Category: jlqcmfwv

Jose Mourinho calls Chelsea’s opening half at Newcastle their worst under him

first_img Willian’s late equaliser denied Magpies head coach Steve McClaren a first league win, but he was able to take positives from a vastly-improved display in which summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic played a significant role on his return from suspension. McClaren said: “It’s difficult to know what to think after that, and then you have got to try to come back down and put it into some kind of perspective, and that’s what we must do, put it in perspective in terms of performance, in terms of reaction and in terms of what we have got. “What you got was a collective togetherness, which we talked about a lot, and that wasn’t just the players and the dressing room and the staff, that was the supporters because after this week, the supporters could have just waited and seen what was going to happen. “But they didn’t, they responded from the first whistle and that’s what’s unique about this football club, this set of fans, and the players responded and gave a performance which was more like what we want – attitude, character, organised, really disciplined and courage to play, and we played some good football. “In the end, we could have won it; in the end, we could have lost it. With five or six minutes to go, the momentum had swung and to hang on in there. “Yes, it was a good display, but that’s the benchmark now, that’s the standard.” The Portuguese gave his team a “minus one out of 10” rating for their first 45 minutes at St James’ Park and blamed individual errors for gifting the Magpies 2-0 lead. Asked if that was as badly as the Blues had played under him, Mourinho said: “Yes, for sure. Press Association Jose Mourinho branded Chelsea’s first-half performance at Newcastle as the worst of his reign after seeing them fight back to snatch a 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw. “I have played so many matches with Chelsea over seven years and we have had some bad performances. I remember one at Middlesbrough in 2005, 2006, something like that, we were losing at half-time 3-0, so we have had a few. “But this first half, I can rate as one of those performances, yes. I put it down to awful individual performances. When you have so many bad individual performances, it’s impossible for a team to be a team.” Newcastle forced their way ahead – and deservedly so – three minutes before the break when Ayoze Perez took advantage of indecisive defending to volley home from Vurnon Anita’s cross, and when Georginio Wijnaldum headed home Perez’s 60th-minure corner, a fourth successive home win over the Blues looked to be on the cards. However, Mourinho quickly shuffled his pack and two of his substitutes did the trick when Ramires reduced the deficit with a 79th-minute piledriver and Willian levelled direct from a free-kick with just four minutes remaining. The Chelsea boss is yet to win a league game on Tyneside and had lost on his previous three visits, and that led him to question Newcastle’s mentality. He said: “I think maybe one of the reasons why Newcastle over the years doesn’t get good positions is because of this mentality, it’s because they choose some matches to sweat blood and in other matches, they don’t. “This is an attitude typical of a team that wins nothing. It’s bad for them because if they play like this, they win many matches at home, and they don’t. But this is their problem. “The reality is that they fought hard, they gave everything, they followed a line that many pundits gave straight away – you have to fight, you have to kick, you have to tackle, you have to run, so they were exactly that, and they fought for a point, and I think they deserved a point the way they fought.” last_img read more

NAMILCO/GFF Thunderbolt Flour Power Nat. U-17 League

first_imgUDFA matches continue today at Wisburg groundACTION in the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) leg of the GFF/Thunderbolt Flour Power National Under-17 League is set to continue today at the Wisburg Secondary School ground with a double-header.Milerock and Botofago will face off in the feature match at 15:00hrs with the curtain-raiser bringing together High Stars and Netrockers. In the lone match that was played last Wednesday at the same venue, Eagles United and Amelia’s Ward Panthers battled to a 0-0 stalemate.The other match that was scheduled between Milerock and Botofago was not played as a result of bad weather.West Demerara FA – Damaged Den Amstel ground halts matches.Matches at the Den Amstel ground, the hub for the West Demerara Football Association (WDFA) had to be halted abruptly due to damage of the field as a result of a vehicle driven on it while it was soft.Persistent rain over the past six weeks or so have rendered many fields in the various associations unplayable but WDFA president Orin Ferrier says he is optimistic that play would resume next weekend.He said that Den Amstel is their main hub since the grounds at Wales and Goed Fortuin on the West Bank and Uitvlugt on the West Demerara are not in playable conditions.“We are trying every avenue to have more grounds available to us so that we can have matches played on a consistent basis,” Ferrier noted.ESSEQUIBO FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONIn latest play there, Queenstown and Henrietta United both got walkovers from Good Hope and Super 11 respectively.Matches will not be played in Georgetown, East Coast and East Bank Football Associations this weekend as these associations are working on making their available facilities playable.last_img read more

