Cheap Tampa Bay Rays Jerseys

The Tampa Bay Rays activated third baseman Yandy Diaz from the 60-day injured list Sunday and designated Cole Sulser for assignment.

Diaz was placed on the injured list on July 23 with a left foot injury, which occurred after he fouled a ball off the foot a day earlier. He has been on the injured list three times this season.

He is hitting .270 with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs this season.

Sulser, a 29-year-old right-hander, appeared in seven games out of the bullpen this season and didn’t allow a run.

The Rays, who play their final game of the season on Sunday, will face the Oakland Athletics in the American League wild-card game Wednesday.

In December of 2017, the Tampa Bay Rays entered a new era in team history.

On the morning of December 20th, 2017, the Rays made a deal that would change everything, as they traded away the face of the franchise, Evan Longoria, to the San Francisco Giants. From a business standpoint, the deal made all too much sense not to do it…but from a fan’s perspective, it was a white flag of epic proportions.

During a winter of massive changes in the American League East, the Rays were tearing their club down. On the same day that the New York Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, the Rays acquired Joey Wendle from the Oakland Athletics

The following spring, the Rays went even further as they designated Corey Dickerson for assignment, a player who had been the AL’s starting designated hitter during the All-Star Game in 2017. He was traded for a reliever who was eventually released just over a month later. A couple of other integral veterans for the Rays were dealt around the same time as Dickerson, as Jake Odorizzi and Steven Souza Jr. were also sent off.

Fans and media alike shredded the team for their seemingly shameless tanking initiative and the MLB Players Association even went as far as filing a grievance against the Rays — and three other teams — for their too-frugal spending.

The Rays started out the 2018 season the way many expected, losing 9 of their first 9 games, and 13 of their first 17.

Then, they started winning and made it back to the .500 mark. A mark they would flirt with through the July 31st trade deadline. Along the way, the Tampa Bay Rays did what they always do: make headlines with bizarre strategy. In early May, they announced they would be starting veteran reliever, Sergio Romo, during a game against the Los Angeles Angels. Thus, the ‘Opener’ strategy was born and the Rays employed it with tremendous effect.

The youth revolution began in earnest as well, with highly touted prospects Willy Adames and Jake Bauers making their debuts. Later, several more top prospects would join the big league club as Brandon Lowe and Justin Williams also made their Major League debuts. In June, the Rays acquired first baseman Ji-Man Choi from the Milwaukee Brewers as they continued to fine tune their roster.

At the deadline, it was widely expected the would part ways with their longtime ace, Chris Archer. His contract was getting expensive, and the ever budget consciousness Rays had already traded most of their other franchise cornerstones. What no one expected, was the deal the Rays made in the early hours of July 31st, as they acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the St. Louis Cardinals for three prospects, including the aforementioned Justin Williams.

Chris Archer was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz. Mewadows and Glasnow were former promising prospects who had been down on their luck within the Pittsburgh system. The trade revitalized the duo, as Glasnow showed that he could easily dominate a Major League lineup, and Meadows put on a power display with the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

Pham meanwhile played sensational baseball after coming to the Rays, and accrued 2.6 fWAR over just 39 games.

From July 31st through the end of the season, the Rays had the best record in all of baseball, posting a 37-19 mark and allowing them to end the season with a record of 90-72.

Blake Snell, who had been demoted for poor performance in 2017, was among the best starters in all of baseball and was rewarded for his dominance by winning the 2018 American League Cy Young award.

There was excitement surrounding the team. They had a squad full of tremendous players, and they were all under team control for several seasons. The window was opening, now the Rays just had to seize their opportunity.

During the offseason, there weren’t many glaring holes on the Rays roster, but they had money to spend and prospect capital to use. However, they once again made a puzzling move as they designated slugger C.J. Cron for assignment. A short while later, the Rays dealt outfielder Mallex Smith to the Seattle Mariners for veteran catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia with a couple of minor leaguers also being involved in the trade.

In December, the Rays made the largest free agent acquisition in franchise history as they signed veteran starting pitcher, Charlie Morton to a two-year, $31M deal with a potential third year option.

The starting rotation was now set with three studs in Snell, Glasnow, and Morton, with several young players set to follow them.

However, the Rays weren’t done with their shocking moves. They were connected to sluggers for the majority of the offseason, but had just missed out on signing the likes of Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz. Reports soon rang out that the Rays had been involved in a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians, with names like Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion involved.

However, the Rays would not come away with either of those sluggers. Instead they parted ways with Jake Bauers and $5M in order to bring in infielder Yandy Diaz, a ferocious looking man who had been seldom used by Cleveland the past two seasons.

Not quite finished yet, the Rays parted ways with prospects Kyle Byrd, Broke Burke, and Yoel Espinal in order to acquired Emilio Pagan from the Oakland Athletics as part of another three-team deal.

For their final major move of the offseason, the Rays finally got the slugger they had been pursuing as they signed former White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia to a one-year deal.

And with that, the Rays were set for the 2019 season.

On Opening Day, the Rays sent their Cy Young, Blake Snell to the hill to matchup against the Cy Young runner-up Justin Verlander. The game doesn’t go the Rays way, but a bright spot for the Rays was Austin Meadows, who led the game off for Tampa Bay with a solo blast: a sign of things to come.

Meadows got off to scorching start for the Rays, along with several other players. Tyler Glasnow in particular, was pitching like a Cy Young winner in his own right…that is until a May outing when he was removed after suffering a right forearm strain that kept him benched until mid-September.

That wasn’t the end of the Rays injury troubles as several of their key players endured stays on the injured list. The likes of Jose Alvarado, Blake Snell, Diego Castillo, Joey Wendle, Matt Duffy, Yandy Diaz, and Brandon Lowe all had extended stays on the injured list this season. Tommy Pham also played injured for the majority of the season, but outright refused to stop playing.

