McNair: Debut would be a dream

first_img The Manchester United defender has been given his first taste of top-team action at Old Trafford by new boss Louis van Gaal this season. Now he is set to follow that up by making his international debut in Glasgow when Michael O’Neill’s side take on the Scots at Hampden. Paddy McNair admits he will fulfil his boyhood dream if he earns his first Northern Ireland cap against Scotland on Wednesday night. “It’s going to be tough,” he said. “It’s a game against another home nation and both teams want to win. It won’t be a friendly. “It’s a game we can definitely win, though. We showed in the games in the qualifying group we can beat anybody. “Scotland have some very good players. I’ve played against Steven Naismith earlier on this season and you can see why people rate him so highly.” McNair can also expect to come up against another familiar face clad in Dark Blue, with former United midfielder Darren Fletcher likely to line-up for the hosts. The 31-year-old – who quit the Red Devils in January after 12 years to sign for West Brom – played an influential dressing-room role while McNair was making his way through the Old Trafford ranks. And the youngster happily admits he owes the four-time Premier League winner a huge debt of gratitude. “Darren really helped me a lot and have to thank him a lot for that,” said McNair. “When I first broke into the team he gave me a lot of advice and really did help me settle in. “When you come through at Manchester United, it is such a big club with so much pressure on you. “Darren was in the same position I’m in now at one stage so he would often come up to me before games and have a word to make sure my head was on right. “Darren is a great player and I’m very happy to see him back playing regularly with West Brom.” In the 13 games McNair has racked for Van Gaal’s side this term, he has done enough to leave the Dutchman so impressed that he reckons the Ballyclare youth could be a mainstay of the United line-up for the next decade. But McNair himself is trying not to look too far ahead. He said: “I don’t think I will really realise how good a season I have had until the end of the season when I look back at it, but so far I’m very happy. “Am I surprised at how quickly things have gone this year? Yeah a little bit. “Sometimes you just need a bit of luck to get your chance. But I was confident that once I got my chance I could take it.” Press Association The 19-year-old was forced to pull out of his first involvement with the national team last October due to injury, while he was an unused substitute a month later as the Irish lost 2-0 away to Romania. But he is expected to finally pull on the green jersey in the midweek friendly clash that will serve as a warm-up ahead of Sunday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Finland at Windsor Park. “It would be a dream come true if that happens,” said the teenage centre-half. “As a young boy it is a dream to play for your country. “I went to a few Northern Ireland games when I was very young but I don’t remember too much about them. I can remember the atmosphere and hoping that one day I would be out there as well, so if I can do that on Wednesday I will be very proud.” Wednesday’s match will be just as important to the Scots as it is O’Neill’s troops as both countries look to end their long absences from major tournaments by claiming a slot at next year’s European Championships in France. While Northern Ireland are just a point off the summit of Group F after taking nine points from the first 12 available, Gordon Strachan’s side are very much in the hunt themselves. They sit third in Group D, three points behind leaders Poland and level on seven with Germany and the Republic of Ireland. With that in mind, McNair does not expect an easy introduction to the international game. last_img read more

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Mariners Roll Against Tigers

first_img House fire in Winter Harbor – October 27, 2014 State budget vs. job creation – January 22, 2015 SULLIVAN — The Tigers outhit the Mariners 11-9 but managed just a pair of runs as the Mariners rolled to a 10-2 win on Monday.Eben Powers drove in two runs with a pair of doubles, Joe Condon tripled and singled and Evan Rollins had a pair of singles for the Mariners.Matt Boyle drove in a run with two doubles and a single and Mike Crowley doubled and singled for the Tigers. Latest Posts Latest posts by admin (see all) admin Hancock County Court News Nov. 3 thorugh Dec. 11 – January 22, 2015 Bio This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textlast_img read more