Braun: Once again, Al Davis digs fast hole for Raiders

first_imgI was raised to love sports, but Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders are making it really difficult for me to like football right about now.You talk about running a franchise the way you run your life. You have a plan, you make smart decisions, and most importantly, you learn from your mistakes.Apparently, those running the silver and black would be the biggest failures at life, not to mention operating a sports franchise. Those who watched the NFL Draft this past Saturday know exactly what I’m talking about, and while you might be laughing at the Raider Nation, I’m sitting, thinking and wondering why I still support a franchise that seemingly wants to lose.To those who didn’t watch the draft, here’s what you missed: With the seventh overall pick in the draft, Oakland selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, the quick-footed wide receiver out of Maryland.OK, maybe quick-footed doesn’t do Heyward-Bey justice. I mean, he was the fasted player in the entire draft, being clocked at 4.3 for his 40-yard dash — now that’s fast.Oh wait, whoops! Did Al forget that Michael Crabtree, by far the best wide receiver in the draft, was still on the board? Surely, if the Raiders were intent on taking a receiver in the first round, they would choose the best one, right?Considering Crabtree caught more touchdowns last season (19) than Heyward-Bey did in his three years at Maryland (12) is a bit concerning. Simply put, most Raiders fans are probably thinking along the lines of “FML.” I know I am.Taking a look at Oakland’s past several drafts, we can see this trend of picking fast players. It started in 2005, when the Raiders selected Fabian Washington, a solid cornerback for Nebraska, ran a 4.29 40-yard dash, the fastest in that draft as well.Not a terrible pick, but in the second round, the Raiders took Stanford Routt, another speedster; that one didn’t work out as well for Oakland.This year, though, the Raiders really outdid themselves. Aside from picking a receiver over Crabtree, they made even worse picks in the following two rounds. Heyward-Bey at least did well in college and earned a 91 grade from ESPN.Michael Mitchell — Oakland’s second round pick — is absolutely the worst selection by any team in the draft. Not only was he not expected to be drafted, but also he was so irrelevant at the start of the draft that ESPN didn’t even give him a grade.I mean this guy is so irrelevant he wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine. He had to run his 40-yard dash on his Pro Day. He did impress, posting a 4.43 mark.But that even furthers my point. To what point can speed really make that much of a difference for a football team that has been struggling like none other since it lost the Super Bowl in 2003? One can argue every other team in the NFL is improving except for the Raiders, and the sole reason can be blamed on their poor drafting technique.That, and the fact that Mel Kiper Jr., bad hairdo aside, informed the ESPN viewers that Mitchell would have been lucky to be signed after the draft was over made me even more distraught.Still questioning my reasoning for being a Raiders fan following this debacle, I still wonder what Davis is thinking, and if Oakland will ever get out of this funk. As of now, if they think they have more speed, then the Raiders are simply racing themselves to the cellar of the NFL.For now, let’s enjoy watching the fastest losers any major sport has to offer. You can thank Al Davis for that entertainment.Jonah is a sophomore majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. Are the Raiders really that bad? Can speed really save the Raiders franchise? Send your thoughts to jbraun@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

MLAX : BREAK THROUGH: Syracuse solves Siena’s defense, advances to NCAA quarterfinals

