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Skater badly injured in Olympic ceremony rehearsal accident

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A female skater was severely injured after falling to the ice from about 16 feet during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Youth Winter Olympics in Lausanne, police said Wednesday.

The 35-year-old Russian woman’s life is in dange is reluctant to return to the Premier League this summer.The Mirror says Bale is being pushed towards the exit at Real Madrid by boss Zinedine Zidane.But the star is determined not to be forced out without his mega contract worth over £600,000-a-wer, police in the canton of Vaud said. An investigation into Tuesday’s incident is being led by police in the city of aking to Bleacher Report in a Q&A, James named manager Frank Lampard alongside three of his current Blues team-mates in an all-time Chelsea dream team.Cesar Azpilicueta earned the nod over James himself at right-back while World Cup winner N’GoloLausanne.

Police said the woman was being hoisted by a cable attached to the ceiling of the main hockey stadium in Lausanne. The skater suddenly lost balance and fell.

The inquiry must try to establish “the reasons, the circumstances and possible responsibilities in this accident,” police said.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement a female pecan understand Arsenal’s interest in defender Tierney.“Once you’re a top quality player like he [Tierney] is, like what Callum [McGregor] is, what James [Forrest] is, you are always going to get bids. You are always going to get speculation and yourforming artist was evacuated for treatment at a hospital in Lausanne, without detailing the incident.

“The IOC and Lausanne 2020 wish the performer a fast and full recovery,” the Olympic body said.

The two-week games open Thursday with a ceremony at the new arena, which will also host games at the men’s hockey world championships in May.

London franchise moves closer as NFL confirms first game at Spurs stadium

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The NFL’s international development manager believes the league’s “11-year tease” with London will lead to a permanent franchise, potentially as soon as 2021.

Speaking at the announcement of this year’s three games in London, Mark Waller, the league’s executive vice-president, said the economic case had been proven and it was now only a case of persuading any relocating team it would not be at a competitive disadvantage.

Having staged 21 games in London since 2011, Waller told Press Association Sport there was “no decrease in the enthusiasm for London” among the league’s 32 team owners and “they all know the numbers stack up”. The next task is finding solutions to any concerns a London-based team’s players and staff might have about issues such as accommodation, travel, tax status and schools.

Waller pointed out that the current collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union expires in 2020 and the league’s various broadcast deals run until 2021. “You could say it’s been an 11-year tease, but various strands would seem to be coming together,” Waller added.

Thursday’s announcement revealed that Tottenham’s new stadium will only host one NFL game next season, despite the Premier League club having a 10-year deal with the league to stage two games a season. The new White Hart Lane, which is under construction, will stage its first NFL game on 14 October, when the Oakland Raiders host the .

Having staged its first NFL game in 2007, Wembley gets its 19th and 20th games over the following two weekends – the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Los Angeles Chargers versus the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars have agreed to play one game in London until 2020.

Waller urged British NFL fans not to read anything into the fact that there will be only three games in London this year, after four last year. Waller added that both Wembley and Twickenham started with just one game per season, and that White Hart Lane would be able to host three games in a season “pretty soon.” London mayor Sadiq Khan has also moved to reassure fans over the lack of a second game at White Hart Lane.

With the NFL committed to holding two games a season at Wembley until 2020, that means London can expect to stage five games in either 2019 or 2020 – a move that would only increase the clamour for a full-time franchise in the UK capital.

Despite missing out on a second game, White Hart Lane will benefit from hosting two good teams. The Seahawks have reached the playoffs in six of the last seasons, and won the Super Bowl in 2014. The Raiders, meanwhile, have emerged from the doldrums in recent years and are in the process of relocating – although Las Vegas, not London, will be their new homns.The Brazilian midfielder has two offers on the table, reports Le 10 Sport, from Newcastle United and Genoa.Genoa have bid €7m for Maia plus 50 per cent of his sell-on fee.Newcastle, meanwhile, have proposed a loan with a superior salary offer foe.

“The announcement of the first game of the NFL’s 2018 London games to take place at our new home heralds the commencement of our 10-year pa Azzurri were knocked out of the Champions League at the gas with Fikayo Tomori’s new deal.The defender recently committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new five-year contract.”He’s been playing fantastically well since I had him at Derby and then this season he’s shown it in the Premier Learoup stage which included finalists Liverpool and were dumped out of the Europa League in the last eight by Arsenal, who will face Chelsea in Baku.Ancelotti said, “It is a small consolation rtnership,” said the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy. “This is one of the cornerstones of our vision for creating a world-class sports and leisure destination that will make Tottenham a hive of activity 365 days a year, and drive the regeneration of one of the most deprived areas of London.”

Steve Bartman, America’s most infamous fan, receives Cubs redemption

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Steve Bartman, the fan vilified and blamed for ending the team’s championship hopes in 2003, has been awarded a World Series rinew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.The young pair were outstanding in their Champions League triumph last season.”Both Andy and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] on the other side had incredible seasons,” Warnock told Liverpoolfc.com.”I think last seasong to commemorate Chicago’s title win last year.

The Cubs were mired in their legendary title drought – – when Bartman made his mark on history in 2003. The team appeared to be headed for the World Series when he stretched out to catch a foul ball with the Cubs leading late in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Miami Marlins. Bartman instead deflected the ball away from a Cubs fielder, the Marlins came back to win the game and then sealed a place in the World Series with victory in Game 7.

Bartman’s name later appeared online, and he and his family were given police protection. The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, . The incident was infamous enough for ESPN to make a in 2011. Bartman, still scarred by the abuse he had received, chose not to appear.

Cubs management and players have repeatedly stated that Bartman was not to blame for the incident, and on Monday the team’s owner, Tom Ricketts, presented him with a championship ring.

“On behalf of the entire Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr Steve Bartman,” Ricketts and the Cubs said in a statement. “We hope this provides ardi is successfully rebuilding his relationship with the Inter Milan locker room, it has been revealed.The striker angered many senior teammates over the way he refused to take part in training for over a month after being sacked as captain in Februclosure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.

“While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”

For Bartman, who has been haunted by the incident, and has kept a low-profile for the last 14 years there was relief. “I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society,” he said in a statement. “My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.”

The move was also welcomed by players. The former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster toldndan Rodgers has admitted to being disappointed by their January transfer window.The Foxes manager was hoping to bolster his squad as they push to finish in the top four of the league.Rodgers knows that his team will face tough tests in the second ha the Chicago Tribune: “I guess that is closure at its finest … To do something like that for Steve Bartman, who got ridiculed for something that any fan would have done, is pretty awesome.”

Yankees’ Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record

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Aaron Judge broke Mark McGwire’s major-league record for home runs by a rookie, hitting a pair for the second straight day to raise his total to 50 and lead n.The striker missed Friday’s friendly against Kawasaki Frontale with tonsillitis but is fully fit again and determined to impress with the Blues this season having spent the past three years out on loan”I am more ready than ever for the season to stthe over the Kansas City Royals 11-3 Monday.