In wake of all the injuries, the Rays relied on a multitude of players to propel them through the season. In May, the team acquired struggling catcher Travis d’Arnaud from the Los Angeles Dodgers, as their entire catching core had been ravened by injuries. Since then, d’Arnaud has been among the best catchers in all of baseball, and basically represented the Rays offense during the month of July, including a walk-off home run against the Yankees and then just a week later, an incredible three home run performance, again against the Yankees.

Ryan Yarbrough was heavily relied upon with the injuries to Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow. After struggling early on and enduring a demotion to Triple-A, Yarbrough returned in mid-July to give the Rays dependable outings every time he took the mound. During a two month stretch, Yarbrough yielded just 18 earned runs over 11 appearances (65 innings pitched).

As the trade deadline neared, the Rays were looking to be buyers, but they didn’t go after the big names on the market. The Rays pulled off a small flurry of under-the-radar deals, snagging Jesus Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Sogard from the Toronto Blue Jays, and then in their most notable deal, they sent off top prospect Jesus Sanchez and Ryne Stanek to the Miami Marlins for pitcher Trevor Richards and Nick Anderson.

Anderson has been simply incredible for the Rays, striking out 52.6% of opposing hitters over his 21 1⁄3 innings pitched.

During the month of September, the Rays saw the return of Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Brandon Lowe as they finally neared full strength for the first time since May. These additions to the roster, along with an epic month of September from Austin Meadows helped the Rays to keep control of the second Wild Card spot.

As the calendar approaches October and with it, the MLB postseason, the Rays have clinched their part of it for the first time since 2013. There are many reasons for the Rays success this season and it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but we wanted to spotlight some of the moves that made October baseball a reality for Tampa Bay.

The Rays will take on the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, October 2nd at 8:09 ET; where the game will be played is still to be determined over the final two days of the regular season.

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays 8-3 Sunday loss to Blue Jays:

* Pinch-running specialist Johnny Davis didn’t help his case to be included on the playoff roster with a careless play Sunday, failing to re-touch second on his way back to first when Yandy Diaz lined out to left. When you have one job …

* Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier got himself taken out of the game by making a spectacular diving catch. Not that manager Kevin Cash didn’t acknowledge the athleticism he showed, but may not have appreciated that he risked injury at this stage.

* Tommy Pham had reasons to steal third in the eighth inning of what was then an 8-2 game, but it wasn’t necessarily a good look. By doing so, Pham tied his career high of 25 steals, and there was chatter he was in line for a shoe company bonus.

Cheap Soccer Jerseys

The search for the next boss of the United States women’s national team has hit a roadblock, with the United States Soccer Federation hampered in its attempts to interview Soccer Arsenal Women’s head coach Joe Montemurro about the role, sources have told ESPN.

The USSF is currently in the midst of a search for a new head coach after Jill Ellis announced that she would be stepping down from the role following the conclusion of a series of “Victory Tour” matches being staged to celebrate the U.S. romping to their second-consecutive Women’s World Cup in July.

Sources have told ESPN that the USSF identified and approached Montemurro — who has expressed an interest in the role — about interviewing for the vacant position but were prevented in doing so by his current employers, who signed the 50-year-old to a long-term contract extension in October of 2018.

In charge of Arsenal’s WSL side since 2017, Montemurro rose to prominence as a coach in his native Australia when he steered Soccer Melbourne City to back-to-back W-League titles in the club’s first two years in existence, including an undefeated season in 2015-16.

Named to the head coaching role at boyhood club Arsenal after the midseason sacking of Pedro Martínez Losa in 2017, Montemurro led the Gunners to the victory in the FA Women’s League Cup and reached the final of the FA Women’s FA Cup in his first season.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda has asked for his players to get the same treatment from referees as MLS stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela, following his team’s 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

San Jose saw Tommy Thompson sent off in the 56th minute as the Earthquakes extended its losing streak to five games and will now need a victory next Sunday on the road to Portland Timbers to guarantee a playoff spot.

Cristian Espinoza, Chris Wondolowski and Almeyda were all suspended for the midweek 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Union, while Almeyda has been sent off twice in recent weeks, the first time against LAFC on Aug. 21 and the second in the away loss to Atlanta on Sept. 21.

“Every game we have something that doesn’t go our way,” said Almeyda in a news conference after the game. “Our players know they shouldn’t hit. They know they should respect the referees. They know they have to put their soul into it every time they play, which they do. I think we’re one of the teams that fouls the least, with one of the least amounts of red cards.

“I’ve been sent off more than the players, and I don’t know why [I've been sent off], either.

“Hopefully next season will be a little more even. We live in a democracy and we live in a place like California where there is equality in many aspects. We want that to carry over into soccer and really see it.”

Almeyda suggested that fouls are called differently for different players and that the officiating hasn’t benefited his team of late.

“If they foul [Shea] Salinas, it should be judged in the same way as if they’ve fouled Vela,” said Almeyda.

“And if they foul [Chris] Wondolowski the player is judged as if he was Ibrahimovic.

“The day that there is real equality, we’ll have better football. Many of us risk our careers to come to this league. Some are content and others are losing hoping.”

Almeyda’s team dominated possession against the Sounders — who went down to 10 players when Xavier Arreaga was sent off in the 71st minute — but Jordan Morris netted a breakaway goal in second-half injury time, leaving the former Chivas coach feeling “impotent” about the ways things have gone this season in terms of the officiating.

“Many of us risked our careers in coming to this league,” he said. “Some are happy, others are losing hope. I met with first quality directors, GMs, owners, whatever, everybody that works here. There’s few times I’ve seen that in football. I feel honored being in this place, but I have a lot of impotence with what has happened throughout the season.

