Former Dodger Steve Sax explains the backstory of that amazing Three Stooges mural

On Monday, Lakers radio play-by-play man John Ireland tweeted out an incredible mural that has been in his house since he and his family moved in years ago, depicting former Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax surrounded by The Three Stooges.

But I also don’t know that an exciting All-Star Game is necessary. It’s still a really fun event with a celebratory (if more-subdued-than-the-derby) vibe. There are no stakes, and there shouldn’t be. Which means that the game just is what it is, and maybe it can’t be and shouldn’t be anything else besides half-drunk, slightly dazed baseball.
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After all, there’s no reason you eat dessert — you don’t down ice cream because it’s good for you or because you definitely need more food. It just tastes good. It’s sweet. It marks the end of something enjoyable.

Barry Bonds Elite Jersey I disagreed with that at the time. Everyone disagrees with it now. The point isn’t to shame someone for a years-old hot take — and I would remind you that it’s very impolite to search through my old writing. The point is that six years ago, Beltre was most certainly not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. People had opinions on him, and some of them were sour.

And now he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Maybe second. Probably first, though. If you need convincing, read this Deadspin article Friday about the players who managed to slap two different Hall of Fame careers together into a single career.

The current player most likely to be not just a Hall of Famer but a Hendersonian Hall of Famer is…Adrian Beltre?

Dodgers, Rangers at an ‘impasse’ in Yu Darvish trade talks

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET today, so if the Dodgers and Rangers are going to figure out a Yu Darvish trade, they’ll have to do it soon. As of Monday morning, the two sides are are at an impasse according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman, with Heyman adding that LA loves its prospects as the reason for said impasse.
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Chris Higgins Limited Jersey We’ve known this specific instance was a distinct possibility for these trade negotiations for a while now: It’s just how the Dodgers operate, and it’s why we graded the initial Darvish/Dodgers rumor a C+ in our series of trade rumor grades. And it’s worked for them to this point — notice all the productive youth on their roster.

However, it did feel like things could be a little different this summer, given Clayton Kershaw’s second season in a row hitting the disabled list because of a back injury and all the productive youths the Dodgers already have on their roster.

That might seem like a specious conclusion until you look at some of the more particular details of his sales, where the league claims he had the most popular batting practice jersey of any All-Star Game in the last decade – remarkable sales which only further doubled after he vanquished his competition in the Dinger Colosseum. On top of that, he had the most popular uniform jersey and the most searched term on the official MLB website was Judge-related.

Even taking the descriptor Judge-related with a grain of salt – that could just mean Yankees-related or the name Aaron or people who wear the number 99 which is unfair to Hyun-Jin Ryu – these numbers are an early look at a world where Judge jerseys are flying off the shelves and little kids in Oklahoma are rooting for him from a timezone away. Which isn’t a bad future necessarily, just one where once again a Yankees star is the toast of the league instead of someone from a smaller market.

Broncos schedule 2017: Denver forced to work hard for its return to playoffs

Denver’s trip to Philadelphia is particularly tough on a short week after a Monday night game in Kansas City. The Broncos won’t overlook the Eagles, but who could blame them if they did? The Patriots lurk in a Week 10 Sunday night matchup made for TV. The second Raiders game of the season follows a winnable home game against the Bengals.

Wentz looked like a seasoned veteran through the first month of his rookie season before playing more like a rookie the rest of the year. He finished with 3,782 passing yards with 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. The No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft will have to make strides this season if they are going to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

A playoff berth is possible, but the Eagles have to win at least two of those three games in their midseason homestand and then at least split with the Cowboys. A tough December might make it too difficult to get into the postseason with what will likely be an 8-8 season.

This is pretty bad for the Raiders, almost like the NFL piling on their relocation to Las Vegas with three tough road games in the final four. The early part of December is bad enough against those playoff teams, but then Oakland also needs to play on Christmas night and finish on a short week. That can knock them out of first place again.

Oakland took advantage of an improved roster and weakened schedule to finish 12-4 last season, good for an AFC wild-card berth that ended the Raiders’ 14-year playoff drought. Carr and the offense will keep driving this team into the postseason mix, even if the defense it’s desperately trying to upgrade around Khalil Mack should face similar struggles. This record should be sufficient to make the Raiders at least the No. 6 seed in the conference and give them a chance to make more playoff noise with a healthy Carr.
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Angels teammates give Mike Trout messy birthday gift

Authentic Kids Terry O’Reilly Jersey Mike Trout is the reigning American League MVP, but he was treated like a rooke on Monday.

Trout celebrated his 26th birthday on Monday and his Angels teammates gave the six-time All-Star all of the ingredients for a birthday cake, except they were in the form of dumping them on Trout’s head.

Trout took the so-called gift well, at first, but appeared less than amused once everything was emptied onto his person. The rookie hazing treatment is not exactly the optimum gift for a two-time league MVP.

