Teams not seeking longer relief in ’17 (but they’re thinking about it)

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, the Indians led 4-3 in the top of the fifth inning.

There were two outs and nobody on base, Brock Holt at the plate, with Mookie Betts on deck and David Ortiz in the hole. Instead of letting Trevor Bauer finish the inning, Terry Francona made a decision that many believe will change the way managers operate in the future: He summoned Andrew Miller, his best relief pitcher, who proceeded to throw 40 pitches over two scoreless Graham Gano Authentic Jersey innings as the Indians held on for a 5-4 victory.

The Indians would sweep that series, win the American League Championship Series and reach Game 7 of the World Series, as Francona stuck to his plan of using Miller as the leverage dictated, instead of letting the inning dictate Miller’s usage. Miller made 10 postseason appearances and entered in the fifth inning three times and twice in the sixth. He recorded at least four outs in each outing and pitched at least two innings six times. Analysts who had been advocating for years for exactly this type of bullpen usage were ecstatic.

It wasn’t just Francona and Miller. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in closer Kenley Jansen in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the NL Division Series and let him throw 51 pitches (although Clayton Kershaw had to finish it off). Jansen had a two-inning save in the National League Championship Series and then pitched three innings in a 5-0 loss in Game 6. Aroldis Chapman, who had appeared before the ninth inning just six times in the regular season — three of those in mop-up situations just to get some work — entered before the ninth inning in seven of his 13 postseason appearances for the Cubs, including twice in the seventh inning.

Jeff Sullivan of ESPN Insider went back to 1996 and counted all the postseason relief appearances of more than one inning: 2016 ranked first. The average innings pitched for starters dropped to 5 1/3, an all-time low in the postseason. Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled Kyle Hendricks, the league’s ERA leader, in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the World Series when he was throwing a shutout and again in the fifth inning of Game 7 even though there were two outs, just one runner on and the Cubs up 5-1.

“So you’re going to see starters pitch less and less. Relievers will go more, and it’s Greg Olsen Authentic Jersey likely that the best relievers will go even more than that. Bullpens will become ever more top-heavy, as managers worry less about overuse in a playoff schedule riddled with off days,” Jeff Sullivan wrote.

Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien doesn’t come across as a fiery person

Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien doesn’t come across as a fiery person. He didn’t stand in front of the media Tuesday and talk about what he plans to do if he ends up starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, which at this point appears to be the case with Andrew Luck still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Tolzien, in fact, came across as a rather bland person who prefers to keep his conversation simple. He repeatedly talked about simply doing his job in some form countless times during a six-plus minute interview session.

“I don’t know if that’s who I am or who I’m not, but Jadeveon Clowney Authentic Womens Jersey I think it’s really about the preparation and always remembering it’s a kid’s game,” Tolzien said about his mild demeanor. “I’ve played this game since I was 7 years old when I started. You have to remember that always you still have to prepare but when game day comes, play like a kid and play it loose.”

Tolzien didn’t seem too concerned that he’ll likely be the starting quarterback for a team that’s on a two-game winning streak and trying to remain in playoff contention while facing a Pittsburgh team that’s thoroughly handled them the past two seasons.

Coach Chuck Pagano said Tolzien was still at the team’s facility at 10:30 p.m. Monday watching film in preparation for his first start since Nov. 24, 2013, when he was with the Green Bay Packers.

Tolzien is 56-of-91 for (61.5 percent) for 721 yards in his career. The alarming stat is that he’s only thrown for one touchdown and he has five interceptions.

“He appears to be a quick decision maker,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He has good arm strength, he gets the ball out and makes good and quick decisions. I just watched a couple videos from Green Bay when he played significantly.”

There’s no replacing Andrew Luck in the Colts’ offense. The Colts don’t expect Tolzien Jaelen Strong Authentic Womens Jersey to be Andrew Luck, either. They just want him to play football.

“Just play, you can’t press,” Pagano said his message was to Tolzien. “Prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare. It’s better to sweat in times of peace than times of war. So get prepared and when Thursday comes, go play. Get the call, get them out of the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage, go play. Go execute. He doesn’t have to put the whole thing on his back. Andrew never does.”