“I’m not saying this as a justification, I’m saying this as a warning, because we all have our pride, and we all dedicate passion, time and love to this.

“Since I’ve been living here, on Wednesday my father is having surgery again. He’s 8,000 kilometers away. He had surgery three months ago. My work is here, my respect is here, toward [the press], the refs, the league, the directors, the club that signed me. I’m not feeling the same treatment.”

Matias Almeyda has asked for his San Jose players to get the same treatment from referees as MLS stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela. Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose travels to Portland on the final day of the regular season. The Quakes can reach the postseason if they defeat the Timbers — who are two points in front in sixth place — or if they tie and Dallas loses. Almeyda said regardless of what happens, he’s proud of his team’s improvement, which has seen San Jose already garner 24 more points in the standings than they did a year ago.

“I told them that if on the first day of preseason, if they were to have brought in a contract where they said we would have had a chance to make the playoffs on the last game, we all would have signed that contract,” he said.

“This team has changed a lot, so I can’t just stick with if we get in or not. I stick with something a lot deeper. A team that had 21 points last year, and with 85 percent of the same players we tried to be protagonists and competitive. They are and they were throughout the season. There’s a reality that some teams player better than us and are better than us. But there’s another reality that you cannot hide, which is the improvement of this team.”

Joe Montemurro has been at Arsenal since 2017. David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Handed a full offseason ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, Montemurro promptly guided his side to Champions League qualification and its first WSL title since 2012; earning WSL League Managers Association Coach of the Year honours and a nomination for FIFA World Women’s Coach of the Year.

With three wins from three, Soccer Arsenal currently leads the WSL — Europe’s only fully professional women’s league — in what looms as a vitally important season for the competition as it looks to capitalise on the momentum generated by the success of England at the 2019 World Cup though new streaming, scheduling and prize money initiatives.

The Gunners defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 4-0 on matchday three to move them above title-rivals Manchester City, who defeated Everton 1-0, on goal difference.

Cheap AC Milan Jerseys

Sept 29 (Reuters) – AC Milan’s nightmare start to the Serie A season continued on Sunday when they fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina and had a man sent off.

Erick Pulgar put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot and Gaetano Castrovilli doubled their lead after Mateo Musacchio had been shown a straight red card for a rash challenge early in the second half.

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a Federico Chiesa penalty but Fiorentina got their third goal through Franck Ribery before Rafael Leao pulled back a consolation for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining.

It was Milan’s third consecutive defeat in just over a week and marks the first time since the 1938-39 season that the club has lost four of their first six games in a Serie A season.

The result heaps more pressure on embattled coach Marco Giampaolo and leaves them in 16th place on six points, one point above the relegation zone.

Sept 29 (Reuters) – AC Milan’s nightmare start to the Serie A season continued on Sunday when they fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Fiorentina and had a man sent off.

Erick Pulgar put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot and Gaetano Castrovilli doubled their lead after Mateo Musacchio had been shown a straight red card for a rash challenge early in the second half.

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a Federico Chiesa penalty but Fiorentina got their third goal through Franck Ribery before Rafael Leao pulled back a consolation for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining.

Milan’s third consecutive defeat in just over a week heaps more pressure on embattled coach Marco Giampaolo and leaves them in 16th place on six points, one point above the relegation zone.

Fiorentina earned their second win in a row to lift them up to ninth place on eight points. (Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; editing by Clare Fallon)

“I take responsibility as the coach, but I go forward because I believe in my ideas,” Giampaolo told Sky Italia.

“The thing that annoyed me was the team looked like it turned up to San Siro without ever having a training session together. You can lose, but not like that.

“Tonight the pressure got to them, they felt the absolute need to win and I told them to play with all the right ingredients to win, not waiting for events to happen. We had to create the events ourselves.

“Instead, the pressure weighed on us, we were tense, not reacting quickly enough and evidently feeling the pressure.”

Fiorentina earned their second win in a row to lift them up to ninth place on eight points.

Vincenzo Montella’s side went in front after 14 minutes when Pulgar converted a spot kick after Federico Chiesa was tripped inside the box by Ismael Bennacer.

Gaetano Castrovilli struck a second for the visitors before the break, but it was disallowed for an offside in the build-up.

Milan were reduced to 10 men after 55 minutes when Musacchio’s punishment for a lunge at Ribery was upgraded from a yellow to a red card following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.

Castrovilli pounced on a Donnarumma parry to smash home Fiorentina’s second but the goalkeeper kept the score down by diving to save Chiesa’s penalty just four minutes later after Bennacer was penalised for a second time for a foul in the area.

Milan is a city famous for its sense of style. So, it was no surprise to see the shortlisted designs for the new Milano Stadium were both sleek and spectacular.

Earlier this week, in a joint press conference, AC Milan and FC Internazionale (Inter Milan) revealed the two shortlisted designs for a 60,000-seat stadium.

“The Rings of Milano” by Manica/Sportium proposes a design based around two interlocked rings. The rings “symbolize the story of how two clubs, forever in opposition, and now united in their cause to preserve one of Milano’s most storied traditions”, according to a press release.

“The Cathedral” by Populous draws inspiration from two of Milan’s most iconic buildings; the Duomo and the Galleria.

The ground, which will stand next to the San Siro, is expected to take three years to build at a cost of €650 million ($711m).

Whichever design is chosen, the fact it will be shared makes the stadium especially interesting in the context of European soccer.

Cheap England Jerseys

Shock reports from England suggest that reigning European champions Liverpool could be kicked out of this season’s EFL Cup.

