If you find yourself in need of a little roster refreshing for the most important week of the season, take a look at our “ Pick Them Up” list for recommendations at each position.
Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)
Bradford had his first career 300-yard game against the Denver Broncos in Week 12, as he threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the game. He now has 10 touchdowns over his past five games with only one interception over that span.
The rookie from Oklahoma has put up at least 11 fantasy points in six straight games, and his upcoming schedule (Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers) should lend itself well to continued production right through the fantasy playoffs.
Bradford could be a low-end QB1 over the next few weeks, and is currently available in over half of Yahoo! leagues.
Maurice Morris (Detroit Lions)
Morris took advantage of Jahvid Best (turf toe) being banged up on Thanksgiving Day against the New England Patriots, as he had 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns along with five catches for 20 yards.
Best’ turf toe issue is not going away and his decline in effectiveness has opened the door for Morris—who has 19 carries and nine receptions over the last two weeks—to see playing time.
The Lions’ offense may continue to be fairly pass-happy, so Morris’ ability as a receiver could lead to be him being a productive dual threat out of the backfield.
If you are a Best owner or just need running back depth, Morris is certainly worth consideration, particularly in PPR leagues.
Jacoby Ford (Oakland Raiders)
Ford had four receptions (on 10 targets) for 108 yards and a touchdown along with a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. He has now topped 100 receiving yards in two of his last three games, and seems to have become the big-play threat Darrius Heyward-Bey wishes he could be for the Raiders.
Oakland takes on two very poor pass defenses in the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans in Week 15 and Week 16, so Ford’s slate for the fantasy playoffs looks favorable if he can keep up his recent momentum.
He is worth a look in deeper leagues as a roster stash with upside.
Kevin Boss (New York Giants)
Boss had three receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, and he now has touchdowns in three of the last four games.
Injuries to Giants’ wide receivers Hakeem Nicks (leg) and Steve Smith (torn pectoral) has opened up some opportunities for others, and Boss seems to be one of those guys.
The Giants’ upcoming schedule (Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles) looks tight end-friendly, which also bodes well for his fantasy value going forward.
Don’t look for huge catch totals, since he has only had five catches in a game once this season, but Boss is a solid red zone threat and that makes him worth consideration if you need a tight end. He should be available in most leagues.
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Uecker, the self-deprecating Brewers radio broadcaster also known for his work in ads, late-night talk shows, movies and a sitcom, is the featured guest Friday on MLB Network's "Studio 42 with Bob Costas."
Costas taped the interview with Uekcer, his former broadcast partner with the Baseball Network and NBC, in late September. In it, Uecker -- the self-proclaimed "Mr. Baseball" -- discussed his appearances on the "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson, in Miller Lite ads, in "Major League" and on "Mr. Belvedere."
But, especially with Costas as willing straight man, every subject allows Uecker, 75, to mock himself. In six seasons with the Braves, Phillies and Cardinals, Uecker batted .200 and started just 217 games.
A sloppy night it was for the Lakers last night as they lost to the Pacers for the first time at home since moving to the Staples Center. The Pacers played a great game, and had more hustle than the Lakers all night, grabbing offensive rebounds and getting almost every loose ball. The Lakers just couldn't find a rhythm at all in the first three quarters, and they finally picked things up late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.
Kobe Bryant tried to put on the "cape" and offer some fourth quarter heroics, which he did, but one guy can't do it all. He also took 33 shots, which in itself can be bad for his teammates. The Lakers shooting was really sloppy all night, finishing 38 percent from the field.
The bench also disappointed for the second game in a row, only scoring 14 points, compared to their average of 34 points per game. In the end, the Lakers just didn't play nearly up to potential, and seemed to be sleep walking all night.
Final Score: Pacers 95, Lakers 92 (Pacers now 8-7, Lakers now 13-4)
Lakers Player of the Game: Kobe Bryant - 41 points, five rebounds, four assists
Let's take a look at the positives and negatives of this game in my Daily Five:
1. Lamar Odom's consistency
This is my lone positive from this game. Lamar Odom has show great consistency and has proved that he can be consistent and not disappear at times. He did what he is expected to last night, scoring 15 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and shooting 60 percent from the floor.
Odom will be deadly coming off the bench once Bynum returns, and I see things only getting a whole lot better when Bynum does return.