The Angels host the Orioles Monday night and Trout, who hopefully took a shower after receiving his birthday gift, will be in center field.
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At the time, I didn’t realize that this was going to be the sport that I ended up playing, but he showed me baseball for the first time. I mean, I had four brothers, two sisters, one sister who’s no longer here, and I know she’s looking down on my right now congratulating me for this feat. I’m trying not to break up here. I actually have cold. That’s why I’m kind of sniffing a little bit, if you believe that.

But dad, I mean, he worked eight to ten hours a day on his job, and there were days where he felt like — we would go out in the backyard and say we want to race, and my dad was a pretty fast runner back in his day, and Tommy, Levi, Ned Jr. and myself and Sam, we used to go out on the side of the house, and we would commence to race to see who could beat Pops. It took us a while. Well, it took them a while.

Finally that one day came. I had my mind made up that he wasn’t going to beat me today, and sure enough, we took off, and I was able to finally beat my dad in a race. That was the last time he raced us.

Hall of Fame induction ceremony caps celebration for — and of — Tim Raines

Tim Raines is officially a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
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About time, right? But this weekend in Cooperstown wasn’t just a long-awaited celebration for Raines and his family and friends and fans.

No, this was a celebration of Tim Raines. Seriously. His fellow Hall of Famers couldn’t stop gushing about Raines, as a player or a person, all weekend.

Womens Nicklas Lidstrom Jersey Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen continues to have a nice bounce-back year. He’s hitting .291 with 22 home runs and can still make stellar plays in the field, like his diving catch in the fifth inning of Monday’s win to rob Tigers counterpart Mikie Mahtook of a hit.

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun got a little greedy, trying to stretch a double off the glove of Twins center field Byron Buxton into a triple. But Buxton recovered quickly and Braun was gunned down at third in the first inning of Minnesota’s 5-4 win.

The Cardinals are still chasing the Brewers and Cubs in the NL Central and the Royals are in the thick of the AL wild-card hunt. The Cardinals will have Michael Wacha (8-4, 3.66 ERA) on the mound. Wacha has a 2.12 ERA over his last eight starts. The Royals will counter with Jason Vargas (13-5, 3.10 ERA), who was an All-Star for the first time this year.

It’s going to take the organization, Bennett said. I think the players have spoken up enough. I think the media has spoken up. It just takes the ownership for someone to say we want this guy in our locker room. I think a lot of teams, like we said before, were really affected by what he did and what he did this year. It wasn’t criminal.

It’s very easy to understand what he’s trying to get across

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[Smith] has that NFL background, so he kind of treats us more as we’re grown men; expects us to be able to do the little things on our own, without policing us as much as we’ve had in the past, DiLauro said. Now he will, if you’re messing up — like the minor things, like not showing up to things on time and stuff like that — you know, he’ll step in and he’ll police it and make sure that you know he knows what’s going on. He’ll talk to you and sit you down and have that one-on-one conversation and get you going on the right track, or let you know that you’re going down the wrong path.

Smith’s players speak about him with unusual reverence for a coach who’s only been on the job for one year and gone 3-9.
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His coaching style’s very relaxed, receiver Malik Turner says. It’s very easy to understand what he’s trying to get across. His point’s very clear all the time. He’s very consistent.

He’s a great leader for us to follow, and not just with his background, but just being around him and understanding who he is and hearing stories that he’s had to tell. Building that relationship with him, it’s great to be behind a man like that, and a coach.

That gives Stafford the opportunity to stake his claim as one of the league’s best passers. He shined in 2016 despite the absence of Calvin Johnson, dialing up his accuracy and cutting his interception rate to a career low. He turned a receiving corps led by Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Eric Ebron into a deadly unit.

As I pointed out late in the season, with J.J. Watt hurt last year Clowney wasn’t playing out on the edge that much early on in the season. He still played well, but lining up as a 3-technique on a run down is not the best place to have him. As fate would have it, once starting outside linebacker John Simon went down in Week 11 it opened the door to Clowney playing more on the edge, and his play went to another level.

He should meet expectations in Cleveland.

His main competition is Kenny Britt, who knows a little something about playing with below-average quarterbacks. Despite playing for the Case Keenum/Jared Goff-led Rams last season, he managed his best season in the NFL, snagging 68 receptions for 1,002 yards. In his eight-year career, he’s been paired with passers like Vince Young, Jake Locker, Austin Davis and the aging journeyman trio of Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He should meet expectations in Cleveland.

The depth chart falls off from there. Terrelle Pryor, who looked every bit a breakout star in his return to Ohio as a wideout, failed to get the big contract he hoped a 1,000-yard season had earned. Instead, he opted for a one-year, $8 million contract with Washington. Andrew Hawkins is gone as well, leaving Ricardo Louis with some big shoes to fill. Josh Gordon’s return to football remains in question, and if it does happen it almost certainly won’t be with the Browns.

So to recap, the U.S. becomes champion in a way-too-early Women’s World Cup by having Air Bud save the day, which feels a bit like cheating. But I came to see a dog play soccer, and I think I got what I paid for, which is whatever Netflix pays Disney each time I stream Air Bud: World Pup.

