Frazier will replace Chase Headley at third base and provide tons more pop to the position.

Holland, 30, is in his ninth season in the majors, and first with the White Sox after eight seasons in Texas. Chicago signed him as a free agent in December to a one-year deal with hopes that he could revive the form he had shown before injuries snuffed out large portions of his past three seasons. He was also brought in to bridge the gap to some of the young arms the White Sox have waiting in the minors.

With a 5.18 ERA and .281 batting average against thus far, Holland may not yet be realizing the hopes Chicagoans had for what he could do on the mound, but the former Rangers pitcher brought a tradition with him from Texas that has won over his new teammates and is having an intangible effect on the White Sox.

“Every time we win, the player of the game gets the heavyweight championship belt,” Holland says, gesturing to a full-size WWE belt that, at the time, was hanging in reliever Tommy Kahnle’s locker.

Date: July 18

Grade: Yankees, A; White Sox, B

Analysis (Gatto): New York addresses two big needs with one big deal.

First, Frazier will replace Chase Headley at third base and provide tons more pop to the position. Frazier has outhomered Headley 16-4 this season, which will help the Yankees overlook Frazier’s poor batting average (.207) and slightly above-average 105 OPS+.

Second, New York is bolstering its shaky bullpen with Robertson and Kahnle. Robertson, 32, succeeded Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer in 2014, only to sign a four-year, $46 million contract with the White Sox that offseason. The Yanks will take on the final year-plus of that deal and make him a setup guy again. Kahnle, 27 and a Yankees draft pick in 2010, has shown closer stuff (60 Ks, seven walks in 36 innings) this year. He’s under team control through 2020.broncos_128

Wizards reportedly match Nets offer for Otto Porter Jr.

This isn’t complicated. The Spurs, as they so often do, prioritize guys who they know fit in their own scheme and culture, and still have something like $13 million left over in the tank now to go out and add a piece. It’s worth noting that Mills will turn 29 before the season, meaning his game will need to age at a reasonable pace for this to work out as well as it looks like it should. But on the whole, this was an easy choice for the Spurs.

What a difference a year makes for Snell. Before the season started, he was traded from Chicago to Milwaukee straight up for former NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. Now, Carter-Williams is the one whose team didn’t even put out a qualifying offer, and Snell gets a deal that will pay him eight-figures annually. Honestly, I thought there was a good chance he would get more than this.

Otto Porter Jr. will not be wearing a different jersey next season.

According to the Washington Post, the Wizards have matched the Nets’ four-year, $106.5 million max contract offer sheet to retain the small forward’s services.

Porter averaged 13.1 points per game last season while also serving as a top wing defender. He is a great third option behind John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The Nets had hoped to snatch Porter as part of their rebuilding effort, but Washington was always expected to match the offer.

The Wizards, despite retaining Porter, are likely still at least one piece away from truly contending in the Eastern Conference.
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Leonard has already shown he’s capable.

Now, he’ll likely be called upon to resolve another issue as the Spurs look for another primary ballhandler after point guard Tony Parker went down with a ruptured left quadriceps tendon that will cause him to miss the rest of the postseason. Veteran guard Manu Ginobili, a longtime member of the Spurs’ brain trust, alluded to the likelihood of Leonard’s increased involvement in initiating San Antonio’s offense.

“We’re playing a different style of game now with Kawhi holding the ball a lot and running those high pick and rolls and creating for others,” Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News. “Then we don’t need as much, as in the past, a point guard that creates for everybody and runs all those pick and rolls.”

Leonard has already shown he’s capable. In Game 2, he finished with 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting to lead all scorers. More importantly for the Spurs moving forward, he added a career-high eight assists.

And when Thomas did have the ball in his hands? Yikes. He attacked on straight-line drives and was met with little resistance on his way to the basket. Thomas benefited from the spacing once again with Avery Bradley, Smart, Rozier and Horford providing enough of a perimeter threat to keep the defense honest.

However, the pick-and-roll coverage by Markieff Morris in the first play below as well as the lack of any help defenders stepping into the lane made these buckets way too easy.

Maybe the most confusing non-adjustment for Scott Brooks’ team was leaving big men like Gortat and Morris on an island with Thomas. There was no way these possessions could possibly end well. Thomas, who scored in the 95.3 percentile at 1.12 points per possession on isolation plays during the regular season (via NBA.com stats), poured gasoline on these mismatches and sparked his lighter.

Timberwolves, Taj Gibson agree to 2-year, $28M deal, reports say

The Minnesota Timberwolves continued their roster overhaul Sunday, reaching an agreement with power forward Taj Gibson on a two-year, $28 million contract, according to Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical and confirmed by other outlets.

The 7-foot Creighton product, who is expected to see time behind Karl Anthony-Towns this upcoming season, suffered the injury during a recent workout and will be sidelined indefinitely until healed, possibly until the start of preseason.

The Wolves acquired the draft rights to Patton (selected 16th overall), along with Jimmy Butler, from the Bulls in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen, the 7th overall selection in this year’s draft.