2. Kobe Bryant taking 33 shots
I'm okay with Kobe getting aggressive and taking over the game to get the Lakers back in it, but there needs to be some help there. Pau Gasol had a mere 13 points, and only on five of 15 shooting. This just wasn't enough help for Kobe and the Lakers. No one was really able to step up, and I think Kobe should have tried to get it down in the paint a little more.
Kobe could have hurt the Lakers with all those missed shots, but the rest of the team didn't shoot all that well either. This offense just wasn't the same last night as it has been this season. It just seemed very one-dimensional and not fluid at all. The execution just wasn't there like it usually is.
3. Shannon Brown's shooting struggles continue
Shannon once again had an awful night shooting, going only two of nine from the field, which is 22 percent. He was even getting very good looks, but he just wasn't hitting them. That is two games in a row now that Shannon has had a very hard time shooting. He went two of eight in the lost to the Jazz on Friday night.
Has all this success gotten to his head, or are these last two games just a fluke? We will find that out soon enough as the Lakers go on a testing back-to-back road trip against the Grizzlies Tuesday night and then the Rockets Wednesday night.
4. Bench production down
We have definitely been spoiled by the Lakers' bench production this season, but we really didn't expect it to slow down this much. The Lakers bench got outscored by the Pacers bench, 20-14. In the last two games, the Lakers bench has been outscored 44-27. They are averaging 34 points per game, but in two games they haven't even been able to reach that number.
This will have to change if the Lakers want to have success, we need the bench that we have seen all season, and I think they will turn it around.
5. Lakers sleep walking
It seemed as though the Lakers only woke up with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter. They were completely out-hustled by the Pacers. The Pacers seemed as though they were getting every loose ball, and were overall more active on the boards. It may not seem this way in the rebounding category as the Pacers only had three more boards than the Lakers, but the Pacers just controlled the rhythm.
We have seen this before from the Lakers, and they will have to regroup and re-analyze themselves going into this weeks back-to-back.
It was indeed a sloppy night for the Lakers, but hopefully it was "just one of those nights" and the Lakers will regroup and win the next few games in a row, which I think they will. Look for the Lakers to be more active and hustle a bit more in the upcoming games.
Next Game: Tuesday, November 30 at Memphis Grizzlies 8pm est.
Lakers Keys to the Game
Contain Rudy Gay
Don't sleep walk
Don't get complacent with a big lead
Will the bench return to form?
Can Shannon get back on track?
Will the Lakers show more hustle?
My Prediction: Lakers 109, Grizzlies 93
If this week's BCS Standings were the final rankings of the season, rather than just the penultimate (love that word), here's a projection of what the five BCS bowl games might look like:
National Championship: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
Fiesta Bowl: UConn vs. Oklahoma
Once again, a member of the media (in this case, Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post) is calling for college football players to be paid, but once again that call fails to answer any of the problems inherent in a pay-for-play world.
The most important: Where's all that money going to come from?
Less than 60% of Division I football programs made a profit last year. When you factor in the other sports that football revenues support, only 14 of the 120 schools come out in the black. The rest must rely on funds from their university -- tax dollars and student fees -- to break even.
Fans look around the college football landscape and see millions of dollars changing hands and wonder why the players don't see any of that money. (They do, of course, just not in paychecks.) That's a perfectly natural reaction, but one that fails to recognize that the majority of people involved in the sport are not raking in the big bucks and there simply isn't enough money to support all of them.
Hamilton is right that the NCAA is undermanned and outgunned when it comes to enforcement. The conferences have solidified their power behind the BCS cartel, where television contracts rule the day. Yes, there are a handful of people at the top taking home huge paychecks and abusing their privilege as stewards of the sport. It's a frustrating situation for people who love amateur sports.
But the solution is not to turn the game over to those people completely and professionalize college football
Hamilton just wants to see players get something, "even if it's $200 a month." But how that would prevent the abuses of boosters and agents who pay players under the table? A stipend doesn't make things more equitable, it merely raises the cost of "buying" better players.?
It would also raise the cost of doing business, forcing many non-BCS schools to drop football entirely. (And leaving the big boys with no one to pound for easy non-conference paydays.)
The NCAA and BCS do have significant structural problems that need to be addressed, but paying players would only make those problems worse. It would mean surrendering to those who are only in it for the money.