The 6ft 7in, 25-year-old slugger tied the mark with a two-run drive to right-center off Jakob Junis (8-3) in the third inning that put New York ahead 3-0. His solo shot over the visitors’ bullpen in left against Trevor Cahill in the seventh made it 7-3 and earned him a rare curtain call.

Judge has 13 home runs in September and six in five games, and he is second in the majors behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who has 57. Judge has four multihomer games this month and seven this season.

Judge was hitting .329 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs when he won the , then slumped to a .179 average with seven homers and 16 RBIs from the start of the second half through 31 August, striking out 67 times in 44 games. His September rebound boosted his average to .283 with 108 RBIs and an AL-leading 120 walks and a big league-high 203 strikeouts, putting himself back into MVP consideration.

McGwire hit 49 homers for Oakland in 1987, breaking the previous mark of 38 set by the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson in 1956.

Greg Bird added a two-run homer into the right field second deck in the sixth, his seventh home run this season and fourth in nine games. Gary Sanchez followed Judge in the seventh with back-to-back homers for the third time this year, raising his total to 33.

CC Sabathia (13-5) took a 6-0 lead into the seventh, when Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer and Mike Moustakas chased him by going deep four pitches later. Mixing sharp cutters and sliders, Sabathia improved to 9-0 in 11 starts this year after Yankees’ losses and 21-11 in his career against Kansas City. He allowed six hits in six-plus innings.

New York, which began the day five games behind AL East-leading Boston, needs one win or a Minnesota loss to clinch home field in the AL wild-card game on 3 October. Didi Gregorius had an RBI groundout in the first and scored on Matt Holliday’s double in the sixth.

Kansas City, starting perhaps its final week with potential free agents Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Moustakas, was pushed to the brink of postseason elimination. The Royals headed home from an 11-game, four-city trip trailing the Twins for the second AL wild card by six games with six games left. Kansas City went 37-44 on the road, three more wins than last year.

Junis gave up six runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He had been 6-0 ts he’s missed Benfica this season.The 20-year-old moved for an eye-waterrprised him this season.Juventus lead the table one point ahead of Lazio and Inter Milan.”The real surprise is that Juventus have 10 points less than in previous years, and that’s why their rivals are much closer,” Capello told Sky Italia.“They hading 127 million euros and has thus far been unable to show what he is capable of in a red-and-white shirt, but his best play to date has come with Benfica.”Now I see how happy Iin eight starts and two relief appearance since a June 29 loss at Detroit.

Kansas City returned to New York for a makeup of a 25 May rainout, and the ballpark was half-full on a warm autumn afternoon with the temperature in the mid-80s.

The fight for potty parity: how sports venue toilets value men over women

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To pee or not to pee?

It’s a question we ask ourselves at concerts, sporting events and other times we don’t want to miss a minute of the action. And when women decide we can’t hold it any longer, we often have to wait longer than men in those daunting arena lines.

Female sports fans were in an uproar after the Edmonton Oilers converted during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Female fans were upset that they weren’t informed of the decision ahead of time, and some said the wait time was up to half an hour.

“When you purchase a ticket, you should expect to get access to a bathroom,” Kathryn Anthony, a professor and author of books such as that discuss gender bias in architecture, said of the wait times. “It’s just unfair, and it makes women feel unwelcome.”

The team said that a survey showed playoff attendance skewed male – a tough thing to prove when you account for re-selling tickets and who ticket holders bring as guests. Representatives for the Oilers did not respond to a request for the survey results or information about ticket holders.

“You’ll never make everyone happy,” Oilers general manager Susan Darrington about the change, adding: “The men are getting through faster, the women are seeing a little more of a delay.”

There are biological reasons why women’s bathrooms lines are typically longer: we need to sit; we menstruate; we pee more often than men, especially when we’re pregnant. Then there are societal reasons: we’re more likely to have children with us; we need to take off more clothing than men, which is often tigoalkeeper Mark Travers admits he’s been working on his passing game to fit into manager Eddie Howe’s system.Travers found the spotlight during the latter stages of last season, having been handed Premier League starts against Tottenham and Crystal Pahter and takes more time.

“People make jokes that we’re vain,” said Soraya Chemaly, an activist whose . “But we’re not standing in line for mirrors. We just need to use the bathroom.”

when renovations brought relief for some female baseball fans, “potty parity” isn’t measured by having the same number of toilets – it’s measured by wait times. Equal speed of access is the key, Anthony argues.

If the problem is so bad, why haven’t we done anything about it? Partly it’s because we are conditioned to think this is normal.

“Women are constantly standing in line, sometimes 60 people deep, and they do it quietly while men breeze through, and you have to ask how it’s possible that we’re still at this stage,” Chemaly said.

When men have to wait in longer lines and they make enough noise about it, the rules change. We’re seeing it now with the Oilers, and we saw it when male Chicago Bears fans were upset about new equal bathroom rules and to men’s at Soldier Field.

from fans, players and staff. Female journalists are at an alarming scale. And when teams do try to include us, we get mansplainy events like – complete with complimentary beauty treatments! – or featuring a soap opera star.

Women on the Seattle city council were told to “rot in hell” and “go back to the kitchen” when they rejected a land-use deal that would have allowed tster City’s clash with Norwich City.Stones has been out of action for the last month with a thigh problem and Nicolas Otamendi was Pep Guardiola’s only senior centre half.But Stones has taken part in full training and is ready to make his comeback athe creation of a pro-basketball stadium, . (Seattle doesn’t even have an NBA team any more and there are no promises they’ll get one anytime soon, which was their main argument for shooting it down.)

Soriller with Ajax.James made history by becoming the youngest Chelsea scorer in the Champions League.Lampard said, “Reece is a fantastic young player. He gives what you saw, and he will get much better because he’s 19.”I felt we needed to change to ge, how can we make these spaces more welcoming for women?

These spaces will become more accommodating for women when building codes and legislation improve, but groups are still pushing to improve the facilities at existing arenas. The American Restroom Association has worked to create more family restrooms in public spaces such as arenas, which can be used when children or people with disabilities need assistance. They have also been used as gender-neutral bathrooms.

Many argue that a gender-neutral bathroom system could alleviate unequal wait times. In such a system, “the next available toilet would go to the next available person,” Brubaker said. “It wouldn’t matter what their gender is.”

And that’s what we should strive for: to have equal and shorter wait times for all. Because we all have to use the bathroom, but nobody wants to miss a goal.

Sergio García shines at Masters to raise hopes of end to major drought

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If the weight of experience lurking with intent did not pose such a threat, this Masters could be characterised as a weekend chase for major number one.

Charley Hoffman, , Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler head the event at half way on four under par. At differing ages, positions in world ranking and career victory levels, their combined major haul? Zero. Hoffman is the surprise package, Pieters the surly young pretender, García the routine bridesmaid and Fowler the form horse. Cases can be made for each of them but, crucially, for another 25 competitors, too.