I’m surprised it took the movies this long to get Air Bud integrated into a major sports event, but here we are. Also, it turns out this wouldn’t be the first time Air Bud participated in a championship game. Let’s talk about Seventh Inning Fetch.

I’m pretty sure dogs aren’t supposed to hit balls that well with their mouths, but just like it says on the town sign that pops up at the start of every Air Bud movie, everything is possible.

It would have been enough for Seventh Inning Fetch to end with Air Bud and Andrea winning the state championship game. But no, they had to go further and take him to the World Series.
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He couldn’t touch that output in 2016, forcing a do-or-die situation in 2017.

I’ll admit that this selection is a complete troll job. There’s apparently bad blood between Washington owner Dan Snyder and the Niners’ new head coach, Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington while his father, Mike, was the head coach back in 2010 through 2013. It did not end well. Kyle Shanahan described working in Washington as different, which is not a glowing endorsement.
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So there’s inherent drama involved when Shanahan heads back to FedEx Field to face his former team as a head coach. Can Shanahan’s 49ers defense beat the quarterback he may be coveting in free agency next season: Kirk Cousins? Will Snyder and Shanahan cross paths, and will they be cordial? Will Shanahan actually run the dang ball when the situation calls for it? So many questions will be answered in Week 6. — Jeanna Thomas

He came close to those heights in his second year in Buffalo, where his 17.5 yards per reception cemented his status as a top-notch deep threat. He had five 100-yard games, including an 11-catch, 136-yard performance that knocked the Jets out of the playoffs in Week 17. In his final six games, he had 679 yards and six touchdowns, looking the part of a fourth-overall draft pick along the way.

Mike Napoli Limited Jersey He couldn’t touch that output in 2016, forcing a do-or-die situation in 2017. A healthy Watkins will pair with LeSean McCoy and Taylor to make Buffalo a playoff contender. With a big payday looming on his performance, he’ll have more pressure on his shoulders than ever before. The idea of a contract-year performance — a season of strong play when the opportunity for a massive contract hangs in the balance — doesn’t largely hold true for NFL athletes, but all eyes will be on the young wideout who still has plenty to prove.

NHL Arbitration: Is there a message in Spooner one-year Bruins deal?

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Ryan Spooner and the Bruins avoided arbitration Wednesday, but the 25-year-old center received only a one-year commitment from the team. That the Bruins did not invest in a multi-year term may signal they need to see more production and consistency from Spooner, whose game tailed off dramatically last season following a concussion.

Spooner missed three games after suffering the injury March 6 against the Senators. After returning, he went the final 13 games without scoring a goal. He managed only three assists during that span, one in the final 11 games.

The 2010 second-rounder picked up two assists in the opening-round playoff series against Ottawa, but he was scratched the final two games after logging just 9:34 worth of ice-time in Game Four
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I’m going to spin (the one-year commitment) into a positive and say that I’m going to take that as a challenge to have a good year and show that I can be the player that they want me to be, Spooner said on a conference call with reporters. Then on the downside, too, it kind of just shows that they need to see a little bit more out of me as a player. We’ve talked and they’ve said there’s many things that I do great and there’s a lot of things I do that help out the team. There are a lot of things that I could also bring to the table that I need to work on.

There is a reason Spooner was selected 45th overall, however. When on his game, Spooner is a skilled offensive talent, especially on the power play. Spooner recorded a career-high 49 points two seasons ago, but fell to 39 last year, though 18 of his points came on the high-powered B’s power play.

Draymond Green fouls, then mocks LeBron James for major flop

Game Los Angeles Chargers Jersey LeBron James and Draymond Green at the center of controversy … where have we seen this before?

During the second quarter of Monday night’s game between the Cavs and Warriors, Green caught James across the body with a hard foul. It appeared Green was simply trying to stop James before he turned into a runaway train and got an easy bucket.

Despite Green going for the ball, James sold the foul so well it got upgraded to a flagrant 1. Green has given his fair share of questionable shots in the past — we all know his below-the-belt history at this point. But this one looked like a hard, legal foul.

Green turned to fans on the sideline and mocked James’ flop. It’s hard to blame Green on this one, but he probably should know better than most doing anything to anger LeBron isn’t a great idea.
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The draft pick issue has become a fascinating one. The Lakers owe the 76ers their 2017 selection unless it lands in the top three via lottery. That means they either will have another terrific young prospect, from a loaded draft — albeit one short on centers, the Lakers’ biggest need — or nothing. If the Lakers keep the pick, though, they have to give the Sixers their 2018 selection with no protections at all. The value of that pick hinges on how quickly this core can start winning.

Randle has been the most consistent of the three, averaging 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds, while seeing big improvements in his passing (3.8 assists per game) and shooting (49.2 percent, up from 42.9 percent last year). Randle is taking fewer midrange jumpers this year, but his percentages have bumped up on shots from 10 feet out to the arc, showing promise that he eventually could stretch into a 3-point shooter.