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My favourite game: Miami 10-13 NY Giants, Wembley’s first taste of NFL

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It was a night for raincoats and thermals at Wembley on 28 October 2007, not T-shirt and shorts; hot drinks not cold brewskis at the tailgate party for the sensible in the crowd of 81,176; and the sodden pitch, designed for football, cut up in seconds leaving huge divots and bad first impressions.

The only play worth highlighting was Eli Manning’s super slow-motion 10-yard run for New York’s only touchdown and the final score was barely relevant to most either. It was an event, with a capital E, V, E, N and T because this was the first regular-season game played outside North America, the culmination of decades of endeavour in the UK.

Channel 4 showed highlights – extraordinary to think these days but on a week delay – in 1982 and the late-night Super Bowl ritual was formed. A weekly American football newspaper, First Down, was produced, a domestic competition sprung up and there were pre-season American Bowl games at Wembley from 1986-1993. There were the heady days of the World League and the London Monarchs winning the first World Bowl in 1991, provoking semi-serious discussion of a game between them and the worst team of the 1990 NFL season, which, rather remarkably given the past 20-odd years, was New England.

It was all that and more. The late Sunday nights listening to the Armed Forces Network as its medium-wave signal faded in and out, whistling and crackling live commentaries. Then came weekly live games on TV every Sunday and Monday and the emergence of a market big enough to satisfy the NFL’s rapacious desire for yet more millions of dollars.

It was scarcely believable that here were two NFL teams, right in front of us with all the rigamarole and pageantry; at kick-off thousands of cameras lit up the dark sky. There were tears in the packed press boxes.

Those closer to the action were also in awe. David Tossell, of the NFL London office, told me: “Even when we first knew we were going to be staging the game it was pretty daunting, so the moment that always sticks with me was when The Feeling were performing the pre-game show and my boss and I looked around at the packed stands and turned to each other and said: international is on the radar of Fenerbahce, says Sky Italia.Khedira faces a battle for a place in Juve’s midfield under new coach Maurizio Sarri and has been told he can leave should he find the right club.A move to MLS has been mooted for the vete ‘Wow, we did it.’”

Things moved so quickly it was noticeable to the players. Osi Umenyiora, the former Giant, born in England and now an award-winning analyst for the BBC, said: “The crowd was amazing but I wasn’t sure how much they understood about what they were seeing. I really noticed a difference when I returned to play for the Atlanta Falcons.”

and the International Series, as it is now marketed, featured four games in London last year, two at Wembley and two at Tottenham’s new stadium with a pitch and dressing rooms installed especially for thn de Beek.Marca says United are trying to pry the Dutchman away from Los Blancos’ grasp with a last-ditch offer.Van de Beek expected to make the move to the Spanish capital last summer but, given that Real Madrid were unable to sell James Rodriguez ae sport. Every year talk of a franchise in London builds while the provoked the theory of every team playing once outside the US. That appears unlikely for now, as is fanciful talk of a Super Bowl being played in London.

On a micro level, in September the NFL AcadThe Molineux outfit recorded a brave 2-1 away win over Slovan Bratislava on Thursday, with Jimenez scoring the decisive penalty.He told BT Sport: “For me it’s always in my mind that I’m going to score. It’s my style of shooting penalty kicks, I’m nevemy opened in north London, giving young athletes the opportunity to combine full-time education with training from professional coaches. The aim is for the best to go to colleges in the US and, though a huge long shot, the NFL.

There is another lasting effect of this game that benefits all those who visit Wembley now. The stadium’s creaky infrastructure was overwhelmed that night and the NFL demanded major improvement. Thus, anyone who uses the wifi at Wembley can thank the NFL for the massive, free upgrade.

Antonio Brown loses grievance after reported threat to quit NFL over helmet

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receiver Antonio Brown has lost his grievance with the NFL over his use of an old helmet that is no longer certified as safe to use.

An arbitrator issued the ruling on Monday after a hearing with Brown, representatives from the league and the players’ union. Brown had reportedly told the Raiders last week that if he could not use his old helmet.

However, on Monday he said he was keen to return to the field. “While I disagree with the arbitrator’s dason.The Brazilian is now one of the senior members of the team, given the youth injection fris fast making a name for himself.D’Margio Wright-Phillips made the most of his amazing solo goal for Blackburn in the FA Youth Cup.The 18-year-old is currently on a youth loan from Manchester City and his goal helped set up a semi-final tie against om manager Frank Lampard this summer.And Willian is happy to pass on his knowledge to the youngsters. But he insists that he has a lot to offer on the pitch ecision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet!,” he wrote in a post in Instagram.

Brown has not participated in a full practice for the Raiders after starting training camp on the non-football injury list with injuries to his feet suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment in France.

Furthermore, Network’s Mike Silver reported tentriker’s 94th minute spot-kick kept alive Norway’s hopes of qualifying for Euro2020.King told fotball.no: “It was lovely that it (the penalty) went in.”The crowd helped us. They gave us an extra push for the last 10 minutes.”We put up a good fight insion between Brown and the Raiders, who acquired the wide receiver via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason. According to Silver, Brown has been chronically late, uses Instagram during team meetings and does not communicate with team officials and coaches.

Brown, 31, has been one of the league’s most prolific players. He was an All-Pro four straight years from 2014-17 and is the first player with at least 100 catches and 1,200 yards receiving in six straight seasons. His 686 catches and 9,145 yards since 2013 are the most for any player in a six-year span. But despite that production, he wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh and in March for picks in the third and fifth round of the 2019 draft.

Jets raise eyebrows by appointing Gase after 23-26 record with rivals Miami

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The New York Jets stayed in the AFC East to find their new head coach. The former coach Adam Gase agreed on Wednesday night to take the Jets job, according to multiple reports.

The hiring ends a 10-day, wide-open search for New York, which met with seven other coaches about their vacancy, including Mike McCarthy, Kris Richard, Jim Caldwell, Eric Bieniemy, Todd Monken, Matt Rhule and Kliff Kingsbury, who took the Arizona Cardinals job.

Gase was 23-26 in three years with Miami, including a playoff game in the 2016 season, before being fired last week. He’ll remain in the AFC East, and face the Dolphins twice every regular season as a rival head coach. Gase replaces Todd Bowles, who was fired after he went 24-40 in four seasons and no playoff appearances. Gase is the Jets’ first hire with previous full-time hs sports director Fabio Paratici is convinced he can bring Paul Pogba to Turin – and for an affordable price.The Manchester United midfielder continues to be linked with Real Madrid, with agent Mino Raiola confirming they attempted to engineer a moveead coaching experience since Bill Parcells’ three-year tenure from 1997-99. The 40-year-old is also the first offensive-focused coach since Rich Kotite in 1996.

Gase will be tasked with furthering the development of quarterback Sam Darnold and helping New York snap an eight-year postseason drought. While he had control over personnel in Miami, Gase will work cloPortuguese duo Pedro Gonclaves and Joao Dias have left Wolves.Both players have joined newly-promoted Portuguese top flight club Famalicao on permanent deals.Gonclaves made his first-team debut last season and impressed mightily for the club’s U23 side.Dias struggled to make a similar impact after joining the club last summer.sely in New York with general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was retained by team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, to put together a competitive roster around Darnold. The Jets are expected to have around $100m in salary cap space this offseason, and will be very active in free agency.

Those factors combined, Johnson insisted leading into the team’s search, made the Jets an attractive spot for a head coach to land. “If you can make it here, you’re a freakin’ legend,” Johnson said. “That counts for something.”

Gase was fired after this season as part of an organizational shake-up after the Dolphins finished 7-9 anr United need to sign a midfielder leader like Bryan Robson.The 46-year-old has struggled to make a huge impact in the transfer market, although Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been welcome additions.And Solskjaer admits he needs to find anotd missed the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. There were also questions about whether Gase had lost the support of some players. Miami ranked 31st in the NFL in offense, a franchise worst, and 29th in defense, allowing a franchise-record 6,257 yards this season.