Joe had a helluva a career, and he did well after the NFL

It’s just one of those things that happened. I knew he was hurt when I heard him under the pile yelling and I understood. That’s why I tried to get everybody off him and get some help for him. I knew when you’re sitting on the bottom of the pile — I don’t care if it’s a toe sprain, or an ankle sprain, I don’t care what it is — it seems like forever, like the people on top of you are never going to figure it out. All you want is the people to get off of you and to get some help. And to breathe again.

“I think that’s very troublesome to many of us,” Popovich said. “It would be great if he [Trump] made some statements to all of the groups he disparaged, to bring us all together, and to allay fears, because there are a lot of fearful people, and for good reason. But rather than doing that, he inflamed it even more with that appointment.”

Popovich also answered a question about whether Latrell Sprewell Authentic Womens Jersey the Holt family, who owns the San Antonio Spurs and was one of Texas’ biggest Trump donors, gave him the “freedom” to express his distaste for Trump.

“No, (the Holts) haven’t given me that freedom,” Popovich said. “I live in America. That’s what has given me that freedom.”

You can read the full transcript here.

I knew this would happen. I was driving home during the latter stages of the game and I had the feeling Westbrook was going to do something nefarious. I didn’t know what exactly, but my gut was telling me that he was up to no good as usual.

I felt like a parent who grows suspicious when their child is unusually quiet. All Marreese Speights Authentic Womens Jersey you can do is squint at them and point to your eyes with your index and middle finger to let them know that you got your eyes on them. And then they smile at you in a knowing and unnerving way, showing all of their teeth. They know that you know they’re going to do something terrible, but you’re not prepared for it.

I turned on the game and there were some odd things going on. James Harden was struggling to score. The Rockets, a Mike D’Antoni team, only scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. My cat was rotating its head around 360 degrees like it was possessed. Andre Roberson was trying to do stuff. Victor Oladipo had almost 30 points and 10 rebounds. Things were just out of whack.

Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre leads coaches on the rise this season

Stand up if you predicted in August that Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen would be hosting arguably the two most marquee games of Week 12.

Sit down, sir. You, too, ma’am. No one actually saw this coming.

MacIntyre entered the season at No. 2 in ESPN’s hot seat rankings, while Holgorsen checked in at No. 5. Both seemed unlikely to turn around their programs, but Colorado and West Virginia are a combined 16-3 and ranked 10th and 14th, respectively, in the CFP rankings.

The season that began with the fear of being defined by the “Super Bowl hangover” all of a sudden is being defined by head injuries.

Kuechly, who is in the concussion protocol, could be the sixth Carolina player to suffer a concussion this season. Left tackle Michael Oher Josh Wilson Authentic Womens Jersey has missed seven games with one and there is no sign of when he will return.

Quarterback Cam Newton missed a Week 5 game against Tampa Bay. Backup safety and special teams ace Colin Jones has missed the past two games. Outside linebacker A.J. Klein missed Thursday’s game.

In that scenario, the committee could possibly be comparing the résumés of two-loss conference champions from three leagues: the Big Ten (Penn State or Wisconsin), the ACC (Louisville) and the Big 12 (Oklahoma). The best-case scenario for the ACC would be for Clemson to beat Wake Forest and South Carolina, then win the conference title, leaving no doubt it’s a top-four conference champion.

One thing we know for sure: Clemson and Louisville aren’t getting in now.

The Big Ten is the only conference with any legitimate hope of two playoff teams, but that’s assuming that Ohio State wins out but doesn’t win its division. Fans have to remember that winning a conference title is one of the tiebreakers the committee uses Kevin Ogletree Authentic Womens Jersey to rank teams with comparable résumés. If it comes down to Ohio State or Penn State, and the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten title, the Buckeyes would have two strikes against them in the committee’s protocol.

How Trader Danny accelerated the Boston Celtics’ rebuild

They don’t call him Trader Danny for nothing.