first_imgAll Syracuse could do was keep shooting. Though Siena’s goaltender, Tom Morr, was playing phenomenally, SU’s shots had to find the back of the net eventually. The offense just had to keep firing away.‘We had 52 [sic] shots. Some good, some bad,’ SU attack Tom Palasek said. ‘When a goalie is playing that great, you have to just keep shooting.’Finally, the offensive persistence paid off, and Syracuse ultimately shot its way to a win.Palasek finished the game with a team-leading five points to help send No. 1 Syracuse (15-1, 6-0 Big East) to a 10-4 win over unseeded Siena (13-5, 5-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. For the entire first half, the 4,096 inside the Carrier Dome watched an unexpected defensive battle, as the Orange took shot after shot with little success. But Syracuse overcame its poor shot selection and Morr’s stellar performance with a stretch of four straight goals in the second half to give SU the win.The Saints came into the game with a simple defensive plan: pack the inside of the Orange’s offensive zone and yield only long shots from the outside. Siena executed that plan perfectly for the first half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt forced Syracuse to return to its offensive ways from early in the season, where it took long shots from the outside that ended up wide of the cage or sailed high over the top. Inaccurate attempts from too far out produced easy saves for Morr, who finished with 19 in the game. SU took 31 shots in the first half but only got the ball past Morr four times.‘We were giving him confidence there,’ Palasek said.The Saints held the Orange scoreless for nearly 23 minutes from the second quarter into the third. But once SU broke through the Siena defense with 4:17 left in the third, it sparked the offense.Syracuse midfielder Josh Amidon broke the drought when he shot low into the cage for his team’s fifth goal of the game. The Orange would add a second goal before the end of the third quarter and two more in quick succession to open the fourth.‘We were struggling there with our shots,’ Amidon said. ‘Once we got that one, everybody was a little upbeat more and we kind of got our goals that we needed. We got the ball around a bit more.’That meant shooting low into the net and aiming for areas where Morr wasn’t able to get down on time to make the stop. When the Orange shot high, Morr had little trouble making the save.What gave SU the win was increased patience. It passed the ball around the zone and began to take high-percentage shots.By the end of the game, the Orange had peppered Morr with 51 shots but only had 10 goals to show for it. Numbers that Syracuse head coach John Desko found surprising and unusual.‘Normally, when Syracuse has that many shots, there’s going to be a few more points on the scoreboard,’ Desko said. ‘So, I think it was a combination of their goaltender playing pretty well. We went wide a number of times on our shots.’The low success rate led to frustration for the Orange on the field. Morr said he could tell that as the struggles wore on, the SU shooters were taking longer shots on poor angles. But once Syracuse scored that fifth goal, the tide started to turn in its favor.The Orange went up 6-2 when Steve Ianzito scored with nine seconds left in the third quarter on an assist from Jeff Gilbert. Ianzito cut in toward the crease and received a pass from Jeff Gilbert that created a catch-and-shoot opportunity. Ianzito’s tally gave SU a four-goal lead that seemingly locked up the win.Syracuse tacked on scored four more goals in the fourth quarter, while the Saints could only muster two in a soft comeback attempt.With just under four minutes left to go in the game and the score at 9-4, the high-fives and hugs began to take place on the SU sidelines. For what seemed like the first time in the entire game, the Orange could breathe easy.After several weeks of fluid and effective offense, the Siena game was step backwards. But in the end, SU did enough to advance to the quarterfinals.Said Amidon: ‘Overall, we did what we needed to do.’cjiseman@syr.edu Comments Published on May 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_isemancenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Trojans make an impression on Pro Day