Gase’s Dolphins were particularly good in one-score games, going 7-1 in those situations this season and 20-6 in three years. Their record in games decided by more than one score was 3-20, including 0-8 this season. Miami also lost their last seven games on the road.

The hiring was met with some trepidation from frustrated Jets fans, many of whom were pulling for McCarthy, Monken or Rhule to be hired to turn the franchise around and end a Super Bowl drought that’s 50 years and counting.

Rory McIlroy and formidable field head to Hawaii for 2019 curtain-raiser

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Should Rory McIlroy’s occasionally agonising wait for Masters glory end in April much of the focus will be on his long journey from the outskirts of Belfast to Augusta triumph.

In the here and now the 29-year-old has made the hardly inconsequential jaunt to Hawaii to begin a season he hopes will be notable for the donning of a Green Jacket. Few would grudge McIlroy that moment.

The idyllic backdrop means the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua could be regarded as a soft start. A glance at the field suggests otherwise: Dustin Johnson, , Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari and Justin Thomas join McIlroy aor transfer interest this summer.AS says Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and La Liga giants Atletico Madrid are all eyeing a potential move for Suso this summer.Suso, 25, made 14 appearances for the Reds between 2012-15 but has rebuilt his career at AC Milat the Plantation Course from Thursday.

Speculation Tiger Woods would join the party proved unfounded, with Woods opting to extend his off-season. Justin Rose is another notable absentee.

McIlroy is in Hawaii as part of his increased focus on US tournaments and his absence will inevitably be keenly felt as the European Tour’s annual desert swing begins later this month. Looking at key details for the PGA Tour season reveals the chasm that now exists between operations on either side of the Atlantic.

The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup bonus pool will double this year to $70m (£61m). A new rewards system applicable before the FedEx play-offs get underway will distribute another $10m. This weekend alone the winner will collect $1.3m.

In proving such riches do not come for free, the PGA Tour is poised to follow what has become a European custom by seeking live interviews with players during rounds. With participation not compulsory the response, inevitably, will be mixed.

The same applies to changes to the rules, as took effect for the amateur and professional game from 1 January. Officials from the United States Association held a meeting with players in Hawaii in a bid to smooth the process but a degree of uncertainty remains.

“I’ve tried to spend a lot of time looking over them,” said Thomas, the world No 4. “Especially a handful are quite a bit different and I think you’ll see it across the field, especially these first couple of months, everybody’s going to be calling a rules official in as much possible. So, unfortunately, play is probably not going to be too fast.” Whisper it but this was not really the desired impact.

Among matters to be amended are time permitted to search for a ball – now three minutes instead of five – the taking of drops from knee rather than shoulder height and permission to putt with flag still in a hole.

“If I have an eight footer to win a tournament, I mean no offence, I can’t really take myself seriously if I kept the pin in,” Thomas said. “It just would be such a weird picture and like on TV me celebrating, the pin is in and my ball’s like up against it. If I have a putt I’m trying to make, that thing’s coming out.”

In proving he is never far from the news, Woods has been a topic of discussion as the prospect of two more stagings of “The Match” has been raised. Woods faced Phil Mickelson for a $9m prizl says Palace are among the English clubs to have checked on prolific Hungary striker Nikolic.The 32-year old is a free agent after his contract finished with Chicago Fire in the MLS.Nikolic won the MLS Golden Boot in 2017 and finished a three year se in Las Vegas in November, with reports claiming similar matches this year and next – possibly featuring more players.

Golf Digest suggested close to a million viewers paid the $19.95 fee for the event hosted by Turner Sports, a matter complicated by the need for refunds because the stream stopped working mid-match.

“I think the viewership was pretty large,” said Mark Steinberg, Woods’s manager. “nton appreciates the support of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.The pair share the same agent.“When I came to England, Firmino sent me a message wishing me good luck,” he said.“He said if I needed anything, I just had to talk to him.”When I score or Take away the glitch and it was pretty big. That’s certainly one of the measures of success. You have to look at what the internet was doing and seemed like people were quite interested.

“We – and that’s a very big we when I say the Woods camp, the Mickelson camp, the Turner camp – have a lot to talk about. We don’t have any specifics on what it might look like, whether it’s Tiger-Phil, two others, four others.”

Confusion reigns after Suns and Grizzlies nearly trade for wrong player named Brooks

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The traded Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards on Saturday for Kelly Oubre Jrted with their 2-0 win at Norwich City.Gerard Deulofeu’s goal after 76 seconds after some lax defending from Emiliano Buendia set Watford on their way and Andre Gray’s close-range flick from a Deulofeu cross secured the points.But they had to survive and Austin Rivers, according to multiple reports. The deal capped a confusing series of events that unfolded Friday night when a proposed three-team trade fell apart over confusion about whether Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks would be included.

The trade, as proposed originally, would have sent Ariza from the Suns to the Wizards, Oubre from the Wizards to the , and Rivers from the Wizards to the Suns. The Grizzlies would have sent Wayne Selden to the Suns. A player named Brooks also was to be involved, but that ended up as the hiccup to the deal. The Suns thought the Grizzlies would be sending them Dillon Brooks. Grizzlies officials thought it was MarShon Brooks they’d be trading.

“What happened last night was unfathomable. I’ve never experienced this before,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace told reporters on Saturday.

When the confusion cleared, and all the sides had figured out the parts to the trade, Memphis wouldn’t trade Dillon Brooks, and the Sunsken about the positive influence of manager Unai Emery.The Gunners big money arrival has only come on as a substitute in their first two Premier League games of the season.But Pepe says Emery’s ability to speak French has helped him quickly adjust to didn’t want to acquire MarShon Brooks. The mixup happened because the Suns and Grizzlies didn’t talk to each other. The Wizards were the conduit of information and the identity of the proper Brooks got lost along the way, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, the Suns privately claim that they communicated with the Grizzlies directly and were clear about Dillon Brooks, a claim the Grizzlies flatly deny, Wojnarowski reported.

“That forced me to do something I’ve never done in 30-plus years working in this league with seven teams, is to drag two players out of a locker room and tell them they’ve been traded and then eventually have to come back and tell them, ‘Oh, no, you haven’t been traded,’” Wallace said.

MarShon Brooks is a 29-year-old journeyman from New Jersey, while Dillon Brooks is a 22-year-old Canadian who started 74 gap after he led Liverpool to their Champions League triumph last night.Liverpool defeated fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday evening in an all-English Champions League final.Before Kloppmes in his rookie season last year.

The Suns signed Ariza, a 33-year-old swingman, to a one-year, $15m deal over the summer, and with Phoenix at 5-24 and building for the future with youngsters, he became a trade chip.

Andy Murray targets Davis Cup return after encouragement of US Open

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Andy Murray, simultaneously relieved and disappointed after enduring two long matches of a satisfactory grand slam comeback at the US Open, says he is desperate to return to action in Glasgow in a fortnight.

While the Scot is equivocal about that threaten to marginalise the oldest team event in sport, a chance to play again in the city where he was born – for Great Britain in the tie against Uzbekistan, whicPSG have opened talks with Everton for Idrissa Gueye.Foot Mercato says PSG are reviving their January interest in the talented midfielder.However for now, they’re yet to make a formally offer for Gueye.PSG pushed hard for Gueye in January, but the deal fell through due to Everton’s €60m asking price.If they offer €30-35m Everton would be prepared to sell.h starts on 14 September – seems irresistible.

“Potentially it’s the last time I’d get to play competitive tennis in Scotland, so I’d like to do that,” he told the BBC. “I’d have to chat to my team because this is obviously a very important period in my rehab and my long-term strategy.”