Liverpool, who are one of the favourites to lift the League Cup title, named a much-changed squad for their clash against lower league outfit Milton Keynes Don last week, and recorded a comfortable 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from James Milner and Ki-Jana Hoever.

The result was straightforward for the Reds, but reports from England have now emerged that the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League winners could be expelled from the competition after allegedly fielding an ineligible player.

According to The Athletic, Liverpool are being investigated after bringing Pedro Chirivella on as a substitute during the match, and the Spanish midfielder might not have been eligible to feature in the competition.

Chirivella reportedly has not received an international transfer certificate since returning from loan at Extremadura last season, thus disallowing him to compete for Jurgen Klopp’s side, although the club has insisted that the administrative error rests with the English Football Association.

If found guilty, Liverpool could be expelled from the competition, but are more likely to face a fine, as was the case with Sunderland in 2014, when they were sanctioned after fielding an ineligible player against the same opposition.

Cheap San Antonio Spurs Jerseys

While nabbing the franchise’s first championship in 1999, the San Antonio Spurs took a break to play two-on-two in the classic video game StarCraft.
The San Antonio Spurs‘ 1999 championship run signaled the beginning of a sustained stretch of success for the model franchise. Keying in on camaraderie above all else, the Spurs have always emphasized a team-first mentality while affording teammates the opportunity to build lifelong bonds.

One way that legendary Spurs Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Malik Rose and Sean Elliott bonded was through the highly praised video game StarCraft. A recent video resurfaced on the internet showing the foursome competing against each other in between games during their Finals series against the New York Knicks.

Reddit dug up footage of the Spurs playing Starcraft 2v2 between games of the 1999 NBA finals

the track balls mice, the old laptops the intro music, Timmy getting mad losing to the Admiral. it’s all amazing

Deep and well-coached, the Indiana Pacers pose a challenge for any team in the NBA. Can the San Antonio Spurs take the season series after splitting it last season?
One of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers are solid from top to bottom. Much like the San Antonio Spurs, what they lake in star power they make up for in the depth of their roster and defensive intensity.

Much like the San Antonio, Indiana has always found a way to consistently tally up the wins. After trading Paul George away they were still able to put together a defense-minded team through smart moves in free agency and forward-thinking trades.

Even without their star Victor Oladipo for much of the season, the Pacers were still one of the toughest teams in the East. Interestingly enough the Pacers were able to come into San Antonio and steal a win at the AT&T Center last year. They split the season series with the Spurs by taking one in Texas and giving up a win at home later in the year.

Head coach Nate McMillan is one of the most underrated coaches in the league. His leadership, along with a few key roster additions, has elevated this teams potential ceiling to places it hasn’t been in years past.

Let’s take a look at the moves Indiana made this summer and how San Antonio can sweep the season series this time around.

The entire video provides a nostalgia trip for basketball fans and video game fans alike. Between the track ball mice, old fashioned PC laptops and 1990’s fashion, this clip transports fans back to a time before the Spurs’ dynasty was established to what it is today.

It’s interesting to see how the team bonded back in the day. This isn’t quite one of Gregg Popovich’s famous dinners, but gamers will always attest to the bonding power of a good old fashioned LAN Party with some close buddies.

San Antonio took care of the Knicks with relative ease, winning the series in a five-game gentleman’s sweep. Duncan won the first of his three Finals MVP trophies after averaging 27.4 points, 14 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and one steal in an astonishing 45.5 minutes per night.

At this point, it became clear that Duncan would be a dominant force in this league for years to come. Little did the Knicks know, The Big Fundamental’s amazing series came off the back of a highly competitive back-and-forth with his own teammates.

Cheap Atlanta Falcons Jerseys

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons (1-3) dropped their third game of the season on Sunday, losing 24-10 to the Tennessee Titans (2-2) in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The loss draws the first quarter of the 2019 season to a close, and the Falcons don’t like where they stand through four games.

“We’ve been through one quarter, and where we sit is 1-3,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. “Not acceptable for the standards that we’ve set for one another. We intend on getting that fixed. It’ll take work to do that, but that’s what we intend on doing.”

This start, which has involved slow starts on offense and plenty of penalties, was not what the Falcons anticipated and it’s left them searching for answers with 12 games left to play. Atlanta scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this season against the Titans, a 1-yard run by Ito Smith, but that was the only touchdown the Falcons’ offense could muster.

Atlanta moved the ball fairly well against a Titans defense that had allowed the sixth-fewest yards in the league entering the contest. The Falcons gained 422 yards on Sunday, including 364 through the air, but managed to score just 10 points. Three times the Falcons turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth-and-short situations.

Injuries along the offensive line did not help matters. The Falcons lost right guard Jamon Brown early in the game, and center Alex Mack briefly went to the locker room at one point with an elbow injury. That shuffling briefly resulted in a time when the Falcons had Wes Schweitzer playing center and swing tackle Ty Sambrailo in at right guard. The Titans took advantage of that, sacking Matt Ryan five times and hitting him a total of 12 times.

The Atlanta Falcons needed a third running back behind Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith for Sunday’s game, and it appears that man will be Brian Hill.

Hill will be active for the first time this season against the Titans. He rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown this preseason and gained 115 yards on eight carries against the Panthers last season in Week 16. Rookie running back Qadree Ollison is listed among the team’s inactives this week.

“Usually it comes down to all 11 of us executing and finishing our plays and winning our one-on-one matchups,” Ryan said. “I’ve played football for a long time. From basically the time I’ve started playing until right now, it’s about winning your one-on-one matchups. Across the board we haven’t done a good enough job of that.”

During the week leading up to the Titans game, the Falcons placed a major emphasis on cleaning up the penalties and getting off to a faster start. After committing 16 fouls in Week 3 against the Colts, the Falcons were flagged seven times on Sunday, which marks notable improvement in that area. For the third time this season, however, the Falcons trailed at halftime.

