MLB 2017 predictions: Cubs poised to knock on World Series door again

Jed Hoyer is standing against the back wall of the visitor’s clubhouse deep inside Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians.
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He’s soaked in champagne, and he’s not the only one. It has been less than an hour since the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 seasons, and everyone in this clubhouse — players, front office types, family members, former Cubs (Ryne Sandberg!) and famous fans (Bill Murray!) — is drenched in champagne and reveling in an unforgettable moment of baseball history.
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There are several possible explanations for those numbers.

Maybe pitchers were getting knocked out earlier because of a corresponding increase in offense; runs were up big time, and the average length of a start last season dropped to 5.6 innings, the lowest figure in the past 10 years. That’s not significantly outside the range of the previous nine seasons, however; starters averaged between 5.8 and 6.0 innings over that time.

Maybe, and this is more plausible, managers were more vigorously protecting their fragile assets and reducing workloads. That can at least explain the increase in starts of between 80 and 99 pitches.

Or maybe, managers weren’t going to allow lesser starters to be exposed and were more willing to mix and match earlier in games.

Cahill was used almost exclusively as a reliever with the Cubs, but he has extensive starting experience. The other pitchers did the majority of their work in 2016 as starters.

history wasn’t kind to players who had been chosen No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft

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Damon played long enough to compile pretty solid numbers — 408 stolen bases and 235 homers in the regular season, along with 10 homers and 13 stolen bases in the postseason (he won two World Series rings). He was pretty damn good for a really long time, but that won’t be enough. It’s entirely possible that, on this crowded ballot, he meets the fate of one of his Yankees teammates, Jorge Posada, and drops off after just one year of eligibility.

Jon Singleton Authentic Jersey Until Jones came along, history wasn’t kind to players who had been chosen No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft. Jones spent his career proving history doesn’t have to repeat itself. He had the numbers to satisfy traditionalists — .303 average, 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs — and the sabermetric crowd — his 85.0 WAR and 65.8 JAWS are both way, way above the average numbers for Hall of Fame third basemen. He won an MVP, was an All-Star regular and hit .364 in the 1995 postseason, when the Braves won the World Series. He’ll definitely get in on his first ballot.

Spring training games will bring joy for two innings, then everyone will get bored — just like we always do. Spring training produces mixed emotions. Fans are so excited to see live baseball, but we quickly remember that opening day is still a loooong way off. Our mood goes from Baseball is back! to I’m gonna check out Netflix in about 30 minutes. (Update: Yes, this happened. It always happens.)

it’s not like his immediate durability is more questionable than that of Anderson.

That won’t fly under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who is ready to ramp up the passing game. Dump-offs and other quick passes to backs in 2017 will be a much bigger part of what Denver does. In the running game, with McCoy and new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, the Broncos are transitioning from zone blocking to gap-based power blocking.

Both the passing attack and the run-blocking scheme fall in line with Charles’ strengths. The Broncos can’t afford to trust Booker in a bigger role or give Henderson too much of one early in his career. Charles is looking at a No. 2 role at worst as the preferred primary insurance to Anderson.

As Anderson and Booker adjust to an altered scheme and rebound from their respective adversities, Charles is an ideal, low-risk, high-reward signing. The only question mark regarding Charles’ production in Denver in a complementary role is health. But at this point, it’s not like his immediate durability is more questionable than that of Anderson.

Throughout the offseason, it had been uncertain whether the Broncos would go big and bold to address their backfield. It came down to being aggressive early in the draft and selecting either Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook. They picked neither.

The knee-jerk reaction? Winner, Houston Texans. Winner, Bill O’Brien. Winner, Watson. Winner, winner, winner.

Houston has posted a 9-7 record three straight seasons with O’Brien while starting eight different quarterbacks, and Watson was the backup plan after the Texans couldn’t land Tony Romo in the aftermath of the Osweiler trade. Trubisky and Mahomes were top 10 picks, but Watson will have the most success among that group in 2017 and beyond.


Murphy didn’t have a good finish to the 1982 season

Le’Veon Bell Elite Jersey Speaking your mind — to power, against power, in favor of power — isn’t supposed to put your livelihood in jeopardy. That’s one of the concepts embedded in the flag and anthem that everybody is fighting to make Kaepernick stand up for, or else.
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Nobody should pay a price for that, not a team executive, not a backup quarterback.

Murphy didn’t have a good finish to the 1982 season, and Torre didn’t want that sour taste to linger all offseason. So shortly after the season ended, just as Murphy was about to win the MVP award, Torre called him and said he wanted Murphy to go to an instructional league to get some hitting reps, re-focus and take away some positives. But he didn’t send him alone. Torre, along with his brother Frank, went with Murphy to Orlando to work on hitting. Torre pitched BP and Frank helped critique. It worked out OK: Murphy won a second MVP award in 1983. It was incredibly generous and incredibly helpful, Murphy said. It was invaluable.