Murray, who last played Davis Cup when Argentina won in Glasgow in 2016, left New York spent but in one piece after 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 23 minutes in sweltering heat on Wednesday afternoon. That followed Murray’s in three hours and 17 minutes against the competitive Australian James Duckworth in similarly tough conditions on the opening day.

Murray and Kyle Edmund missed Great Britain’s fighting loss to Spain in February, which was notable for the impressive debut of Cameron Norrie. Edmund, Britain’s No 1, is yet to declare himself available after a non-specific illness cut him down here in the first round, so Murray and Norrie – who went out in the second round on Wednesday – are favourites to lead the line.

Defeat at Flushing Meadows did not leave Murray distraught, as it used to in the distant past. He is comfortable in his life away from the court, a husband and father of two daughters. It is understandable that he and Kim have decided their growing family should form the increasingly important focus of their lives, as his playing career enters its autumnal days.

Yet the ending to the fourth set – especially the last game, which Murray extended to 12 minutes – suggests the hunger to achieve more is still strong.

Whether or not he adds to his three slam titles is the great unknown. Bookmakers put the oddse Roma legend, now a free agent, is on the verge of a switch to Argentine giants Boca Juniors.“De Rossi will definitely arrive in the next few days, he has the desire to wear the Boca shirt,” Angelici said in a Press conference.“[Nicolas] Burdiss at 8-1. He has returned at another moment of flux in the game, with this tournament again examining the credentials of his long-time rivals as well as the young contenders. On the evidence so far, Murray’s task is more challenging than when he was at his peak, whatever the state of his fitness.

Where he can determine the direction of his game is to cut down the time on court by taking more risks, as he seeks to inject more attack into his grinding defensive game. His occasional forward sprinting is impressive but he is still struggling with his lateral movement.

And he has yet to rediscover the swinging of the torso behind his forehand, particularly, that made it such a lethal weapon from mid-court before his flexibility was compromised. Instead, he has to rely on the power of his arms alone mostly when going for winners, and that turns him square to the net, leaking power from the shot.

The core of his game – and currently a weakness – is the serve, which let him down against Verdasco, who only had to wait for the first one to pass harmlessly outside the box to pounce on the second.

Murray’s own analysis of his performance immediately after the match was as honest and perceptive as any. “Some of the tennis I played was some of the best I’ve played since I had the surgery or since I came back,” he said of a four-set match – his second in three days in his first slam for nearly 14 months – that included humid, 36C heat.

“To still be doing as well as I was at the end of the match, considering the lack of practice and matches that I’ve had, was positive. At the end, when my back was against the wall, I came up with some good tennis to makebakary Soumare this month.Despite raising €80m from the sale of Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal, Lille intend to part with midfielder Soumare, says RMC.LOSC are seeking €40m to sell, with plans to also take the youngster back on-loan for the new season.W it close and interesting and almost got myself back into it.

“I did all right. I chased balls down right to the end of the match. I wasn’t giving up on points. It wasn’t the most comfortable I felt on a tennis court. I got through it and fought right to the end. But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where I really didn’t play particularly well. There were too many ups and downs for my liking.”

While Murray agrees it is “completely normal” for people to speculate about his future, it looks likely he is not going to leave either soon or quietly.

USA score three goals in nine minutes to win Brazil thriller 4-3

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Julie Ertz came off the bench and scored in the 89th minute as the United States overcame a late two-goal deficit to beat Brazil 4-3 on Sunday night in a thrilling match at the Tournament of Nations. The United States were in danger of losing for the fourth time this year before the three-goal flurry in nine minutes.

Two minutes after Brazil’s Andressinha scored a free kick in the 78th minute for her second goal of the game, Christen Press countered to make it 3-2 with her 43rd internatio Tottenham’s squad for their Champions League trip to Red Star Belgrade.Son was left traumatised after his tackle led to Andre Gomes’ horrific injury at Everton on Sunday. But he was named in the squad which flew out to the Serbian capital this morninal goal and second of the year. Press fed Megan Rapinoe for a spectacular blast that tied it in the 85th minute, and Ertz put the Americans ahead four minutes later.

Rapinoe, who was recovering from knee surgery for much of last year, had not scored for the national team since the 2015 World Cup. She has rebounded this season with the NWSL’s Seattle Reign and leads the league with 12 goals.

The United States were coming off in the team’s Tournament of Nations opener in Seattle on Thursday night. It was the first time that the Australians had beaten the Americans in 28 previous matches.

Coach Jill Ellis tinkered with her line-up against Brazil, surprisingly moving Becky Sauerbrunn to a defensive midfielder role rather than her usual spot at center back. The United States has never dropped four games on home soil in a single season. In addition to Australia on Thursday, the Americans fell to England and France in the She Believes Cup in March.

Australia, ranked No7 in the world, lead the tournament standings.l has had a slow start to the season.Lampard said today, “I have four wingeat’s on the advice of former United midfielder Kleberson.”I don’t think it would be great for Maddison to join United,” the World Cup winner told US-Bookies.com.”They [Leicester] have had a good start to the season but when you do a big jump from a srs to choose from. They’re all fit. We all forget Christian has just turned 21 because of the price tag and because he’s come through from a very young age. It’s normal to exp The Matildas will wrap up the round-robin tournament against Brazil on Thursday in Carson, California. The United States will face Japan.

Why Aaron Rodgers is an even greater NFL quarterback than we think

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It’s long been acknowledged by NFs a step away from moving to Tottenham.Barca have made Coutinho available for loan in the past fortnight and had fielded interest from Spurs and Arsenal.The Times says Spurs now have an agreement with Barca about a season-long loan for the midfielderL analysts, fans and coaches alike that quarterbacks take too much blame and too much of the credit. NFL statistics are usually created by the result of the play, which means they are decided by not only the quarterback but also by the receiver who catches – or drops – his passes. When Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and Drew Brees had their historic seasons, they played with great team-mates, players who didn’t need to be elevated by their quarterback to be productive. That wasn’t the case with Aaron Rodgers last season – and explains why many don’t realize how great the quarterback is as he prepares for his first game of the season this weekend.

Sixty-seven times last season Rodgers threw an accurate pass that was turned into an incompletion by his team-mate. Those 67 plays cost him at least 875 yards, the most in the league, and at least 11 touchdowns, again the most in the league. Explaining Rodgers’ struggles over the first five games of last season – when – is easy. Twenty of his 67 lost receptions came in those games, they cost him at least 273 yards and at least two touchdowns.

Take the play above from Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rodgers finished this game with 199 yards on 34 attempts. This play alone cost him 41 yards after Davante Adams dropped the ball. Not only that, Rodgers did everything perfectly. He bailed out of the pocket as pressure arrived before making an exceptional throw while moving to his left. The defender didn’t knock the ball away from Adams or hit his hands as the ball arrives. His presence alone is enough to make Adams fluff his responsibility.

Adams was a big problem throughout last season. His raw numbers were fine – he caught 12 touchdowns during the regular season – but no other quarterback in the league would have got those numbers from him. Adams cost Rodgers . Twenty-eight teams didn’t lose that many touchdowns to receiver error last year – Adams did it on his own. Rodgers can make a receiver like Adams productive because of his superhuman consistency making difficult plays.

When Rodgers’ receivers mess up, he simply creates another opportunity for a big play. This could be seen during the in last season’s playoffs. Rodgers set up the win with a brilliant throw (). But if we go back two plays before that incredible throw, we can see Cook ruining two more opportunities created by Rodgers’ outrageous skills. Most quarterbacks can’t make those thrchester City are worthy Premier League champions.The Citizens clinched back-to-back titles with Sunday’s win over the Seagulls, finishing one point ahead of Liverpool.And Murray thinks Pep Guardiola were the Premier League’s best team over the courseows once, never mind three times in a row when the game is on the line.