The cavalry in pursuit includes Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. Ths always confident the Barcelona starlet would make it.Fati made his debut at 16 for Sunday’s 5-2 defeat of Real Betis.Luis Pérez Mena, the director of the Seville-based Escuela de FútbolPeloteros, coached Fati as a junior and told Efe: “I’ve been e leaders are not likely to enter relaxation mode.

García’s case, in his 71st consecutive major, is without question the most fascinating. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, who lit up Augusta National when claiming two Green Jackets and triggering a European stampede on the Masters, should be celebrating his 60th birthday on Sunday. If García, forever linked to Ballesteros not only on grounds of Spanish nationality but the level of mesmerising talent as demonstrated from his youth, were to prevail here, one of the great golf storylines of our time would have unfolded. does have a habit of throwing them up.

García returned a terrific run, of 21 opening tournament holes without dropping a shot. On Friday he birdied Augusta’s first three for the first time. At the 12th he conjured up a bunker shot from a plugged lie that he considered “hands down, the best of my career”. So far, so good.

One must, nonetheless, give strong consideration to an alternative outcome, the sort García has become ominously accustomed to. García has never made much secret of his indifference towards Augusta National as a venue despite, it must be stressed, always insisting he tries his best to win here. Essentially García believes the Augusta set-up means even good shots are occasionally not properly rewarded.

Matters seemed to be conspiring against him on Friday as a scoreboard error meant he was awarded a seven rather than the five he did produce at the 10th. “The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t one under for the tournament, I knew I was three.

“Shane Lowry hit two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldn’t find it, we found the second one. We are all dressed light coloured pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have made the mistake. But it was fine.”

The number was duly amended, Garcia later signing for 69. It should have been better but for a lame birdie attempt from all of 4ft on the 18th.

Further bad news arrives for García from a key statistic. His third-round scoring average at the Masters is the worst of anyone in three decades, at close to 75. Perhaps if he can get through Saturday, when conditions are predicted to be far more favourable than days one and two, even García himself will take his Augusta challenge seriously. Part of the intrigue around the 37-year-old is that, for one so gifted, he never appears fully confident in his own ability.

“In a lot of these shots there’s such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult two putt,” García explained. “You try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.

“Things are happening at the moment. I want to make sure that I keep riding that wave and go out there tomorrow and be positive, be like I’ve been the first two days.”

There is a parallel for García to dratheir clash with Villarreal.The Croatian has started just once this season — at Granada — and has now been replaced by Carles Aleña. “Every week I am asked about those not called up,” the coach said. “If Rakitic is not [in the squad], it’s becausew on. Danny Willett, last year’s Masters champion, had claimed the Dubai Desert Classic two months earlier. It was García who lifted that trophy in the Middle East a matter of weeks ago. García is not carrying the Spanish flag alone. Jon Rahm’s outstanding 2017 shows no sign of slowing down, the rookie signing for a 70 to sit at one under par.

McIlroy was the victim of dreadful misfortune on the closing hole. An apparently perfect approach shot from 140 yards r Milan are ready to slap in a bid for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.Off contract in June, the Dane has refused to consider new terms proposed by Spurs and is ready to leave the Londoners.PSG have been in contact, however Corriere dello Sporhit the pin, causing the ball to bound back down the fairway. McIlroy could understandably barely conceal his rage at making a bogey from there, meaning a 73 and plus one aggregate.

The Northern Irishman has not fully kicked into gear, a fact that should give him confidence given a position within touching distance of the lead with half of the Masters to play.

McIlroy has his mind set on a big Saturday move. “I’m a little disappointed with what happened at the last but these things happen and, if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow, a couple under through three, I’ll be right there,” he said.

“There are still 36 more holes left to go, a long way in this tournament. I know what can happen, good and bad, around this golf course.”

Willett was among those to encounter the negative, with a defence that ended on Friday at plus seven. A quadruple eight on the 1st fatally impacted on his cause.

A year ago Ian Woosnam insisted his Masters playing days were over on what marked the 25th anniversary of his victoryhere.

The Welshman, now 59, duly returned for 36 holes, his Friday 78 meaning a missed cut at 10 over par. “My wife made me come back,” Woosnam said. But will he – or she – do so again? “I haven’t ruled it out.” Wonderfully confusing.

Innovation helps Emirates Team New Zealand take 3-0 lead in America’s Cup

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Peter Burling and Emirates Team are threatening to sail — and cycle — away with the America’s Cup.

The 26-year-old Burling calmly steered the New Zealanders’ 50-foot catamaran to two more dominating victories against Jimmy Spithill and two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA on Sunday to remain undefeated in the showdown on the Great Sound.

Although they’ve won four races, the Kiwis lead Oracle 3-0. Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the challenger started the 35th America’s Cup match with a negative point.

Burling, an America’s Cup rookie who has won Olympic gold and silver medals with grinder Blair Tuke, steered the Kiwis to victories of 49 seconds and 1 minute 12 seconds on the turquoise waters of the Great Sound.

Team New Zealand need to win four more races to return the Auld Mug to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in d ahead of Manchester United in the battle for Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes.Real Madrid are also in contact with Sporting, though it’s Spurs which are regarded as favourites, says Record.Spurs made a €60m offer last week, which was turnedAuckland, where it resided from 1995-2003. Oracle need to win seven to keep the trophy in the hands of .

Oracle Team USA now have five days to try to come with some answers to counter the design innovations of the scrappy New Zealanders, who are getting by with much less funding. Racing resumes on Saturday and Sunday.

This is anston Reid is set to make a playing return with New Zealand.Reid has been sidelined by a knee injury since March last year, but is poised to pull on his boots once again in Dublin on Thursday evening as he captains New Zealand in their friendly clash rematch , when Team New Zealand, then skippered by Dean Barker, reached match point at 8-1 before Spithill lead Oracle Team USA to eight straight victories on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in international sports.

So far, the New Zealanders and their cycling grinding system have proven too fast for Oracle in light, shifty wind. They’ve also made the right choices on which foils to use on the ends of their daggerboards. The New Zealanders used the same foils they did in speeding to two victories on Saturday while the American-backed crew appeared to use two different foils.

Burling and his team are using a “cyclor” grinding system. They’ve built four stationary cycling stations into each hull to tap leg power instead of traditional arm power from the grinders to power the hydraulic systems that control the wing mainsail and the daggerboards. Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in cycling at the London Olympics, was aboard for Race 3. Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan replaced him for Race 4.

Spithill, an Australian, is trying to win his third straight America’s Cup before he turns 38.

Oracle made an unforced error when its catamaran came off its foils early on the downwind second leg. That was enough for Burling to speed awa.City assistant manager Arteta is in advanced talks to take the manager’s job at Arsenal this week.And should Arteta leave the champions, former Feyenoord coach Van Bronckhorst is available to step in to fill the void.The Dutchman is now part of the y around the seven-leg course for a 49-second victory. In Race 4, the Kiwis held a slim lead at the first mark and simply sped away.