first_imgMarshall maintained that swagger during interviews, stating his goal was to be the best, and he wasn’t going to stop working until he got there. Marshall said he was excited for the opportunity to play with the best. “You play this game to be a competitor,” he said. “If you’re not a competitor, why are you playing?” Departing football players took Cromwell Field Wednesday morning for USC’s Pro Day to demonstrate their talent to NFL scouts. The event had a unique participant, blind long snapper Jake Olson, who put on quite a show with 17 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press to raise money for cancer research. Smith also had a solid day. He considers himself someone who can quarterback a defense and is generally seen as a more cerebral player. While Smith was not “happy” with his performance, he said he was “content,” as he felt he proved his athleticism enough to allow his fundamentals and football IQ to shine through. Gustin said that scouts are concerned with his injury history, but he seemed confident that he is not “injury prone” and is instead the unfortunate recipient of “freak injuries” that have all been solely bone-related. Gustin, while lacking that agile bend that pass rushers need to turn the edge and rack up sacks, is projected to be a stout edge run defender who can muscle his way to a few sacks in the NFL. Linebacker Porter Gustin had 7.5 sacks in six games in 2018, which encourages the idea that he has the potential to be a contributor at the next level — if he can stay healthy. (Josh Dunst/Daily Trojan) A tackling machine for the Trojans for four years, Smith used Pro Day to showcase his knowledge of the game off the field in interviews with team officials. Smith is considered a mid-round talent but could be a solid contributor despite his pedestrian athleticism due to his leadership on the field and in the locker room. Some Trojans who attended the NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago had the chance to demonstrate their abilities to scouts from more teams. For defensive backs Marvell Tell and Iman Marshall, linebackers Porter Gustin and Cam Smith and offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, Pro Day was an opportunity to play on home turf without the immense mental strain of the combine and to receive more personalized evaluations from team officials. Tell showed his strengths well in the field drills, demonstrating a particular burst in the ‘W’ drill. Teams are considering switching the 6-foot-2 Tell to cornerback, where his athleticism can be fully displayed. Throughout the season, Tell was a leader of USC’s defense and developed press coverage skills visible at Pro Day that will transition well to the league. In addition to a great day on the field that demonstrated his versatility, Marshall gave teams a chance to get to know his personality. As a tough press man corner at 6-foot-1, Marshall often acts as a bully, matching up with bigger receivers and maintaining a high level of physicality. Marshall was nimble for his size in the drills and already proved his speed at the combine. Teams have been evaluating him as a safety, and he said he felt his athleticism and knowledge showed scouts that he could play the position at the next level. Coming off an ankle injury that derailed his senior season, Gustin struggled at the combine in the field workouts, although he impressed in the 40-yard dash and measurables. Equal parts WWE wrestler and hulking Rambo, Gustin is a far cry from the modern day edge-rushing linebackers who run blazing sub-4.5 40 times. No one expects Gustin to be buttery smooth on the field; however, he certainly showed passable fluidity to pair with his immense power in the field drills. Best known for the quickness he showed at the combine, Edoga did not look quite as strong at Pro Day. His heavier physique may have teams questioning his strength in pass protection, though he looks to be a solid run blocker in the league. Pro Day is also an opportunity for lesser known prospects to gain traction and meet with team officials. Running back Aca’Cedric Ware looked explosive coming out of near 90-degree cuts and ran good routes. He did not drop a single pass and looked more fluid than expected coming out of his breaks in the pass game.last_img read more

Richie Stephens honored by ASCAP

first_imgRichie Stephens (third left) at the ASCAP Awards in Hollywood, California Thursday. At left is ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams and second left is Stephens’ sister Charmaine. Veteran singer Richie Stephens was among the honorees at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards in Hollywood, California Thursday night.He received the Pop Award for contributing to Rihanna’s mega-selling song, Work. Released early last year, it featured Canadian star rapper Drake and went number one in the US, as well as several European countries.Stephens, 50, has been recording for almost 30 years and was at one stage signed to Motown Records.He described the ASCAP award as “a proud moment for Jamaica, for dancehall and for the entire Jamaican music industry.”Three of the producers (Matthew ‘Boi-1da’ Samuels, Jahron ‘PartyNextDoor’ Brathwaite and Sevn Thomas) are Jamaicans who live in Canada. Work sampled Stephens Sail Away rhythm, which was released by his Pot of Gold label in 1998.last_img read more

Talk to Frank… Paddy Power launches first sitcom series ‘The Mascot’

first_img Submit Share Share Bookies Corner: Trump Presidency sinks as US 2020 enters its 100 day countdown July 29, 2020 StumbleUpon Related Articles Paddy Power raises awareness of Missing People with Motherwell ‘silhouette’ stand August 7, 2020 Flutter moves to refine merger benefits against 2020 trading realities August 27, 2020 Keeping audiences entertained during lockdown, Paddy Power has become the first bookmaker to launch a comedy mini-sitcom series titled ‘The Mascot’, which will be broadcast across its social media profile. The four-part sitcom scripted by Noel Slevin and Steven Quick of Paddy Power’s Social Media team follows ‘Frank the Dinosaur’, the former disgraced mascot of Basildon Athletic FC. The Mascot has been directed by acclaimed comedy director and actor David Schneider, best known for his award-winning work on hit series ‘The Day Today’ and ‘I’m Alan Partridge’.Paddy Power premiered the first episode of The Mascot this weekend, gaining more than ‘a million views in less than 48 hours’. The second instalment will be launched this evening.  The Mascot was filmed and produced last year by That Lot, with Dartford FC’s Princes Park stadium used amongst its shooting locations. Jack Wilson, Head of Content & Channels at Paddy Power, said: “Anyone with even a passing interest in football will know that the real stars of the sport are the mascots – so we wanted to take fans behind the scenes to see what their life is like away from the pitch.“Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, so we just had to imagine what it might be like instead. We hope it gives our followers a smile, and an escape from the news updates for five minutes or so.”last_img read more