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Aru signals Tour ambitions as Froome takes yellow

first_imgBy Julien Pretot(Reuters) – Fabio Aru claimed his maiden Tour de France win yesterday, as defending champion Chris Froome snatched a yellow jersey he intends to wear all the way back to Paris.Italian champion Aru launched a blistering attack in the final stretches of the fifth stage, jumping away from the leading group with 2.3km left of the 5.9km climb at a lung-busting average gradient of 8.5 per cent.On a searing hot day in eastern France, the 2015 Vuelta champion of the Astana team became the third winner at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, where Team Sky’s Froome came to prominence in 2012 and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali prevailed in 2014, the year he won the Tour.“I had seen a video of Nibali’s win and I tried to do the same to see what would happen,” said the 27-year-old Aru.“I wanted to test my rivals, I did not have the stage win in mind but obviously it’s a great day.”Ireland’s Dan Martin took second place yesterday, 16 seconds behind, while Froome was 20 seconds off the pace in third, with his rival Richie Porte in his tracks.Another top contender, last year’s runner-up Romain Bardet of France, took fifth place, a further four seconds behind.“When Aru went, I still had teammates (to do the work) so I waited for the others to react. Nobody moved so I thought I had to go to see what I could do,” said Froome, who added he felt fresher than on his previous dominant rides on the Tour.DOMINANT SKYColombian Nairo Quintana, tipped as one of Froome’s main challengers, struggled to finish ninth, 36 seconds back, while Spain’s Alberto Contador limited the damage in eighth place, 26 seconds behind Aru.Froome took the yellow jersey from team mate Geraint Thomas, who could not sustain the pace on the climb’s steepest parts.Overall, three-time champion Froome leads Thomas by 12 seconds with Aru in third a further two seconds behind.Froome believes he can defend his lead until the last day in Paris, although no team has kept the yellow jersey from day one all the way to the finish of the three-week race since Eddy Merckx’s Faemimo-Faema held it throughout.“I’m used to being in that position,” he warned.While Aru emerged as the sharper climber, Porte said that the road to Paris was still very long and that the Italian would have to deal with the pressure of being tipped as a major favourite alongside Froome.“Aru slipped away a bit I’m still happy with my ride … he’s going to have more pressure – we saw it last year; he exploded in one of the last stages,” the BMC rider said.last_img read more

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Ambode, Making Lagos Africa’s Sports Hub

first_imgWhen His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office in May 2015, he assured Lagosians of re-energised road map for sports development during his tenure in office.He emphasised on a vision to use sports as a catalyst for the growth and development of the economy. “Sport is a catalyst for tourism and it is my strong belief that we must continue to support sports as a means of allowing us to develop the mental capabilities of younger ones and Lagos State is ready to do that,” the governor said recently.Looking back from 2015 till now, there is no doubt that Governor Ambode has not been paying lip service to what he promised. The governor has indeed matched his words with action. Stakeholders in Nigerian Sports will also testify that Lagos State, under Governor Ambode, has been using sports to keep the youth busy with a different set of competitions, both on the local and International levels. While the state has been hosting and organising sporting competitions and tournaments on a regular basis, the Government of Akinwunmi Ambode has also made sure that series of international Sports Classics take place in Lagos, the Centre of Excellence.International Classics such as ITTF Seamaster Nigeria Open (table tennis), PSA Squash Classics, International Badminton Classics and other events such as the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis Championships now known as ‘Lagos Open Tennis Championship’ are regular annual competitions that Lagos State organises. Governor Ambode has personally attended the finals of some of these events.The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is another sporting event that has put Lagos on the world sports map. The tournament has in three years of existence, attained International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) Bronze Label status and has become one of the major African marathon races on the IAAF calendar. On the Local scene, the Government of Akinwunmi Ambode has been using School Sports as the foundation to unearth and groom young athletes to boost the pool of athletes in the state. Many school sports championships have been staged in sports such as Gymnastics, Hockey, Swimming, Handball, Deaf School Sports and Traditional Sports under the able watch of the Lagos State Sports Commission headed by Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh.In the area of sports facilities development, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has also scored himself remarkable high marks. The focus includes the provision of sports facilities in districts, communities andneighbourhoods, increased attention to schools sports for the discovery and development of athletes etc. It came as no surprise that the governor approved the remodelling of Agege Stadium, nicknamed ‘The Soccer Temple’. Onikan Stadium is now undergoing massive reconstruction to expand the facility and turn it into world-class sports and entertainment edifice. The sports-loving governor is about fulfilling his campaign promise of giving the people of Ajegunle a new Maracana Stadium.Still fresh in the memory of Lagosians was #mylagosmyfootball# World Cup Viewing Centres at designated centres across the state. The vision the governor had was to bring the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals to Lagos for the people to be part of it. All matches of the Mundial were shown live at centres at Campos Mini Stadium Lagos Island, Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, Abesan Playground Alimosho, Naval Barracks Ajegunle, Bishop Aggrey Youth Center Mushin, Epe Recreation Center, Ikorodu Town Hall Ikorodu andBadagry Grammar School Badagry.In the area of administration, sports in Lagos State is in capable hands as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has chosen technocrats to oversee that sector. The appointment of Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh as the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission is clearly a “round peg in a round hole”, so are those of Mr. Babatunde Bank-Anthony as Director-General and other competent men and women as members of the Sports Commission Governing Board. The governor has also carefully chosen men and women of proven integrity to the Board of the newly created Lagos State Sports Trust Fund, where former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Otunba Femi Pedro is the Chairman.Within a short period of time, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has made his presence felt in the area of sports and he continues to invest heavily in sports development for the future of the youths of Lagos State.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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MBB : Jardine, Syracuse make free throws down stretch; final minutes dotted with questionable calls