Patton played in 35 games last year, averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds en route to earning Big East Freshman of the Year honors. Patton led the Big East and ranked second nationally with a field goal percentage of 67.6 percent, which stands as the highest field goal percentage of any freshman from a major conference in NCAA history.

With that in mind, the goal for this column was to identify 11 rising MLB stars who deserve their first trip to the All-Star Game. That first trip is special, any player will tell you. There’s just something about being honored, about standing out there on the field with the supertstars of baseball.

Turns out, that’s not such an easy task this year. Sooooo many players who have yet to participate in the Midsummer Classic are having great seasons, and just mentioning 10 or 11 isn’t really fair. Think about this: There are 39 position players with a WAR of at least 2.0 (FanGraphs formula) and 19 of those guys have never been to an All-Star Game. Yeah.

So what we’re going to do is round up all of the honorable mentions for a first-time All-Star trip in addition to naming the 11 rising stars who most richly deserve to be first-time All-Stars in 2017 (all stats as of June 27).lightning_384

the Cardinals in 1924 and tied by Mark Whiten for

Yes, Gennett makes this list here, too, because his RBI total Tuesday was even rarer than his home run total. He became just the 14th player since 1900 to collect 10 or more RBIs in a game. He had a run-scoring single in the first inning; a grand slam in the third; a two-run homer in the fifth; a solo shot in the sixth; and another two-run homer in the eighth. He was two RBIs short of the major league record set by Jim Bottomley for . . . the Cardinals in 1924 and tied by Mark Whiten for . . . the Cardinals against . . . the Reds in 1993. Oh, and Whiten also had four homers in that game.

Roethlisberger and Brown (the other two Killer B’s) are indispensable to the Steelers, of course. Bell has managed to surpass them as their most indispensable player, which enhances his MVP credentials by it’self. The season he had qualifies him, as well: fifth in the league in rushing, second in yards per game, third in yards from scrimmage and all-purpose yards.

The last time he played a full 16 games, in 2014 (albeit then missing their playoff loss to the Ravens), Bell gained 2,215 yards from scrimmage, averaging 138.4 per game. This season, he averaged 157.0 projecting to 2,512, three more than Chris Johnsons NFL record from 2009.

The three games he missed that makes it problematic, maybe. Hes in the same boat as Tom Brady, while rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same argument about how much it counts when players dont play full seasons, and when they dont play for disciplinary reasons.

Or, in this case, if the reasons arent ripe for a national debate, as Deflategate was. Bells suspension, as was his previous ban, was marijuana-related, which is no minor matter in league circles, but it doesnt approach the volume of discussion that Bradys four games out do.steelers_037

Bill Belichick downplays home field, disses ‘Dallas and Kansas City’

Ouch. The Cowboys, top-seeded in the NFC like the Patriots were in the AFC, lost as a host to Green Bay in the divisional playoffs. The Chiefs, No. 2 behind the Patriots in the AFC, met the same fate in the same round at Arrowhead Stadium against Pittsburgh.

He’s a smart guy but sometimes he doesn’t do smart things, general manager Jerry Reese said, via NFL Media, adding it’s time for OBJ to grow up.

Eli Manning wasn’t as harsh.

Odell is passionate. He wants to win, Manning said. This is important for him. He wanted to go out and have the best game of his career.

Manning also added (via New York Daily News ), You do things, you’ve got to back it up, referring to OBJ.

Beckham, who had four catches for 28 yards Sunday, will be remembered for his two dropped passes in the wake of a media storm created by a social media photo showing Beckham and several teammates on a boat grabbing some sun earlier in the week in Miami.

Not a good day to be Odell Beckham Jr. or an inanimate surface near the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field.

The A’s are second-worst in the American League in strikeouts with 527, and have struck out 10 times or more in 29 games this year. They’ve also struck out 13 or more times seven times this season, including a 14 K game vs. the Yankees and Sabathia the very next day.

No, managers and front office guys aren’t going to panic the fan base in pressers and comments to media members, especially in a year when they consider themselves surprising contenders. But there should also be a modicum of honesty with the fans and even themselves.

So, what can the Yankees do with Tanaka?rams_090

The Mariners took another “can’t miss” two-way prospect

A stronger case can be made for McKay as the first overall selection if he were solely a first baseman, but the result would be the same: His stats would likely get him into the first round, but would fail to separate him from the other perceived first-round bats such as Virginia’s Pavin Smith, Vanderbilt’s Jeren Kendall or Missouri State’s Jake Burger, meaning Minnesota would, with millions on the line, go in another direction with their pick. hat McKay is a combination of these two scenarios, a first-round pitcher and first-round hitter, has created an illusion that has launched him from solid first-rounder to possible top-pick in the draft.

Recent draft history also provides a cautionary tale for the Twins. The Mariners took another “can’t miss” two-way prospect, Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, with the second-overall pick in the 2011 draft, only to see him fail to live up to his billing in four injury-plagued seasons in the minors.