Dodgers win one-sided showdown over Nationals

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES >> In one of those omnipresent sponsorship tie-ins that fuel modern sports, we are nightly reminded at Dodger Stadium that Uber is “the preferred ride of the Dodgers.”But let’s be honest – that honor really belongs to Clayton Kershaw.The Dodgers rode him to another victory Monday night. Kershaw threw 106 pitches, his fastball and the temperatures spending the night in the 90s equally demoralizing hitters, and took a shutout into the seventh inning as the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals, 4-1.The anticipated ace-on-ace showdown between Kershaw and Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg melted away. Strasburg was a last-minute scratch with a strained back. Tabbed at the last hour (literally) to replace Strasburg, Nationals right-hander Yusmeiro Petit acquitted himself well. The former Giant went six innings and allowed just five hits. Unfortunately for him, two of those were home runs – by Justin Turner and Joc Pederson – and two more were doubles (by Corey Seager). Turner drove Seager in with an RBI single after the first double.Turner heated up even before the weather did. He has an eight-game hitting streak during which he has gone 14 for 30 with five home runs and 11 RBI. Since June 4, he is batting .351 (20 for 57) with three doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBI, adding 32 points to a batting average that sat at .220 those 15 games ago.Kenley Jansen closed it out in the ninth for his 162nd career save, surpassing Eric Gagne for the franchise record. Since blowing his third save of the season on June 11 in San Francisco, Jansen has faced 16 batters over five innings and retired 15 of them, 10 by strikeout.center_img It probably didn’t even register on Kershaw’s radar. He simply went out and did what he does every five days (give or take an extra day’s rest), pitching the Dodgers to their fourth consecutive victory and lifting them six games over .500 (39-33) for the first time all season.Kershaw’s MVP case strengthens with each start. He is now 11-1. The Dodgers have won 14 of his 15 starts (while going 25-32 when he takes the night off). Monday was the eighth time in those 15 starts he has allowed one run or less. He has allowed more than two earned runs in a start just once and he leads the majors in …. anything that matters for a starting pitcher.Deprived of a Kershaw-Strasburg matchup, Dodgers fans (and ESPN viewers) instead got to see the past two National League MVPs square off. Kershaw (the 2014 NL MVP) got the better of that matchup, striking out Bryce Harper (the 2015 NL MVP) in each of his three at-bats against him.Kershaw didn’t look mortal until the seventh inning. The Nationals had three hits in the first six innings and only one runner advanced to second base. Michael Taylor doubled with one out in the sixth. Kershaw stranded him there by striking out Jayson Werth and Harper.But in the seventh, singles put runners at the corners with one out for Anthony Rendon. He pushed an RBI single into right field, sullying Kershaw’s shutout bid. A wild pitch put the tying run in scoring position before Kershaw got out of that.last_img read more