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For Kansas fans, Friday's third round game of the Las Vegas Invitational against Ohio was considered a warm-up for tomorrow's showdown with Arizona.
Facing a squad picked to win the MAC, the players knew just how tough this game could be if they went through the motions. After this awesome performance, it's safe to say KU didn't take the Bobcats lightly.
The Jayhawks played arguably their best game of the young year in dismantling Ohio to the tune of 98-41, a whopping 57 point differential.
Perhaps more impressive, Kansas held Ohio to just 23 percent from the field, didn't allow a single three pointer and had a double digit advantage on the glass. After a slow start offensively, KU got hot, hitting 57 percent of their shots and nine of 22 three pointers, with soaring dunks and lobs in between.
Marcus Morris continued his stellar play with 26 points (11-of-14 FG) and 8 rebounds, while Travis Releford came off the bench for 13 points—a career high for the sophomore wing.
Releford had a breakout game of sorts, hitting a three consecutive three pointers in the first half and showing good activity on both ends of the floor.
This was a total team effort, though, as nine Jayhawks—including seldom used walk on Jordan Juenemann—scored five points or more.
After a game like this, one wonders just how good this team may be. Thankfully, we'll learn more tomorrow as Kansas takes on Arizona, by far their toughest opponent of the season thus far.
The Wildcats are led by sophomore F Derrick Williams, a player eerily similar to Marcus Morris who averages 19 points and eight rebounds per game. He is a physical force on the block but shows deft touch and ball handling skill when away from the basket.
The matchup at the four between he and Morris is one of two future pros, and should be the game's most influential.
Aside from Williams, the Arizona boasts a balanced and athletic attack with Kyle Fogg, Solomon HIll and Jamelle Horne leading the way.
The Wildcats are short on experienced, proven players, but certainly don't lack talent or explosive athletes. They match up better with the Jayhawks in those areas as well as almost any team on KU's 2010-2011 schedule.
Quite frankly, Arizona is no powerhouse and a far cry from their better teams of recent memory. Still, a Wildcats team picked in the preseason as second best in the Pac-10 is certainly capable of giving Kansas a fight.
Don't be surprised if they do, but also don't be surprised if the Jayhawks win comfortably.
They've looked that good this season.
Regardless, this early season clash between two traditional powers should tell us a lot about whether or not KU is a potential national champion this season—even before the addition of freshman star Josh Selby.
These three Blueshirts have produced on a consistent basis, create scoring chances and also play well on the defensive side of the puck. They may not have the skills of a Marian Gaborik but nevertheless, these three have been getting it done for the Rangers this season.
One player that has been extremely inconsistent and tough to figure out this season on the Rangers is Erik Christensen. According to team head coach John Tortorella, Christensen is one of the most offensively skilled guys the team has along with the best passer on the club. However, the consistency simply isn?t there for Christensen.
In 22 games this season, Christensen has three goals and five assists for eight points. What?s even more disturbing is he picked up three of those points in an 8-2 rout of the Edmonton Oilers back on November 14.
Since the arrival of Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan, TNA has had a roller coaster ride throughout the first year. The company brought in many big names, drew its highest ratings of all time on both Monday and Thursday nights and gained plenty of awareness.
However, it hasn't been such a match made in heaven.
TNA has been critized for its storylines, back and forth face and heel changes, acquiring talents not fit for the ring and more.
If ever given the oppertunity to take Bischoff and Hogan's shoes, I think my policy on running things in TNA could help ignite a spark for the company.
This year, I took over two organizations (WRFC radio and RHA). Both were in need of awareness, so I decided to bring in new policies to help both organizations grow. Today, more people are aware and the spark we needed has brought tons of great responses by many.
So if TNA President Dixie Carter gave me the magic stick, this is how I would run it:
1) Bring back the six-sided ring.
TNA needs to be different. Reverting back to the standard, four-sided ring was not a good decision. TNA has to be an alternative company for people to watch. Their production is different from the WWE, which is great, but what about the ring?
Why not be completely different?
2) The X-Division revival.
What has happened to this once fast moving, high flying part of TNA? Not only did they decide to all of a sudden stop having X-Division matches on Impact! but they even went as far as putting the belt on a Jersey Shore character named "Robbie E."