“I know him and I don’t think he would just say something to be saying it,” Anthony said of James, his close friend. “Whatever was said, I’m pretty Authentic James Carpenter Jersey sure it hit home and he responded to it. I don’t know exactly what was said.”

Anthony said he doesn’t think Jackson meant to use the word “posse” in a racial connotation, but he also didn’t want to speak on Jackson’s behalf.

Anthony added that he isn’t concerned with how the James-Jackson interaction may impact the way free agents view the Knicks in future offseasons.

“No, that don’t worry me,” he said. “I don’t Authentic Jarvis Jenkins Jersey really know what was the gist of the conversation, what was the topic or why Phil was even talking about LeBron in the first place. I don’t think we play them anytime soon. It’s a whole month away.”

The Knicks next play the Cavs at home on Dec. 7.

“I missed shots,” Harden said.

Asked about the double-teams causing him problems, Harden shook that off, too.

“Normal, I still was able to make passes,” he said. “A couple of passes we missed, but normal game, just didn’t make shots, especially down the stretch like we needed to, and that was it.”

With two Thunder defenders on the ball, that meant more open looks for the Rockets. Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza missed seven each. Eric Gordon missed nine, and Harden himself went 0-for-3 on uncontested shots.

As the game began to slip away from the Rockets, they reverted back to isolation basketball — Harden dribbling and dribbling and dribbling. When he did pass, the Rockets had open looks, only to misfire.

“Regardless if it moved enough or not, we still got the looks that we like, the looks that we’re going to take,” Ariza said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t hit them tonight.”

Saints’ Brandin Cooks proves he’s more than just a deep threat

Brandin Cooks talked this summer about wanting to prove he is more than just a deep threat.

If the New Orleans Saints receiver hadn’t accomplished that already, he did so with three fantastic catches in the second half of Sunday’s 25-23 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Speight started the first 10 games of Deion Sanders Authentic Womens Jersey the season for Michigan and threw for 2,156 yards and 15 touchdowns. He favored his left side during the fourth quarter at Iowa and finished the game with 103 passing yards, his second-lowest total of the season.

1. Washington loses the Apple Cup in Pullman. That would give Washington State the Pac-12 North title and send the Cougars to the Pac-12 title game. Given Derrick Shelby Authentic Womens Jersey the Huskies’ poor overall strength of schedule — their best nonconference win was against Rutgers — there’s virtually no scenario in which the selection committee would put a two-loss Washington that didn’t win its own division into the playoff.

2. Louisville loses to Houston or Kentucky. The Cardinals are a real problem for the Big 12. Behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, they have been about as impressive as any team in the country, outside Alabama, and would be a strong choice for the committee even if Clemson won the ACC. A one-loss Louisville would almost definitely get into the playoff over a Big 12 champion. The Cardinals have to lose again.

3. The Big Ten winds up with only one playoff option. What does this mean? Essentially, the Big 12 needs Michigan to win out. An 11-1 Ohio State, which would have a win against the Wolverines, would be an unconquerable obstacle for the Big 12, even if the Buckeyes didn’t advance to the Big Ten championship. Ohio State throttled Oklahoma in Norman, which has basically locked in Ohio State ahead of the Big 12 champion in the pecking order. But if the Wolverines ran the table, they would be handing the Buckeyes a second loss, blocking Penn State from making the Big Ten title game and eliminating Wisconsin from the discussion. And when the dust settled, Michigan would be the Big Ten’s only real playoff possibility.

“I know that’s what I can do,” said the Saints’ third-year pro, who ranks 10th in the NFL with 77.1 receiving yards per game and is on pace for 78 catches, 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. “It’s just a matter of having the opportunities to do it, and when they present themselves, taking advantage of it, to be able to put that on film for the coaches.

Basketball is more fun when it’s competitive

This is the second bit of that self-description: “a competitor at everything.” Chess gets heated. Checkers gets heated. Connect Four — Connect Four! — gets heated. Video games aren’t merely a relaxing diversion; they’re another avenue in which to compete. (His top choice is “Mortal Kombat XL.” His main character? Raiden. “I don’t think anyone can beat me,” he said.)