Alexander: Fixing Baseball, Part II

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Fact: Through Sunday, 14 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams had experienced attendance decreases from this point last season.Also a fact: The Red Sox avoided being one of those, by just 20,429 fans, thanks to two crowds of 59,659 and 59,059 in their London games with the Yankees. Meanwhile the Angels, despite being the home team for two games in Monterrey, Mexico in May and drawing 18,177 and 17,614, were just 2,861 behind their 2018 home attendance pace.That latter number helps speak to the strength of Southern California as a baseball region.The Dodgers, with their season-long dominance on the field, are not only the first team to top 3 million this season but (albeit with four extra home dates) more than 654,000 fans better than No. 2, the self-proclaimed Best Fans In Baseball in St. Louis. The Angels, in 55 games in Anaheim, are at 2.131 million and averaging 37,505, which really is quite good for a team that was on the fringe of wild-card contention most of the summer and now seems to have fallen out of the race. On Mamba Night, the Lakers make short work of Blazers to take 3-1 series lead Horse dies after injury during workout at Del Mar Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant center_img Photos: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers in Game 4 of first-round playoff series • YouTube. I was prepared to dislike the streaming service’s first foray into live baseball coverage. But I don’t, though the play-by-play guys they bring in could be a little less chatty. (Pro tip: Once you turn off the viewer comments button, it’s a lot more enjoyable.) It is a boon for those who are otherwise shut out (hello, deprived Dodger fans), though I can also see where it’s an issue for those who don’t have smart TVs or are simply grappling with the notion of watching baseball on a tablet or phone.So, again, can we revise the MLB.TV rules and make everything available everywhere, with no blackouts? The sport has an opportunity to get ahead of the curve here and recapture the attention of cord cutters, rather than being held back by its loyalty to cable networks who are shedding subscribers as we speak.• The baseball. Is it time to deaden the ball just a bit? Or maybe put the balls into humidors at sea level, as well as at altitude? Yes, people love home runs, but people love sweets, too. In both cases, overconsumption is dangerous.Those are some of my thoughts. I welcome yours.jalexander@scng.com@Jim_Alexander on Twitter The point – and thank you for your patience in allowing us to meander toward it – is that your perception of the game’s condition largely depends on (a) where you live and (b) how the local team is doing. Shifts, pace of game, lack of action, strike zones that sometimes defy description … if the home team is winning (and if you can see it on TV nightly), those issues don’t stop you from partaking. (Unless you root for the A’s or Rays, but that’s a different discussion altogether.)Still, the game has plenty of room for improvement. A year ago, we made some suggestions on making baseball better, and readers subsequently chimed in with their own opinions. Some were really good, some were funny – totally intended that way, I’m sure – and some were get-off-my-lawn cranky.(Warning: The proprietor is the only one allowed to shoo the kids out of the front yard in This Space. He rarely exercises that privilege.)So if it’s early August, it’s time to revisit our brainstorming. Call it Fixing Baseball, Part II.And we start by critiquing the people responsible for marketing and promoting the game – you know, the ones with such PR savvy that they timed the release of their 2020 schedule for Monday, the very same day that the NBA announced its schedule. Can they be more tone-deaf? Well …• Uniforms. MLB’s marketers just can’t leave the uniforms and colors alone. They’ve insisted on unnecessarily messing with teams’ individual brands for each holiday, but their latest plan, for next week’s Players Weekend, borders on out-and-out blasphemy. They scheduled that promotion on the weekend that the Yankees and Dodgers play each other, a matchup of iconic teams with iconic uniforms. So, naturally, MLB mandated white-on-off white for home teams (Dodgers) and black-on-black for visitors (Yankees).Nary a team color to be found, but that’s not the worst part: It has always been my contention that if you can’t see the numbers distinctly from the top row, the uniforms have failed their basic function. This?  Epic fail. What good are the nicknames on the backs if you can’t see them?• The strike zone. I, for one, am rooting for the experiment in the independent Atlantic League with an electronic strike zone to succeed. Yes, the box you see on televised games is deceptive and doesn’t always show where a pitch truly crossed the plate, though announcers often seem to treat that graphic as the last word. (And let’s face it: Pitchers are better than ever before at manipulating the ball and creating wicked movement, which suggests both hitters and umpires are overmatched.)Automated ball-strike calls would solve two problems. The electronic strike zone would prevent catchers from stealing strikes via “framing.” And it would get rid of the Incredible Floating Strike Zone, i.e., each umpire’s interpretation of the zone as if he’s performing a song or critiquing a painting. Giving a pitcher the corner is one thing. Umpiring as if the plate is low and outside is quite another.Oh, and it’s also time to revise the rule book and move the upper limit of the strike zone closer to the letters than the belly button, please. More strikes means more swinging the bat, and that means potentially more action.• The shift. I would still prefer a rule change stipulating two fielders on each side of second base, but for some reason I’m not bothered by extreme shifts as much as I was in the past. Maybe I’m getting used to it. Horrifying thought.Related Articleslast_img read more