first_img Published on March 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13 Comments PITTSBURGH – Eddie Biedenbach knew Scoop Jardine struggled from the free-throw line. Jardine knew it too.So when the UNC Asheville head coach targeted Syracuse’s point guard as the man to foul late in the game, Jardine wasn’t surprised.The 49.1 percent he shoots from the line stands out like a sore thumb to a coach making his game plan.‘I was what, an 82 percent free-throw shooter my freshman year?’ Jardine asks reporters with a laugh.After the game he can laugh. He can laugh because when the pressure was on, Jardine debunked Biedenbach’s strategy. Jardine hit four consecutive free throws in the final 1:20 to help seal a 72-65 Syracuse victory.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn all, the Orange went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line during that stretch, something that certainly bodes well for Syracuse moving forward in the tournament.‘I think it’s mental,’ Jardine said. ‘I really believe in myself.’He believes in himself, and he thanked the referees on Thursday as well.When Jardine went to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 with 1:20 remaining, he missed his first shot and UNC Asheville snagged the rebound. But a lane violation gave him a second chance.From that point on, he didn’t miss.‘They gave me a second chance to make the shot and I made it,’ Jardine said. ‘I got myself into a rhythm. I made every free throw from there on out because I do what I practice and believed in myself at that time and made the shots for us.’All season long, Jardine has said he will make the free throws when it matters. On Thursday, both he and his teammates proved that to be true. Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph each hit a pair in the final 30 seconds as well.Said Triche: ‘We made the free throws that we needed to make.’Questionable calls leave Bulldogs displeasedChorus upon chorus of boos rained down on the officials inside Consol Energy Arena, as the majority of the 18,927 in attendance agreed with the dismay visible along the UNC Asheville bench.Three separate calls in the second half of Syracuse’s 72-65 win over the Bulldogs drew the ire of the crowd and North Carolina Asheville’s players. The job done by the officiating crew of Ed Corbett, Glenn Tuit and Eric Curry became a popular topic during the postgame press conferences for both teams.After Bulldogs head coach Eddie Biedenbach gave his opening statement, it was the first question his players faced.‘Like I said, it’s tough when things don’t go your way,’ UNC Asheville guard J.P. Primm said. ‘In college basketball, sometimes you have to play everybody in the building, you know.’It seems Primm was implying that the Bulldogs had to battle the officials in addition to the top-seeded Orange.With 16:24 left in the second half, Jeremy Atkinson was fouled by SU’s James Southerland on a layup attempt on the left side of the basket. After Southerland committed the foul, Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas committed a clear goaltend by blocking the ball after it had already hit the backboard.The crowd erupted. The Bulldogs bench went berserk. The call remained unchanged.Later in the game, Scoop Jardine was awarded an additional free throw after UNC Asheville was called for a lane violation. While the Bulldogs were again displeased with this call, it was the right decision by the officials, according to several replays.‘I’m not going to comment on the officiating of the game,’ UNC Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach said.Then with less than one minute remaining, the ball appeared to go off Syracuse guard Brandon Triche’s hands and out of bounds right in front of the Bulldogs bench. At this point in time, the score was 66-63 in favor of the Orange.It was a play that could have been called either way. Triche was bumped by the UNC Asheville defenders, which could have been ruled a foul, and that is what caused the ball to hit off his hands and out of bounds.The officials awarded possession to Syracuse.‘I was bumped, so he didn’t want to call a foul and just gave it back to us (instead),’ Triche said. ‘I don’t know, maybe that was it. I know I touched it, I’m not sure who touched it after that.’Biedenbach was upset with the goaltending no-call and the ball that appeared to be out of bounds of Triche. Though he wouldn’t address them or the officials specifically, he offered an analogy to explain his opinion.‘I think to answer your question best, that big replay machine up on top, you heard the crowd reaction,’ he said. ‘I like the crowd tonight. I thought they were great. If you can evaluate the crowd, can get 18,600 answers for that question? OK.’mjcohe02@syr.edu center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Long road trip continues for Syracuse in Orlando for Citrus Classic