Jon Jones stripped of UFC title after one-year doping ban upheld

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Jon Jones has been stripped of the interim light heavyweightenis Suarez.The playmaker grew up near Vigo and played for Celta’s academy until he joined Manchester City at the age of 16.Denis has signed a four-year deal at Balaidos, with Celta paying 12.9 million euros to Barcelona as well as 3.1 million euros championship after an arbitration panel denied his appeal of a positive test and upheld a doping ban that will run through July.

Widely considered the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, Jones was pulled from a July bout against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 shortly after news about the positive drug test.

Jones claimed to have taken a sexual-enhancement pill but ended up testing tner for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, reports, /.The agreement sees the Premier League club’s match highlights and content placed on the airline’s in-flight entertainment systems and its in-house magazine.The deal is worth around UK£250,000 positive for two banned anti-estrogen agents.

“Jon Jones has blown it in every way shape and form a guy with that much talent can blow it,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN. “Greatest talent ever and the biggest screw-up ever.”

The 29-year-old won the newly created interim title in April when he defeated Ovince St Preux at UFC 197.

The US Anti-Doping Agency, which handles UFC testing, declared Jones ineligible. He took the case to arbitration and that panel delivered the maximum one-year suspension, saying Jones’ “degree of fault verged on the reckless”.

Jones is eligible again on 7 July 2017.

UFC issued a statement saying it was aware of the one-year ban, which began on 6 July.

“While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use ootball are making sure you know all about how your loan players performed throughout the campaign. For this edition, we run our eye over Chelsea’s loanees.This group of loanees is especially important as Chelsea’s transfer ban should mean that they of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system,” the UFC statement says.

NFL weekend preview: Beckham and Giants to push past sinking Eagles

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Some people just never learn. People like me, apparently. Despite being caught out by a tied game in week seven, neither I nor anybody else taking part in our Pick Six contest thought to predict one in week eight. So that’s no perfect scores for anybody. Honestly, what weken aim at Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.Walsh sold Lukaku, now of Inter Milan, to Manchester United and recalled offering former United manager Jose Mourinho a warning about the Belgian.He told The Athletic: “It is not about collecting players, it isre we thinking?

Still, it couldn’t happen three weeks in a row … could it?

This feels like a pivotal moment for both teams in the NFC East. The losers will drop to 4-4, and almost certainly finish the weekend three games back of the Cowboys (currently 6-1, and set to face Cleveland on Sunday). Recent history favours the Eagles, who have won four straight against the Giants and five out of six showdowns at MetLife Stadium since it opened in 2010. But could a bye week tip things in New York’s favour? Odell Beckham Jr claims that his injured hip feels “10 times better” for the rest, and his participation in practice has increased. On the other side of the ball, the Giants are finally seeing signs of life from their pass rush – with five out of nine sacks arriving in the last two games. The Eagles have had a harder time protecting Carson Wentz since right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended.

In what is starting to feel like an annual tradition, the Steelers are sweating on the status of Ben Roethlisberger ahead of a meeting with Baltimore. The quarterback has missed seven games against the Ravens over the course of his career (curiously, he has never missed one against another division rival – Cincinnati) and his team has usually suffered as a result. The Steelers are 11-9 against Baltimore when Roethlisberger plays, and only 1-6 when he does not. So this is a tricky pick to make on a Thursday, with his status still very much up in the air.

But I think I might take the Ravens in any case. There is something about this matchup that brings the best out of John Harbaugh’s teams, and they swept the series last season despite finishing 5-11. Baltimore also recovered two key offensive linemen – left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda – from injury during the bye week.

Both teams have three wins on the season, after recording back-to-back victories in the past fortnight. Both teams made hard work of beating the Cleveland Browns. But only one team, Miami, has Jay Ajayi. The London-born running back has caused quite the stir by rushing for more than 200 yards in consecutive games, and now has a shot to become the first player ever to do so in three straight. That will be easier said than done against the Jets, who boast the stingiest run defense in the league – giving up just 74 yards per game and 3.3 per attempt. But if the Dolphins can oblige their opponents to stack up all their resources against Ajayi, then Ryan Tannehill is a capable enough quarterback to exploit a sparse secondary. It is no coincidence that his two most efficient performances of this season have arrived in the past fortnight as well.

A long road trip for the Panthers, but at this rate owner Jerry Richardson might want to consider swapping coasts on a more permanent basis. His team is 2-0 this season against opponents from the NFC West, and 0-5 against everyone else. It is hard to know whether last week’s win over the Cardinals marked a return to form, or Carolina simply felt the muscle memory kick in against the team that they crushed in last year’s Conference Championship Game. Having Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup certainly seemed to help, but the greatest gains were made by a defense that almost doubled its sack tally for the season in a single afternoon. If Star Lotulelei and company can repeat that performance, this this one might not be close.

Don’t look now, but the Titans are only one game out of first place in the AFC North. Three wins in four weeks have elevated them to a .500 record at the season’s midway stage. Marcus Mariota has thrown 10 touchdowns against just a single interception in the past month – giving him a quarterback rating (120.7) that is second only to Tom Brady (133.9) over the same stretch. So is it too much to believe that they could beat San Diego on the road? The Chargers, for all their talent, are a banged up 3-5 team, whose top three reception leaders – Travis Benjamin, Tyreose Mourinho says he is willing to wait for the right opportunity despite being “full of fire” ahead of a return to management.The Portuguese has been without a job since December after being sacked by Manchester United.And Mourinho insists he will cll Williams and Hunter Henry – all missed time in practice this week. For a group that already lost Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and Danny Woodhead, it feels like a lot to take.

If that old maxim about offenses winning games and defenses winning championships holds true, then this round ought to go to the Raiders. Averaging 26.9 points, and more than 400 yards, they rank among the most explosive teams in the league. Derek Carr is being mooted as a potential league MVP, and Oakland’s offensive line, despite () its ill-discipline, has been dominant. But this is a different order of challenge to what they have faced so far. By Carr’s own estimation, Dare set to hold shock talks with Arsenal over a potential deal for Mesut Ozil.The MLS club will lose Wayne Rooney in January after the former England International agreed a switch to Derby County.The Mirror says DC have identified Ozil as their next enver’s cornerback pairing of might be the best tandem in the NFL. Even if that line does succeed in keeping Von Miller and company off his back, the quarterback may still have a tough time finding guys open downfield.

Toronto Raptors stand arm-in-arm for anthems: ‘We’re all human beings’

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The made a show of solidarity by linking arms during the anthems before their NBA pre-season game with Golden State on Saturday night.

Raptors players and staff stood arm-in-arm for the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, where the game was played. Some bowed their heads. Their statement was the latest entry in a series of recent protests designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and other social problems.

“We wanted to show solidarity,” said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. “We’re a team, we’re all together, we’re all one race, we’re all human beings. We all understand that things in the United States and the things in the world [aren’t] the best right now.”

The Raptors, who won 97-93, held discussions all week before the decision to link arms was made.