In the WCW days, the Cruiser weight class was an important part of the show. TNA stands for "Total Nonstop Action" and that is exactly what fans need instead of Immortal and Fortune taking up most the show. I would instantly bring back TNA original stars such as Amazing Red and Suicide, re-creating the X-Division class.
Believe me TNA, this will only help you.
3) Stars who aren't drawing need to be shown the door.
TNA cannot afford hiring major talents who are not putting up numbers. I would actually have to agree with Hogan on this one. TNA brought in stars such as Scott Hall and the Nasty Boys who didn't provide the numbers.
Yes, it is always good to have a wrestler with WWE exposure to bring in attention but pick your choices wisely.
4) TNA needs more advertisement.
Ric Flair put it best in an interview: Flair said TNA needs awareness to help its brand compete with the WWE. One of the first policies I would conduct is an increase in advertisement across cable television, billboards, social networking and more.
It would cost money, but I'd much rather invest in advertisement than signing major names who are not drawing in the ratings.
5) Finally, I would insert much more wrestling.
Yes, it is important to have backstage segments, but it isn't necessary to make it the center of attention. TNA has done quite a bit of talking and little action in the action.
If TNA was to truly provide "Total Nonstop Action," it needs to insert more quality matches.
There are more things I would change in TNA, which also include the creative team, how I would design the show and a few other topics that need to be addressed.
If TNA takes my advice, I think the ideas above will help not just TNA take charge but any other wrestling promotion.
The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.
I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here.
Welcome to part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini.
As a senior in college, Gill led the Big Ten in scoring and was named a first-team All-American (UPI). Gill left Illinois as the 7th all-time leading scorer in school history. Gill’s Illini earned NCAA bids each year he played. Gill also won the college basketball Slam Dunk championship at the Final Four his senior season.
He was pretty high on his alma mater’s chances this winter.
“With Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis coming back, Jereme Richmond coming in, D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul, they have a great nucleus to win the Big Ten. I know Purdue is going to be strong again, they?re going to be up there; they always are. �Michigan State is going to be right up [More …]
Auburn and Alabama are set to play an epic Iron Bowl game tomorrow. One that will help decide the BCS championship race.
However, the best team in the South Eastern Conference is LSU, who is 10-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Auburn by just a touchdown.
LSU plays Arkansas tomorrow, and while it's not going to determine the national championship picture, a win by the Tigers would almost certainly secure a place in a BCS bowl game because they'd be the highest ranked team with one loss.
One of the many factors considered when debating who deserves to be atop the BCS rankings is strength of schedule and this is an area LSU trumps Auburn.
LSU has endured the same grueling schedule as Auburn and Alabama, but the Tigers' out of conference schedule is much more impressive than Auburn.
The Tigers have beaten two currently top 25 ranked teams, North Carolina and West Virginia, both by six point margins.
Auburn's only non-conference opponent worth mentioning is Clemson, who they beat by only three points in overtime back in mid-September.
LSU will attempt to beat a Razorbacks team who is playing very well of late and are trying to win their second consecutive battle for the Golden Boot.
Rivalry week is the greatest week in college football, but unfortunately the BCS standings overshadow many of these great clashes.
The Iron Bowl is getting all the attention leading up to tomorrow, but the matchup between LSU and Arkansas is the matchup with the SEC's hottest teams.
LSU is not able to play for the SEC championship in Atlanta this year, but a win against Arkansas tomorrow will give them a resume worthy of a BCS title berth.
I don't want to take anything away from Auburn and Alabama, they are two great teams, but the SEC is so competitive that there needs to be a better way to determine the best team.
If Alabama were to beat Auburn Saturday, LSU would still not play in the SEC title game, making the situation all the more unfair.
Two seasons ago in the Big 12, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech all had one conference loss heading into championship week, but only one could represent the Big 12 south in the conference title game.
Separating conferences into divisions is a good way to organize the schools, but when two of the best teams in a conference play in the same division, it's not wise to have one of them watch the conference title game from their living room couch.
Tiebreakers determine who advances to the conference title games, and who barely misses out, but when you beat someone early in the season, the win does not mean as much as if you beat them in November.
A playoff system for the national title game and the conference championships is the best way to determine the best teams in the nation.
LSU can beat any team in the country, but, unfortunately, they won't get a chance in January, even though they are better than the team representing the SEC East division in the conference title game.