Indeed, these are the two things other people say about Jackson: that he is a really nice guy and crazy competitive, and that the difference is never more noticeable than when he steps on and off the court.

“He’s very easy to get Dave Hollins Youth Jersey along with,” Lucas said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person, or a personality type, not fit with him.”

This is the same person who, earlier this year, blocked a shot from NBA legend Gary Payton’s son in a high school game — and then started talking trash to Gary Payton.

Kerr pulled the plug on his evening with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the contest after Durant was called for an offensive foul for plowing over Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried on his way to the basket. Durant went down awkwardly upon contact, which was all Kerr needed to see.

“I knew about the [points] streak and I told him that when he came off the floor, but I’m not going to mess with the basketball gods,” Kerr said. “If you want to leave a guy out there to get some kind of record, you’re asking for an injury. The game Frank Herrmann Youth Jersey called for him to come out. He came out; he had no problem with it.”

Some members of the Warriors feared this game since it was their second in a back-to-back and because they arrived in Denver around 3.a.m. local time. Curry’s shooting stroke made sure they wouldn’t be the victims of a trap game, as the Warriors led by as many as 31 points.

It was the Nuggets who were the ones trapped at home all night.

“I think the energy was great on both ends of the basketball,” Green said. “Back-to-back coming to Denver, it’s tough. That’s a tough flight. Two-and-a-half-hour flight after a game, you’re losing time, and to come out with the energy that we did showed that this team is maturing.”

Clemson probably won’t have any more committee-swaying wins

Clemson probably won’t have any more committee-swaying wins, even with an ACC title.

When it comes to a team trying to creep into the top four by season’s end, Louisville is still very much on the outside looking in. After ranking No. 7 in the initial polls, the Cardinals are No. 6 and still need Atlantic Division partner Clemson to lose to Pittsburgh and Wake Forest to get into the ACC title game. Don’t count on that, so without a conference title and a remaining strength of schedule that currently ranks 62nd in ESPN’s Football Power Index, Louisville might have to score 100 points in each of its remaining games.

Speaking of the Pac-12, it should be rooting hard for the Huskies going forward, because they are the conference’s only hope for a playoff berth. While a loss to No. 20 USC this week would be damaging, the Huskies could probably sneak back into the top four with a Pac-12 championship. However, the committee won’t be too kind to the conference if the Huskies aren’t the Pac-12 representative.

When asked why Rambis was chosen to coach the defense rather than another assistant, Hornacek said, “It could’ve been anybody.”

“It could’ve been Jerry [Sichting], could have been Corey [Gaines]. We all talk as a coaching staff about the same things,” he added. “So Kurt had some of these guys last year. Just felt it was better to put him in that.”

Rambis was in charge of the Lakers’ defense when they went Kerry Hyder Authentic Womens Jersey to back-to-back NBA Finals (2008, 2009). Those Lakers teams were strong defensively, finishing in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in each season. Rambis also served as a head coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Those clubs struggled on defense, finishing 29th and 30th, respectively, in defensive efficiency.

The Knicks worked mostly on defense in Tuesday’s practice, specifically practicing their pick-and-roll coverage.

After practice, Carmelo Anthony was asked if the players were Kyle Van Noy Authentic Womens Jersey comfortable with the decision to assign the club’s defense to Rambis.

“Whether we’re comfortable with it or not, it is what it is, and we got to buy into that and embrace that,” he said. “[We have to] just focus in on our schemes and what we want to do and just have kinda a foundation of how we gonna do it and what we gonna do and go by that.”

I think of Florida and North Carolina as being the protagonists of this election

I think of Florida and North Carolina as being the protagonists of this election. They have a bit of everything: early voting, conflicting polling, changing demographics. And they’ve always played a role in the drama of the campaign, since neither candidate has ever really been able to pull away in either state. (No candidate has ever been better than a 2-1 favorite in North Carolina in our polls-plus forecast, for instance.) Furthermore, both states’ polls close relatively early and they count their vote relatively quickly, so they’ll be some of the first states we’ll be checking for clues as to how tomorrow will proceed.