The above play is the first of the final drive. Cook runs down the seam and has safety Byron Jones on his inside shoulder. Rodgers recognizes this and throws a perfect backshoulder pass to Cook. He creates the separation for his tight end by putting the ball in a spot where the defender can’t see it but Cook can grab it. The difficulty of this throw is huge because the quarterback has to time and place the ball perfectly without an angle to work with. Cook had the easiest job but instead of catching the ball he clapped his hands to applaud the throw.

On the second throw, Rodgers is flushed from the pocket, Cook is blanketed in coverage, but the quarterback still puts the ball in the perfect spot. Byron Jones has his hand in front of Cook’s chest but Cook’s hands reach the ball first and he has a clean opportunity to catch the ball – but fails. Another great play from Rodgers, and another missed opportunity by his receiver. Cook eventually made the big play down the sideline to set up the game-winning field goal, but Rodgers is the only quarterback in the league who makes those three throws so consistently that his receivers’ limitations are almost completely ignored.

That precision Rodgers shows off making difficult throws translates to simpler throws too. I created , part of which charts an accuracy percentage. It’s a relatively simple idea. Accuracy percentage doesn’t look at whether the receiver caught the ball or not, it only judges the play based on where the ball was placed. None of the throws shown so far in this article were caught, but all would go down as accurate passes for the purposes of accuracy percentage.

Rodgers ranked third in overall accuracy percentage but when you break the numbers down based on where each pass was thrown, it becomes clear that he was the most accurate passer in the league.

In the above chart there is a random selection of the top quarterbacks from last season. Each column shows off the percentage to that yard range on the field as well as where that percentage ranked league-wide. Rodgers ranks in the top five in four of the six categories and the lowest he drops in any category is seventh. That is astonishing consistency. Brees was the closest to matching Rodgers while the rest of the league looked more like Rivers, Brady and Roethlisberger: quarterbacks who had great strengths in some areas but major weaknesses in others.

With that accuracy it’s no surprise that Rodgers has avoided interceptions at an incredible rate over the course of his career.

Eleven quarterbacks have thrown as many, or more, touchdowns as Rodgers has in his career (297). Of those 11 Rodgers has not only thrown the fewest interceptions (72) but if you doubled his interception total he would . Rodgers has thrown 4,657 passes in his career. He has been intercepted on 1.55% of thominent agent believes players will remain loyal to Manchester City are being treated extremely well over the years.City are in the process of appealing a two-season Champions League ban handed down by UEFA last week after they were found guilty of bose throws. Brady has a 1.85 interception percentage, no other quarterback in history who has thrown at least 4,500 passes . Rodgers is by far the best quarterback in NFL history at taking care of the ball and the Quarterback Catalogue charting re-emphasizes that. In 2015 he threw a pass that should have been intercepted once every 70.2 attempts, almost twice as good as the second-best quarterback, Sam Bradford. In 2016 he threw an interceptable pass once every 40.89 attempts, fifth-best in the league. None of the quarterbacks ahead of him were as productive and none of them consistently threw into tight windows as regularly or with as much success.

That precision plays a big role in Rodgers’ ability to avoid turning the ball over but that’s only part of it. He’s also a very intelligent quarterback, something that is regularly discussed, and possesses rare ability to maximize his pass protection with his footwork, something that is never discussed.

Rodgers has had all this success while playing in a scheme that doesn’t use a lot of play action or create a lot of yards after the catch. Twenty-eight quarterbacks used play action more often than Rodgers last year while 17 gained a higher percentage of their yards after the catch. It’s not a scheme that creates easy reads or changes every week to attack the specific weaknesses of its opponents. The only reason the Packers offense works is because it boasts the best quarterback in the . Quarterbacks in general don’t control as much as is suggested but those at the extremes — the Blake Bortles and Jared Goffs at the bottom, or the Tom Bradys and Aaron Rodgers at the top — can drag down or elevate everyone around them.

Because the NFL focuses more on counting Super Bowls and playoff victories when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks, Rodgers – with his one championship so far – will always be regarded as one of the best quarterbacks of his generation. That’s wrong: he’s the best quarterback of his generation.

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker scores 70 points to create a piece of NBA history

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Devin Booker is only 20 and already has a place alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and just a few others in history.

Booker scored 70 points,becoming the sixth diopa League in its old European Cup Winners’ Cup guise in 1998 — the same year he won the League Cup, the Super Cup and, of course, the World Cup — is adamant he’d rather be in it to win it every year than making up the numbers in the continent’s fferent player to reach that total, but the Boston Celtics outlasted the 130-120 on Friday night.

David Thompson, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor are the NBA’s only other 70-point scorers. Baylor also held the previous record against the Celtics with 64 points in Minneapolis for the Lakers on November 8, 1959.

“This doesn’t happen very often especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics,” Booker said. “It’s a zone. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’ve been in those zones before, but never to this extent.”

Isaiah Thomas scored 34 points for Boston, which won its third straight and avenged its buzzer-beater loss in Phoenix earlier this month.

The rematch was dominated early by the Celtics, as they hit eight 3-pointers during a 37-point second quarter to grow their lead as high as 26 points.

Booker then scored 51 after half-time, incnship to become their official training kit partner from the 2019/20 season, reports, /.The Premier League club initially struck a four-year deal with AXA in 2018 which saw the insurance firm become a global partner, with the expanded contract coveriluding 28 in the final period as his team-mates fed him almost every time down the floor.

Coach Earl Watson even used a pair of timeouts in the closing minutes to get him extra touches. As Booker’s point total climbed, he even began to get cheers from some Boston fans. The entire display – in particular Phoenix’s attempts to prolong the game – tweaked some Celtics players.

“It was weird what they were doing,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is. But I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hats off to him. He played a hell of a game.”

Whatever the perception of others, Watson made no apologies.

“I’m not coming into any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked. I don’t care about being liked. I really don’t care to be honest with you,” he said. “We’re trying to build something with attacker Michail Antonio was delighted with their crucial win over Southampton.The Hammers threw off the shackles and went for it at the London Stadium on Saturday in an attacking system that showcased their quality without exposing the defence.Goal this young group. If people don’t like us while we build it, so what? Do something about it.”

Chamberlain had six 70-point games and his 62 points on January 14, 1962, had been the most in Boston.

Phoenix has already been eliminated from playoff contention, and had only eight available players because of injuries. Younger than some lineups in the NCAA Tournament, the Suns have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10, and they were out of this one early before Booker’s explosive performance made it interesting.

His previous career best was 39, which he reached three times before Friday. He had 19 points at half-time, then scored 23 in the third quarter to get the Suns back within range.

USA crush Puerto Rico 8-0 to clinch first ever World Baseball Classic title

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Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament’s highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The US territory finished runners-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament’s MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans’ 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan’s double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The US pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and are hoping to make a move for Southampton defender Matt Targett.The Villa Park club are interested in strengthening their back line, as they will likely lose the 21-year-old and other loan signings from last season.One name that is interesting Dean walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on beforeation Mattis De Ligt is not a target for the Reds.But the London Evening Standard says manager Jurgen Klopp is still on the lookout for defensive players.It is believed the Merseyside club will only part with big money if the signing is a guaranteed their teAubameyang would leave last month.The Gunners captain was linked with Barcelona.But Leno told the London Evening Standard: “I think not too many players talked about this.“Of course there are many rumours and other people talk about this, but youam fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting “U-S-A” when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford’s two-run single that chased JC Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The US tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos’ wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen’s RBI single with two outs.

The US defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

England didn’t beat Australia in the Four Nations. Will Great Britain do better?

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League fans envious of in a row when their national team hasn’t beaten the Kangaroos for a decade, have something to look forward to. Great Britain are coming back. Yes, I know, you’ve heard it all before. But this time it’s true – apparently. As union’s British and Irish Lions gear up to dominate the media next summer when they head to New Zealand, a relaunch of the League Lions is being planned, at last.

