Category Archives: Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins

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

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

Predators’ Vernon Fiddler ejected for kneeing Blues defenseman in Game 2

Nashville Predators forward Vernon Fiddler was a hero in Game 1 but put his team in a bad place with a game misconduct in Game 2.

The veteran center was forechecking deep in the St. Louis Blues’ zone in the second period when Blues defenseman Colton Parayko carried the puck out from behind the net. Fiddler met him, went to lay a hit, and caught Parayko knee-on-knee.

Parayko was shaken up but returned for the ensuing five-minute Blues power play. Fiddler got a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.

Fiddler might expect a suspension for the hit, but it’s the playoffs and the NHL is notoriously hard to pin down on discipline expectations this time of year. If he is out for a game or two, it might not be a big deal; Fiddler hadn’t played since early April due to injury and is a fourth-line center at most these days.

Though, with winger Kevin Fiala out for the season, it would hurt Nashville’s depth even more.

Everyone had to play a new role. This is why I moved to the next level, and the coach began to trust me more. I took this opportunity. But the main thing is that I was doing everything to help my team.

Denver drafted a pair of scoring guards in the first round last year in Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley. Anunoby would give them a versatile defensive complement who could switch screens and check big wings. He tore his ACL in January and his offensive skill set is unrefined, but he projects as the best defender in this class when he’s healthy.

Miami Heat — Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Allen was a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American who flew under the radar a bit at Texas. That’s mostly because the Longhorns fell way short of preseason expectations and finished just 11-22. Allen’s combination of length (7’5.5 wingspan) and foot speed makes him worth the investment at this point for Miami.
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Nick Saban doesn’t think that will be a problem

In an SEC carnival of violence, Fournette was often the main attraction. And it’s always been this way, since the moment he burst onto the scene as a dominant running back out of New Orleans in the class of 2014. He was a five-star recruit that year, the No. 1 player in the country on the 247Sports Composite.

Though Howard was an important piece of the Alabama offense, he wasn’t utilized like the mismatch machine he appears to be. After shredding the combine’s agility drills, it’s clear he has the size and quickness to leave opposing linebackers swatting at air. Despite that, he only averaged three receptions per game as an upperclassman.

Nick Saban doesn’t think that will be a problem, however. The Alabama head coach thinks Howard will be a great pro, even if Lane Kiffin’s offense failed to make him a star.

After earning a first-round grade, he’ll be expected to contribute much more with the Bucs. He showed flashes of that ability at the Senior Bowl, where he dazzled scouts and made some NFL executives — and Howard himself — wonder why he wasn’t used more in Tuscaloosa.

Melifonwu turned heads when he tested out as one of this year’s most electrifying athletes back in March. The 6’4 safety posted the second-best broad jump of all time (11’9), cleared an insane 44 inches with his vertical leap, and ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash to establish himself as an elite prospect.

Melifonwu was one of the most consistent bright spots during a bleak stretch of Connecticut football. The Huskies went just 14-35 in his four seasons with the program. He emerged as a starter after a redshirt freshman year, then he proceeded to get better and better as the team’s last line of defense. His 73 solo tackles in 2016 ranked eighth in the nation. He added four interceptions to prove his worth as a two-way defender in center field.
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Why Dan Feeney should be a long-term starter for the Chargers

Dan Feeney isn’t the kind of blocker who can clear out defenders while protecting his quarterback’s blindside on the edge. He’s the kind of blocker who can anchor an offensive line from the interior.

The Indiana graduate doesn’t have the upside of some of the other members of his class, but his combination of size, strength, and experience makes him a low-risk pickup at the 2017 NFL draft. The Chargers made him part of their plans after selecting him with the 71st pick.

The two-time first-team All-American is one of the draft’s most accomplished players. Feeney came to Bloomington as an unheralded, three-star recruit and left as one of the most reliable athletes in program history. With the burly blocker clearing a path, the Hoosiers played in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1991.

Cleveland got off to a good start this offseason by shoring up the offensive line, which surrendered an NFL-high 66 sacks and 140 quarterback hits last year. The Browns signed former Green Bay Packers center J.C. Tretter and paid a boatload of money to right guard Kevin Zeitler. They extended left guard Joe Bitonio, and with perpetual All-Pro Joe Thomas anchoring the left tackle spot, the remade line is solid.