The Ontario Hockey League, a junior league whose players are often drafted by NHL teams, is taking a small step towards outlawing fighting in hockey.
A new rule, which will take effect November 26, calls for an ejection and automatic one-game suspension for any fight that takes place immediately after the puck-drop of the beginning of a period.
Fighting is a hot point of contention among hockey fans, but this rule is a less-controversial step toward cleaning up the game by the OHL.
These 'staged fights' are often agreed upon, tacitly or vocally,before games between two known fighters from opposing teams. They are different from fights that happen during the course of a game which usually occur because of surging emotion, protecting teammates, or attempting to swing momentum. The OHL evidently feels 'staged fights' accomplish nothing and are unnecessary violence.
At this time the NHL has no public plans to change its fighting rules, but it is a frequently discussed topic among the hockey community. Perhaps if the next generation of players grow up in a league without fighting, they won't be eager to continue the practice as pros.
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There would seem to be little chance that Dunn would accept the offer. There aren't a ton of great bats on the open market this offseason and power like his is always in demand. Dunn's thought to want something in the neighborhood of three years and $40 million, numbers that seem fairly reasonable in light of the two-year, $22 million deal signed by Aubrey Huff on Tuesday.
Of course, Dunn could also accept arbitration and remain with the Nats for another season. Doing that would probably get him a salary around $15 million, something that surely isn't his ideal option, but it is one that might have become more likely with the news that the Tigers are close to signing Victor Martinez.
New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Thursday November 25th, 2010 4:15 EST
Line: New Orleans -4
The 3-7 Cowboys might not be in the playoff discussion, but they have not removed themselves from the discussion. The Cowboys are 2-0 since they decided to give Jason Garrett the interim coaching position and part ways with Wade Phillips. While the Cowboys might have a renewed sense of urgency, can we really throw away the first eight games of the season and assume the Cowboys are back in action?
For some reason, it seems as though people believe the 7-3 New Orleans Saints are having an off season. Sure, they are in second place in the division and have dropped games against the Cardinals and Browns.
The fact of the matter is that the Saints have done considerably well with a target on their back and their one-two punch at running back sidelined with injuries for the majority of the season. Their last four victories have been by at least 10 points. Can the Cowboys hold them off?
Keys to the GameT
The Cowboys need to continue to find production in their backfield. Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice set the standard for running back trios heading into the season. The Cowboys have had little to no threat coming out of the backfield all season, but have made it clear through their play calling in the last two games that they want to run the ball effectively again.
The Cowboys have run the ball and utilized their running backs in the passing game. A huge game by Felix Jones might add another stone to his comeback trail.
There is no telling whether or not Reggie Bush is going to play or not. A report was released that said Bush would decide after warm ups whether or not he would go. This may have been a facade to force Seattle to game plan for Bush, though he had no intention of playing.
They may ease him back into the lineup this week, but they have already waited for eight games for Bush to come back. They want him back 100 percent when they need him the most—in the playoffs.
Jon Kitna looked miserable when he first took over the starting job upon Tony Romo’s injury, but has been electrifying the past two games. Kitna has utlized the talent around him and has been making throws that I believed were outside his ability. Kitna looks comfortable and has six touchdowns and one interception in his last two games. It is no wonder the Cowboys look like a new team: Kitna is playing lights out.
Drew Brees doesn’t have running back option he can depend on in the run game or when he drops back to pass. That being said, he has still managed to find a way to put together victories. Brees has thrown 14 interceptions this week, so don’t be surprised to see him toss an interception of two.
That being said, he also has a habit of unleashing an aerial assault when he takes the field. This season only Philip Rivers bests Brees’ 22 touchdowns. Brees might give it away, but he isn’t throwing Brett Favre interceptions.
Jermon Bushrod vs. DeMarcus Ware
The Pittsburgh Steelers hit Drew Brees seven times and dropped him for a sack twice. While the Cowboys might not pose the same threat at pass rush as the Steelers and not all the blame rests on the left tackle, Bushrod is going to have his hands full with Dallas.
The fourth-year pro could find himself in a one on one situation with Ware. The Saints feature five wide packages and empty backfield sets. They can leave a tight end in to help in pass pro or leave Chris Ivory in the backfield, but that takes away from the offense.