It’s nine years now since Richard Lewis brought the curtain down on the Great Britain story after 60 (at times) glorious years, 10 since GB played down under and 24 since an Ashes series was held in Australia. But I am reliably informed that plans are evolving for the return of Great Britain & Ireland and the Ashes, last competed for on these shores in 2003 when Great Britain contrived to turn three laighted with their 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Wednesday night.Cristiano Ronaldo jumped 71cm off the ground to nod in Alex Sandro’s cross and win the game, after a Paulo Dybala volley had been cancelled out by Gianluca Caprari’s effort.“Dybala’s gte leads into three narrow defeats.

With World Cups down under next year and up here in 2021, an Ashes series in 2018 would most likely be in the UK. Alternatively, Great Britain could go back to Australia in 2020. With Australia’s players union still demanding a fallow year between World Cups, it will be one or the other, not both.

So what would a modern Ashes tour look like? The whole point of bringing it back would be to give players and fans a different experience to the Four Nations or World Cup. It would mean warm-up or midweek matches at provincial venues, and three Tests. While it would not go on any longer than the current four to five weeks, more could be packed in.

But how could Great Britain & Ireland look any different to England? Assuming they took the traditional rugby union Lions’ philosophy of having every home nation contributing, there would be management and players from all four camps, surely led by a British coach. If you were choosing it now, a Lions squad could include Scotland’s Matty Russell, Danny Brough and possibly eays the Armenian is the Gunners’ fourth best-paid player but has flattered to deceive at the Emirates since his 2018 swap deal with Alexis Sanchez, who moved to Manchester United in Mkhitaryan’s place.The 30-year-old, who earns £180,000-a-week, is cven Adam Walker, the Welsh flavour could come from Lloyd White, Ben Flower or Rhys Evans, and from Ireland, possibly Ben Currie and the Kings brothers from Warrington. None of these players would be guaranteed a spot in a GB XIII picked on merit alone, but the Lions should be more than that.

The main reason Great Britain was mothballed in 2007 was that it had become an all-English team anyway. Other than Tony Smith’s bizarre selection of Samoan Maurie Fa’asavalu in 2007, as far as I can fathom, Irishman Brian Carney is the only Great Britain player not born in England since Welshman Rowland Phillips played in Papua New Guinea in 1996, bringing to an end a century of union converts from the celtic nations.

Nowadays the celtic contribution to Great Britain – or rather the “British Isles XIII” as the crest on my cherished old GBRL shirt declares – will most likely be English-born. But they could certainly bring the spirit and grit missing from Wayne Bennett’s England side last month.

Goal-line drop-out

So that was the 2016 season. Farewell rugby league; see you again in February. Unless that is you live in or near Yorkshire, are into the women’s game or have Wednesday afternoons free. In which case, the season is just getting into its stride!

The 14-team Hull League remains in winter while the Pennine League may have shrunk a little since the RFL’s bizarre “summer season” campaign yet still has 54 teams up and running this year. That’s just one more than the number of university teams playing now, from Northumberland to Brighton. There are 41 sixth form and further education colleges playing, including newcomers Leyton Sixth Form and Sir George Monoux in Walthamstow, neighbours in east London.

I feel I need to find out more. Add 12 women’s teams (including Liverpool University), the Girls League and the Yorkshire Junior League and there’s rather a lot of competitive league being played in December and January after all.

Foreign quota

While our professionals are back in pre-season training, across the channel the action never stops – especially for Toulouse and Catalans. Both have their reserves in Elite 1 again, providing a testing ground for their best young talent which, in theory, will emerge into the sunlight in spring. Catalans’ reserves, coached by Jerome Guisset, have dispensed with the name Saint-Estève-XIII-Catalan, ending about 80 years of those two historic clubs, and want to be known as Catalans U23, a sorry and unnecessary Anglicisation. Les Baby Dracs pushed table-toppers Carcassonne all the way recently, coming from 26-6 down to lose just 28-20, with Belgium rugby sevens winger Marc Sowell Tchangue among their scorers. They will continue playing once the Elite 1 season ends in May, facing British reserve teams.

While Catalans’ second team are looking strong, Toulouse Broncos – AKA Toulouse Olympique’s reserves – are without a win in their opening seven games. Coach Sylvain Houles will no doubt fish out some exciting young talent as 2017 unfolds. Look out for a full-length interview with Houles here on the Guardian in the bleak mid-winter. Lezignan look strong again and have gone top, while Catalans play Toulouse in a friendly on 21 January.

Clubcall: Toronto Wolfpack

The Wolfpack are the club that keep on giving. Press launch, media release, new signing, breaking story; repeat. Who knows what will happen when they actually start playing. Since I was last with you they have signed a deal with cool Italian kit manufacturers Kappa; abandoned plans to share Bradford Bulls’ Tonge training base and instead decided to set up camp at Brighouse Rangers; announced pre-season fixtures at Hull FC and against Wigan; and signed a second American-born player, with 19-year-old Gold Coast Titans prop Jerome Veve joining Virginian flyer Ryan Borroughs in their ranks, alongside some chap called Fui Fui Moi Moi. The 18 trialists they are bringing over to Brighouse from the Americas include a 17-year-old from Vancouver Island and USA internationals Terrance Williams from Georgia and Casey Clark of Montana.

The Wolfpack might also cause a stir expected to replace Maurizio Sarri in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.”After the season he has had with Derby and with Chelsea’s transfer ban in place, there is no-one better equipped than Frank to succeed at Chelsea,” the 38-year-old was quoted in Chel in Manchester. They will play home Challenge Cup ties and any play-off games at Manchester Regional Arena, next to the Etihad. On 5 February, Wigan will provide the first visitors to the home of Manchester Rangers, the amateur club who the RFL apparently lined up to replace York City Knights in League 1 before former London Skolars GM Jon Flatman rescued York on Thursday night. Intriguing.

Fifth and last

The confirmation that USA and Canada have been granted hosting rights for the 2025 World Cup went down well. However, we will not have to wait that long to see major international action over the pond. Despite the Kangaroos supposedly bringing down the curtain on the Four Nations, there is discussion over there being one more – in 2019… in the US!

This would act as a first test of the Moore Sports International’s capabilities in hosting a major tournament and prove a leg-up for the professional league they hope to launch that year. Expect the fourth team to be a top Pacific nation or the US Hawks. The US are also in the running to host the first Intercontinental Cup, which looks like being delayed until 2022 to avoid Rugby Union World Cups in 2019 and 2023. That would be a practice run for the 2025 World Cup.

Could the Panthers be the most likeable NFL team in 30 years?

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With six games left in the season, the are on pace to make history. Yes, there’s the opportunity to go 16-0, which would be an impressive feat indeed. But the Panthers are threatening to do something far more notable, something that was thought to be impossible in Roger Goodell’s NFL. They could be … hold onto your butts … an NFL team that is legitimately fun.

If you are not entertained by Cam Newton’s outstanding play this year, or if you don’t like that his performance on the field has allowed him to dance in the end zone and , then you can save yourself some time and click away from this column straight away. Maybe there’s an article somewhere out there championing Andy Dalton for looking out for America’s children and the “integrity” of the game as . A column like that, or your angry aunt’s Facebook feed, might be more your style.

For the rest of the sports world, Cam Newton is entertaining. He’s fun. Believe it or not, entertainment and fun is kind of what draws most fans to sports in the first place. No little kid falls in love with football over concussions, TV timeouts, uniform violations, charity initiatives that , daily fantasy controversies, Greg Hardy, tone deaf commissioners, incomprehensible rules on what constitutes a catch, torn ligaments, missed extra points, touchbacks, backup quarterbacks or endless video replay. Yet all that is increasingly what defines the NFL. If not for players and personalities like Cam Newton, who actually dare to openly enjoy the game, the modern NFL would easily supplant church as Sunday’s most yawn-inducing institution.