Despite the slow starts that have defined the early part of this season, the Falcons remain adamant that the preparation throughout the week has been where it’s needed to be.

“We practiced well, we did everything great,” Falcons receiver Julio Jones said. “We had the referees out there, everything looked smooth. The execution was there, everything was there. It’s just that it happened in the game. For us, it’s something we’ve got to figure out, all of us, collectively, to see what we can all do better.”

There have been some strong individual performances this season for the Falcons, and there were some on Sunday as well. Austin Hooper led the team with nine catches for 130 yards, one week after catching two touchdown passes, and De’Vondre Campbell finished the game with 17 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

It takes more than high-caliber individual play to win in the NFL, however, and the Falcons continue to seek a complete performance as a team. After one quarter of the season, the Falcons are still digging for answers and working to get things fixed.

“When you’re not performing well you look at everything,” Quinn said. “… We’ll make sure we dig in hard to the areas that need it, and we’re nowhere near the team that we can be. We’re pissed about where we’re at after the first quarter [of the season], as I think our fans are. The good thing? We’re the ones that get to fix it, and we certainly intend on doing that.”

Cheap Edmonton Oilers Jerseys

A quick editorial note before we get going this Sunday morning…

On Sunday’s after the Oilers have played a night game the evening previous, this column will appear a few hours later than is typical. Usually it’s there when you wake up. The reason is two-fold:

-One, the guys at The Cult of Hockey often stay up until 1am putting the Player Grades together. Doesn’t make much sense to stomp on those just a couple of hours later.

-Two, sleep is also good.

And so with that, here is this week’s…

9 Things
9. Call it a gut feeling. But I’m not at all convinced that we’ve seen every player that will start the season on the Oilers 23-man roster. Ken Holland has had an eyeful this pre-season. He knows who’s been bad and good.

8. Joakim Nygard had his best game of the pre-season in Calgary. He had 2 assists and displayed a skill set above and beyond his obvious skating abilities. I can see him getting spot duty at 2LW. But remember, that line faces tough comp. Not sure Nygard’s defensive game is ready for those responsibilties yet. I do have him ahead of Tomas Jurco. I’ve liked Jurco in pre-season just fine. But he was in the AHL last year for a reason.

7. I expect Kris Russell and Matt Benning to get a lot of tough match-ups. Dave Tippett with use Oscar Klefbom and (for now, at least) Ethan Bear in offensive situations as often as possible. O-Zone starts will be high and they’ll team up with the McDavid-Draisaitl line frequently. I’m confident in Russell as a 3LD in that role. Benning? Well, he was a plus player on a bad team last season. And has been each year he’s been in the NHL.

6. There was some buzz after Dave Tippett ran one practice with all 3 of the Oilers best players (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) at their natural Center positions. Don’t expect that to happen often. What evidence have you seen from the wingers in camp convincing you that this would be profitable? Nope, I just don’t see the depth being there yet. Leon needs to stay on the wing for now.

5. Zack Kassian was on fire last night. He scored once but could have another or 3 given the chances he had (and largely created himself). Occasionally I think this player just needs a reminder of what he needs to do to succeed. Landing on the 4th line last night was one of those and look how he responded. But I’ll be surprised if Kassian doesn’t start with McDavid and Draisaitl Wednesday night. He has the skill set.

4. There may well be a player in Anton Burdasov. But the time was too short and the stakes too high to let the PTO go on much longer than it did. In fairness to the player, it was an awfully small sample and he was behind the 8-ball from the beginning, coming into camp part-way and all. But in fairness to the club, if playing in the NHL was really Burdasov’s dream (or at least so the story went) then why weren’t his visa and a few months of English lessons already in his back pocket? Hmmm.

3. Some people watch Brandon Manning with blinders on. Yeah, I remember what he did to Connor McDavid. Yes, I watched him try to fail to produce at the NHL level last season after that lop-sided PeterChiarelli trade. But Manning hasn’t played 264 NHL games by accident. And besides…who would you sooner have sitting in the press box as a 7D? Manning, or a kid (like William Lagesson) who could instead be playing 20+ minutes per night in Bakersfield? I won’t be surprised if the Oilers waive Manning first, to see if anyone picks up that contract. But no Oilers on waivers this (Sunday) A.M.

2. Don’t be surprised if Gaetan Haas starts the season in Bakersfield. Haas has improved incrementally through camp against increasingly tougher competition. That suggests that his slower start had a lot to do with the ice surface. Haas arrived in Edmonton with the mutual agreement that he may spend a limited amount of time in Bakersfield in order to help the player get acclimatized. And because he does not require waivers to go to the AHL it could be a smart investment for Haas and the club. Colby Cave won’t hurt you as a 4C in the interim.

1.I 100% expect that Ethan Bear will start the season in Edmonton and likely in a pairing with Oscar Klefbom. Bear arrived in spectacular shape and was on his game from the word “go”. His ability to transition the puck, especially in the face of a pretty good forecheck as we’ve seen from both Winnipeg and Calgary the last couple games, is a huge up from seasons past. In addition to that, it’s important to remember how big of a win it will be for the franchise if a 5th rounder (124th over-all) turns into a real NHL player. Across the league in modern history, only about 16% of picks of Bear’s pedigree play 100 NHL games. So if Bear makes the grade, it’ll be quite remarkable. A win every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

OK — raise your hand if you had Ethan Bear and, to a lesser extent, Tomas Jurco as your two biggest surprises to make the Edmonton Oilers 23-man opening-night roster?