first_imgWhen the 2013 regular season ends for Syracuse, it will have played 38 games. Only 10 of them will have been at home.The team begins its season with 20 road games spread out over three weekends, plus a Spring Break trip to Hawaii. The Orange (4-5) has already traveled to Charleston, S.C., Palm Springs, Calif., and has trips to Orlando, Fla., and Honolulu, Hawaii, in the coming weeks.This weekend, the team makes a trip to Orlando for the Citrus Classic, where it will meet Louisiana State, Boston College, Longwood, Texas and Mississippi State, starting with the Tigers on Friday at 1:15 p.m. After going 1-4 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last weekend, the team is looking to get on track. The time on the road is bringing the Orange together, but it doesn’t have it all figured out just yet.“I think that any time you travel as a team, you get closer,” SU head coach Leigh Ross said. “You really bond once you start traveling. You’re on the bus for hours, in hotel rooms, eat meals together and you get to learn a lot about one another.”Aside from the softball and downtime, Ross uses rooming assignments to bring her team closer together. The players are given new roommates each trip, allowing girls of all positions, ages and backgrounds to get to know one another.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSenior center fielder Veronica Grant has experienced it for the last four years. She sees the team’s adaptation to all the traveling as a process that simply takes time.“I think at the beginning, we’re slow to get used to it,” Grant said. “But I think after that, we get in the swing of things knowing what’s coming up next, especially the underclassmen.”At this point of the season, traveling has presented the Orange with two problems. First, life on the road is taking a physical toll on the team. Ross said she sees every year that, as the team moves deeper into its schedule, its overall stamina slightly wavers.To keep the team in shape, coaches hold workouts on the road, get the players to bed on time and let them catch up on sleep when they have games later in the day.“It’s hard to travel and then come back to Syracuse and go right to practice sometimes,” SU first baseman Jasmine Watson said. “Our bodies just get tired. We aren’t necessarily tired, but our bodies are.”The second problem the team is facing is a lack of consistent leadership. After losing seven seniors at the end of last season, the Orange is a less experienced team than it was a year ago.As the season moves on, no players want the team to sink into mediocrity. As the Orange continues to tune up for conference play, which begins March 29, the time for players to step up is now.“We’ve got some kids that need to pick it up and grab those leadership roles, because we have a lot of people sitting back and waiting for others to step up,” Ross said. “But player-for-player, we can stand with any team in the country, it’s just a matter of them believing that and gaining the necessary experience.” Comments Published on February 28, 2013 at 2:02 am Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Women of Troy ready for Oregon schools