Some players dance after touchdowns, some players hand the ball directly to the ref. Neither one is wrong. Variety is the spice of life and all that, right? At least Cam Newton didn’t focus group test his post-TD celebration first like Russell Wilson likely would have for maximum branding. Yet there still remain people upset that Cam Newton “dabs.” He just played a game on Sunday against a team called the REDSKINS and Newton, the smiling guy on the undefeated team, is the big problem? It’s a remarkable world we live in.

The 2015 Panthers are so much more than Cam Newton, though. Even if you’re part of the vocal anti-dabbing community, or if you remain unable to get past him taking , there’s plenty to like about Carolina.

Love old-time, hard-hitting defense? The Panthers are fifth in the in points allowed. Prefer explosive offense? Despite losing star receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season to injury in August, Carolina is somehow third in the league in scoring at 29.9 points per game (and that’s sure to go way up with another game against the Saints remaining on the schedule).

Are you a fan of fat guy touchdowns? . Enjoy the films of Sandy Bullock? The Panthers . Appreciate funny Twitter accounts or just anything that craps all over Dan Snyder? . Want to watch a shutdown cornerback who isn’t completely overexposed? Check out Josh Norman. Like players who are active in the community? Carolina gives you , and . (. Yes, it appears that post-TD dabbing doesn’t necessarily make a man rotten to his core.) Are you entertained by fun names? Carolina has a guy named Star and another called Fozzy. Entertained by fun names and have the sense of humor of an 11 year-old boy? Carolina’s practice squad features Cox and a Ball. And are you just a little bit worried that the Panthers have too much fun, considering ? Do not fear. They have Derek Anderson as Newton’s backup, so he’ll make sure they .

Barring Roger Goodell implementing emergency rules that ban non-league approved enjoyment, the Panthers could go down as fun a team as the 1999 “Greatest Show On Turf” St Louis Rams. That team featured a supermarket stock boy turned NFL superstar in Kurt Warner, do-everything back Marshall Faulk and a head coach in Dick Vermeil who seemed to react to most every touchdown by sobbing uncontrollably. That was a fun NFL team to root for and watch.

Before the ‘99 Rams, the 1985 Chicago Bears were the NFL’s fun benchmark. They featured Walter Payton, Refrigerator Perry, Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka and The Super Bowl Shuffle, a song released tFiorentina now expect Borja Valero to stay with Inter Milan.The midfielder has been linked with Fiorentina.“There is zero chance for Borja to be back in the Viola jersey,” Fiorentina director Daniele Pradè told FCInter1908.it.“He is staying with the Nerazzurri, a marvellous squad. “He is not going anywhere, not to Spain and not to Fiorentina. He is 100 per cent staying with Inter.”hree months before the team actually won a title. Just imagine Cam Newton dropping a rap anthem right now about winning the Super Bowl. The heat generated from the takes would boil Earth’s oceans. But in 1985, the general reaction to the Bears video was: “Ha. That’s fun.” Maybe Ronald Reagan’s America really was a utopia after all.

We need the Panthers. They are the NFL’s best shot at beating the Patriots and our greatest hop34-year-old will call time on his City career at the end of the season following 10 trophy-laden years at the Etihad Stadium.”I moved to Eibar a very short time before the beginning of the 2004-05 season and it was the only one available,” he told the for making the NFL fun again. If that’s not enough for you, consider that they’re playing the Cowboys this week on Thanksgiving. Cam Newton can humiliate Greg Hardy and Jerrynsigne has apologised to fans for their defeat to Roma.Roma won 2-1 on the day.“We apologise to the fans, as we know that we can do better, but sometimes there are incidents like the ones on Wednesday that influence us,” Insigne told Radio Kiss Kis Jones in front of the entire nation. If that’s not worth dancing over, then nothing is.

Do the Pirates have a chance against the Cubs’ unstoppable destroyer of worlds?

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The Pittsburgh Pirates were officially eliminated from the postseason on Wednesday night after an 11-1 loss to St Louis .

OK, not exactly “officially.” The Pirates have the second-best record in all of Major League and clinched a postseason berth more than a week ago. But there is a feeling of impending doom hanging over the team because six days from now in the National League wildcard game they will face the unstoppable destroyer of baseball worlds: Jake Arrieta.

After a good start to the season, the 29-year old Cubs ace has put together one of the most dominant second halves in baseball history. Since the start of August, he’s given up four earned runs in 82 1/3 innings. That’s a 0.43 ERA over 11 starts. Not once in that span has he allowed more than two earned runs. In seven of those 11 outings, he didn’t allow a single run. He no-hit the playoff-bound Dodgers at the end of August, and has faced the Pirates three times in the past two months, giving up just nine hits and one earned run in 22 innings. To crush the hopes and dreams of his wildcard foe even more, Arrieta blasted an opposite field home run off the Pirates in his last start against them on Sunday. He didn’t give up a run and he created the only run he needed. Pittsburgh hasn’t face a single man this hellbent on its destruction since Bane.

Somewhere in Baltimore this week there is a man or woman emerging from a two-year coma. He will hear the name “Jake Arrieta” on TV and think: “No way! That guy is still in the majors?” And then he will hear that Arrieta is the greatest pitcher in all of baseball and he will immediately go back into a coma after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Because two years ago, Arrieta was as bad as he is good now. Maybe even more so, as hard as that is to fathom. In nearly 70 games and 63 starts with the Orioles over four years, he had a 5.46 ERA. You know, just 5.03 above his ERA over the past two months. He couldn’t even hold down a rotation spot in an Oriole rotation desperate for arms and Baltimore repeatedly shuttled him back and forth to Triple-A – and he wasn’t even any good there.

Check the timestamp. That tweet is from June of 2013. Just two years ago, Arrieta was a 27-year old pitcher putting up an ERA over 4.00 in the minors. Guys like that are much closer in their careers to becoming gym teachers than lights-out, don’t-even-bother-showing-up, major league aces. In early July of 2013, the Cubs traded Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger and soon after, things finally started to click for him. There was no dramatic overhaul of his motion or life-changing visits to a sports psychologist. Some slight tweaks to his mechanics found Arrieta able to spot his mid-90s fastball better and make his slider dip and turn at varying speeds most any way he wants it to, making and left and right-handed hitters alike look foolish.

So now the Pirates and their ace, Gerrit Cole, face the reality that if they allow a single run next Wednesday, odds are their 96-plus-win season will end after a few hours of “postseason”. While the Pirates themselves, as confident and accomplished athletes, no doubt feel they have a great chance of beating Arrieta, many Pirates fans are either depressed or left grasping at unrelated, random minutiae and irrational hope.

“Hey, Clayton Kershaw is a generational pitcher and he loses a lot in the postseason. Maybe Arrieta will be the same!”

“Remember when the Pirates roughed up Madison Bumgarner late last season and then he dominated them in the wildcard game? The opposite could happen this year with Arrieta!”

“Kris Medlen had a 0.97 ERA in his final 12 starts of 2013, but then he got shelled in the wildcard game. What if Arrieta is the new Medlen?!”

“He’s been pitching great games for months. He’s due for a bad one, right?”

It’s kind of sad. No, it’s just sad. No “kind of.”

But the Pirates’ best hope might be this: If the worst pitcher in all of baseball can miraculously become the best pitcher in just two years, then it’s really true that anything is possible. Maybe even Jake Arrieta losing a baseball game.

“Sometimes, emotions spill over and that’s what happened today. It’s happened for hundreds of years in this game and I think it will continue to happen.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Washington Nationals closer, on fighting teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout on Monday.