The documentary shows Torre pushing and prodding Dale Murphy to reach his full potential. The footage only provides brief examples, however. The reality was far greater. When Dale Murphy was on the field and in the cage preparing for a game, Joe Torre was behind the cage working with him every day, Diamond said. Dale Murphy, his MVP seasons, were a direct result of Joe Torre. Most people don’t know that. I know it because I was there every day. Of Torre’s instruction, Murphy said: He knew how to individually reach a guy, and what would help him.

Redskins deny Kirk Cousins’ trade request despite QB’s leverage

Kirk Cousins asked Redskins owner Dan Snyder for a trade, according to ESPN, but was basically told not to get his hopes up.

Cousins wants out of Washington probably because the team lost its two best receivers — DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon — this offseason. The team has also been reluctant to give him a long-term deal, so he’s ready to move on.

As for a trade, many have speculated the 49ers as the likely destination. San Francisco needs a quarterback as it plans to rebuild with Kyle Shanahan as head coach.

According to The AP, he said we took the risk of entering the country illegally because he feared he would miss an October deadline that year that would’ve rendered the White Sox’s eight-figure offer invalid, a contract he later signed.

If I had not been there on that particular day, the deadline, then the contract would not be executed and would no longer be valid, Abreu told jurors. We had to be in Chicago to sign the contract.

Limited Youth Mark Arcobello Jersey That Air France flight was part of a convoluted route from Cuba to the majors, during which Abreu fled Cuba on a speedboat and eventually wound up leaving Haiti with the fake passport, all allegedly with the help of a web helpers and fixers.
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Once he made it to Miami, he would be allowed to remain in the U.S. under the so-called wet foot, dry foot Cuban immigration policy at the time.

Abreu is one of several Cuban players, including with the Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria and Mariners’ Leonys Martin, who have testified in the Hernandez’s and Estrada’s trial that has gone on for a month and is expected to last a few more weeks, according to The AP.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner expected to miss at least three months with shoulder injury

Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who was involved in a dirt-biking accident earlier this month, has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his AC joint in his throwing shoulder and is expected to miss at least three months, keeping him out until after the All-Star Break. ‘s Chris Haft wrote Friday that Bumgarner will need about two months of rehab before he can throw and another three to four weeks of bullpen sessions, simulated games and rehab assignments in the Minors before he’s ready to return to the Giants.

Thankfully, the left-hander won’t need surgery on his injured shoulder, so things could definitely be worse.

Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts before the injury.
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Decades before HBO’s Hard Knocks and other productions brought the inside-access idea into the mainstream, this was a groundbreaking attempt to give fans a season-long, intimate look at the human side of professional sports.
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But despite their growing national prominence on WTBS, the Braves weren’t exactly a compelling product on the field, having finished at or near the bottom of the National League standings nearly every year Turner had owned the team.

Still, the ever-enterprising businessman/showman saw a marketing opportunity and had his executives get cracking on his idea, which fit in with Turner’s larger goal to turn the Braves into a national television commodity. Through WTBS, Turner wanted to make the Braves, as he would dub them, America’s Team.

Between its conception and its premiere, the project that came to be known as It’s a Long Way to October transitioned from a timeless, generic baseball production into a laser-focused narrative as it documented one of the more unexpectedly dramatic team seasons in MLB history.

Cris Carter pledges to help Michael Floyd’s journey into recovery

Hall of Famer Cris Carter says he’s there for Michael Floyd and wants to be a mentor to the Vikings’ new receiver.

According to, Carter and Floyd spoke earlier about their shared history of battling alcohol abuse.

The former Alabama star, picked No. 8 overall by the Raiders in 2010, has had issues with substance abuse the past couple of years. The NFL suspended him four games during the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and he was suspended 10 games in 2016 for again violating that policy. Although he was eligible to return late last season, the Cowboys did not activate him.

Last December, the NFL suspended McClain indefinitely for missing a drug test, which the league views equivalent to a failed test.

McClain had signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Cowboys in March 2016.

Ogden reaching out to the NFL Trust paid relatively fast dividends. They got him a grant (from a fund named for longtime union executive director Gene Upshaw) to pay his rent, health insurance and bills for four months. The check arrived from the trust, he recalled, just as his aforementioned cars were about to be repossessed and his phone had been turned off. (He also got a health assessment through the trust and is keeping track of the post-career aches and the warning signs of degenerative brain disease.)