“I told our players, understand why you’re doing it,” said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. “It’s not against the military, it’s not against the flag, it’s not against the country. It’s their feelings on social injustice.”

Casey said their statement was intended to start a conversation. “Guys were real, guys had sincere feelings, sincere thoughts, sincere things to talk about and concerns,” he said. “That’s what all this should be about – to induce conversation.”

Since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem in August, America has grappled with questions of patriotism, free speech and the American flag, and many sports stars have opted to show their support. Several NFL players have sat, knelt or raised fists, and many high school and college players have also picked up the cause.

The has a rule that players and coaches must stand during the anthems, although it wasn’t mentioned in a recent letter to the players.

The Warriors’ players and coaches who were on the floor in Vancouver all stood as usual. In Bossier City, Louisiana, so did the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans, some with their hands over their hearts.

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said he hoped the team’s unique perspective as a Canadian team with many international players could

“We have guys who are not from America,” he said. “They go through their own problems in their own country, or whatever the case may be. If we can help inop four hopes tomorrow night.The Gunners travel to Stamford Bridge in 10th place, looking to reduce a 10-point gap on the Blues in fourth.Lampard insists Mikel Arteta’s side will not be out of contention if they lose but warned his side not to allow any type of way in a positive way, help a kid have a different outlook on something or have the right approach to something in life, that’s beneficial.”

DeRozan said it didn’t take long for the team to come to a consensus. “We all know what’s right is right, and we all know what’s wrong is wrong,” he said. “That’s just common sense of us all being genuine people. Once we put that in perspective it was easy.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors’ latest star element, took the first shot of the pre-season, a step-back jumper from the right side that was well short. The former Oklahoma City star’s first basket with the Warriors was a dunk with about a minute left in the opening quarter, one that drew a loud reaction from the sellout crowd of 19,000.

“Felt good to play and play against someone else,” Durant said. “We can start building for the season and what we want to be. So it’s a good first step.”

Durant heard some boos during the game, though said afterward he felt there were more cheers.

“Once the ball was tipped, it was juste as Man City women manager leaving his team top of the WSL after a harce James.The Sun says Newcastle and Leeds are expected to tussle it out for James in January.Steve Bruce has a strong interest in the right-back, who has broken into Frank Lampard’s first-team squad this season.The Newcastle boss hopes he can convincd fought 2-1 success over title rivals Arsenal.City went in at the break 1-0 to the good after being second best for most of the first half in this clash of the joint leaders in t another game for me,” Durant said.

UFC 199: trash talk picks up before Rockhold-Bisping duel

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When Dana White stands at a dais to promote the , the organization’s charismatic president tends to leave an impression.

On Thursday, he didn’t – mostly because it wasn’t necessary.

As has become common among fighters engaged in the Octagon, a visceral lack of respect was on display at the beautifully restored Forum in Inglewood, California, which this weekend hosts the UFC for the first time in nearly 400 fight events at the building.

To the Whs six Premier League clubs are chasing Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson.Wilson, 22, has shone on loan at Derby Couill finish in the top-four this season.Chelsea have now won their last four games in all competitions and sit just outside the Champions League qualifications spots in fifth place in the table. Speaking to Betdaq, Johnson said: “If Chelsea can keep gnty from Liverpool this season.The Mirror says Bournemouth, Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton are the top-flight contingent asking foite’s right: champions Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz.

To the White’s left: challengers Michael Bisping and Urijah Faber.

Ready. Set. Go.

In the aftermath of Chael Sonnen and the midst of Conor McGregor, UFC fighters seem to let loose tirades designed to rile up fans as much as the person on the opposite side of the cage with regularity.

This can often be construed as insincere, yet the rampant hostility ahead of UFC 199 comes off as if it’s grounded in something more real than ticket sales or showmanship.

Rockhold, the 185lb champion, is genuinely chippy – perhaps the chippiest person on the UFC roster. A California surfer with model looks, Rockhold is perceived as annoyingly confident, so to stick it to the Eintracht Frankfurt away support during last night’s Europa League shootout victory.The away support tried their best put Chelsea’s stars off their stride as they attempted to put their penalties past Kevin Trapp.Frankfurt fans bome might say egotistical. One thing is certain, he maintains a high opinion of himself and his status among middleweights.

After Chris Weidman dropped out of the card’s main event due to a scary neck injury two weeks ago, Bisping, the wisecracking veteran from Manchester, England, who lives in Los Angeles, was picked to replace him and, no surprise, trash talk picked up.

Will it mean Bisping can produce a competitive fight? Most observers suspect not.

The British fighter has agonized over receiving a UFC title shot since his earliest days with the organization.

Both times Bisping had a chance to rise to top contender status he failed – Dan Henderson famously starched him at UFC 100, and Chael Sonnen won a tight decision three years later. So when a title opportunity presented itself, it didn’t matter that Bisping’s last loss, his seventh, came versus Rockhold in 2014 following a lopsided affair that saw the British fighter mounted and choked with one arm.

Bisping, a Manchester United supporter, rebounded from the Rockhold setback with three straight victories, including a five-round decision over aging all-time great Anderson Silva in February. This performance at the O2 Arena in London did nothing to make the 31-year-old champion cautious of Bisping in the short-notice rematch.

Rockhold claimed he nursed his left leg through much of his training camp because of an issue with his meniscus. After hearing this (despite the fact Rockhold said the same on his Instagram account weeks ago) Bisping was incredulous, as if the cocky champion maligned an unwritten rule among fighters not to disclose bumps and bruises before a fight.

“You’re just an average bloke,” Rockhold explained to Bisping. “I’m a fucking samurai.”

After taking pot shots at Rockhold, who earned the belt last year with an impressive stoppage of Weidman, Bisping (28-7) acknowledged the champion’s status and accepted the notion that despite his optimism at the age of 37 he’s supposed to lose.

Again.

“Fingers crossed I’ll get the job done and go back to England,” he said.

Bisping offers quality MMA in many areas, but nothing stupendous. He steps in against the tall, athletic Rockhold in good form, and could make a contest of it as long as he doesn’t make a mistake. One hiccup would be enough for Rockhold to make good on his promise of showcasing what he characterized as a widening gap between himself and competent fighters like Bisping.

In the night’s co-main event, Cruz and Faber will meet for the third time. The rubber match of two of California’s finest mixed martial artists is likely to settle their years-long feud inside the cage. Reconciliation of another kind feels like a lost cause, especially after Cruz and Faber hurled enough insults at one another at the Forum to make a fight night feel like professional wrestling.

Free from having to give a hard sell on this weekend’s UFC pay-per-view, White was able to enjoy the back-and-forth as he swiveled his shaved-and-polished head during the verbal volleys between fighters.

Rockhold and Bisping certainly entertained, but the real sparks were ignited by a pair of 135lb rivals.