first_imgAfter running over crosstown rival UCLA to complete a season sweep, the Women of Troy look to continue to build momentum as they get back on the road this weekend to take on the Oregon schools.Duck hunt · Senior forward Cassie Harberts knows that Oregon did not play its best game at the Galen Center on Jan. 19, and thinks the Ducks will provide a big challenge tonight. Harberts is averaging 16.4 points per game. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanUSC (15-9, 8-4 Pac-12) will first travel to Eugene, Ore. to take on the Ducks tonight before heading to Corvallis, Ore. to face off against the Beavers on Sunday.The Women of Troy prevailed against both squads in earlier matches at the Galen Center this season and will be looking to sweep another pair of Pac-12 schools. USC defeated Oregon State 81-60 and Oregon 109-85 in late January.The win against Oregon marked USC’s season-high for points scored in a game.“When they were here, they didn’t shoot too well so we are going to go up there with the mentality that they are going to shoot really well on their home court,” said senior forward Cassie Harberts. “We have to rebound the ball, play defense and play our game.”Harberts heads into the weekend leading the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game, while junior guard Ariya Crook is scoring 15.7 points a game.USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has been an advocate of intensity on the defensive side of the ball, but the team has also been working on improving its offense.“One of things we have been focusing [on] in practice has been sharing the ball, the correct spacing and timing offensively,” Cooper-Dyke said.The Women of Troy are looking to get back on a roll after they snapped their three-game losing streak last Saturday in a 68-54 win over the Bruins.“It was very important [for us] before we got out on the road to get back up on that winning horse,” Cooper-Dyke said.The team still remains in the top tier of the conference, as it has throughout the conference schedule. No. 6 Stanford, No. 22 California and Arizona State are the only three teams that stand ahead of USC in the conference.Even with their success this year both inside and outside the Pac-12, the Women of Troy have been unable to crack the national top 25 as they enter their 15th week of competition, though they have received votes in the earlier weeks.Oregon State (15-9, 7-5) comes into the matchup one game behind USC in the Pac-12 standings.In their Friday tilt with the Beavers, the Women of Troy should expect a confident Oregon State team that is coming off three wins in a row against Arizona, Colorado and Utah.Jamie Weisner is the Beavers’ leading scorer, averaging 13.8 points per game. Teammate Sydney Weise is just behind her, averaging 13.4 points per game.The Ducks (13-10, 4-8) have not defeated the Women of Troy since 2010 and are coming off a 93-71 win against Utah and a 81-75 loss to the Buffs.Oregon’s Chrishae Rowe has asserted her dominance as the squad’s leading scorer, averaging an impressive 23 points per game. The tandem of Rowe and Jillian Alleyne, who is second on the team in scoring with 21.1 points per game, could prove to be a challenge for USC’s defense. Alleyne also brings down a team-high 15.3 rebounds per game, to average a double-double.This road trip is especially important for the Women of Troy, as the following week they will return home to the Galen Center to host two of the Pac-12’s best teams in Stanford and the nationally ranked Cal Golden Bears. But USC’s head coach is reluctant to look too far into the future.“We are going to continue to take it game by game,” Cooper-Dyke said.last_img read more

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Pig Shack/Sumner Newscow bracket contest update: 28 brackets have 3 of 4 Final Four teams

first_img Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — We’ve been doing the Pig Shack/Sumner Newscow bracket contest for three years now and the The Dore/College Bowl Football contest for four years. And we can safely say, there has never been a time this late in a Newscow contest where so many people can still win it.Let’s just say if you have “Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke” in your Final Four of your bracket, then you are still in the running.We didn’t get any brackets with all four Final Four teams. There were only two brackets with Michigan State in the Final Four with Kentucky. And if you are Gene Huck, who has Kentucky and Michigan State in the championship game, then you cheer like heck for the Spartans because you are the only one with that combination in this contest.We haven’t tallied everything individually. There were 28 brackets that had three of the four Final Four finalists. Of those 28, 17 of them have Kentucky over Duke in the championship game. Five have Duke over Kentucky. And four had someone vs. Kentucky with Kentucky winning. Kathy Bryant has Wisconsin over Duke in the Championship game. And Huck has Kentucky over Michigan State. With these number of entrees there is a chance for a tiebreaker. Tiebreakers will be the number of games right after the round of 64 (second round). Then the round of 32 (third round), etc.Good luck to the participants. We will soon know who the national championship is and who will be the winner of the $200 cash price and the second and third place gift certificate winners. (See full rules here).Follow us on Twitter.last_img read more