DeMarcus Ware might be on a team of underachievers, but his production has remained consistent. Ware has 8.5 sacks this season. Most of the coverage on the Cowboys has been on the struggles of the franchise, but Ware has kept silent and has had a quietly productive season.
Ware has a step on nearly every tackle in the game. Being in front of a home crowd could create a situation where the offensive line starts to watch the ball as well. Ware wins that battle nearly every time.
It is admirable that the Cowboys have started showing effort, but I don’t see it lasting. Now that Jerry Jones has made it clear that no one is safe, the Cowboys realize that there is accountability for their actions. There will be a lot of new faces in the locker room next season and players are playing for their jobs.
The Saints have always held themselves accountable. They are on a tear over the last few games and would love to go into Dallas and rain on their measly two game winning streak parade. The Cowboys might not be hanging their heads at the moments, but I expect the Saints will make them retract to their usual selves with a swift beating at home.
Free NFL Pick: New Orleans -4
Tejada had an awfully rough go of things in Baltimore, putting up a .670 OPS with a paltry .308 OBP in 97 games, though he did turn things around a bit with the Padres. Once he was traded back to the National League, he hit eight of his 15 home runs in only 59 games. He hit pretty well in 2009 for Houston, though, so his second half resurgence may mean there's something left in the tank.
Playing him at shortstop may be a dicier proposition, even if he hits well. He graded out poorly in several advanced metrics in 2009 and his overall performance in 2010 wasn't very good either, though he was better at shortstop than he was at third. Still, both San Francisco and San Diego need shortstops and the market's pretty thin. If Tejada can play the way he did for the Padres down the stretch in 2010, there are definitely worse options on the market.
On Tuesday the White Sox announced that they had offered arbitration to both Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined to offer arbitration to A.J. Pierzynski and their two-month rental, Manny Ramirez.
The news that the team isn't offering arbitration for Ramirez is not a surprise at all, as he didn't do much to help the White Sox down the stretch in 2010, and the team has enough headaches as it is with the constant feuding of Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams.
The decision to offer Putz isn't surprising either, as the team would like to keep Putz around due to his versatility, especially with the rumors that Bobby Jenks will not be brought back.
So all the Peeps out there are waiting and wondering when and how Christian will return.
I have wondered this every time I watch a WWE event. It has been said that Christian may return by the Royal Rumble and if not, very soon after.
So many questions come from this and it is nearly impossible to picture the outcome that he deserves because of Vince McMahon.
There are, however, a few that even Vince himself knows that there is money to be made in, and if there is money, Vince knows he will not have this opportunity again.
I found five of these situations that would be gold if they were to happen.
Filed under: International BaseballNEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball agent Scott Boras says loans by his company totaling about $70,000 to a Dominican prospect complied with players' association rules.
Boras' company made the loans to shortstop Edward Salcedo in stages from late 2007 through 2009. The player was initially represented by Boras, left for another agent, and then returned to Boras. Union regulations in effect at the time prohibited loans if they were made to induce a player to be represented by that agent.
Boras negotiated a minor league contract for Salcedo with Cleveland in February 2008 that included a $2.9 million signing bonus. That deal fell through when Salcedo couldn't obtain a visa because of a lack of documents confirming his identity.
Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars came in typical Cleveland fashion: Losing a fourth quarter lead late in the game; yet, the offense is more to blame than the defense.
The offense's inability to move the ball in the third and fourth quarters proved more detrimental to the Browns chances of winning than the defense giving up the big play to Maurice Jones-Drew late in the game. Cleveland's defense sacked David Garrard four times and forced six Jacksonville turnovers, including a string of five consecutive take aways in the second half.
The Browns could only muster ten points off of those turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Offensively, Cleveland's biggest weakness is a lack or play-makers at wide receiver. With Josh Cribbs being ruled out for the contest on Sunday, the young Cleveland receiving corp was without its most dynamic weapon. Without the tackle-breaking and field stretching abilities of Cribbs, the Browns offense had a very hard time moving the ball down the field. Cleveland does not have another reciever that requires even an occasional double team, so that allowed the Jaguars to load the box to stop Peyton Hillis, as well as take away other checkdown options for Colt McCoy.