What’s the old saying? That’s why they play the games, as Bear whizzed past names like Caleb Jones, Evan Bouchard and Matt Benning on the Oilers depth chart, while Jurco appears to be have won the derby of all the one-year, sub-$1 million forwards that Ken Holland tried out at his first camp as the Oilers general manager.

Let’s start with Jurco, an oft-injured Slovak drafted in the second round by Holland back in 2011, when he was still running the Detroit Red Wings. He scored reasonably well during a year-and-a-half of AHL play, but once called up, Jurco never found a way to score 10 goals a year or stay healthy, before being moved to the Chicago Blackhawks.

He came to Edmonton on a one-year, one-way deal worth $750,000, and an understanding that — at age 26 — his time to claim an NHL job was nearing an end. But head coach Dave Tippett has seen something he likes in Jurco, and in the Oilers second-to-last preseason game he played him on a line with Connor McDavid and James Neal.

Jurco had two goals and an assist.

“The more comfortable I get, the better I play,” Jurco told reporters in Winnipeg after the game. “Once I see I have trust then I play way better. Every player, when he knows he is trusted, everything is just easier.”

After two back surgeries, and only 58 NHL games scattered over the past three seasons, it has been a while since Jurco could say he felt this confident. “Better and better. Every good game that I have, it’s building,” he said. “I’m heading in the right direction.”

“You can present opportunity, but it’s what people do with it (that matters),” Tippett said of both Jurco and Bear. “(Jurco) makes good plays, Has good hands; good skill. And I think he’s come to a point in his career where he recognizes that he has to be a good two-way player. That the skill isn’t going to carry him.”

A few critics have already jumped all over the play last (Saturday) night when the Flames Sam Bennett walked Bear for a Grade “A” scoring chance. Mikko Koskinen bailed the kid out. Yes, he was beaten cleanly. But let me say this: When a rookie D-man begins his NHL career, even if with proper development and seasoning such as Bear has had…these moments will happen. Development does not go in a straight line. It’s a good league.

So not only do the coaches require patience with Bear. So do fans. And so do writers, just like me. Having a repeat of Jeff Petry or Justin Schultz as young players in this market will do neither the team nor the player any good.

Cheap Basketball Jerseys

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard said his health and playing time will be managed differently this season compared to how the Toronto Raptors managed the star forward.

On his first Media Day with the LA Clippers, Leonard said his health is considerably better now than it was entering last season with the Raptors, when he was coming off a quad injury and having played a total of nine games in San Antonio during the 2017-18 season.

“It’s different this season,” Leonard said after being asked how his health will be managed this season. “Last year, I was going in with an injury that I was dealing with the year before, still was lingering, and we knew that I had to be healthy going throughout the season and making it to the playoffs.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The five-man team on which LeBron James and Anthony Davis played together so thoroughly dominated the second day of Los Angeles Lakers training camp Sunday that James was pulled to rest before the day’s scrimmages were over.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel plans to do more of that with James this preseason.

When asked how much he figures he’ll play James, entering his 17th season, during the Lakers’ six-game exhibition slate, Vogel said, “not a ton.”

“We want to be intelligent,” he continued. “We want to get him enough reps to get him familiar with his teammates and get everybody on the same page, some cohesiveness. But certainly going to be intelligent and not overdo it in the preseason.”

James, 34, registered career lows in games played (55) and minutes per game (35.2) last season in his debut with the Lakers.

Lakers ‘play physical’ as Vogel preaches defense
Vogel said he plans to maximize James’ camp by pairing him as much as possible with Davis so the two can breed familiarity in one another’s games. Vogel is also toying with various complementary pieces to fill out the starting lineup next to them. Sunday, they were joined by Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, which spelled trouble for L.A.’s reserves.

“We saw a mismatch in LeBron and Anthony’s team really sort of had their way with the other teams,” Vogel said. “We had three teams out there, and those guys really performed at a high level on both ends of the floor.”

The excitement surrounding the pairing of a six-time All-Star in his prime in Davis with a four-time MVP and three-time champion in James is to be expected.

But Vogel said there has been a breakout star in camp who has stolen some of the spotlight from the Lakers’ dynamic duo.

“We’ve got two of the best players in the world competing together and all anybody’s talking about is Avery Bradley’s tenaciousness,” Vogel said. “That speaks volumes about what he’s been able to show in the first couple of days.”

Bradley, 28, signed a two-year, $9.7 million deal with the Lakers in the offseason after being waived by the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 16.1 points on 46.3% shooting (38.4% from 3) with 4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1 steal in 14 games with the Grizzlies.

The 10-year veteran said he dropped 40 pounds in the offseason, shedding excess weight his body put on following groin surgery last season.

He has replaced his workout regimen with unleashing himself defensively during training camp.

“Just being in the face of whoever has the basketball,” Vogel said. “It’s become very clear that coaching against him, [we'd] say, ‘Don’t dribble the ball. If Avery’s on you, pass the ball. Just give it up.’ Because you’re not going anywhere with a bounce with Avery Bradley on you.”

And he has shown it on the other end.

“He’s shooting the ball well offensively, too,” Vogel said. “Talk about his tenaciousness, he’s really shooting — not just corner 3, the arc 3. Shot at a high level in Memphis last year, has really grown that throughout his career.”

Add it all up, and Vogel sounds like he just wants to fast-forward through training camp and get to the real thing. L.A. plays its first preseason game in San Francisco next weekend against the Golden State Warriors in the opening game for the Chase Center and then travels to China for a pair of games against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I feel like we’re ready to play right now,” he said. “We put a lot of stuff in, both offensively with our full offense and the variety of things you can do out of it, as well as a lot of our defensive coverages. We’ve had a really productive first couple of days, and I’m not worried about us not being ready to play games against Golden State or in China.”