I think it’s only going to get bigger. I think we all acknowledge we’re sitting on a great asset for the network. Major League Baseball, at some point — and this is Greg Amsinger’s opinion, I don’t speak on behalf of the network — but I do believe there will be a day where Major League Baseball does not schedule baseball games on the night of the draft. It makes all the sense in the world. People all the time say, “Well, the NFL Draft is a big deal, Greg.” Well, OK, let’s play a game. Let’s see the ratings for the NFL Draft if you air it Sunday, Week 4 of the regular season of the NFL and it airs at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Let’s see the ratings if that was the case. No. No one would watch. You’ve got markets, the loyal fan bases and they’re watching their teams play. And when you air nine games on the night of the draft, that’s 18 TV markets that have loyal fan bases, and you understand why they’re watching their favorite team play instead. But I do think this network is going to enjoy an even larger audience when Major League Baseball recognizes this is something important. I think they already do, but there are scheduling conflicts everyone has to deal with. But I think in the next five years, you will see a day they leave that open, that schedule will not have a game and it will be the only baseball event of the night. nike_cardinals_1618

Super Bowl 2017: Falcons far behind Patriots in Super Bowl wins

A Falcons Super Bowl win in 2017 would be a franchise first, and in order to make it happen, Atlanta would need to beat two multi-Super Bowl champions. First the Green Bay Packers, whom they defeated in the NFC championship game, and now the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons, who have been around since 1966, have only been to one Super Bowl despite 12 playoff appearances before this season. Their sixth division title and 13th postseason appearance in franchise history features arguably the best team Atlanta has ever fielded. Is this the year?

“There was one guy standing over my left shoulder and one guy over my right shoulder,” Castonzo said. “They were talking to me in each ear asking (questions) like, ‘What do you like to drink?’ I said, ‘I don’t really drink that much.’ The other guy said, ‘Nah, you drink. You smoke weed?’ I said I don’t do that. And then the other guy says, ‘What, are we talking cocaine here?’

“They kept going back and forth. It was like a comedy routine.”

Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin found himself being led down a similar road at the 2016 Combine but the No. 8 pick in last year’s draft found a way to halt it.

“Somebody asked me, ‘A shot of whiskey or a Budweiser?’” Conklin said. “I said, ‘I wouldn’t have either in here right now.’ They actually laughed so I figured that was a good one.”

But sometimes, certain questions can’t be laughed away.

At the 2006 Combine, New Orleans Saints defensive end Darryl Tapp said one team “questioned my desire to play ball because I came from a two-parent household and they didn’t think I needed to play football.”

“This was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Tapp said.

Tapp immediately told his agent and hoped that squad wouldn’t be drafting him. Tapp felt fortunate when going in Round 2 to Seattle.seahawks_009

Top prospect Malik Hooker to miss NFL combine after surgery

It helps the coach to have the ultra competitive and driven Brady as his team leader. Brady always finds an edge. If it’s not to avenge his Deflategate suspension, he can always go back to his standard “prove everyone wrong for having made me wait until the sixth round to get drafted.”

But more than anything, winning championships is what drives Brady, and it’s clear how much he loves football. His intensity, competitive fire and team-first attitude are infectious, and it’s obvious that his teammates are motivated to play well for him and follow his lead.

Malik Hooker’s NFL career is being affected by injuries before it’s even started.

The former Ohio State safety and top prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft won’t be participating in the scouting combine after undergoing surgeries Tuesday to repair a torn labrum and hernia.

According to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who first reported the news, Hooker played through the pain of the injuries late this season and won’t be ready to work out for scouts in March.

Hooker, who had two years of college eligibility remaining before declaring for the draft Jan. 2, had seven interceptions, three for touchdowns, and 74 tackles in 13 games en route to unanimous All-America honors this season.
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It’s been a long time since a woman called an NFL game

Mitchell Trubisky drove to Bears camp in his grandmother’s 1997 Toyota Camry, and I applaud him for it

Why the Chicago Bears traded up from the third to the second pick in the 2017 NFL draft to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is still kind of a head scratcher. But there’s nothing curious about the rookie quarterback’s choice in cars.

A car serves one function — getting you from point A to point B. In selecting an automobile, it is my personal feeling that the two most important factors are reliability and fuel efficiency. The trusty Camry checks both of those boxes, and it has the consumer and industry recognition to prove it.

Thirty years ago, longtime news anchor Gayle Sierens became the first woman to do play-by-play for a regular season NFL game. Sierens, a seasoned news anchor, called a Seahawks-Chiefs matchup in the final week of the 1987 season, and she did so well that NBC Sports tried to lock her in for six games in the 1988 season. The local NBC affiliate Sierens worked for in Tampa, Fla., didn’t want her to miss that much work, so it didn’t happen.

It’s been a long time since a woman called an NFL game, but Mowins will change that this season. The matchup between the Chargers and Broncos is part of a Monday Night Football doubleheader to kick off the season. The normal Monday Night Football crew of Jon Gruden and Sean McDonough will be calling the Saints and Vikings game earlier that night.yankees_1092_6e22755ac0c004f0-180x180