Although the Browns’ offensive line didn’t give him much help last season, Isaiah Crowell rushed for nearly 1,000 yards. Just imagine what he should be able to do behind the improved line.

After playing things close to the vest (he was 11 for 15 for 91 yards against Penn State), he let ’er rip. In Peterman’s last six games, he completed 85 of 148 (57 percent) for 1,630 yards, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The result: A high pick rate, a low completion rate, three losses … and a three-game span in which Pitt scored 175 points. He threw five touchdown passes in an upset of Clemson, then completed just nine for 251 and four touchdowns in a 76-61 shootout win over Syracuse.

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The Gang Green gets one of this year’s most sure thing prospects

Harden thrives off pick and rolls, and his aptitude forces defenses into a bind: Send the house at him or stay pat on shooters. The Warriors choose the latter, rarely conceding an open look from three.

It’s why they have the league’s best defensive three-point percentage. They force him to go one-on-one to the rack, where they collapse on a shot when it’s too late to make a pass.

Knowing that, he often settles for a contested three. Chance Warmack, Guard, Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack has gotten some heat this season for his struggles in pass protection, deservedly so. However, last week on Thursday Night Football, Warmack stood out in the running game. Chris Johnson ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ loss to the Colts, mostly due to how much room he had to run. Warmack was a big reason why, and he deserves some credit.

Ultimately, the game makes both teams 7-3 on the year. For Carolina, it sits in the No. 5 seed, trailing the New Orleans Saints by two games in the NFC South. New England is tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the coveted second-seed, well ahead of any competition for the AFC East.

Vance McDonald, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers: Vance McDonald turned heads in the pre-draft process due to his combination of size and speed. His vertical jump was through the roof and people began to rave about his upside. Unfortunately, those physical traits haven’t translated into blocking ability. McDonald not only hasn’t been much of a factor in the passing game, but he’s also struggling to run block, a crucial skill for a No. 2 tight end in the NFL. He still has a lot of work to do.cardinals_1198-115x115

The Colts will be without linebacker Erik Walden on Sunday against the Cardinals.

The NFL has upheld the one-game suspension handed down to Indianapolis Colts linebacker Erik Walden for his headbutt on Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Walden used his helmet as a weapon in the Colts’ win over the Titans when he smashed his head into Walker, who was not wearing the protective headgear.

A second-year player out of Western Kentucky, Rainey didn’t see any action in his rookie season. The Bucs claimed him in October after he got waived by the Cleveland Browns. He finally got his chance this week after the Bucs lost Martin and James, and is making the most of it. He did an admirable job as a mid-game replacement against the Dolphins last week, recording 45 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

Barring a complete collapse, the Bucs will win their second game in a row, and Rainey has been a key part in their slight resurgence. Company Man Favoritism Tour 2K13 rolls on with Mr. Roth, who brings up a verse of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” that I’ve taken a personal interest in. Specifically, the bit in which Mr. Carter claims the officer accused him of driving 55 miles per hour on a road with a speed limit of 54 miles per hour. I feel that that is a strange speed limit to post, and would further like to suggest that the officer in Mr. Carter’s report should not have applied such an inflexible interpretation of the law, especially given the unusual nature of the speed limit posted.

As long as we’re in the realm of video games, I may as well cop to my greatest gaming failure. I never beat the Water Temple. Ocarina of Time was an absolute masterpiece, and if you called it the greatest video game ever, I wouldn’t be mad at you.
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Christian Ponder to remain Vikings starter, provided he can win

Whoever is running the event decides that in order to save time, we will alternate between football drills and taking team photos with Gronk. When it is their turn, women sprint toward Gronk, who is already sitting in a folding chair, in order to be as close to him in the group photo as possible. Some even try to sit on his lap. I am instructed to sit near his legs because I am short. I maintain a safe distance.

And then I hear the familiar sounds of “Teach Me How to Dougie,” a song that had permanently etched itself into my brain and probably yours three years ago. But wait… this is not “Teach Me How to Dougie.” This is some kind of Rob Gronkowski remix. This is a thing. I begin to wonder if the tackling drills gave me a concussion. This can’t be actually happening.