Is Kawhi or Giannis the best basketball player in the world?
“This time, I’m feeling good,” Leonard continued. “I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of last season. There really was no plan laid out to discuss with everyone.”

Last season, Leonard played a total of 60 regular-season games for the Raptors and averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. Leonard then led the Raptors to their first NBA title, averaging 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 24 postseason games, and was the Finals MVP. Leonard said he could not have done that without the Raptors’ load-management plan.

George: Leonard and I should’ve teamed up in IndianaPaul George gives his thoughts on Kawhi Leonard as a person, adding that he and Leonard should have been teammates with the Pacers.
But Leonard said he is feeling much better as he enters his first season with the Clippers. The more Leonard and Paul George — who is coming off surgeries on both his shoulders — play, the more formidable Doc Rivers’ defense will be. Rivers has two of the best two-way players in the game in Leonard and George to go with the tenacious Patrick Beverley among others.

“It’s going to be scary,” George said of the Clippers’ defensive versatility. “With myself, [Montrezl Harrell], Kawhi, Pat, [Landry Shamet], Mo [Harkless], Rodney [McGruder], we’ve really got a chance to do something special on the defensive end. … Watching Pat get out there and picking somebody up 94 feet, that’s going to get me going. It’s going to get Kawhi going. It’s just going to become contagious on a nightly basis. I honestly think, for the first time, people are going to be excited to watch the defensive end as opposed to watching the offensive [end].”

Beverley said the additions of Leonard and George will make the Clippers’ scrappy, underdog mentality feel like it’s “on steroids.”

Asked if he will consider playing for Team USA next summer, Leonard said he is focused on one thing right now.

“I do want to play, but I’m taking it one step at a time,” Leonard said. “And right now, it is getting the Clippers to the Finals.”

Cheap Memphis Grizzlies Jerseys

Memphis Grizzlies no será esta temporada uno de los equipos de la Conferencia Oeste que vaya a pelear por entrar a playoffs. Después de iniciar una reconstrucción el curso pasado con los traspasos de Marc Gasol, en febrero, y de Mike Conley, en junio, la franquicia de Tennessee hará uso del famoso ‘tanking’ para escalar puestos en el próximo Draft.

Y es que, en los últimos años, los Grizzlies han conseguido jugadores muy interesantes de cara al futuro. Sin ir más lejos, sus dos últimas selecciones de gran nivel han sido Jaren Jackson Jr (2018) y Ja Morant (2019).

Jackson Jr fue uno de los rookies más destacados de la temporada pasada. De hecho, fue incluido en en el Primer Quinteto de Rookies de la NBA, junto a Luka Doncic, Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton y Marvin Bagley III.

Morant, por su parte, es una de las tres grandes estrellas de este último Draft. Elegido en el puesto n.º 2 de primera ronda, el joven base está llamado a ser el líder de Memphis para las próximas temporadas de la liga.

Luego se encuentra el factor Jonas Valanciunas. El pívot lituano renovó este verano con la intención de ser la imagen de la veteranía – junto a Andre Iguodala si no es traspasado – dentro del vestuario. Junto a Ja Morant y Jaren Jackson Jr, será una de las referencias de los Grizzlies en los partidos.

Predicting which players will still be on the Memphis Grizzlies’ roster after the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline
The Memphis Grizzlies are rolling into training camp with 20 players under contract. Obviously, that’s more than the maximum roster size they can carry into the regular season, so some players have got to go before opening night- but even after that, the Grizzlies will be carrying some interesting names into the season.

The plans for one of the Grizzlies are extremely public, but what about everyone else? Which players will still be in a Memphis uniform come February 7th and beyond? I’ll make some educated guesses.

The guys with one foot out the door
Andre Igoudala ($17.2 million) – If a suitable trade candidate isn’t found by the deadline, he’ll be (finally? begrudgingly?) bought out. I think a trade package of a couple of second-rounders from someone who’s top-4 in the West will materialize in February, if not on December 15th.

Ivan Rabb ($1.6 million) – I’m not confident he’ll even make the roster. I’m thinking he’ll be cut outright because he’s just not a consistently productive NBA player. He played in Summer League for the third year in a row, and he just didn’t look like a third-year NBA player. He shouldn’t and won’t be in the team’s future plans.

Miles Plumlee ($12.5 million) – The oldest Plumlee is on an expiring deal. He’ll most likely be moved or packaged with another player for the Grizzlies to take on some longer-term money and assets.

Josh Jackson ($7 million) – Josh is starting the season with the Memphis Hustle down in Mississippi and not participating in the Grizzlies’ training camp. The Grizzlies have until October 31 to pick up the $8.9 million 4th-year option on his contract. I’m leaning toward believing that he’ll have the option picked up, but he’s on thin ice with Memphis, a team with absolutely no incentive to keep him around if his legal situation doesn’t improve. If anything happens, they’ll figure out a way to get him off the books, option or no option.

Matt Mooney ($898k) – Mooney is on an Exhibit 10 contract. He won’t make the final roster, but he’ll likely spend the season with the Hustle if he impresses in training camp. Mooney is an excellent 3-point shooter, so he could definitely find a spot in the league even if his stop in Memphis doesn’t work out.

A esa columna vertebral se suman jóvenes que todavía no han conseguido explotar en la liga: Tus Jones, Dillon Brooks, Ivan Rabb, Bruno Caboclo…

En resumidas cuentas: el presente de Memphis Grizzlies no es muy atractivo que se diga, pero el futuro es más que prometedor. Los aficionados tendrán que tener mucha paciencia para volver a ver a su equipo en unos playoffs de la NBA.

Cheap Cincinnati Reds Jerseys

PITTSBURGH – For the sixth straight season, the Cincinnati Reds ended their season short of the playoffs.