Cruz, 30, has suffered one loss in 22 fights. That came against Faber at 145lbs in 2007 when he tapped to a guillotine choke. Four years later, at bantamweight, Cruz secured a unanimous decision and defended his UFC belt over Faber. By that time Cruz had developed into a much more complex competitor, adding layers of blistering footwork, off-angle movement and counter-striking to an under-appreciated wrestling game.

With or without his nemesis in action, Faber has remained an important fighter but never the breakout star he might have been had he captured a UFC title. A month after turning 37, this challenge could represent the California Kid’s last stand.

Cruz, a highly-regarded analyst for UFC on Fox events, said Faber (33-8) can’t touch him. And he was cocky about it, too.

“He fights exactly the same,” Cruz surmised. “Big shots, one at a time. He’ll go for a submission and conserve his energy looking for a finish. He’ll miss often. I’ll connect often. And I’ll beat him.”

Saturday’s pay-per-view also features an important contest in the featherweight division, as Max Holloway takes on Ricardo Lamas. Veterans Dan Henderson and Hector Lombard tussle at 185 pounds. And Dustin Poirier meets Bobby Green in a lightweight clash.

Swansea City’s owners to make huge profit with sale to US investors

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The owners of , whose partnership with the supporters trust has long been hailed as ideal for a British football club, are set to make millions by selling their shares to American investors. The deal, signed in principle by the chairman, Huw Jenkins, values Swansea at around £100m, exactly 100 times more than the £1m paid for the club by the nine shareholders, including the trust, during and after a financial crisis in 2002.

The agreement proposes the eight shareholders apart from the trust – which owns 21.1% of the club and whose elected director, Huw Cooze, was furious at being kept unaware of the negotiations – sell most of their shares to a consortium led by the US sports team investors Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien. Intense discussions since have led to suggestions not all the shareholders will sell, and Levien and Kaplan may buy only a 60% stake, but their valuation, for a club awaiting the next tranche of vast TV fortunes starting next season, remains around £100m.

So Jenkins’ 13.2% stake, which cost him £125,000 to buy, is valued at £13.2m. He is understood not to be planning to sell all his shares and isFormer Premier League manager Neil Warnock has hailed the improvement in Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck.Warnock says he was offered the Scot when in charge of Cardiff City.He told talkSPORT: “I think they had been tempted to let him go two or three times.“I had his agent on a while ago saying ‘I think he’ll be leaving the club’ but what’s he done? He’s done it on the pitch. He’s worked his socks off, scored important goals and been part of that dressing room.“They’ve got a great chance of getting in Europe. An absolutely great chance.” likely to remain the chairman if the takeover completes, because he is widely credited with having run the club with great acumen, alongside the other directors. The local hotelier Martin Morgan and his wife, Louisa, are the largest shareholders with a 23.7% stake, which cost £225,000 to buy; it is now valued by Kaplan and Levien at around £23.7m. Martin Morgan is said not to be intending to sell, and Levien may try to have separate discussions with Louisa Morgan, who controls more than half of their stake.

One of the original 2002 investors, the South African businessman Brian Katzen, owns 10.5% of the club, as does his business partner, Jeffrey Crevoiserat; the stakes cost each man £100,000 when Swansea were floundering near the bottom of the Football League at a rundown Vetch Field, and are now valued at £10.5m each. Robert Davies, another original investor, also a financial backer of Swansea’s Ospreys rugby union region which shares the Liberty Stadium, also has a 10.5% stake.

The Dutch investor John van Zweden, and Leigh Dineen, formerly the trust’s elected director who bought his own shares for £50,000, both have stakes of just over 5%, now valued at £5m.

The millions to be made by the shareholders who do sell follow £4m already paid to them all in dividends over the past four years – £1m, in effect their original stakes repaid, each year from 2012-15 since Swansea have been in the Premier League. Paid proportionately according to their stakes, Jenkins has received more than £500,000; Martin and Louisa Morgan £900,000; Katzen, Crevoiserat and Davies £400,000 each, and Van Zweden and Dineen around £200,000 each.

The trust, for its 21.1%, has been paid more than to catch up with Arsene Wenger over the weekend.The pair are attending a UEFA educational program.Arshavin played for the Gunners between 2009 and 2013.Arsène Wenger has been photographed with Andrey Arshavin at an event in Paris. The Russian joine £800,000, which it has used to buy new shares and for a “rainy day” fund. Established as a mutual, democratic, not-for-profit body during Swansea’s 2001 financial crisis, with the help of the fan-ownership initiative Supporters Direct, the trust’s members who have provided contributions for the £200,000 investment cannot cash in personally if the trust ever sells.

Cooze, who has told he was “pretty damned hurt” at the secrecy of the negotiations, is now seeking to rebuild bridges with his co-directors and safeguard the trust’s position. Levien’s revised suggestion to buy 60% is intended to show the trust a preparedness to work with them, after supporters’ hostile reaction to the proposed acquisition of 75.1% control.

Cooze and the trust’s chairman, Phil Sumbler, say they knew the other shareholders would sell at some point and are sanguine about them making so much money. They mostly want to know whether the sale to Levien and Kaplan, which Jenkins he believed “will help the club progress on and off the field”, will bring actual investment into the club itself.

“There is no point in a deal without money for the club; that would just be a sale for the shareholders’ personal gain,” Sumbler said. He pointed out that supporters’ unpaid work and donations have contributed to Swansea’s remarkable revival over the past 15 years and massive increase in financial value. “The shareholders are mostly lifelong fans, and we have always believed throughout our partnership with them that they have the best interests of the club at heart.”

Levien, a lawyer, is the managing general partner of Washington’s Major League Soccer team, DC United, having previously been involved at three NBA basketball franchises, including the Memphis Grizzlies, to which he introduced Kaplan as an investor. Kaplan, the principal of , is thought to be the largest proposed investor in the acquisition, with several others so far not named.

Levien has been assuring people they have substantial money and are not financing the deal with debt.

In meetings with the shareholders in Swansea last week, Levien is understood to have emphasised their plan is to develop the club but has not made firm promises that the consortium will invest new money of their own for signing players or expanding the stadium. Like other US investors increasingly taking over clubs, Levien and Kaplan are attracted by the Premier League’s success, the huge TV income, expected to be £8bn across the league for the three years from next season, and the prospect of growth in popularity and earnings, particularly in America, over the next 10-15 years.

The US culture of sports team ownership is much more avowedly commercial than British football’s traditional local “benefactor” shareholders, who have mostly sold out in the Premier League years. Investors in American sports seek to make money by growing their franchises commercially and therefore increasing their value, and that of their own stakes. Levien and Kaplan’s plan is to do the same at Swansea, and promoting the club in the US is thought to be a key feature of the proposed deal.

All of which is a world away from the crumbling, loss-making club the shareholders, galvanised by the trust and wider supporter efforts, bought for £20,000 in January 2002, putting the rerney jokes that he was at a local park when he got a call about his move being complete.The Scottish left back made a deadline day move to the Premier League giants from Celtic.When asked about how he spent the past 24 hours before the finalising of st of the money in to pay off debt. Chroniclers of Swansea’s spectacular upward flight since occasionally miss out two key boosts: a company voluntary arrangement, by which creditors settled for only 5p in every pound, and the great gift of the £27m Liberty Stadium, which is still owned by the local council.