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20 reasons why baseball will be awesome in 2020

first_img10. Mookie Betts is entering his Age 27 season. As of this writing, we don’t know where Mookie Betts will play his home contests in 2020, but we do know that he’ll make a big impact on his division’s playoff race (well, as long as he’s not in Boston). All signs seem to point to Betts patrolling the outfield for the Dodgers  or the Padres, and that destination will go a long way in determining the NL West race, or at least the NL wild-card competition. In his past four years, Betts has finished second, sixth, first and eighth in the AL MVP voting. 11. Watching this year’s Max Muncy emerge. One of my absolute favorite things about this sport is watching unexpected heroes emerge, the guys who have been written off at some point in their careers, or just never got the chance to shine. You know Muncy’s story; he wasn’t great in his Oakland opportunities (being nice) and hitched on with the Dodgers without any promises at all. Then, he hit 35 home runs in 2018 for L.A. and popped 35 more in 2019. The best thing about the Muncys? You cannot even start to predict who might make that jump. Zero people would have expected a guy who batted .195 in 96 games over two seasons in the majors, then spent all of the next year in the minors to become a slugging All-Star, and that’s what makes it so very compelling. 12. The arrival of yet another impact L.A. youngster. Cory Seager won the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year award and finished third in the MVP voting that year. Cody Bellinger won the 2017 NL ROY award and then claimed the 2019 NL MVP. Walker Buehler finished third in the 2018 NL ROY voting despite making only 23 starts. And now, the stage is set for Gavin Lux. He’s fourth on Baseball America’s list of Top 100 prospects, behind three AL prospects. He’s ripped through minor league pitching the past two seasons, made his big league debut in September and impressed L.A. enough that he was given three starts in the NLDS against the Nationals, after popping a pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of that series. He’s 22 and the odds-on favorite to win the NL ROY award. 13. More games in Puerto Rico, England and Mexico! The Padres and Diamondbacks play a couple of games in Mexico City (April 18-19), the Mets and Marlins play three in Puerto Rico (April 28-30) and the Cubs and Cardinals square off for this year’s London series (June 13-14). Sure, it’s a bit more complicated for the teams and players to hit up these venues during the regular season, but baseball’s feeding its rabid fan base in Puerto Rico and Mexico, and helping to expand its footprint in London. These are good things. 14. The potential for even-year goodness. Will the World Series winner celebrate a title on the anniversary year easily divided by 10? The Giants won in 2010, the Yankees in 2000 (and 1950!), the Reds in 1990 (and 1940!), the Phillies in 1980 (and the Philly A’s in 1930 and 1910!), the Orioles in 1970 (well, that ain’t happening), the Pirates in 1960 (ditto) and the Indians in 1920 (that would be one heck of a 100-year anniversary). 15. Which Year 2 youngsters become legit superstars? Remember Ronald Acuña Jr., and Juan Soto finishing 1-2 in the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year voting? In 2019, both youngsters built on that success; Acuña had 41 homers and 37 stolen bases, while Soto had a 4.7 bWAR season and was a huge postseason bat for the Nationals — five homers, 14 RBIs, .927 OPS in 17 games — as the franchise won its first World Series title. So who’s on tap this year? We can only hope for a full season of health from Fernando Tatis Jr., a full season on the MLB roster for Vlad Guerrero Jr., and more of the same from Pete Alonso. Oh, and would it surprise anyone if Eloy Jimenez, Yordan Alvarez or Brandon Lowe figured into the AL MVP voting? Nah.  16. Learning the future from Aaron “Nostradamus” Boone. You saw this tweet, right? FWIW- I’m goin w the Chiefs. 