reporters following Tuesday night’s trade with the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Zach Britton when Cashman also was asked about Sanchez. He said he would explore the options of adding another catcher by the trade deadline, but he wasn’t optimistic that would happen.

“We’ll see,” Cashman said. “We’re a little more vulnerable in the event that we have another issue at the catching position. Where do we turn to next?

Fulham make offer for goalkeeper Fabri from Besiktas, who eye David Ospina – sources

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Besiktas are considering a move for Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina following an offer from Fulham for their No. 1 Fabri, sources have told ESPN FC.

The Super Lig outfit have yet to strike a deal for Fabri but have already begun making preparations for their first-choice keeper’s potential exit this summer, sources have indicated.

Ospina is on a shortlist of keepers Besiktas have drawn up should the 30-year-old join the recently promoted Premier League side.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

The two deals could go in tandem as Besiktas want to avoid selling a key player without lining up a replacement, as was the case when Cenk Tosun was sold to Everton in January.

Sources said Ospina has been offered to Besiktas through his agents and would be prepared to play in the Super Lig next season.8

The Colombia international has been considering his options after being relegated to third-choice keeper at Arsenal following the signing of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen. However, agreeing a fee with Arsenal could prove to be a potential stumbling block for Besiktas.

The Black-Whites are operating on a tight budget this summer because of pressure from UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules to curb spending, as well as the weakening of the Turkish Lira to the Pound and Euro.

Fabri has just 12 months remaining on his contract and has not been offered an extension.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

If a move goes ahead, Fulham goalkeeper coach Jose Sambade would be set for his third reunion with Fabri. Sambade previously worked with Fabri at Deportivo La Coruna and Besiktas. And the coach is a keen admirer of Fabri and played an important role in convincing the keeper to make the move to Turkey in 2016.

Besiktas finished the 2017-18 Super Lig campaign in fourth place and will compete in the Europa League next season.

Cavaliers waive veteran center Kendrick Perkins

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have waived veteran center Kendrick Perkins, the team announced Tuesday.

Perkins was signed by the team on the final day of the regular season and did not play a single minute in the 2018 postseason.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Perkins was a member of the Cavs team that made the 2015 NBA Finals and was back with them for training camp this fall, before being released during the preseason. He played part of the season for the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate.8

Perkins, 33, won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and was part of three other Finals teams in Boston, Oklahoma City and Cleveland.nfl cheap jerseys nike

His last NBA action before this season came during the 2015-16 season, when he averaged 2.8 points and 3.5 rebounds for the New Orleans Pelicans in 37 games.

The Cavs added Perkins more for the veteran leadership he could provide to the Cavs’ locker room and less for his on-court contributions, league sources told ESPN in April.

Projecting who will win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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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 thing.nfl 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.
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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 life.new 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.

In Oakland, veteran Bruce Irvin finds smack-talking, kindred spirit in Jon Gruden

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You could say these are bright times for Bruce Irvin, who has had his share of dark days in his life.

Since the end of last season, he has earned a degree, becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college, made a much-desired position switch from outside linebacker to defensive end and maybe, just maybe, found a kindred spirit in returning Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

“He talks s— like I talk s—, so we get along,” Irvin said.

Irvin came to Oakland as a free agent in 2016 after four star-crossed seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, which included an eight-sack rookie season, a Super Bowl championship and another trip to the Super Bowl.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Initially an edge-rusher, Irvin made the switch to outside linebacker despite his concerns that he was not “smart enough” to play in coverages. Ken Norton Jr., then his position coach in Seattle and later his defensive coordinator in Oakland, admonished his pupil, telling him to never admit such a thing.

Besides, Norton told Irvin, he was capable of playing linebacker.10

The Raiders were obviously impressed enough to sign Irvin to a four-year deal worth a max of $37 million and $12.5 million fully guaranteed to make him a bookend pass-rusher with All-Pro Khalil Mack.

Irvin’s presence helped Mack become the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 as Oakland went 12-4 and appeared in the postseason for the first time since the 2002 season.

The team regressed badly under Jack Del Rio in 2017, going 6-10 before Del Rio was shown the door. Gruden agreed to return to Oakland with an eye on Irvin and his skill set.

Enter new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who worked Irvin out at West Virginia and wanted the Cincinnati Bengals to draft him before the Seahawks struck at No. 15 overall in 2012.

“I knew he was a really gifted rusher,” Guenther said. “… Just coming here, I thought his best assets for us was to go forward rather than go backwards. He’s done a good job with what we’re asking him to do in the base fronts.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“Obviously, we know what he can do as a pass-rusher. Hopefully, we can get him over a double-digit [sack] mark this year. That’s the goal for him.”