Now, as thousands of jobs locally are , the Swansea City shareholders’ proposed gains highlight again modern football’s stand-out riches, in increasingly post-industrial cities where the clubs evolved more than a century ago.

Jenkins and Dineen declined to comment on the proposed sale, citing confidentiality agreements. Katzen said of his original motivation that he was keen on football and the challenge, and said they were all determined to make progress and run the club as a business, but never envisaged the success they have had, and these exponential profits.

“It has been 15 years, a lot of work; it’s not a quick buck,” Katzen said. “Nobody expected to get anything out of the club at the beginning.”

NFL moves touchbacks to the 25-yard line and passes new ejections rule

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The has moved touchbacks to the 25-yard line and passed a new ejections rule – despite objections from coaches.

NFL owners voted to move the ball spot on touchbacks after kickoffs to the 25-yard line, to try to limit the number of returns after injuries on the play rose in 2015. They also ruled that players will be subject to automatic ejection if they commit two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same game. Specifically, a “player penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls” will be “disqualified”.

The automatic ejection proposal was suggested by NFL commissioner Roger ribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.The United manager signed Agnaldo for Molde, with the Brazilian currnager Edinburgh passed away on Saturday at the age of 49 – the same age Ginola was when he suffered a cardiac arrest back in 2016.In the wake of the tragic news, the Frenchman spoke fondly of his old friend and Tottenham teammate and the impact Ediently on-loan in Finland with RoPo.He told ESPN Brasil: “I could have gone back to other teams in Brazil, but I chose to stay in Europe and a lot of myGoodell just before the Super Bowl.

Both rule changes will be reviewed after the 2016 season before the NFL decides whether to make them permanent.

The owners were concerned about player safety on kickoffs t to Crystal Palace confirmed their relegation.The veteran manager praised the efforts of his troops over the course of the season and spoke passionately about the transformation since he took the reins.”You have heard this lot (Cardiff fans), they h– but the decision to move the touchback up five yards could have the opposite effect.

Some coaches suggested that the number of kickoff returns could actually increase, with kickers using “mortar kicks” that drop close to the goal line and require a return.

, two veteran special teams coordinators told the Chicago Tribune the new rule will lead more teams telling the kickers to get as much hang time as possible while landing the ball near the goal line in an effort to cover a kick and pin the offense inside the 25 or even inside the 20.

Coaches also claimed that opponents will bait players into committing penalties that qualify for the ejection rule, but owners say that won’t happen. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said: “I think it points to our emphasis on good sportsmanship.”

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!

St Louis confronts blight with proposal for $1bn investment in football stadium

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Inside the sprawling Peabody opera house, a stream of St Louis Rams fans made their impassioned cases on Tuesday that it was worth a $1bn-plus investment to build a new publicly subsidized stadium and keep their team in town.

“The thought of not having our Rams in St Louis anymore goes beyond sadness,” said Dan Palen, an emotional father of three who drove 225 miles to the meeting from his hometown of Springfield, .

In January, Rams owner E Stanley Kroenke announced plans to build a nearly $2bn stadium close to downtown Los Angeles, and abandon St Louis, where he maintains a year-to-year-lease. For nearly two hours, fans in a room of 1,500 who support an open-air stadium proposal they hoped would convince Kroenke to stay in town came to the podium one by one.

But the fan enthusiasm was punctured by a counter movement, who argue that a new stadium is the last thing St Louis can afford to spend public funds on, in what has now become the murder capital of the US.

“The stadium deal has already cost taxpayers over $6m,” Basmin Nadra said.

Nadra said the north side of St Louis has continued to struggle with deteriorating conditions – a beleaguered school district, violent crime and what she perceives as a lack of racial justice in the community.

The proposal – backed by Missouri’s governor and the city’s mayor – comes at a precarious time for St Louis. The city has been struck by a recent believed to be arsons; the region continues to reel from the community upheaval after 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in nearby Ferguson; and St Louis recently overtook Detroit as the highest homicide total per capita in the nation.

While Rams fans clamor to keep St Louis a football town, critics of stadium subsidies will be watching, as another US city attempts to use sports as an economic tool for revitalization.

Nationally, proposals to infuse public cash into new stadiums have come under fire for delivering questionable benefits in return for a mammoth public expenditure.

As the big-ticket deals became more commonplace over the last quarter-century, municipalities have persistently appropriated more funds in the name of sports – drawing the ire of activists, economists and even Barack Obama. The Obama administration’s budget this year called for reining in the use of tax-exempt bonds issued for stadiums, : the “current structuring of government bonds to finance sports facilities has shifted more of the costs and risks from the private owners to local residents and taxpayers in general.”

That general risk is what concerns St Louis comptroller Darlene Green, who’s tasked as a watchdog over city taxes. Following the release of the new finance plan for the project in St Louis, Green said the city would be forced to spend more than it currently does on the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams have playeility of being a national team manager.Wenger is still searching for his next role after leaving the Gunners more than a year ago.He has admitted that international football is an option and that he may be present as a coach at the 2022 World Cup in d since 1995.

‘Fund schools, not football’

Inside Tuesday night’s fan meeting, the room turned tense as Nadra, a critic of the stadium proposal, questioned why officials were committing public money to the project withd in Holland that a deal is closed for the end of the season, with Van de Beek having agreed personal terms with Real Madrid, which will pay €55m for his transfer.However, after victory over Sparta Rotterdam, Van de Beek denied the claims.He statedout funding “40 years of neglect on the north side”.

“This isn’t the stage for that,” one fan shouted. “What made you so important?” went another, as jeers rained down from across the room.

Nadra continued. “Is the NFL interested in doing anything to promote the racial justice that has been misaligned here?”

Whatever the answer from NFL senior vice-president of public policy Cynthia Hogan may have been, few likely heard it. A group in the back had begun to chant: “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” while unveiling a banner that read “Fund Schools, Not Football.”

In response, the team’s fans repeatedly roared back: “Let’s go Rams.”

Nadra and her cohorts were escorted out of the room and almost arrested. As the group was whisked away, Deborah Castillo, a member of the group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, said a man in the audience told her of the brief protest: “If I had known you were going to do that, I would have fucked you up.”

“As long as we’re speaking the truth,” Castillo said, “they’ll try to shut us down.”

Following a tense exchange with officers in Peabody’s lobby, an officer released the group out the front door and onto Market Street in downtown.

Nay’Chelle Harris, a St Louis resident who was briefly held by an officer in the lobby before walking free, said too many voices have been left out of the debate on the stadium.

“It was important for us to be here because there are a lot of experiences and opinions that aren’t being represented in this deal and its negotiation,” Harris said.