31-20. #SuperBowlLIV— Aaron Boone (@AaronBoone) February 2, 2020The Yankees manager nailed the score of the Super Bowl. He’s a savage on Twitter. Can’t wait to see what he predicts for 2020. MORE: 20 things wrong with baseball in 202017. Seeing this year’s Cooperstown celebration. The annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony is always a wonderful event, but this year feels special. And it’s not just about Derek Jeter, who was always going to be part of the 2020 ceremony — apt for a guy who wore No. 2 — but this year’s celebration will be incredibly cathartic. Marvin Miller, the MLBPA guru who did more to shape baseball’s current financial structure than anyone, should have been in long ago. Larry Walker had to wait 10 years on the BBWAA ballot to be elected. Ted Simmons was unfairly dropped off that ballot after just one year, and his election by the veterans committee righted a wrong. The Hall will welcome four very deserving people July 26.  (Ryan Fagan/SN) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d3/6b/shoeless-joe-grave-102219-ftr-snjpg_yb8jjzyz8gdz1uxuebzbu2i4d.jpg?t=-182816547&w=500&quality=80 Pitchers and catchers officially report in a matter of days (though tons of players are already in camp, working out), and spring training games start in a matter weeks.It’s enough to get any baseball fan’s heart beating faster.  The season can’t arrive soon enough, so we’ll whet your appetite just a bit, with 20 reasons baseball will be awesome in 2020. That’s enough of an intro, isn’t it? Let’s jump in. MORE: 20 things to watch for during the 2020 MLB season  1. This year, it’s Opening Day, not opening day. That’s right, people. Capital letters. All 30 teams kick off the 2020 season on the same day, not the staggered starts of years past — what a misguided idea — and no overseas start to the seasons where two teams play “real” games while the spring training schedule still has a week’s worth of contests. It’s a holiday, and we should absolutely treat it as such. Games on March 26 start at 1:10 pm ET — the World Series champion Nationals play on the road against the Mets — and the final one of the day starts at 10:10 pm ET, with the Diamondbacks hosting the Braves. This is the first time since 1968 that every MLB team has started on the same day. Take the damn day off and enjoy. 2. Mike Trout is entering his Age 28 season. A day will come when the skills of Mike Trout fail, when his health forsakes him and his fellowship with the MVP trophy ends, but today is not that day. His prime will not last forever (sigh). But today, Mike Trout is 28 years old, and he’s very much in his prime. Every day we get with Trout on the baseball field is a gift. I know I’ve pointed this out often, but his improved strikeout-to-walk ratio of recent years is just incredibly impressive. When he won the 2014 AL MVP, Trout had 101 more strikeouts than walks (184 to 83). Over the past three years? He has eight more strikeouts than walks (334 to 326). His on-base percentage in those years is .447, and his OPS is 1.081. His on-base/OPS in the five years before that (remember, two MVPs, three second-place finishes): .410 and .975. Somehow, baseball’s best player got significantly better for his Age 25-27 seasons, so, yeah, can’t wait to see what his Age 28 season will produce in 2020. 3. Oh, and Christian Yelich is entering his Age 28 season, too. Speaking of a star who hit superstar status and then took it up a notch, Yelich was potentially closing in on his second consecutive NL MVP award when an injury ended his campaign 10 days into September. He still led the NL in average, slugging and OPS+ for the second consecutive year, while improving on his home run and stolen base numbers despite playing 17 fewer games. He says he’s 100 percent recovered from the broken kneecap and ready for the 2020 season, and we’re 100 percent ready to see what he has in store. 4. Milestones aplenty. Baseball loves its round numbers, and there are lots to watch for in 2020, the roundest-number year since 2000. With that in mind: Yadier Molina is 57 hits away from 2,020 in his career, Melky Cabrera is 58 short and Ryan Braun is 87 shy. Joey Votto could get to 2,020 with 154 hits this year; he’s topped that number seven times in his career, but hasn’t gotten there either of the past two seasons despite 600+ PAs. With a spot of health, Molina and Edwin Encarnacion will play their 2,020th MLB game this year (they’re at 1,983 and 1,916, respectively). Chris Davis is 185 strikeouts short of 2,020 in his career, so he could get there if he plays 50 games or so (I kid, I kid …).5. More potential 2020 milestones!  On the mound, David Price is 39 strikeouts short of 2,020 and Ervin Santana needs to find a job if he’s going to get the 94 he needs to reach that number. If the Diamondbacks get a full, productive season from Madison Bumgarner, he’ll pitch the 174 innings he needs to reach 2,020. Same thing with the Giants and the 143 2/3 Johnny Cueto needs. And Mike Leake, Anibal Sanchez, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson are all within 191 of 2,020 career frames. In the field, Kolton Wong (44 away), Mike Moustakas (64 away) and Jose Iglesias (30 away) should all reach 2,020 career assists in 2020. 