Rockies’ Kyle Freeland rises to occasion, with embarrassing John Elway moment still fresh

first_imgMORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show on DAZNAfter one of Colin’s games, with all the parents and players still hanging around the field, one of the dads started throwing batting practice to his son. Kyle and some of the other younger brothers, gloves at the ready, scrambled out to shag fly balls. Any excuse to get out on the baseball field and impress the older kids was a welcomed opportunity. But this didn’t go quite as Freeland planned. “So this kid hits a fly ball and I go to catch it and I just take my eye off the ball for a split second and it glances off my glove and smokes me right under the eye,” Freeland said, grimacing as he stood in front of his spring training locker a couple of weeks ago. “I mean, in front of John Elway, in front of his son. So that was pretty embarrassing. I had this huge welt, with the laces showing right across my cheek.”That welt under his eye healed long ago. The shot to his baseball-playing little-kid pride, though? That still stings a bit, even now. A little more focus and Freeland avoids that embarrassing — and painful — moment in front of the best athlete in Colorado state history. The lesson was learned, though. Was it ever. “The individual challenges that pop up in a game, whether it be one pitch or one at-bat, whatever it may be, just the way that he always rises to the occasion (is impressive), it seems like every time,” veteran Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta told Sporting News this spring. “The more difficult the situation is, the more he has the ability to do more and be successful. Usually when guys try to do more, they go the other way. When he tries to increase his intensity, you get a one-to-one correlation where it actually works. Other people, it’s the other way around.”Freeland finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting last year, after finishing a stellar sophomore season on the mound. The lefty posted a 2.85 ERA (and 3.67 FIP), including a stellar 2.40 ERA in 15 starts in the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field. That’s the best single-season home ERA for any Rockies pitcher with at eight games started at Coors.And he was at his best when it mattered most. In 163 plate appearances with runners in scoring position last year, opposing hitters posted just a .546 OPS. Among starters with at least 150 innings, that number ranked eighth in baseball, behind Cy Young winners Blake Snell and Jacob deGrom, plus guys like Max Scherzer, Chris Snell and Aaron Nola. “When I get into situations, I just kind of think, ‘OK, you need to really lock it in right here and do what you need to do to minimize damage, or create no damage at all,” Freeland said. “And I guess you kind of go into an extra focus or hyper-focus. That’s not something that I just click and do. Whenever I’m in a situation like that, I just try to bear down as much as possible and really make my pitches.”MORE: SN’s MLB Power RankingsFreeland has pitch-by-pitch breathing exercises that help him stay on that even keel, but so do lots of pitchers who struggle in those situations. So what makes Freeland different? “I have no clue. I wish I knew,” Iannetta said with a laugh. “I think we all search for that. Some of us can do it and some of us can’t. He’s one who can, for sure.”In 356 plate appearances with men on base — any base, not just in scoring position — Freeland gave up just one home run last year. The other 16 homers he allowed were all solo shots. That’s how you minimize damage.“When you’re in a game, cruising and everything’s going smoothly, you’re just out there firing strikes,” Freeland said. “You’re just looking to get ahead of guys and if they hit the ball, so what, you’re still grooving. But when you get into situations where something bad can happen, that’s where you got to truly think yourself through your situations.”Freeland only had one testing situation in his first 2019 start, and he passed that with flying colors on Opening Day. Pitching on the road in Miami, Freeland retired the first 11 batters he faced. He gave up a two-out single in the fourth, a two-out walk in the fifth, a solo homer in the sixth. In the seventh, an error and a hit-by-pitch gave the Marlins two runners on with only one out.  But Freeland induced a weak grounder from Miguel Rojas for a force out at third base, then got Rosell Herrera to loft a harmless fly ball to right field for the third out. In other words, more of the same. “Everyone here is physically talented,” Iannetta said. “There’s a ton of pitchers who have really great stuff. But it’s the way he competes and the way he handles challenges.”John Elway, you’d imagine, would be proud of the kid with the welt under his eye. Even now, as he’s mostly laughing while telling the story of his most embarrassing injury, Kyle Freeland winces just a bit.Freeland, the left-handed ace of the Colorado Rockies, was 7 or 8 years old and a regular at the baseball games of his older brother, Colin. And Colin played on a team with Jack Elway, the son of Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. For any little kid growing up in Colorado, just being near John Elway was a really, really big deal. last_img read more