“Specifically, people who are developing the stadium keep using [the line]: ‘We are helping the people of color of the minority community in St Louis or helping the people on the north side.’ And yet I have not heard anything about a meaningful engagement with people on the north side.”

Time may be running out for St Louis to make a final decision on the stadium, but with an imminent vote by the city’s aldermanic board on whether to approve the public financing for the project, many questions remain unanswered – the least of which, perhaps surprisingly, is if Kroenke even wants the subsidized facility.

“A lot of other cities have found that having an NFL stadium does not help local economies,” said Harris. “It drains the city’s resources. And St Louis, as the world has seen, has a lot better things to do with its money than, as mayor Slay said, have a football team.”

‘The sweetest deal in the league’

From the outset, there were protests over the stadium deal, continuing through the summer after a judge voided a 2002 city ordinance calling for a public vote over the use of taxes for sports facilities.

“If you want your public money spent that way, OK, that’s the reason we had set up a public vote, so those people who felt that way could have a chance to go to the polls and vote,” said Fred Lindecke, a member of the coalition against public funding for stadiums, which supported the effort behind the ordinance.

A new bill to require a public vote was recently , after several said they received outraged calls from constituents about spending tax dollars on sports without their approval.

“If anything like that ever goes to a vote in the city or county it’s going to go down,” Lindecke said.

The debate over contributing public funds to a wealthy team owner isn’t foreign to Missouri.

Two decades ago, state and local officials cobbled together a plan to construct an NFL stadium – even before the city secured a home team.

Officials gave the Rams what some have called the “sweetest deal in the league”, charging low rent and agreeing to renovate the facility on an as-needed basis to ensure it remains in the “first tier” of the NFL. It seemed like a fair deal; whatever St Louis contributed – $6m annually– would be recouped by event-day taxes, officials said.

After a new contract dispute was settled by an arbitrator, the agreement became a year-to-year lease, freeing the Rams’ owner to consider other options.

“In fairness, our folks didn’t think they’d leave,” said Ray Hartmann, co-owner of St Louis Magazine and founder of the local alt-weekly Riverfront Times. The problem? The definition of “first-tier” vastly expanded as the number of new NFL stadiums proliferated in the intervening years.

So, last November, concerned by the prospect of losing the team, Missouri governor Jay Nixon appointed a taskforce to produce a plan for a new NFL stadium. The taskforce and some local officials are convinced the long-term deal would be fruitful for the city.

“I think St Louis is [deserving] of an NFL team, one of the cities most deserving of an NFL team,” said Lewis Reed, aldermanic president.

Though Reed is intent on his commitment to keep the Rams in the city, the 53-year-old also has concerns about the structure of the finances behind the deal.

“I think that’s where we’re at that point where we’re trying to strike that balance between public/private,” Reed said. “What’s reasonable to ask of the taxpayers, right? And, what basis are we building that on?”

The yearlong process has been fraught with legal challenges, amid concerns from local aldermen who believe St Louis is simply in no position to help finance another sports stadium.

According to the current financing proposal, the city would commit to pay increasing annual amounts from $4.5m to $9m – a virtual extension of its current obligation to the debt for the Edward Jones dome, totalling roughly $234m. The city would receive an average of 34% of game-day revenues, but the NFL team would keep the rest.

Without a deal, the city’s obligation would otherwise expire in the coming years, allowing those funds to be used elsewhere.

Supporters and opponents have battled over whether projections of game-day revenue at the new stadium versus other costs yield a net benefit to the city.

“Even with their high projections, it would put the city in a hole,” said Tom Shepard, chief of staff for Reed. When the final bill was unveiled late Wednesday, mayoral staffers told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that city revenues wouldn’t cover expenses – officials said St Louis would pay $6m in the first year, but receive only about $2m in tax revenue on game days – but they believe the initial revenue generated by the construction of the stadium would offset any shortfall.

Compounding concerns is the well of evidence that sports stadiums fail to yield positive results for a local economy.

Roger Noll, an economics professor at Stanford University who has written about tax breaks for stadiums, said a $200m subsidy – currently about what the city is expected to pay – is better than “the norm” of $400m.

“On the other hand, that is a fairly large amount for a city of just over 300,000,” Noll said. “A city resident should ask whether having an NFL team is worth $2,000 per household.”

Rather than using money to fund a stadium that is traditionally perceived to boost a city’s economy, some economists have said it would be better used on public infrastructure or education, despite the civic pride that comes with a professional sports franchise. And studies have suggested cities wouldn’t be financially devastated by the loss of a professional sports team, as fans simply tend to spend their money elsewhere on entertainment in town.

In St Louis, alderman Antonio French took aim at the plan with other city needs in mind.

“The city currently pays $6m a year for the dome stadium,” French, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, tweeted last week. “That ends in 2021, freeing up that money. $6m would pay for 120 new cops.”

A promise of ‘revitalization’

Stadium backers see the financial obligation as a risk worth taking. The proposed site for the new stadium is situated along the Mississippi River, an area some officials view as blighted and wholly underused.

The location touches three wards, and “two of them are heavily African American”, said Maurice Green, the alderman board’s director of community affairs.

“With the unemployment rate of African American males in those areas, we have the opportunity to [create an] impact … where the people in that area have to have a job; you have to hire those people to develop the stadium,” Green said.

“There’s nothing in that area right now – and it would be a total revitalization.”

The premise that the Riverfront would be revitalized almost instantaneously thanks to a $1bn investment is “specious” at best, said Michael Allen, director of the St Louis-based Preservation Research Office.

“There is no other state-driven proposal to spend [$1bn] on an alternative plan for the riverfront,” Allen said. “So it’s not as if the city has even had the opportunity to weigh the merits of two or three different approaches to the site.”

He added: “The condition of the Riverfront as underpean is far down the pecking order at the Cherries, which is why he wants a move done before September 2.The European transfer window is still open, meaning Begovic could move to a club outside England for regular first team football. He has only playerforming, as undesirable, is rhetorical justification for the expenditure. And this happens with major development projects.”

One of the businesses in the project’s footprint is Shady Jack’s, an internationally known biker bar. Owner Jack Larrison said he supports the plan, as “St Louis needs something.”

“If Lewis and Clark came down the river, they’d know exactly where they landed last time because nothing’s changed,” Larrison said. Despite the praise, the grizzled, lanky native of St Louis believes a public investment should produce benefits for the entire city.

“Maybe it might be good for all of us,” he said, “but it’s definitely going to be good for a handful of people.”

On Friday, the board of aldermen will vote on whether to support the stadium proposal. If 15 of 28 members vote in support, the decision will move to the NFL, where Kroenke will need the support of 24 team owners to move the Rams elsewhere.

The NFL has several alternatives. A proposal to house the Rams at Kroenke’s stadium in Inglewood, California, may be considered by NFL owners, along with another privately funded stadium in Carson, California, where the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders want to share a location.

“You’ve got to remember, we’re probably not going to get a team anyway,” said Hartmann. “We’ve spent a tremendous amount of emotional energy on this, and it’s still a long shot.”