After concluding the 2019 season with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, the Reds finished with a 75-87 record. It was the club’s most wins since 2014, but they fell well below their own expectations.

There was too much inconsistency on offense. They lost too many one-run games. After losing eight of their first nine games, they never returned to .500 for the remainder of the season.

Following six consecutive losing seasons, there certainly will be added pressure throughout the offseason. The Reds traded some of their top prospects for short-term additions. There is confidence about the starting rotation but bolstering the bullpen and adding some bats will be a priority for the front office this winter.

Reds manager David Bell met with most players for their exit interviews throughout the past week, with a few more scheduled over the next couple of days. Almost every player mentioned an added urgency to win in 2020.

“They are all unique conversations, but that’s the one common thread of the conversation,” Bell said. “There’s been ideas shared on how to make that happen. Everyone is talking about it because even though they might have different ideas of how they can contribute to that, everyone feels the same thing, it’s so close. I think we all agree we will look back at this year as a necessary year to go through.”

Tyler Mahle, pitching on short rest, tossed five scoreless innings in the season finale. He gave up three hits and zero walks, striking out five. Mahle thought his season was over after Wednesday’s start, but Trevor Bauer’s illness created an opening in the rotation for Game 162 and Mahle looked forward to a better ending to his season.

“I was excited to get a second chance at capping off my season with a good outing,” said Mahle, who found out he was starting Saturday. “When they told me, at first, they just said I might just be pitching at some point. I was hoping to be able to get out there.”

Aristides Aquino homered in the second inning, a 412-foot blast over the wall in left-center field. Aquino had 19 homers and 47 RBI in two months. He may not have a guaranteed starting role for next season, but he certainly put himself in the conversation.

The Reds expected rookie Nick Senzel to show he was capable of being an everyday player for future seasons. Aquino and Josh VanMeter pushed their way into 2020 plans.

“He’s really an impressive person, not only the kind of player he is but just how he’s handled this whole thing,” Bell said of Aquino. “Of course, you’re not going to be hot all the time. It’s been very impressive how he’s handled it when he’s not hot. He’s just steady, he’s really intelligent and has a great way about him.

“To me, he proved he belongs here just the way he handled himself when it wasn’t going great.”

Brian O’Grady hit his second career homer in the fifth inning, and Alex Blandino followed with his second career home run in the eighth. It was the first time the Reds won a series in Pittsburgh since Aug. 1-3, 2017. They lost their first eight games at PNC Park this season.

The Reds ended the season with a 33-43 record against National League Central opponents and a 42-44 record against all other teams. The magic number to make the playoffs was 89 wins this year.

Can they become a 89-win team by next year?

That’s the urgency they feel as Eugenio Suárez had another breakout season with a Venezuelan-record 49 homers, Sonny Gray’s comeback year and Luis Castillo’s emergence as a top of the rotation starter.

Over his career, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson has struggled to be a starter. In 2019, however, it looks like he found a home in the bullpen.
Former first-round pick Robert Stephenson has struggled to live up to the hype since he debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 2016. He has shown flashes, but inconsistencies have led to many fans questioning if he would ever develop into a major league starter. While he hasn’t done that, Stephenson found a home in the bullpen this season.

Stephenson’s inconsistency has long-since stemmed from his lack of command and the number of walks he allows. This issue has plagued Stephenson throughout his entire professional career, especially after his first two seasons in the minors.

Robert Stephenson was one of the final players to make the cut coming out of spring training. At the time, I assumed there was no way that Stephenson would make the roster and probably be designated for assignment or traded since he was out of minor league options.

In his first season as a full-time reliever in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, Robert Stephenson has a 3.82 ERA, 3.68 FIP and a 120 ERA+, meaning he was 20% better than the league average. Stephenson seemed to get his command issues under control, as he has walked only 24 batters in 63.2 innings. Stephenson has also struck out 80 opposing hitters this season.

Stephenson cutting his BB9, which through his first three seasons in the big leagues was 6.5, down to 3.4 this year is flat-out amazing. Not only that, but his strikeouts per 9 has improved as from 8.4 strikeouts per nine to 11.4 this season.

I thought Stephenson would be no more than a long relief option out of the bullpen. This was the case for a good portion of the season, but as the year went on, David Bell began using Stephenson when the stakes were high.

The improvements Stephenson made this season has elevated his role on the Cincinnati Reds. Whereas he used to be though of as liability when he toed the rubber, Stephenson is now counted on during key moments late in the game. One has to assume that pitching coach Derek Johnson probably had a lot to do with Stephenson’s transformation.

While Stephenson was originally drafted out of high school to be an elite-level starting pitcher, things don’t always work out as planned. Look at former starter turned reliever Andrew Miller. After five failed seasons as a starting pitcher, Miller found a home in the bullpen and has been regarded as one of the more dominant relievers in the game.

After the success we’ve seen this season from Robert Stephenson, I feel confident in his ability to join Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias in the back of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen hading into the 2020 season.

It’s nice to see a player like Stephenson, who’s had so many struggles throughout his professional career, finally have a season that he can look at as a success. Stephenson gets an A in my book for his performance this season.

“I think it’s that healthy urgency that it should feel like that all the time,” Bell said. “That’s what teams that succeed feel like all the time. We have to win now. That is a fun way to play the game. It’s a fun way to look at it. It’s really the only way to play. It’ll be great that the fans feel that way, the entire organization, I know we feel that way here.”

The Reds improved by eight wins this year from their 67-95 record in 2018.

“Obviously, it’s still disappointing because I think we had a really good team here and we could’ve done a lot this year,” reliever Robert Stephenson said. “You look at the bright spots. Going into next year, I think we have a legitimate chance to be a team that’s going to surprise some people.”