Long story short: It was.

Ogden, 36, whose older brother, Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan, was his Ravens teammate for two years, is in the middle of post-football career No. 2. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s married and has two daughters, he’s gotten football out of his system (he went to one last tryout in Vero Beach, Fla., for a CFL team last month, then called it quits) and, two years ago, he published a memoir, “Sleepless Nights,” with another in the works for next year.

Steelers’ James Harrison spends 39th birthday beasting at gym

Pegula: This morning I informed Doug Whaley that he was relieved of his duties with the Buffalo Bills. I have enjoyed working with Doug. He’s a very good person. I want to wish him the best in the future. This was not an easy decision. We also relieved the pro and amateur scouting departments of their duties and I want to thank each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication. I want to make it clear that this decision was made by Kim and I. We look forward to hiring our first GM as owners of the Buffalo Bills.

I think the main question a lot of people have is why the move was made now as opposed to at the end of the season when you guys let Rex go?

Elite Youth Frostee Rucker Jersey Pegula: The decision was made now because this is the end of the scouting year for our pro personnel departments. We ran a process after the season ended and made the decision at this time.

You said in January that Doug does a good job. I like him, he works hard and he’s a smart guy.鈥?What changed from then to now?

Mens Connor Cook Jersey James Harrison doesn’t take days off, even on his birthday.

The Steelers linebacker celebrated his 39th birthday Thursday by pumping some iron at the gym, because how else would the monster veteran spend it?

Before showing off his superhuman strength, Harrison also revealed he’s giving away 39 signed memorabilia items to 39 Steelers fans on Twitter in celebration.

O.J. Howard climbed from a tiny high school to become the top TE in the 2017 NFL Draft

With the 19th pick in this year’s NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected O.J. Howard, marking only the second time a tight end’s been taken in the first twenty picks since 2010. Watch his performances against Clemson in the last two National Championships and it’s easy to see why.

Game Youth Jordin Tootoo Jersey But long before NFL scouts knew his name, Howard had to battle for recognition at tiny Autauga Academy in Prattville, Alabama.

Howard would have been on display for college recruiters if he ended up at Prattville High School like he expected to. After spending a summer working out with football players from the high school he thought he’d attend, rezoning moved him to Autauga Academy — a school with 273 students compared to the 2,033 students at Prattville.

It was a just a way to get fans to the ballpark, then-Rangers outfielder and later TV analyst Tom Grieve said, according to an report. That sentiment likely in line with what the Rockets want to achieve.

But that was before the mayhem ensued. It began with fans launching remarks at the players and throwing objects from the stands.

And then, according to the report, this happened:
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Things came to a head in the ninth, after the Indians had tied the game at 5-5 and put the potential winning runner on second. A fan jumped over the outfield wall and flipped the cap off right fielder Jeff Burroughs’ head. The story goes that Burroughs, then in the midst of an MVP season, tried to kick the fan and stumbled to the ground. Martin, thinking the fan had tackled Burroughs, told his men to grab bats and rush to Burroughs’ defense. The Indians then left their dugout in the Rangers’ defense.

Marcus Smart on whether he’s about that life: I can show you better than I can tell you’

Womens Latavius Murray Jersey Like I said before, I ain’t gotta talk about what I am about, I’ll just show you. I can show you better than I can tell you, Smart told a pool of reporters during Boston’s shootaround on Tuesday. It ain’t hard to find me. You heard what he said, I don’t THINK Marcus Smart is about that life.’ Last time I checked, if you gonna say someone ain’t about that life, you should know, right? But like I said, we gonna keep this Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics, not Marcus Smart vs. Jimmy Butler.

A couple of high-level retired players who aren’t totally ancient — Steve Francis and Latrell Sprewell — went undrafted. Rashad McCants, who has floated on the fringes of the NBA for seven years or so, went No. 1 overall. Several players who hadn’t been listed in any BIG3 promotional materials, including Kwame Brown, Jerome Junk Yard Dog Williams, and Moochie Norris, were picked.

Womens Eric Fisher Jersey The league’s biggest prospective draw, Allen Iverson, didn’t show up to the draft despite being the coach, captain, and star of his team, 3’s Company. His teammate DerMarr Johnson ended up making the team’s picks (which seem bad on paper). Francis, who seemed quite invested in BIG3 as players collected in Vegas for a combine and scrimmages, going undrafted actually seems quite sad. (Do they have undrafted free agents and roster size limits in the BIG3? We’ll see.)

With that, here are the full BIG3 draft results. Special thanks to the heroes who live-tweeted the affair, Joey Devine and Sean Keane.