Clinton would seem to be playing offense in these states, in the sense that winning either one would make it very hard for Trump to come back — that’s Fred Jackson Jersey especially the case for Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, which could cover for her losing two key states elsewhere on the map. But there’s a higher chance than you might think that they prove to be a necessity rather than a luxury for Clinton, in case something goes wrong for Clinton in the Midwest.

Obama was leading in the polls in Ohio and Iowa four years ago. Clinton isn’t, which is a big reason her Electoral College map is less robust than his was. While the Garry Gilliam Jersey changes are easy enough to understand based on demographic patterns — both states have lots of white, working-class voters — they’re a sign that the map isn’t necessarily going back to normal even if Clinton wins the election.

But it’s not so much that Clinton’s out of the running in these states — she’s more likely to win Iowa than to lose Pennsylvania, according to our forecast — as that it’s hard to see her winning them unless she’s doing well elsewhere in the Midwest. And if she’s doing well elsewhere in the Midwest, she’ll find it hard to lose the Electoral College. Thus, Ohio and Iowa rank poorly according to our tipping-point index, which accounts for these correlations.

Still, Ohio might have one or two things that make it a good target for Clinton, such as Trump’s frosty relationship with the state’s Republican Party and slightly tighter polls in the past week. Iowa, by contrast, might go the way of Missouri, a state that went from bellwether to off-the-swing-state-map without really pausing in between.

Minnesota would probably have required more of a concerted effort from Trump to really put it into play, but the model marks it as somewhat uncertain because there’s been relatively little polling there. If Clinton is having so many problems in Iowa, is it totally implausible that she could be struggling in the state just on its northern border?

Finally, we come to the states that would matter only in the event of a very close election — particularly, in those cases where Clinton loses Nevada and New Hampshire but wins the rest of her firewall, leaving her stuck on 268 electoral votes. Note that it’s 268 electoral votes instead of 269 because Clinton’s firewall doesn’t include the northern, rural, 2nd Congressional District of Maine, whose demographics are almost perfect for Trump — although recent polls there have shown the race tightening from a previous Trump lead. The two statewide Maine electoral votes could also be in play, although Clinton will almost certainly win the 1st District, which includes Portland.

Falcons pull off thrilling last-minute win against the Packers

It looked like the Atlanta Falcons weren’t going to be able to pull off a win against the visiting Green Bay Packers, but they managed to do so with a late-game touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Mohamed Sanu for a final score of 33-32.

Aaron Rodgers John Miller Authentic Womens Jersey threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. With Eddie Lacy on injured reserve and James Starks inactive due to injury, Rodgers was also the Packers’ leading rusher in the loss with 60 yards on the ground.

Bill O’Brien has the “quarterback guru” label attached to him. How he got that reputation is less clear. He made Ryan Fitzpatrick look competent in 2014, but since then his attempts to make the best out of replacement parts QBs haven’t been successful.

Osweiler was supposed to be Jordan Mills Authentic Womens Jersey different, a talented quarterback for “the guru” to work with, but that’s not working out so far either.

The Texans can’t wiggle out of Osweiler’s contract until 2018. Cutting him next year would smack them with a $25 million cap hit.

In other words, someone better help Brock Osweiler find his confidence again. One strategy: remind him that he’s very tall, 6’8, and NOBODY can take that away from him.

The Packers were also missing wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jared Cook, but Rodgers still managed to spread the ball around. Aside from Jordy Nelson, Rodgers hit three different receivers — Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison — for their first career touchdown receptions.

Collins, 27, is a versatile and talented linebacker who moved around and played several positions in the New England defense. He was scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason and would’ve cost $14.129 million to franchise tag, so it will now be a top priority for the Browns to take on the task of extending their newly added linebacker.

At this point, Gronkowski is the best tight end in the NFL, and it isn’t close. Greg Olsen is still performing at a high level for the Carolina Panthers, and Jimmy Graham is having a decent season in Seattle, but as far as pure talent and production, it’s Gronk and then it’s all the other tight ends in the league.