Cribbs may not be a true No. 1 wide receiver, but he does have the ability to keep defenses honest, which in turn, helps the running game by drawing some extra coverage to one side of the field. Hillis suffered without Cribbs in the game, as he had only forty-eight yards on twenty-one carries. Without a deep option, Cleveland was forced to run and throw into a lot of traffic throughout most of the game.
Defensively, one can't ask them to do more than they did on Sunday. If your defense can force six turnovers in one game, there is no way that you should lose. Despite giving up the long, 72-yard gain on the Jones-Drew screen pass, the defense played well and handed the offense too many opportunities to come up short. Of the five second half turnovers caused by the Browns, only one resulted in points from the offense, a 38-yard field goal by Phil Dawson (he missed two FGs from fifty-one yards on the day). The other touchdown came when Abe Elam stripped Jones-Drew of the football at the eighteen yard line and scampered into the end zone.
The other attempts at points after turnovers resulted in a missed field goal and two punts. The defense deserved a better outcome than they were handed in this game, but credit the Jacksonville defense for executing their game plan and keeping Cleveland's offense in check.
Despite losing in the fourth quarter, the Browns have made great improvements throughout the season: Hillis is having a terrific year as the focal point of this offense; McCoy is emerging into a very promising young quarterback; the defense continues to play better as a unit each game.
There is a solid foundation forming in Cleveland and they are a few play-makers away from making some serious noise in the AFC North. Another fourth quarter loss is still better than watching the product that was on the field last season.
After Sunday's shellacking by the Packers, Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre said he would take some time to "re-evaluate" things.
When asked if that meant retiring before the end of the season, he refused to answer.
With nothing to play for and coach he was openly feuding with, Brett Favre's path to staying in the NFL seemed blocked at every turn.
However, by firing Brad Childress the Vikings eliminated one of those obstacles.
There's no evidence that Favre requested that Childress be fired, but the writing had to be on the wall for owner Zygi Wilf. The Vikings' season is essentially over, but the team still has games to play. If they want anyone to care about them for the rest of 2010, Favre was clearly a bigger draw than the reviled Childress. If one of them was going to go, the choice was simple.
Now, that Favre is freed from Childress' constant complaints, the quarterback can continue his consecutive games streak and play the final six games on his career on his terms.
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Harvard has announced that all noisemakers — specifically vuvuzelas — will be banned from Harvard Stadium for this weekend's big game against Yale.
A Yale freshman had bought 700 of the annoying sports horns and had planned to sell them to tailgaters.
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Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is in the midst of a career year where he is currently leading the league in rushing. While Foster's 920 rushing yards heading into Sunday's game against the New York Jets is impressive, what is more impressive is that he is tied for ninth in carries yet still finds his name tops amongst all runners.
Foster was regarded highly among some heading into the season, but no one could have seen the second-year pro leading the league in rushing yards nine games into the season, especially over the likes of Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson.
Now the question is who will be the next Arian Foster?
There are certainly some viable candidates out there of guys who have a potential they just haven't lived up to it yet or their role hasn't increased like it will in the future. When looking for players who could have breakout seasons a year from now it's important to see how they have played to date and how they finish this season.
Foster is an example of a guy that received significant playing time in the last couple weeks of the season last year and carried it into this year.
With that being said, here are five guys that are poised to breakout next season.
When it comes to Northwestern Wildcats football, everyone usually brings up 1995, and how that team re-defined the ‘Cats. But I’ve always said that it’s really a different Big Ten championship team, the 2000 squad, who really ushered in a new era for NU. Because that was the first year Randy Walker installed the spread-option offensive system, and the program has showcased exciting, fun to watch, usually pass-happy football ever since.
And the spread has really taken off across college football since then, making the Cats rather avant-garde. And it makes sense, considering the phrase “SPREAD far the fame” is right there in the fight song.
I discussed the system with Damien Anderson, star tailback on that bellwether team, and NU’s all-time leading rusher.
By Paul M. Banks
“I think you?re absolutely right. I think the ’95, ’96 team set the tone that Northwestern could play footbal on a national level, but the spread option set the tone for college football that it can be done, it can be successful: myself, Zak Kustok, Tedy Johnson, Sam Simmons.
I was putting up 200 yard games back to back.
Look at Florida, Utah, Urban Meyer and the success that they have had. Rich Rodriguez is at Michigan now, he initially started it at West Virginia,” Anderson said.
“We were coming off a 3-8 season and we [More …]