Papelbon is not only an expert on baseball’s “code,” but he is also a student of history. A sport called “base-ball” was first referenced in a British publication in 1744, so the game truly has been around for “hundreds” of years. The American Revolution may have come to a head over taxation without representation, but for all we know, the first fractures between America and Great Britain came when the scrappy colonists were outraged by the entitled British failing to run out pop-ups.

– Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez hit the 24th home run of his career Tuesday night in a loss to the Mariners. It was also the 24th solo home run of Gonzalez’s career. Yes, every home run in his four-year career has been a solo shot. Amazing. Gonzalez better hope Papelbon doesn’t land on the Astros next year because that sort of selfish home run hitting would not be tolerated.

Johnny Giavotella, 2B, Angels – 7-for-15, 4 RBI

Matt den Dekker, OF, Nationals – 8-for-18, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Rays – 7-for-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB

Jarrett Parker, OF, Giants – 7-for-17, 5 HR, 9 RBI

Nick Tropeano, P, Angels – 11 innings, 16 strikeouts, 1 win, 0.82 ERA

Adam Conley, P, Marlins – 12 innings, 13 strive completed the signing of Porto defender Chidozie Awaziem.The Nigeria international arrives on a straight 12-month loan.Awaziem becomes the ninth summer signing made by Leganes and was due to undergo his first training session today under coach Maukeouts, 2.25 ERA

Thank you for this important question. If the unwritten rules of baseball were ever published, the answer to this would no doubt be revealed. And at considerable risk of being strangled by a Knight of The Baseball Code for answering your question in print, I will attempt to do so anyway. I am not afraid to put my life on the line for you, my dear readers.

Most would assume that you want to choke up, because the top of the human neck is narrower than the base, allowing you to wrap more of your hands around the neck of the baseball code-breaker. And choking up on the bassing out on the England squad.The centre-back was hoping that he would get a call up to the Three Lions squad by manager Gareth Southgate.However, he was left out for their Euro 2020 qualifiers. And the 26-year-old wants to continue focusing on doint is something gritty baseball players who play the game the right way do. Yet choking up on a neck is wrong. The right way to strangle is to grab the neck at the base and dig your thumbs in hard below the Adam’s apple to cut off the wind pipe. At least that’s the way my Little League coach taught me.

The Phillies have won thof manager Nigel Pearson.The Hornets were nine points adrift at the foot of the table prior to their home game against Manchester United and the goalkeeper has revealed that he feared the worst.”When we had nine points just before the Man United gameree in a row and four of five, including two in a row over the playoff-bound Mets. Are they the best team in baseball as the calendar flips to October? (No.)

There is intrigue left in the Phillies season, however. While the franchise has the most losses in the history of American professional sports, the Phillies haven’t lost 100 games in a season since 1961. If they can close the season 2-2 or better, they’ll keep that streak alive. At the same time, the Phillies stand just two games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the worst record in baseball and the No1 overall pick. They really need to get back to losing to clinch. Choose how you end your season wisely, Phillies. Think what Ruben Amaro would do and then do the opposite.

The Cubs clinched their first postseason appearance since 2008 this week (assuming we’re all pretending the play-in game counts as the real postseason). The franchise made the Divisional Series in 2007 and 2008, but got swept both times. The Cubs haven’t won a playoff game since 2003 and the Steve Bartman NLCS. That’s so long ago now that . No ear buds. No smartphone (the iPhone didn’t come out until 2007). No social media. The Bartman incident essentially happened in ancient history. Hopefully Cubs fans can finally get over it and let the guy live his life in peace. I’m sure he’d love to be able to go out in public and buy one of these fancy smartphones we have now.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman this week who believe A-Rod’s bat speed has slowed down as the season has progressed, but Rodriguez “remains a wily hitter who works counts well and can play to his strengths.” His No1 strength, of course? Wiliness.

The Post also ran a headline this week asking “” I didn’t bother to read the article, but if they meant: “Is Bryce Harper a great player who will spend the majority of his career on the Yankees?”, then I wholeheartedly answer “yes.”

1) I never played baseball at a high level, so I am no expert on the game’s locker room/strangulation culture. What I do know, however, is that if I was a MLB closer like Jonathan Papelbon, I’d probably keep my opinions of my team-mates to myself. Closers are pitchers – – whose entire job is to pitch one single inning AFTER THE REST OF THE TEAM HAS ALREADY TAKEN THE LEAD. If my employment and large income was contingent on everyone else playing well for eight innings every game before I showed up to try to get three outs a few times a week, I’d do everything I could to stay in my lane and hope nobody noticed how unimportant and overpaid I am. I especially wouldn’t call out the best player on my team and the guy whose performance had given me so many save opportunities. I mean, the guy who locked the doors at night at Apple probably never ripped into Steve Jobs for how he did his job, right? Or maybe he did. The tech world may have an uncoded code I don’t know about.

2) Former major league pitcher CJ Nitkowski got a lot of attention this week for his column that gave on the Papelbon-Harper dust-up and featured more than a dozen quotes from current and former major leaguers, all of whom sided with Papelbon. Nitkowski’s piece as advocating for the strangulation of players. Yet I know him to be a thoughtful and intelligent person, and seemingly not the kind of man who would push for mandatory chokings of the non-scrappy. So I contacted Mr Nitkowski and asked him straight out: “Do you support the public strangling of players for not running full speed to first?”

His response, exclusive to the Guardian: “I do not. These kind of things should take place behind closed doors where a player can be properly waterboarded or caned in private. No one is above the hustle.”

So there you go. I think we can all agree with that.

3) And now the dramatic conclusion to : I dug around more and still couldn’t determine if the rules forbid an American League player from being on the lineup card as both a pitcher and the DH, allowing him to stay in the game as a hitter even after being removed from the mound. So I asked ESPN baseball writer David Schoenfield if he knew the answer and he claims that it is not allowed. “You can choose not use the DH – this happened a few times in the 1970s, including twice with Ken Brett (George’s brother) – but you can’t DH the pitcher and let him stay in the game.”

And if you do try to do it? The manager must get waterboarded in the locker room.

4) And since we’re running out of baseball season and time for readers to ask questions, let’s throw in another one this week:

With great feats of consumption, the natural inclination is to think that the larger-bodied are ideal for the task. Someone like Matt Adams or Bartolo Colon. But if you look at the top competitive eaters, none of them are overweight. And Boggs played at a relatively svelte 6ft 2in 190lbs. So I think you want to go with a player who is in shape. There are obviously a lot to choose from in baseball, but just don’t expect Bryce Harper to be the one who pulls this off.

5) Every year since the wildcard was invented, baseball’s more curmudgeonly fans have tsk’d teams for celebrating making the postseason. “You’ve only made the wildcard! You have nothing to celebrate!” these people grunt while eating dinner out of a can in their dimly lit living rooms reeking of cat litter. But I think these people would be the first to say that practice makes perfect, and baseball teams clearly need to practice their celebration fundamentals.

6) The Astros are 8-13 since Taylor Swift performed at Minute Maid Park, falling out of a playoff spot in the process. The Padres are 11-17 since Swift played Petco Park in late August. And the Nationals have gone from first place to fighting each other since Swift performed in their stadium.

It sounds like Taylor Swift has become a major baseball curse. But I’m sorry, the Bambino had one of the best baseball curses of all-time!

7) Fan anthems are almost exclusively horrific. That’s what makes this new St Louis Cardinals anthem remarkable: it’s so awful it has been able to break through and get noticed, like a dirty needle in a rotten haystack.

Congratulations to the Cardinals. You’re the best at baseball AND the best at embarrassing music. That’s two things you’re the best at!