6. The Cincinnati revival tent is open. Baseball is a better sport when the Reds are relevant. The baseball tradition in that city is unparalleled. Opening Day should always, always, always include baseball in Cincinnati; the Reds host the Cardinals to start 2020, so all is right in that aspect. And, after a couple of long years on the struggle bus, the Reds will be better in 2020 than they have been in years . Yeah, that’s right. They WILL be better, not just SHOULD be better. This is a rotation that’s playoff-worthy, and with a couple of nice offseason additions to the lineup (Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos) and, hopefully, a Joey Votto rebound, this is the year Cincinnati gets back to contention, not just participation. 7. Dusty Baker gets one more shot. Pretty much everything about the Astros is distasteful right about now, what with the sign-stealing scandal, the Brandon Taubman mess and the fact that Roberto Osuna is still on the roster. But bringing in Dusty Baker, the veteran manager who has been dealt very painful postseason blows on the regular, to try to right the ship was the right move. He’s good people. MORE: Spring training reporting dates for all 30 MLB teams8. Dyersville, Iowa, will host a Major League Baseball game! I mean, it’s about time, right? You might not think “Field of Dreams” is the perfect baseball movie, but if there’s even a bit of baseball in your soul, that soul has been stirred watching the classic Kevin Costner flick. The Yankees and White Sox will play their unforgettable contest on Aug. 13, though they’ll play on a field adjacent to the movie site, not on the actual field from the movie. And I guess that’s OK, because logistically it would be really difficult and you don’t want to ruin the field. For those of us lucky enough to have taken a few swings and shagged a few fly balls on that field, the game will be particularly special. Let’s have a catch, folks.   9. The spotlight will shine, again, on Shoeless Joe. He might still be on baseball’s ineligible list, but you can’t have a baseball game at the “Field of Dreams” site and ignore Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was, you’ll recall, the motivation for building the field in that movie (well, Joe and Ray Kinsella’s dad). And all these years after Joe was banned from baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal — he allegedly knew about the plot to throw the series, though he batted .375 and set a World Series record for most hits (12) that stood until 1964 — maybe it’s time to reinstate the legend. Oh, and at some point in 2020, the outstanding Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, S.C. — Joe’s hometown — will reopen in its new location. Trust me, that should be on your baseball bucket list.  18. Big names could be traded, and that’s always exciting. Well, it’s exciting for fans of the teams who aren’t shipping away their big names (more on that later this week). But rumors and deals generate excitement for a league, and baseball can use the publicity. If this year produces the possible/expected trades, we could see Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor and Kris Bryant all dealt, which means there’s a good chance we could see those four stars on the big stage in October (because no non-contender is going to deal for them), and that’s always a good thing. 19. Speaking of player movement …  there’s been plenty of news on that front this offseason, which has been a welcome change after the drawn-out free-agent process of the past few years. It’s going to be fun to see Gerrit Cole in Yankees pinstripes, to watch Anthony Rendon suit up for the Angels, to see Josh Donaldson bring his brand of ball to Minnesota. It’s going to be strange to see Madison Bumgarner wearing something other than a Giants uniform (he’s a Diamondback now) and same thing with Hyun-Jin Ryu, who traded his Dodgers uniform for a Blue Jays getup. Mets fans aren’t looking forward to seeing Zack Wheeler return often with his new Phillies threads, but Nationals fans are very excited to welcome Stephen Strasburg back into the fold in D.C. 20. Because life just isn’t the same without the crack of the bat or the pop of the catcher’s mitt, is it?last_img read more

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