But it is happening. The women have started to dance. Both Gronkowski brothers have joined in. This is what we were warned about. THE DANCE OFF IS HAPPENING. I haven’t worked on my moves yet! Wait…is that woman doing the worm? Is this football? How hard did that tackling dummy hit me?

The Minnesota Vikings are willing to commit to quarterback Christian Ponder, but only so long as the third-year quarterback is winning, according to Ian Rapoport.

Asking Ponder to keep winning is no easy feat. The team’s next five opponents are extremely difficult outside of a Week 10 matchup against the Washington Redskins. Minnesota is slated to face the Seahawks, Packers and Bears — all sitting above .500 and leading their respective divisions.

It’s unclear whether Ponder will remain with the Vikings in 2017, but the key for now is to win games — and there’s no indication Minnesota knows how to do that.

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It was more difficult to notice afterward, but the transition continued to unfold after ’06.

Gonzaga continued to make the tournament every year, but most of the time they were seeded somewhere between 7-11. Sometimes they won a game or two, sometimes they didn’t. Like a middle-of-the-road Eastern Conference team in an era of NBA superpowers, the Bulldogs were just sort of there.

Then, the 2012-13 season happened. Gonzaga navigated through a strong non-conference schedule with just two losses, rolled to a perfect record in the West Coast Conference’s regular season, and claimed the conference’s tournament title. On Selection Sunday, the Bulldogs were given a No. 1 seed in a West Region that the public agreed appeared to be the worst of the four the Selection Committee had put together. It was time for Mark Few’s team to finally cash in and make the world a believer again.

The Zags were stunned by ninth-seeded Wichita State in the second round.

Trying to build the next superteam hasn’t ever seemed to work for any NFL franchise —remember the 2011 Eagles? Free agency’s biggest spenders almost always seem to be the teams that are perennial losers.

One Madden-like move teams often make is taking a chance on that injury-prone player who would be awesome if he could just stay healthy. This year, guys like Danny Woodhead (Ravens), Menelik Watson (Broncos) and JC Tretter (Browns) look like early candidates to become last year’s Matt Forte and Ladarius Green. While all three can play, their age and past durability issues should immediately raise red flags.

Ball made controversial comments about James’ sons, LeBron James Jr. and Bryce Maximus James, on March 10 as a guest on the In the Zone with Chris Broussard podcast when he predicted a tougher road to NBA stardom beneath their father’s shadow. Those remarks prompted a response from James, who sent a message through ESPN’s Dave McMenamin to “keep my kids’ name out of your mouth.”
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Devastated bear mascot gets heartwarming hug from kindhearted child

Think of the saddest song you ever heard. Maybe it’s Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt,” or Brandy’s “Brokenhearted,” or Sufjan Stevens’ “The Only Thing.” Now apply that sadness to this sad bear mascot, sitting all alone at the top of the bleachers, wondering where everything went wrong.

Last year, Kansas was also a No. 1 seed, and made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Villanova. They’re led this season by Frank Mason III, who leads the team in scoring with 20.8 points per game. After the Bruins, Wildcats, and Ducks, the Pac-12 has USC as a likelier-than-not tournament team. The Trojans only lost eight games in the regular season, all in league play, and have great wins against UCLA and SMU.

They’ll start their run to a potential Final Four against the winner of a play-in game between NC Central and UC Davis on Friday in Tulsa, Okla. Should the Jayhawks win their first two games, they’ll play very close to home in the Sweet 16 with the Midwest regional site being in Kansas City.

Tournament darlings Michigan make it into the tournament as a No. 7 seed, and they’ll face 10-seeded Oklahoma State. Tricky matchups for other teams include No. 5 Iowa State vs. No. 12 Nevada and No. 8 Miami vs. No. 9 Michigan State.

You can see the full bracket here, and you can print one out here.

Krzyzewski also noticed a difference in Giles in recent weeks, and it started with him being more enthusiastic and trusting his abilities.

“Instead of being methodical and trying to think about everything, he’s been more athletic,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m so happy for him. And us too.”

Giles will admit that it’s hard not to compete against his former self, but comparing 2017 Giles to 2015 Giles becomes tough to avoid when he shows those bursts of brilliance.19