8) Lest we think baseball’s Papelbonian culture is a recent development, behold this note that Phillies manager Pat Moran wrote to Philadelphia fans 100 years ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

He references grit with “hustling.” He’s got some traditional sports cliches in there with “a team that goes out there and plays baseball the best it knows how.” But most remarkable of all is this sentence: “Some of these fellows may think that I haven’t a championship ball club, but they have been saying a lot of other things all summer long that they will now have to back water on.” I’m pretty sure this is the first-ever sports instance of “they hate us ‘cause they ain’t us,” but delivered in old timey words. Amazing.

9) You know, maybe Moran’s guts-over-brains viewpoint on baseball is what prompted the infamous “Get A BRAIN! MORANS” sign from this . That has to be it. Cardinals fans know how to spell the right way.

10) It’s October! Playoff baseball is almost here! Who’s pumped to over-analyze every manager move while we try to convince ourselves again that back-to-back playoff participant Ned Yost has no idea at all what he’s doing? Woo! Yes!

Longtime nemesis Antonio Cromartie says Tom Brady shouldn’t be suspended

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Tom Brady received support from an unlikely quarter on Thursday when New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie came out in defense of the embattled quarterback during an appearance on ESPN.

“Honestly, I don’t think he should be suspended,” Cromartie , ESPN’s two-hour weekday morning debate program, when asked about the fairness of the NFL’s punishment for Brady’s role in Deflategate. “Nobody is safe no matter who you are. Roger [Goodell] is going to do what he wants to do. It don’t matter what the rules say, he’s gonna make his own rules as he goes, and it shouldn’t be like that.

“But at the end of the day, we as players gave him the freedom to do whatever he wants to do. We signed the [current Collective Bargaining Agreement]. So we had our own fault for doing it. We should have been more detailed. We shouldn’t have rushed into things. We should have pushed it to another month and a half and made the owners lose money, and then you go from there.”

Four years ago, when Cromartie made headlines by calling Brady an “asshole” ahead of a playoff game between the Jets and Patriots, it would have been difficult to imagine support coming from a less likely figure.

“Fuck him,” Cromartie . “I hate [him].”

On Thursday, it was Goodell who bore the brunt of Cromartie’s anger. Perhaps, as they say, the enemy of my enemy really is my friend.

“In the rulebook, ths been left out of the club’s preseason tour.The left back will remain in England, while the rest of his teammates head to Asia for their preseason preparations.Per The Telegraph, Rose is set for a move away from Tottenham in the coming weeks.The 29-ere’s no suspension in the rules,” Cromartie said. “There’s only a $25,000 fine, so I don’t see how you can try to lay the hammer down on someone when the rule states for itself there’s no suspension for it. Are we trying to go back to the Spygate and get more from ity.The Arsenal-next-manager-Mikel-Arteta-Man-City-assistant-Pep-Guardiola-EXCLUSIVE”>Daily ExpressArsenal-next-manager-Mikel-Arteta-Man-City-assistant-Pep-Guardiola-EXCLUSIVE”> says Arteta is in the middle of a tug of war between Manchester City andthat? Or are we just leading back to us, saying ‘Well, I have full control of everything. I made the rules as it goes, rather than follow the rules of what’s already been written.’”

Cromartie is not the first Patriots rival to back Brady. Bernard Pollard and Terrell Suggs have also come out in support of the Neify for the Champions League.“Deciding to leave the Milan bench isn’t easy, but it’s a decision I had to make,” Gattuso told La Repubblica.“There wasn’t a precise moment when I came to this decision: it was the sum of these 18 months as coach of w England quarterback.

USA at the Women’s World Cup: what we learned from the group stage

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1) USA’s attacking prowess isn’t what it used to be

Here’s a fun fact: Going into their easiest match of the group stage against Nigeria, the Americans had been shut out five times in their previous 13 games since December. But before that, it took them 176 games to be shut out five times, stretching all the way back to 2007. Against a Nigeria team that appeared to have a pretty poor defense in their previous group games, the Americans managed just one goal – even after Nigeria went down to 10 players for 20 minutes.

There’s no question that the world’s competition is getting stronger. All we have to do is look at upsets in the group stage and the struggles of the top teams, such as Tuesday’s other results, which saw Sweden draw to Australia and Cameroon beat Switw Real Madrid fullback Ferland Mendy has been ruled out for a month after picking up a thigh injury in pre-season.The latest blow for Los Blancos comes just days after Marco Asensio suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament which will keep him on thzerland. And as the rest of the world improves, the numbers suggest USA are having trouble maintaining the performance gap they’ve enjoyed throughout the years. The big question going into this Women’s World Cup was to win the toughest World Cup to date. Early results suggest the answer is perhaps not.

2) Abby Wambach is still an important player

We know some things about Wambach that might make it seem like she shouldn’t play a huge role in this World Cup. She is 35 years old and visibly slowing down. She is less productive than she has been in the past. The team has plenty of other talented, young, productive forwards that can play big roles. But when the USA needed a goal to top the Group of Death and advance to the knockouts, Wambach could be counted on to make it happen.

As good as Wambach is on set pieces – she scored Tuesday’s game-winner over Nigeria off a corner – she has a toolkit of intangibles the team seems to rely on, such as her experience and leadership. The team played with a spark against Nigeria that they didn’t have straight out of the gate against Sweden. Maybe Wambach is that X-factor or maybe she’s not, but it’s hard to argue that she didn’t score the most crucial USA goal of the group stage. Her role with the team , and she seemed to provide an answer.

3) Hope Solo’s off-the-field distractions don’t matter

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but Solo has been involved with some off-the-field issues. Her personal problems have been distilled into one code word: “distractions”. That’s a good code word when there seems to be a new detail or wrinkle, and a new article or column everyday about her arrest, which took place nearly a year ago. For some reason, Senator Richard Blumenthal didn’t think there were more important things going on in Connecticut during this World Cup and asked US Soccer to investigate her arrest.

But it’s now safe to say, these distractions simply don’t matter. Firstly, they aren’t affecting Solo’s on-field performance. She came up with two massive saves against Australia that were probably responsible for securing USA’s win to open the tournament. The reaction from the players was universal: Only Solo could have made those big-time saves. That leads into the second point, which is that with the way Solo is playing, she is worth every bit of trouble she causes for US Soccer’s public relations team. Solo is simply too valuable to bench.

4) The USA defense may be what wins them the World Cup

Can the Americans win a World Cup when arguably their two best players are their two starting centerbacks, Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston? USA coach Jill Ellis thinks so: “If you don’t give up any goals, you have a hell of chance,” she quipped after USA beat Nigeria, in another performance where the biggest plays seemed to happen in the Americans’ half.

When it’s not Sauerbrunn and Johnston tracking back and beating some of the fastest forwards in the tournament, it’s Meghan Klingenberg making a monster save off the line with her head. Add in nham star Harry Kane has been ruled out of action until April with a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old suffered the injury during Spurs’ loss to Southampton on New Year’s Day.He will return two months before Euro 2020 commences.”Following ongoing assSolo and her heroics, and USA are looking defensively more than capable of helping secure a World Cup come 5 July.

5) The real tournament begins now

The Group of Death didn’t end up that deadly. Indeed it probably earned its name in large part because No5-ranked Sweden were controversially not seeded. But Sweden did not live up to theiral Madrid, the Croatia international completed his spell a Europa League title winner last night.The midfielder is now due to return to Madrid, though AS says Kovacic’s preference is to stay with Chelsea next season.His situation raises the prospect responsibility, drawing with both Australia and Nigeria, teams the USA managed to beat, albeit unconvincingly. To compare it to the men’s World Cup last year, Sweden were like Portugal in the USA’s group – uninspiring where they were supposed to be deadly.

So what lies ahead for the Americans? A team like Germany that beat Ivory Coast, 10-0 and Thailand 4-0, maybe. Perhaps a team like reigning world champions Japan, who have swept their group. The last 16 should gift the USA a low-ranked team, but after that, all bets are off. USA won’t be able to afford another subpar showing once the win-or-go-home format kicks in.